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US Leadership Was Never More Necessary Than Now: Obama

US President Barack Obama has said American leadership was never more necessary in the world than now and there is no competition to it from countries like China and Russia.

"The truth of the matter is that the world has always been messy. In part, we're just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through," Obama said at a Democratic Party fund raiser in New York.

"The good news is that American leadership has never been more necessary, and there's really no competition out there for the ideas and the values that can create the sort of order that we need in this world," he said, adding that countries like China and Russia are nowhere near the US.

"I hear people sometimes saying, well, I don't know, China is advancing. But I tell you what, if you look at our cards and you look at China's cards, I promise you, you would rather have ours," he said amidst applause.

Obama said some people may say Russia looks pretty aggressive right now but the question to be asked is "are there long lines of people trying to emigrate into Russia?"

"I don't think so," the US President said amidst laughter.

Obama conceded that the Middle East poses a challenge, which is not comparable to the challenges of the Cold War or the World War.

"The Middle East is challenging, but the truth is it's been challenging for quite a while. Our values, our leadership, our military power but also our diplomatic power, the power of our culture is one that means we will get through these challenging times just like we have in the past. I promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago," he said.

Highlighting that the current situation is not comparable to the challenges faced by the US during the Cold War, Obama said, "This is something we can handle, because we are Americans and that's what we do."

Noting that the situation is not comparable to the challenges faced when the US had an entire block of Communist countries against it, Obama said, "Around the world, when you travel to Asia, or you travel to Europe, or you travel to Latin America, or you travel to Africa, what you find is, among ordinary people, they are still looking to America as a beacon of hope and opportunity. And we should not forget that."

Obama said people are feeling anxious these days "if you watch" the nightly news.

"It feels like the world is falling apart. We are living through some extraordinarily challenging times. A lot of it has to do with changes that are taking place in the Middle East in which an old order that had been in place for 50 years, 60 years, 100 years was unsustainable, and was going to break up at some point," he said.

"And now, what we are seeing is the old order not working, but the new order not being born yet -- and it is a rocky road through that process, and a dangerous time through that process," the US President explained.

"So we've seen the barbarity of an organisation like ISIL that is building off what happened with al Qaeda and 9/11 -- an extension of that same mentality that doesn't reflect Islam, but rather just reflects savagery, and extremism, and intolerance," he said.

"We've seen divisions within the Muslim community between the Shia and Sunni. We continue to see an unwillingness to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and its ability to defend itself. And we have seen, frankly, in this region, economies that don't work. So you've got tonnes of young people who see no prospect and no hope for the future and are attracted to some of these ideologies," he said.

Acknowledging that the scenerio make things pretty frightening, Obama also criticised Russia for making a decision to look backwards instead of forward, encroaching on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their neighbours, and reasserting the notion that might means right.

"And I can see why a lot of folks are troubled. The truth of the matter is, is that American military superiority has never been greater compared to other countries," Obama said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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