Manipulated video of Obama speech on 'international order' resurfaces online
Social media users are sharing a video of Barack Obama giving a 2014 speech in which he purportedly says "ordinary men and women are too small-minded" and should "surrender their rights" to a "sovereign." But the clip has been manipulated; the unedited version of the former US president's remarks shows he was condemning that idea, not condoning it.
"For the international order that we have worked for generations to build," Obama says in the video, shared October 13, 2022 on Twitter. "Ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs. That order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign."
Similar posts have also circulated on Instagram and Facebook.
The footage stems from Obama's speech at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium, on March 26, 2014. Addressing European youth, Obama condemned a set of ideals he described as "the darker forces of the past."
But the clip circulating online has been manipulated; independent fact-checking outlets debunked it in 2014.
The footage, promoted by supporters of the "New World Order" conspiracy theory, was altered by stitching together two separate clips from the speech. The resulting video makes it seem as though Obama expressed support for an "older, more traditional view of power," when in fact he condemned it.
Here is the full context of Obama's remarks, with the parts shared online in bold:
"Leaders and dignitaries of the European Union; representatives of our NATO Alliance; distinguished guests: We meet here at a moment of testing for Europe and the United States, and for the international order that we have worked for generations to build.
"Throughout human history, societies have grappled with fundamental questions of how to organize themselves, the proper relationship between the individual and the state, the best means to resolve inevitable conflicts between states. And it was here in Europe, through centuries of struggle -- through war and Enlightenment, repression and revolution -- that a particular set of ideals began to emerge: The belief that through conscience and free will, each of us has the right to live as we choose. The belief that power is derived from the consent of the governed, and that laws and institutions should be established to protect that understanding. And those ideas eventually inspired a band of colonialists across an ocean, and they wrote them into the founding documents that still guide America today, including the simple truth that all men -- and women -- are created equal.
"But those ideals have also been tested -- here in Europe and around the world. Those ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power. This alternative vision argues that ordinary men and women are too small-minded to govern their own affairs, that order and progress can only come when individuals surrender their rights to an all-powerful sovereign. Often, this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others, and that individual identity must be defined by 'us' versus 'them,' or that national greatness must flow not by what a people stand for, but by what they are against."
AFP has previously fact-checked manipulated and out-of-context videos featuring Obama here, here and here.