Not the Postnational President, Yet

by Peter Spiro

No “citizen of the world” talk today.  I was a little surprised at the fairly pronounced us/them premise of the speech, a worldview still defined by states.  And no nods to international institutions, even as a general proposition.  Of course Obama is the President of the United States (and most Americans certainly expect the national framing), but if I were a non-American watching today, I might have expected a little less distancing, some greater acknowledgment of bonds transcending boundaries, especially in the face of a clearly global crisis clearly requiring a global solution.  The speech was hardly bold in this respect.  The one passage pointing to something different:

And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

The “lines of tribe” presumably being those of nations.

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