Paris, Oct. 19, 2014 - For a man who had taken a stunning electoral blow two weeks earlier, Barack Obama completed his Asian trip with an air of unperturbed leadership of the world -- whatever the Republicans at home thought about who was in charge of what now will happen in the United States
The nation and its politicians have since the cold war been so confident of American supremacy over the whole of western civilization that not only allies have ceased to count but enemies. Americans are the leaders who make the decisions on how the world should work, even when this clearly is not what experience teaches, as one might think had been learned in recent years in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The President signed a carbon emissions agreement with China. He went to Myanmar hoping to bestow a gold star for merit on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi but found it necessary to chide the generals in power in the country that they must do better in matters of human rights – at a moment when a scandalous forced expulsion of a Burmese Muslim minority was taking place. Another time for Madam Aung San Suu Kyi.
In Brisbane for the G20 discussions the President oversaw David Cameron of Britain (who has become the new Tony Blair) reiterating the State Department script, and issuing a lordly warning to Vladimir Putin that he must do as he is told concerning Ukraine or there will be still more sanctions.
Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, presented to the Russian president, insulted him by saying, “I guess I’ll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you. You need to get out of Ukraine.” The other members of what in espionage circles are known as the Five Eyes (not a new band, but the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia) gave versions of the same speech. Mr. Obama was pleased. Stars for all!