"It is my deeply held belief," Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly, that "in the year 2009 -- more than at any point in human history -- the interests of nations and peoples are shared."
That is, of course, the year Obama became president, and he wasn't shy about referring in his second paragraph to "the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world," though he assured us they "are not about me."
Before Obama's speech, I wrote that he seems "stuck in a time warp in which the United States is the bad guy." Not any more, he seemed to say in his U.N. speech. He has ordered the closing of Guantanamo. He has prohibited the use of torture. He is "responsibly ending" the war in Iraq (no triumphalist talk of victory). He is promising substantial reductions in U.S. nuclear weapons. He has invested $80 billion in clean energy. The U.S. has joined the United Nations' Human Rights Council.
All of which is a way of saying that nasty George W. Bush is no longer around with all his self-righteous swagger, and that with (as Obama did not fail to note) the first African-American installed in the White House, America is now on the same page with the rest of the world.
Much of the speech seemed to be an exercise in what Sigmund Freud called "projection," assuming that others think the way you do. Obama spoke as if the mullahs of Iran, the Kim Jong Il clan of North Korea, Vladimir Putin and his gang of oligarchs, and the rulers of China had the same gripes against the Bush administration as Obama and the liberal Democrats in Congress. Hey, if we just close Gitmo, they'll realize that we're all in sympathy now.
In that spirit, Obama at the General Assembly on Wednesday and while chairing the Security Council on Thursday tread warily on the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons program. "This is not about singling out individual nations," he said Wednesday, before stating that if Iran and North Korea "ignore international standards," they "must be held" -- in unspecified ways -- "accountable." The next day, the Security Council approved a resolution on the subject that did not name either country.
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