Receiving Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh at the White House, President Obama made a new demonstration of his political approach to the world: "Our nations," he said, "are two global leaders, driven, not to dominate other nations, but to build a future of security and prosperity for all nations.”
Alliances, partnerships, pursuing harmony between equals, reconciliation, respect: the words that the current presidency uses reveal a vision for the world unlike that of former administrations. It is not only that the Bush-era concept of a master-of-the-world, super-powerful America is replaced by an America wisely accepting its place in a multi-centered organization. It is more than that: it is the idea that power itself, such as we have understood until now, is powerless to resolve the problems with which the world is presented today.
Often in his speeches, Obama seems to reflect this powerlessness. Some reproach him for it: he "does" nothing in the Middle East, acts insufficiently with regards to Iran, etc.
The critique, however, returns to a style of action which appears to be out-dated: the act of threatening where it is not clear how the problem at hand should be solved, as seen in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Manmohan Singh does not invite Obama to "win" the war there, but instead to avoid a "premature" retreat.
Barack Obama profoundly embodies his era, that of humanitarian and civil rights; that of zero dead; that of political discovery of the common fate of humanity.
In this era, nations have fewer ambitions than problems: energy, poverty, climate change, terrorism, health care, uncertain job-market, etc.
To attack these, Barack Obama advocates mutual understanding, discretion and reevaluation of traditional friend/enemy relations. He presents himself as repairman and facilitator. He searches solutions. In his problem-filled era, and under his reign, force gives the impression of going out of style.
Edited by Alex Brewer