Barack Obama has just delivered an upbeat inauguration address, proclaiming that a “a decade of war is ending”. Just a few moments earlier David Cameron gave MPs a blood-sweat-toil-and-tears speech, preparing us all for a “generational” struggle against African jihadis. So what’s up? Freddy Gray spells it out in a brilliant and timely analysis: Britain and America’s global interest are diverging. Obama is now, in effect, a Pacific president rather than an Atlantic president (as almost all of his others have been). Hawaii-born, Indonesia-schooled, he has always grown up seeing the world in a slightly different way. And he just doesn’t see these African tribes as so big a deal, certainly not an existential threat that Cameron appears to speak about.
So let’s compare the speeches. For Cameron, there are storm clouds hurtling through the sky:
“We must frustrate the terrorists with our security, we must beat them militarily, we must address the poisonous narrative they feed on; we must close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive; and we must deal with the grievances they use to garner support. This is the work that our generation faces, and we must demonstrate the same resolve and sense of purpose as previous generations have with the challenges that they’ve faced in this House and in this country.”
And Obama’s message: here comes the sun
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”
The only mention of “tyranny” made by the President was a reference to colonial rule by the British crown. But as Freddy says, it’s not that Obama doesn’t like us. The truth is more hurtful: he’s just not that into us. For him, the future lies in the East – and the West’s problems with troublesome African tribes is not too big a blip on his horizon. We have just watched the inauguration of the Pacific President. Do read the whole piece here.