One of the more curious features of the Obama worldview is the belief that, a few beheadings here and there notwithstanding, everything out there in the world is going pretty well.
On Wednesday, the president’s remarks on the Islamic State painted a generally rosy picture of the international situation and the American role therein. America is “safer” today as a result of military’s execution of the president’s policies, the president said. In Europe, we have “rallied the world against Russian aggression.” In the Middle East, it was “America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they can’t post a threat to the Syrian people or the world again.” In Afghanistan, “our combat mission will end later this year.”
The belief that things are basically fine does not belong only to the president, but also to his supporters and to the “realist” and nonintervention community. For this wing of American politics, the true threats to American democracy are here at home, in the form of economic inequality, racism and associated ills, and a hawkish foreign policy. Note how, in his Wednesday speech, the president mentioned the 2008 financial panic in almost the same breath as he did 9/11. For him and his supporters, it is of equal or—if they are speaking privately—greater importance than al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States. Obama’s foreign policy—with its paper-thin veneer of liberal internationalist rhetoric obscuring an unsubtle preference for America’s global withdrawal—is to leave the world’s problems to international institutions so we can get down to the more important task of nation-building here at home.
Police have begun arresting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong after China said it would not allow the city to freely choose its top leader.
Hong Kong officials on Tuesday said they arrested 19 protesters for what they called illegal assembly, while local media reported the arrests of three others at their homes. China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) ruled on Sunday that Beijing would still control the nomination process for Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017.