In advanced civilizations the period loosely called Alexandrian is usually associated with flexible morals, perfunctory religion, populist standards and cosmopolitan tastes, feminism, exotic cults, and the rapid turnover of high and low fads—in short, a falling away (which is all that decadence means) from the strictness of traditional rules, embodied in character and inforced from within. — Jacques Barzun
Here are the parts I find problematic:
“…a fellow citizen of the world.”
This should scare people far more than Kennedy being Catholic [and a subject of the pope.] If you were a shareholder in a company would you vote for a CEO that said that he would work to better all businesses?
“I don’t look like the Americans…”
Race in the second paragraph?
“And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe.”
No big problem here, but Communism has marched across Europe.
In general, he sounds like he wants to be the police man of the world. Does he suggest we work together to invade all of the countries that have injustices in them? The Bush administration should have already proved that doesn’t work. What other thing could this alliance of nations do? Sanctions? That doesn’t make sence. To punish cruel dictators we make the oppressed people poorer oppressed people.
I find it very hard to understand what Obama has in mind, because it seems to me to presuppose that somehow, with him in office, disagreements will fade, age-old hatreds will disappear, “and the whole world will live as one.” Europe will take over a much bigger role in world affairs, despite the fact that getting the nations of Europe to take action together has been more than any other recent President has managed.
There are bad people in the world who do bad things and want to do more. I don’t hear anything from Obama that acknowledges that or reflects a plan for dealing with it. As you point out, sanctions tend to harm the people rather than the rulers. And they are routinely undercut by the very European nations Obama is addressing.
Some things can be handled with soft power, but many things can’t be. I don’t think Obama recognizes that.