The president came close to ignoring the rest of the world as he delivered a broad vision for America’s future. And yet the near-total absence of overseas issues in his 22-minute address amounted to, paradoxically, the fullest articulation yet of the president’s cherished theme from the campaign, that America’s attention should turn to “nation-building here at home.” …

To the extent he addressed the rest of the world, it was mainly as a foil: “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise,” Obama said. Contrast that to JFK’s famous 1961 pledge to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Or George W. Bush’s second-term commitment “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,” as Obama’s predecessor put it in his second Inaugural Address. The overwhelming emotional direction of the president’s second-term goals seemed to be inward, despite a foreign-policy agenda that includes climate change and nuclear nonproliferation. …

Still, wishful thinking does not a presidency make. The day after Obama’s speech, another series of car bombings in Iraq killed at least 16 people, more evidence of reemerging Sunni-Shiite tensions. Iran and North Korea remain festering nuclear nightmares. A new wave of jihadists is rising in the Middle East. It’s not likely the president will be able to shut out the world for long.