In his mostly admirable remarks about the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the jihadists of the so-called “Islamic State,” Obama returned to two of his favorite rhetorical themes: 1) the idea that in the end the good guys win simply because they are good, and 2) that world opinion is a wellspring of great moral authority.
Obama invokes the “right side of history” constantly, not only that such a thing exists but that he knows what it is and actually speaks for it as well. Perhaps his favorite quote comes from Martin Luther King Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
As for world opinion, particularly in the form of that global shmoo the “international community,” there’s apparently nothing it can’t do. It is the secret to “leading from behind.” Behind what, you ask? The international community. What is the international community? The thing we’re leading from behind. From Russia to Syria, Iran to North Korea, the president is constantly calling on the international community to do something he is unwilling to do. When Russia was carving Crimea away from Ukraine, Obama vowed that “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” After pro-Russian forces shot down a civilian plane over Ukraine, and as Russia lined up troops for a possible invasion, Obama sternly warned that Russia “will only further isolate itself from the international community.”