“I stand before you today,” Obama said, “believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion. We cannot look backwards. We live in an integrated world—one in which we all have a stake in each other’s success.”
Now there was some forward, ahead-of-the-curve thinking, at least until two days later, when a Russian three-star general reportedly marched into the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and announced that America should steer clear of the Syrian airspace, stat. Russian bombing, you see, would begin within the hour. Surprise!
Well, at least Obama was halfway accurate: We now apparently have a stake in Russia’s success, whether we like it or not. This would be somewhat hilarious if it weren’t so deadly, or so indicative of a key strategic region quickly spiraling out of control. As Syria continues to melt down, Obama’s broad, multilayered foreign policy prescriptions, as broadcast to the U.N., seem a little, well, vague: “We must go forward in pursuit of our ideals, not abandon them at this critical time. We must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears.”
The rise of strongmen, the seizing of territory, and the manipulation of natural resources are the way of the past, Obama told the members of the United Nations. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, a man to whom CBS News once dedicated a slide show titled “Vladimir Putin Does Manly Things”—judo matches! Bear wrangling! Riding horses bare-chested! Clutching giant guns! Installing GPS devices on half-sedated tigers! Giving dirty looks to strange Russian birds while strapped into strange Russian flying contraptions!—apparently did not get the memo.