Thanks to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the two wars they spawned, it seemed like the near entirety of President George W. Bush’s two terms in office were characterized by efforts to define, harness and exploit fear. Despite living in the most peaceful, prosperous and predictable period in world history, Americans became convinced that they faced an unending era of war, impoverishment and chaos. That muddled mindset put us painfully out of touch with the rest of the planet.
Enter then-Sen. Barack Obama, whose masterful presidential campaign in 2008 spoke openly and honestly about healing that growing rift. Once in office, Obama’s global “apology tour,” as some wags dubbed it, struck such a heartfelt chord overseas that the Nobel committee fast-forwarded him the Peace Prize just a few months into his term. In many ways, the award had nothing to do with Obama himself but with the U.S. superpower that the global community longed to have back in its fold: namely, a great and mighty nation that once again sees the world for what it is and revels in its glorious achievements.
And glorious those achievements are.