23
Sep

Near the beginning of President Barack Obama’s final speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, he pointed out something really important about the world today: We are living through the best time in human history, but it feels to a lot of us like anything but.

“This is the paradox that defines our world today: A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before. And yet our societies are filled with uncertainty and unease and strife,” Obama said.

This isn’t just a one-off observation on his part. It actually speaks to something very fundamental, and underappreciated, about the nature of the world we live in. We have set up a series of institutions that order the world — ranging from NATO to the global free trade regime to the UN itself — and have helped make the world better for most people.

But not everyone. Some people have suffered tremendously from the way the world is ordered — and it’s helped create a broader sense of social and global crisis.

 Obama’s speech, then, is an implicit recognition that how this paradox gets resolved — if the real suffering of the few can be alleviated without sacrificing the gains of the many — will play a major role in shaping his how tenure in office is perceived. Read more…
 

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