Citizen of the World

I don’t share in either James’ or Daniel’s strident opposition to the Obama’s declaration that he’s a “citizen of the world.” The phrase seems a useful enough way to describe a particular trendy sentiment: a mildly left-leaning liberal anti-nationalism that suggests that,while one might identify as an American, that shouldn’t be the outer limit of one’s identity group. The sentiment it describes is somewhat fanciful — barring some major catastrophic world event, it’s not likely to happen any time soon — but I don’t find it particularly risible.

On the other hand, I think Daniel’s got something when he writes:

Obama misjudges the public mood here in the U.S. quite badly if he thinks that “this is the moment” when Americans are interested in tearing down walls and embracing globalisation.

Pairing the statement with his position on trade seems instructive. Obama hasn’t exactly been an ardent supporter of free-trade during the campaign, and while it’s possible that he’s just going with the political winds in search of votes, it’s not at all clear that he’s simply modifying his stance as an election-year ploy. Seems to me it’s pretty tough to tout a citizen-of-the-world ethos while fighting to make it more difficult to interact with our neighbors in the global economy. Global solidarity is fairly useless without trade.