Barack Obama dreamed of a united world in harmony. He wanted to shake hands with Muslim youth during a speech in Cairo. If Joe Biden were to utter such words, he would be considered politically confused. Because the opponents of the USA have become economically stronger and culturally more bold – and are in the process of networking with each other.

One of the moving moments of my work as a Spiegel correspondent in Washington was the trip to Cairo with the young President Barack Obama. At the university there, he wanted to shake hands with Muslim youth after the terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda and the “war on terror” led by George W. Bush.

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His message: I don’t want to punish you, I want to convince you. I’m not looking for demarcation, but for proximity. Obama dreamed the dream of the world united in harmony.

And so, on June 4, 2009, I was sitting in this traditional university, in the midst of the Muslim students, when the President delivered his prosaically formulated gospel of peace, “A New Beginning”:

“I came here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. A new beginning based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

And then his challenge to the young people:

“It is easier to start wars than to end them. We have the power to shape the world we seek. The Holy Bible tells us, ‘Blessed are they that make peace, for they shall be called sons of God’. “

Those words have faded away. The world Obama dreamed of has ended. And maybe it never existed in the real life of the peoples.

When Obama’s former deputy Joe Biden lands in Israel and Saudi Arabia on Air Force One today, he doesn’t have a comparable speech with him. What for? Nobody would want to hear her. Those who give such a speech today are no longer considered peace-loving, but politically confused.

The new US President is looking at a world of unforgiveness. The opponents of the USA have become economically stronger, militarily more self-confident and culturally more daring. And they are in the process of networking with each other.

The cultural curiosity with which state and party leader Deng Xiaoping once traveled the USA under his cowboy hat (January 28 to February 6, 1979) has given way to open opposition to the system. In the South China Sea, China is demonstrating its ambition for regional dominance. China is getting involved on the European battlefield by supplying arms to Russia and buying excess gas from Putin. In Hong Kong you pull through. The invasion of Taiwan is only a matter of time.

The puppet dictator Kim Jong-un can rely on his Chinese puppeteer Xi Jinping. It not only makes him strong, but also courageous. North Korea is said to have tested a nuclear missile system again at the weekend. According to the South Korean government, several artillery shells were fired from North Korea. World opinion looks the other way because madness, when it happens multiple times, becomes habit.

Vladimir Putin is waging a two-front war against the West. In Ukraine, on the outskirts of NATO, he is fighting with tanks for territorial gains. He gambles on the world energy markets in order to hurt western affluent societies at their core. He sells the gas he extracts from the West to Indians and Chinese. The tripling of gas prices alone will help him finance this war and the next. Russia is, as Republican Senator John McCain aptly described it, “a big gas station with a nuclear bomb”.

Unfazed by Western sanctions, Tehran continues to build its own nuclear arsenal. According to Western intelligence services, nuclear enrichment is making enormous progress. The mullahs’ regime does not think for a second about reconciliation with the Americans. True to the old adage, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the Russian army will now be equipped with state-of-the-art drones, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reported yesterday. These drones could be used as weapons. Anyone who does not think of the “axis of evil” in this cooperation has a short memory.

The ruler there, Assad, was not impressed either by Obama’s threats or by his temptations. He did well with this ignorance. His rule is more stable than ever. Also because Putin’s army helped him stay in the saddle in 2015. Assad has been grateful to the Kremlin ruler ever since. He doesn’t find Putin’s war in Ukraine repellent, but consistent:

“Syria stands with Russia because it believes its position is correct and because it has a right for Russia to oppose NATO’s expansionism.”

Hezbollah, Islamic State, Fatah and Hamas have not stopped hating the US and Israel. With the victory of the Taliban in Kabul and the expulsion of the Americans from Afghanistan, international terrorists have once again gained a hinterland that is ideal for planning large-scale terrorist attacks. Nathan Sales, former US State Department Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, assesses the situation as follows:

It is almost certain that al Qaeda will once again establish a safe haven in Afghanistan and use it for terrorist attacks against the United States and others. “

Conclusion: The unipolar world order that seemed to emerge after the implosion of the Soviet Union was a Western mirage. When Obama went to Cairo, people thought the man was making history. It wasn’t even an episode, just a beautiful hallucination.

Or to put it more clearly: In the great world theater it no longer smells of incense, but of gunsteam.

Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, CEO of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.