I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others. And this has fed an almost reflexive anti-Americanism, which too often has served as an excuse for collective inaction. Now, like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared. […] We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.
So how has this worked out? Has Obama been able to close the gap between the United States and the rest of the world in the United Nations, as so many hoped when he took office? The evidence suggests that he has not.