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For a man who had taken a stunning electoral blow two weeks earlier, Barack Obama completed his Asian trip with an air of unperturbed leadership of the world — whatever the Republicans at home thought about who was in charge of what now will happen in the United States

The nation and its politicians have since the Cold War been so confident of American supremacy over the whole of Western civilization that not only allies have ceased to count but enemies. Americans are the leaders who make the decisions on how the world should work, even when this clearly is not what experience teaches, as one might think had been learned in recent years in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

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