Barack Obama’s first speech to the UN was filled with the giddy hopes that won him the presidency in the first place. “More than at any point in human history, the interests of nations and peoples are shared,” he told world leaders in 2009.
Five years later, it was a greyer and more sombre Mr Obama who warned the UN this week about the “generational task” of defeating Islamist militants in the Middle East, two days after he launched his first air strikes in Syria. “The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force,” he said.
Replete with George W Bush-style rhetoric about a “network of death” and “this brand of evil”, Mr Obama’s speech this week was an effort to reboot his flagging presidency.
In political terms, the more martial Mr Obama was trying to shake of the Jimmy Carter aura that has been hanging over his White House; the steady corrosion of leverage at home and influence abroad in the face of Middle East turmoil that slowly leaves an incumbent looking impotent.