Showcasing Lao culture, Obama pushes back on US isolationism

From The Associated Press:

LUANG PRABANG, Laos (AP) — President Barack Obama ventured Wednesday to a remote mountain town in Laos to tour a centuries-old Buddhist temple, gently chiding Americans to resist turning a blind eye to the world outside their borders.

Obama used a visit to the northern city of Luang Prabang to push back against an America-centric world view promulgated by Republican Donald Trump. Questioned by young Southeast Asians, Obama said the U.S. could be a great force for good but has been constrained by the tendency to look inward.

“If you are the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think, you know, ‘we’re so big, we don’t really have to know anything about other people,'” Obama said. “That’s part of what I’m trying to change.”

Though he didn’t mention Trump by name, Obama appeared to counter the isolationist approach epitomized by the Republican presidential nominee’s “America first” rallying cry. An ardent opponent of Obama’s efforts to boost global trade, Trump has questioned the U.S. alliance with NATO and vowed to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

So when an Indonesian woman asked Obama about American multiculturalism and the edict “e pluribus unum” – out of many, one – Obama seized the chance to explain that when times are tough and people feel stressed “they turn on others who don’t look like them.” He said that’s why it’s critical for the U.S. to promote principles that rise above any individual religion, nationality or race.

“Not everybody in America agrees with me on this, by the way,” Obama said. After a moment’s hesitation, he added: “I’ll leave it at that.”

Throughout his visit to …

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