At the U.N. this week, President Obama will promote a foreign policy straight out of the community organizer’s playbook: one that demands progressivism, accountability—and engagement of the enemy.

President Barack Obama comes to New York this week to visit the United Nations. He will address the General Assembly, meet with Asian leaders, and participate in a clutch of meetings on issues concerning the international community, including development and the situation in Sudan. His trip coincides with the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, at which the great and the good pledge to help address international problems.

Article - Fullilove Obama UN Barack Obama talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong during the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC. April 13, 2010. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

But if his work in New York this week throws light on his approach to international affairs, so does the work he did in Chicago back in the day. What he presents to his fellow world leaders this week — a progressive foreign policy, a willingness to engage with adversaries, a commitment to following the rules and making others do the same — reflects his background as a community organizer.

The foreign policy styles of presidents sometimes show traces of their previous careers. Former actor Ronald Reagan liked a simple plot and a few good lines. Bill Clinton displayed a lawyer’s fondness for arguing both sides of an issue. George W. Bush, former managing partner of the Texas Rangers, believed that changing a single regime could solve the problems of the Middle East, just as a single hit can win a game of baseball.

Barack Obama often relates how after college he became a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. Community organizing is a social movement pioneered by activist Saul Alinsky which mobilizes communities to work together to improve their circumstances.

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