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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Getting to the right body count before we can act.

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal on The Collapse of Internationalism discussed the failure of the "post-American world in which the U.S. is obliged to pursue its interests in concert with the rest of the world's powers, never alone."

The poster boy for this internationalist view is White House deputy Ben Rhodes, who told a reporter last week: "This is the Obama conception of the U.S. role in the world—to work through multilateral organizations and bilateral relationships to make sure that the steps we are taking are amplified."

Days later, bemused Libyan rebel spokesman Essam Gheriani remarked in Benghazi: "Everyone here is puzzled as to how many casualties the international community judges to be enough for them to help. Maybe we should start committing suicide to reach the required number."

The blueprint for this policy summarizes the Obama doctrine:
"...[U.S.] leadership recognizes that in a world in which power has diffused, our interests are best protected and advanced when others step up and at times lead alongside or even ahead of us."

Which gets us to the Middle East where
... no one has stepped up, no one is leading alongside and our allies are in the rear, accomplishing nothing while they wait for . . . America.

This was a test case, and what we have seen is that a world in which the U.S. doesn't unmistakably lead is a world that spins its wheels, and eventually the wheels start to come off. When the U.S. instructs the Saudis not to intervene in Bahrain, and the Saudi army does precisely the opposite, the wheels are coming off the international order.
The Liberal community in the US prefers it this way (read the comments).  The Libyan rebels say that the internation community's hands are covered with blood. Lady Macbeth just keeps scrubbing.

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