Monday, March 21, 2011

The US Is In Decline--Enjoy The Ride!

An excerpt from an email from DG:
In Ocotober 2009, Charles Krauthammer critiqued President Obama's foreign policy as Decline is a choice
Facing the choice of whether to maintain our dominance or to gradually, deliberately, willingly, and indeed relievedly give it up, we are currently on a course towards the latter. The current liberal ascendancy in the United States--controlling the executive and both houses of Congress, dominating the media and elite culture--has set us on a course for decline. And this is true for both foreign and domestic policies. Indeed, they work synergistically to ensure that outcome.

Regarding Libya we now see that France is leading the assault on Qaddafi

Ten days ago, Mr. Sarkozy met with representatives of the Libyan opposition and recognized it as the country’s legitimate government. And while the United Nations Security Council has authorized the use of force to protect civilians by “all necessary measures,” the logic of the military operation would seem to be the ouster of Colonel Qaddafi.

Mr. Sarkozy, motivated by French failures to respond quickly to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and pressed by a new foreign minister and vocal public figures like the writer Bernard-Henri Lévy, came together with Britain to drag Europe and the United States toward a military engagement in the Arab world that key allies like Washington and Berlin never wanted.

France had “decided to assume its role, its role before history” in stopping Colonel Qaddafi’s “murderous madness,” Mr. Sarkozy said solemnly on Saturday, standing alone before the television cameras and pleasing those here who still have a strong sense of French exceptionalism and moral leadership.

David Ignatius though sees the US decline in leadership as a good thing:
President Obama is turning a page, by letting other nations take the first whacks at Moammar Gaddafi, no question about that. But that strikes me as good strategy, not a feckless blunder.
What’s increasingly clear watching the play of events over the past week is that Obama really does want to change the narrative about America and the Arab world — even at the cost of being criticized as vacillating and weak-willed. He senses (rightly, in my view) that over the past several decades America, without really intending to, became a post-colonial power in the Middle East. The narrative of American military intervention stretches from Lebanon to Iraq to Afghanistan, with the ghastly interlude of Sept. 11, 2001. Obama seems determined to break with it. He really is the un-Bush.

The administration has gotten criticized for changing course on Libya over the past week — resisting intervention and then supporting it. But the essential point, it seems to me, is that Obama was prepared to intervene only when it was clear there was an international consensus — with the Arab League and then the United Nations voting for action. That strikes me as the proper ordering of things, especially at a time when America still has big armies in two other Muslim countries.
How has the administration's response not been a blunder? Inconsistent, incoherent, inaction has been the administration's approach to revolution in the Middle East. Yes, in the end the administration nudged Mubarak to leave. But it came too late to win the respect of the revolutionaries (whether any action would have won them over is a different mattter) and that it came at all alienated the Saudis. The administation though is apparently comfortable with Saudi Arabia intervening to keep the Bahraini government in power and hasn't said much about the protests being put down in Syria.
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