December 29, 2002

JOSH MARSHALL warns about U.S. unilateralism, and suggests that it would be nice if we shared this world-leadership thing a bit.

Porphyrogenitus agrees, and fantasizes about letting Europe take care of the whole North Korea problem:

Thinking further about this, perhaps it’s time to let our EU peers, who believe they should have a full share of leadership alongside the U.S., take the lead in this crisis. This is, after all, only reasonable since the reactor North Korea is using for its plutonium production, designed and built not for energy production but for weapons programs, was designed and built for North Korea by Europeans (Germany, to be exact).

37,000+ French, Italian, Dutch, German, et al troops can replace the American troops on the peninsula and be responsible for serving as a “tripwire” in case of North Korean attack. They can take the lead in deciding how to diffuse this one, and if they decide force is needed, they can bear the lion share of the burden – our troops are busy elsewhere, and our full partners should be able to handle this one while we handle the other. Oh, the U.S. won’t be out of the picture – like I said, it will be role reversal. The EU will be expected to “consult” with us at every turn, whatever moves they make will be subjected to un-constructive criticism, and if they make even the smallest of mistakes we’ll be quick with the finger of blame.

But, as he notes, Europe can’t do it, and wouldn’t do it if it could. Which is the problem. I don’t think many Americans — except maybe Bill Kristol — actually want America to be the world’s hyperpower. We’d love to see responsible and capable allies picking up the global-policeman duties. But Europe couldn’t even deal with the Balkans — a minor threat in its own backyard — without American help. And everyone else, aside from Britain and Australia, is worse.

It’s not leadership by our fault. It’s leadership by default.

Meanwhile Rantburg notes that the anti-Americanism seems pretty shallow — like Gerhard Schroder, Roh is trying to throttle it back now that he’s been elected and has to actually govern. Like Gerhard, though, he’ll discover that America doesn’t forget this stuff. Chris Lawrence makes a similar observation.

UPDATE: Juan Gato emails to remind me to link this essay by John Hawkins entitled “confessions of an isolationist wannabe,” from earlier this year. I had linked it when it was new, but Gato’s right — it belongs in this discussion. This post is worth reading, too.

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