The Corner

The World Turned Upside Down

They’re rioting in Iran over a probably fraudulent election and the use of violence to suppress dissent — part of the “robust” debate that President Obama just welcomed. Meanwhile, the “optional” and orphaned war in Iraq, which led to real democracy, is now, after January 20, mysteriously once again a sign of the “winds of change.”

It used to be that a South Korean leader, worried about a cowboy America, would visit Washington to lecture an American president about grating U.S. bases while talking grandly about a “Korean solution” and the growing “sunshine policy.” Now it is more likely that a worried Korean president will have to persuade his skeptical American counterpart to keep imperialist U.S. troops on the DMZ to order to deter a nuclear Armageddon.

There is some value to the present irony. Erstwhile U.S. allies can begin to fathom the wages of their much-desired “post-American world.” It appears that it wasn’t George W. Bush’s Manicheanism that “played into the hands” of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who now has a fresh lease on power, despite the U.S. charm offensive of the last six months.

The truth is that the United States now gives more attention and concern to former enemies than it does to present allies. We now believe that provocative acts arise from misunderstanding, not planned aggression. Possible military action against aggressors hinges on U.N. approval and global consensus. We have leapfrogged Europe and are now quite to left of it on matters of foreign policy. It is assumed that disputes involve 50/50 culpability and do not arise from the greater bad-faith efforts of one party. This is the world our allies largely wanted, and it is fascinating to see it play out about them.

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