The new leaders of the free world

Americans are the new French.  And the French (and British) are the new Americans.  At least when it comes to foreign policy.

Whatever happened to the good old days when the U.S. aggressively confronted evil-doers and France screamed about our defiling the altar of the United Nations? Now, it is France and other European allies who are leading the way in confronting brutal dictators while the U.S. drags its feet so as not to look like an anti-Muslim resource-grabber. And while the U.S. dithers on Libya despite direct requests for help, suspicions in the Arab mind are being reconfirmed that it cares about their well-being as much as Charlie Sheen cares about sobriety.

Western Europe, not the U.S., has acted as the leaders of the free world since the Libya crisis began. When President Obama finally addressed it, he did not mention Gaddafi by name. He didn’t call for his removal until late last week. The British were the ones who began contacting Libyan officers to tell them they could be prosecuted for war crimes if they did not defect. It was French President Sarkozy, not U.S. President Obama, who first called for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone on February 23. Since then, British Prime Minister Cameron has become the loudest voice in the free world to support it.

There are now mixed messages coming out of France with the foreign minister saying any no-fly zone must be under UN authority, even though Russia opposes it, but we know where Sarkozy stands. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen say say there is no confirmation that Gaddafi’s forces are carrying out air strikes despite countless accounts from Libyans, reporters, and pilots who defected. Gates is warning about what it will look like to attack another Middle Eastern country and Secretary of State Clinton says that intervention has been resisted to avoid the perception that we’re trying to take Libyan oil. Ironically, the military commander who defected in Tobruk is suggesting that the West’s oil business with Gaddafi is the reason why it is not coming to their rescue.

via Pajamas Media » Europe Takes the Lead in Defending Freedom and Western Values.

This just in:  France has extended diplomatic recognition to the rebel government.

Then there is this from the Washington Post:

President Obama is content to let other nations publicly lead the search for solutions to the Libyan conflict, his advisers say, a stance that reflects the more humble tone he has sought to bring to U.S. foreign policy but one that also opens him to criticism that he is a weak leader.

So what do you think?  America is probably not in a position to begin a third war.  But do you appreciate the president’s “humble” approach?   Is it time to give up our leadership on the world stage?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    The reticence is probably due to the fact that if we do intervene we’ll be viewed as doing so for the wrong reasons and be scorned by the Europeans and loathed by the Arab nations. On the other hand, if we don’t intervene we’ll be viewed as doing so for the wrong reasons and be scorned by the Europeans and loathed by the Arab nations.

  • SKPeterson

    The reticence is probably due to the fact that if we do intervene we’ll be viewed as doing so for the wrong reasons and be scorned by the Europeans and loathed by the Arab nations. On the other hand, if we don’t intervene we’ll be viewed as doing so for the wrong reasons and be scorned by the Europeans and loathed by the Arab nations.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I think our reticence ought to be informed by the fact that we really aren’t quite sure whether those fighting Gaddhafi (sp?) are relatively sane, or whether they’re Al-Qaida types.

    That said, hopefully we’re working nights at State and the CIA to figure this out!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I think our reticence ought to be informed by the fact that we really aren’t quite sure whether those fighting Gaddhafi (sp?) are relatively sane, or whether they’re Al-Qaida types.

    That said, hopefully we’re working nights at State and the CIA to figure this out!

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Good.
    Can we really afford another ‘armed intervention’ especially one that will be perceived as being done for oil?

  • http://www.newreformationpress.com Patrick Kyle

    Good.
    Can we really afford another ‘armed intervention’ especially one that will be perceived as being done for oil?

  • DonS

    It’s kind of refreshing, actually. It’s about time western Europe stood for something and took the lead, instead of riding our coat tails.

    The greatest threat to our national security currently is our own profligate government spending and the abject unwillingness of many of our governmental leaders to confront it.

    As Bike said, our role right now is to figure out who the good guys are in Libya and elsewhere, and then find a way to help them covertly.

  • DonS

    It’s kind of refreshing, actually. It’s about time western Europe stood for something and took the lead, instead of riding our coat tails.

    The greatest threat to our national security currently is our own profligate government spending and the abject unwillingness of many of our governmental leaders to confront it.

    As Bike said, our role right now is to figure out who the good guys are in Libya and elsewhere, and then find a way to help them covertly.

  • Porcell

    America learned from WWII that the leading democratic powers in the West need to exert strong authority to keep malevolent autocrats from disturbing the peace of the world in a way that threatens our vital interests. WWII, according to Churchill, was an unnecessary war in that the Western powers failed to deal decisively with Hitler in the Thirties.

    While Obama has led America to a position of the New France that will threaten our interests, fortunately Cameron and Sarkozy are stepping up until Obama is defeated and America once again gets seriously involved in world affairs.

    Fiscally, with a $14 trillion economy, we are able to defend politically and militarily our interests abroad. The real fiscal problem has mainly to do with entitlement, not defense or international spending. The isolationists are taken advantage of the entitlement spending crisis to advance their feckless project of withdrawing from world realities.

  • Porcell

    America learned from WWII that the leading democratic powers in the West need to exert strong authority to keep malevolent autocrats from disturbing the peace of the world in a way that threatens our vital interests. WWII, according to Churchill, was an unnecessary war in that the Western powers failed to deal decisively with Hitler in the Thirties.

    While Obama has led America to a position of the New France that will threaten our interests, fortunately Cameron and Sarkozy are stepping up until Obama is defeated and America once again gets seriously involved in world affairs.

    Fiscally, with a $14 trillion economy, we are able to defend politically and militarily our interests abroad. The real fiscal problem has mainly to do with entitlement, not defense or international spending. The isolationists are taken advantage of the entitlement spending crisis to advance their feckless project of withdrawing from world realities.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    A no fly zone should have been declared weeks ago. We should be doing it now. At the same time, Britain and France, as well as Italy have the means to do so themselves, and so what is stopping them?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    A no fly zone should have been declared weeks ago. We should be doing it now. At the same time, Britain and France, as well as Italy have the means to do so themselves, and so what is stopping them?

  • Cincinnatus

    Fine by me, at least in this specific instance. Bracketing my “heartland isolationist” tendencies, to take up the mantle assigned to me by the venerable Porcell, I still can’t think of a single good reason why we would want to be involved even remotely in Libya’s crisis.

    Watching a news report (ABC, I think) the other evening, I was struck by the fact that the anchor introduced the segment on Libya by inquiring whether “we could or would” get involved in Libya in a military capacity, and what would be the most effective ways of doing so. For my part, I was wondering about the question of whether we should get involved. I fear we’ll ask that question too late.

  • Cincinnatus

    Fine by me, at least in this specific instance. Bracketing my “heartland isolationist” tendencies, to take up the mantle assigned to me by the venerable Porcell, I still can’t think of a single good reason why we would want to be involved even remotely in Libya’s crisis.

    Watching a news report (ABC, I think) the other evening, I was struck by the fact that the anchor introduced the segment on Libya by inquiring whether “we could or would” get involved in Libya in a military capacity, and what would be the most effective ways of doing so. For my part, I was wondering about the question of whether we should get involved. I fear we’ll ask that question too late.

  • Grace

    2 – Bike Bubba

    YOU WROTE: “MarchI think our reticence ought to be informed by the fact that we really aren’t quite sure whether those fighting Gaddhafi (sp?) are relatively sane, or whether they’re Al-Qaida types.”

    Farrakhan: ‘Satanic Jews’ Pushing US Into War
    Wednesday, 02 Mar 2011

    “Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Jews and Zionists are “trying to push the US into war” and are a cover for Satan, at the group’s annual meeting near Chicago on Tuesday.”

    another excerpt:

    “Some of you think that I’m just somebody who’s got something out for the Jewish people,” Farrakhan said. “You’re stupid. Do you think I would waste my time if I did not think it was important for you to know Satan? My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again.”

    http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/farrakhan-jews-war-us/2011/03/02/id/388115

  • Grace

    2 – Bike Bubba

    YOU WROTE: “MarchI think our reticence ought to be informed by the fact that we really aren’t quite sure whether those fighting Gaddhafi (sp?) are relatively sane, or whether they’re Al-Qaida types.”

    Farrakhan: ‘Satanic Jews’ Pushing US Into War
    Wednesday, 02 Mar 2011

    “Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said Jews and Zionists are “trying to push the US into war” and are a cover for Satan, at the group’s annual meeting near Chicago on Tuesday.”

    another excerpt:

    “Some of you think that I’m just somebody who’s got something out for the Jewish people,” Farrakhan said. “You’re stupid. Do you think I would waste my time if I did not think it was important for you to know Satan? My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again.”

    http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/farrakhan-jews-war-us/2011/03/02/id/388115

  • Grace

    It appears Pandora’s lid is OPENED, not just a crack, but wide open as it reveals itself for the entire world to watch.

  • Grace

    It appears Pandora’s lid is OPENED, not just a crack, but wide open as it reveals itself for the entire world to watch.

  • Porcell

    Eliot Abrams in a WSJ article today, , Washington’s Dithering on Libya: Why are top defense and intelligence officials disparaging military action and publicly predicting Gadhafi’s survival? writes:

    This is a disaster for the people of Libya. It is a moral and political calamity for a generation of Western leaders whose reactions to Rwanda and Srebrenica consisted of ineffectual squeaks of dismay. It may deflect the Arab awakening into directions that will horrify us. And it says dangerous things about American foreign policy. Unless it is reversed, the administration’s Libya policy will convince the world that the U.S. is a feeble friend and an ineffectual foe, paralyzed by its own ambivalence.

    This is what happens when the American people elect an ineffectual leader. Obama has become a joke on the world stage.

  • Porcell

    Eliot Abrams in a WSJ article today, , Washington’s Dithering on Libya: Why are top defense and intelligence officials disparaging military action and publicly predicting Gadhafi’s survival? writes:

    This is a disaster for the people of Libya. It is a moral and political calamity for a generation of Western leaders whose reactions to Rwanda and Srebrenica consisted of ineffectual squeaks of dismay. It may deflect the Arab awakening into directions that will horrify us. And it says dangerous things about American foreign policy. Unless it is reversed, the administration’s Libya policy will convince the world that the U.S. is a feeble friend and an ineffectual foe, paralyzed by its own ambivalence.

    This is what happens when the American people elect an ineffectual leader. Obama has become a joke on the world stage.

  • Cincinnatus

    Take a deep breath, Porcell, and then tell me a) when Libya has ever, in recent memory, been our friend and b) why it should not be our foe (in the sense that it deserves our military’s, erm, attention)?

  • Cincinnatus

    Take a deep breath, Porcell, and then tell me a) when Libya has ever, in recent memory, been our friend and b) why it should not be our foe (in the sense that it deserves our military’s, erm, attention)?

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, after WWII Japan and Germany were hardly our friends, though we successfully sought to reform them and give them a place among civilized nations. Just now as leader of the free world, we should be bending our every effort toward defeating Gadhafi in order to have effectual influence on the development of a Libyan democracy. The idea that America should only help its friends in the world is absurd.

    Otherwise, as Abrams remarks above, Unless it is reversed, the administration’s Libya policy will convince the world that the U.S. is a feeble friend and an ineffectual foe, paralyzed by its own ambivalence

    It must be wonderful to be a stoic isolationist in this dangerous world.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, after WWII Japan and Germany were hardly our friends, though we successfully sought to reform them and give them a place among civilized nations. Just now as leader of the free world, we should be bending our every effort toward defeating Gadhafi in order to have effectual influence on the development of a Libyan democracy. The idea that America should only help its friends in the world is absurd.

    Otherwise, as Abrams remarks above, Unless it is reversed, the administration’s Libya policy will convince the world that the U.S. is a feeble friend and an ineffectual foe, paralyzed by its own ambivalence

    It must be wonderful to be a stoic isolationist in this dangerous world.

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh yeah? So what do we have to gain (we live in a world of Realpolitik, as you yourself acknowledge) by attempting to “make” Libya into a friend? And when will we ever learn that nation-building–especially in the third world–doesn’t work? And more to the point, where are we, a nation 3 trillion in deficit and 14 trillion in debt, going to get the money for these wonderful military adventures?

    “The idea that American should only help its friends in the world is absurd.” Speaking of absurdity, I think this statement really speaks for itself.

    If France, Britain, or other local semi-neighbors determine that Libya’s instability is a definite threat to their own security, then I have no objection to their intervention. But Libya means little or nothing to the United States, and you certainly haven’t provided a compelling reason for me to alter my assessment. Your argument seems to be that our interest is in “helping” the docile, kind residents of Libya establish a democracy. Please. The vast majority of nation-states across the globe do not have functioning democracies–and usually for good reason. What makes Libya so special that it, among the 189-ish world nations, deserves our attention?

  • Cincinnatus

    Oh yeah? So what do we have to gain (we live in a world of Realpolitik, as you yourself acknowledge) by attempting to “make” Libya into a friend? And when will we ever learn that nation-building–especially in the third world–doesn’t work? And more to the point, where are we, a nation 3 trillion in deficit and 14 trillion in debt, going to get the money for these wonderful military adventures?

    “The idea that American should only help its friends in the world is absurd.” Speaking of absurdity, I think this statement really speaks for itself.

    If France, Britain, or other local semi-neighbors determine that Libya’s instability is a definite threat to their own security, then I have no objection to their intervention. But Libya means little or nothing to the United States, and you certainly haven’t provided a compelling reason for me to alter my assessment. Your argument seems to be that our interest is in “helping” the docile, kind residents of Libya establish a democracy. Please. The vast majority of nation-states across the globe do not have functioning democracies–and usually for good reason. What makes Libya so special that it, among the 189-ish world nations, deserves our attention?

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, you might read Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy in which he argues that true modern democracies rarely go to war against one another, as they are much more interested in economic and social development and have little interest in protecting dynastic realms by stirring up the people against ersatz enemies.

    America and the West have a vital interest in a stable and well developed the Middle East region with which we may can carry on trade including the crucial commodity of oil.

    Abrams above is right in claiming that that It [equivocating on Libya] is a moral and political calamity for a generation of Western leaders whose reactions to Rwanda and Srebrenica consisted of ineffectual squeaks of dismay.

    On the fiscal issue, allow me to restate the following part of post #5: Fiscally, with a $14 trillion economy, we are able to defend politically and militarily our interests abroad. The real fiscal problem has mainly to do with entitlement, not defense or international spending. The isolationists are taking advantage of the entitlement spending crisis to advance their feckless project of withdrawing from world realities.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, you might read Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy in which he argues that true modern democracies rarely go to war against one another, as they are much more interested in economic and social development and have little interest in protecting dynastic realms by stirring up the people against ersatz enemies.

    America and the West have a vital interest in a stable and well developed the Middle East region with which we may can carry on trade including the crucial commodity of oil.

    Abrams above is right in claiming that that It [equivocating on Libya] is a moral and political calamity for a generation of Western leaders whose reactions to Rwanda and Srebrenica consisted of ineffectual squeaks of dismay.

    On the fiscal issue, allow me to restate the following part of post #5: Fiscally, with a $14 trillion economy, we are able to defend politically and militarily our interests abroad. The real fiscal problem has mainly to do with entitlement, not defense or international spending. The isolationists are taking advantage of the entitlement spending crisis to advance their feckless project of withdrawing from world realities.

  • http://ilovetoronto.com/ Heather

    I am afraid a no-fly zone would provide Kadhafi with a wonderful opportunity to define the conflict in his country as the fight of the Libyan people against the Western countries which could in fact complicate the whole situation.

  • http://ilovetoronto.com/ Heather

    I am afraid a no-fly zone would provide Kadhafi with a wonderful opportunity to define the conflict in his country as the fight of the Libyan people against the Western countries which could in fact complicate the whole situation.


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