America is suffering from a lack of mastery over its own riches.
Almost daily we read of America’s “waning power” and “inevitable decline,” as observers argue over the consequences of defense cuts and budget crises.
Yet much of the new American “leading from behind” strategy is more a matter of choice than of necessity. Apparently, both left-wing critics of U.S. foreign policy and right-wing Jacksonians are tiring of spending blood and treasure on seemingly ungrateful Middle Easterners — after two Gulf wars, the decade in Afghanistan, and various interventions in Lebanon and Libya.
We certainly have plenty of planes and bombs with which to pound Syria’s Bashir al-Assad. Never in the last 70 years has the U.S. military been so lethal.
But chaos in Libya followed the death of Moammar Qaddafi, and the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood seems poised to replace Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Most Americans assume that if we were to remove the murderous Assad dynasty in Syria, the rebels would either show us no gratitude or install a replacement regime not much better.