Charles Krauthammer tackles President Obama’s “leading from behind” doctrine at the Washington Post today. He finds two reasons for the adminisration’s discomfort with American leadership. First, the White House believes “U.S. relative power is declining.” And second, they believe “we are reviled” internationally. As Krauthammer writes, this second concept is nothing new:
It is the fate of any assertive superpower to be envied, denounced and blamed for everything under the sun. Nothing has changed. Moreover, for a country so deeply reviled, why during the massive unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan and Syria have anti-American demonstrations been such a rarity?
We can go even further. Many of these opposition groups have actually called on the U.S. for assistance during their revolutions. And in too many of these situations, we’ve turned these groups down. The general Arab public is not railing against the U.S.; it is the “paper tiger” autocrats who have long used anti-Americanism as a tool to hold onto power.
And, as Krauthammer writes, the American liberal elites want to see U.S. power diminished, not the “international community”:
Who truly reviles America the hegemon? The world that Obama lived in and shaped him intellectually: the elite universities; his Hyde Park milieu. . . . It is the liberal elites who revile the American colossus and devoutly wish to see it cut down to size. Leading from behind—diminishing America’s global standing and assertiveness—is a reaction to their view of America, not the world’s.
This goes back to the administration’s idea that America’s power is declining, and we need to begin to accept as much by taking on a smaller international role. If anything, Libya proves how divorced from reality this view is. The “international community” has shown that it needs the U.S. to lead. France, Great Britain, and other countries that previously derided American hegemony are now practically begging the U.S. to take the reigns in Libya. Whether we like it or not, we are the world leader, and there’s simply no other nation that can take on this role.