But as the pendulum has swung to a U.S. foreign policy based on little more than the personal attractions of the president, it's little wonder that the world is casting about for an alternative. And a view of the world that understands that American power still furnishes the margin between freedom and tyranny, and between prosperity and chaos, is starting to look better all the time. Even in France.I am not sure how long American commentators can go on saying "even in France" in view of President Sarkozy's highly entertaining and remarkably sensible attack on President Obama's starry eyed proposals for the creation of a utopia.
The reason for Mr Stephens's comment was, apparently, an enquiry from a French journalist about the apparent reappearance of the neocons in American foreign policy debates. As a matter of fact, neocon is one of the most difficult political terms to define. That is to say, there is a narrow definition but, unfortunately from the point of view of those who want to rant and rave about American imperialism, it is far too narrow and applies to a generation that is getting to be too old to be of any real influence.
So, let us take the general, rather vague definition, whereby neocons are the people responsible for the United States moving into various parts of the world to protect or create free societies (as Europeans ought to recall) and, therefore, responsible for everything that has gone wrong oh, since the last time Americans were blamed for everything going wrong.
Seriously, though, the reason "neocon" ideas might be listened to again is quite simple according to Mr Stephens: the enemy did not disappear in a puff of smoke with the election of The One.
My answer was that the neocons are back because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin never went away. A star may have shone in the east the day Barack Obama became president. But these three kings, at least, have yet to proffer the usual gifts of gold and incense and myrrh.The Administration, the American people and the West in general is learning some very hard lessons. Saying "I told you so" cheers me a little but not much.
Instead, the presents have been of a different kind. North Korea claims to be in the final stages of building a uranium enrichment facility—its second route to an atomic bomb. Iran, again caught cheating on its Nonproliferation Treaty obligations, has responded by wagging a finger at the U.S. and firing a round of missiles. Syria continues to aid and abet jihadists operating in Iraq. NATO countries have generally refused to send more troops to Afghanistan, and are all the more reluctant to do so now that the administration is itself wavering on the war.
As for Russia, its ambassador to the U.N. last week bellyached that the U.S. "continues to be a rather difficult negotiating partner"—and that was after Mr. Obama cancelled the missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Thus does the politics of concession meet with the logic of contempt.