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Kinder, Gentler Nation - Part II

John O'Sullivan writes:

Baker is not a European appeaser complaining about U.S. unilateralism.

Quite the contrary. He was and is a supporter of the Iraq intervention and a defender of a strong U.S. role in the world—as readers of his work in the Times, The Weekly Standard, and The National Interest know.

But he is not a self-deceiver either. And it is plain that Bush, Condi, and the administration have lost their way and perhaps their self-confidence too.

So what did Gerard Baker write that the respected O'Sullivan felt compelled to supply such a qualifier?

As he says, 'Read it' and weep. And make sure you read the whole thing.

Eighteen years ago, nearing the end of the Cold War, George W. Bush's father began his presidency seeking a "Kinder, gentler nation." Today, still in the beginning of an even longer and clearly more violent and deadly war, President Geroge W. Bush appears to be ending his presidency seeking the same.

But rather than waxing poetic about "10,000 points of light" and pursuing the illusory 'Peace Dividend,' we are instead facing 10,000 points of attack and desperately need to assume a War Footing.

Mr. Baker's concluding words beg repeating.

It’s unpleasant when people stop respecting you, but it’s positively terrifying when they stop fearing you.

What we have now is a situation in which the world’s only superpower, with the largest economic and military advantage any country has ever enjoyed on Earth, is pinned down like Gulliver, tormented by an army of fundamentalist Lilliputians.

Some will say that the US’s ineffectiveness is a direct result of the loss of its “soft” power. Alienating the rest of the world has weakened its ability to achieve its objectives. Idiocies such as Abu Ghraib and the brief flirtation with torture as a legitimate instrument undoubtedly hurt America’s image. But I don’t truly see how the failings in the Middle East could have been avoided by Washington’s being nicer to foreigners. What’s been missing is resolute leadership.

It is hard for me to recall a time when the world was such a scary place. No one should rejoice at America’s weakness. The world is scarier still because of it.