A lot of national security experts would like a lot more fire -- and firepower -- from our president. Op-ed columnists across America worry that our friends no longer trust us and that our enemies no longer fear us. President Barack Obama's quest for more-equitable burden-sharing among great powers seems to be getting us nowhere, so why bother with more-equitable benefit-sharing?
But before attacking the Obama administration's coolly rational -- dare I say "lawyerly" -- take on great-power politics, let's first remember what got us to this point. Bush-Cheney's "It's better to be feared than respected" tear nearly tore up our entire military, forcing our forces to fight two nasty wars under the worst strategic conditions possible: increasingly denuded of allies and beset by spoilers on all sides. (And yes, Obama continues down that sad path today in Afghanistan.) It is hard to think of an approach more guaranteed to diminish American power over the long run.
Worse still was the Bush administration's myopic insistence that Washington retain all manner of global leadership, instead of embracing our success in shaping an international liberal trade order -- globalization -- that has unleashed so many rising economic pillars across the planet.