The Compass

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The Flattering of the Hegemon

Robert Kagan thinks the world wants America:

The recurrent theme at the Sir Bani Yas Forum, hosted by the United Arab Emirates and Chatham House here last weekend, was, Where is the United States? ... It was impressive to see how much desire there is for a more active U.S. role in the Middle East. There was little talk here of America’s decline as the world’s preeminent power. No one is preparing for a Chinese, Indian or Turkish ascendancy. Not even the Europeans claim that the European Union has the will or capacity to take on a bigger role in the region. The United States remains by far the most important player.

What has people concerned and despairing is not American decline but America’s declining interest — the sense that the Obama administration, and the American people, have about washed their hands of the Middle East.

This isn't surprising: it's much like the concept of moral hazard in economics. If the world is always expecting a U.S. bailout, they'll never take it upon themselves to address their own issues.