There's a certain strain of hawkish commentary that seeks to draw a connection between a particularly horrific event (or series of events) abroad to the theme of American global leadership. In this telling, global horrors are not simply an American policy failure on some specific level, but a grim preview of the consequence of a supposed American withdrawal from the world.
Jamie Kirchick offers up a fine example of this line of attack in the New York Daily News:
The chemical gassing of children, Chinese aggression against its neighbors and the proliferation of nuclear arms in the world's most volatile region. This is what the world looks like when America "leads from behind." Not a very nice place, is it?
I wonder what the world looked like in the past, under American leadership.
1. In China, there was a cultural revolution that killed almost 10 million people who joined the tens of millions more killed under the leadership of Mao Zedong following America's ascendency to global power after World War II.
2. Iran and Iraq fought a massive war that killed one million people, including children by chemical gas.
3. India and Pakistan fought four wars and both were a party to regional violence and intercommunal tensions that killed millions.
4. The number of countries with nuclear weapons grew from one to six in the most volatile regions of the world.
6. France fought a brutal war in Algeria and Indochina (Vietnam).
7. There was an anti-American revolution in Cuba (right in America's backyard!) and Iran.
8. The U.S. lost tens of thousands of soldiers in wars in Korea and Vietnam.
9. Just read this list.
This is what the world looks like when America leads from the front. Not a very nice place, is it?