Ever since the Genoa summit, Democrats and the media (assuming you can tell the difference) have been flagellating the Bush administration for its arrogant conduct of international relations.
What's the matter with these Bushies, doing things other countries don't like? At Genoa, more notable for the street riots outside than the deliberations inside, we stood apart while "the world" embraced a Kyoto global warming treaty our leaders found defective. Meanwhile, on we go, pressing for a defense against enemy missiles.
Thus our top Senate Democrat, Tom Daschle, accuses the president of "isolating" us from the world. The New York Times primly notes that France's president and Germany's chancellor "were clearly frustrated by Mr. Bush's unreasonable withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement."
Jimmy Carter, sigh, confesses that Bush has almost completely "disappointed" him. When our friend Jimmy -- most of whose presidential deeds will never rise to the level of his subsequent accomplishments with hammer and hacksaw -- glances out in that frosty way, you know things are in dire straits.
Of course this, too, shall pass. Bush, the foreign policy loner, is today's story. Others will succeed it -- others with the same drift and purpose, which is the depiction of a Republican president willfully floundering outside the "mainstream."
Nevertheless, before we close this particular chapter in the saga, a word about foreign policy might not come amiss. A word, really, about whether the United States should worry unduly when it finds itself "isolated." Who's to say the Russians and French are discerningly right and the Americans blindly wrong about issues of moment?
There seems among Americans some sense of an American duty to gratify the rest of the world. An American duty? Why would that be? We haven't saved the world often enough since 1941?
It is hardly that the French -- say -- have no views worth hearing. But, really, lectures by the creators of the Maginot line on how to preserve American lives from surprise attack come under the heading of gratuitous advice. Then consider the Germans, with their ponderous burden of high taxes and social welfare. (In no other advanced country do "workers" work so little as in Germany.) What the Germans deem right for the Germans has more relevance for themselves than for others hesitant to embrace untested ideas for solving an unproved problem -- that of global warming.
The Russians, our recent adversaries, have military concerns more directly attributable to fear and wounded national pride than anything else. Well, we didn't make the world the Russians inhabit. That's the result of government by criminals for seven long, destructive decades. We can respect their fears without letting those fears dictate U.S. policy.
Mainland China's government? Mostly what pours from its mouth is unconvincing whines and complaints about the United States. The Chinese could resolve most of their self-inflicted "American problem" by renouncing aspirations to reunite with (read: subjugate) the far more intelligently governed Republic of China on Taiwan.
The canard of "American isolation" is popular mainly with Americans who would like our own policies aligned more with policies deeply inferior to ours -- with no clear payback in sight.
In the great political bestiary, "globalism" sometimes seems a critter one may safely ignore -- so headless and formless as hardly to be worth a thought. Yet, when "globalist" impulses do break down the stable door -- as during the Genoa doings -- the odor overwhelms. The bill of goods thrust at us in the name of "our" mutual "security" and "environmental" interests will not bear comparison to policies -- Bush's, for example -- keyed to military strength and free markets.
George Bush isn't thumbing his nose at a world he fails dismally to understand. He understands all too well the kind of world his critics would build.