We tried to be the Cop of the World -- playing at once both the good cop and the bad cop roles -- and it hasn't worked out so well for us, or for the world.
I don't really believe that the United States can abrogate its responsibilities to use its good offices to make the world a better place for its seven billion inhabitants.
But I'm beginning to believe Mr. Obama has decided, or is in the process of deciding, that the world is too complex for one country -- even a country as strong and wealthy as the United States -- to lead.
So, the Obama "leading from behind" thing is ending.
Now, we're just behind.