Should the West withdraw from the world to win its love?

November 6, 2014

Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st rest as they wait to pack their weapons for shipment back to the United States at Camp Virginia, Kuwait

In his original and argumentative history of the Anglo-American domination of the past three or more centuries, Walter Russell Mead writes that both the UK and the United States believed their imposition of a world order served the highest interests of humanity. From Oliver Cromwell’s denunciation of Spanish cruelty in the 1650s to Ronald Reagan’s characterisation of the Soviet Union as an evil empire in the 1980s, the two main Anglophone states have seen their global expansionism as a blessing for the world: what’s good for us is good for everyone.

But where has that got us? In the doghouse of world opinion.

I passed some time in Egypt recently, and it’s remarkable how much the intellectual class says it dislikes America. That’s in a country where the United States gives its army and government – which are the same thing these days – $1.5 billion in aid annually. The only place educated Egyptians spit on with more venom is Israel, which they see as an American appendage.

In fact, the same is true throughout the Middle East, whether the country’s leadership enjoys amicable relations with America (Jordan) or sees it as an unrelenting enemy (Gaza). In Israel — the one place where the United States was held in generally high esteem — support is shrinking because many Israelis think Obama is lukewarm about U.S. support. One could call that even ranker ingratitude than in Egypt, given the $3.1 billion of aid the United States pumps into Israel every year, mainly for defence.

And it’s double-plus-unremarkable for a European to disapprove of America, since the default position of many highly educated Europeans throughout Europe is at least that the Americans may be well intentioned, but blunder; more often, the well-intentioned bit gets left out. That critique is easily turned against their own governments when they collude with the United States on some world-dominating project: Tony Blair, the former UK prime minister, is held in low esteem by the thinking classes for his enthusiastic cooperation with the United States in the invasion of Iraq. There’s a simple formula for European governments: bash America and win over your intellectual elite.

So suppose the United States, and The West in general (the concept is italicized because it includes easterners like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) said: we’d like to stop being unpopular, so let’s give up on this world domination thing we’re accused of. Let’s not intervene: at all. We’ll continue to pay our dues to the United Nations, which everyone loves  – the United States pays over $5 billion annually – but that’s the limit. The UN is in charge now.

There wouldn’t be much aid to the poor of the world: in any case, many economists believe that aid doesn’t really work, because it’s poured down holes labelled No Property Rights, Endless Conflict and Vast Corruption. There wouldn’t be any more money for the stricken countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to assist with their fight against the ravages of Ebola – like the six Ebola centers the British have just funded. That’s what the UN’s World Health Organization is for.

Least of all would there be any more of these interventions condemned round the world. The Western states have taken or are taking their troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and nobody will put boots on the ground in Syria or Libya – so Western leaders, including the notoriously warlike Americans and British, seem to have already gotten the message, here. But the air strikes in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State, and the assistance to anti-Assad forces in Syria, would also cease.

Last week, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said he was going to take “a hard look” at the preparedness of the Afghan forces to take over, bit by bit, until all American forces leave at the end of 2016 – and suggested he might recommend a slower drawdown. Insurgent attacks are ever more frequent, the Afghan army has taken large losses and the new president, Ashraf Ghani, has asked the Americans to stay on for longer. In the new, hard-edged dispensation, that would be “Sorry, Mr. Ghani,” and Campbell would be reassigned.

In the Middle East, not only is Islamic State still besieging Kobani in Syria, but Iraq is descending into open civil war. Gangs of Shi’ite militia, put together to take on the Sunni-led Islamic State, now roam the country looking for battles to win – often against Sunni civilians. Tirana Hassan of Human Rights Watch reported that an area near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk had been cleared of residents by a Shi’ite group called the Khorasani Brigade: “Former (Sunni) residents told us that those who tried to return are accused of being Islamic State members or sympathisers; some were held by the militia for days, blindfolded, questioned and beaten – or simply disappeared.”

Well, so be it. The Arab world has been a place of chaos for decades, some will argue, just look at Libya. French, British and US war planes and military supplies removed the dictator, Muammar Gadhafi – and now the recognised government which replaced him has had to flee the capital, Tripoli, and is holed up in a hotel in Tobruk near the Egyptian border. A rival government holds court in Tripoli and government forces fight Islamists in Benghazi. You see where supporting those who want to dispose of their tyrants gets you? An Islamist government followed by another military autocrat, as in Egypt – that’s where.

If the West stopped humanitarian, or military, interventions, it’s likely that Ebola would sweep West Africa more quickly, the Taliban would return to rule Afghanistan, Islamic State would take Iraq, Assad of Syria would win more quickly and Libya would continue its civil wars, then get a new dictator. But the West wouldn’t have intervened: it wouldn’t be our fault.

Many, if not all, of these things might happen anyway. Because the West has no more stomach for facing down terrorism; or dictators, and is gently sliding towards the position of absolute non-intervention. What, after all, has it got to do with us? Let it be, hope for the best…. and be popular.

PHOTO: Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division rest as they wait to pack their weapons for shipment back to the United States at Camp Virginia, Kuwait December 19, 2011. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was the last U.S. Military unit to depart Iraq. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

50 comments

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After a frustrating 30 minutes of googling, I cannot find current statistics of the destination of Gulf oil and gas exports. But I believe very little goes to the USA, but it is affected by market prices, although self/Americas sufficient.
I think most goes to India, China, Japan and Korea, and a lot to the EU.
And the Suez Canal, the other geo-strategic pressure point, is on the EU to East Asia trade route, with little US trade. An alternative may become future Central American canals and future Eurasian “new silk road” and maybe the Northern Sea Route for a few months a year.
So it is notable the minor direct economic stakes for the USA in the ME.
And one can only ponder what it would be for the EU, India, China, Japan to replace Pax Americana.
So this seems more weight to the “leftist” argument that US “global police” policy is dictated by the US military-industrial complex and the US security state and Israeli interest groups.

Posted by Neurochuck | Report as abusive

Oh how wonderful that would be.

Posted by HungryJoe | Report as abusive

I think US should for drop the world police and mediator role for a while.

Islamic radicals committing genocide and destroying nations?

Not our problem.

Massive earthquake ruins a country?

Not our problem.

Middle East nations need some “aid” to stay in power?

Not our problem.

Humanitarian crisis in Africa?

Not our problem.

Some crackpot dictator in Africa/Middle East/Asia creating problems and going to war?

Not our fu#$ing problem.

Europeans complain about US interventionism but always take it from granted when it suits them.
Middle East takes the US aid and military umbrella but at the same time support terrorist and islamist groups harmful to the US interests and are completely ungrateful .
Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea always run towards the US Military when China and North Korea do something in the region.
Israel is far to used to unconditional US support, and this is coming from a pro-Israel person.
South America just loathes the US with a passion.

So when something happens and whoever begs help from the US, just declare it is “not our problem” and tell them to ask China, Russia, Iran

Posted by SlayerX3 | Report as abusive

I think US should for drop the world police and mediator role for a while.

Islamic radicals committing genocide and destroying nations?

Not our problem.

Massive earthquake ruins a country?

Not our problem.

Middle East nations need some “aid” to stay in power?

Not our problem.

Humanitarian crisis in Africa?

Not our problem.

Some crackpot dictator in Africa/Middle East/Asia creating problems and going to war?

Not our fu#$ing problem.

Europeans complain about US interventionism but always take it from granted when it suits them.
Middle East takes the US aid and military umbrella but at the same time support terrorist and islamist groups harmful to the US interests and are completely ungrateful .
Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea always run towards the US Military when China and North Korea do something in the region.
Israel is far to used to unconditional US support, and this is coming from a pro-Israel person.
South America just loathes the US with a passion.

So when something happens and whoever begs help from the US, just declare it is “not our problem” and tell them to ask China, Russia, Iran or any of the indecisive European nations for help. Meanwhile spend all the aid money within the US and how things go in the meantime.

Posted by SlayerX3 | Report as abusive

Israel is a parasite and can’t survive without its hosts. The US, UK, and other NATO powers have imperially colonized most of the world in recorded history and the native people rarely love those that slaughtered, suppressed, and pillaged them. Hardly a surprise!

Posted by prolibertate | Report as abusive

Mr. Lloyd makes the point, indirectly, that we can no longer afford a defense budget that would allow us to dominate every square inch of this planet. Before we dig too big a hole we need to rethink very carefully what it is we want and need to defend and what we can no longer afford. Nato is foolishly trying to push right up to the borders of Russia. We’ve got defense agreements with countries cheek by jowl with China. It may be too late to rethink, we’ve already got all these binding agreements. Regardless, I assume we’ll defend ourselves and probably Canada and Mexico. Where beyond that should we draw the line(s)? What line(s) can we actually afford to draw? We ought to be thinking about these things right now, because the defense budget crisis is close enough that we can clearly see it.

Posted by WCTopp | Report as abusive

It’s more like Obama doesn’t have the stomach for western interventions, not the west. True, Obama represents a segment of American society, but it’s only that; and the election of Republicans to the Senate is partly at least a reflection of the people’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s flaccid foreign policy. People don’t want a government that worships the free market, but nor do they want a government that withdraws from the world, apologizes for itself and then hopes everything somehow turns out okay.

Posted by Calpin | Report as abusive

After creating, propping up, funding, defending … the Middle East for the last 100 years, it seems a bit self-serving to say we have a responsibility to maintain this creation. The most hallowed Western value is self-determination.

This also sounds eerily similar to arguments against independence for colonies. The “We know better …” advocates need to realize that tyranny is defined by those who perceive it.

Enforcing one’s values upon another is never right, except in the case of self-defense.

Posted by aeci | Report as abusive

The US should adopt a “Not my problem” stance for a while.

Humanitarian crisis in Africa?

Not my problem.

China and North Korea stirring up troubles in South China Sea?

Not my problem.

Islamist factions waging war and killing minorities?

Not my problem.

Oppressive dictator killing his own people to stay in power?

Not my problem.

Everyone hates US interventionism until they need it.
Europe can’t decide what to do and just bickers and waits for the US to do something.
Middle East Arabs love all the aid money they get monthly but also fund terrorist groups and complain about US imperialism 24/7.
Africa receives billions in aid but just wastes it in corruption while blaming US and whatever is more convenient for their lack of will.
South Asia nations take the US military umbrella to shield themselves from the North Koreans and Chinese interventionism but also hold anti-US stances.
South America just loathes the US.
Israel is so used with US assistance, it just takes it for granted and completely ignores US advice and demands for the region.

The USG should try for once cutting out all aid money, whether it be humanitarian, political or military aid. Re-invest this money within US, pay debts and such, and if any of the Middle East, Asian or European nations ask the USG for help with a problem just ignore it and claim “it is not our problem” and send them to ask help to China, Russia, Iran or even the EU.

If the world does get better, then the US could drop the whole world police act and just reap the benefits of not having to support a bunch of ungrateful and hypocritical allies. If it doesn’t it serves as a lesson for them to remember that if it is bad with them it is worse without them.

Posted by Gabriel_Lins | Report as abusive

” Because the West has no more stomach for facing down terrorism; or dictators, and is gently sliding towards the position of absolute non-intervention.”

What outright lies. We didn’t “face down” these dictators while we were propping them up. You have some kind of nerve to claim that we are a positive in this regard, on balance. Almost every dictator in the world has relied on us to help repress their people sometime in the last 50 years.

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

I agree let things sort themselves out

Posted by MFH | Report as abusive

This is a good analysis, and amazingly impartial. The Middle-East will not stop fighting whether or not there are Western forces there. You either put your hand in the shaping of the world or you don’t. Not doing so is the equivalent of saying “its not my fault” when something bad happens. Not exactly true because you failed to act. You will be blamed anyone. Who cares? This is not an Ayn Rand novel where the “protagonists” can just decide to recede to their corner of the Earth and sulk until the backwards barbarians figure it out for themselves or come crying for help. There are plenty of people that appreciate the West, their voices are just drowned out my the intelligentsia and the other powers that are vying for control. The bombed-out backwaters of the world are the way they are because they’ve never figured out how to get their s-*-*-* together. Let’s not pass the buck onto the ones that have, that would be irresponsible and childish. Gee, I’m sounding more and more like a conservative every day. Where’s my mouthwash?

Posted by ThomsonTwin | Report as abusive

“intellectual class”

That’s it, isn’t it. The author believes the “intellectual class” is the all that is important.

Arrogant buffoon.

Posted by PenDavenport | Report as abusive

All we do these days is meddle. Our meddling is dangerous to ourselves and others, and at the same time totally ineffectual in advancing any valid interests of American citizens.

We invade countries with a half-baked plan to help the good guys beat the bad guys. Sometimes the good guys end up being the bad guys and shooting us with the guns we bought them. Sometimes the good guys turn out to be good at shooting but bad at governing. After much death and destruction, including lots of dead children and wrecked public services, we end up leaving. Is country X any better off? Absolutely not. Are we any better off? No. But we keep doing it.

What is wrong with our leaders? They consistently overspend on military might while our infrastructure falls apart and the middle class slides into poverty. Maybe they agree with this author, who mistakenly equates our stupid military adventurism with “facing down terrorism” when it actually increases it. And of course the author has discreetly not mentioned all the dictators we have helped and supported over the years.

Posted by JBookly | Report as abusive

John Lloyd is probably on the payrolL of the British government. Completely apologetic about the UK’S disgusting and imperial past, and completely ignores the fact that WE (THE US) CREATED ISIS, JUST LIKE WE CREATED AL-QAEDA!!!!!

AND WE SUPPORT THE APARTHEID STATE OF ISREAL AND THE TERRORIST KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA…..

Posted by No_apartheid | Report as abusive

So let me get this straight…only “thinkers” hate America. The intellectually elite all spit on and hate the USA? An absolute piece of snobbish crap is what this article is.

Posted by Axiom1 | Report as abusive

Response to final line: “Let it be, hope for the best…. and be popular.”

Apparently the author believes the opinion of the intelligencia, with whom he associates, equals the opinion of European and Middle Eastern people generally, my response is (a)the intelligencia don’t represent what people here in America think, so why over there? and (b) World people may see america like the young view their parents when they criticize them but still love and rely on them for security (in other words, their parents are still “popular” in a sense).

Regarding Israel, if Americans weren’t taxed to death, enough Americans support Israel with money not taxed that far more than the 3$Billion could be raised by donations.

Posted by HeresToFreedom | Report as abusive

These comments are excellent examples of the article’s point. Without us evil Westerners making everything terrible the world would be a great place. Let us disengage and let the world sort out it’s problems. I’m sure they will peacefully and rationally resolve all differences and quickly bring on a utopia prosperity and tolerance.

Even better, our NGOs could still go and teach our important “values” to those who have regretfully not fully accepted them yet.

Posted by goodtimejonny | Report as abusive

These comments are excellent examples of the article’s point. Without us evil Westerners making everything terrible the world would be a great place. Let us disengage and let the world sort out it’s problems. I’m sure they will peacefully and rationally resolve all differences and quickly bring on a utopia prosperity and tolerance.

Even better, our NGOs could still go and teach our important “values” to those who have regretfully not fully accepted them yet.

Posted by goodtimejonny | Report as abusive

These comments are excellent examples of the article’s point. Without us evil Westerners making everything terrible the world would be a great place. Let us disengage and let the world sort out it’s problems. I’m sure they will peacefully and rationally resolve all differences and quickly bring on a utopia prosperity and tolerance.

Even better, our NGOs could still go and teach our important “values” to those who have regretfully not fully accepted them yet.

Posted by goodtimejonny | Report as abusive

Fair enough, and the debate in America has been going on since WWI, but there is a new twist: if the Anglo-Am’s can’t even figure out to do at home, who are they to propose solutions for the other – old – tribes? And, Mr Lloyd, the media role in this is enormous. Bengazi! Who even knows where it is? Strong policy, as in the days of Palmerston – which some would like – is now impossible with all the carping and harping. Why would anyone even want to be a public official now?
I suggest we do like the Romans and mount punitive expeditions: as an example, why not go against the beheaders and crucify 10,000 of them along the road to Damascus as “an example?”

Posted by alwood | Report as abusive

Anglo-Am foreign policy goes wrong because policy directors are not thinking like Hollywood directors. This is the only way to get the Media properly behind the efforts. There needs to be FAR more violence; none of this namby-pamby even-handed nonsense we’re trying to do – to appear “fair.”

We need James Cameron or maybe Selznik to direct operations. Peter Ustinov can star, along with Monty Python. I suggest we go back to a Roman style? In response to beheadings, how about mass crucifixions? Along the Road to Damascus. Can’t you see it now? Like “Life of Brian?”

Posted by alwood | Report as abusive

I think that we should remember that 93% of Muslims are wonderful people. Seven percent are Mohamedist who have political, not religious, intentions of dominating the world. As history clearly records Mohamed murdered, enslaved, child raped, and stole in the name of Ala. He hi-Jacked Islam, and led his people to poverty, social decline, intellectual decline, war and death, and soon the day of judgement. Muslim Radicals or Mohamedist kill everyone including Muslims who are non-adulterated by bitterness and evil. Only through education, economy improvement, nation building, love and respect, can terrorist, jihadist, islamist, etc. be stopped. But when we need to fight, stop putting boots on the ground and start carpet bombing where they have the stronghold. Half measures do not stop terrorism, Cities like Fallujah Iraq should be cleared of civilians and then cleansed from the earth. I also believe that any time a Islamist blatantly talks treason toward the US or United Kingdom that they should be taken to the public square and suffer the same fate as Christians, Jews, and minorities suffer in Muslim countries according to Sharia Law. If someone was to Murder a man, rape the dying mans wife, and then enslave the dead mans young child for sex, and then rob the murdered mans possessions, then you can be sure he is a Muslim Mohamedist. After all this is the way of Mohamed and the true nature of Islam as evidenced through all four Caliphates. History speaks volumes about the true nature of Islam.

Posted by US-Sailor | Report as abusive

I think someone vastly over states the importance of ‘love’ and ‘popularity’. I would much rather have an aircraft carrier, thanks.

Posted by evilhippo | Report as abusive

John Lloyd has selective amnesia.
Good deeds deserve praise and bad deeds scorn. More often than not, a lot of bad circumstances arise from bad deeds which also create the opportunity for good deeds.

Why is there widespread poverty in the 3rd world?

Why are people getting radicalised?

Why does the West intervene in some places but not other?

Why does the West intervene in one way not another?

The “why” produce the answers that will not absolve the West of its mistakes or deliberate misdeeds.

Posted by juggernaut | Report as abusive

These comments are excellent examples of the article’s point. Without us evil Westerners making everything terrible the world would be a great place. Let us disengage and let the world sort out it’s problems. I’m sure they will peacefully and rationally resolve all differences and quickly bring on a utopia prosperity and tolerance.

Even better, our NGOs could still go and teach our important “values” to those who have regretfully not fully accepted them yet.

Posted by goodtimejonny | Report as abusive

Foreign policy ? American interest is Oil, like so many others. I have nothing against the US. But I cant stand oil people ! There are many cards at the table . Make shure you get the statement right . There is also a Religius war going on. And a propaganda war. There is also an interest of keeping the war machine going, to keep factories smoking. The war factories is still in the US and the EU, producing guns and ammo. While all commodity electronics, shoes and clothing fabrication is exported to factories in China for low cost labour . This war belongs to the Oil people. Not the man in the streets. Want to get popular. Plant a tree. Where did your mother go wrong, violence breeds violence.

Posted by RadarBlue | Report as abusive

Judging by the comments, it looks as if Mr Lloyd’s irony is wasted on his audience!

Of course the west would still be blamed. Just look at how US isolationism in the 1930’s is blamed for making WWII longer and bloodier “than it needed to be”. Or at how Jihadists are still fighting a war that’s 800 years old (not to mention that it also requires them to conflate Turks and Chistians as the “bad” guys….).

Posted by Ian_Kemmish | Report as abusive

I think non-intervention is fine, as long we reserve the right to deploy global strike and/or nuclear weapons against countries whose citizens are performing violent crime against our country. I.e.: if you kill us, and your government is not strong enough to catch and punish the culprits, we will retaliate ourselves. Everything else: fine, we will stay on the sidelines. If you kill each other, we shouldn’t intervene. If you die of thirst, hunger, poverty and disease, not our problem. If your bully neighbor is attacking you, not our problem. If you attack Israel, and in retaliation it is wiping your country off the planet, don’t come to us. If Russia cuts off gas or invades your small European country with non-existant 0.5% of GDP army, we will stay out of it.

Posted by amd65 | Report as abusive

An interesting article until the last paragraph. It’s as if he suddenly had a meeting to run to so he just scribbled something down really fast and hit “enter.” With that conclusion, he might as well have not written anything at all.

Posted by GustavAdolf | Report as abusive

As an immigrant from the Middle East who grew up there in the 50’s & 60’s, I can tell you that until about the seventies and for a century or more prior, the United States was never hated but looked up at as an exporter of education, know-how, and unequaled industrial & automotive products. American tourists as well as oil explorers and businessmen were welcomed with open arms anywhere in the middle east and afforded the best security, service and cooperation.

Posted by worldscan | Report as abusive

It is not to much to ask for the participation of nations in the wars they ask us to fight. When Europe asked for the participation of the US in WWII, there was ample proof that they were courageously engaged and would provide an active and effective partnership … and they did.

The Mideast is different. They are not as involved in helping themselves and appear to view the US as hired help. Where are the Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, and Arabian troops. They know that Iraq is rebuilding its forces; why do they not participate? President Obama has shown that he will engage fully, as he has in Iraq and Afghanistan, when we have a willing partner.

It is not the west that has withdrawn, it is the Mideast that has never fully engaged. They need to look closely at the insular Theocracies they have created and consider what they should be doing to solve fundamental problems within their societies. Do they have the courage?

Posted by WYSIWYG | Report as abusive

By the same logic, how was it any of our business that Britain was under attack by Hitler, the Sudetenland seized, massive brutality as SOP by the German forces. Hitler’s Final Solution had yet to start, not made public for years, but even if we had known how was it any of our business?

ALL of that is Syria under Assad right now today, just with 100 murdered/day instead of 10,000. Even poison gas used on entire families.
Turn our backs, or worse, become allied with this monster, I don’t think so.

Posted by cirrus7 | Report as abusive

It’s simply because the “West” i.e. the U.S.A. does not understand that democracies are not build through wars.
Rather it is a slow process mostly done by the country’s own society and if they wish to live as in stone ages, let them. That process to modern democratic state may go quickly or slowly.
Whatever we have no right to bomb everything and declare it a democracy. It won’t work. That is what the U.S. has yet to understand.

Posted by Andreid | Report as abusive

Would this hand off approach be good for Wall Street, or is ‘there plenty of money to be made providing the army with its tools of trade’ as Country Joe McDonald opined.

Posted by Stanley7746 | Report as abusive

There is an other theory, that one of Roberto Saviano Italian, author of an inquiry abouts the gangs. Are the United States free to cease the sharing of the burden of occidental policy: no! Because the two shores of the Atlantic ocean are bound by the illegal economy.

Posted by meleze | Report as abusive

We don’t have to imagine what will happen if. The withdrawal from Vietnam is a real case. Where is Vietnam now? It tries to replicate the Chinese economic revival, along with seeking close economic relations with its erstwhile enemy – the USA.
The Middle East is more problematic because of the religious enmities. Tensions there will persists with or without the West. Africa will likely remain a basket case for the foreseeable future….
Bottom line, problem nations will have to blame nobody but themselves and that will likely accelerate their maturing.

Posted by bellofiorello | Report as abusive

I agree with the writer that no one likes to be beholden to another. To be ruled badly by one’s own people is better than being ruled by foreigners. The writer remarks about the dislike of Egyptians towards America despite $1.5 billion in annual aid.

I found the same thing when I used to cross from Jordan into the West Bank and Israel and met Israelis. If the Israelis thought I was British, they would say nasty things about the Americans. If they thought on the other hand I was an American, the British were equally chastised.

On the evidence Israelis should be even more grateful than the Egyptians – receiving $3 billion of aid per year since 1966 and all the weapons they require including the Iron Dome, which protects them from incoming missiles.

Posted by expat75 | Report as abusive

Nothing but sweeping statements and slippery slopes. No one is saying the West should stop intervening altogether. The reason why the West has become so unpopular is because it has chosen to use its power and leadership in a flagrantly irresponsible way – going to war in Iraq on a completely trumped up pretext, allying itself with Wahhabi Saudi Arabia which is partially where ISIS has its roots, and generally operating outside the orbit of world institutions like the UN and UNSC.

If it continues to pursue such unilateral policies and still expects to be adored by the rest of the world, then don’t be surprised if it receives anything BUT love.

Posted by drewtoh | Report as abusive

He’s right. What’s happening now is proximately the result of the Obama administration’s, and Democrats’, withdrawal and hands-off policies. It is not credible to think that given enough time, these policies will result in a better world. Instead, others would fill the vacuum. The Chinese communists would become more assertive everywhere, except they wouldn’t care at all about human rights or the kind of leaders they were dealing with as long as they played their game. Russia would become more assertive, too, as with Ukraine. In the Middle East, the different tribes would fight it out for decades and the most brutal would probably win. The only reason it isn’t happening even more now is because there is pushback against Democrat policies. The American people don’t like the chaos and have voted for a pushback. Look now for a louder voice for those who are unhappy with these failed policies.

Posted by Calpin | Report as abusive

“what’s good for us is good for everyone”

Many adult Americans live the way they did in high school, so cool everybody should do what they do….

George Orwell said it best in Animal Farm “all animals are equal except some pigs are more equal”. We have begun to look like Russians…

Posted by CuriousOne | Report as abusive

UK and America do indeed fight certain types of evil – and bring order to the world. But the order they bring begets another type of evil which is nicely mixed blend of 1984 and Brave New World.

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

Very astute article. I too sometimes think the days of isolation shines on a broken heart. Originally when the US got involved in world politics it was to protect the bastions of world locations that bought something the US sold. We produced so much that we passed the level of production that the people in the US could possibly buy. So to keep people employed we had to export. In turn we had to make sure that the international markets stayed open and free. So now more than 100 years later we are buying more from other places in the world than we export. Why is this? Because it costs less. And let’s not forget that the fastest way to America’s heart is through its wallet. I remember as a child pondering the questions of us producing everything for ourselves. The cost of imported energy could not be ignored. So it made sense to a child. And apparently adults thought it made sense. Now we stand at the brink of producing more energy we can use ourselves. And what happens? We send it overseas. The energy producing companies can make more money by sending it away than selling cheaper energy to America. This is obvious. Honestly, as mentioned truthfully by the author of this opinion article, people in the world do not like us. The people of the world do not even like their own neighbors. It makes no sense that they are going to like someone from out of town. Especially carrying guns and assisting the governments they dislike. Most Americans feel bad for the seemingly destitute people of most of the world. What we need to realize that most of these denizens live and have lived the same for hundreds if not thousands of years. Maybe we should slowly become more isolationist. I personally do not like continuing to visit my neighbor’s door bell when they obviously do not like me. Oh and each time I visit the door that no one answers I leave some money for them.

Posted by pcwiseman1964 | Report as abusive

What about the poor American arms dealers?

Posted by ravel777 | Report as abusive

The core issue for USA, besides the purchase of the elected and associated (and expected) corruptions to further enhance holdings of upper 2-3%, has spilled into our supposed “foreign policy”.

We have, since the NAM, never really asked a increasingly uniformed and poorly educated nation, elected own by the money, and of course our less then in-depth, factual reporting media, NONE of latter, as most in nearly total denial, dare ask:
“Why are these folks so dedicated to shooting and terrorizing us when we have sent so much aid to them?”

Rather we prefer to send military aid AKA DOD BIG DOLLAR contracts as in Egypt, Iraq, NAM etc. USA simply never gets down to people level in our “aid” nor seems to care. We have no honest situation reporting, as in horror going on in Iraq where religious war now raging, and not six months back our illustrious military reported “250,000 Iraq soldiers trained and ready, blah blah.. Reality is both military and State Dept either did not have a clue as to reality, or silent as “reality might hurt careers” etc.

Sorry USA but when a nation where ruled (as no longer really governed) and owned by upper 2% income, we can fully expect the nation will reflect such and “support” their peers around world. Our “foreign polity” is replete with “aid/support” ending up at upper 2% levels, and then we declared victory. Dare we ask why the real people, the other 98% do not like us and their educated speak reality, the reality, a reflection of us.

Posted by chuck2 | Report as abusive

Dear prolibertate

Man is a parasite and can’t survive without it’s host.

The planet Earth is in a spiral decline of biological and meteorological function.

Man has placed God’s Earth is peril; and thus their own future.

As a consequence the River of Paradise will rise to rot the trunk of The Tree of Life.

The Stone will be released.

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

John Lloyd The West must go home to receive it.

Peace be with you All.

Love
Omega

Posted by Lovetwo | Report as abusive

I don’t think the West wishes to withdraw from the Middle East in order to be more popular–rather, they wish to withdraw because there is no clear moderate and moral choice. Or put another way, there is no side which reflects Western values and morality.

On one hand–brutal dictators and on the other hand, insane religious radicals. There is no middle–or it is such a thin, unreliable slice of Arab opinion–who wants to back it?

This is the classic conundrum of foreign policy–realpolitik versus democratic values and morality.

Why are we even trading with the likes of Qatar or Saudi Arabia–or even Egypt?

Intellectuals from Middle Eastern nations may hate the US, but what have Arabs ever done which was good for their own people? Or any other people? Ever?

Posted by MaskOfZero | Report as abusive

This has nothing to do with “love”.

We exist in an “unemotional” natural system with strict laws.
And this system, including humanity is globally interconnected and inter-dependent.
In such an integral system a subjective “monopolar” direction, even if it is applied with the best intention is doomed to failure.
In a global, integral system only globally mutual, and complementing, equal cooperation can work, solve problems.

The “West” needs to “withdraw” in order to give space for such global, supra-national cooperation to evolve, without individual, national self-interest, “brokering” distorting every process, without trying to manipulate each and every situation towards the benefit of a “chosen few”.

And this is actually in the “self-interest” of those manipulating, controlling right now, since in an integral system every negative input that is harmful from systemic point of view, will eventually come back as a boomerang, with multiple force towards the source of the negative input.

Posted by ZGHermann | Report as abusive

Since the end of WWII, the United States has dropped more bombs than all the rest of the countries of the world combined. If Mexico and Canada were constantly bombing us, we would hate them passionately.

Ironically, one country that truly likes us is Vietnam. They harbor no ill feelings; after all, they won their war.

Why not shrink our military to a quarter of its current size, eliminate the deficit and use the balance to foster good will in other countries (and here at home).

Bombing the world into submission and attacking countries that pose no threat to us is not a good recipe for making friends.

Posted by Jeff9207 | Report as abusive

so refreshing to read this,the point about good intent,with all the talk of war crimes,commited by the ‘west’ intention is the very first question the international crimminal court in the Hage asks is what was the intent?

Posted by Switch2code9 | Report as abusive