THE UNITED STATES AND THE WORLD ORDER
The entire saga with the UN and France prior to the second war with Iraq means that that it's time to face facts that the old 20th century cold war world is dead and gone as far as other states are concerned. From the August Coup to September 11 we were in a world in transition where American policy elites resisted acknowledging that the ground had shifted under our feet ( how many times did Foreign Affairs run articles regarding the future of NATO ? Each issue ?). We either make a serious effort to rewrite the rules of international conduct to reflect and balance actual power relationships in reality or we resign ourselves to nuclear anarchy as the old system stumbles toward inevitable collapse. The problem we face is very simply that all other great powers - potential regional hegemons - have an interest in seeing the United States maintain international order everywhere but in their own sphere of influence. They do not want to do something to bring down the house of cards, just constrain America enough to carve out special roles for themselves. A little place in the sun - at least for the short run. Except, in combination, all these attempts to create local exceptions invites global collapse which is in no one's interest. The United States, Britain, Japan and to an extent India seem to see the larger picture while Russia, China and the Franco-German- EU Social Democratic bloc are gambling that they can satisfy their ambitions by managing a relative American decline through a reverse-containment policy.
This will be hard to carry out because much of our foreign policy bureaucracy and academic elite share assumptions with the Franco-German-EU bloc, assume it's good motives and are career-invested in the old Cold War diplomatic structures. If you have doubts, read the resignation letters sent to Colin Powell by the State Department nonentities in angst over Iraq. They reflect the majority view in their service unusual only for their willingness to sacrifice their careeers to express it. I question neither their patriotism or their dedication, just their analytical prowess and political judgement. Their blindness exemplifies the axiom of not seeing the forest for the trees.
Small states who have to live alongside the would-be regional hegemons - " New Europe " for example - recognize the danger. So does Britain and Japan which would prefer to maintain it's current symbiotic security relationship with the US but will, if forced to do - remilitarize and become a nuclear power to face down North Korea and China. (Skeptics need to recall Japanese capacity for abrupt and radical changes in national policy when faced with a crisis) These small states plus Australia, Canada,Israel, Italy, Spain can be built into a reliable diplomatic coalition to negotiate new rules favorable to themselves as well as us - sovereign legitimacy rooted in democracy; robust NP; outlawing of Terrorism; market economics; human rights from an Anglo-American individualist/political perspective; international law enforcement by a democratic club instead of the UN.
The old structures - the UN, NATO, Council of Europe, Partnership for Peace, the EU do not need to be torn down, instead they should be used to push this agenda and in the case of the EU, reformed along these lines. Since this will take time the agenda has to be pursued by creating new structures that in themselves create incentives in terms of state behaviors for the regional hegemons the way the WTO enticed nations to change trading practices. This is a course to be sustained for decades long after those running the Bush administration are dead so forging a domestic consensus from moderate democrats through the very conservative Republicans is critical ( this policy is inimical to the values of left-wing of the Democratic party and the American Conservative crowd - we need 65%-80 % public support, not unanimity. Enough to weather election cycles as Containment once did )