Just as Copernicus held that we are not the center of the solar system but instead revolve around the sun, Obama and Biden are announcing that we are not the center of the free world; we revolve around Europe. That’s not at all a surprising thought to one who knows the worldview common in academia. But it’s a revolutionary thought nevertheless, particularly at a time when Europe is astoundingly weak both financially and militarily (not to mention demographically—none of this is likely to change any time soon).
Richard Fernandez recognizes the importance of the change:
Obama understood that power must ultimately be undergirded by economic strength. That is fair enough. But if the steps the Federal Government have been undertaking at “home”, both in the form of unprecedented deficits and its deference to the Green Lobby and the teacher’s unions sap the strength of the American economy and saddle it with mega-programs, then Obama’s new “international order” simply becomes a statement of intention to beg abroad after he has blown his wad on the new domestic order. After propping up a number of politically sacrosanct interest groups that are “too big to fail” the Administration may be frankly telling the West Pointers that there will simply be no money left for anything else. In way the West Point speech can be restated in this way: ‘after we have finished doling out the tax dollar for entitlements, entitlements which we cannot sustain anyway; and after having raised taxes to the level where business growth tapers off to zero, then that’s all she wrote. Therefore we are going to deal with all future international crises — and by that I include global warming and nation building — through multilateralism and diplomacy.’
The risk inherent in this approach is that it will pay in weakness abroad for political pork at home. Can this new multilateral world order work? Probably not without a core of hard power. Because Europe has been underinvesting in security for decades and ploughing their money into welfare states the hard power is not going to come from there….
What the President left out of the speech was a description of how the West, once it has collectively purged itself of hard power, will can wield soft power effectively.