"The rise of external threats to our allies has concentrated their minds on the need for the American connection," says Charles Krauthammer, whose Washington Post column takes issue with the claims by Democratic presidential candidates that US allies are alienated and that alliances need to be rebuild.
Krauthammer seems to be very impressed by the nice things European leaders say about the United States and ignores that the new crop of European leaders has not increased support for US led missions: While the US has send additional troops to Iraq (and Afghanistan, I believe), Britain has withdrawn many troops. And the new and supposedly pro-American governments in France and Germany are not sending more troops to Afghanistan etc. And NATO can't get together its planned Rapid Reaction Force.
It seems Krauthammer does not expect much from allies. All they (we) got to do is to say nice things about the United States. Military contributions would be nice, but are not so important. Smiling is more important.
The one thing a loyal ally should never do is to express public criticism of US policies and the president. If we manage that, then folks like Krauthammer will love us. If we manage to smile and be as polite as Japanese politicians, then we could even get US support for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. The German government's calls for a permanent German seat on the Security Council fly in the face of reality and I understand why the US is not supporting the German ambitions. But why is the US supporting the Japanese ambitions in this regard? How many Japanese troops are taking risks in Afghanistan, Timor Leste, Iraq, Kosovo or Sudan? The difference to Germany is that Japan, usually agrees with US policies. Apparently Washington has a soft spot for compliments and moral support... And yes, of course, Europe is overrepresented on the Security Council, while Asia is not.
Related Atlantic Review post: Better Transatlantic Relations in Style, not Substance
Related op-ed on Atlantic Community by Nikolas K. Gvosdev, editor-in-chief of The National Interest: Time for Frank Talk on US-EU Relations.ENDNOTE: I read that "How To"-posts are extremely popular in the blogosphere. Therefore I chose this headline. ;-) If you indeed like this post, please recommend it at Reddit and Stumble Upon. If you have not registered at these social bookmarking services yet, then you can sign up in a few seconds at Reddit; no email adress needed. Stumble Upon is pretty cool as well.
UPDATE: Great comment by Parcivale on Reddit: "Six years ago the message to the world was 'you're with us or you're against us' now it's 'well, so long as you're not against us...'"