Way back in the twilight of the last millennium, Frenchy l"Femme openly cried out that Great Satan was off the hook! Unrestrained in any sitch She was like, simply totally so dominant in all spheres, that there simply is no counterbalance.
An LOLable meme no doubt - and quite possibly the sinister inapprpriate boring assetted inspiration for the equally risible chiz that cat at "Weenie Hut Juniors" dredged up in the equally sadly underwhelming "Taming American Power: How Great Satan has totally ruined the whole dang world"
Foreign leaders, pundits, and ordinary people decry Great Satan, at best proclaiming their heartbreak that the American values they once admired have vanished, and at worst condemning America as a criminal state beyond redemption.
Regime changing Iraq (defeating the largest Arab army in history in 20 days!) on a guess no less, blowing off Kyoto, the spread of American movies, American music, KFC and Mickey D's unto the ends of the earth. Not to mention the barbaric practise of executing killers, often after years of incarceration.
All this unbound wickedness piles up faster on a girl than uncles at a Thanksgiving game of touch football
Carebeful! "Careful what you wish for" clanks about with all the subtlety of an M1 panzer that Great Satan's critics should carefully consider whether they truly want what they have wished for. Hoping for a bound Great Satan is self deluding if they think this would make them feel better off.
Right now, it appears though that the Canadian speaking French cat's France's desire to see a balance to American influence has succeeded. However, it is hard to argue that this aspiration has yielded a better world than the one supposedly dominated by America.
Consider: Certain nation/states are not too particularly concerned about neighbors, internat'l accords struck in good faith, fair trading policies or free transit through the worlds oceans. Not to mention quaint ideas like human rights, free media or concepts like personal property.
One does not need to wait for historians to know that even at the height of its power in the days that followed the end of the Cold War, America did not rule the world the way other hyperpowers of the past did. Védrine mentioned the Persian, the Ottoman and the British empires, among other terms of historical reference; yet America achieved new heights of power while displaying more restraint towards its adversaries and more magnanimity towards its clients.
America was also much more aloof and restrained than the French quip about l'hyperpuissance suggests. America failed to stop genocides in our time — think of Rwanda or Sudan. It walked away from crises it could not understand, let alone solve — think of Somalia. It misunderstood old enemies — think of North Korea. But its unchallenged supremacy was unquestionable when the French objected. And where America chose to act, it did make a difference. The Balkans would not be at peace today had it not been for America's hyperpower. Multilateralism there, by contrast, only produced deadlock and supervised crimes against humanity.
But the days of American hyperpower seem to have morphed into the days of American impotence. Those who longed for America's power to be checked should beware of what they wished for. With revolutions shaking the Middle East, America will at most "lead from behind", code for the abdication of America's leadership even at the price of inaction. When Sudan launches another round of its war of extermination against its largely defenceless neighbour, South Sudan, America will not even supply anti-aircraft guns, to say nothing of some rhetorical succour, which costs little.
After nearly 16 months of ferocious government repression in Syria, America is behind — and not even leading — the ineffectual international efforts to solve the crisis. The result is horrific civilian casualties and the very possible survival of the Syrian regime which is inflicting them. In both cases, America's eclipse is counterbalanced by the rise of new powers who fill the void. They are not as benign.
This is the meaning of putting a check on the hyperpower, and the world of 2012 looks infinitely more dangerous as a consequence of declining expectations that America will intervene to solve crises.
In the past, America's military umbrella did not always open to protect struggling nations at the four corners of the earth. America did not always intervene; even when it did it sometimes happened late in the game and it was not always the best course of action. But it often made the difference. Its rhetoric of freedom offered hope to those under the boot of tyrants. And its record gave the impression that America might act on its words.
Besides, the knowledge that America's aircraft carriers might be around the corner gave pause to those wishing ill upon its allies and friends.
That is no longer the case. America has disengaged. Its president seems to have bought Védrine's argument. And with that, America's competitors will gladly take its place. Their contempt for America is worse than their fear, because unlike their fear it feeds on America's weakness. They will reshape the world in their own image, unless America stops them.
A world at peace needs an American gendarme. The US's temporary retreat has left a sense that troubles will now fester and solutions may turn out to be worse than the problems — think of Russia bailing out Greece, Bashar al-Assad remaining in power in Syria, or Iran getting nuclear weapons. It is not a pretty picture.
And probably not one that even Hubert Védrine would subscribe to today.
Pic - "Ignite the light - and let it shine!!"