Obama: no American SysAdmin boots on the ground! (amended)
Friday, March 18, 2011 at 3:28PM
Thomas P.M. Barnett in Citation Post, Leviathan, Middle East, SysAdmin

So he tells congressional leaders in Situation Room meeting, according to CNN just now.  Of course, sometimes certain US types show up very quietly on-site and nobody counts their boots, but we get the basic point.

Still, you have to wonder, why Mr.-All-Options-on-the-Table needs to flinch, pre-emptively, in such an obvious manner before even starting operations. Why signal that lack of intent up front? What does that buy you exactly from your opponent? Especially when it so clearly marks you as afraid of your own public?  It really makes you wonder about the quality of advice President Obama receives. It just comes off as so . . . I dunno . . . European, when Europe (at least parts of it) are acting more like America used to (making you wonder if Obama's purposefully suppression of US leadership really changes anything or just shifts the leadership impulse back to Europe's France--the one country there with an ambition to lead).

This is fine and dandy and I generally approve of the division of labor.  The more the "international community" picks up the SysAdmin work, the easier for the US Leviathan to works its magic.

Think back to the Balkans:  we did it mostly through the air and put forth only a small fraction of the eventual boots. But this time, given our current load and recent history, perfectly appropriate to line up others for the follow-through.  An excellent solution.  The Leviathan intervention will happen time and again, but Iraq-the-US-hogs-the-SysAdmin-show phenom never needs repeating.

But make no mistake, really no Leviathan action without us and our willingness to participate, and that's real leadership worth maintaining, because the entire system benefits whenever we can collectively muster norm enforcement.

No, we won't get it everywhere (across Gap) and we certainly don't need it everywhere (i.e., Core).  But when the opportunity is there, and the demand is there, and you are a difference maker on supply provision, you have to step up enough to enable the response.

Already we get a sense that Qaddafi's "cease fire" will be selective, but at least now we've entered into a serious negotiating stance.  This is all very positive.

Article originally appeared on Thomas P.M. Barnett (http://thomaspmbarnett.com/).
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