In other words, the French are in Mali fighting an international terrorist organization with the potential to inflict damage across North Africa and perhaps beyond. Not long ago, this sort of international terrorist organization used to inspire emergency planning sessions at the Pentagon. Now the French have trouble getting Washington to pay attention at all. Some U.S. transport planes recently helped ferry French soldiers to the region but, according to Le Figaro, the Americans at first asked the French to pay for the service—“a demand without precedent”—before wearily agreeing to help. …

A number of obstacles must be overcome before the EU could become the world’s policeman. Although combined European military does make the EU the world’s second largest military power, it still isn’t enough for any kind of sustained conflict. Some Europeans, most notably the Germans, would have to overcome their post–Second World War abhorrence of soldiers. Other Europeans, most notably the British, would have to be made to believe, as others have concluded, that Americans just aren’t that interested in NATO anymore. An added complication emerged this week when British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to renegotiate his country’s relationship with the European Union. However it unfolds, this process is unlikely to be conducive to the development of a common European foreign and defense policy.

These are big obstacles. But what’s the alternative? If America is to enjoy “peace in our time”—an expression now deployed by both Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain—while the rest of the world remains at war, then someone else will fill the vacuum.