But here, in a nutshell, are two problems. The first can be described in a word or two: This is a major speech about foreign policy, and it barely touches on the wars we are fighting, the terrorists we are challenging, or the nuclear weapons we are facing in the hands of our enemies. Because, ladies and gentlemen, this is a speech about the form of American foreign policy, not the function. Therein lies the larger trouble.
The secretary’s speech today is yet another clarion call for withdrawal masked as a clarion call for American leadership. Clinton declares, “For the United States, global leadership is both a responsibility and an unparalleled opportunity.” She then proceeds to describe what amounts to an abdication of American leadership—the international version of “honey, I love you so much and believe so much in our marriage that I want to work to help you be a better husband, teach you how to clean the house, and help you come to the understanding that you’re a deadbeat.” At home, this is called burden sharing, but usually it means “I want to do less.” And that is Clinton’s message to the world: America wants to do less.