Like a behemoth surrounded by a swarm of wasps — or a superpower suffering from an acute case of collective PTSD — the U.S. has spent the past 18 years swatting at insects capable of inflicting pain but falling far short of the capacity to pose an existential threat.

But that hasn’t stopped fears that they could. For a country of control-freaks, allowing other peoples to pursue national self-determination looks like an unacceptable risk — a luxury incompatible with American security. Which means, in effect, that the nations of the world must be divided into two camps: those that are with us and those that are against us. Just as George W. Bush said we needed to do.

That is where we are — with Donald Trump haphazardly moving countries back and forth between the two camps as his ill-informed instincts (and the ideological obsessions of his advisers) dictate and demand. Meanwhile, the peoples of the world stand by, wondering whether the capricious commander in chief of the most powerful military on the planet will rain fire on their homes and their heads from the other side of the world if they fail to defer to our self-proclaimed leadership of the “free world.”