Hmm, PJ O'Rourke has an interesting take on the idea of us withdrawing. I wonder if we suddenly call home the troops from Iraq, Bosnia, South Korea, and anywhere else we don't 'belong' how the world would be? I think we leave a proportional number of troops in Afghanistan to the total sent by the EU and others, after all, that is our only 'just' war at the moment? http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005146 AT WAR America, Recuse Thyself! So the world's mad at us? Maybe we should just say goodbye. BY P.J. O'ROURKE Sunday, May 30, 2004 12:01 a.m. John Kerry says America shouldn't cut and run. George Bush says America mustn't. But we don't have to retreat ignominiously from the war on terrorism and from our other international responsibilities and commitments; we can recuse ourselves. We can explain to the court of global public opinion that, because America possesses the largest economy, the widest network of business relationships, and the only effective military force on earth, we have too great a vested interest in world events to render fair and impartial judgment. On every issue of geopolitical adjudication, from 9/11 to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, America is a jury of cops and crime victims. A change in venire has already been called for by noisy street protestors, France and suchlike. Let's accede to the pre-emptory challenge and go home. The benefits will be immediate. We can cut $300 billion from our defense budget. This will be almost enough to pay for the aging baby boomers' prescription drug benefits, which can now include Levitra, Botox and medicinal cannabis. America will enjoy cleaner air and less traffic congestion as oil goes to $200 a barrel due to chaos in the Middle East. A U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East will cause chaos, of course. Then again, a U.S. intervention in the Middle East has caused chaos already. And, during those periods of history when the U.S. was neither intervening in nor withdrawing from the Middle East, there was . . . chaos. The situation is akin to the famous complaint women have against men: failure to acknowledge that not every problem can be fixed. Sometimes the best thing is just a little sympathy. America had everyone's sympathy after the World Trade towers were attacked. We can get that sympathy back if we limit our foreign policy objectives to whining. One thing to whine about will be the fate of Israel. Without American safeguards that nation is certain to be militarily attacked. To judge by previous Israeli wars, in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, the result will be serious headaches for Israelis as the Knesset furiously debates the status of Jewish settlements outside Damascus and on the west bank of the Euphrates. Elsewhere, however, Islamic fundamentalists will likely triumph. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Our own country was founded by people who, today, would be considered religious extremists. Perhaps a bond of fellow-feeling will grow between puritanical Muslims and heirs to American Puritanism. Maybe cultural exchanges of the old U.S.-Soviet type can build people-to-people-based peaceful coexistence such as we had during the Kissinger era of detente. Visiting America on fellowship programs, even the most fanatical members of al Qaeda will be moved by the story of the Salem witch trials and their pious outcome. And while Hester Prynne was not stoned to death, her crime may be said to have been treated with the letter, if not the spirit, of sharia law. Meanwhile various unpopular rulers who have held onto power with American support will be forced to submit to the will of their people. Tony Blair comes to mind. Other positive effects are to be expected. The United Nations, freed from superpower interference, will assume its rightful role exercising peacemaking functions--and getting plenty of exercise at it. Scores of belligerents, freed from superpower interference, will create opportunities for U.N. peacemaking functions such as sending numerous bureaucrats, functionaries, commissions and inspection teams to keep combatants too busy with meetings and paperwork to have time to fight. A NATO alliance that does not include the U.S. will acquire a new sense of mission and purpose, especially in Gdansk, Istanbul and maybe Hamburg, when Russia resumes its historic quest for warm-water ports. The threat of nuclear proliferation will abate as dangerous stockpiles of atomic weapons are quickly used up. The loss of life will be regrettable. But this will be counterbalanced by the welcome disappearance of long-standing international flashpoints when the India-Pakistan border is vaporized, Tehran disappears in a mushroom cloud, and whatever is left of the Korean Peninsula becomes reunited. China will assume its proper role in the world. A booming China can be expected to concentrate on economic issues. Look for Beijing to create a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," so to speak. And China won't have to bomb Pearl Harbor. There will be nothing there but cruise ships--all in mothballs as a result of $200-a-barrel oil. America's protestors against globalization will be able to relax. An inward-looking America is bound to link military and diplomatic disengagement with higher trade barriers. There will be domestic political pressure to create jobs for the hundreds of thousands of returning military personnel, State Department employees, Peace Corps volunteers, network foreign-correspondents, etc. Unfortunately, the jobs will be mostly mowing lawns and taking care of the children of husband/wife lawyer couples, since a decreasing involvement with foreign affairs will lead to an increasing resentment of foreign immigrants. (At a theoretical level there may be no reason why Isolationism, Protectionism and Nativism should be conjoined. But we can hardly have Larry and Curly without Moe.) Yet in a sensitive, diverse 21st-century America, we probably will be spared past excesses. Perhaps we'll see the rise of an In-Klusive Klux Klan. Plus, an increase in the minimum wage will solve the problem of employment inequities. And the best thing about Americans recusing ourselves from global entanglements is that we will be loved again. Imagine a world where American manners and mores set the standard almost everywhere, where American fashions, American ideas and American lifestyles are universally sought out and copied. A world where people avidly listen to American music, eagerly watch American TV and movies, and try to imitate Americans in every way. Imagine a world where the U.S.A. is so admired that people by the millions want nothing more than to come to America and recuse themselves from global entanglements. Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.