There are complementary columns in the Guardian and the Times today by, respectively, Timothy Garton Ash and David Aaronovitch. The former outlines the factors he sees at work in current American 'withdrawalism' from world affairs and worries that this may be lasting. He concludes:
To the many critics and downright enemies of the US in Europe and across the globe, I say only this: if you didn't like that old world in which the US regularly intervened, just see how you like the new one in which it does not.
David Aaronovitch also identifies a 'Look to America! America First!' tendency across the Atlantic, and sees it matched in this country. As he characterizes the outlook: 'The world let us down and now we want as little as possible to do with it.' But David, for his part, sees this as an arid fantasy (£):
Real leaders, people who discern a better future and seek to move towards it, will be the ones who try to re-engage with the planet. False leaders, or non-leaders, will simply tell us that they too share the dream of apartness.
For the sake of the world, one has to hope that David's greater optimism will prevail. Withdrawalism and apartness do not provide a good formula for the strengthening of international law or maintaining the progress made since World War II in affirming that there is a law and a morality above the laws and activities of individual states. Nothing guarantees this progress and more of the same other than the 'togetherness' of the global community and the collective will within its human-rights-respecting parts - whether governments, NGOs or democratic publics - to hold delinquent states and movements to account.