by Conor Friedersdorf

Marvel at the opening paragraph in Tom Friedman's latest column:

In recent years, I have often said to European friends: So, you didn’t like a world of too much American power? See how you like a world of too little American power because it is coming to a geopolitical theater near you. Yes, America has gone from being the supreme victor of World War II, with guns and butter for all, to one of two superpowers during the cold war, to the indispensable nation after winning the cold war, to “The Frugal Superpower” of today. Get used to it. That’s our new nickname. American pacifists need not worry any more about “wars of choice.” We’re not doing that again. We can’t afford to invade Grenada today.

I am not an expert in foreign affairs, let alone an esteemed columnist on that subject for America's newspaper of record. I'm just a guy trying to make sense of a metaphor that takes a whole world where the United States projects too little power, and fits it into a geopolitical theater "near" Europe. Does that mean North Africa? Or Western Asia? Does it mean the Middle East? Did your European friends look at you funny? Also, wasn't the Soviet Union a major power during World War II, and a significant victor in that conflict? After winning the Cold War, wasn't the United States suddenly a less indispensable nation than before? Amid two costly nation building programs, aren't we less frugal "today" than we were back then? Can't we in fact afford to invade Grenada?

The rest of the column is of similar quality.

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