In your lifetime, has the US ever exercised less global leadership?

The Middle East is burning. Iraq is disintegrating. Afghanistan is collapsing. North Korea is escalating. Iran is cheering.

And all President Bush can do is dither. The Administration has no foreign policy. At least the invasion of Iraq, though wholly misguided and strategically disastrous, was an example of decisive action. Today, in the face of crisis after crisis, Bush does nothing.

“In the current crisis, which has the potential to be as or more dangerous than previous ones, the need for a concerted American-led crisis management role is as great or even greater than in the past,” writes Duke professor Bruce Jentleson.

Why isn’t Condi Rice in the Middle East right now, working round the clock to defuse the violence as Warren Christopher did during the Clinton Administration in 1993 and 1996? Why aren’t we talking directly to North Korea? Why do we refuse to negotiate with Iran? Why are we told we can’t leave Iraq even though it’s increasingly unclear why we need to stay? Why are we letting the Taliban regroup in Afghanistan?

Why doesn’t the Bush Administration have a convincing answer to any of these questions?

If cowboy diplomacy is supposedly over, as Time magazine recently proclaimed, the Administration better find a replacement foreign policy, soon.