October 19, 2002

MATT WELCH has an interesting column on the apparent necessity — and inevitable vices — of America providing “adult supervision” to the rest of the world. I recommend reading it together with this Jonah Goldberg column and this post by Stephen Green. (Welch has more on his weblog, too.)

To oversimplify, Welch’s worry — supported by the other items — is that by assuming so much global responsibility, the United States is keeping other countries in a state of arrested development. This is a very real issue. Unfortunately, the rise of weapons of mass destruction has made intermediate stages of responsibility dangerous. But U.S. planners, when they look past the next couple of years, need to think about Welch’s point. Long-term, we need to be encouraging responsibility, not dependence.

I hope Matt’s next column contains some suggestions on how to do that.

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