There was no escaping the reality of the post-9/11 situation. What had happened to the United States had happened only to the United States. In Europe and most other parts of the world, people responded with horror, sorrow, and sympathy. But Americans read more into these outpourings of solidarity than was really there. Most Americans, regardless of political party, believed that the world shared not only their pain and sorrow but also their fears and anxiety about the terrorist threat and that the world would join with the United States in a common response. Some American observers cling to this illusion even today. But in fact, the rest of the world shared neither Americans’ fears nor their sense of urgency. Europeans felt solidarity with the superpower during the Cold War, when Europe was threatened and the United States provided security. But after the Cold War, and even after 9/11, Europeans felt relatively secure. Only the Americans were frightened.
From The September 12 Paradigm, by Robert Kagan, in the latest Foreign Affairs.
Striking are the parallels he traces between the Clinton and Bush foreign policies. Bush’s path wasn’t such a departure, says Kagan. It’s a nice point, although a bit overstated.