Not the smallest bird doesn't fall but liberal pundits blame it on George W. Bush. A refreshing change of pace this morning, then, in the person of Thomas Friedman, who writes that the major responsibility for avoiding future international catastrophe lays not at the feet of the current occupant of the White House, but in Moscow and Beijing.
In the subscription-required The Bus Is Waiting, Friedman propounds the theory that a nuclearized N. North Korea and Iran will inevitably induce a string of countries across Asia and the Middle East developing atomic weapons of their own.
To prevent this, Friedman asserts that it is necessary for:
"China and Russia [to] get their act together and understand that the post-post-cold-war world is a much bigger threat to their prosperity than a post-cold-war world in which U.S. power is pre-eminent. You read me right — the post-cold-war world can be preserved only if Russia and China get over their ambivalence about U.S. power.
"If China told North Korea that unless it dismantled its nuclear program and put its facilities under U.N. inspection, Beijing would cut off its energy and food, Kim Jong-il would relent. He is not suicidal.
"And if China and Russia told Iran that they would join in the toughest possible U.N. economic sanctions on Tehran if it persisted in its nuclear program, the ayatollahs would also back down. Because then the Europeans would have the spine to join in sanctions and Tehran would face a united front."
This is pretty heady stuff. Friedman is effectively demanding that Russia and China accept American pre-eminence ["hegemony" for those of you in the liberal establishment]. And in return, all Friedman demands of DC is some hard-nosed realpolitik. He essentially suggests that the US give up on spreading democracy via regime change in favor of seeking to change the behavior of rogue-state leaders.
Friedman concludes by saying that - in the name of a relatively peaceful world - China and Russia need to stop being "free riders on our bus." Interesting formulation for an MSM so typically quick to point the finger homeward for all the world's ills.