Washington got the U.N. Security Council to approve a new round of sanctions against Iran on June 9. But the sanctions, watered down by China and Russia, are far from "crippling," as initially sought by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. And two usual U.S. allies, NATO member Turkey and Brazil, voted against even this modest package.
The episode begs a larger question: Is the ability of Washington to assemble coalitions on behalf of its global objectives starting to ebb, even with the White House now in the hands of a president, Barack Obama, who touts himself as a committed multilateralist, opposed to the "go-it-alone" mindset of his predecessor, George W. Bush?
Another point in favor of this proposition is Obama's failure to get the Europeans to commit a large number of troops to the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then again, in East Asia, with a rising China and an ever-dangerous North Korea both stark geopolitical facts, both Japan and South Korea are still looking to align themselves under the U.S. security umbrella.
What do you think? Are our alliances fraying -- and if so, why? Does this trend have to do with our flailing economy, with inept diplomacy, or with some other set of factors?