It's the ultimate realization of "soft power:" American power is in decline and we are reviled around the world so it is best to walk softly, carry no stick, and hide behind France and others when fashioning a response to crisis.
Charlies Krauthammer knocks this nonsense into a cocked hat - where it belongs:
Amazing. This is why Obama is deliberately diminishing American presence, standing and leadership in the world?
Take proposition one: We must "lead from behind" because U.S. relative power is declining. Even if you accept the premise, it's a complete non sequitur. What does China's rising GDP have to do with American buck-passing on Libya, misjudging Iran, appeasing Syria?
True, China is rising. But first, it is the only power of any significance rising militarily relative to us. Russia is recovering from levels of military strength so low that it barely registers globally. And European power is in true decline (see Europe's performance - excepting the British - in Afghanistan and its current misadventures in Libya).
And second, the challenge of a rising Chinese military is still exclusively regional. It would affect a war over Taiwan. It has zero effect on anything significantly beyond China's coast. China has no blue-water navy. It has no foreign bases. It cannot project power globally. It might in the future - but by what logic should that paralyze us today?
Proposition two: We must lead from behind because we are reviled. Pray tell, when were we not? During Vietnam? Or earlier, under Eisenhower? When his vice president was sent on a goodwill trip to Latin America, he was spat upon and so threatened by the crowds that he had to cut short his trip. Or maybe later, under the blessed Reagan? The Reagan years were marked by vast demonstrations in the capitals of our closest allies denouncing America as a warmongering menace taking the world into nuclear winter.
Krauthammer points out that Obama came of age politically in the post cold war world when America's superpower status caused widespread envy and dissatisfaction. But cold war resentments were just as prevelant. So why is it that Obama feels it necessary to "lead from behind?"
Who truly reviles America the hegemon? The world that Obama lived in and shaped him intellectually: the elite universities; his Hyde Park milieu (including his not-to-be-mentioned friends, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn); the church he attended for two decades, ringing with sermons more virulently anti-American than anything heard in today's full-throated uprising of the Arab Street.
It is the liberal elites who revile the American colossus and devoutly wish to see it cut down to size. Leading from behind - diminishing America's global standing and assertiveness - is a reaction to their view of America, not the world's.
The press has always failed to take into account this singular aspect of Obama's worldview; the hyper-liberal world of academia and radical politics where Bill Ayers is seen as a mainstream teacher and Jeremiah Wright speaks "truth to power." It is this atmosphere that Obama was schooled in foreign policy and is the cause of his disastrous "leading from behind" posture that will make the world a more dangerous place.