Applebaum: The End of the Anti-Terror Consensus

Anne Applebaum observes that the different ways in which the media in each G8 country played up the results of the G8 conference shows that there is no longer any international consensus that terrorism is the #1 priority problem.

I am exaggerating here to make a point: In fact, the Germans did mention Africa a few times, as sort of an afterthought. But it’s not exaggerating at all to say that the events of the past week — and the wildly divergent international news coverage that accompanied them — illustrate a profound transformation that has taken place, slowly and quietly, over the past several years. Call it post-post-Sept. 11, or maybe just a return to status quo ante: Either way, it’s pretty clear that that brief moment of consensus — those very few years when the world’s most powerful governments all believed that the world’s worst problem was international terrorism — has now passed. Once again, everybody is on a different page: Some think the worst problem facing the world is climate change, some think it’s poverty in Africa and some think it’s the need for a missile defense shield, while others think that all are irrelevant by comparison with Iraq. And once again, Americans are more interested in their own problems than those everywhere else. As far as I could discern, in the United States the main news coming out of last week’s summit was that President Bush had a stomachache and missed some of the morning meetings. The world’s attention has wandered away from international terrorism — and so, if I may say, has ours.