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The controversy over Hilary Clinton’s e-mail arrangement while Secretary of State points out how easy it is for us to be distracted from bigger events in the world. There are two items in the news that we should note.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for the U.S. to play a greater role in helping Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations fight terrorism. He has urged the creation of an "Arab ready force" to confront the Islamic State and similar groups. Ever since the Egyptian military ousted the elected President Mohamed Morsi from office, and installed el-Sisi, the U.S has delayed shipment of critical weapons to the country. Relations between the two allies have also cooled. The rise of ISIS in the region has highlighted the need to maintain good relations with the governments in the region to prevent further regional instability.

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, el-Sisi said the need for weapons and equipment remains "dire," and Egyptians "would like to feel that the United States is standing by them.” America under President Obama has chosen to “lead from behind” in this conflict. The speed with which ISIS has come on the scene has stirred fears and reactions from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt to push back at this terrorist state. El-Sisi emphasized the critical need for a "big response from capable countries”—an obvious reference to America. Leading from behind is causing America to look like a reluctant dwarf.

European Commission President Jean Clause Juncker has called for the creation of an EU army in order to show Russia “that we are serious about defending European values”. Mr Juncker said an EU army would “help us to develop a common foreign and security policy, and to fulfil Europe’s responsibilities in the world.” A standing army without a common foreign policy is impossible. Europe is still grappling with the reality of a common currency, the euro, without having a common economic policy guiding the union. The idea to develop a European army is beyond credible thinking at the moment.

This would be an quantum leap beyond the current mindset of Europe. Some say it could take 5-10 years to form. But unexpected events can dictate otherwise. Europe, taken together, accounts for 1/3 of total world defense spending. Should this happen, Europe, Inc. would be an overnight superpower. This suggestion begs the obvious question: What has happened to American-led NATO? Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates that President Vladimir Putin understands the application of hard power, something his European counterparts do not.

These two developments illustrate that America matters in today’s world. Its absence of firm leadership is creating concern among its allies. Events of the past 12 years, since America’s invasion of Iraq, have revealed deep problems in America’s ability to shape the world in its image. While the U.S has the power—both hard military and firm economic—it has squandered good will and opportunity. That is why the distraction over a potential president’s e-mail is a major problem.

We thought the 2012 election was ground shaking. We are watching a 2016 election develop that will highlight the bankruptcy of American politics and leadership. It's going to be a long 20 months.