Bryon Preston over at TCS has an enlightening article on the efforts and successes of some non-traditional multi-lateral initiatives undertaken by the Bush Administration. They are called the Proliferation Security Initiative, concerned mainly with containing North Korea, WMD and Terrorism and an offshoot, called Caspian Guard, that seems to be an attempt to encircle Iran. The reason that not many know about this is two-fold. The first, and obvious, is the inability of the media to depart from their template. This is combined with the Administration's frustrating inability to publicize the evolution of their version of multilaterlism. The latter is important, but the former is essentially a systemic problem.
While only 1/3 to 1/2 of us are politically conservative, many more are conservative by nature. This is reflected in the media and a general unwillingness to accept "change." Witness what is sometimes called the the 9/10 vs. 9/12 split within this country. While some seem to have forgotten 9/11 occurred, I think most who can be classified as 9/10 people (Democrats?) feel that we have accomplished our goals and it is now appropriate to focus on those issues they held dear prior to the attacks as well as the world political environment before those same attacks. Domestic issues, such as health care, the environment, class warfare (heh) have been put forth, put also championed is a return to multilateralism. Of course, multilateralism defined as they chose, which is how it used to be, not how it is now.
Many believe that, if the UN or NATO aren't addressing or tackling a problem, it can't be multilateral? Especially if France isn't involved. Failure to recognize that this is a new day in international relations, their anachronistic belief in the viability of international institutions whose effectiveness has already been shown to be nonexistant, and a natural prejudice over anything "Bush", plus a bit of purposeful intransigence, has served to portray the Bush administration as unilateral. I think we can dispense with that now, don't you?