The American national character really wasn't suited for global police duties. It never had been. Tidy and meticulous people such as the Swiss and Swedes were the types who made good cops. America was far better suited to be the World's Movie Star. The world's tequila-addled pro-league bowler. The world's acerbic, bipolar stand-up comedian. Anything but a sombre and tedious nation of socially responsible centurions.
The amusing thing is that, before I gave up and grabbed my copy of Distraction, I googled for Bruce Sterling American world policeman diva. Which is a near-SHA1 hash of the content of that paragraph, no? The fifth result for that search is part one of my response to the UK Strategic Defence Review as a Blog.
And come to think of it, it's actually quite relevant, although the fact AFOE links to Troubled Diva probably has something to do with it.