Earlier this week, Larry Summers said he could "think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China's effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the U.S. to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it." This may be remembered, he says, as the moment when the United States lost its standing as the world's economic leader.

Gideon Rachman also sees Washington's embarrassment over the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a commentary on U.S. decline. British and European policy makers see China getting stronger and America, relatively speaking, looking feeble: They "are making decisions that reflect a cautious adaptation to this wind of change."

I see it a little differently. Europe's decision to support the AIIB over U.S. objections reflects its own weakness more than America's. And it gives further proof, if proof were needed, of Europe's fathomless geopolitical complacency.