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Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer addresses an audience at AFA's Air & Space Conferene in National Harbor, Md., on Sept. 17. Staff photo by Kristina Parrill.​

The US is now seeing the consequences of its “retreat” from its traditional role in world affairs, said Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer on Sept. 17. In recent decades, the US has played the role of “offshore balancer of last resort,” a mission once performed by the British, said Krauthammer at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. The US would frequently align itself with whatever aggrieved smaller power needed support to ward off the “bully of the day,” he said. The Obama Administration has acted as if world affairs would continue without change if the US walked away from this role, however, and the consequences were not seen right away. But when the US walks away and creates a power vacuum, he said, “the bad guys fill the space.” The world’s bullies are now acting as if they have no reason to fear the United States, and this has serious, real-world consequences. The consequences can be seen now through ISIS’ rise in Iraq and Syria, and in Russian intransigence in Ukraine. No other nation can play the role of balancer, Krauthammer added, but public outrage over ISIS atrocities may force the administration back into action.