The terrifying natural disaster from the tsunami that swept through a part of Japan, leaving in its massive surge coastal areas wrecked and human casualties still being counted, also ironically swept from the headlines the man-made wreckage of Libyan towns and people by Moammar Gadhafi’s gangsters.

Japan will recover from the wreckage wrought by the tsunami, as it did after the terrible destructions of the Second World War. It is a modern country, and the Japanese are a gifted people. They are proud, resilient, patriotic — and since 1945, a people devoted to peace having absorbed full well the lessons from the criminality of war.

Two weeks ago, I indicated Gadhafi likely will prevail, with his military forces unleashed without any compunction against the opposition. Gadhafi will have done this by taking lessons from the pages of Arab-Muslim history — an Arab ruler must not hesitate to lop off as many heads as necessary to quell the notion that people have rights, and to put fear into the hearts and minds of the rest of the population lucky to survive their ruler’s wrath.

The practice of Arab rule is the pre-modern principle that the prince is absolutely sovereign, and he remains so as long as he, surrounded by a loyal coterie, can hold his threatening scimitar above the people.

It’s the pathetic preening of the West’s liberal-left crowd that the source of political unrest and violence in the Arab-Muslim world results from the wrongful interventions of European colonialism and American imperialism. It’s as if the pre-colonial history of these lands was one uninterrupted soiree of poetry, romance and idyll of just rule by noble princes and wise religious elders.

Europe’s fecklessness, the UN’s uselessness, NATO’s lack of consensus, Washington’s absence from leadership in past years, Russia and China’s ruthless devotion to power politics in the Security Council, and the empty, hypocritical cackle of the Arab League or the African Union members collectively twiddling their fingers — even as Gadhafi, a prize hunter, amasses lopped heads of his opponents while the world watches — provide us with a tableau of the 21st century world.

It is, of course, not a pretty picture. But it is a picture every Israeli understands too well, surrounded as they are by the Arab-Muslim world where Gadhafi’s politics are the norm unless restrained by a superior force.

That superior force, under whatever flag or in adherence to empty rhetoric of international law, will increasingly be missing as the world becomes more deeply divided into two zones of peace and turmoil.

For the past half-century and more so under America’s relatively benign leadership, the global economy prospered, and with it came rising political expectations among people who failed or missed participating in history’s first phase of industrial and scientific revolutions.

America’s withdrawal from leadership in global affairs under the Obama administration — and, perhaps, a majority of Americans deservingly seek withdrawal given the unfairness of criticism and hostility for their role in world politics — comes with a cost.

This cost will mount. Libyans, or those in Ivory Coast and elsewhere, bombed and killed are the early casualties in a world adrift between the zones of peace and turmoil.