America, the Nice Empire

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In Friday’s
FrontPageMag feature
, Jamie Glazov interviews Robert Kagan.
Kagan is a well-known Neocon writer and courageous advocate of sending
Americans off to fight wars he supports.

The title of
Glazov’s interview with Kagan says it all: America and Empire. In
the interview, Kagan argues that America was founded on universal
principles so noble and inspiring that they propelled Americans
to ignore George Washington’s advice in his famous Farewell Address:

"The
great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in
extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little
political connection as possible."

The reason
Washington urged his countrymen to avoid these connections was simple:
to avoid Europe’s wars, which would only harm our republican principles:

"Hence,
therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial
ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary
combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."

Wrong, says
Kagan. America was not meant to be a peaceful republic, but an ideological
empire with the mission of transforming the world:

"And
from the Revolution until today, Americans have been ideological
expansionists, driven by the universal principles of the Declaration
of Independence. They have sought to transform the world, or at
least as much of the world as they had the power to transform,
to conform with American principles, ideals, as well as American
interests."

America, then,
is really an empire. Not just any old empire, mind you, but an idealistic
empire driven by the burning desire to spread democracy. Kagan’s
view of the Spanish-American War of 1898, for example, is that it
wasn’t fought for selfish reasons, as critics charge, but "was
almost entirely fought for humanitarian and moral ends." Well,
of course. Tell that to the 600,000 Filipinos who died resisting
US occupation.

And what does
Kagan say to those who point out that it was the US that first intervened
in the Middle East, thereby inciting Muslim hatred against us? Nonsense,
he says:

"Now,
when critics of American foreign policy point out that American
actions in the Middle East helped spur Osama Bin Laden to action,
they usually mean to suggest that the United States should stop
acting in ways that offend Islamists. I would argue that:

(a) we
should not stop attempting to spread our principles and our
influence

and

(b) we
could not stop it even if we wanted to, because ideological
expansionism is embedded in the American DNA."

Maybe George
Bush can use that defense at his war crimes trial. "I couldn’t
stop myself! My DNA made me do it!"

And
for those delicate American souls who might feel a twinge of guilt
for the mayhem and destruction their tax dollars fund, well, the
important thing to remember is that bloodying the world for its
own good is just a thing we do, even when we’re not aware of it
– after all, it is in our DNA. Americans are so democracy-driven,
we can’t help ourselves, and if it appears we’re a tad careless
while tossing our bombs, we should just ignore those who don’t appreciate
us for what we are – ravenous zombies of liberation:

"What
I would suggest is that Americans stop letting themselves be surprised
by the reactions they, often unconsciously, provoke in others."

So there.

December
11, 2006

Michael
C. Tuggle [send him mail]
is a writer and activist living in Charlotte, North
Carolina.

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