• 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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