O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
Robert Burns. Or was that Joseph Mussomeli, channeling Sergei Lavrov?
Americans are perhaps unique in the world in their view of the world—they are truly a conflicted people: they know less about history and the rest of the world than any other developed country, yet they deem themselves experts on all things. More intriguingly, they feel a messianic impulse to save the world, while at the same harboring deep resentment when the world intrudes on them. They are, paradoxically, irredeemably isolationist and compulsively interventionist.
But what is most important to understand about America is that it is not evil. The American people and their leaders are good-hearted and always mean well. Such silly leftwing notions of America the Evil need to be cast aside, onto the trash heap of history so to speak, with so many other myths. They want only to do good—and that is what makes America so dangerous. They do not have a lust for power, nor truly a craving for wealth. But they do lust for glory and they do crave admiration. A white knight on a noble steed, erratically trampling the rest of the world into submission with benign intent.
What is most infuriating about America’s self-image, however, is the ease with which it deflects its own foibles and inclinations onto the rest of the world …
On first reading, this masterful — well, what is it? Satire? — essay tickled every point of my confirmation bias, but I now see that Mussomeli gives less weight to acquisitiveness than I do and may view some other things differently. I’m inclined to defer, considering his credentials, in close cases.
I don’t know just how much credit “The Almighty” will give us for good-heartedness married to invincible self-deception.
Of course, Mussomeli must be wrong. All the best people say Russia is evil:
When the National Review, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Washington Post are all bleating like good sheep the same uninformed half-truths about Russia, you know that building better relations is now impossible.
If you don’t follow any other of my links today, follow this one, and read carefully.
A rapidly expanding and aggressive China and a determinedly nihilistic and ruthless Islamic fundamentalism are America’s true threats, but if they cannot see that themselves, we will never succeed in showing it to them. They should be eager to form closer ties with Russia, both to counter China in the East and to safeguard NATO in the west. Are we not part of that same broad Western civilization that they all ought to want to preserve?
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“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)