Thursday, February 01, 2007

more on exceptionalism

The mysterious IOZ reveals himself to be of a libertarian persuasion in comment (I would say “comments,” but, well, you go to war with the blog you have … ). And it didn’t take long for a prominent public figure to confirm the IOZ thesis.

Edwards told the crowd of 500 people that the country's global has been damaged by George W. Bush and is in desperate need of repair. "I don’t mean to do this just so we can feel good,” Edwards said. "We need to do this because the fact is that when America doesn’t lead, there is no leader in the world."

That almost sounds like something our beloved president would say. Both Edwards and Bush operate from the assumption that America must lead because the world needs us to. They may have different conceptions of what proper American leadership would entail. And again, the differences between those conceptions are nontrivial. But I’ll go out on a limb here and say that most of the world does not think it needs America to lead so much as it needs America to act more like an adult and less like an insecure teenager. Many people would like America to butt out of their business. Many others would like America to act more responsibly with regard to military adventures, global warming, and other issues that impact other countries. Many people wish America would act more like an equal partner rather than a self-appointed prophet/policeman/judge/nanny. Some people would—in my opinion wrongly—like America to put a cork in its modern perverted popular culture, which tends to spread to the rest of the world like herpes at Burning Man. Foreign diplomats and world leaders may say, from time to time, placatory things like “When America doesn’t lead, there is no leader in the world,” but mostly that is to keep America from becoming depressed, getting liquored up, and doing something it will regret in the morning.

That said, Atrios has a pretty good rebuttal of IOZ’s argument while making an unrelated remark about Children of Men (MINOR SPOILERS):

I tend to react negatively to anything which floats above, or suggests that floating above, the muck is the only productive or honorable course. This is the view of David "pox on both their houses [especially the Democrats] " Broder, the "everybody but us are losers" attitude of the South Park guys, Nader's Gush and Bore, etc... And, ultimately, this is part of the message of Children of Men. The government is right wing and bad. The dissenters are left wing and bad, and so bad they team up with Islamic terrorists and see revolution as an end in itself. Salvation is to be found not within but outside the system. Only those who set up camp outside the existing order offer possible salvation.

I've got nothing against those who see the corruption of the system as an insurmountable problem, it's those who apparently see human nature as an insurmountable problem but then imagine there are Super Humans who can somehow transcend this.

I don’t remember any teaming up with Islamic terrorists, but I may have missed something along the way—maybe I got distracted by the genetically engineered giant raving street preacher who was onscreen for exactly one second.

But I agree that an Edwards/Gore/Obama/(Clark?) foreign policy would be worlds ahead of a Bush/McCain/Brownback foreign policy. Mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to imagine a Democrat doing something so fucking stupid as invading, for no apparent reason, a country in the middle of a region that hates us and upon which we depend for much of our energy supply. While I heartily endorse IOZ’s suggestion to "expand the capacity of Americans to imagine something different," I think in the interim, living as we do in world inhabited by flawed, petty, smelly, beautiful flesh and blood human beings, we are often best served by supporting the least bad option available at any given moment.

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