Sunday, January 20, 2002

Matthew Harris in the London Times has a good, blunt assessment of American foreign policy. He sees America as

...not unusually greedy; and not, in any malignant way, bullying. It is a simple conviction that America will decide. Her citizens do not see her as one country among many but as nonpareil, the biggest, the best, the one-and-only: final judge of her own interests and a pretty fair judge of what’s good for the rest of us too. None of this is inconsistent with a strong sense of justice: a sense of justice characterizes America at home and abroad, but it will be their justice and they will be the arbiters. Nor is it inconsistent with a wish to do good abroad: no people have shown such a consistently generous ambition to make our world a better place. But their help will be given ex gratia and its terms dictated by them. America will save the planet if America must, and it will pay the piper: but it will then call the tune. A negotiated process of cooperation is not what America has in mind.

The piece does have quite a bit of the European sophisticate looking down at the boorish Americans but still gives a stirring defense of what you might call "enlightened unilateralism." Read it, it'll make your day.

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