I just finished a wonderful book by Andrew Bacevich titled, “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.”
Now that title might not ‘grab you,’ but the contents are definitely thought-provoking.
One of the points of the book that stood out to me was how the United States is fast becoming an imperialistic nation. (Imperialism: A policy of extending the power and dominion of a nation over the political or economic life of other nations.)
Our leaders increasingly believe it is the duty of the United States to reshape the entire world (most particularly the Middle East) into America’s image. That is, they are convinced that all would benefit if the ‘American Way of Life’ were in place.
This is not a new idea. It has been in place for quite some time. Since 9/11, however, it has gained impetus and resulted in our country facing a never-ending war.
In fact, whether you are aware of this or not, this is the whole idea behind the “global war on terror.” It is, at its core, an ultimatum to the rest of the world … you are either with us or against us.
The current President made the statement that he wants to “rid the world of evil” (emphasis mine). Of course, none of us wants evil to triumph. But waging a war that has no end to try and manipulate through force the people of other countries (in particular, a billion or more Muslims) to embrace our way of life is absurd … and incredibly dangerous for the young men and women who are called upon to enforce this concept. As Bacevich so aptly points out, “Our ability to influence perceptions and attitudes across the Islamic world will remain limited.”
I find this type of thinking to be identical to the ill-conceived viewpoint of Fundamentalist Christians, i.e., our way is the only way. (In fact, it is also the thinking of the fundamentalist faction of the Muslim religion.)
Certainly, as U.S. residents, we believe we have the best country in the world and we deeply appreciate the freedoms that are allowed to us. But to insist that every country in the world should embrace the American way of living is foolhardy, particularly when war is used as the causation.