Wretchard at The Belmont Club has hipped me to this interview of Paul Wolfowitz at the Prospect magazine. It's very interesting throughout, but one thought in particular stands out:
One of the things about this moment in history is that nobody really thinks they can produce an army, a navy or an air force that can take on the US. That should channel human competitiveness into more productive and peaceful pursuits.Read one way, these are the supremely confident words of a major mover in the world's "last superpower." Read another way, it is a somewhat arrogant observation. Ultimately, though, Wolfowitz is being simultaneously realistic and idealistic.
If, tomorrow, our country had to fight for its own survival against an onslaught from every corner of the world, we would prevail. The world would be bloodied and hundreds of millions would be dead or dying, but this country would survive somehow, even badly hurt. But the countries in the axis of evil? The countries that oppose us? The countries that look at us the wrong way? They would all be under glass if we chose to put them there. But we do not so choose and never would.
America is not an empire in any precedent sense that I know of. We are, as Lincoln said, "the last, best hope of Earth." We do more than represent the potential of liberation; we often realize it. We'd sooner have clients and creditors interested in their own prosperity ---and ours--- than a world full of an annihilated and irredeemable humanity. Thus, we facilitate the mental and material commerce that changes and improves the whole world on a daily basis because that is how we get ahead. There's nothing wrong with that. Someone has to be on top and it may as well, for the sake of all, be us. Better that we get ahead than the Islamofascists or the Nazis or the Communists, right?
But, maybe if you can't agree to that, you should submit yourself to their way of life and find out the difference for yourself. Go on. No one here will stop you.