In comments to this post Marshall Art writes the following:
In any case, I believe our country is a force for good in the world. I believe also, that there has been no other country that has shown any real stones to be a force for good in the world. It's not a matter of being a policeman of the world, yet with our great power comes great responsibility. It's all well and good for people, particularly on the left, to want us to cough up every dime for every impoverished or devastated country around the world. Indeed, we continually show our generous nature, both nationally as well as a collective of individual donations, and it makes me proud. But should our might be needed? Good gosh no, where do we get the right to interfere? Both our wealth and our might can be used for good and as long as there are assholes running other countries, they need to know that there are good guys ready to go toe to toe for the sake of the planet. It also inspires lesser nations to join in (more often than not). This is a good thing. I'd rather it not change. I don't think the world could stand it.
I used to think of these things only in terms of national interest. But just as our financial largesse has positive implications that aren't easily realized, so too can our willingness to assert ourselves when deemed necessary. I also don't believe that we need to always have world consensus when we see wrongs being committed that we feel are better put down. If you were a big, muscle bound fighter with vast self-defense training, you might not know the reason why that smaller guy or woman is gettin' a beatin'. Are you just going to let it happen when you have the might to at least interrupt for an explanation? It might be risky for you. But that little guy is bleeding profusely and could be seriously harmed or killed. It's the same in the world. It's our call when we use our might or money based on OUR notions of need. I see nothing wrong with the principle and I do think the world benefits if our help influences the world. I'd love to see the world become more like us in many ways. Wouldn't you?
If one considers this particular bit of reflection in light of two recent posts by Glenn Greenwald, here and here, it shows clearly the moral and political bankruptcy of conservative approaches to foreign policy, and the unquestioned worship of American power by far too many people, not just in the Foreign Policy Community, but in the conservative camp as well.
The first Greenwald post above concerns a debate between a blogger and an alleged expert on international relations who claims there was a defensible argument for an invasion of Iraq, and that there are defensible arguments for invading Iran and North Korea as well. The only issue is the prudence or lack thereof in doing so, not whether such an act would be justifiable. Greenwald notes that behind such a statement is the unquestioned belief in the goodness and necessity of American power. As long as we are "the world's lone superpower" (although I no longer believe that to be the case, thanks to George W. Bush), international relations devolves, in the end, to a question of when we send in our troops, not whether. While those Greenwald discusses may have all sorts of fancy titles, their arguments sound pretty much like Marhsall's, which is a wonderful summation of this particular view (I am not insulting Marshall or his presentation of his position, by the way; I believe he sums up this particular way of viewing the world far better than any supposed "expert" could do).
The latter Greenwald article, which should be considered in tandem with the former, concerns the right-wing belief - almost a doctrine necessary to their entire way of viewing the world - that the United States is in a fight for its life against Muslim hordes who wish to invade us and to paraphrase Ann Coulter, "kill our leaders and convert us all to Islam". Greenwald points out this is not some distant fear, but for far too many on the right an immediate threat to our very existence.
On the one hand, we have an inordinate worship and trust in both our own goodness and military power. On the other hand, we have an inordinate fear of the desire on the part of "Islamists" (whoever they may be) to make of us a Muslim nation. These twin extreme desires drive an almost fanatical desire to strike out at any even alleged threat that may exist.
Combined with the view that the United States can arrogate to itself the use of force (something all other countries in the world are denied, except perhaps Israel) including nuclear weapons, we have a recipe for disaster of epic proportions. When the views of the so-called foreign policy experts and the most fringe elements of our national political spectrum can combine to work for such ill as they have in Iraq, and as they may still do in Iran, we should all be very afraid of those convinced we can still go out there and do some good.