I hate to give you all such a big homework assignment on the weekend but, please take the time to read at least this post. Powerlineblog first brought this to may attention.
Charles Krauthammer is often featured on this blog. He is insightful, his message clear, easy to grasp, always provocative, sometimes frighteningly so. This is just such a case. First Krauthammer on Obama’s dismissal of “American Exceptionalism”. In a nutshell, if the young President had his way, and he’s trying very hard, even the idea of American exceptionalism will be flushed down the memory hole.
In other words, if the one nation even capable of standing up for freedom and democracy, a symbol of true hope for the enslaved around the world abdicates on the grounds that it too is imperfect, then who will lead that charge? It is moral relativism at its worst and most dangerous.
For the New Liberalism, it is not just that power corrupts. It is that America itself is corrupt–
And because we remain so imperfect a nation, we are in no position to dictate our professed values to others around the world. Demonstrators are shot in the streets of Tehran seeking nothing but freedom, but our president holds his tongue because, he says openly, of our own alleged transgressions towards Iran (presumably involvement in the 1953 coup). Our shortcomings are so grave, and our offenses both domestic and international so serious, that we lack the moral ground on which to justify hegemony.
These fundamental tenets of the New Liberalism are not just theory. They have strategic consequences. If we have been illegitimately playing the role of world hegemon, then for us to regain a legitimate place in the international system we must regain our moral authority. And recovering moral space means renouncing ill-gotten or ill-conceived strategic space.
But this is not all. Krauthammer in his Weekly Standard Column goes on to outline the nation and the world that Obama is desperately trying to shape.
There is no free lunch. Social democracy and its attendant goods may be highly desirable, but they have their price–a price that will be exacted on the dollar, on our primacy in space, on missile defense, on energy security, and on our military capacities and future power projection.
But, of course, if one’s foreign policy is to reject the very notion of international primacy in the first place, a domestic agenda that takes away the resources to maintain such primacy is perfectly complementary. Indeed, the two are synergistic. Renunciation of primacy abroad provides the added resources for more social goods at home. To put it in the language of the 1990s, the expanded domestic agenda is fed by a peace dividend–except that in the absence of peace, it is a retreat dividend.
And there’s the rub. For the Europeans there really is a peace dividend, because we provide the peace. They can afford social democracy without the capacity to defend themselves because they can always depend on the United States.
So why not us as well? Because what for Europe is decadence–decline, in both comfort and relative safety–is for us mere denial. Europe can eat, drink, and be merry for America protects her. But for America it’s different. If we choose the life of ease, who stands guard for us?
You really should take the time to read it all. But if you are looking for shortcuts… first go to Powerline where you will find a tremendous analysis of this speech by Paul Rahe.
Or here’s a short cut for you: the middle 10 and then the final 10 of the Krauthammer column. It’s enough to scare you for some, for others depressing. But Krauthammer is not a pessimist. There is a way to stop America’s venture into global sameness. For that … you will have to read the last ten. But here’s his closer:
There are things to be done. Resist retreat as a matter of strategy and principle. And provide the means to continue our dominant role in the world by keeping our economic house in order. And finally, we can follow the advice of Demosthenes when asked what was to be done about the decline of Athens. His reply? “I will give what I believe is the fairest and truest answer: Don’t do what you are doing now.”