Darel E. Paul has published a very triggering article on foreign policy and American national identity at The American Conservative.
“A more elevated answer is rooted in America’s national mythology, according to which unity is necessary for the very cause of liberty, equality, individual rights, and self-government. This belief famously animates Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a speech historian Gary Wills insisted “remade America” (for which Wills won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award). To Lincoln and those who follow him, republicanism itself may “perish from the earth” without a united United States. Nor may America itself continue without republican values. In words Lincoln spoke in his 1862 State of the Union address and repeated often by American politicians since, American unity is “the last best hope of earth.” What more elevated, more lofty, more grandiose claim could exist? …”
I can’t even …
No one in American history did more to destroy America’s experiment in republican values than Abraham Lincoln. It was Lincoln who transformed what had been a White Republic and a voluntary union of sovereign states with an agrarian economy and a small federal government into a centralized and consolidated despotism. This was the first major fork in the historical road.
The term “union” itself fell out of fashion because it was no longer meaningful after the War Between the States. As a result of that conflict, the federal government became the master of the states and the slippery slope of liberalism was unleashed. The triumphant North set out to emulate the British Empire which was its idol. Previously, the only type of “equality” that existed in our system was the equality of states in the Senate. “The lest best hope of the earth” was hundreds of thousands of people who were maimed or dead in the South, the insoluble race issue which has bedeviled the country ever since, bankruptcy, colonial exploitation and crushing poverty which lasted until the Great Depression.
“Here we come to the real glue of America. From the founding of the country in the fires of war, the United States has been an expansionary republican empire ever incorporating new lands, new peoples, new goods, new resources, new ideas. This “empire of liberty,” as Thomas Jefferson called it, knew no limits. Even after the closing of the frontier at the end of the 19th century, Americans continued onwards to claim Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and a chunk of Panama. They absorbed island chains in the Caribbean and the Pacific. They went to Europe in World War I and established permanent military bases across both Europe and East Asia after World War II. Eventually Americans gathered half the globe under their indirect rule. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, they proceeded to gather the other half. …”
The second major fork in the road came in the 1890s when the United States embraced imperialism, militarism and plutocracy which was the path that led us into the World Wars. This wasn’t some inevitable development either. There was also a major national debate about this at the time as there had been previously over the same issue over whether to annex all of Mexico or when Ulysses S. Grant tried to annex the Dominican Republic. The plutocratic and imperialist side prevailed.
“It is this promise of greatness, this glory of the expanding republican empire that knows only the boundary of the earth itself, that has been the glue of America. Because the United States is not a nation in the European or even Asian sense, common descent, common religion, and common culture bind only parts. That common glory of imperial expansion, combined with a republican form of government through which all citizens secure it and share in it, binds the whole. …
Since the 1960s, the glory of the American empire of liberty has tarnished. Since the mid-2010s it has fallen under sustained internal attack. The failures of national purpose in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are amplified by the failure of globalization to generate common wealth for the commonwealth. If Americans are not united for expansionary republican greatness, what then are all these fissiparous races, creeds, and cultures bound together for? While belief that self-government may perish from the earth without American unity may have been plausible in 1863 or 1941, it is a hard sell in 2021. It becomes even harder when would-be centrists urge Americans to unite around drag queen story hour today so we can all fight the Chinese together tomorrow. …”
The third major fork in the road came in the 1940s. The choice then was to remain a “great power” and a regional hegemon in the Western hemisphere and Pacific and stay out of World War II or to get into the war and get sucked even further down the road of emulating the British Empire.
Such is the glory of the American Empire in our own times:
They were sent to Afghanistan by these people …
… to end like this and be replaced by these people.