Friday, 19 November 2010

America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism

If one defining feature of many nationalisms has been a belief in a glorious future for the nation, another equally common feature has been the desire for a return to an idealized past, of a culturally and ethnically purer nation, a stable, traditional society and a "moral economy" in which decent, hardworking people are guaranteed a decent job: a shimmering, golden, ungraspable mirage, ever present, ever receding.

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 90.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=105
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


The Cold War perpetuated and strengthened the long-standing messianic, paranoid and Manichean strands in American nationalism. It also added a new element, largely unknown in the United States before World War II, but very important in the history of nationalism elsewhere: a massive military-industrial and security complex with great influence and a stake in promoting armed rivalry with other states.

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 150.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=165
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

The emergence of America as the leader and bulwark of Western democracies against Nazism and then communism gave a tremendous new strength to messianic feelings stemming from the American Creed. These feelings stressed America's role as the exemplar, leader, protector and savior of the "Free World" in the battle against the evil communist "enemies of Freedom."

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 153.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=168
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

The successful democratization of Germany and Japan under U.S. occupation created a fatally alluring image of liberation by force which was to be trotted out later, from Vietnam to Iraq. The historical, economic, geographical, cultural and social positions and experiences of these countries bore no relation whatsoever to those of Germany and Japan; but no matter. The image of the U.S. soldier as conqueror, liberator and modernizer rolled into one had already been firmly established during the Spanish-American War and World War I, and drew on still older roots.

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 153.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=168
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

The role of America as "guardian of freedom" was played on incessantly by official propaganda, political rhetoric, the media and indeed much of American society.

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 153.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=168
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

A monstrous terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland has now occurred. It whipped aspects of American nationalism to fury, and this fury was then directed by a U.S. administration against quite different targets. If attacks like 9/11 are repeated, chauvinist nationalism may become a permanently dominant feature of the United States, with everything that this would mean for the country's international behavior, for the prestige of the American system in the world and indeed for the American system at home.

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 218.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=233
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

To examine their own nationalism in this way, it will however be necessary for Americans to learn from the often terrible example of other nationalisms in modern history and around the world. Doing so will require an ability to step outside American national myths and look at the nation with detachment, not as an exceptional city on a hill, but as a mortal nation among other nations, better than most, no doubt, but also subject to the moral hazards, temptations and crimes to which many peoples have been exposed. 9

Lieven, Anatol. America Right or Wrong : An Anatomy of American Nationalism.
Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005. p 222.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ucreative/Doc?id=10263717&ppg=237
Copyright © 2005. Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

0 comments: