It’s The Empire, Stupid

It is this American exceptionalism — the belief that unlike other great powers, the United States is motivated not by the self-interest of some set of elites but by benevolence — which allows policymakers to sell wars that are designed to extend and deepen U.S. power as a kind of international community service. In the words of pundit Charles Krauthammer, “We run a uniquely benign imperium,” a claim that is regarded as absurd around the world but is shamefully easy to peddle to the U.S. public. Because we are this benign power, “Our Leaders Will Do Everything They Can to Avoid War.” Solomon methodically goes through the evidence for the opposite conclusion: U.S. leaders often strive to make war inevitable. Most important here is Solomon’s attention to the first Gulf War and Yugoslavia. In the aftermath of the Bush II debacle in Iraq, too many folks (including, sadly, some on the liberal/progressive side) talked wistfully about how George W.’s father “did it right” in 1990-91 by building an international consensus before going to war.

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