Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A Land of Dreams?

If the effervescence of American euphoria at the election of Barack Obama has not been enough to cause you to question the chemistry of the water on our side of the Atlantic (or, I guess, this side of the Pacific), remind yourself of the reaction to it from overseas. Even an otherwise electorally satisfied Froma Harrop finds much to question in such overdone displays of madness and wonders aloud how much it really matters whether we are loved by those on foreign shores. Welcome to the conservative club of the skeptical, Ms. Harrop! The water here is fine. Come on in.

But Harrop cannot quite reject her philosophical and intellectual roots. In addition to taking a hard look at the bulk of obsequious pining for foreign approval that lives on the left, she also has to give us a cartoon characterization of conservative disregard for foreign opinion. We "carpet-bomb" because we’re "super-patriots," don’tcha know? She rejects both the bulk of left opinion and her straw-man of conservative opinion and in this believes that she has discovered a sensible middle ground. In a sense, she has, and I welcome her "discovery"--even if it is unoriginal. Harrop ends her sober reflections on the meaning of Obama to the world on this note:

The objective of multiracial, multi-ethnic societies shouldn’t be electing people of color, gender or ethnicity in proportion to their numbers in the general population. It should be fostering a civic culture in which someone of talent and discipline and good ideas can be elected regardless of those DNA.
Again . . . the water is fine. Welcome. The more agreement about the essential things (like this) the better. The better for our country and the better for the advancement of the remaining points of contention between us.

Discussions - 6 Comments

As someone who lived for many years in Europe, I would like to add this observation. Seen from European shores, what appears most striking is the sheer scale of America's power and its willingness to make use of it when and how it chooses, be it Carter promoting human rights, Reagan fighting communism, or Bush spreading democracy. This usually leaves the Europeans in the role of passive bystanders, sulky obstructionists, or admiring followers, but the notion that anyone in America, left or right, actually cares about what Europe thinks would come as news to most Europeans. What Europeans both admire and resent about America is precisely the sheer indifference of Americans of all political stripes to world opinion; the main difference between liberals and conservatives on that score is that conservatives are more outspoken about it.

There is a reason that (most) of us came to these shores. Why should we care what the sophisticates of Europe think of us? They are no moral or intellectual standard, evidenced by the fact that they are slowly going extinct.

Who's talking about "sophisticates" (whatever that means)? The views I cited are those of plumbers, rugby moms, and taxi drivers. America's superpower standing depends on others' belief that by supporting us, they are promoting a wider common interest, so we can't both "lead the free world" and indulge xenophobic resentments. Take Iraq: first we alienate international opinion, then we're frustrated that we're stuck fighting the war mostly by ourselves. Our SecDef just recently pleaded with the Europeans to send more troops to help us in Afghanistan--but who would want to help us if it's not a two-way street? Leadership isn't about chest-pounding, but about listening, showing respect, and identifying shared interests. If our leaders are well received in Europe--which remains the key region in the world that generally shares our interests and values--that's a huge asset to our foreign policy; if they're disliked, we have to ask ourselves what we're doing wrong.

We should not be living in "multiracial, multi-ethnic societies". The very term is an oxymoron.

If we chose to do so, we should be very clear that we are volunteering to go along with governments awarding of spoils based on "color, gender or ethnicity in proportion to their numbers in the general population". That has always and everywhere been the case, because people define themselves by their membership in racial or ethnic groups, not by their membership in some Austro-Hungarian Empire-like entity.

Life is going to be very hard for you, John. Perhaps you should consider Iceland . . . or a time machine.

I think we should all consider time machines, three quaters of the claims I hear echoed could only be reasonably proved by their use.

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