Samstag, 9. Dezember 2006

Das amerikanische Selbstbild

Robert Kagan hat in dieser Woche einen interessanten und erfreulich offenherzigen Text im Economist veröffentlicht: "How the US Distorts its Self-Image".
Insgesamt ist ihm zuzustimmen, gerade bezüglich des historischen und ideengeschichtlichen Arguments. Die Außenpolitik der Bush-Administration ist also weder gänzlich neu, noch ist sie - aus amerikanischer Sicht - abwegig. Die Europäer sollten sich mithin des Gedankens entledigen, daß alles was nach G. W. Bush kommt zwangsläufig besser sein müsse und die Politik des derzeitigen Präsidenten nur eine Art Betriebsunfall der Geschichte sei.

Folgendes sollte der Rest der Welt ferner berücksichtigen:

Americans have gone to war frequently in their history, rarely out of genuine necessity. Since the cold war, America has launched more military interventions than all other great powers combined. The interventions in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo were wars of choice, waged for moral and humanitarian ends, not strategic or economic necessity, just as realist critics protested at the time.


Americans, in fact, have always defined their interests broadly to include the defence and promotion of the “universal” principles of liberalism and democracy enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. “The cause of America is the cause of all mankind,” Benjamin Franklin declared at the time of the American revolution, and as William Appleman Williams once commented, Americans believe their nation “has meaning . . . only as it realises natural right and reason throughout the universe”.

This is the real “traditional approach”: the conviction that American power and influence can and should serve the interests of humanity. It is what makes the US, in Bill Clinton’s words, the “indispensable na­tion”, or as Dean Acheson colourfully put it six decades ago, “the locomotive at the head of mankind”. Americans do pursue their selfish interests and ambitions, sometimes brutally, as other nations have throughout history. Nor are they innocent of hypocrisy, masking selfishness behind claims of virtue. But Americans have always had this unique spur to global involvement, an ideological righteousness that inclines them to meddle in the affairs of others, to seek change, to insist on imposing their avowed “universal principles” usually through peaceful pressures but sometimes through war.


True realism would recognise America for what it is, an ambitious, ideological, revolutionary nation with a belief in its own world-transforming powers and a historical record of enough success to sustain that belief.


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