Monday, February 02, 2009

Andrew Bacevich: "The bubble of American triumphalism has burst"

Andrew Bacevich writes on what he sees as a necessary and overdue awakening to some of the follies of post-Cold War American military and foreign policy assumptions inAmerican Triumphalism: A Postmortem Commonweal 01/30/09. He cites several egregious examples of overblown triumphalism. My favorite is his recollection of Tom "Suck.On.This." Friedman:

Next came New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, touting the transformative impact of globalization, which on closer examination turned out to be a euphemism for Americanization. The ultimate goal, Friedman wrote in 1999, was “the spread of free-market capitalism to virtually every country in the world”-a process that would put “a Web site in every pot, a Pepsi on every lip, [and] Microsoft Windows in every computer.” Yet none of this was going to occur without the backing of hard power. “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist,” Friedman declared. “And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.”

Friedman’s essay appeared as a cover story in the New York Times Magazine. Accompanying the cover illustration-a clenched fist, vividly painted with the Stars and Stripes-was this text: "For globalism to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is." [my emphasis]
This is Tom Friedman, who is still consider a wise commentator on global affairs. It's because blowhards and fools like him were considered to be sensible and even outstanding experts on foreign policy that we wound up in the Iraq War.

As Bacevich says, "Ideas have consequences. Post-cold war triumphalism produced consequences that are nothing less than disastrous."

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