Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, was harping on an old theme at her Senate confirmation hearing last week. She said her top international principle was to ”strengthen America’s position of global leadership.” This reminds one of her Clinton administration predecessor, Madeleine Albright, who said that ”America is the indispensable nation” and ”We stand tall and hence see further than any other nation.” It suggests that other nations are dispensable and that American indispensability is the source of wisdom. What, then, about Iraq, global warming, Palestine/Israel, the International Criminal Court and financial probity?
”One reads about the world’s desire for American leadership in the United States”, a high British diplomat told me. ”Everywhere else one reads about American arrogance and unilateralism”. And this was said before George W. Bush came to power. Today, even the instinctively pro American British Conservative Party has sought to step back from American hubris, no vote winner on this side of the pond. Sad to say, even President Barack Obama wrote in Foreign Affairs two years ago that the US ”must lead the world once more.” Just over two weeks ago the eminent Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington died. In 1999, he penned an article in Foreign Affairs which caused almost as much shock as his previous ”The Clash of Civilizations”. ”In the past few years the U.S. has attempted unilaterally to do the following: prevent other countries from acquiring military capabilities that could counter American conventional superiority; enforce American law extra territorially in other societies; grade countries according to American standards on human rights, drugs, terrorism, nuclear proliferation and religious freedom; apply sanctions against countries that do not meet American standards on these issues; promote American corporate interests under the slogans of free trade and open markets; shape World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies to serve the same corporate interests; intervene in local conflicts in which it has relatively little direct interest; bludgeon other countries to adopt economic and social policies that will benefit American economic interests; promote American arms sales abroad; expand NATO; and categorize certain countries as ”rogue states.”
He finishes off this massive indictment by saying that in the eyes of many countries it is America that is becoming ”the rogue superpower.” Perhaps the best way to sum up Huntington’s thesis is that America…