Sunday, May 16, 2004


Who knew the WaPo's Fred Hiatt ever had much to contribute. But, here I think he gets it about right:

Some will say this is all to the good if it diminishes the hubris of what President Bill Clinton called the "indispensable nation." They will say that slave-owning, Indian-eradicating, dictator-propping America was never anything but a fraudulent champion of human rights.

But if you could ask the dissidents and human rights champions who over the decades, in isolated prison cells and frozen work camps, have somehow gotten word that U.S. diplomats or presidents had not forgotten them; if you could ask the elected leader of Burma, who is still under house arrest; or the peasants who are being chased from their villages in western Sudan, or the democrats being slowly squashed in Hong Kong by the Communists in Beijing -- if you could ask any of them, you might get a different answer. They might tell you that the United States has never been perfect, has never done enough, has never been free of hypocrisy -- but also that if America cannot take up their cause, no one will.

Yes, the myth of American moral exceptionalism has always been somewhat of a myth, but there was a substantial net benefit due to the fact that it was a myth that much of the world agreed to collectively buy into. Whether deserved or not, it does appear necessary to have a moral and ethical presence on the world stage which is backed by the economic and military might of the US. Someone needs to be in that role.

The neocons set out to irrevocably enshrine American exceptionalism in the world, and in a surprisingly short amount of time they've managed to destroy it. Mission accomplished!