American Mediocrity

How is Michael Lind so damn prolific? If he's not writing books rearguing Vietnam or tracking Southern ascendance, he's penning must-reads on America's burgeoning dispensability in foreign affairs. And I thought bloggers covered a lot of ground. Jealousy aside, Lind's piece, sneakily reprinted by Steve Clemons, is the best big-think I've read on foreign policy in the last couple of months. American exceptionalism, until recently an international belief, is now confined to mere regions of our own country. But since those regions control the bully pulpit, the world is finding itself more and more contemptuous of the arrogant, hypocrital, self-defined superpower righteously condemning the uncooperative just before begging for their help. As a result, various areas of the world are uniting to create international superstates, confederations of countries unified in world affairs, often for the sole purpose of blunting American influence. And it's working, both in practical matters and in ending America's place as the sole behemoth at meetings.

If you've ever looked into the genesis of the neocons, it's striking how much of their ideology emerged in response to Vietnam. As some reevaluated the limits of American power, they insisted on a do-over, and, lo and behold, they got their wish. So it was ironic enough that they embroiled us in an occupation that's made our military look more ineffective than at any time since Vietnam. But they also managed to do what the Vietnamese never could: eviscerate our intangible sources of authority. So after proving that futuristic military power is borderline useless for modern confrontations, a fact that surely emboldened the comparatively unarmed countries uniting to balance our weight, they went ahead and destroyed the puffed-up image of America that had served to deter peaceful challenges on the world stage. Good show.

There's an old saying, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. The neocons, whose faith in American has often seemed quasireligious, surely prayed for power a time or two. Hope the Big Guy got a good chuckle out of it...