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American Exceptionalism is Heretical

Excerpts from Srdja Trifkovic’s latest interview with Mike Church on Sirius XM Satellite Radio

ST: The decision-makers in the Western capitals do not know history and they do not care about it. They believe that they operate in a totally new environment in which the examples of the past are not relevant to the actions of the present.

It is an extremely dangerous situation, because they genuinely believe it. I’d prefer the neocons, and Samantha Power and Susan Rice and other liberal interventionists to be cynical, to know the score and yet to act on the razor’s edge of marginal advantage in order to gain some geopolitical points. But no, they genuinely believe that it is indeed a whole new game that they are playing, that examples of the past don’t matter because their technology and their information networks make it possible to impose entirely new rules of the game. Well, it is not possible. We are looking at the old geopolitical equation of a hundred years ago: the tendency of the maritime powers – back then it was the British Empire, today it is the American empire – to treat every point in the world as the so-called vital national interest, and this leads to imperial over-reach...

A rational, American interest-driven policy would look at how does an issue affect us, how does it affect the lives of Americans in Oklahoma and in Texas? Whose flag will fly over Kiev’s Independence Square does not matter one iota. Imposing this puritan ideology of exceptionalism is in Christian terms heretical, because it implies that God has chosen some nations over others and made them immune to the laws of natural natural morality and just war theory.  On the other hand, it leads to material exhaustion, which ultimately does not yield any perceptible benefits…

MC: In your estimation, what does President Putin get right, and what does he get wrong?

ST: Putin gets right the need for the rejuvenation of national identity and faith. If you look at his Valdai Club speech in Sochi last fall, he stated it outright: that many Western nations are ashamed of their past, and calling their holidays euphemistic names so as not to “offend” others. Fundamentally, his idea of Russia as a Christian nation, which does not seek to conquer others but will defend its “near-abroad” against intrusion by a hostile power, is sound.

What he doesn’t get right is Russia’s resistance to the soft power of the West and its subculture. I’ve visited Moscow six times over the past year, and I can tell you that in all kinds of ways Russian television and media and Russian youth culture are permeated by Western nihilism and hedonism. I don’t think that he has succeeded in offering a long-term project of Russia’s cultural renewal. It is no good if you follow a strong line in defending national interests by political and military means, but in the cultural sphere your youth is still subjected to the same decay that has doomed the West to decrepitude and moral downfall.

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