Society & Culture

The End of American Exceptionalism?

Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz have written a book entitled Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America.  The Wall Street Journal ran an excerpt on August 29, with the headline “Restoring American Exceptionalism.”

In the excerpt, Cheney sought to identify his views on foreign policy with those of Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan.  That is a highly dubious proposition.  Unlike the de facto President of Foreign Policy during George W. Bush’s first term in office, Eisenhower and Reagan were extremely cautious in sending American forces abroad; and both presidents pursued foreign-policy objectives that reflected our national interests.  Even Reagan’s strategy to win the Cold War involved a very limited deployment of U.S. military forces into combat situations.  As for his policy in the Middle East, Reagan himself wrote in his diaries that his biggest foreign-policy mistake was sending U.S. Marines into Lebanon:

Perhaps we didn’t appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and complexity of the problems that make the Middle East such a jungle.  Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the Marines’ safety that it should have.  Perhaps we should have anticipated...

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