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The Late Twentieth Century in a Nutshell

Victor Davis Hanson is brilliant today, summing up the entire global diplomacy game of the last couple decades concisely and clearly. Here's where he lights the rocket:

We routinely would worry about riling the world in order to put troops in harm's way to protect nations that were privately relieved and publicly hostile. Those voices that urged that it was wiser for America — given the nature of man — to be a little unpredictable, perhaps even volatile at times, and, like the Greeks of old, to punish enemies and help friends, were caricatured as Rambos and simpletons who did not understand the complexities of diplomacy, a supposedly higher art than the rules of the factory, farm, or neighborhood corner.

Unfortunately, the world soon caught on to us predictable and unimaginative Americans and mastered this strange game far better than we ever did.

I'd love to quote the ending, but you'll just have to go read it.

This recalls a lingering idea that I had in college but never formulated. In the mid-to-late 1800s, American intellectuals were looking for an American voice, investigating what their precedent was and puzzling out where they should direct the trends of their thought. Something changed in the 1900s. Perhaps the American elite were humbled by the Depression (that, on the surface, looks like a joke, doesn't it?). Perhaps they were frightened by the power of the nation and the people whom they fancied themselves to lead. Perhaps they thought the European way of lording it over the non-elite to be superior. (But certainly, these are all the dramatic simplifications with which ideas begin.)

However it happened, the American elite seem to have given up on defining themselves and their country with its own character and sought to transform it — and its population — into something that it manifestly is not. In that light, an optimist can suggest that our country is "re-becoming."

Posted by Justin Katz @ 08:39 AM EST