Will, Beinart on American Hubris

My hand picked quotes from this excellent piece:

“Kosovo nudged open an intellectual door, a door George W. Bush would fling wide open four years later, when he cited ‘preemption’ to justify his invasion of Iraq.” . . .

Generational envy has, Beinart believes, propelled some Americans’ searches for Hitlers to not appease. Boredom born of Cold War success caused them to find some.

The hubris infects both parties. Here are Virginia Postrel and James Glassman commenting on the state of conservatism and their alternative, from 1997:

Freedom makes them very nervous. “Wishing to be left alone is not a governing doctrine,” wrote William Kristol and David Brooks on this page two weeks ago. They offer their own governing doctrine, “the appeal to American greatness”–a kind of wistful nationalism in search of a big project.

Unfortunately, for them the Cold War is over. So what’s a national-greatness government to do? It could go looking for the next war, hope for another Great Depression, or sponsor a trip to Neptune. Or, as we would prefer, it could step back and let the inventiveness, passion, imagination, and technological genius of Americans produce American greatness.

I’ll go with their alternative.

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