Friday, September 15, 2006

WHO WE ARE We'll soon find out.

Here's Billmon's take:

The question [is] whether a nation as powerful and potentially dangerous as America (the proverbial bull in the china shop) can survive on brute force alone--without moral legitimacy or political prestige, without true allies (save for the world's other leper regimes) and without "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

We're not there yet, but that's the direction we're heading in, and a unilateral decision to redefine the Geneva Conventions (without actually admitting that we're doing it) would take us another few hundred miles down the road.

What this amounts to (and what Powell was really complaining about) is the final decommissioning of the myth of American exceptionalism--one of the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Without it, we're just another paranoid empire obsessed with our own security and willing to tell any lie or repudiate any self-proclaimed principle if we think it will make us even slightly safer.

To put it mildly, this is not the kind of flag the rest of the world is likely to rally around, no matter how frantically we wave it.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.