The United States is on a roll. The toppling of the colossal statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad symbolizes a string of American triumphs that began two decades ago. America has walked away triumphant in Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), Kuwait (1991), and Afghanistan (2002)—and along the way, it won the Cold War against Soviet communism.
Despite setbacks in places like Somalia, America seems to be capable of intervening wherever and whenever it wills to fashion the world in its image. What is that image? According to the President's most recent State of the Union address, it is this: "Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity."
Angry Iraqi protests about the U.S. presence, though discomforting and mystifying for Americans, are nonetheless signs of the recent war's success: Iraqis can now openly criticize the powers that be without fear that their tongues will be cut out. Though it is too soon to tell whether it will take, and though tragic setbacks will occur, freedom has indeed been birthed in Iraq.
Many are worried about America's geopolitical success—and rightly so. But much of the anxiety is superficial, concentrating on politics and not on deeper concerns. Many fear, for example, that America will now start acting with unrestrained self-interest. Of course, a fair amount of national self-interest motivates all foreign policy. It is naïve to think nations, as such, can act otherwise.
The question to be asked with every new venture is this: Is there anything significant that transcends national self-interest that justifies this venture? People wildly celebrating their liberation ...1
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