American liberals and people outside the United States often roll their eyes in patronizing sufferance when an American, such as Senator-elect Marco Rubio (R-FL), states that the USA is the greatest country in the history of the world. It’s dismissed as naive and provincial, a chest-thumping nationalism about as out of date in a transnational world as the horse and buggy after the coming of the auto.
National Review’s Rich Lowry takes exception to that condescension. Reviewing the great powers that have come along since the birth of the modern nation-state system in 1648, he compares the record of each to that of the United States and comes to a straightforward conclusion — we are indeed the greatest:
Which brings us to the U.S. We had the advantage of jumping off from the achievement of the British. We founded our nation upon self-evident truths about the rights of man, even if our conduct hasn’t always matched them. We pushed aside Spain and Mexico in muscling across the continent, but brought order and liberty in our wake. Our treatment of the Indians was appalling, but par for the course in the context of the time. It took centuries of mistreatment of blacks before we finally heeded our own ideals.
The positive side of the ledger, though, is immense: We got constitutional government to work on a scale no one had thought possible; made ourselves a haven of liberty for the world’s peoples; and created a fluid, open society. We amassed unbelievable wealth, and spread it widely. Internationally, we wielded our overwhelming military and industrial power as a benevolent hegemon. We led the coalitions against the ideological empires of the 20th century and protected the global commons. We remain the world’s sole superpower, looked to by most of the world as a leader distinctly better than any of the alternatives.
Our greatness is simply a fact. Only the churlish or malevolent can deny it, or even get irked at its assertion.
Not to dismiss or denigrate anyone else’s pride in their own nation, but I have no argument with Lowry’s point; our accomplishments, including many Lowry doesn’t mention, speak for themselves. There’s no need for bluster or braggadocio; neither is there any reason denigrate and abase ourselves before other nations.
Now if we could just get a president who feels the same way.
Via Twitter from a lot of people.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)