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« God was telling me it was time to change my wardrobe | Main | Column 139 »
3:15AM

Deleted scenes: Chapter Three

So here's what I want this quick dash through our nation's history to accomplish: to impart an unshakable sense of grounding in this American orientation. I want your sense of who we are and what we mean to this world to become so strong that you can confidently navigate the grand strategic issues we now collectively face as a result--not of our failures as a nation but--of our success as a global force for good.

 

There is plenty of anti-Americanism across the world today, but there is no
pre-Americanism out there today. Let me show you how our country
changed everything by the choices we made, because in those decisions 
we locate the quintessential examples of American grand strategy and
the genius of America's grand strategists.

 

...

 

As
 an example of how to rapidly develop an underdeveloped portion of any
country's territory, this is arguably the single most important
step to take. Hernando DeSoto, the brilliant Peruvian economist
whose pioneering study of "informal," or poorly credentialized
economic activity and associated capital in Latin America, has argued
that nothing transforms the political economy of a nation better or
faster than "adapting the law to the social and economic needs of
the majority of the population," because law is "thus made to
serve popular capital formation and economic growth." In many
ways, the Homestead Act of 1862 was desperately late on the scene in
the American West, where so-called squatter's rights were already
widely recognized as a method of obtaining legal right to property.
As DeSoto states, "it was less an act of official generosity than a
recognition of a fait accompli." What the Homestead Act did
accomplish was to codify this practice for the vast Federal lands
still held by the government at that time, thus accelerating to a
significant degree the rapid settlement of the West in the years
immediately following the Civil War. The symbolism of this law,
DeSoto notes, is great, because it marked the end of "a long,
exhausting, and bitter struggle between elitist law and a new order
brought about by massive migration and the needs of an open and
sustainable society."

 

...

 

But
 it's not enough simply to build the physical structure of a nation,
for identity is attachment and attachment comes through shared
experiences. Those shared experiences, in turn, need to be strung
together in stories of destiny--namely, things
turned out this way for a reason.
If you simply build it and let them come, the resulting multiplicity
of identities, if left to develop on their own, will splinter along
the many choices afforded by all that connectivity (on the frontier,
much like on the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog). So
railroading them out to the frontier isn't enough. You don't
travel to the frontier to impose your old identity but to find your new identity, a reality our armed forces have finally come around to
understanding today in Iraq. The role of leadership in this process
is one of shaping and enunciating, not inventing and dictating: You
have to tell people why the connections you forge result in identity
you must all now share. You have to offer them grand strategic
narratives of how they and this all came to be--and what must come next. In this dialogue, yours is
not the only voice, but being a primary agent of change, yours is the
bully pulpit.

 

...

 

That's
 why, in many ways, the defeat of the Soviet challenge was
unremarkable: we simply waited out the inevitable failure of an
alternative, mini-world globalization model. In contrast, gaining
 China's admittance to our model of globalization was world
changing, because it triggers critical mass dynamics that make
inevitable the final, global victory of our grand strategy--the one
revolution that truly remakes the world in its image.

 

...

 

Again,
 this is as good as it gets for now. For something better, we have to
keep working. We have to recalibrate that American grand strategy
and its underlying American System to the next set of challenges, the 
next set of allies, the next set of enemies, the next set of
opportunities. Nothing we'll confront in the days ahead will be
unknown to us. In building our American System, we have done it all:
the best and the worst, the most sacred and the most profane, the
most defensible and the most unforgivable.

 

It's 
not that America didn't make mistakes, it's that Americans
corrected them and moved on.

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (2)

This is a deleted scene? Wow!

I wonder if Obama's crowdsourcing his State of the Union, economic address?

> But it's not enough simply to build the physical structure of a nation, for identity is attachment and attachment comes through shared experiences.

Indeed this holds true for the new America Obama's leadership must facilitate.

> The role of leadership in this process is one of shaping and enunciating, not inventing and dictating: You have to tell people why the connections you forge result in identity you must all now share. You have to offer them grand strategic narratives of how they and this all came to be--and what must come next. In this dialogue, yours is not the only voice, but being a primary agent of change, yours is the bully pulpit.

And thisBullyPulpit is listening: Office of Public Liason
February 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCritt Jarvis
I am eager to get my hands on a copy of 'Great Powers' and see your thoughts on the era ahead. The congruency of GP came together for me while I was studying at Hopkins' SAIS and your The 'Pentagon's New Map' article was on the reading list. Since then I've been a silent face in the crowd at a few of your presentations--including one not long ago at NED in DC.

Let me know if there's anything I can do for you, as you've already done me one favor. Thiat is I now save time explaining that it's not a contradiction for a Hobbesian realist to aspire to something as "naive" as international law. I just explain it's a species of system administration and point them to your work and, for example the old timey Law of the Sea.
February 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Reid

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