It was largely the Biblical message that stood at the origin of the American endeavor to “make the world safe for democracy.” Contrary to many European observers critical of America, America’s military interventions have never had as their sole objective the goals of economic imperialism but rather the desire to spread American democracy around the world. This objective became obvious, when America, following the end of the Second World War, became a major global power. After the Cold War America also became the arbiter of world affairs and the interpreter of the international law. Whoever militarily challenged America ran the risk of being placed outside the category of humanity or labeled as a terrorist. Once declared outside humanity or declared terrorist, a person, a nation, or a regime could be disposed of at will. When the Soviet Union and communism were gone, other negative archetypes had to be invented in order better to profile America’s unique democratic zeal. By the beginning of the third millennium, the negative fixation on the Other found its substitute in Islam and the official mantra of “fighting radical Islamic terrorists” all over the world. It is striking how America, ever since its foundation, has resorted to negative profiling of other political actors, seldom looking at the specific root causes of the problem that stood behind the actors’ hostile un-American behavior.
Although postmodern America has assigned itself the role of being at the forefront in combating ethnic prejudices and racism, its own racial heterogeneity is having an impact on its foreign policy. As a multiracial society with over 25% of its citizens being of non-European origin, America’s role in world affairs can no longer be the same. The September 11, 2001 terrorist bombing of the Twin Towers in New York came as a small respite in forbidden ethnic stereotyping. From then on, a joke or a deprecatory remark against Arabs or against the religion of Islam could get a safe passage in the American media. Many American conservatives and radical right-wingers, including white supremacists, fell into the trap of such negative stereotyping of Muslims, and their hatred of Islamic fundamentalism turned into an excuse for xenophobic sentiments across the board against all non-white immigrants. General resentments against Islam became a common denominator for many white Americans as they could finally vent their frustrations against social experiments with their home grown ideology of multiculturalism.
But why not point out that the Bible-inspired American ideology can be as intolerant as Islamism, and why not recall that many Muslims living in Europe are of white European origin? Furthermore, the outbursts of anti-Islamic feelings in America became a handy instrument of different pressure groups including Jewish-American lobbies who had traditionally been wary of the real or alleged rise of radical Islam in the Middle East. Therefore, in examining American foreign policy, particularly towards Muslim countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, one must ask the standard question: cui bono? Who benefits from it?
The American vocabulary of similar negative stereotyping had its origin in the preceding vilification of Germany and Japan, two countries, which during the Second World War, found themselves in deadly military conflict with America and Americanism. The consequences of that military and ideological clash are visible to this day and they continue to shape the political agenda of the elites both in America and Europe. It was to be expected that after the disappearance of Fascism and National Socialism in 1945, other negative stereotypes had to be invented in order to legitimize the new American world order. One must raise the question whether Americanism can persist at all without constantly looking over its shoulder for a negative political counter-model? To a large extent the real or alleged Islamic threat that became part of world politics in the early 21st century is the logical result of America’s neurotic quest to cleanse its own household of evil.
Europe and its heartland Germany experienced after 1945 the full para-Biblical impact of American foreign policy although the interests of the American political elites in Europe were then more complex than just removing the “Nazi Evil.” After all, Germany had been on the track of becoming a major Euro-Asian superpower ready to block America from the entry to energy sources in the rimland countries of the Middle East and the Pacific Basin. Carl Schmitt, the well known German jurist and a theoretician of international law, who also experienced for some time the wrath of American world improvers, writes that America’s hubris was only strengthened after the Second World War as America had become the world’s premier economic and military superpower. After 1945 America came to be viewed by many re-educated European leaders as the economic embodiment of the spirit of Enlightenment and as a pristine country of the state of nature that was best reflected in the dominant ideas of peace and progress. Even if America, during the Cold War, was often looked down upon by many European leaders for its often harmful foreign policy decisions, its astounding economic growth coupled with amazing technological discoveries earned her the reputation of a miracle do-good country. Psychologically, not a single European leader and not a would be hegemon could dismiss the fact that America represented something all political actors in Europe and elsewhere had always dreamed about. America was destined to push aside Europe and begin to function as its embellished substitute. It already had the ideological asset of having established he own city on the hill in the self-appointed desire to make the entire world safe for democracy. “The new West, America, will remove the old West, i.e., Europe from its own historical location, that is, from the old center of the world.”(1)
America can often be on friendly terms with smaller countries of different un-American and even anti-American ideological persuasions, but she can never allow a large un-American adversary to compete with it for world supremacy. Hypothetically speaking, even if there was a replica of America of the same geographic size and same military capability and sharing same democratic values, very likely the present day America would sooner or later find itself on a collision course with its own “other-sameness.” In the last analysis, the question should not be raised as to how harmful American foreign policy is, but whether or not there is any alternative to American hegemony at all. And if there were other non-American alternatives, who can argue they could not be worse? Over the last two thousand years European politicians and thinkers have been sagely discussing the idea of a common European homeland and a common European foreign policy. The results of such well thought out ideas became clear by the beginning of the third millennium, notably when the European elites had failed again to rearrange their endless tribal disputes among their own member states in the newly launched so-called European Union. How can then the European elites project their “Europeanness” in other parts of the world if they are not capable of finding a consensus on their small peninsula, which is one third the size of America?.
The Insular Mind vs. the Continental Mind
America is a superpower and often against her own will. It is a military might because at least for now there are no contestants in the world arena. As an American author, a former diplomat and opinion maker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, notes, America was able to combine during the course of the twentieth century, four major factors in order to preserve its superpower status: it had a first rate military might; it was a world locomotive of economic growth; it made path breaking innovations in the computer industry. Finally, America’s popular culture and its diverse leisure–oriented paraphernalia made the American life style widely accepted by the whole panoply of word actors – even by those who profess “anti-Americanism.“(2) Indeed, this fourth point is the most important as it gives America cultural legitimacy which she can at any time translate into a military quest for power. Technically speaking, it is probable that the jurisdiction of America and its citizens can be projected into some other corner of the world, as this happened, after World War II with the Americanization of Europe. It cannot be ruled out that even if America, with its present geopolitical location and its capital in Washington DC, disappeared from the map, Americanism and its citizens could relocate to some Euro-Asian or African region of the same size. America may have its own sense of order, which may be accepted or rejected by other world actors. She does, however, have its own list of priorities which may often be repulsive to foreigners but which have, over the last one hundred years, sustained some sort of world order. Different theories, concocted by European anti-American theoreticians, notably about some Berlin-Paris-Moscow axis or some Euro-Asian empire in the offing, look childish and reflect the typical wishful thinking of right wing Europeans on their own self-imposed political margins. These theories are not based on solid empirical facts.
The Euro-Asian continent and especially the European powers have traditionally been torn apart by different political narratives, and nothing indicates that Europe, or for that mater China, are capable of forming a common entity to counter America’s present or future ambitions. In fact America does not even need to have outstanding geopolitical ambitions; they often become available to her as the result of constant Euro-Asian infighting. For instance, the much-vaunted European Union, ever since its foundation in 1957 and its refurbishment in 1992, has been mired in bureaucratic horse-trading. The much-acclaimed European cultural diversity hinders, paradoxically, Europeans from having a common foreign policy. By contrast, the big advantage of America is its monolithic character, its linguistic unity, and nation-less ideology of one world government. Therefore, America has been so far in a better position than any system in fostering world hegemony.
Undoubtedly, at the beginning of the third millennium, America began to show ambitions in Central Asia. Her interests will inevitably clash with the future interests of China, Russia, and Europe. This area represents a gigantic space, replete with energy sources which could possibly feed world energy demands for centuries to come, regardless of the Middle East imbroglio which has marred America’s foreign policy energy and crippled most of its foreign aid over the last several decades. But given the long standing ethnic, racial, and cultural bickering of a myriad of actors in this large area, it is highly unlikely that some Euro-Asian empire hostile to America or Israel will emerge any time soon. Viewed from another angle, is it not better to have some sort of stability and security – however superreal and hypermoral that stability may sound – than to live in an ethnically independent and balkanized world governed by semi-anarchical regimes? The political disruption in the Balkan Peninsula following the end of the Cold War, the incapacity of Europe to halt the carnage in ex-Yugoslavia, that is, in its own backyard, the call for the American intervention to stop the Yugoslav killing fields, confronts us with the old dilemma: Is it not, after all, preferable to have some American-staged security to some vague notions of liberty replete with fear and violence?
These geopolitical remarks cannot be an excuse for the American political theology that most foreign leaders comprehend with great difficulty. Since its inception America has been a victim of her equivocal attitude towards other political actors, a practice that has reflected itself in its foreign policy decisions to this day. On the one hand American decision makers adhere to political autism, called isolationism; on the other, they often break into spasms of global military enterprises, frequently conducted by violent methods against the “Other,” i.e. the “Non-believer,” “the Axis of Evil,” the “Empire of Evil,” the Communists, the Fascists, the Muslim Fundamentalists – that is, against all those who oppose the American religious crusade against the “Evil.”
Similar to Bolshevik Russia, America had introduced into the rules of military engagement a discriminatory factor against her opponents who are no longer regarded as “just adversaries” (justus hostis, but instead as absolute foes. Naturally, the absolute foe needs to be destroyed absolutely. This discriminatory factor first appeared during the American Civil War. Later on, the American engagements in Europe followed the similar line of Biblical exclusion and discrimination, as American wars became total wars aiming at totally eradicating “evil” and regenerating humanity.(3) The firebombing of European cities during the Second World War, the destruction of Germany, as well as the bombing of other European countries (4) by the Anglo-American forces, must have served, if not as a role model, then at least as a moral excuse for similar destructions carried out by America’s communist allies in Eastern Europe.
Towards the end of the Cold War, some American and European scholars opened up the Pandora box by openly addressing the issue of American war crimes and “other losses” committed by the American forces in Europe (5). This issue in postmodern America and Europe deserves a special chapter. With the opening of numerous German files and archives, many modern American-made myths are now subject to a more severe academic scrutiny. Here again we seem to be confronted with the same semantic dilemma encountered earlier; notably, who defines what is the historical truth and what is the historical lie? What is an act of humanity and what is a crime against humanity? The advantage of America, particularly in the latter half of the twentieth century, was her ability to justify the destruction of hostile forces by using the euphemism of “collateral damage” and wrapping up its military engagements in the endless rhetoric of human rights and democracy.
Other than the omnipotent Bible, which has traditionally served as moral cover by providing good conscience for the American political elites, the true advantage of America is its unique geopolitical position. No country on earth has been blessed by such a splendid insular position as America. Nor could America have prospered without constituting a common geopolitical whole stretching from Alaska to Arkansas, from New York to San Francisco without political or cultural barriers or alien systems hostile to its interests. America, unlike any empire so far, has a coast-line stretching for over 10,000 miles on the East and the West coast. As a result, America has been in a position directly to immerse itself in the affairs of Pacific rim countries or in the affairs of Europe, yet it always is able to retreat into its own isolationism. Insularity permits America, even when she commits a cardinal error in her foreign policy, to return to its own home affairs. In addition, unlike other empires in history, America does not have to deal with militarily and industrially sophisticated neighbors in its immediate vicinity. America’s ability to project its might to different antipodes remains, therefore, unimpeded. Geography is America’s destiny, despite the fact that the academic field of geopolitics has never stirred much interest in America(6). Geography is the advantage of each insular country, as was once the case with Great Britain, in contrast to land-locked countries on the Euro-Asian continent. Smaller continental countries in central Europe are always surrounded by unpredictable neighbors, as has been the case with Germany since the break-up of the Charlemagne’s empire.
The Monroe doctrine became the major centerpiece in the formulation of American geostrategic calculations. Named after its architect, President Monroe, in 1823, this doctrine had at the beginning a limited geographic scope, which extended only to Central and Latin America. After Word War I, however, with Woodrow Wilson as President, the Monroe Doctrine was to encompass the entire globe. On January 22, 1917, Wilson officially declared the Monroe Doctrine as the guiding principle of American foreign policy. Thus America could reserve for itself the right to project its military might to any corner of the globe, while using the same principles to prevent foreign encroachment in its own backyard.(7) During its inception the Monroe Doctrine was purely a defensive mechanism of American foreign policy, primarily designed as a tool to hedge against European colonial powers. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, America, other than enjoying her insular position, was still far from becoming a major naval power able to police the oceans. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the establishment of the European Holy Alliance, colonial and maritime Spain was still the major power in the Caribbean, that is, in the very vicinity of the newborn America. Since then, with the gradual decline of European empires, America began to emerge as the only sea power, a development that in turn enabled her to conduct a single-handed policy of unilateralism.
This new thalassocratic policy has always been more of a reactive, and less of a proactive, nature. American leaders have always understood that any geopolitical void, wherever it may appear, is eventually detrimental to America’s long term interests. Any geopolitical vacuum leads to chaos and anarchy. Be it in the Caribbean, in the early twentieth century or in the Balkans at the end of the twentieth century, or in Central Asia, at the beginning of the 21st century, distant America cannot tolerate for an extended period of time the existence of a political vacuum. For reasons of its own geopolitical security, America will, therefore, even side up with anti-American systems, as long as these systems provide some stability and do not geopolitically pose a threat to America. Despite its lachrymal Bible inspired rhetoric, despite its obsession with political preaching, American political elites have demonstrated over the last two hundred years a remarkable sense of geographic realism. It is wrong, therefore, to accuse her elites of naiveté, bias, or ignorance in world affairs, as many Europeans do. America’s understanding of the complexity of the globe appears all the more puzzling as America is spatially and historically a “suspended” country whose perception of the enemy differs from the enemy’s own self-perception or the enemy’s perception of America. The Biblical fanaticism is only one distinct phenomenon in the American ideology; sound analysis of geopolitical issues, a field in which America has been quite successful, is quite another phenomenon. By failing to distinguish between these two different issues, many European critical observers frequently draw the wrong conclusions about America’s long term goals.
The Monroe Doctrine, as Schmitt notes, was basically a unilateral decision. “It is not a treaty signed with other European countries.”(8) It is very general in its wording and can be interpreted at will by its architects, providing America with an astounding weapon to counter hostile propaganda. The Monroe Doctrine, over the last two hundred years, has served its purpose; it subjected the Western hemisphere to American influence and military control. America has achieved something that other powers have never been able to dream about. The American Monroe doctrine is “extremely vague and its equivocal principles cannot be disputed by anybody. Other nations can never extract anything from America by means of this doctrine, whereas America can always demand from any political actor, whatever it desires.”(9) Despite the fact that America recognizes the sovereignty of the countries in its close and distant vicinity, it is actually the American elites who define the concept of sovereignty and the concept of the political.
Later, after the First World War, the practice of unilateralism continued unabated as America became the architect of the Geneva-based League of Nations – from which she quickly withdrew several years later when she deemed the legal provisions of the League contrary to her security interests. After the Second World War, America adopted the same attitude towards the United Nations and the Hague Tribunal and various other international bodies – which it had assisted in creating. So long as these international bodies furthered American interests they were propped up and used as a legal cover; when America, by contrast, deemed these actions hostile to her interests or hostile to the interests of her favorite ally, Israel, it ignored them. When other countries are concerned, America, particularly at the beginning of the third millennium, insists on their full cooperation with the UN and the Hague Tribunal and their strict adherence to the letter of the international law. But this rule does not apply to America or Israel when their interests are at stake.
In the late twentieth century America became a master of political semiotics whose signs can be seen up to this date. The crucial moment occurred in 1928 with the so-called Briand-Kellogg pact. By declaring that wars should be put “outside law” America became the sole master of political meta-language, which enabled her, henceforth, to define what was internationally “good” and what was “bad;” who was the aggressor and/or who was the victim of aggression. “This is the great superiority of the astonishing political mastership of America: the systematic recourse to general concepts which are open to any interpretation,” writes Schmitt (..) “The one who has real power also defines words and concepts.” As a result of the introduction of this new meta-language, American future military engagements overseas, particularly in Europe and in the Pacific Basin during World War II, always found ample legal justification. Often those engagements were not viewed by the American elites as full-scale military interventions; they were labeled as “humanitarian police actions.”(10). Later, in the latter half of the twentieth century, American foreign policy assumed even stronger messianic traits, which further boosted her already tireless effort to spread the gospel of democracy. Undoubtedly, foreign policy of any country on earth must have a sound basis in some belief or some dogma, however angelic the dogma may appear to its architects and however criminal it may appear to its victims. Therefore, a good analyst of a country’s foreign policy must carefully study the founding myths of that county and project himself into the mind of his opponent from that country. But how many American modern and postmodern politicians have gone through the trouble of observing – let alone of judging -themselves through the hostile eyes of their opponents whom they often regard as ignorant recipients of America’s divine deeds? Generally, only a few American authors openly admit the self-serving influence of the Bible in the American political and military affairs. One can find in Europe more authors critical of American hyper-moralism and the role of the Bible in American political conduct. It is a common practice among the American elites, regardless whether they consider themselves “liberals” or “conservatives,” to sermonize other nations against real or alleged religious fanaticism, a behavior that became glaring when America, following the September 11, 2001 attack, warned the world community against the alleged Islamic threat against Western democracies.
If one studies American political behavior, one is struck with the large dose of simplistic rhetoric. Even the modern liberal ideology of “human rights,” so dear to secular American opinion makers, may be seen as just another expression of the primeval Biblical code of good conduct.(11) Words such as “humanity” and “democracy” have constantly been on the lips of American foreign policy architects and these words must have left a strong aftertaste on the American public in the twentieth century. But American statesmen have also used words such as “providence or destiny.” From John Adams to Andrew Jackson, from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush, American politicians have traditionally resorted to a species of rhetoric that leaves other foreign actors puzzled and shocked, particularly when they become the military target of America’s biblical millennialists and their sponsors in the White House who never tire of calling anti-American foes the “enemies of peace.” “These are the same definitions that serve to justify (their) military aggression without justification under international law”… (12) As some critical, mostly European authors argue, the American involvement in Europe during World War II and the later occupation of Germany, had been motivated by America’s self-appointed do-good sentiments and her belief that the Evil in its fascist form had to be removed whatever might be the costs. Some modern authors call this postmodern American policy “neo-Jacobin,” although this term may sound equivocal. “These new Jacobins, (or neo-globalists) typically use democracy as an umbrella term for the kind of political regime that they would like to see installed all over the world.” (13)
The concept of American democracy in postmodernity is also all-disarming. To oppose America’s drive to democracy and peace must be seen as a lunatic behavior. It then becomes clear why America has been such an important lecturer in foreign affairs and why she has been able to foist her hegemony an all states in the world. Irving Kristol, a prominent Jewish-American opinion maker, and a true spokesman of Americanism, writes that America’s world mission “is that of an exceptional nation founded on a universal principle, on what Lincoln called ‘an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.'”(14). It is the simplicity of the American political discourse, which often ignores all shades of meaning which has led to untold misunderstandings and conflicts world wide. Towards the end of the 20th century, however, American unilateralism has brought about serious rifts amidst America’s allies and may be seen as the first sign of America’s decline.
The War Crime of the Bible
In the first half of the twentieth century American Biblical fundamentalism resulted in military behavior, which the American postmodern elites are not fond of discussing in the public forum. It is common in the American academia and the film industry to criticize National Socialism for its real or alleged terror. But the American way of conducting World War II – under the guise of democracy and world peace – has been as violent, if not even worse. Puritanism had given birth to a distinctive type of American fanaticism that does not have parallels anywhere else in the world. Just as in the 17th century England Cromwell was persuaded that he had been sent by God Almighty to purge England of its enemies, so did his American liberal successors, by the end of the 20th century, think they were elected to impose their own code of military and political conduct – both in domestic and foreign affairs. M.E. Bradford notes that this type of Puritan self-righteousness could easily be observed from Monroe to Lincoln and Lincoln’s lieutenants Sherman and Grant. “As an American long exposed to political Puritanism, I cannot help thinking of Cromwell by way of analogy to other men ‘on an errand’; to our version of the species, and especially to the late gnostics who in God’s name forged a Union of ‘fire and iron’ in our great Civil War.” (…) “The Southerners are puzzled at such schizophrenia. They should have studied the life of Cromwell and then emptied the house.“(15) Similar American discrimination against modern ideological opponents was reserved for Germany during World War II. While everybody in the American and European modern political establishment is obliged to know the body count for the victims of Fascism and National Socialism, nobody knows the exact number of Germans killed by the American forces during and after World War II. Worse, as noted earlier, any different perspective in describing the US post-war foreign policy toward Europe and Germany is not considered politically correct. After the ill-fated American military excursion into Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent media coverage of the American crimes committed there, the question in retrospect needs to be raised as to the behavior of the American military in Germany in 1945 and after. The American mistreatment of German POWs and civilians during World War II must have been far worse than that in Iraq after 2003. (16)
Just as communism, following the Second World War, used large scale terror in the implementation of its foreign policy goals in Eastern Europe, so did America use its own type of repression to silence heretics in the occupied part of early post-war Western Europe. Purges carried out by the American military authorities in the post war Germany remain an uneasy topic for many American historians, who mostly look only at the Allied version of post-war events in Europe. Many European conservative scholars have been unable to comprehend sudden shifts in American political behavior, because many have wrongly assumed that America is a cultural and spiritual extension of Europe. The American political behavior in the war-ravaged Europe could only be understood and judged within America’s own judgmental parameters. Using classical European value judgments regarding the notion of limited vs. unlimited warfare, yields different results, often rejected by the American elites. The American crusade to extirpate evil was felt by Germans in full force in the aftermath of World War II. Freda Utley, an English American writer depicts graphically in her books the barbaric methods applied by the American military authorities against German civilians and prisoners in war-ravaged Germany. Although Utley enjoyed some popularity among American conservatives, her name and her works fell quickly into oblivion. Utley’s books throw additional light on the other side of the vaunted American humaneness. In hindsight one wonders if there was any substantive difference between warmongering Americanism and Communism? If one takes into account the behavior of the American military authorities in Germany after World War II, it will become clear why the American elites, half a century later, were unwilling to initiate the process of decommunisation in Eastern Europe and the process of demarxisation in the American and European higher education. After all, were not Roosevelt and Stalin wartime allies? Were not the American and the Soviet soldiers fighting the same “Nazi evil”? It was the inhumane behavior of the American military interrogators which left deep scars on the German psyche and which explains why the Germans, and by extension all Europeans today, must behave in foreign affairs like scared lackeys of American geopolitical interests.
A thoughtful American professor, whom I met in Heidelberg, expressed the opinion that the United States military authorities on entering Germany and seeing the ghastly destruction wrought by our obliteration bombing were fearful that knowledge of it would cause a revulsion of opinion in America and might prevent the carrying out of Washington’s policy for Germany by awakening sympathy for the defeated and realization of our war crimes. This, he believes, is the reason why a whole fleet of aircraft was used by General Eisenhower to bring journalists, Congressmen, and churchmen to see the concentration camps; the idea being that the sight of Hitler’s starved victims would obliterate consciousness of our own guilt. Certainly it worked out that way. No American newspaper of large circulation in those days wrote up the horror of our bombing or described the ghastly conditions in which the survivors were living in the corpse-filled ruins. American readers sipped their fill only of German atrocities.(17)
Utley’s work is today unknown in American higher education although her prose constitutes a valuable document in studying the crusading and inquisitorial character of Americanism in Europe. There are legions of so-called revisionist books describing the plight of Germans and Europeans after the Second World War, but due to academic silence and self-censorship these books do not elicit mainstream credibility in professional circles. Both American and European historians seem to be light miles away from historicizing contemporary history and its aftermath. This is understandable, in view of the fact that acting and writing otherwise would throw an ugly light on crimes committed by the Americans in Germany during and after the Second World War. The American crimes included extra-legal killings of countless German civilians and disarmed soldiers with the tacit American approval of serial Soviet genocides and Communist mass expulsions of the German civilian population in Eastern Europe.(18) As Utley notes the sheer sight of horror and destruction which American warplanes had inflicted on German towns and cities must have, from the psychological point of view, prompted the American military authorities and subsequent American administrations, academics, journalists, historians, and film makers to cover up their misdeeds by fabricating in turn their own industry of real or alleged National Socialist crimes. Thus, as years and decades went by, crimes committed by the Americans against Germans were either whitewashed in the media or passed under silence. Utley describes in detail how thousands of German captives had been molested and dispatched to the gallows, often on flimsy charges with no evidence, and no chance of standing a fair trial(19).
The total number of German fatalities during and after the Second World War, is still unknown. The number varies wildly and according to individual authors it ranges from the figure of 6 to 16 million people, both civilians and soldiers. (20) The official American hesitancy to establish the precise number of the German war losses is understandable as this is a topic that American court historians do not find compatible with the spirit of American democracy. It is only the fascist criminology of the World War II, along with the rhetorical projection of the evil of the Holocaust that modern historiography contains, with American historians being at the helm of the narrative. Other victimhoods and other victimologies, notably those of other peoples, are rarely mentioned. Although Germany was the direct party involved in the war, the whole of Europe was affected by the American victory. The American supreme military headquarters, under the general Dwight Eisenhower, withdrew, after May 8, 1945, the POW status to German soldiers captured prior to the armistice. According to some German historians, over a million and a half German soldiers died after the end of hostilities in American and Soviet run prison camps. (21)
The political events in America and Europe since 1945 bear a strong mark of this Manichean American approach in foreign policy – all related to the struggle which pitted during World War II nations of European ancestry against other European nations, albeit with three radically different world views. There is a large and impressive “un-American” revisionist legacy in America, which depicts various aspects of American foreign policy during and after the Second World War. These revisionist scholars in America do not shrink from describing the plight of Germans and other Europeans at the hand of the American victors. However, their prose, although having legally a right of entry in America, has so far not had much of an impact on public consciousness and on university professors. The answer is not difficult to guess. The masters of the discourse in postmodern America have powerful means to decide as to the concept of the historical truth and they give it their own historical meanings. Moreover, if this critical revisionist literature were to gain a mainstream foothold in America and Europe, it would render a serious blow to the ideology of Americanism and would automatically change the course of history in the coming decades. Former America’s foes, Japan, Germany and other European countries must continue to play the role of American democratic disciples: Germany in the continental Europe and Japan in the Pacific Basin.
Despite frequent reversals in her foreign policy, America’s self-perception, at the beginning of the new millennium, continues to abide by the same concepts of self-chosenness mixed with puritanical moralism. Irrespective of many experts and scholars who craft American foreign policy and who are in charge of improving America’s “cognitive warfare” abroad, the idea prevails among all of them that there cannot be an alternative to the American system. This type of hubris is quite natural in view of the fact that America is the richest country on earth and that it does not have to face other challengers yet. How can one reject the American system if America is seen by its ruling class as “the last best hope on earth” or, according to the former American secretary of the State, Madeleine Albright, as the “indispensable nation.”?(22) Obviously, the American elites use different logic and make different judgments when trying to understand a non-American perception of America’s Bible-inspired foreign policy. As the French philosopher Louis Rougier writes, a true believer will continue to believe in his self-styled dogmas, regardless of how aberrant these dogmas appear or sound in the eyes and ears of the future generations. “What matters is not the true or false foundation of a religion, but how the believers live this religion. A historical truth, or a golden legend – who cares. It is in the hearts of the believers that gods live and become resurrected.”(23) Likewise, the goddess of American democracy must firmly be grounded in evangelical millenarianism that America has used in her foreign policy ever since her inception. Since its foundation, America has defined her foe as it has best suited its moralistic and legalistic principles. With this goal in mind the American language was also skillfully crafted for the description of America’s foreign policy gains or failures. As a result, many political concepts have lost their original meaning and have acquired the role of political theology in American foreign policy. “The language became a deception: it was infected not only with those great bestialities. It was called to enforce innumerable falsehoods,” writes George Steiner (24). Therefore, it is indispensable for a student of Americanism, before studying any move or shake of American decision makers, carefully to look at the language and the meaning they assign to their language. This is especially important for studying American behavior in postmodernity.
In the second half of the 20th century, it was again the Biblical narrative mixed with democratic babble that made the Americans embrace the new state of Israel, with unforeseen consequences for the whole of the Middle East and for the whole of mankind. Most of the American Presidents, writes Lawrence Davidson in his piece, followed Woodrow Wilson’s messianism, for Wilson was himself an ardent pro-Zionist who was easily persuaded back in 1916 by Chief Justice Louis Brandeis, who was himself of the Jewish origin, to support the Balfour Declaration. Subsequent American presidents held a romanticized picture of the future Israel, a country that they viewed as their own spiritual homeland. In early postmodernity their task was facilitated in so far as they could rely upon millions of American evangelists, mostly residing in the American Bible belt, whose behavior was often more Jewish than that of American Jews themselves. Once upon a time, during the Cold War, it was the “evil” communists who were damned by the American political class. At the beginning of the third millennium, under the guise of such abstract notions as the “war against terror” and the “fight for democracy,” America began waging endless wars against the real or alleged enemies of Israel. The high priest of this new Biblical fundamentalism in foreign policy, as Lawrence Davidson calls him, is American President George W. Bush. “American Manifest Destiny and Christian Zionist delusions now pave the road down which we all walk. It runs through Palestine and leads to hell.” (25).
As many European journalists noted, the uniqueness of American unilateralism has become a dangerous factor in world politics. But has it ever been any different? The behavior of American President George W. Bush, during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, was quite in line with that of his predecessors. “Bush’s government is forced back to the doctrines of Puritanism as an historical necessity. If we are to understand what it is up to, we must look not to the 1930s, but to the 1630s.” (26) And this new version of the Bible-inspired American policy does not only apply to President Bush but to all US presidents since the American Declaration of Independence. America’s unconditional support of Israel resembles a belated form of White House Christian-inspired medieval neurosis. Fear of being called anti-Semitic prevents American politicians and a great number of academics from openly criticizing Israel. When they do, as academic voices can be heard to do sometimes, they usually leave out the founding myths of the Biblical narrative, focusing instead on the dry facts about the influence of Jewish lobbies in America. In a typical American “expertise” fashion American academics who happen to be critical of Israel focus on one set of arguments while forgetting other scholarly approaches. Clearly, America derives little if any geopolitical benefit from supporting Israel. Israel is more of a liability than an asset for America. Also, from the geopolitical perspective, Israel is a nuisance for America given that as a small country, the size of Rhode Island, it is surrounded by a host of hostile cultures, religions, and neighbors both outside and within its borders. The historical irony is that while America, thanks to her unique insular position, has been, geopolitically speaking, able to avoid troublesome neighbors and their problems, from which the American founding fathers had once run away, the balkanized Middle East with its plethora of problems is now being transferred back to the American shores. Israel acts in a similar way as ancient Prussia; in order to survive it must grow at the expense of its neighbors – or its must perish.(27) But America’s special metaphysical links to Israel prevent this from happening. Israel, metaphysically speaking, is the place of spiritual origin for the American divine world mission and the incarnation of the American ideology itself. Only in this sense can one understand why America has accepted with zeal her own deliberate decline into a global morass as we come to the early 21st century. America has given birth to countless enemies around the world and her actions stand in sharp contrast to her originally proclaimed goals.
The imagery of Israel and “God’s chosen people” represents a framework of America’s foreign policy not only regarding the Middle East but regarding all other foreign policy issues. In the meantime “any aspiring policymaker is encouraged to become an overt supporter of Israel, which is why public critics of Israeli policy have become an endangered species in the foreign policy establishment.”(28). These words were written in 2005 by two prominent American scholars whose words were relayed by major media around the USA and Europe, which in turn immediately prompted Jewish lobbies in America to cry foul and raise the specter of “anti-Semitism.” What John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt write, however, is nothing new to knowledgeable people. Similar critical views of Israel were earlier heard from many American authors, and they reflect, both in private and officially, the views of many European scholars and politicians. But when such views are uttered by politically correct American scholars, who have strong credentials, then they must result in a different aftereffect on the American political establishment. Hence the reason for worry among American Jews and the Israelis at the beginning of the new century. The large essay by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, is a well documented survey depicting the staggering financial aid that America gives to Israel. The essay also depicts America’s persistent ignorance of the root causes of Islamic fundamentalism. The authors describe the awesome help provided by American taxpayers to Israel, the frightened Congress always ready to approve any whim of American Jewish lobbies, and the irrelevance of Israel for the long term security of America. The Jewish American Lobby has its avid supporters among Christian Gentiles who often show in public their pro-Israeli stance. This trait of mimicry is also widespread among American intellectuals and politicians who often wish to prove that they are more Zionist than the Jews themselves. In hindsight, their behavior resembles that of former communist apparatchiks in the old Soviet-run Eastern block who pledged their ideological allegiance to the Kremlin by showing the surplus strength of their mimicked, albeit feigned, communist orthodoxy.
A widespread sense of civic duty to provide service for the greater good, does not prevent the American political elites from using violent and brutal conduct in foreign policy. The deeply rooted idea of chosenness is further legitimized by the belief in the democratic mission that, consequently, must ignore the truth or the destiny of the “other.” Regardless of what the odds are, homo americanus will always have good conscience in his foreign military adventures. As a form of political theology, Americanism as a Puritan derivative, must remain resilient to any criticism. The compulsive political drive to lecture Europeans, Arabs, or Japanese on the virtues of democracy, the urge to preach and pontificate, to “re-educate” heretics – all of these ventures were tested out by the Americans during and after World War II in Europe. By moralizing every aspect of their own political life, the American elites wish to extricate America from the tragic and from any form of power politics. This brings us again to the earlier point mentioned in this book, i.e., that America, while rejecting any political ideology, fully embraces its own para-biblical political theology, which it calls American democracy.(29) The question, however, needs to be raised as to how long this Biblical discourse will remain the major political and theological leitmotiv of American foreign policy. The brutal reality of the ever-changing global environment has its own historical logic, which cannot be forever directed or wished away by “good vs. bad” analyses. Furthermore, America, like any other country on earth, is also constrained by objective geopolitical factors and the ever-changing constellation of smaller and larger powers. America’s incredible luck in the twentieth century may not continue into the 21st century. Her overextended military position in the world does not mean that America will forever be a “major global player,” as Brzezinski rightly notes. Brzezinski was himself one of the important men in shaping the theoretical foundations of the Post-Cold War American foreign policy, and he adds that “America is not only the true superpower but probably also the last one.”(30). Its sole advantage so far has been that a newcomer could become an American, or Homo Americanus by choice – in contrast to other states in the world where nationality and citizenship are largely conferred by the fact of blood lineage.
Most importantly, as Brzezinski notes, given the fact that America has become an increasingly multicultural and multiracial society, professing different ethnic and cultural allegiances, “it will be more and more difficult to reach consensus concerning foreign policy issues.”(31) This is a theme that few American politicians openly wish to address. What may be desirable tomorrow for American Jews regarding America’s relationship to Israel, may be seen as contrary to Arab American interests. What may be considered a priority for European Americans tomorrow may be viewed as a hostile act by Asian Americans or Mexican Americans. Short of some major issue, such as a common security threat which can bring about consensus among all American ethnicities and all racial groups, there will be less and less support among Americans for future foreign military adventures. After the terrorist bombing of the Twin Towers in New York, in 2001, the common subject of anti-Islamism brought together, momentarily, Americans of different racial backgrounds and from all walks of life. Islamism became suddenly a new catalyst of evil, vindicating earlier predictions by the author Samuel Huntington about the clash of Christian and Islamic civilizations. At the beginning of the 21 st century, Islamism is seen in America as a seedbed of radicalism and a motor of world disruption and a no lesser evil than the previously defeated Fascism. “This is the only civilization which has threatened on two occasions the very existence of the West,” writes Huntington (32)
Although Huntington must be commended for his realistic views about the disruptive nature of multiculturalism in America, the scope of his analyses and predictions are far behind the probity of the German jurist Carl Schmitt or the expert on geopolitics Karl Haushofer, who long ago both described American expansion as a history of “’longitudinal dynamics’ transforming itself into ‘latitudinal dynamics.'” (33) Haushofer, who was a sharp critic of Americanism and American economic expansion, had some influence on the views held by National Socialist Germany about America. In his numerous articles and books he views the American sponsored economic globalism as incompatible with the German view regarding self-sufficient large spaces (Grossraum), i.e., an international regime best seen as the means of co-existence of different states and cultures.(34) In contrast to the conservative Haushofer, the American conservative Huntington, however, is enamored with the concept of the “West” and notes “that whenever Americans look for their cultural roots then they find them in Europe.”(35) However, Huntington also points out that during the last two hundred years America has been at war with almost each European power and had as a sole interest to “prevent Europe or Asia from being dominated by a single power.” (36) Like most American conservatives in the establishment, Huntington uses wrongly the concept “West” as a synonym for both Europe and America, although European conservative thinkers, including Haushofer, use the term “West” only when describing America.
How can America safeguard an Americanized Europe in the future, given that since her incipience she has been fighting against European powers, notably against England, Spain and lastly against Germany? Huntingdon’s obsession with the specter of Islam is typical for American mainstream conservatives and many right-wingers at the beginning of the 21 st century. The difference in bellicosity and fundamentalism between Americanism and Islamism appears, however, very marginal. Both aim at a global civilization, albeit by using different sets of value systems. Both are eager to convert the unbelievers to their cause only. Which side will win the historical contest, history will tell. Until now the main ingredient of Americanism has consisted in the opposition to creating ethnic and racial cohesiveness of European Americans and a common cultural identity of the European derived American population. The social fabric of America has traditionally been atomized. With the influx of non-European immigrants the American society now runs the risk of becoming thoroughly balkanized. This will have lasting effects on American foreign policy in the near future. Interracial clashes, and the subsequent break-up of the country into smaller entities, seems a looming American reality.
* Tomislav Sunic is a former US professor and Croatian diplomat. He is the author of articles and books in German, English, French and Croatian. This essay is a revised version of his chapter from his latest book. Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age (2007)
1. Carl Schmitt, Der Nomos der Erde (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1950), p. 265 and passim.
2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Die einzige Weltmacht (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999), p. 44
3. Carl Schmitt, Ex Captivitate Salus (Köln: Greven Verlag, 1950), especially p. 58.
4. Jean-Claude Valla, France sous les bombes américaines, 1942-1945 (Paris: Librairie nationale). Over 70,000 civilians in France perished during the Anglo-American firebombing during WWII.
5. James Bacque, Other Losses (Toronto: Stoddart, 1989). Also Alfred M. de Zayas, Die Anglo-Amerikaner und die Vertreibung der Deutschen (1977 Ullstein: Frankfurt, 1996).
6. Jordis von Lohausen, Les Empires et la puissance (Paris: Labyrinthe, 1985), p. 23.
7. Carl Schmitt: “Grand espace contre l’universalisme” in Du Politique (Paris: Pardès, 1990), p.129.
8. Carl Schmitt, Les formes de l’impérialisme en droit international in Du Politique ( Pardès: Paris, 1990) p. 86
9. Ibid., p. 88
10. Ibid., p. 99.
11.Georg Jellinek, Die Erklärung der Menschen und Bürgerrechte (Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot, 1904), who writes on page 46 that “the idea to establish legally the unalienable, inherent and sacred rights of individuals, is not of political, but of religious origins.”
12. Joe Lockard, “American Millennialists and the EU Satan,” Bad Subjects, issue No. 72, February, 2005. See:http://bad.eserver.org/issues/2005/72/lockardamericanmillenialists.html
13. Claes G. Ryn, “The Ideology of American Empire” (Foreign Policy Research Inst., published by Elsevier Sc. Ltd.) summer 2003, p. 385
14. Ibid., p. 387.
15 . M. E. Bradford, “Politics of Oliver Cromwell,” The Reactionary Imperative (1990 Illinois, Sherwood Company ) p. 214.
16. See Prof. Dr Helmut Schröcke, Kriegsursachen, Kriegsschuld (CZ-Ostrava: Verlag für ganzheitliche Forschung, 2000). This book was printed, like thousands of similar revisionist titles, by the author himself – which is often the case in Germany with books dealing with sensitive topics concerning Germany and World War II losses. Also Gerd Honsik in his “Geheimnis des Westens,” posted on his site, where he writes about 13,5 million German civilian and military fatalities during and after WWII. See http://www.honsik.com/briefe/westen.html
17. Freda Utley, The High Cost of Vengeance (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co. 1949), p.183. See also, Ralph Franklin Keeling, Schreckliche Ernte; Der Nachkriegs-Krieg der Alliierten gegen das deutsche Volk (Long Beach: IHR, 1992).Translated from the original Gruesome Harvest, (Chicago: Institute of American Economics, 1947).
18. Alliierte Kriegverbrechen und Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit, (Kiel: Arndt Verlag, 2001). The book represents a compendium of documented crimes committed by American soldiers in Germany after World War II.
19. Utley, p. 187 and passim.
20. Schröcke, Kriegsursachen, Kriegsschuld, pp. 296-297.
21. “Vergeltung statt Recht,” by Franz W. Seidler, in the German annual military journal, Deutsche Militärzeitschrift (Kiel 2006): pp. 118-123.
22. John B. Judis, “The Author of Liberty, Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy,” in Dissent (fall 2005), pp . 54-61. Also see link: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/menutest/articles/fa05/judis.htm.
See also "One War is Enough," by Edgar L. Jones, Atlantic Monthly, 1946.
23. Louis Rougier, Du Paradis a l’utopie ( Paris: Copernic, 1979), p. 262.
24. George Steiner, A Reader (Oxford University Press: New York, 1984) p. 212.
25. Lawrence Davidson, “Christian Zionism and American Foreign Policy: Paving the Road to Hell in Palestine” in Logos (winter 2005) http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.1/davidson.htm
26. George Monbiot, “Puritanism of the Rich: Bush’s ideology has its roots in 17th century preaching that the world exists to be conquered,” The Guardian (Tuesday, November 9, 2004
27. Jordis von Lohausen, p. 266.
28. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby” London Review of Books, Vol. 28. No. 6 March 23, 2006. Also published in an extended version by Harvard University, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt; Working Paper Number: RWP06-011
29. Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie (München und Leipzig: Verlag von Duncker und Humblot, 1934), p. 80.
30. Brzezinski, p. 298.
31. Brzezinski, p. 301.
32. Samuel Huntington, Le choc des civilisations (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2000), p. 306-307.
33. Karl Haushofer, “Les Dynamiques latitudinales et longitudinales,” in Vouloir ( Bruxelles), N, 9, spring 1997. First published in Zeitschrift für Geopolitik, Nr. 8, 1943.
34. See Frank Ebeling, Geopolitik: Karl Haushofer und seine Raumwissenschaft, 1919- 1945 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1994), pp. 95-100. Haushofer’s last letter, immediately sent before the end of the war to his wife, is reprinted in the book on page 98, where he compares the new world of the USA to a “handsome alligator … which first honoured the old world of Europe with syphilis, and now with the Yankees.”
35. Samuel Huntington, pp- 461-462
36. Ibid., p. 344.