"American Vertigo" by Bernard-Henri Levy

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The Frenchman Bernard-Henri Levy looks at the U.S. through the eyes of a European: there is the bemusement over the flag fetish, when you see more than a hundred in just a couple of blocks in a New England town; America's undeniable belief in itself. So many of the new-fangled social and technological phenomena are very closely observed and thought-provokingly parsed.

Levy explores America's various approaches to international relations; it's a subject close to very many Europeans' hearts. He posits the following threads:

Jeffersonian: isolationist - wishes to avoid foreign entanglements
Jacksonian: the desire to respond to a foreign attack. It seems absurd, Levy writes, to attack Baghdad for the 9/11 attacks, but it's perfectly fit to attack Kabul.
Hamiltonians: these folk want to regulate international trade (cf Kuwait and the First Gulf War)
Wilsonians: hold the idea that the U.S. is accountable for world order and welfare.

Levy contends that those who would label the US an evil empire know nothing about the country, or about evil, or about empires. He says America is neither of these. He writes that it's simply a big, powerful place that believes in itself, and sometimes this belief has come at the expense of its minorities. One further telling point I came across: the 9/11 attacks were timed and targeted to throw off Palestinian-Isreali progress. Pure and simple in his view. He anticipated the leadership role of Barack Obama back in the middle of the younger Bush's administration.

It's always interesting to me to see how our partners in the modern world see us. This is a very useful volume on that score.
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