America the Exceptional?

A Sunday NY Times Mag  piece notes that on the key question of America’s role in the world, Obama and McCain are practically soulmates:

 Iraq is a necessary and winnable war in McCain’s view, a blunder in Obama’s. But on broader philosophical questions, the two share a faith in American exceptionalism and American leadership. They believe not just that theirs is a special country — which is something people everywhere tend to believe — but also that it has a vocation to speak in the name of humanity and to weigh in on behalf of freedom and democracy. The question is how. 

 What is America, and what should be its role in the world?  That’s perhaps the most important thing our would-be leaders should be thinking and talking about.  And it’s a very old question,  as I noted in a recent review of  Ted Widmer’s  Ark of the Liberties: America and the World. It’s also the subject of a new book drawing a lot of buzz, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by the intriguing Andrew Bacevich. I’m ordering a copy today.

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