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The term Manifest Destiny, the belief in an American "mission" to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, was first used by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1840s. It probably arose out of the idealism that accompanied the leaving of the old, rigid order in Europe and the vibrant if bloody settling of the New World. It was revived in the 1890s to justify U.S. expansionism outside of North America.

Manifest Destiny was based upon an unshakable belief in the virtue of the American people and their institutions; the belief that America had a mission to spread these institutions and improve the world by remaking it in the image of the U.S.; and that God blessed this destiny. President Abraham Lincoln’s description of the United States in 1862 as "the last, best hope of Earth" is a well-known expression of this belief (one that would seem to have been at odds with the grim reality of the American Civil War).

In 1904, under President Roosevelt, the role of the United States was redefined as being an "international police power" to secure American interests in the Western Hemisphere. Expansionism was replaced by interventionism as a means of upholding the Manifest Destiny doctrine.

President Woodrow Wilson continued the policy of interventionism and led the United States into World War I with the argument that "The world must be made safe for democracy."

In his 1920 message to Congress after the war, Wilson stated: "This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail." Note the use of the word ‘make’.

This U.S. vision of itself as the leader of the "free world" grew stronger after World War II though it was rarely described as "Manifest Destiny." However, the term is still used by the political left and by critics of U.S. foreign policy to characterize interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this usage, Manifest Destiny is interpreted as the underlying cause of what is perceived as "American imperialism" and, of late, a return to expansionism (my thanks to Wiki for aspects of this summary).

Looking at America today it’s hard to see that its Manifest Destiny has been realized. America is the most hated and feared country in the world. It is a country that embraces torture and is associated with Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. It is currently involved in large scale invasions and occupations as well as destroying its own Constitution and taking away the rights of its own people. Its political system (as seen in evidence during the Presidential elections) could fairly be viewed as a farce. Far from spreading democracy, it supports rogue nations like Israel and all manner of countries where despots and Kings reign supreme.

It has poor health care while it spends more money on armaments than the rest of the world combined. It has an intellectually-challenged President that rides roughshod over the Congress and the Senate and has a government that is run by Big Business , Religious Fundamentalists and Neocons. It has a huge gap between the rich and the poor and racial conflicts simmer...

I don’t think that any country would want to model themselves on America or have American institutions or American attitudes thrust upon them (see Iraq). Its idealistic, well-intentioned Manifest Destiny has become a mockery, a grotesque parody.

Sadly, Manifest Destiny has not become a self-fulfilling prophecy for America. Quite the opposite in fact!

In fact, America needs rescuing from itself.

Originally posted to David Grayling on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:01 PM PST.


Has America Realized its Manifest Destiny?

7%2 votes
3%1 votes
0%0 votes
17%5 votes
14%4 votes
57%16 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  eh, a little of both I guess (0+ / 0-)


    Take the fight to them. Don't let them bring it to you. - Harry S Truman

    by jgoodfri on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:17:45 PM PST

  •  At the time of this posting, 10 of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    15 votes say we have failed completely.

    It is that kind of negativity that will lose us this election.  We absolutely must not be part of the "blame America first" crowd.

    There is no quicker way to lose and be despised by the public than taking the negativity road.

    Accentuate the positive.  Eliminate the negative.  Drink single malt whiskey occasionally.

  •  Manifest Destiny is flat on it's face atm n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  CBC TV: "What the World Thinks of America" (0+ / 0-)

    Global polling done around the time of the Iraq invasion or the year after as I recall.

    One finding, around 80% of people at all levels of development neither wanted to come here nor want their societies to become like ours.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:51:45 PM PST

    •  But What's The Reason? (0+ / 0-)

      What caused America to come off the rails, Gooserock? Seems to me it's come from the top down but you'd have a better idea than me! Cheers.

      •  Imperialism pure and simple (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Even Pat Buchanan understands this. Thinking we are the light on the hill and the shining exception, unbounded by the mere mortal relations between nations, has always been the most dangerous myth of America.

        But a Republic founded and modeled after Rome, may never have had a chance of avoiding the same fate.

        I'm mad as Gravel, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

        by ceti on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:31:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Manifest Destiny is Imperialism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The term Manifest Destiny, the belief in an American "mission" to promote and defend democracy throughout the world.

    That's not what Manifest Destiny is about. It has always been about territorial expansion across the American continent, eventually leaping shores in 1898 to embrace world imperialism. In fact, it's not too different from the Nazi German concept of Lebensraum.

    Jackson was a genocidal fanatic who forced Indian Removal west of the Mississippi through brutal means. Just ask the Cherokee.

    I'm mad as Gravel, and I'm not going to take it anymore!

    by ceti on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:28:48 PM PST

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