Who we are.
How we got here.
What history teaches us.
Why America is special.
Where we are headed.
The United States of America is the greatest country in the history of Mankind, but why? To merely boast such a statement is empty unless it is backed by a solid premise, and this is the basis of my proposed historical analysis of my nation and how we came to become the greatest, most dominant empire in world history.
First, I do not believe that the U.S. achieved its status by pure chance. My worldview is based on a Christian perspective, but rather than centering on the concept of the United States as a “Christian nation,” I prefer to look at our advancement as the result of a “guiding hand” that defies denomination. Perhaps it is not meant for us to understand why we are the "chosen nation,” but rather to focus on the evidence that we are without probing into a spirituality that is beyond our ken.
The first evidence of divine guidance comes during the Revolutionary War, a time in which men with much to lose chose, for reasons more often than not against their personal interests, put themselves on the line against King George’s England. This war could have been lost during many periods, yet somehow fate drove us to victory. To consider the intelligence of the resulting Constitution and its lasting importance without believing that it was a Godly document is, to my mind, almost impossible.
The lack of self-preservation that lies at the heart of our Founding Fathers lies at the heart of America’s history. Herein we discern the difference between all other countries and us. While certain diplomats such as Henry Kissinger practiced a European kind of realpolitik, our ultimate purpose has always been one of benevolence. How else to explain that we have achieved unprecedented power so benignly? The U.S. possesses the ability to dominate all others, to turn the globe into a Pax Americana, to enslave and conquer beyond the realm of all previous conquerors. Can one envision the Romans, the Chinese Dynasties, the Soviet Bloc, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, even the British Empire, possessing our weapons and also our restraint? What about modern countries like Iran and China? The question is impertinent in the face of what we know.
So how did we get that way? While the hand of God cannot be discounted, one must consider that timing and the quest for human knowledge has been the weaponry of our good fortune. By that I mean that we had the wonderful hindsight of world history to study and determine what mistakes had been made, and how to improve on the performance of our predecessors.
Using as a model the study of politics endeavored by Dennis Dalton, Ph.D. from Barnard College and Columbia University, we start by examining the Hindu vision of life. At the heart of Hinduism is a four-part "life education” centered on the value of property (capitalism), sensual pleasure, religious duty, and spiritual enlightenment. The study of Hinduism, embodied in the 20th Century by Mohandas Gandhi, contrasts with the study of the Muslim religion. It is impossible not to note this in light of current affairs.
Next, we analyze the cradle of Democracy, Greece after the Peloponnesian War. War is said by the Greeks to be a “violent teacher.” It is a peculiar fact of Mankind that to our worst mistakes has allowed us to gain our greatest knowledge. Socrates proposed ideas that were so radical he was given the hemlock, and his students, Plato and Aristotle, expound upon the lessons of the losing battle with Sparta and the Hindu vision of life. The result, in short, is a view of politics that conservatives can relate to in the modern era.
First, the Greek philosophers disagreed with the Hindu "fourth step,” which was to find personal enlightenment. The Greeks felt that personal enlightenment, while admirable, should be used for the purpose of political contribution. This can be found in the concept of noblesse oblige that is at the heart of the greatest political family today, the Bush’s, and can be contrasted with the Machiavellian concept of power that was Joseph Kennedy’s vision of his Massachusetts dynasty.
Plato argues that politics should be a science that, like Hippocratic medicine, trained professionals to eschew personal ambition and, like doctors, desire to do only good. He felt that Greek Democracy was too widespread, fomenting the mob mentality that Americans, by forming representative government, sought to avoid.
His study of war teaches us that the liberal creativity at the heart of the Athenian military was not a match for the strict discipline of the Spartans, a lesson worth remembering when we contemplate our military as a social experiment instead of a bulwark against our enemies.
The study of Machiavelli is important in trying to understand those who have opposed us over the years. Like the Greek thinkers, Machiavelli arrived at his conclusions in light of military disaster. Italy was in the throes of despair in the years after their Empire had been broken up, and it was the lessons of that fall that Machiavelli applied to his view of political power. We find Machiavelli’s ghost whispering in the ears of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the Clintons – both Bill and especially Hillary. The Republicans have not been immune to the Machiavellian creed. McCarthyism and Richard Nixon’s paranoid "enemies list” carry the Machiavellian touch, and from these periods we find cautionary tales that we must heed or face disaster.
Contrasting the Greeks with Machiavelli allows us to get to the heart of unique American designs, which are to do good. To do good, often at great sacrifice, is a concept perhaps still too novel for those not fully understanding of American values to grasp. In that regard we can offer only patience and continuing example.
Next, I address the politics that co-existed with the United States. This includes the French Revolution and how it was inspired by the American Revolution, but veered so far from that concept. Next, the English transformation from royal to parliamentarian embodied by their Jewish Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The U.S. influence, embodied by Theodore Roosevelt, is studied as it applies to the eventual break-up of the British Empire and its resulting racial implications.
No study of America is complete without an unflinching look at slavery, and it is here that I propose a revolutionary, bold model that I call “America: Where Slavery Came to Die.” Plato determined that slavery was a natural result of the human condition, and the British colonial view did not veer far from this concept. These values were thrust upon America. Yet somehow, in four score and seven years, the U.S. managed to address a thriving institution that had existed for thousands of years and, effectively, end it. This was accomplished on our shores, using our laws. No foreign power came here, defeated us and told us what to do. Considering slavery’s economic benefits in the South, and the cost of the Civil War, the ending of the "peculiar institution” might be the most compelling example of how we changed the politics of self-interest into the politics of better interests. This is a premise meant to cause some controversy and plenty of discussion, always a healthy result of philosophies and critiques.
How did Communism rise and why was it opposed in America? What did we learn from Gandhi? What lessons did we apply in the post-World War II years? Throughout history, conquering nations had enslaved and colonized. We left Europe and Japan with a legacy of goodwill never seen in the annals of Mankind. Contrast Doug MacArthur with Napoleon, just to start the discussion.
What were the results of McCarthyism? I argue that here we see the true roots of liberal bias. It was a backlash against McCarthy that lies at the heart of a Left wing dominant media culture, embodied by millionaire actors racked with guilt over their good fortune, and a “gotcha” journalistic ethos spawned by Watergate. But why should the Left be the sole disseminators of correct political thought? Where were Ben Bradlee, Katherine Graham and the Washington Post in 1960 when the greatest political crime in American history was being perpetuated? Orchestrated by Joseph Kennedy, the Democrats stole the election from Nixon by creating Texas’ "tombstone” vote and rampant corruption in Mayor Richard Daley’s Chicago that rivals…New York’s Democrat Tammany Hall. To study liberal bias carries with it a study of how talk radio and cable television has finally brought about a sea change in the way Americans receive their information. Because of it, the world will never look back. I argue that the current Democrat Party’s days are numbered, in my lifetime. Despite my obvious Republican sympathies, however, this prospect is rife with potential disaster, because a thriving two-party system is healthy.
We will look at the role of the Democrats in the Jim Crow South and how it was the Republican Party that husbanded the region from its racist past into its current thriving, functioning role in our society.
The Cold War is examined herein, and at the heart of my argument is the Reagan Theory, which is based first on an observation of World War II. In that war, over 50 million people perished from the Earth. Some 358,000 Americans died. Yet the country and the world agree that the cost was worth it, to purge society of Hitler and the Japanese warlords. The theory then delves into a scenario worthy of a Tom Clancy novel. The U.S. and the Soviets enter into World War III in 1983. The war lasts until 1989. 50 million people die. 360,000 of them are Americans. Better technology and Divine Intervention bring victory to the U.S. The political result of W.W. III is exactly the same thing that actually did happen! The Berlin Wall falls. The U.S.S.R. is broken up. The Eastern Bloc crumbles. Communism is relegated to the dustbin of history, leaving rogue regimes in North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba to live out their miserable, meaningless existences until attrition takes its inevitable toll. The Reagan Theory asks the question, Would such a result be worth the lives of 360,000 Americans? and posits the notion that a post-World War III world would, like its World War II predecessors, agree that it was.
Except that Reagan and the conservatives who believed, endorsed and fought for him achieved this without the loss of life. Is anything more telling? Still, this notion has never been put forth, so herein I propose a theory that, at its heart, offers a revolutionary new model for looking at history.
Finally, we must ask ourselves who we are today, and what the post-9/11 challenges are. We see history repeating itself. It is America that stands, seemingly alone, ready and willing to do the heavy lifting necessary to rid the world of terror, while Europe, long the benefactor of our protection, reverts to its old notions of self-interest. As Santayana once said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to re-live it.” I might add that America is willing not only to remember the past, but in so doing, we willingly take on the task of shaping a hopeful future.
Lastly, as you read this book and some of my ripe conservative views, I have a message for liberals, conservatives and everything in between and beyond: There is love in my heart for everybody, do not take the politics personally, and in the U.S., we are all Americans.
"United we stand," Abe Lincoln once said. "Divided we fall."
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism