The Readings for Democracy in America unit
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Unit 15 Readings, Global Politics: U.S.A. and the World
- IntroductionGlobal Politics: USA and the World
- Tocqueville, Democracy in America: The Present and Probable
Future Condition of the Indian Tribes That Inhabit the Territory
Possessed by the Union and Why Democratic Nations
Naturally Desire Peace, and Democratic Armies, War
- The Monroe Doctrine
- The Marshall Plan
- Twain, The War Prayer
- What nasty modern discovery destroyed the way of
lives of many native Americans?
- How did Tocqueville believe the American government treated
the native populations? How did the federal governments
treatment compare to the treatment offered by the states?
- What are the differences, according to Monroe, between the interests
of Europe and those of the western hemisphere?
- Compare the discussion of production and distribution of goods
and materials in the Marshall plan with Jeffersons Query
19 (Readings, Unit 13).
- What was Mark Twain trying to convey about war?
IntroductionGlobal Politics: USA and the World
We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee,
under God, of the civilization of the world, said President
McKinley in his 1898 speech concerning the Spanish-American War and
the American occupation of the Philippines. And we will move
forward to our work, not howling out regrets like slaves whipped to
their burdens, but with gratitude for a task worthy of our strength,
and thanksgiving to Almighty God that he has marked us as his chosen
people, henceforth to lead in the generation of the world.
Similarly, George W. Bush at a prayer breakfast, February 6, 2003,
said, One thing is for certain: We didnt ask for these
challenges, but we will meet them. I say that with certainty, because
this nation has strong foundations that wont be shaken.
Or his father, on announcing his attack on Iraq for invading Kuwait
in 1991: We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves
and for future generations a new world ordera world where the
rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations.
When we are successfuland we will bewe have a real chance
at this new world order, an order in which a credible United Nations
can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of
the U.N.s founders. What these presidential war statements
have in common is the suggestion of American hesitancy to war, the
reluctance to accept the responsibility of war, and finally, the redemptive
power of military violence. They also, regrettably, suggest the commonplace
of war in American politics.
There are at the present time two great nations in the world,
wrote Tocqueville of the Americans and the Russians in a passage that
was often quoted during the cold war. The Anglo-American relies
upon personal interest to accomplish his ends and gives free scope
to the unguided strength and common sense of the people; the Russian
centers all the authority of society in a single arm.... Their starting-point
is different and their courses are not the same; yet each of them
seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half
the globe. Today, one could say that he perhaps underestimated
the influence of the United States.
If Americans are serious about making the world, and themselves, more
democratic they need to reflect on the role of force in American nationalism
and examine the problems for democracy that exist in the vast international
power that the United States now wields. American power touches the
lives of virtually everyone in the worldthrough inaction as
well as action. Democracy suffers when peoples lives are affected
and, to some extent, controlled by powers over which they have no
control. This is a serious intellectual and political problem for
a nation such as the United States which is identified as democratic
yet occupies a position of undemocratic power and influence over so
much of the world. Such power presents a great challenge to democracy
in the world and in the United States, a challenge that this collection
has tried to meet by providing readings in every chapter demonstrating
that America has always been an active international power and the
ways in which America has attempted to utilize this power for democracy.
From its very inception as the product of British expansionism, the
United States has consistently relied on territorial and non-territorial
adventures to solidify national identify and affiliation, to facilitate
commerce, to secure resources, to expand markets, divert attention
from domestic crises, respond to outrageous or tyrannical political
behavior of other states, and to inject capital into the economy.
The importance of the Native American border threat for national unification
in the earliest period of nation building should not be forgotten.
Many of the readings collected here attempt to shed some light on
all these reasons for war and international meddling and to highlight
the value in confronting the problems of democracy and power in the
Examining historical accounts of the international power of the United
States can make American citizens more aware of how they are viewed
from other places. Readers can also begin to examine, hopefully, the
central role that violence, war, expansion, and control has played
in their own notions of national freedom, national destiny, and the
The readings in this chapter relate to many of the readings in earlier
chapters. For example, throughout the book the readings have consistently
utilized such things as the border disputes with Native Americans
and the American control of the Philippines to place international
questions in a variety of contexts. There are other connections to
earlier chapters, such as Henry David Thoreaus connections to
Jefferson. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson suggested
that at some point honest people should proclaim their lack of affiliation
with the political body that governs them; Thoreau directed a similar
statement at the United States, when he suggested that the government
must stop supporting slavery and stop making war on Mexico or its
ties of respect should be dissolved.
The opening reading of this reader was Pericless speech to the
citizens of Athens, proclaiming to them the glory of those who had
died in battle. In conclusion, this reader can offer no such stirring
call to arms and blood, but it can offer the unspoken part of Pericless
speech as Mark Twain might have heard it. In War Prayer,
a short anti-war story by Twain, an angel explains the cost of military
glorythe inglorious nature of that gloryin the death of
others. If nationals in a powerful nation-state like the United States
are going to avoid the fate of the gathered parishioners who ignored
the words of the angel, that is, if they can see the other side of
power and the challenges it presents to democratic life, then there
is hope that the United States and the world can become democratic.