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by Armin Pfahl Traughber
Tuesday, May. 06, 2008 at 8:55 AM
What primarily motivates US foreign policy-economic interests or a religious mission consciousness? A special world view is added to the economic interests In this perspective, economic liberalism brings political freedom and both together lead to peace and free trade.
WARNING OF THE AMERICAN FRIEND
By Armin Pfahl-Traughber
[This review of Marcia Pally, “Warnung vor dem Freunde. Tradition and Future of US Foreign Policy,” Berlin 2008 (Penthas Verlag) is translated from the German on the World Wide Web.]
What primarily motivates US foreign policy – economic interests or religious mission consciousness? How should Bush’s Iraq war be judged – as a breach with the past policy of the country or in the tradition of a decades-old policy? These two questions are “central threats” through the book “Warning of the American Friend” by Marcia Pally.
The author is a professor of cultural studies at New York University who is known in Germany as a regular contributor to “Cicero,” “Frankfurter Rundschau” and “taz.” In her new book Pally starts from two assumptions. The convictions and values of the population formed the foundation for US foreign policy. The dominant political course is a reliable indicator for future developments. Thus the author derives prognoses for future US foreign policy from analyzing historical US foreign policy.
Pally divides her book in three comprehensive chapters. The first chapter focuses on the three hundred year history of the American gospel and its influence on politics. This marked the political culture of the country and did not first develop under Reagan or Bush. Then Pally sketches the development of American foreign policy in view of its expansionism particularly in developing countries. Washington’s main goal has been resisting any country breaking out of the network of the capitalist economic order. Finally, the author focuses on the underlying motives of US foreign policy. The economic interests are only partially significant. A special world view is also important. In this perspective, economic liberalism brings political freedom. Both together lead to peace which strengthens free trade – in everyone’s interest.
In her well-informed presentation, Pally shows convincingly that the foreign policy of the Bush administration is an expression of continuity, not a breach or rupture. When differences from past US governments are clear in diplomatic and strategic approaches, little will change for Europe in foreign policy even under a new US president. So the author concludes her “Warning.”
The coupling of political and economic freedom with a mission consciousness expresses a consensus in the US population, not only of the political elite. Pally does not merely formulate this thesis without discussing its ramifications. She could have emphasized more strongly the connection of the factors “evangelicalism” and “economy” in the formation of foreign policy. The somewhat unconnected chapters make for a very readable book.
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