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Part two of Gene McCarraher’s interview with The Other Journal has been published. Check it out, it’s well worth the read. In part two of the interview, McCarraher talks about the “Obama Doctrine,” Niebuhrian realism, and the usefulness of maps.Here’s just one quote:

If there is such a thing as the Obama Doctrine, it’s different in tone, not in objective, from the doxology of American global hegemony that first appeared in benevolently racist form during the annexation debates after the Spanish-American War; that achieved its haughtiest homiletic apogee in Wilsonian internationalism; and that morphed into neoliberal realpolitik in the “National Security Strategy of the United States,” published by the Bush Administration in late 2002. (It’s often considered a neoconservative document, but I don’t see much difference between neoconservatism and neoliberalism.) As far as I can see, Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t departed significantly, save in its cosmetic features, from the larger American imperial trajectory of the last century.

Obama’s Nobel speech was the one example of audacity he’s actually provided over the last year. It’s indisputably audacious for the Chief Executive of the only contemporary empire, not to accept the peace prize with bloodied hands—that’s been done by previous recipients, from Theodore Roosevelt to Henry Kissinger—but to turn the occasion into a defense of U. S. imperial policy. It’s absolutely breathtaking. And what’s more, the assembled dignitaries and celebrities just sat there, starstruck, and let him get away with it. That tells you, not only that Europeans can be just as infatuated with warmongers as Americans are—imagine what the reaction to the speech would have been if George W. Bush had delivered it—but that European governments really are still quite deferential to the geopolitical interests of the American Empire.

In point of sentiment and argument, Obama’s Nobel oration was very similar to the West Point speech he’d given a week earlier; in fact, he lifted some passages from the West Point talk and inserted them, almost verbatim, into the Oslo address. They’re both chock full of the Niebuhrian platitudes we’ve come to expect as camouflage for imperial ambition. If there’s anything new about this Obama Doctrine, it’s that the United States will now feel a bit worse when it imposes its will on the powerless of the earth. When we have to bomb a village or support a tyrant, we’ll shed a tear about the Tragedy of It All. Unlike the Romans or the Spanish or the British, we’re the imperialists who feel your pain.

Also, since we’re talking about all the awesome content that TOJ provides, allow me to put out a call for donations. As far as I’m concerned, The Other Journal is putting out some of the absolute best material in theology and culture today, and doing so is not cheap. There’s actually some pretty significant financial needs at TOJ right now that I’ve been made aware of, and I hope some of you will find it in your hearts and pocket books to donate whatever you may be able. I realize that people who read theology blogs tend to be on the poor side of well-educated comfortable Westerners, but please, if you can. Show TOJ the love they deserve.

2 Comments

  1. Brad A. wrote:

    Very nice, especially Gene’s second paragraph. My only quibble is that said imperialism predates Bush – it’s in Clinton’s NSS, too.

    Thanks for the heads-up on TOJ, too, Halden.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink
  2. Brad A. wrote:

    Oops – now reading the interview at TOJ, I see Gene says that.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

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