THE UNITED STATES AS A BENEVOLENT “ELEPHANT”
On page A21 of yesterday’s Times, Friedman praises the supposedly benevolent United States for “provid[ing] the basic governance that keeps the world stable and on a decent track.” America provides this noble service, Friedman argues, “through its vast military deployments, diplomatic engagements, and vital role buttressing the global economy and its rules” (“Social Insecurity Crisis,” 4 January 2005).
In support of this nationally self-congratulatory thesis, Friedman cites leading academic foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum’s claim that (in Friedman’s words) “most countries in the world like” American global dominance. “They like it,” Friedman says, “because they know that the U.S. is not a predatory power” and that American rule “is helpful to every country in the world.”
Friedman gives a lovely quote from the professor’s recent book, “The Case for Goliath: How America Acts as the World’s Government in the 21st Century.” The U.S., Mandelbaum writes (to Friedman’s applause), “is not the lion of the international system, terrorizing and preying on weaker animals in order to survive itself. It is, rather, the elephant, which supports a wide variety of other creatures – smaller mammals, birds, and insects- by generating nourishment for them as it goes about the business of feeding itself.”
“The best evidence” for this benevolent "elephant" thesis, Friedman feels, “is the fact that no military coalition has ever formed to counter America’s global governing role – as happened with other hegemonic powers in history.”
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road.
Du discours d'acceptation du prix Nobel 2005 de littérature par Harold Pinter