Anatol Lieven discusses his newest book, America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2004), which American Prospect called “fiercely smart and lucidly written." Also with Steven C. Clemons, executive vice president, New America Foundation and moderated by Jessica Mathews, president, Carnegie Endowment.
Lieven analyzes the diverse and conflicting currents in contemporary American nationalism, arguing that aspects of this nationalism are the greatest present threat to American hegemony in the world--greater even than the actions of America’s enemies.
In Lieven’s view, American nationalism possesses two souls. The first is an optimistic and universalist civic nationalism based on the values of democracy, law, and individualism. Although a foundation of America’s global leadership, this nationalism is flawed by a tendency to messianism and the self-defeating pursuit of absolutist goals on the international stage. The other strain in American nationalism, by contrast, is pessimistic, embittered, and chauvinist, rooted in citizens who feel they have suffered a series of historical defeats at the hands of modern economic, social, and cultural change.
How have these tendencies in American nationalism played out in the Bush administration’s post 9/11 policies? What will be their impact on the upcoming election? Most controversially, how does the U.S. relationship with Israel shape the character of American nationalism today?