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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 13:39, January 21, 2005
American nationalism viewed from Bush's inauguration
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A lavish presidential inauguration ended January 20 in Washington, DC, at a reported cost of 50 million US dollars. Another feature of the celebration is its war-time atmosphere and tight security. Themed "A celebration for liberty, A salute to the troops", the inauguration focuses on military celebrations and events like "general commander's dance". A congressman once commented it as "a military show rather than a celebration", since security is at wartime standards with 6,000 army policemen at work.

No banquet under the sun will last forever. After the firework fades away Washington is still under a dark sky. The sole superpower sends a sense of inauspiciousness to the world when it's president is inaugurated under wartime security standards: America, where is you heading for?

Anatol Lieven, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, DC recently wrote a book entitled "America: Right or Wrong? �CAn Anatomy of American Nationalism". "America keeps a fine house," he observed, "but in its cellar there lives a demon, whose name is nationalism."

American nationalism displays the following characters. First, it is originated from the worship to "The American Creed", with liberty, democracy and the rule of law lying at its core. The Creed takes form along with the shaping and developing of the country, but has been taken by many Americans as a truth or standard that "fits all". From a religious perspective, many Americans indulge themselves in a sense of superiority, believing themselves "men chosen by God".

Second, due to the nation's superior natural and geographical conditions, and its history of never being invaded, American nationalism is void of historical bitterness found in typical nationalism of some other peoples.

Third, American nationalism shows a strong inclination of being self-centered, a combination of an isolationism tendency (being distain to associate with other peoples) and a sense of mission to save "the fettered world" by whatever means it desires. American nationalism rejects nationalism in other peoples, which doesn't, or unwilling to learn other people's emotions and thoughts, but adoptes American standards in all cases.

Fourth, in foreign policy, American nationalism takes a form of a mixture of morality and pragmatism. Sometimes America holds ideology as the benchmark, deciding a friend or foe by American values, beliefs and political considerations; sometimes it exercises double standards for the sake of national interest, showing a certain degree of moral hypocrisy.

In recent years American nationalism has been gathering trend. In the country some people call for the fourth American Revolution to build a new America under the banner of nationalism; some claim that the victory of American nationalism is of global implication, for which America must assume responsibility as leader of a free world. Judging from Bush's inauguration theme in 2005, being morally conceited and militarily aggressive are two major elements of American nationalism.

Lieven believes that American nationalism could hurt the country itself as well as the world in the deepest way by killing the most rational diplomacy and causing instability to the international community. As another researcher from the Carnegie Endowment put it, liberty as the core of American values will finally become a obstacle to imperialist diplomacy. Or, in the other way, American nationalism and imperialist tendency are likely to shake or even ruin the country's central value of liberty.

This article by Huang Qing is carried on the third page of the People's Daily, Juanry 20, and translated by People's Daily Online


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