AMERICA RIGHT OR WRONG: An Anatomy of American Nationalism

By Lieven, Anatol; Reed, James | International Journal, Autumn 2005 | Go to article overview

AMERICA RIGHT OR WRONG: An Anatomy of American Nationalism


Lieven, Anatol, Reed, James, International Journal


AMERICA RIGHT OR WRONG An Anatomy of American Nationalism Anatol lieven New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. xiv, 274pp, $45.00 cloth (ISBN 0-19-516840-2)

"Over the past fifty years," writes Anatol lieven in the preface to this important and controversial book, "the United States has stumbled into one disastrously misconceived intervention after another, both large (Vietnam, Iraq) and small (Lebanon, Somalia). It is time that more Americans begin to ask themselves just what is wrong with their bloody system " (x). The question of what is wrong with America has of course been asked before, classically by such foreign observers as Alexis de Tocqueville and James Bryce, and at home by a long train of critics and dissenters, from Puritan divines to Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Senator J. William Fulbright, and their presentday successors. lieven-a British journalist now resident in Washington who has written on east European nationalism-finds what is wrong with the American system to be its nationalism, or, more precisely, "the demons of American radical nationalism" (217).

Part polemic, part political sociology, and part comparative history, America Right or Wrong is the product of a particular time and place: the period of great fear, war fever, and intellectual paralysis in George W. Bush's Washington during the two years or so immediately following destruction of the World Trade Center in September 2001. In his attempt to explain the malfunctioning of the US system, lieven argues that the ugly underside of American nationalism, with its social sources in the embittered white middle class, the "cracker" south and frontier-minded west, and in the aggressive religiosity of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, came to the fore in the nation's capital in newly respectable form in that time of perceived national emergency. This radical nationalism intimidated and silenced all potential centres of political opposition and dangerously threatened the secular Enlightenment ideals enshrined in the founding documents of the American republic. "America keeps a splendid and welcoming house," lieven observes, but it "also keeps a family of demons in its cellar" (i).

The sudden political ascendancy in Washington of this bush-league American nationalism, which is fundamentally different from the mild, civic nationalism of the almost universally admired American creed, lieven continues, brought out the worst instincts of Washington's lingering Cold War-era policy elites to produce a vengeful, bullying foreign policy comparable to that of the Kaiser's Germany of 1914. Inevitably, this American militarism resulted in the estrangement of the United States from the international community. The problem was exacerbated, particularly in the Islamic world, by an unholy alliance that developed between radical American nationalism, with its roots in evangelical religion, and radical Israeli nationalism, with its roots in Israeli fundamentalist religion-and its characteristic intransigence on the question of Palestine.

Read closely-and America Right or Wrong is a book that demands and richly repays close reading-the book's thesis is itself both partly right and partly wrong. lieven's overall argument about the nationalist tendencies of the Bush-era Republicans, whom the author refers to repeatedly as "the American Nationalist Party," is, of course, unexceptionable. But his research into that party's current religio-political and regional base serves merely to confirm the conventional wisdom among political observers.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

AMERICA RIGHT OR WRONG: An Anatomy of American Nationalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.