This warmongering from Romney won't work

The difference between the two, though, rests largely in one word—the way Romney uses the word “power.” His implication in his second sentence above, of course, is that Obama is ashamed of American power. And then in the third sentence, it is our “power”—not our authority, which is a very different thing from power, and not our moral suasion, and not our dollars. Our power.

It’s a grotesque misreading of history and misunderstanding of the successes America has achieved. Our power may have helped defeat the Nazis, although let’s face it, the Soviet Union’s did more to that end. But our authority, moral suasion, and dollars secured the peace in both Europe and Japan. The Marshall Plan, a $14 billion enterprise, rebuilt Europe. In Japan, our power won and emphatically ended the war, all right. But American investments in postwar Japan were enormous, as were decisions like inviting Japan (against some opposition) into GATT, so that its export-based economy could enjoy law tariffs. That part of the world that has remained more or less at peace since 1945, give or take a Milosevic or two, was not stabilized by American power. It was stabilized by American planning, cooperation, and money…

Unapologetic American exceptionalism sounds like a winner on the campaign trail, and it’s the kind of big-stick, table-banging rhetoric that really used to scare liberals to death. But does it now? It certainly shouldn’t. It’s the kind of rhetoric that depends on the existence of a widely perceived existential threat that Americans understand they would make sacrifices to defeat. For still more than half of my life, for so long for many of us that it seemed like the natural order of things, there was such a threat. But in 1991, it went away. That’s a long time ago.