Walter Hudson writes, in a Conservative rebuttal to claims that President Obama’s speech on Libya proves his belief in American exceptionalism:
“De Tocqueville observed that the young American nation had a unique ability to prosper. This was the result of an exclusive political and economic environment, namely liberty, which enabled a culture of success… this was no special claim to international leadership or a moral duty to intervene in the affairs of others. The Left, including President Obama, are making that up.
The exceptional quality which de Tocqueville noted enabled America to become prosperous and therefore powerful. Conversely, the Left’s bastardization of American exceptionalism, the so-called “responsibility to protect,” is a product of power which dictates its use. These two views of American exceptionalism are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed.”
I’ve thought about it for a while, and I’m fairly certain that last sentence is objectively false. Correct me if I’m wrong, but de Tocqueville says “Here is why they will have power.” Obama says “Here is what we must do with the power.” I see no reason at all that they can’t both be correct. I’m not saying they necessarily are, you understand, but that they might be. But I’m no logician.
At any rate, the core of Hudson’s argument is quite revealing. “[I]f we are bound to others by some special calling”, he writes “we are not free to pursue our own interests.” And note that, in the passages Hudson quotes, de Tocqueville says nothing whatever about what America ought to do. He is merely giving a description of Americans, not offering any moral prescriptions.