Still chasing the wrong rainbows

Source: The American Conservative
by Andrew J Bacevich

“‘Our leaders are following the wrong rainbow.’ So remarked the historian William Appleman Williams on April 1, 1965. The occasion was a ‘teach-in’ organized by students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin to protest against the Vietnam War. … Williams was then achieving prominence (or notoriety) for challenging the conventional narrative of American statecraft and more specifically the origins and conduct of the Cold War. The essence of that conventional narrative, as Williams later wrote, was that the ‘American Empire just grew like Topsy.’ According to this interpretation, the United States became a superpower reluctantly, almost inadvertently, as if through the workings of Providence. Its rise to preeminence ostensibly occurred despite the inclinations of the American people who viewed the outside world with suspicion and disdain and who wanted nothing more than to keep to themselves. Williams argued otherwise, crediting American statesmen with having pursued a sophisticated, if opportunistic strategy of expansionism.” (05/04/17)