The Spectator

Letters | 18 February 2012

America the saviour

Sir: Andrew Alexander’s book America and the Imperialism of Ignorance (Books, 11 February) alleges that since 1945 ‘the world is a much more dangerous place, as a result of America’s determination to save it’.
With respect to Mr Alexander, a distinguished journalist who has often been right, this analysis is very wrong.
First of all, we would never have achieved victory over fascism in 1945 without the sacrifice of American troops, many thousands of whom lie in cemeteries across the world.
Secondly, the idea that the USSR, a brutal occupier of whatever lands it controlled, wished to be a benign postwar force in Europe, or anywhere else, is, to put it mildly, ahistorical. International communism was self-evidently an aggressive and destructive force; in Europe, Nato succeeded as a defensive alliance against the USSR above all because America, its centre, always held.
Anti-Americanism is easy and fashionable, and of course the United States, like any power, makes mistakes. But I would argue that America’s commitment and sacrifices have been essential since 1917 to the world’s ability to resist nihilism.
The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner understands Europe’s predicament well. In ‘The Tyranny of Guilt, An Essay on Western Masochism’, he wrote, ‘The perpetual peace to which Europe aspires has its source not in Europe but in the United States…. If America were to collapse tomorrow, Europe would fall like a house of cards; it would return to the tergiversation it showed in Munich in 1938 and be reduced to a deluxe sanatorium ready to allow itself to be torn apart, piece by piece, by all sorts of predators.’  
William Shawcross
London W2

A respectful tribe

Sir: I don’t think the Arrernte (or any other) aborigine tribes would appreciate being compared by Rod Liddle (11 February) to the ‘want-it-all-now generation’. In fact, they could not (in their pristine state) have been more different.

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