From Al-Qaeda’s Leader Lost Because He was Wrong by Brendan Greeley, posted on Bloomberg:

The United States has no purpose. That is perhaps its greatest achievement. America’s founding document, its Declaration of Independence, allows that a state exists only to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s it. There’s a curious lack of ambition in those words. The United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything, or as the necessary outcome of history, but for the freedom to collect figurines, to join a clogging troupe, to take a road trip.

Would that it were so.  And for the white, male patriarchs that founded the country, the only ones apparently that were fully human and thereby possessed of these inalienable rights (slaves were considered at least partially human–3/5ths–else, they wouldn’t have been included as such to be counted in the Constitution in apportioning representation), perhaps it once was. 

But anyone that can claim the United States has had no purpose except securing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for its citizens has pretty much not been paying attention for the past, oh, two hundred plus years or so.  The purpose of any entity can only be derived from its actions and objective evaluation of what it has done, not what it has said.  Objective consideration of what the US has done yields the inescapable conclusion that the abiding purpose of the United States has been relentless expansion.  For its first hundred years or so this meant expanding West and South and all points in between.  It fought numerous wars, even one with itself, and a great many skirmishes with the natives it needed to push aside, but its purpose, often simply explained as “Manifest Destiny” was to expand its empire so far as it was able.   Sometimes the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness on one’s own terms awaited, for a time, some few that were driving the expansion, but not so the poor souls that resisted its relentless advance, or the many that provided the blood and sweat equity required of its lofty goals.  The US expanded whether or not anyone secured the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness on its own terms, so that could not have been its purpose, or as the author claims, lack of one.

Once the US girdled both coasts, its purpose then became consolidating the empire and projecting its gathering power overseas.   More wars and skirmishes ensued, including a particularly brutal affair in the Philippines and elsewhere that conclusively ended Spanish influence in the northern portions of North America.   Then its purpose turned to flexing its economic might, which led to involvement in the first World War, and again, to numerous skirmishes around the world, these mostly aimed at making the world safe for expanding the fortunes of its industrialist titans.   Japanese stupidity provided the catalyst for its next great expansion, which reached across two oceans, ultimately to include the colonization of Japan, the establishment of beachheads on the Asian mainland, and the colonization of much of Northern Europe under its nuclear umbrella.   Then the relentless expansion finally met an opponent with the capacity to inflict immense destruction on the heartland of its empire and so stalled, forcing its expansionist dreamers to content themselves with skirmishes on the borders of the newly-established empire while it awaited demise of its existential foe.  When that finally came, the empire moved quickly to consolidate gains and push forward, expanding its reach into Northern Africa and the Middle and Near East, which is roughly where it now stands.  While the expansion has lately stalled for want of places in which to expand (except its waistlines, vehicles and McMansions), the industrialist titans of a century earlier which drove its expansion have now been replaced by financial titans.  Its immediate purpose seems now to be expanding the fortunes of its cadre of international investment bankers.  Because of its internally discordant political landscape and mordant domestic economic performance, my expectation is that some new expansion of the empire will soon be undertaken.  Killing Bin Laden and subduing Al Qaeda was nothing but a convenient sideshow and excuse for centralizing and multiplying the wealth and power of the government charged with managing the empire.   It now needs a new excuse for expansion, but history has usually been kind enough to provide one.  Failing that, the US has never blushed at manufacturing excuses on its own.

Asserting that the United States has had no purpose other than providing its citizens the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness on their own terms reflects a wilful ignorance of history; an ignorance so profound that it can only be the result of having first decided upon the conclusion, then employing the intellect to interpret the evidence in a light most favorable to the pre-ordained outcome.  In other words, Mr. Greeley is afflicted with a severe case of confirmation bias, which to be fair, is just the same as a great many of his countrymen.

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