Will Wilkinson reflects on American foreign policy and its causes:

Even the hardened neo-con architects of the war in Iraq are idealists of sorts, sincerely believing that frequent displays of America's awesome power to wreak devastation and death prevent even deadlier wars and make more favourable the chance that freedom will flourish worldwide. The United States is "causing enormous trouble around the world" not due to some muddled idea of freedom, but due to a mixed-up conviction that America is special, the vanguard of providence, called forth unto the world with the righteous sword of liberation. If America is "almost a rogue state", it is because our Pharisaic self-infatuation encourages us to see ourselves as a colossus of emancipation both able and obligated to stomp around the globe making it safe for democracy. It really isn't because Americans insist on motoring to the Piggly Wiggly in petrol-guzzling Ram Ziggurats.

The post is a response to this interview with Jonathan Franzen. On this whole topic, I recommend Andy Bacevich's new book, Washington Rules.

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