August 08, 2018

William Smith, director, CSS, published commentary in the American Conservative on moral law and democracy.


In the wake of President Trump’s Helsinki press conference, National Reviewdeclared itself “Against Moral Equivalence.” The magazine claimed that there could be no equating American meddling in foreign elections with Russian interference in our election because the goal of the U.S. is to “promote democracy and political liberty and human rights.” Though while America’s actions might be noble and have the sanction of heaven, National Review did concede that its efforts to promote democracy have often been “messy”—an adjective that the people of Iraq might find understated.

Like many of Trump’s critics, National Review’s embrace of American exceptionalism, of exempting the United States from the moral laws of the universe because of its commitment to democracy, is of a type the West has seen before. Swept up in their revolutionary enthusiasm, the French Jacobins made similar claims. In late 1791, a member of the Assembly, while agitating for war with Austria, declared that France “had become the foremost people of the universe, so their conduct must now correspond to their new destiny. As slaves they were bold and great; are they to be timid and feeble now that they are free?” ...

Continue reading in The American Conservative. 

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