Who’s more dangerous to world peace: Saddam or a golf-playing, pension fund–robbing, churchgoing Republican?
It’s a close tie by London Observer columnist Hutton’s account. American neoconservatism, he repeatedly warns throughout this thoughtful survey of US-European relations—originally published for a British audience, but perfectly accessible on this side of the pond—is a dangerous force, not only for the larger world but also for the US, which neoconservatism is threatening to bankrupt both financially and morally, destroying the once great promise of social mobility and equal opportunity for all in the name of “self-interested callousness masquerading as morality and economic efficiency.” Exponents such as George W. Bush are famous believers in American exceptionalism, of course, but, Hutton suggests, they no longer have any reason to crow that America is the greatest country on earth; plenty of European Union members have stronger economies in real terms (rather than pull out profits at every turn, Hutton writes, “Europeans have chosen to invest heavily in order to work shorter weeks, have longer vacations, and still produce the same as, if not more than, Americans”), and most corners of Europe honor the same rights and values as did our formerly democratic nation. American superiority in such matters, Hutton concludes, is nothing but a myth. Moreover, he insists, the determination of the current president to go it alone damages what little credibility the US has left in international circles—a disservice to both the American nation and the world. Still, Hutton argues, Bush and cronies are not the real America; the majority, at least the majority who voted for Gore and Nader in the last election, “show an almost European readiness to spend extra on education, health, and social security” and are disinclined to force a self-serving moral agenda on the rest of the world—which, Hutton argues, “has been lucky over the twentieth century that at key junctures the politicians running the United States, and the dominant discourse, have been liberal. We need them back.”
As indeed, anyone reading Hutton’s useful, sobering study is likely to conclude: we do.