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IntroductIon

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The rhetoric of salutary war nevertheless is part of american political globalism since World War i. That war marked both the beginning of a postmissionary U.s. globalism and the end of a century of religious and civil mission to the Ottoman near east. president Woodrow Wilson in 1917 and president Franklin roosevelt in 1941 justified the american entrance into world war by the necessity to fight against tyranny and for freedom. For a short time after Wilson, the U.s. approach to the near east was reconceived in terms of realpolitik and oil needs. during and after World War ii, how- ever, U.s. diplomacy conceived its role toward the world again in terms of political globalism or “Wilsonianism.” millennialism, which is globalist by definition, now split into three conflicting, though related, directions: the nurturing, after adolf hitler and Joseph stalin, of a (more or less) nonmes- sianist, informal empire of the goodled by the United states against forces of the evil; the identification of Zionism and israel, with which, for many americans, the old messianist dictum of “building up Zion” came to con- verge; and a strong premillennialist current whose missionaries now came to the near east, in particular to palestine-israel. against this background, apocalypticism has strikingly boomed in american culture after the 1960s.

how can we grasp two centuries of american enlightened modernity, Bi- ble belie , and hope for a “Zion” to build up? are we dealing with a modern ideology, arguably the most successful, the strongest, and the longest lasting of the ideologies created since the late eighteenth century? Or are we deal- ing with spirituality, a universal language of the human heart, a historically and biblically inspired faith, a constant confidence in a constructive global future and the benevolent master of this earth yet to come (the source of this spirituality)? does the millennialist mind-set end by masking with shrill religious overtones a cynical game of power and greed or go on promoting spiritual, social, and political freedom? These questions follow us throughout the book. it is important to elaborate on and examine tentative answers to these questions with regard to the concrete evolution of americas interac- tions with its nearest east up to the late twentieth century.

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