protection of higher values, America, the “indispensable nation,”60 had to use assertive
force when confronting its enemies. Unless the United States was prepared to shed its
real power and influence (rather than act “polite” in international relations), would-be
challengers of the international order will still hurt weaker parties. To allay the American
public’s fear that the United States is an empire builder,61 cowboy ethics are again
employed. Bush, a self-described “crusader for justice” (Schneider 2002, A Reagan
Echo), claimed that the United States wasn’t out to rule over another party. The Bush
administration insists they do not want to maintain political control of Iraq or
Afghanistan.62 They have stressed that the U.S. role would only be to provide stability
and security as Iraq established a more permanent government.63
Like the mythic cowboy, who was the type of man who takes care of business and
then leaves town (as seen in High Noon and Shane), Bush also wanted the bad guys out
of town. “The people of Iraq are perfectly capable of running Iraq,” the president said.
“The U.S. will help in a transition” (quoted in Online NewsHour 2003, U.S. Officials
Weigh Post-War Iraq). The National Security Strategy document went on to declare that
America sought “conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for
themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty” (The White
House 2002, iv). Therefore, the cowboy cannot be an imperialist.
60 61 62 This phrase is commonly attributed to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. For an example, please see Gary Sick’s “Imperial Moments” (2002). In an interview with FOX News, Wolfowitz stressed the goal for Iraqi self-governance. “Our goal has to be to transfer authority and operations of a government as quickly as possible, not to some other external authority but to the Iraqi people,” he said (quoted in Online NewsHour 2003, U.S. Officials Weigh Post-War Iraq).
63 In fact, in just the three months since the end of the Iraq war, the Pentagon has announced the essential evacuation of the U.S. military from its air bases in Saudi Arabia, from the demilitarized zone in Korea and from the vast Incirlik air base in Turkey (Krauthammer 2003, The Sleepy Superpower Awakes).