The press of events in the 20th Century forced America to take on great power, but it reacted to that power by adopting the model of FDR, who ran for as many terms as he lived, instead of the model of Washington who stepped down as soon as it was feasible. The difference between these two kinds of power is the difference between Caesar and Cincinnatus , it is the difference between empire and expedition and between virtue and burden.
It is now long since past time to put down that burden. It is not America’s mission to teach democracy to the Muslim world or to export any of its virtues by gentle means or harsh. The first duty of every society is not the export of its virtues, but their safeguarding. Only then can that society serve as an example to the world that inspires, rather sacrificing its virtues to teach virtue to the world.
Originally published at Sultan Knish.