America and the Rest of the World

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Thesis Paper on the topic “America and the Rest of the World”

There are two Americas. One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson; the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and the modern superpatriots. One is generous and humane, the other narrowly egotistical; one is self-critical, the other self-righteous; one is sensible, the other romantic; one is good-humored, the other solemn; one is inquiring, the other pontificating; one is moderate, the other filled with passionate intensity; one is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power. (J. Williams Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power)

This quotation by James William Fulbright is exemplary for analysing the identity and perceptions of America. In his book The Arrogance of Power Fulbright attacks the justification of the Vietnam War, Congress’ failure to set limits on it, and the impulses which gave rise to it. The “Vietnam crisis”, which marks a low point of America’s reputation in the world is one aspect that serves to substantiate the thesis of this paper: The reflection of Non-Americans are just as essential for building the American Identity as the thoughts and perception of Americans themselves. Naturally this can hardly be measured or be proven scientifically, but different various approaches to the topic shall confirm this statement. Before taking a closer look at the history and culture of the country one should think about what is the “American Identity”. It can be acknowledge that there is no fixed definition of the American identity and it is constantly changing; it is constructed by people and various ideas and discourses. Still there has always been a struggle about this collective identity and it’s representation. Americans have often assumed when assessing the history of other nations that the American model of development has the status of general applicableness. The well-known parable and metaphor “City upon a hill” is an early example of such exceptional beliefs....
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