Contrary to what usually is claimed in Washington, American foreign policy has rarely been directed by calculations of national interest. That policy is shaped by nationalism, fear, consideration of commercial interests, political ideology, or prejudice, but-for better or worse-the dominant force has always been a vision of national destiny, into which all the rest is subsumed. This sense of destiny has to be understood in order to...
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William Pfaff, a former editor of Commonweal, is political columnist for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. His most recent book is The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy (Walker & Company).