Aaron David Miller: How Geography Explains the United StatesRoundup: Media's Take
tags: national security, foreign policy, geography, Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller is vice president for new initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His forthcoming book is titled Can America Have Another Great President?. "Reality Check," his column for ForeignPolicy.com, runs weekly.
Do Americans have a worldview? And is there a central organizing principle that explains it? To frame the question in Tolkienesque terms: Might there be one explanation that rules them all?
I think there is.
Sigmund Freud argued that in the human enterprise, anatomy is destiny. In the affairs of nations, geography -- what it wills, demands, and bestows -- is destiny too.
It can't explain everything, to be sure. Britain and Japan are both island nations. That might explain their reliance on naval power and even their imperial aspirations. But what accounts for their fundamentally different histories? Other factors are clearly at play, including culture, religion, and what nature bestows or denies in resources. Fortune, along with the random circumstances it brings, pushes them in different directions.
Still, if I had to identify that one thing that -- more than any other -- helps explain the way Americans see the world, it would be America's physical location. It's kind of like in the real estate business: It's all about location, location, location....
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump just promised the biggest tax cut in history
- An African Diaspora group at Columbia University draped a KKK hood over Thomas Jefferson
- Documents show how CIA connived with Chilean publisher to overthrow Allende
- Is Trump right that he's signed more executive orders than FDR in his first 100 days?
- 500 Years After Expulsion, Sicily’s Jews Reclaim a Lost History
- Nathaniel Philbrick wins the $50,000 2017 George Washington Prize
- In an interview Jill Lepore explains how she writes and the writers she admires most
- Trump is no Hitler – he’s a Mussolini, says Oxford historian
- Rick Perlstein’s still drawing brickbats for his confession in the NYT that historians (like him) have misinterpreted modern conservatism
- “Historians are shockingly dismissive of people in ‘flyover country,’ ” says Pulitzer-winning historian T. J. Stiles