Diana West

This Rice Doctrine grows from the segregated South: "Across the empire of Jim Crow, from upper Dixie to the lower Delta, the descendants of slaves shamed our nation with the power of righteousness and redeemed America at last from its original sin of slavery," Ms. Rice said. "By resolving the contradiction at the heart of our democracy," she continued,  "America finally found its voice as a true champion of democracy beyond its shores."

In this worldview, it's not, say, the 700,000 casualties of the Civil War plus one assassinated president who redeemed that original sin of slavery, but rather the civil rights movement that helped overturn Southern segregation laws a century later. Indeed, it was only at this relatively late date, if I'm reading Ms. Rice's words correctly, that America could finally sally forth as a "true champion of democracy" -- which makes you wonder who it was who went to Belleau Wood in 1918, St. Lo in 1945, and Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

The implication seems clear: American democracy wasn't all that much to be proud of until the civil rights leaders Ms. Rice calls the "impatient patriots" -- Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, for instance --came along. This supports one of her main policy points; namely, that even in America "democratization is a long and difficult process, not a singular event." So much for the miracle at Philadelphia.

Such a view of American unexceptionalism makes it perfectly OK to support other "impatient patriots" (her phrase again) in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian Authority. They, like our Founders, she might say, permit anti-democratic tendencies to mar their nascent democracies (Sharia on the books, bomb-toting terrorists on the ballots), but no one should balk. Only "cynics," as Ms. Rice said -- the same people she said "once believed that blacks were unfit for democracy" -- argue "that the people of the Middle East, perhaps because of their color or their creed or their culture or even perhaps because of their religion, are somehow incapable of democracy."

In this mix 'n' match take on history, facts about clashing belief systems have no place, and fears for freedom under Sharia are "cynical" or worse.
But when debate is stopped cold by pushing the hot buttons of racism and bigotry, realpolitik gives way to feelpolitik -- maybe the ultimate doctrine of pre-emption.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).