Psychiatrist Keith Ablow testified in court in Boston, Mass. on June 4, 2009.
Pool photo by CJ Gunther/EPA/Corbis

Taking ‘manifest destiny’ to a whole new level

There’s no point in getting too worked up about every nutty idea from every random Fox News contributor. That’s especially true of far-right psychiatrist Keith Ablow. But when Jon Chait thinks he’s identified “the craziest idea ever proposed by a Fox News personality,” it’s worth pausing to take a closer look.
 
Jessica Torres explained this morning exactly what Ablow had in mind.
Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow wrote that “it’s time for an American jihad” to, forcibly if need be, convert every nation’s government into a reflection of the U.S. government.
 
In an October 28 FoxNews.com op-ed, Ablow wrote that America’s history “proves our manifest destiny not only to preserve our borders and safety and national character at home, but to spread around the world our love of individual freedom and insist on its reflection in every government.”
There’s no reason to believe Ablow was kidding.  Under the “jihad” the Fox News contributor envisions, the United States would commit itself to the belief “that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place.”
 
Even our allies – he mentions France, Italy, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany, seemingly at random – would be urged to “adopt laws similar to our own.” Americans should seek to become policymakers in foreign countries, Ablow argues, and Americans “might even fund” these foreign campaigns.
 
In the 19th century, Americans had a spirited debate about “manifest destiny” on a continental scale, but Ablow apparently sees no need to stop where the oceans start. Rather, he’s describing “manifest destiny” on a global scale.
 
“[W]herever leaders and movements appear that seek to trample upon the human spirit, we have a God-given right to intervene,” he argued in all seriousness.
 
When Ablow touted his thesis on Fox this morning, Brian Kilmeade said his provocative thesis deserves to be discussed. Ablow replied, “What’s to discuss?” Apparently, the merits of an “American jihad” are just that obvious.
 
In the American tradition, affinity for imperialism has waxed and waned, but I honestly don’t recall anyone ever seriously suggesting a global takeover like the one Ablow recommends. Teddy Roosevelt himself would likely squirm in discomfort.
 
Chait added, “Note that Ablow is not merely endorsing a civilizational war between the West and radical Islam, as extreme hawks are wont to do. He is endorsing a campaign of conquest aimed at literally every other country on Earth. Ablow is not satisfied with bringing democracy to those who don’t enjoy it. He proposes to bring the American Constitution to every country, even democratic ones. Because there may be other democratic forms of government, but Ablow thinks they all pale before ours.”
 
At the risk of burying the lede, let’s not forget that in the Fox contributor’s vision, the United States would also “double the budgets of the CIA and our Special Forces,” while funding “an international mercenary force for good.”
 
Well, as long as it’s for “good,” as defined by Dr. Keith Ablow, I’m sure the rest of the planet won’t mind.
 

Foreign Policy and Fox News

Taking 'manifest destiny' to a whole new level