Slaughter’s The Idea that is America Book Review

Slaughter’s The Idea that Is America is dedicated to the problems of foreign policy of the United States of America.

The author of the book gives her ideas on the foreign policy of the country and proposes a set of steps, which aim to improve the difficult contemporary situation. Latest decisions taken in the foreign policy of the United States created an atmosphere of tensed and not friendly attitude towards this country. The author of the book gives her proposals, which aim to change the situation for better and help to renew good relations with the rest of the world.

As states the author, “I wrote The Idea That is America because the country I love has lost its way in the world. An American diplomat told me recently that when she meets foreign diplomats and citizens in the country where she is posted, they often walk away when they find out that she is American, not wanting to be seen with or even near her” (Slaughter 11). Unfortunately the country, which used to be an example of democracy for the rest of the world, has become now labeled as utilitarian.

The problems, described by the author are vital and burning.  Fair look at the American foreign policy is really important in contemporary difficult political situation.

Unfortunately, there are not many good books about American foreign policy written by the professionals. The Idea the is America fills in this gap and explores this important field. The author takes neutral position and does not blame the rest of the world, as it has become popular in the contemporary American foreign policy. Being aware thatAmerica is a mighty country and there are a lot of countries, which would wish to use this for their profit, the author still stands on the ideas of tolerance and acceptance of the needs of other countries.  Originally, created as a country of liberty and equal opportunity, theUnited States of America performed this function. People who lived in this country appreciated not only financial benefits, given by the prosperous economy, but also shared the ideology of the country.  As states Slaughter, “As I read our history, the values that our founders embraced and that our greatest presidents, poets, soldiers and songwriters have celebrated are seven: liberty, democracy, equality, justice, tolerance, humility, and faith” (Slalughter 109).  The rest of the world loved or hated, but still respectedAmerica. Latest steps in foreign policy of the country have changed world attitude towards theUS.

The author of the book is concerned with the great transformation, which occurred not only in the policy of the country, but also in the minds of people. Since individuals reflect the national spirit, it is easy to suggest that the decline of national spirit naturally leads to the switch of an attitude of each separate individual. Being preoccupied with this decline and its possible negative consequences for the entire country, Slaughter gives a number of proposals, which are aimed to renew past values and renewAmerica’s authority in the world.  By her mind it must become the main task of the foreign policy of the country. “Our task today””as the soldiers in Bandeh Aceh saw””is not simply to strive to realize our principles at home, but to be equally true to them abroad. We need a values-based foreign policy that is actually true to our values” (Slaughter 112). Coming back to human values and supporting liberty all over the world can become those main clues, which will help to find the way of the present ideological and political crises. Moral values and ethical standards can become a great help in the regaining of these values.

Slaughter’s writing style is sharp and impressive. The author attracts attention to vital questions and narration style appeals to the reader, making them more interested in the topic and showing all counterparts of the contemporary situation.

The author does not center on the negative sides of the contemporary situation. Fairly recognizing country’s failing, the author centers on the positive side and looks for the way out. Good point of the book that interesting style and simplicity of narration make it useful not only for the specialists in the field of the foreign policy but also for average readers, interested in the history and future perspectives of the country.  The main idea of the book is reflected in the title of the book. It reflects the author’s message thatAmericais not just a place to live, but rather an idea, which unites people and makes their living comfortable. That is the reason the author can not imagine a successful future of the country if people loose these idea. Since the founding of the country, people are attracted to theUnited Statesby the idea rather than job opportunities or financial prosperity. If this situation changes, it is very easy to suggest what kind of people will form the population of the country in the nearest future. That is the major concern of the author and that is the reason she spends so much attention to the importance of regaining of national idea.

At the same time people blinded by the national idea can sometimes be blind and do not see shortcomings of the American policy. The author describes this point, as well. She believes that rational and adequate attitude, as well as accent on human values and moral norms can become that means, which will help to correct the situation.

Slaughter stands for the faith with the need for improvement and she wants to pass this message to the readers.

This book is important at the present moment, when there is a danger that problems of the last few years will make people frustrated and disillusioned with the American idea. Regaining national conscious is an important contribution to the success of the country.

Invasion ofIraqin 2003 became the reason of writing this book. Sad and frustrating facts about the events inIraqcreated a lout resonance in the society. From the ideal of democracy and liberty,Americabecame known as the country, which uses tortures and does not keep the rules and regulations of Geneva Convention. The Idea that isAmericahelps to understand the reasons of the changes in the policy of the country and mentality of people. In addition it gives ways to resolve the situation. There is no doubt thatAmericahas left its world leadership but there must be way to renew it. The Declaration of Independence, which was written more than 200 years ago, has become the incarnation of American values and ideas. Nowadays, the citizens ofAmericashould put effort in order to renew these values.

Slaughter proposes a simple but very characteristic test. If to ask citizens of theUnited Statesto city the Declaration of Independence, they will most probably remember nothing from it.  The author points out that Americans, being dedicated to laws and different legal documents, very often make them central point of problem-solving. The do not count to moral norms and regulations and in the case when moral choice does not correspond to legislative concept, they in the most cases choose law. “If something is legal or not illegal it can be done, irrespective of adherence to any “values.” A nation is a concept; it does not have values. Citizens of a nation have values. A more valid description ofAmericais that it is a nation of laws” (Slaughter 198). Unfortunately, actual values not always correspond to the values proclaimed by the law. Excessive attention to laws makes the citizens build their lives according to them only.

Honesty of Slaughter’s narration is one of its main advantages. Despite the book has an intention to bring patriotic values to its readers, the author honestly describes shameful events from American history. Slavery, segregation, discrimination and other shameful facts should remind people about the times in the past, when fundamental liberties and freedoms were not the most precious thing for the state authorities. It is necessary to remember and analyze that part of American history in order to avoid such mistakes in future. It is hard to believe that nowadays can exist barriers for voting but still such a thing exists. Social injustice hidden under the mask of equal opportunity is another serious problem described by the author. Gaps between poor and rich people has negative effect on the perception of the governmental system and American values.  Slaughter points out that basic rules, enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, regulate only public sphere. These norms and regulations do not touch the sphere of human relations and moral values. At the same time most part of everyday life of the American citizens consists of day to day communication at home, in the office and in the street. It is impossible to regulate human communication and interaction in this sphere and Slaughter does not ask do so. She only wants authorities to put more attention to this sphere of life. Unfortunately values, proclaimed by the Constitution, ca not be applied in the everyday routine life. Being core values, freedom and liberty are not applied in domiciles, work places and establishments. In addition, the power of corporations creates addition threat to the state. Corporations being soulless, are preoccupied with the profit only, do not recognize any type of values except for the power of money. Taking into account the fact that the number and quantity of corporations grow every day, there is a threat that they will soon dominate the economy of the country and, thus, the minds of people. Slaughter wants to warn the readers about the threat created by the corporations.

Slaughter believes that values, which make the core of American nation, are exceptionable and represent high level of the development of the American nation.

The book has a strong patriotic spirit. In addition, it describes some controversial and important issues, such as the decline of national spirit and values and the role of the government in this process. The book is easy-written but this fact does not decrease its literary value.

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