This is a section from a foreign policy theory paper entitled “Manifest Managerialism.”
America’s interest in world power originated from British influence, which “seemed so plainly destined to dominate the planet” (Mead, 5). While colonialism and economic interests spurred American involvement in international affairs, the United States also has a history of considering itself as “the embodiment of the interests of humankind as a whole” (Stephanson, 22). As America’s leadership christened itself as “leader of the free world,” the United States began to reconstruct toward economic prosperity and Christian humanism.
When approaching the world post-9/11, America cares far more about individuals than nation-states or the Westphalian system. Even within organizations with which America is at war—like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda—the focus has been on the individual leadership—Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein—rather than the organization as a mass of nameless people. Americans concern themselves with those they can individually identify, rather than focusing on a mass of people.
The reason for this stems from Protestantism as a root for American elite culture. Kurth writes that, “the American role in international affairs has been, and continues to be, shaped by the Protestant origins of the United States… The removal of hierarchy and community…of any earthly intermediaries between the individual and God, strip[ping] away, at least for the most important purposes, any local, parochial, cultural, or national characteristics of the believer” (Kurth, 18-19). He emphasizes that the individual’s relationship with God, as opposed to a unit (or nation-state). Thus, through the 19th century, “Protestant rejection of hierarchy and community in regard to salvation spread to their rejection in regard to other domains of life as well,” which led to an emphasis on the individual outside of religious life (Kurth, 19). Regardless of one’s personal belief in religion, the “Protestant rejection of hierarchy and community had spread to important arenas of temporal or secular life” (Kurth, 19). Consequently, individualism became a centerpiece for American culture, which extends to the American desire for world order. The most prominent facet of this is within the drive for free trade and capitalism in the modern world.
Within Protestantism, capitalism and democracy are the best ways to proselytize. While traditional modes of spreading religion (including procreation, forced conversion, and missionary volunteerism) have been successful, capitalism allows for an entire system ideal for spreading Christianity. Globalized markets help Protestantism reach areas previously unavailable to Western influence using marketing techniques. Namely, creating a need, offering a product or service, providing rewards and consequences, and creating urgency (Selling God). Originally, Christianity created the need for salvation and offered a path to it, offered heaven and threatened hell, and used the Rapture to construct urgency (Selling God). In reaching to people, international individuals must be able to have access to a free market. Thus, capitalism and global proselytization are intertwined, feeding into the American drive to spread and protect free markets.