The United States, while founded on principals of equality rather than superiority, isinherently expansionist with its values. Since the Puritans founded a “city on a hill” in the mid17thcentury, United States policy has proceeded with the understanding that American cultureand values are looked at with admiration, and that other societies aspire to similar values. “Forwe must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill,” reads the famous sermon, “The eyes ofall people are upon us.” 15The liberal values of the United States are understood a priori to beuniversally appealing. Manifest Destiny, the idea that the United States as a nation not only hasthe right but also the responsibility to expand and pioneer democratic values, continues to guideAmerican policy today. John O’Sullivan wrote in his famous article, “The far-reaching, the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In itsmagnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifestto mankind the excellence of divine principles…Equality of rights is the cynosure of ourunion of States, the grand exemplar of the correlative equality of individuals…We mustonward to the fulfillment of our mission -- to the entire development of the principle ofour organization -- freedom of conscience, freedom of person, freedom of trade andbusiness pursuits, universality of freedom and equality. This is our high destiny, and innature's eternal, inevitable decree of cause and effect we must accomplish it.”16This idea that the United States’ destiny was to spread its liberal values to others is the basis of along-standing historical trend in American politics and international involvement. It guidedpolicy throughout the Cold War as the country fought to expand its democratic sphere ofinfluence. It still exists in policy today, as is evident in US interference in Iraq and Libya, just to15Winthrop, John, Gov. "A Model of Christian Charity." Speech. 1630. University of Virginia. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.16O'Sullivan, John L. "John L. O'Sullivan on Manifest Destiny, 1839." N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.
Dickinson Meltz 10provide a few examples. Essential to American identity is the mission to spread liberal values.Although the United States might occasionally tend towards a stance of cultural relativism in thecase of human rights with China, it is part of American identity to see not only human rights, butalso American values as universal. For that matter, all western countries that are founded onliberal values see such values as universally appealing and beneficial, albeit not quite to the samescale as the United States. In the US, such universality extends beyond the assumption that suchvalues and rights are universally desirable, but also that it is their manifest destiny to be spread. ENGAGINGACROSSTHEDIVIDEWhy, then, is the United States not more assertive in its objections to Chinese humanrights violations? In the engagement of human rights talk today, the American and Chinese
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