Worldview and Public Policy: From American Exceptionalism to American Empire




Lavender, Wayne

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A worldview provides the framework in which to perceive reality: it is the existential construct through which humans focus and establish a context to the environment in which they live. Linked to the culture in which one lives, it can be expressed as a philosophy, a cognitive map, image, mindscape, symbolic universe, world hypotheses, assumptive worlds or moral orders, and is derived from the German Weltanschauung. A worldview is complex and dynamic and may be held by a majority or a minority within a society. The building blocks for a worldview include history, collective memory, religious heritage, symbols, and myths / legends / folktales. Every culture, every society and every nation has a unique history, collective memory, religious heritage and collection of myths / legends / folktales. The combination of these factors creates a worldview, a context in which individual and national decisions are framed. The collective experience of the US leads to its current status in the world as the only superpower, a unipolar status unequaled in history. Total military spending in the US by the Pentagon and Department of Defense (FY2009) is approximately one trillion dollars. This represents approximately 54.5 percent of the total amount of defense spending of the entire world. David Kilcullen writes: “In mid-2008, counting supplemental budget allocations for the Iraq War, the U.S. defense budget is approaching 70 percent of total global defense spending.” The US has stationed at least 267,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in, according to a Washington Post op-ed piece coauthored by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, more than 115 foreign nations. Meanwhile, federal funding for development and diplomacy combined encompasses only a tiny fraction (5 percent) of total federal revenue designated for military spending. This imbalance has been cited by proponents of 3 – D Security (Defense, Diplomacy and Development) as problematic: a fully “balanced approach,” they argue, will mitigate war and advance peaceful solutions through the application of “smart power.” Evidence collected and presented suggests the existence of a dominant worldview within the United States that supports redemptive violence and therefore supports the status quo in relation to appropriations for defense, diplomacy and development. The research also indicates the presence of a recessive gene that supports international cooperation, conflict resolution and peaceful coexistence. Research was conducted using a concurrent triangular strategy methodology, an approach that combined elements of quantitative and qualitative research. Following the presentation and analysis of the data, policy recommendations are offered in an effort to nurture the recessive gene of cooperation in order to address other pressing concerns of the 21st Century such as environmental degradation, pandemic poverty, and a world awash with weapons.



Worldview, Public policy, Redemptive violence, Empire