Does the U.S. Need to Choose Between Being Moral or Militaristic?

Author, "Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress"
February 2, 2017

America operates on two kinds of power: moral authority – through which citizens and members of the international community invest in the United States’ message of a better future – and military might – the stark opposite of morality, whereby presidents overreach their authority and breach sovereign territory to meet their own objectives. Barack Obama represented the tension between these ideals, espousing morality in speech while engaging the US’s military might in action. The country America wants to be is constantly being foiled by the country that America is. Journalist Jelani Cobbs asks: can America have it both ways? Is it noble to try, or merely hypocritical? Jelani Cobb is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His latest book is The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress.

Jelani Cobb is a staff writer at The New Yorker. His latest book is The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress.