No, don’t ask, just go read it.
America was the most important thing in the world at the turn of the twentieth century, but no one knew it yet. It took World War I to demonstrate what paper tigers the European empires had become. America flipped the 19th century script and went to Belleau Wood with all the fury of a father turning the car around. When it was over, we shirked the big mantle and went back to our cornfields. We avoided the responsibilities of a great power until the hakenkreuz and the rising sun were waved right in our faces. We shrugged and rolled up our sleeves and pounded the world flat again, because that’s the way we liked it. It’s easier to drive on.
Then came the fifties. The Soviets stood there, leering over half the globe, and said they would bury us. We yawned. We had the sobriety of Eisenhower on our side. We had the muscle of finned cars rolling off assembly lines uncounted with a sunburned arm out the window on day one.