During a recent visit to Berlin, I asked about the new Museum of German History. “Don’t bother,” my host advised. “We don’t have a good history.” After the Holocaust, two World Wars, and a Thirty Years War in the 1600s that killed a third of the population, who could disagree?
Other great powers suffered similar traumas: Russia and France with bloody revolutions and even bloodier aftermaths under Stalin and Napoleon, Britain with its Hundred Years War, War of the Roses and brutal Civil War.
Among major nations, the US alone compiled a distinctively “good history.” Despite the toll of our own Civil War, that struggle accomplished a great purpose – abolition of slavery – and the nation quickly emerged stronger than ever. In fact, America’s unprecedented, uninterrupted growth in power from colonial days till today offers the best proof of American exceptionalism.