Because Manifest Destiny relies on the chosen nation story for its foundation, it is what Bulman (1991) and Paul Tillich (1933) call a "myth of origin." Such narratives call a people back to a sense of their roots, their reason for being and the responsibilities that attend those purposes. They have the ability to paint an identity and define the important features of a people as they give meaning and motivation to their actions. Because the hero in Manifest Destiny is a nation, rather than an individual, and a nation is composed of individuals, every member of the nation can contribute to (or detract from) its superior character and its mission. According to Browne (1991), this speaker-hearer collaboration invites the audience in, saying, "Together we can redeem virtue." By doing so, a rhetorical community is built, the national identity is redefined or its individual members are reminded of the nation's superior character, and each member can gain some sense of personal significance from being a part of thi s nation and contributing to its mission.

Bush on the Persian Gulf Conflict

Bush's rhetoric during the Persian Gulf conflict did not address overtly the United States' origin or raison d'etre: nevertheless, he establishes the country's providential origins by his references to God or other transcendent purposes. For instance, Bush (1991:101) states several times "You know, America is a nation founded under God. And from our very beginnings we have relied upon His strength and guidance in war and in peace. And this is something we must never forget."

As one nation under God, we Americans are deeply mindful of both our dependence on the Almighty and our obligations as a people He has richly blessed.... Entrusted with the holy gift of freedom and allowed to prosper in its great light, we have a responsibility to serve as a beacon to the world -- to use our strength and resources to help those suffering in the darkness of tyranny and repression. (Bush, 1991)

As several earlier quotations from Bush and Clinton indicate, being a moral example by definition frequently necessitates intervention. To fail to act in favor of "good" or to fail to share one's bounteous blessings is selfish and, hence, not an example of a moral virtue. To fail to take action (in Bush's words "to appease the enemy;" in Clinton's words "to fail to contain the enemy") is to allow evil to triumph, to guarantee a more costly disaster, and to bring into question the veracity and credibility of the "beacon of hope." Trite though true, actions often speak louder than words. The intervention may not always be military; it may be economic or political or cultural but the outcome is often the same -- the spread (or imposition) of American ways of life, which may or may not have beneficial consequences for the recipient but nearly always intends benefits for U.S. national interests (however defined).