The United States has no purpose. That is perhaps its greatest achievement. America's founding document, its Declaration of Independence, allows that a state exists only to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
That's it. There's a curious lack of ambition in those words. The United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything, or as the necessary outcome of history, but for the freedom to collect figurines, to join a clogging troupe, to take a road trip. Yet these words, which carry no ideology whatsoever, are the ones that keep winning. This is the lesson of the past 10 years, and one Osama bin Laden, a man animated by a grandiose vision of restoring a 7th century Muslim empire, never grasped. The most successful organizing principle the world has ever known is a simple guarantee that we can buy and do things that have no point greater than the satisfaction of our own happiness.
-- Brendan Greeley, "Why Bin Laden Lost", Businessweek, May 4, 2011
How much more liberating, life-affirming, and (dare I say it?) civilized our way of life is than Islam's implacably stultifying drive to "compel the right and forbid the wrong". Ditto for secular leftists' urges to winnow, purge, reforge, remake, reengineer, and ultimately waste their fellows, in pursuit of progressive visions.