Before 9/11, Walter Russell Mead penned this piece attempting to explain what, at least to the rest of the world, seems to be "an unhealthy mix of ignorance, isolationism and trigger-happy cowboy diplomacy".
I've read this essay several times over the years, and it was brought to my attention once again by Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor site. (Sidenote: This is the only website I visit that I think is worth paying for--and it isn't even mandatory.) But with slightly less than 48 hours until we start voting for our next President, it reads in an entirely different light, and explains many of the differences between those who would vote for Kerry and those who would vote for Bush.
It's long, but well worth your effort to read it.