Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 03, 2008

Change of the U.S. Role in the World

In today's LA Times Fred Kaplan discusses the need of a more realistic U.S. view on its changed role in the world:

It should be no surprise that the presidential campaigns have barely touched on foreign policy. [...] [N]o ambitious politician is willing to mention the discomfiting reality about America's place in the world -- that we are weaker today than we were a decade or two ago, and that we need a new foreign policy that acknowledges and builds on that fact.
[...]
Our leverage over half the world during the previous half-century had stemmed not just from American muscle but from the existence of a common enemy. [...] But when the [Soviet] bear died, the alliance's threads loosened.
[...]
The United States has emerged from the tectonic shift as something more like an ordinary country -- a world power but not a superpower. This is unfamiliar territory for Americans. For half a century, we had been a superpower in a world that was tightly structured. Now we're upper-middle management in a world without big bosses -- a world that's either becoming multipolar or teetering toward anarchy.
[...]
It's no longer morning in America, but it's not quite twilight either. The next president's big challenge will be to revive America's influence and stature while facing up to the limits of its power in a newly fractured world. And one of the bigger political challenges of that task will be to acknowledge, openly, that our power does have limits.

The U.S. elections are watched closely all over the world because they matter. There sometimes seems to be as much reporting on U.S. candidates in my local German rag as there is in U.S. papers.

In the German weekly Die Zeit former chancellor and 'atlanticist' Helmut Schmidt has Twelve Questions for the Candidates (in German; the automated  translation gets the gist). His questions touch on the same issue Kaplan is writing about.

If the U.S. wants to stay important, it will have to seek consense and stop to dictate solutions.

Unfortunatly none of the candidates has really spoken out about foreign policy. Yes, there are a few mangled bits about Iraq, but the world is much bigger than that and there are other very important issues.

The campaigns all are working by the mantra 'elections are local'. U.S. voters still seem to believe that U.S. foreign policy doesn't really matter much to them.

But, as Kaplan rightly points out, the U.S. position in the world has changed. The consequences of U.S. foreign policy will have bigger and bigger domestic repercussions. This especially in an economic sense and far beyond the price of oil.

There needs to be more public discussion about cause and effect of U.S. foreign policy. 9/11 was a chance for that. But then the discussion was quickly supressed in favor of a certain imperial agenda.

Posted by b on February 3, 2008 at 02:32 PM | Permalink

Comments

what history has taught us, what it has always taught us - that this moment in empire's destiny is the most dangerous hour

never has the menace, the actual menace of u s power ever been so terrifying in either its direction or consequences

tonight, in this darkness we witness the anarchy it has brought to every continent

only the robustness of the chinese & the imaginations of latin americans & africa will be abke to redeem us as a species

Posted by: r'giap | Feb 3, 2008 3:22:36 PM | 1

Too late, the Kaplan's of this world sat back as the Empire burned Iraq and the ME. Hilary and Barack have so much shit to deal with in the US economy...... It will be quick fixes overseas on US foreign policy.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Feb 3, 2008 3:36:44 PM | 2

cloned

the russian were obliged to save us from fascism

perhaps the chinese & indians can save us from ourselves

Posted by: r'giap | Feb 3, 2008 3:54:36 PM | 3

As Gorbachev once said, "you'll get a terrible doom, you won't have an enemy anymore and you'll be on your own".
Frankly, if there are Americans that didn't undestand on 9/11 that US foreign policy has internal consequences, and that the US elections matters in foreign policies as well, they f- them, they fully deserve the nastiest, fastest and most complete demise, and let's hope that the intelligent ones will make it through.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Feb 3, 2008 4:05:23 PM | 4

The next Administration will try to regain the power lost by Bush by trying to re-visit the past. Just as the Republicans and Democrats promise to protect the middle class and return to a simpler, Ozzie and Harriet world of unfettered consumption. Myths within myths, man.

In the meantime, the world has hopefully moved on. The ineptitude of Bush and his handlers in war, economics, and every other field revealed the weak foundation the US projection of power, as well as the vacuousness of its calls for democracy. (see NYT/IHT article today on Central Asia)

Unfortunately, they'll be more Haitis, Somalias, Kenyas as these criminals flail against humanity with their stratergeries.

Posted by: biklett | Feb 3, 2008 4:50:22 PM | 5

Its quite weird and indicative, in this respect, why the republicans have released their screaming furies on John McCain. One would have it that the republicans, hysterical in their demand for belligerent foreign policy would be scrambling to knight the old fart with their blessing, as they have to the rest of us for 6 years. But nada, his calls for more patriotism, sacrifice, and more and endless wars in the name of exceptionalism, have not been met with just silence, but with a raging vitriol against him. Go figure. If McCain did get elected president (by some miracle) would they forget all that, and re-inflate the patriotic obligation to follow the brand new (& more fanatical) war president off an even higher cliff? Or would they join the ranks of the anti-unitary executive, anti-American traitors? Remember, we're not talking about the paleo's or the libertarians here (they've always been anti-imperialist), but the pro war screaming banshee Malkin types who have been the most adamant voice for Imperial America Inc. Indeed, John McCain is the only candidate to publicly declare his belief in (the worst of) American exceptionalism:

"I believe in American exceptionalism. I believe we were meant to transform history. I believe that the progress of all humanity will depend, as it has for many years now, on the global progress of American interests and values. I believe we are still the last, best hope of Earth."2000

So what gives? Why has McCains vision for Imperial America Inc. not only been thrown under the proverbial bus, but backed over several times to make sure its dead?

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 3, 2008 5:14:54 PM | 6

anna missed, Americans don't, for the moment, want to hear about their "exceptionalism". What they want to hear about is the importance of leaving Iraq in ways that do the least damage to the Iraqis--slowly, carefully, making sure that those "fragile political structures" have taken hold. This is the language of triumphalism updated--a rhetoric mastered by Bush himself, and mimicked by everyone but McCain (a slow learner, it seems).

Although America will never leave Iraq, it's certainly being killed there (but as to whether, or when, or by whom its corpse will be shipped back home--of this I have no idea).

Posted by: alabama | Feb 3, 2008 5:49:37 PM | 7

Slate has excerpts of Kaplan's new book on the theme.

If America's Cold War presidents had adopted Bush's strategic post-9/11 strategic outlook, they would have attacked the Soviet Union at some point during the long standoff, on the grounds that Communism was the "root cause" of many problems. If Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had thought the way Bush did while planning the strategy for World War II, they would not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union in order to beat Nazi Germany, because Communism, especially Josef Stalin's version of it, was evil, too. They might even have declared war on both Russia and Germany—and, in their high moral dudgeon, suffer catastrophic defeat.
Haven't read it all yet ... but he seems to be on to something ...

Posted by: b | Feb 3, 2008 5:51:18 PM | 8

For the record, I think McCain really is an exceptionalist , in the fullest sense of the word, and is not just using the label for "color". Two, and perhaps three of the strikes against McCain, from the banshees are also exceptionalist. Both his leadership in campaign finance reform and immigration policy are grounded in authentic exceptionalism - his position on Bushes tax cuts (against them) can also be so construed.

So this could also be a (pretty good) example of how the right has used exceptionalism in order to destroy it - that the right is not exceptionalist at all (and in fact,is against it), but uses its egalitarian principals to justify evangelizing imperialism in the name of good. To his credit, McCain is not cynical enough to sacrifice the other principals of exceptionalism to propel imperialism - whereby the others, are willing to sacrifice everything for imperialism - so McCain must go.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 3, 2008 5:54:48 PM | 9

anna missed, I know one problem they have with him is that he at least pays lip service to idea that we shouldn't be torturing prisoners. big turn off.

Posted by: ran | Feb 3, 2008 6:01:53 PM | 10

So what gives? Why has McCains vision for Imperial America Inc. not only been thrown under the proverbial bus, but backed over several times to make sure its dead?

Perhaps, because, Jr's mission really was accomplished, he got us there, he got our foot in the door, we are not leaving no matter what or who is in the
White house. From here on out it will be 'low grade relentless imperialism'* instead of balls to the wall out in the open blitz?

*'low grade relentless imperialism' at which the democrats seem to be really good at.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 3, 2008 6:03:37 PM | 11

anna missed,

are not McCain's woes due to his teaming up with the hated liberals to grant amnesty to Mexicans? Maybe you don't have it so much in Washington but in the midwest there is a lot of fear and loathing of migrant workers.

one must be careful when trying to assign rational thought to republican behavior, McCain was in favor of the surge before w was and every republican will now tell you that the surge worked. McCain also promises to keep troups in Mesopotamia for a hundred years if need be...hardly cutting and running.

T know that limbaugh and coulter are leading the ditto heads in a revolt against the repub leadership and suspect they are trying to make themselves feel important as they watch their beloved bullies lose to liberals and democrats...that has got to be hard to swallow. either that or Romney has them on his payroll.

Posted by: dan of steele | Feb 3, 2008 6:09:21 PM | 12

"..one must be careful when trying to assign rational thought to republican behavior,.."

Indeed. Well put DOS...
;-)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 3, 2008 6:12:24 PM | 13

The myth of military predominance will last far beyond any evidence to the contrary, and will be sold on both sides of the aisle for as long as there is one. To the extent that it is confirmed, there will only be the effort to regain it; there's money to be made, and pride won, after all. The human animal is such as this, capital wrassles with snarling teeth, desperate men and women seek solace in myths which serve their self image, and their bank accounts. We are helpless, after all, vulnerable. Our children could be taken from us by a long rain, or a glance away from the road. We take every advantage and have lost all mettle for noble fights. Those who act with strength for the benefit of all face 10,000 talking heads, hired guns for empire. No politician wants to earn their ire with declarations of failure during a hot war; it will take a long push to get them to just try for policies less insane than at present. A long push, similar to that of the right since Reagan; except I wonder, who will cover it? If a revolution isn't televised, does it exist?
:)

Posted by: bellgong | Feb 3, 2008 6:17:34 PM | 14

alabama, I must disagree. Exceptionalism is deeply embedded in the American identity, otherwise socialism or communism could be considered rational options. It is after all why these "other" systems are knee jerk rejected. I would however agree that most Americans are humiliated by the failed efforts to evangalize it as foreign policy. And would give anything for this nightmare to be over, even at the expense of abject failure. For which the elites must be at wits end over, because the narrative has lost so much (at)traction as to become functionally unviable as a means to perpetuate the ongoing globalazation trend. Which we have become utterly dependent upon and without will in all likelyhood, crash and burn.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 3, 2008 6:22:06 PM | 15

"If a revolution isn't televised, does it exist?"

Yes.

Posted by: beq | Feb 3, 2008 6:22:07 PM | 16

Beq, et al...

"Gil Scott Heron was wrong, the revolution has [ already ] been televised." We lost.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 3, 2008 7:25:50 PM | 17

anna missed, I think we agree: the rhetoric supporting exceptionalism may have changed (I for one see a change there) but the thinking hasn't changed at all--not, at least, the thinking of the ownership, which really has no problem with this war, Just as it has no real problem with Bush (the average person is something else again).

You can't win votes in 2008 by sounding like a Neo-Con, so you tone down the rhetoric, make sure your fellow-owners are on the same page, and continue with business as usual. Therefore any effort by any elected official to get us out of Iraq will be instantly extinguished with brutal efficiency, as will the career itself of that official. Sacrificing whole countries--our own as well as others--is how the owners prosper: they eat what they kill. They love this war and they won't let it end.

Posted by: alabama | Feb 3, 2008 7:42:12 PM | 18

dan, in order for exceptionalism to function as a viable alternative to other political constructs, it needs to embrace certain moderations and regulations in order to keep the playing field of opportunity level; aka campaign finance, anti-trust, judicial fairness&independence, etc. Things McCain has in some cases supported. These moderations are necessarily liberal in concept while at the same time (supposedly) maintaining by enabling the primacy of individual initiative which is construed as "conservative", in completing a balance and hedge against overt state power. Exceptionalism in this light, defines the center line of American politics, in distinction to other nationalized large state governments. The degrees of state interference against the rights of the individual being the language of the dialectic. The republicans have used this narrative as a tool to dismantle moderation and regulation and to extend imperial hegemony worldwide by making it the language to cover their exploits. Except that nowhere in the original concept of exceptionalism is the patented need or desire to export it. This desire is fabricated through the assimilation or appropriation of religion into the mix as an essential in propagating a benign vision of Imperial America. White mans burden redux American style. It is interesting to if they actually destroy McCain before the conventions because in a lot of ways, they will have to destroy any lingering pretensions of or remnants of exceptionalism in the process. And what will they leave its place? Unmasked Undiluted Bald Faced American Imperial Fascism?

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 3, 2008 8:05:27 PM | 19

alabama,

Exactly, and the democrats Pelosi & Reid are doing a bang up job of now aren't they?

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 3, 2008 8:18:24 PM | 20

in the united states - at the centre of the catastrophe is the deeply comprimised & deeply corrupt jurisprudence especially the supreme court that are in don straglia's words - int he pockets of power like so many nickels & dimes. that rotten & rotting jurisprudence is the key by which terro is exported elswhere & fear is instituted in the homeland. that is not changing & even in this last year the cheney bush junta are going full steam ahead at their nominations at every jurisprudential level

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 3, 2008 8:21:40 PM | 21

Hmm where to start. Firstly amerikan exceptionalism is a totally unexceptional human construct. Rooted in patriotism and stemming from xenophobia, national exceptionalism has always been the fuel driving empire whether it be Cicero in his Roman empire who was unlikely to be talking about the non-citizen tasked with wiping his ass when he wrote “Next to God we are nothing. To God we are Everything.” or Kipling's conception of the resolute englishmen who stood as natural leaders of men, above all other nationalities and races. One of the primary rationales for ruling over others is that somehow the rulers are just naturally better than those being ruled.

Monarchies invented variations on the divine right of kings, and empires construct myths to 'prove' that imperial citizens are superior to all others and therefore deserve to be boss.

You can still find vestiges of english exceptionalism in modern england. The classic example being the tory eurosceptics, who aren't opposed to the European Community because they are opposed to globalism, but because they believe england should be in charge.

You can also find shred of australian exceptionalism growing in Oz. When Giap lived there it would have appeared to be essentially racist, for there is an element of racism in all national exceptionalism, however decades of a far broader migration policy that reaches outside north western europe has caused the australian exceptionalism to evolve past racism into a sort of multi-cultural nationalism where people are better, not because they are white, they are better because they were born in Australia and exposed to it's unique and 'wondrous' society from an early age. Will australian exceptionalism go anywhere? Who knows, one could argue that the neighboring Indonesian exceptionalism is more likely to figure in 21st century international relations. Indonesians take their role as the most populous Islamic nation in the world very seriously. Golkar philosophy has evolved from Javanese nationalism into a broader Indonesian exceptionalism in much the same way as white Australia evolved into the "acme of multicultural societies" - next door.

Amerikan exceptionalism will thrive as long as the empire thrives, after which it will become a refuge for nostalgics and scoundrels.

As for McCain I believe it is because he espouses core rethug values that the party machine has turned on him. I will try and explain. Firstly win or lose the prez election the rethugs are in for a hiding, a hiding that will scapegoat whatever values are espoused by the rethugs in the next election.

If McCain is the prez candidate and he loses, well that will be two rethug failures in a row who espoused the amerikan empire as a primary ideal. (shrub's 2nd term will be regarded as failure, nothing promised has succeeded as promised). That means that the rethug candidate (who should be a walk up start for prez in '12 will have to eschew the very republican ideals the money men want espoused.

The might of amerika, the export of power disguised as democracy, and the absolute rightness of the cause to any loyal amerikan. Those platforms could not possibly be adopted by the next rethug candidate since they will have been so roundly rejected previously. Sure Romney is running on watered down versions of the same thing but if he loses it won't because of that, it will be because he was a mormon.

That will be the excuse, so that the ideals can still be adhered to without having to apologise or compromise. As a bonus those pesky Utah 'fanatics' will just have to accept that their only role in the party is to give money, much more than that will just turn off the rest of the voters, both the baptists and the aspirational rethugs. A Romney primary victory followed by an election defeat is the best 'win win' the rethugs can hope for.

Why?

Because whoever wins the dem primary be it Clinton or Obama, is in for a torrid time once elected prez.. The dem prez is going to be either a woman or a black. Rethug strategists will be planning for this right now.

For rethug gaming, either is as good as the other. Dog whistle politics is the way it is done. check the link and I will try and explain. The tories in NZ have used it to destroy Clark's electoral edge. They would never say out and out that she adopts certain policies because she is a woman, that would be sexist. Instead they insinuate that her policies reflect someone who is unfamiliar with the workings of a nuclear family (no children big play to win back bourgeois women voters) or that her persistent attacks on some injustices is 'nagging' (reminding male voters of 'her indoors' trying to get them to take out the garbage).

These are particularly crass examples most are more subtle but require a long retelling to capture all the nuances. This is nuanced politics at it's extreme.

The electorate tends to accept the way that white middle class leaders behave as the norm, because up until recently nearly all leaders were white middle class males. Whoever is amerikan prez for the next four years is going to have a rough ride, unlikely to succeed domestically or in foreign policy, whatever gender, race or party he/she belongs to. The economy is in too much of a mess and the rest of the world loathes amerika's attitudes as expressed in amerikan foreign policy, to an extreme previously unknown. That won't change with the change of prez (unless of course the new prez spend his/her energies catering to non-voting foreigners at the expense of voting citizens - like that's gonna happen).

In more benign times a woman or african amerikan prez would likely have an extended 'honeymoon' period but these times aren't benign so the honeymoon will be short and pretty soon after one policy failure or another, people will begin to be persuaded the problem with the prez is exacerbated by gender or race.

Pure bliss and a doddle for the rethugs in 2012 but how can they run on policies which have been as roundly rejected by the voters as whatever the rethug policies expressed in 08 were unless it was a rejection of mormonism not the policies?

Winning in 2008 which there is slight chance of, poses the same problems for the rethugs as it does for the dems. Whoever wins in 08 will be held to blame for much of what follows. Not only will the '08 victor lose in '12, they are likely to have found lame duck status well before then probably by '10.

Whatever the result of the 2008 election the rethug candidate will be deemed that worst of all amerikan pejoratives, a loser . Perhaps the rethug machine sees running a candidate who doesn't epitomize rethug core values in '08 as the best way of safeguarding those core values for a more propitious time.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 3, 2008 11:59:00 PM | 22

I suspect they've turned on McCain for entirely different reasons. He simply can't win. The Fundies provide the working class base for Rethugs that labor provides for JackAsses. If he doesn't turn them out he's toast. The job of said RabbleRousers is to help stampede Nutbag who can prevail through the primaries. McCain is assuring them that he's a Virulent Woman Hater, but that may not be enough to turn out the base. What I find interesting is that the only Rethug windbag who isn't explicitly Religious is ~72...

Posted by: jj | Feb 4, 2008 12:48:16 AM | 23

Debs, I'm trying to use exceptionalism first in reference to the (supposedly) unique American political notion that its particular arrangement makes Euro-centric (big government) socialism unnecessary. In such case less government is better and solves social issues by individuals on their own initiative. Its upon acceptance of this presupposition (and it is accepted across the L/R spectrum) that the cultural template of exceptionalism - with all its xenophobic red neck nationalistic implications find their foundation. Its in the latter respect that it resembles other nationalist/ethnic exceptionalisms, but I don't think so, regarding the former.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 4, 2008 1:49:57 AM | 24

Neocons rally for McCain - Kristol in NYT - Dyspepsia on the Right

Without McCain’s public advocacy and private lobbying, President Bush might not have reversed strategy and announced the surge of troops in January 2007. Without McCain’s vigorous leadership, support for the surge in Congress would not have been sustained in the first few months of 2007. So: No McCain, no surge. No surge, failure in Iraq, a terrible setback for America — and, as it happens, no chance for a G.O.P. victory in 2008.

Some conservatives can close their eyes to all this. They can choose to stand aside from history while having a temper tantrum. But they should consider that the American people might then choose not to invite them back into a position of responsibility for quite a while to come.

As Jim Lobe noted McCain is Now the Neo-Con Candidate
what really brought it home this week was a little aside in an article by Hayes earlier this week in the Standard about McCain’s Florida victory and the celebration at campaign headquarters that followed. Here’s the sentence: “I welcome this debate (about the positions taken by McCain and Mitt Romney on the Iraq surge last summer,” (Sen. Lindsey) Graham said last night, as former CIA Director Jim Woolsey gave him a hug.” If Woolsey was there in body, Perle, Feith and Gaffney were probably there in spirit. The question is whether McCain will publicly welcome such support.

Posted by: b | Feb 4, 2008 2:31:05 AM | 25

I wouldn't go overboard on how the Repugs have unleashed their screaming furies on McCain, w/out first reading Joe Conason's take on how much easier Elite media is on him than on JackAsses. Be sure to scroll down far enough to read about his "Reform Institute".

The sweetest aspect of the Reform Institute -- aside from its commitment to research on immigration reform, campaign finance and other liberal concerns that the senator no longer finds so relevant -- is that its own financing is not subject to the regulations and disclosures of federal election law. In practice, that has meant not only that the McCain crowd could sop up subsidies from foundations run by liberal Democrats but that corporate donors with issues before the Commerce Committee could chip in a few bucks, too. Or a few thousand bucks, or even 50,000 bucks or more, like the executives of Cablevision (under the name CSC Holdings) and Echostar, communications firms with substantial issues at stake before McCain's committee.


Then there was that contribution from American International Group, whose executives had been quite concerned in 2000 about McCain's vow to stop AIG from profiting illicitly on insurance overcharges ripped off from the Boston "Big Dig" project. Sen. John Kerry got most of the blame for the demise of McCain's reform bill, which would have banned insurance giants like AIG from overcharging federal projects and reaping windfalls from investing that money. But it was actually McCain who killed his own bill -- and nobody seems to have checked back to discover that AIG later donated more than $50,000 to the Reform Institute. ...

Posted by: jj | Feb 4, 2008 3:23:33 AM | 26

It is exactly this semi-religious belief in Exceptionalism which time and time again brings suffering to mankind. From ancient cultures such as Rome, through the British empire, to Nazi-Germany, the last thing this world needs is delusional mortals with a conviction that they are somewhat superior. Largely unnoticed by those narcists, busy wallowing in self-admiration, the world laughs at people who claim to be part of the Ueber-race/nation. Coz besides bigger and more guns, tools of mindless war, they have nothing which sets them apart from the rest. Certainly not brains.

To watch one administration after another roam the international circuit like Ming the Merciless, makes the average universal punter wish for Flash Gordon to rocket by to show Ming where the hammer hangs. This has lead to a rise in popularity of regimes who stand up against the machine known as US foreign policy. Large numbers of world citizens cheer at news that the US has problems of sort, creating an environment in which the country's superpower status can not survive.

If the USA wants to regain popularity points it lost over the decades, it must address foremost and first of all the hypocrisy it has become to personify. She is certainly not the only nation which says one thing and does another, but to do so in such blatant a fashion as the US does, factually asks for worldwide condemnation. There is hardly one facet of US foreign policy which isn’t a contradiction to another. Proclaiming that democratic elections in Palestine are a great step forward, and then refusing to deal with the party that got fair & square elected, makes for one bad joke.

The rules at the table are mostly straight forward. If you want to spread democracy, don’t support dictators. If you don’t want other countries to have nuclear weapons, have none yourself. If you want to lift Africa out of poverty, give more aid. Should peace on earth be your desire, start no wars. If the appearance of being god’s nation is important to you, act as Jesus would have. Don’t want foreign countries meddle with your affairs, don't meddle in other countries. Can’t get much easier than that. Don’t do upon others what you don’t want to have done to yourself.

To have the courts stacked by daddy, allowing thus sonny to win a rigged election, is just not democracy. Thinking about it, to have first the father, and a few years later the son run a country doesn’t sound like democracy. Or first the husband then his wife, out of a quarter of a billion people, is democracy the right word? Dynasty more likely, with many of the past 40 odd presidents having somehow or another been of the same house. The incestuous relationships within the parliamentary scene, lead to a congress where one crow won’t pick on the other. Preaching democracy to other nations becomes then that much harder, if oneself has a system which allows its president to unashamedly commit war crimes without ever being held accountable for it by congress.

To be seen as a nation one should aspire to, it also pays to have affordable health care for everyone, a social net able to catch the falling before they hit the ground. The missing funds to do that are actually not missing at all, just misspend on items needed to project fabricated power. A rethink in that direction might help the US’s role on the global stage, allowing for more people across the world to feel more comfortable when the US under-secretary of state visits the neighboring country, whilst at the same time reversing the trend of slipping down the global rankings whenever social & domestic indicators are measured. What a chance to be the beacon.

And although I believe that large sections in the “elite” are beyond hope, I have faith in the US electorate. The watermark of American Exceptionalism on the pages chosen to record US history, and this is not the last act, many chapters still to come, will be barely visible once the full story has been written. Humble pie, paid in gold and blood. There is only so many imperial wars one can wage before the karmic wheel catches up. Nevermind the stock market. Once the sad truth of “guilty through indifference” hits home, the realization that what is going down is largely happening because of one's own complacency, that’s when I guess the proverbial pitchforks will come out. It will not be soon, but come it will. As predictable as a flush in the toilet.

The end of the old SU empire, if one can call it that, was partly due to its imperial overstretch, hence overspending on military expenses and underspending on the domestic front. In order to keep the inevitable critics under control, increasing efforts were needed to create more and more elaborate means of spying on the own population. Not that different from what the US is doing today. Eventually the public will wake up in droves to this impending repetition of history to put someone in power who’ll pull the lever on the imperialometer into reverse.

Except that nowhere in the original concept of exceptionalism is the patented need or desire to export it.
So true. Looking at the long list of ideologists who have asserted their tribe/nation’s right to exceptionalism, to be the one out, with true claim to be exceptional, would be the one nation who didn’t end up lecturing the “inferior” nations about how to go about their business. The invention of a new technology is certainly not exceptional, but for the first time in history to not consider its use for military purpose would be.

It’s hard to see how a nation could be exceptional on all fronts, but to be truly outstanding on the ones that matter, human rights and environmental concerns being just two, a good dose of self-criticism is needed. Leading by example rather than the sword should be the motto, a point so totally lost on many on Capitol Hill. Not dictating changes to others, invite imitations instead.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Feb 4, 2008 4:22:28 AM | 27

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