Wednesday, March 30, 2011

American Exceptionalism - the force that begets our downfall as an Exceptional Nation

I hate quoting other bloggers unless I can weave it into a thought parade of my own. Perhaps it's the professor's son in me; more likely its the fact that I started this blog to do real analysis of the world, not just regurgitate the thoughts of others.

In following that path I've slowed of late, as many do. I am intellectually weary of what is going on around me, from the philosophical war against public employees unions that wages in the mid-West to the now three real wars in Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa. I've also come to the conclusion that our political system is tainted, and that, wiht the next Presidential Election expected to cost $1 Billion, We The People are about to witness the unraveling of our cherished and fetished democracy.

SO, to quote Andrew Sullivan:

America's ideals are not unique to America, and America's success led it to the same temptations of great powers since ancient times. America's exceptional freedom and exceptional wealth did not exempt it from unexceptional human nature or the unexceptional laws of history. To believe anything else is to engage in nationalist idolatry. In retrospect, Vietnam was a form of madness brought on by paranoia. In Iraq, America actually presided over 100,000 civilian deaths as it failed to perform even minimal due diligence in invading and occupying another country (while barely a few years later, we invoked - with no irony or even memory - the risk of mass murder as a reason to invade another country). And US forces are still there - and the same alliance that gave us the Libya campaign will surely soon be arguing for extending their presence as the Potemkin democracy slowly collapses. In Afghanistan, the graveyard of so many empires, we are busy sending drones to hit targets with inevitable civilian casualties in a war that has no end, no discernible goal, and has now lasted longer than any war in the country's history. When America finds itself in wars where it can accidentally kill nine children gathering firewood, it seems somewhat abstract to talk uncritically of America's moral superiority. And when America has also crossed the line into legalized torture, and refuses to acknowledge or account for it, let alone hold the war criminals responsible, it has lost the moral standing to dictate human rights to the rest of the world.

Obama had a chance to turn this around.

H/T The League of Ordinary Gentlemen


Mike at The Big Stick said...

I read an interesting remark from megan mcArdle today - she speculated that in lieu of getting campain financing under control we should allow unlimited donations from anywhere. The only caveat would be that all donations must be anonymous and the candidates would have no idea where the money was coming from. Theoretically this would make them beholden to none.

Food for thought...

Philip H. said...

Theoretically . . . but that sounds a lot like PUBLIC campaign financing, and given that both parties have abandoned their receipts of that, I am doubtful we'd solve the problem. A better step would be little signs behind the politician in questions at press conferences denoting which major donor was being helped by the legislation in question.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

I like that attitude as well - although I would put the sponsors directly on them like in NASCAR.