The image of American Exceptionalism is under attack by a strange coalition of reality and a Russian czarwannabe. It all began surrealistically with our Nobel Peace Prize winning President speaking on national television about the need to go to war. After speaking inspirationally about how America was exceptional and must act to punish dictators who use chemical weapons (well, at least the dictators who are not aligned with us) and the time to bomb was now (after the fifth or sixth such attack in the last two years), he then suggested that we wait and see what happens. It was as surreal as confusing.
Then we hear from Putin, the ex-communist, ex-KGB Director and current boss of Russia, citing God and calling for diplomatic solutions. This is the same man who has been mercilessly slaughtering Chechens and other Muslim ethnic minorities for years, supplying arms and advisors to Assad and generally jailing anyone who disagrees with his policies. The idea of American Exceptionalism, he said, was false and dangerous.
This is how reality confronts us… a Nobel Peace Prize winner advocating war and a Godless communist citing God and urging that peace be given a chance. I suppose we needed something that absurd to accept the reality that we have not been very exceptional in a good way for some time. As a nation we rank among the worst on economic justice and economic mobility. A person would have a better chance to become rich in Communist China than Detroit. As a nation we rank in the middle of the pack in terms of quality of life, with numerous countries like Switzerland providing universal health care, greater access to higher education, and better wages with far better fringe benefits. Our edge in the sciences, especially the applied sciences, has been declining for years along with our education system, and with the sellf-imposed budget sequester scientists are leaving in droves and long standing science research has been critically damaged.
Recently, I saw a documentary called “the Dirty Wars” and written by Jeremy Scahill. The documentary outlines the radical increase of non-combatant killings and extra-judicial killings of American citizens by the Obama Administration. At one point in the film, a notorious Somali warlord, funded by the U.S., explained his concept of American Exceptionalism. He said “Americans are the best in the world at making war.”
At least we still have that…