Is America Exceptional?

We’re the shining city on the hill and the last best hope of Earth. Or are we?

Is America responsible for leading the Earth’s way to worldwide liberty and democracy? Or are we following a path of decline already well-traveled by nations older and wiser than we?   

How you answer those questions probably says a lot about your political beliefs.

Alexis de Tocqueville first called America “exceptional” in its pursuit of commercialism and practical matters versus “science, literature, and the arts” in 1831’s Democracy in America. Jay Lovestone, the Communist leader from the late 1920s, noted America’s resistance to Communist revolution because of our strong capitalist mindset and natural resources, which Joseph Stalin refuted as “the heresy of American exceptionalism” ̶ ironically, the first time the phrase was used.

Although the idea that America is unique among nations in its global responsibilities has been embraced by both sides of the aisle, President Barack Obama observed that while Americans believe they are exceptional, so did other once-dominant nations such as Britain and Greece; thus, the delicate unwinding of a nation’s hubris begun by its leader.

He isn’t totally wrong: America has a history of expansionism and hypocrisy to contend with, and it isn’t pretty. In the Philppines at the turn of the century, in World War II, in Vietnam, in Nicaragua, in Iraq and Afghanistan, American forces have killed civilians, sometimes accidentally, sometimes not. And we are neither better nor the more popular for it.

Once upon a time on the campaign trail, President Obama promised that hostility against America would ease on his first day in office. He set out on a worldwide near-apology tour where he promised enraptured crowds that, if elected, his administration would treat the world with more respect ̶provided they respected us in return.

Yet just this past week the world watched as a strong wave of anti-American sentiment spread quickly across the Middle East as well as Australia, Africa and Europe, resulting in the death of our Libyan ambassador and staff. Rumors persist that the Libyan government warned the administration about the attack in advance, although U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice stated that the protests resulted from an Internet video that disparaged the Islamic prophet Mohammed, apparently made by an American.

Unfortunately, it seems that our policy of appeasement has resulted in little more than violence and threats. It’s also resulted in visible frustration on the part of our closest Middle Eastern ally and friend in democracy, Israel. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested a meeting with Obama to discuss the worsening situation in Iran, which apparently is attempting to enrich uranium, a key ingredient in nuclear weaponry.

Obama denied the request. Who is on the calendar instead? None other than Muslim Brotherhood leader and newly-elected Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, who supports amending Egypt’s Constitution so it more closely resembles the Koran and Sharia law.

Of course, Obama has plenty of time to make an appearance on David Letterman and attend a reelection fundraiser hosted by Jay-Z and Beyonce.

A point of fact: the Anti-Defamation League identifies the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, as do many political observers. The Council on Foreign Relations referred to the Brotherhood as a stepping stone to membership in militant terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Hamas, and many dangerous terrorists are former Brotherhood members.

Although the U.S. State Department won’t classify the organization as a terrorist group, Obama won’t confirm that Egypt is a current U.S. ally, calling their relationship a “work in progress,” despite a decades-old treaty stating otherwise. And while it appears Morsi was elected fairly, foreign relations watchers can only purse their collective lips at what the Arab Spring will mean for Israel, and America.

Former Egyptian President (dictator) Hosni Mubarak at least stuck to the terms of the old peace treaty and kept a distance -- albeit a cold one -- from Israel. With the new leadership in place, and a potential alliance between the Brotherhood and Iran forming, one can only wonder how long that delicate peace will last.

Will our imperfect exceptionalism keep us shining on the hill? 

Daniel Patti September 26, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Liam, Have you read "Throw Them All Out" by Peter Schweizer ? Even if the book is only 25% true it still enough to make you sick. http://www.amazon.com/Throw-Them-All-Out-ebook/dp/B0062N35X8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1348682103&sr=8-2&keywords=throw+them+all+out
Big Family September 26, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Liam, I do believe in alternatives to this two party system, some kind of change has to come. Having said that, it will not happen during this election so it is our responsibility to put in place the best administration we can. We have a clear view of what we can expect from a second term for President Obama. Mitt Romney is our only chioce in this election that has the ability to create jobs and stop the spending. Is he the second coming of President Reagan? no he is not but he will be a lot closer then President Obama could ever be. As I have stated, I'm for alternatives but this is not the time, the price of another four years of President Obama is just too high.
Liam Heller September 26, 2012 at 06:19 PM
It's all moot anyway... http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/26/obama-builds-lead-in-ohio-and-florida-poll-shows/ Any public poll that's ever been done, has NEVER shown Romney to be capable of beating Obama, if placed against him one-on-one. Not once. Yet he was chosen anyway. Time and time again, the one who WAS shown to have more of an approval rating and having the FAR higher chance of beating Obama (if placed against him one-on-one), was Dr. Ron Paul. Imagine a debate between Obama and Ron Paul???? Imagine Obama WITHOUT a teleprompter, up against a man who has statistically proven himself to know more about the Constitution, world history, financial facts, foreign policy, etc, than ANY person in MY lifetime? Obama's credibility, would be d.e.c.i.m.a.t.e.d. Yet the GOP chose the puppet. And that puppet was destined to lose, every time. Every. Time. We have to start sometime. *WE* have to start sometime. NOW, is that time, to show that your decision cannot be controlled.
Liam Heller September 26, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Dan ~ No, I haven't read it. But I've seen many, many posts that related to it, all the time. To read it right now, would like like rubbing salt in the wound. Ya' know? : )
Big Family September 26, 2012 at 06:47 PM
The problem is that Dr. Ron Paul is not in this election and I know that in CT President Obama wins, but people in other states need to understand that during this election it is not the time to express dissatisfaction with the two party system. Again, the price is just too high.


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