Trump, US ‘exceptionalism’

If Donald Trump is still watching Fox News he will love this: Donald Trump, exceptionalist

A lot of the world could be rather worried though.

If you wondered what American exceptionalism looks like, the 59,000 pounds of U.S. warheads raining down on Syria’s air force is a pretty good snapshot.

America, the apex power of the world, does not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. We forbid it. Another country used chemical weapons – repeatedly – in its civil war, so the United States punished that nation by depleting its military.

So now a precedent has been set by Trump and praised – to draw the US further into the Syrian civil war all someone (it doesn’t really make any difference who)needs to do is gas a few kids and circulate video of it. Or maybe just threatening would probably be enough, the Trump regime has made it clear it won’t rule out ‘pre-emptive strikes’.

There are other countries in the world with the capability to deliver that kind of firepower and spend something approaching $100 million to send a message about the rules of war. But only the United States has the wherewithal to do so without even breaking a sweat.

There may some sweating to come over the consequences though. One sneak attack does not win a war.

And, we dare say, that no other country in the world combines such capabilities with our moral authority.  As much maligned, sometimes rightly, as America’s overseas interventions have been, no great power in history can match our track record of the use of force without conquest.

It depends on how you define ‘conquest’.

Members of Congress, Democratic and Republican, want President Trump to get congressional authorization if he intends to keep up the strikes or undertake, ahem, a forward strategy of freedom to remove Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from power and install a Western-style liberal democracy in his place.

But as for the legality of this attack, there’s not much to debate.

Legality, morality, sensibility, who cares if you have the biggest bombs?

We arrange our thinking and pursuits very much around questions relating to the word “can.” Those are simpler since they relate more to the other understanding of being exceptional — can we do it? The hard ones are about “should.” The application of American power, exceptional or not, should always be governed more by the latter than the former.

But as for the question of what America’s rightful role in the world is, Trump, after many years arguing the opposite, has placed himself firmly on the side of the exceptionalists.

Where did the term American exceptionalism come from? Stalin, and it wasn’t a compliment.

In 1929, Communist leader Jay Lovestone informed Stalin in Moscow that the American proletariat wasn’t interested in revolution. Stalin responded by demanding that he end this “heresy of American exceptionalism.” And just like that, this expression was born. What Lovestone meant, and how Stalin understood it, however, isn’t how Gingrich and Romney (or even Obama) frame it.

Neither Lovestone or Stalin felt that the United States was superior to other nations — actually, the opposite. Stalin “ridiculed” America for its abnormalities, which he cast under the banner of “exceptionalism,” Daniel Rodgers, a professor of history at Princeton, said in an interview.

As the Great Depression enveloped the United States, Stalin’s argument — if not his bluster — seemed well grounded. “Exceptionalism was a disease, a chronic disease,” wrote communist S. Milgrom of Chicago in 1930. “The storm of the economic crisis in the United States blew down the house of cards of American exceptionalism,” the American Communist Party declared at its convention in April 1930.

Trump the trigger happy exceptionalist may have just kicked off a disease for which there is no vaccine.

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14 Comments

  1. duperez

     /  April 9, 2017

    The irony is Trump himself being the symptom of several diseases. And the though that he is himself a disease.

    Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 9, 2017

    Colonial Britain was an exceptionalist. So was the Roman empire. They changed the world, sometimes for the better. The US has a way to go before it can rank in the same league.

    Reply
    • David

       /  April 9, 2017

      Mostly for the better.

      The revisionist history of the British Empire being ‘evil’ is also a product of Stalin. A product that carries on it program long after it’s instigator, and his evil, is dust.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 9, 2017

        That was a bait for other fish, David. You are right of course.

        Reply
  3. David

     /  April 9, 2017

    “Where did the term American exceptionalism come from? Stalin, and it wasn’t a compliment.”

    Isn’t that also known as being on the right side of history?

    Getting insulted by Stalin for failing to murder tens of millions of your own citizens and unleash a terror that only parallels Hitler and Mao, all in the name of an disastrous ideology seems, somehow, comforting.

    Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  April 9, 2017

    U.S hegemony is quite exceptionnal by any measure.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 9, 2017

      Not in historic terms. It was used unwisely by the Bushes and shrank very badly under Obama. We will see what Trump does with it.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 9, 2017

        yes in historic terms too.Over 800 bases around the world and the wonders of technology ,reinforce my statement.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  April 9, 2017

        Quite likely what Bush did with it I suspect. Starting off that way. With a likely lower level of understanding of the region & the implications, if that was even possible.

        Reply
    • Blazer. Hegemony: (Greek: ἡγεμονία hēgemonía, “leadership, rule”) is the political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others.” Yes ? The US has a very proud history of being anti-colonialists. Remember Suez, and the US’s opposition to the British and French seizure of control of the canal? Remember Woodrow Wilson and Roosevelt’s demands for the disintegration of empires as the price of US involvement in World Wars?
      The main driver if you talk to average Americans is the imposition of Democratic governance on countries that are dictatorships or Socialist. They insist that they are not trying to impose hegemony in the narrow sense of domination. Some others may think differently.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 9, 2017

        ‘ US has a very proud history of being anti-colonialists. Remember Suez, and the US’s opposition to the British and French seizure of control of the canal? Remember Woodrow Wilson and Roosevelt’s demands for the disintegration of empires as the price of US involvement in World Wars?’…………..not altruistic motives at all Col.Remember Smedley-Butler and his dissertation!The U.S sought to become THE world power ,and succeeded.Freedom and democracy is a proxy for U.S interference in the interests of corporations…’doing business’.

        Reply
  5. Nelly Smickers

     /  April 9, 2017

    Wayne’s mum just texted…..’Trump became President at the push of a button’

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  April 9, 2017

      Bibi told Jared where he put the ON switch?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 9, 2017

        Has Wayne’s mum just discovered that Trump is the president ?

        Reply

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