By Martin Love 

Exceptionalism versus magnanimity

December 4, 2017

There is no reasonable justification for citizens anywhere to consider themselves or their country necessarily “exceptional”. When one is talking about particular governments pushing the meme of “exceptionalism” (rather than, say, humility) in some grandiose way, watch out. 

Some in (and others influential with) the U.S. government have crowed “exceptionalism” in recent decades to, well, justify policies, particular overseas policies or actions that have included rampant warmaking, even the torture of foreigners deemed “enemy combatants” -- often with scant evidence they are – and other so-called “crimes against humanity” that have resulted in the murder of millions of innocent people. 

Here, one may be dealing with the worst demonstrations of some aspects of human nature. I don’t like it, many other American don’t, too, and those who simply are not aware would not like it, if only they knew better. However, the majority often have their heads down trying, in some cases desperately, aiming to tend their families and survive to the exclusion of broader concerns.

Researchers at Princeton University have recently demonstrated that the odds, if an idea is proposed and supported by the bottom 90 percent of Americans, has almost nil chance of  passage into law by the U.S. Congress. However, if legislation is proposed by the top (most powerful, wealthy) 10 percent of Americans, representing special interest lobbies and corporations and the billionaire class, it has vastly greater odds of becoming law.The U.S., some have suggested, is the most powerful military force the world has ever seen, and why not with a “defense” budget of almost $1 trillion, surpassing the next 10 countries combined? 
But overseas the U.S. has not literally “won” any wars, not many “hearts and minds”, and aside from the costs or because of them, the U.S. has become an exceptionally mediocre country since the Vietnam War, which constituted imperial overreach on steroids just as further militarism since then has seemed like fruitless imperialism.

Various comparative statistics dealing with a variety of issues, even comparative healthcare results and metrics and educational effectiveness, can be cited to support this claim of “not exceptional”. 

Internally, the majority of Americans have been neglected. Real Democracy, which the U.S. has claimed to advocate as rationale for its military adventures overseas (remember Iraq in 2003), has even been neglected at home. 

Consider a recent study by Princeton University. The creeping abolition of “Democracy” in many respects is a serious problem. Consider:

Researchers at Princeton University have recently demonstrated that the odds, if an idea is proposed and supported by the bottom 90 percent of Americans, has almost nil chance of  passage into law by the U.S. Congress. However, if legislation is proposed by the top (most powerful, wealthy) 10 percent of Americans, representing special interest lobbies and corporations and the billionaire class, it has vastly greater odds of becoming law. 

This has especially been true since 2010 and the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the infamous “Citizens United” legislation, but in fact many have noted this phenomenon for the past 40 years. 

In essence, the “average” American has very little influence as a voter.  There is no more appropriate word for this phenomenon except, simply, corruption. Researchers note that in an ideal “democracy” any proposed legislation, if it is supported by 50 percent of the population, OUGHT to have a 50 percent chance of becoming law, and so on. But we know anyway that an “ideal” government probably does not exist anywhere yet. But at the same time, a government anywhere that aims to become incrementally more “ideal” or representative, at least, is certainly one worthy of support.

Time and again government in the U.S. has had tremendous opportunities. And then blown them. For example, right after the 9/11 attack on lower Manhattan, there existed worldwide empathy for the U.S.  
IF the aim of the government is generally to garner support and allies overseas, even to capitalize on the empathy post 9/11, it might have asked humbly for the world to join with the U.S. and track down the perpetrators, those behind the attacks, those who had helped plan them. The word “magnanimity” comes to mind. 

But the U.S. did the opposite: not only did the official investigation of the attack fall short, leaving a host of unanswered questions, but the U.S. government went to war in a blind rage of apparent vindictiveness, ultimately losing goodwill in the Islamic world especially.  

In essence, the “average” American has very little influence as a voter.  There is no more appropriate word for this phenomenon except, simply, corruption.And this loss has been ongoing since. It has not escaped many thinkers that 9/11 itself, or something like it, might have been a foregone conclusion, giving the U.S. cover to attack many countries. Many Americans have asked an important question: Cui bono (who benefits?) 

I can think of only two beneficiaries: The U.S. corporate Military Industrial Complex, which President Eisenhower warned against in 1960 as he was leaving office, and Zionist interests, which before 9/11 had a plan, using the U.S., to attack various largely Islamic countries in sequence called The Project for a New American Century, and before that the Yinon Plan. 

The infamous Neocons were behind both. It’s no longer a secret.  And many of the original Neocons remain as drivers of foreign policy.  Trump’s refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal with Iran is an example of Neocon influence. And it’s shameful.

If one could offer wise advice for current adversaries of the U.S. and its allied overreachers, it might be something like this: Be patient. Internally, make your countries stronger, support democratic representation, build your economies (even if under U.S. economic sanctions) and wait.  Externally, remain vigilant on defense but also confident and relaxed and as inoffensive as possible, and wait.  

The various, largely corporate and military, powers in charge of U.S. policy are slowly hacking away at the foundations of their own power. Unease and anger among the powerless, the many who have little if any voice, is growing. U.S. economic clout and the exorbitant privilege of having the world’s dominant reserve currency are waning. 

The so-called “petrodollar” is at risk, even in Saudi Arabia, if only because their largest petroleum customer is now a growing China.  There will be real change, change beneficial to the entire world, eventually. It is inevitable and patience is a virtue that rewards.

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