By Martin Love

American “exceptionalism” is fading at warp speed…

May 11, 2020 - 23:39

Americans, at least 80 percent of over 320 million souls, are getting walloped by one thing or another. They are having a hard time coping, and while the coping problems may be their own fault either from ignorance or a lack of broad perspective, what’s going on is really not their fault. The United States looks like what it has often claimed other countries are, and often because of U.S foreign policies and war mongering: a “failed” or failing state. So, what is this?

A state “fails” when its political apparatus and its government no longer function properly and cannot meet public needs. It’s failing or has failed when decisions made by the government cannot effectively address whatever problems may internally or externally exist, assuming the government has not yet lost its legitimacy. Failure can also occur when a country has lost control of its territory, or the government has lost its monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. Failure can also be evident when the standard of living in a country declines to such an extent the decline threatens to destroy the entire government and literally to sweep away its presiding politicians, perhaps even to death.

But the time has not yet come for citizens and politicians of other countries that have been under attack or reprimand or sanctions to cheer the internal U.S. failures, if for no other reason but the fact that the U.S. government continues to wield the most dangerous and most powerful military force on the planet, and might tend to ramp up militarism to try to convince its alleged enemies to bow to U.S. pressures.

The cheering perhaps can come later when the chaos in the U.S. has become so evident and rampant that America must address its own problems before anything else and drop its pretense to “empire”. This seems to be ahead in the coming decade. And that will be a welcome shift of attention even to a majority of Americans who, if anything now, are increasingly frustrated and frightened by burgeoning, current conditions largely fomented by governmental failures inside the U.S. Covid 19, which is more widespread in America than in any other country, is the catalyst but not the cause of the discontent and disillusion.

When Covid 19 began to hit the U.S. back in late February, there existed a host of underlying conditions that the virus has been exploiting relentlessly: a political class dominated by two corrupt political parties, a dysfunctional bureaucracy, a divided citizenry that has for years not been properly addressed. The mere fact that someone like Donald Trump became President, a self-centered man without much intelligence who has failed to mount a rational response to the pandemic, has been telling. The Trump Administration has presented no coherent responses or plans and failed to react wisely, and if it reacted at all, it has frequently been relying on other countries, even Russia and Taiwan, to send humanitarian aid and supplies to the U.S. to try to counter the viral spread.

In this century there has been one crisis after another in America. The first was 9/11/2001. The second was the recession in 2008 and 2009, in part the result of U.S. missteps overseas such as the Iraq War and other foolish, insidious military adventures. The recession just over a decade ago was improperly addressed. The government simply threw a wet blanket of monetary excess over the smoldering economy and the elite. This seemed to save the financial system when, in fact, it only laid the groundwork for the economic collapse now underway that has resulted in just over two months in some 33 million freshly unemployed workers and an unemployment rate that is pushing towards 1930s Depression levels of over 20 percent, and more inequality between the “rich” and all the rest than has ever previously existed. Trump is a President who has accomplished only one major legislative accomplishment, if you can call it that, which was to cut taxes radically for the wealthy, which only served himself and his cronies in business and on Wall Street.

So, for now, there is immense and growing pain for most Americans, and along with that immense frustration and anger. This in itself is bad enough, and it’s a wonder the country has not so far been confronted with the kind of civic unrest that is occurring in some other countries, but it is most likely ahead as the November elections draw nearer. This is because it is so exceedingly difficult, especially for “average” Americans, to envision what the path beyond this current mess looks like, and how they can trust the government to do the right thing especially when there are no easy, painless answers.

For now, the “right thing” has seemed to be throwing trillions of freshly printed or digital “dollars” into the equation to staunch the economic bleeding at the top, and this certainly has softened but only very marginally the hard times faced by most Americans, half of whom allegedly have no or very little savings to fall back on. Meanwhile cumulative deaths from the virus are likely to reach beyond 100,000 this month and continue to climb this coming summer. But even worse, the entire economic/monetary system is likely to implode eventually because of the money printing, and just this fiscal year alone the U.S. budget deficit will probably be close to four trillion dollars.

Maybe the toll in lives was inevitable given the pandemic and Trump’s failures to respond in a timely and effective way, but far worse, it can be argued, are the government’s failures to respond to pleas for humanitarian assistance from the U.S. to countries such as Iran, and to other nations deemed de facto enemies of the U.S. like Cuba and Venezuela, Lebanon, Syria and others – many of which have in fact sent or tried to send aid to the U.S. and to other countries suffering under the pandemic strain. 

This kind of failure in particular by allegedly the “richest” country will never be forgotten and perhaps never forgiven once this pandemic has subsided or when medical science has found a way to nullify the virus. One might opine that the U.S. may not for a very long time, if ever, be looked upon as much more than a fading rogue power that when it had the opportunity to appear and be a force for good in the world literally failed to change course and act like what it has merely pretended it has been, an enlightened democracy. American “exceptionalism” is fading at warp speed. And the irony is that most Americans, most of them totally disempowered these days, are not at all like the Trumps and Pompeos and their ilk in Washington.

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