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? 

Cliff Cuming September 19, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Amazed ... September 19, 2012 at 03:28 PM
I continue to be amazed that anyone still thinks our current President deserves a 2nd contract. He has been a disaster at almost every turn. Yes he is probably a good husband and cares deeply for his children. Um ... that's nice - so what. Being President of the United States requires a wee bit more. He has waisted $800 Billion on a failed jobs program. More people are using food stamps at the Village market then EVER BEFORE !! Our foreign policy is a mess. And our roads, bridges, tunnels and train system is still of the 3rd world variety. Enough. Time for a change !! And for you homegamers ... FORWARD does not mean highlighting past President Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy. It is time for this president to retire and go on the Speakers Tour and write another book. Oh yeah and get a little golf in ...
Nelson Kneff September 20, 2012 at 02:52 AM
A huge improvement over the Bush Daze...................... NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as investors dipped back into the market after the recent pullback from a rally that lifted the S&P 500 to just shy of five-year highs. Housing stocks ranked among the day's leaders following stronger-than-expected data on home sales. The PHLX housing sector index (^HGX) jumped 2.2 percent, led by a 4.3 percent advance in PulteGroup (PHM), the second-largest U.S. home builder, to $16.43. U.S. home resales jumped 7.8 percent in August, the fastest in more than two years. Housing starts also rose, a hopeful sign that a budding housing market recovery is gaining traction. The reports came as investors looked for improving economic data to help bolster a rally of 5.9 percent in the S&P 500 since the start of August.
Cliff Cuming September 20, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Stock market is flat in the last 5 years. Recall, it took a huge dive after obama was elected and is just now recovering. Remember too, the dollar is worth much less than it was 5 years ago...why? simply because our debt (federal, state, local, personal, even student loans) are crushing opportunities to invest in growth/jobs...oh and then there is the fact that we tax our corporations at a higher rate than any other industrial nation. Your children will be hard pressed to pay off student loans, fund obamacare, medicare, social security, prescription drugs, buy your home, rebuild infrastructure we neglected, defend our borders/interests, educate their own children, provide for immigrants etc etc. In short, we need a change that leads us to a culture of excellence and independence.
Ipso Facto September 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Yes, I'm amazed too...although in this case that it appears you just awakened from a 10 year slumber? If so, let me clue you in. The last President (a Republican) inherited a budget surplus and walked out of office leaving us with a $10 TRILLION+ Federal deficit. That same President presided over the largest economic catastrophe to hit our nation since the Great Depression. That same President lost more jobs during his term of office than any other U.S. President in history (including the current President). Oh, btw, that same President also lied us into a war that cost more than $2 TRILLION (money borrowed from the Chinese) and now Iraq is Iran's BFF. Oh and not to forget that same President allowed terrorists to attack and kill thousands of innocents on OUR SOIL. THAT President certainly harmed our nation so severly that the GOP won't even mention his name today. And the demand for food stamps has indeed grown...as a result of the horrible policies of THAT President. As for the jobs program, 40 months into his presidential term there are currently more private sector jobs in the economy than when Obama came into office. At the same point in President Bush’s term, the total number of private sector jobs was still down 1.7 percent from where it began. There continues to be a problem with public sector jobs, but that of course has been the silver lining for Teanderthals who think teachers, firefighters, and police are dead wood.
Ipso Facto September 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
What a bunch of drivel, Cliff. Can't you do any better than to cut-and-paste Teanderthal talking points supplied by the Koch Heads? Sheesh...
Cliff Cuming September 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Are you having another hard day Ipso?
Cliff Cuming September 20, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Ipso Facto September 20, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Cliff -- Stop this nonsense immediately. Linking to an article from a slimer like Corsi who is a proven liar and charlaten is wasting the time of everyone who goes to the Patch for relevant information. Even Alper wouldn't stoop this low. So cut out this nonsense or I promise you I will follow each and every one of your silly comments and call you out.
Ipso Facto September 20, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Cliff -- No I am having a great day...except for having to police your idiotic posts. I really wish you would stop it with the loony nonsense.
Cliff Cuming September 21, 2012 at 07:21 PM
How Is The Obama Administration Gutting Welfare Reform? The controversy over the Obama Administration’s gutting of welfare reform continues to grow. Two new government reports show the move’s illegality and effects on taxpayers. And the House of Representatives is set to vote today to approve or disapprove Health and Human Services’ (HHS) rewriting of the 1996 law (even Clinton was coerced to underplay the illegality at the convention)
MAC September 24, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, "America's Comeback Team," is our only hope for returning the U.S. to Prosperity, and restoring the American "Exceptionalism" that Obama has nearly destroyed. If you are not fully aware of the existential Muslim threat to our survival, please watch "The Project," a two-day documentary on this, on TheBlazetv.com (free 2 week memb. available) or on Dish Network channel 212, starting Wednesday. Obama's assessments of democracy coming out of middle eastern riots are as deluded as Woodrow Wilson's support of the Russian Revolution which brought Communist dictators into power! Obama apologizes to and courts favor with despots and dictators, as vividly illustrated when he caressed the knee of Medvedev while overheard telling him "I'll have more flexibility after the Election." The reply was "I'll transmit to Vladimir [Putin]." Anyone who has been deceived about Obama and wants the Truth, and to know "why is President Obama hell-bent on seeing America fail?" could start by watching the movie "2016: Obama’s America" http://www.2016themovie.com/theaters/ Don't delay, though. It was playing at about 20 CT theaters, down to a dozen now. If given a second term, Obama will completely destroy our democratic (representative) Republic and any semblance of the great and unique nation given to us by the Founders!
Cliff Cuming September 25, 2012 at 10:53 AM
US releases all 2 million prisoners and ferries them to Mideast. Each given an AK 47 and rations for 1 week. Told they can keep whatever the want. Infidels lose, convert to Mormonism. Franklin Wong named CFO of new United Mormon Republic. Introduces new currency: wampum. Socialists like what they see, emigrate to UMR. US budget balanced. Chicago becomes home to new Taiwanese colony repopulating former socialist city with avowed capitalists. Russia, China, India begin 30 year war and decimate each other after buying 116 trillion dollars worth of US weapons. Paul Ryan the third reelectd to second term.


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