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? 

louis September 19, 2012 at 01:22 PM
You wouldn't know it from Trumbull's politicians, that's for sure
Jim Flynn September 19, 2012 at 05:06 PM
You wouldn't know it from reading your posts. Condescension towards the people you want votes from is not an attractive trait for a politician. You Mr. Louis B are clearly not exceptional. In fact, calling you ordinary would probably be a gross overstatement.
MAC September 20, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Yes, Lisa, but Obama has nearly destroyed that "Exceptionalism." He promised to "Transform America" and has failed at most every promise but that one, sadly. If given another term, he will so greatly diminish our nation into "decline" that we will not recognize our formerly great Nation!! I plead with Patch readers to read your excellent information here about the threats of Obama's friends, such as Muslim Brotherhood leader and newly-elected Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi. It is simply appalling that Obama favors him and his own "Celebrity in Chief" appearances over attending PDBs (only having attended 43 % of them), meeting with our only middle eastern ally, Israel's Netanyahu, and our national security!!! 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, but maybe not much longer, as it started about a month ago.
Tom Kelly September 20, 2012 at 02:32 AM
There you go again, MAC. Somehow, in your zeal to malign President Obama, you unabashedly try to re-write history. You try to imply that the world is a less safer place now, and that President Obama has been weak on foreign policy. Let me remind you that we were attacked aggressively all throughout the Middle East during the presidencies of President Reagan and President Bush. When our marine base base in Beirut was bombed in 1983 and 243 U.S. Marines were murdered, did anyone call Reagan weak? When our Embassy in Lebanon was bombed in 1983 and over 60 people were murdered, did anyone call Reagan weak? Look at how many U.S. embassies were bombed during Reagan's 8 years. Look how many attacks on U.S. embassies during the Bush years. And don't forget about 9-11, when 3,000 Americans were slaughtered. President Obama has taken out not only Osama Bin Laden, but most of Al Qaeda's top leaders. They challenged America, and are now dead. President Obama also intevened to help rid the region of Ghadaffi, and a genocide was prevented in Libya. Now, some of the modern day conservative are criticizing Obama because there is uncertainty regarding the new government. Did they criticize Reagan when he bombed Ghadaffi's house? As for Iran, President Obama has stated unequivocally that he will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon. He was handed two wars by President Bush. How many more countries do you expect him to invade before all other options are exhausted?
louis September 20, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Jim, I'm not holding my breath. I've got a greater chance to be adopted by a tribe of samoan cattle herders and made chief of the tribe than Trumbull politicians to recognize experience and competence and vote for me. I am working to get the votes of the people, the rest of the tools can go pound sand.
Joan September 20, 2012 at 10:24 PM
More ludicrous partisan attacks on President Obama in an article disguised as being on the topic of American "exceptionalism?" Really? I'd say based on the views of many in the Tea Party and the right-wing of the GOP, we have a number of people in America who are exceptionally gullible. Exceptionalism is something that must be earned by each generation. We are not exceptional just because we say we are, or because previous generations did exceptional things. I'd say having a presidential candidate who maligns 47% of our population (including his own supporters) as being lazy & incapable of taking responsibility for their lives does not speak well of us as an "exceptional" nation. The fact that his man admits he has no ideas or plans to help Israel--and that he would still garner even a single vote after such an admission--does not makes us seem "exceptional." President Obama's life story DOES exemplify American exceptionalism to anyone willing to deal with reality as opposed to Fox News-sponsored fantasy. A child of mixed race, born to a single mother, not raised in a wealthy family, who grows up to become President of the United States is the very embodiment of American ideals. The slandering of this man by those who can't countenance a black man in the presidency is what keeps us from remaining exceptional.
MAC September 26, 2012 at 11:34 PM
It is no "slander" to hold Obama responsible for his failures and total lack of leadership. When your leftist arguments fail--as typical for statists--you resort to the ad hominem attacks and phony, and lame, claims of racism. Lisa and I merely want people to know the TRUTH, and vote based on being informed rather than swayed by emotions, as most Obama voters were in 2008, sadly. To understand the ^^existential Muslim threat^^ to our survival, please watch "The Project," a two-day documentary on http://www.theblaze.com/theproject/ or on Dish Network channel 212, starting tonight at 8 p.m. If you don't have DN, you can go to theblaze.com/tv and start your 14 day FREE trial of TheBlaze TV Plus. Then watch 'on-demand.' In 2001, an inconspicuous manifesto now known as “The Project” was recovered during a raid in Switzerland: A manifesto that turned out to be a Muslim roadmap for infiltrating and defeating the West. Today, files containing evidence from the largest terror financing trial in U.S. history, which include details about “The Project”, are being withheld by the Department of Justice. In an explosive two-part mini-series, TheBlaze documentary unit investigates how the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the American government and exposes how our nation’s safety is in jeopardy as a result of this dangerous government cover up. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/white-house-visitor-may-have-ties-to-the-project-a-muslim-roadmap-for-infiltrating-the-west/


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