Special to Times of Oman
At West Point Obama told us, to the applause of West Point cadets, that "American exceptionalism" is a doctrine that justifies whatever Washington does. If Washington violates domestic and international law by torturing "detainees" or violates the Nuremberg standard by invading countries that have undertaken no hostile action against the US or its allies, "exceptionalism" is the priest's blessing that absolves Washington's sins against law and international norms. Washington's crimes are transformed into Washington's affirmation of the rule of law. Here is Obama in his own words:
"I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it is our willingness to affirm them through our actions." Actions indeed. In the 21st century "American exceptionalism" has destroyed seven countries in whole or in part. Millions of people are dead, maimed, and displaced, and all of this criminal destruction is evidence of Washington's reaffirmation of international norms and the rule of law. Destruction and murder are merely collateral damage from Washington's affirmation of international norms. "American exceptionalism" also means that US presidents can lie through their teeth and misrepresent those they choose to demonise. Listen to Obama's misrepresentations of the Putin and Assad governments.
"Russia's aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe... In Ukraine, Russia's recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe." Obama misrepresents Assad as "a dictator who bombs and starves his own people."
The US military is taught to respect its civilian commander-in-chief, but if West Point cadets actually do obtain an education, it is remarkable that Obama's audience did not break out in laughter.
Obama used the image of Soviet tanks in order to colour Russia with the Soviet threat, to mischaracterise Russia's response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, and to misrepresent Crimea's vote in favour of reunification with Russia as "Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea."
These lies are still a mainstay in the US media and in Washington's official propaganda.
Obama's speech is probably the most disingenuous ever given by a Western politician. We could have fun for hours with all the crimes that Washington commits but buries in rhetoric directed at others.
Perhaps my favourite is Obama evoking a world in which "individuals aren't slaughtered because of political belief." I am sure Obama was thinking of this just world when he murdered without due process of law four American citizens "outside of areas of active hostilities." Another favourite is the way Obama flushed the US Constitution of its meaning. Obama said, with reference to bringing the Guantanamo prisoners to the US, that "American values and legal traditions don't permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders." No, Obama, the US Constitution prevents the indefinite detention of US citizens by the US government anywhere on earth, especially within our borders.
Instead of laughing our way through Obama's ridiculous speech to what apparently was a dumbed-down West Point graduating class, lets pay attention to Obama's bottom line: "America must always lead on the world stage... The military is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership."
In other words, Washington doesn't use diplomacy. Washington uses coercion. The favourite threat is: "Do as you are told or we will bomb you into the Stone Age." Obama's speech is a justification of Washington's criminal actions on the grounds that Washington acts for the exceptional Americans whose exceptionalism places them and, thereby, their government above law and international norms. In this way of thinking, only the failure to prevail constitutes failure.
Americans are the new Übermensch. Inferior humans can be bombed, invaded, and sanctioned. Obama's West Point speech asserts American superiority over all others and Washington's determination to continue this superiority by preventing the rise of other powers. This arrogant hubris was not enough for the Washington Post editorial board. The newspaper's editorial damned Obama for binding US power and limiting its use to "a narrow set of core interest," such as direct threats to America.
The American "liberal media" object that Obama's claim of exceptionalism is not broad enough for Washington's purposes. Obama's address, the Washington Post wrote, bound "US power" and "offered scant comfort" to those militarists who want to overthrow Syria, Iran, Russia, and China.
The world should take note that the most militarily aggressive American president in history is considered a wimp by the neoconised American media. The media drives wars, and the American media, firmly allied with the military/security complex, is driving the world to the final war.
The author is the former US assistant secretary of the Treasury and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.