US is exceptional, says Obama. Well, do we?

Barack Obama is in dire need of learning a lesson or two from history. Or somebody needs to stand up and point out to the US President that he is on his way to repeat history.

Napoleon believed France was exceptional. Hitler said Germany was above all. Russia stopped both these powers of yesteryear. And on September 10 this year, Obama redefined imperial conceit, rather arrogance, reiterating in spirit what Napoleon and Hitler believed.

In his address to prod the United States to support his plan to strike Syria Obama said, "But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.  That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional.  With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth."

He carried his 'essential truth' further. In his address to the UN General Assembly Obama reiterated, "I believe America is exceptional. In part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self interest, but for the interest of all." 

The world was amused and felt entertained by the emperor but did not applaud. American vanity was tickled and yet none in the country really paid any attention. They know how exceptional they are and how exceptional is their nation. Americana is now more a mirage in Sahara.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pin pricked the myth Obama so vociferously and diligently sought to create. In an opinion article in New York Times he wrote, "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional." And indeed so it is. Because, in part, we have seen more cynicism and conceits lacing what the US President claimed.

Thomas Jefferson, in his inaugural address laid stress on "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." Over the years since then American policies and engagements with the world beyond its shores have been a repudiation of what Jefferson postulated.

Obama was wrong in his interpretation of history. The United States joining World War II, in particular, did not prove America's exceptionalism. It fought the war because Germany was fast turning into a threat to America's hegemonic ambitions, nuked Japan, bifurcated Germany, divided the world and triggered Cold War.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff perhaps put Obama's bragging and falsification of history into right perspective. She, speaking after Obama at the UN General Assembly, said, "A sovereign nation can never establish itself to the detriment of another sovereign nation." Can we afford to differ with Dilma? We cannot. The United States has, in fact, worked more to the detriment of many sovereign nations and in contrast to what President Obama so persuasively bragged.

Francis Fukuyama was mistaken in his perception about evolution of international order. Contrary to what he edified in his book, The end of history, the modern international order has not been a result of an evolution but an effect of 'imposition,' rather a domination, of "one vision over others." Needless to say, it has always been so — a domination of the United States, especially since the beginning of Cold War.

That was precisely the objective, yet again, behind Obama's plan to strike Syria. Saving children from being gassed to death was only a ruse to foist domination of one vision over other.

We pray, why hasn't the US president yet been motivated by the American exceptionalism to censor and condemn his Jewish ally for using white phosphorous during Operation Cast Lead which killed dozens of children in Gaza Strip? What has this US president done so far to stop murders of children committed with impunity by his drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere; why does he always turn the other way when Israel murders scores of Palestinian  children and other innocents every time it finds pretext to invade Gaza?

But, we are certain that if these questions are put across to the US President and his mandarins, pat will come a reply laced with generous doses of arrogant pomposity: "Yet, we have saved more lives of children, women, old and other eligible innocents." May we ask, was it to save lives that the US fought wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and nuked Japan?

There is a stony silence on these. Take it as an answer because America is exceptional and its Nobel Peace winner President says so. Therefore, it is indisputable; it cannot be challenged nor questioned.

We know how it has wreaked Iraq and Afghanistan. There was a time when the US military advertised saying American soldiers were ambassadors of peace. Of course, they were and they are. They turned Hiroshima and Nagasaki into graveyards to bring peace and save lives, they killed thousands in Vietnam to herald peace, they are killing in dozens in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including children, to bring peace and save lives because they are ambassadors of peace.

Over the past decade and more America's military might has become the most defining synonym of the country's exceptionalism. Firing missiles, dropping bombs, shooing drones, insulting foreigners, stopping and frisking people on the roads in New York and elsewhere, invading other sovereign countries to "determine events inside other countries" and spying on its citizens have been deified as tools of goodness.

America is indeed exceptional!

The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman


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