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 fiber 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 demonize. 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.”
Did any of the cadets in Obama’s West Point audience wonder why, if Assad is a brutal dictator who bombs and starves his own people, the Syrian people are supporting Assad instead of the American-backed “liberation forces,” the combination of imported jihadists and al Qaeda fighters who object to Assad’s government because it is secular? 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.
The reference to Soviet tanks rolling into Eastern Europe is a reference to the Hungarian (1956) and Czech (1968) “revolutions” when the Hungarian and Czech communist leaders attempted to assert independence from Moscow. It is doubtful that Washington’s response to countries attempting to exit NATO would be any different. A few months ago Washington responded to political talk in Germany and England about leaving the EU by informing both governments that it was not in Washington’s interest for them to depart from the European Union.
Obama used the image of Soviet tanks in order to color Russia with the Soviet Threat, to mischaracterize Russia’s response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, and to misrepresent Crimea’s vote in favor 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 favorite 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 favorite 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.
By detaining and by murdering US citizens without due process of law, Obama has violated his oath of office and should be impeached. It was only a short time ago that President Bill Clinton was impeached by the US House of Representatives (the Senate saved him from conviction) for lying about his sexual affair with a White House intern. How times change. Today a president who violates his oath of office to protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic gets a free ride. The Constitution has lost its power to protect citizens from the arbitrary power of government. The US is the Constitution. Without the Constitution the US ceases to exist, and the country becomes a tyranny, both at home and abroad.Today the US is a tyranny cloaked in the garb of “freedom and democracy.”
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 favorite 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 ubermensch, the new master race. 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 neoconized 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.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.