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5 Oct, 2013 09:07

American 'exceptionalism' as exemplified by US international lawlessness

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa equated US ideas of its own ‘exceptionalism’ to Nazi ideals of a superior race this week. While a strong statement, no country can invade, occupy and rule with ‘exceptional’ lawlessness, UK MP George Galloway told RT.
American 'exceptionalism' as exemplified by US international lawlessness

RT:President Correa made some harsh comments regarding US ‘exceptionalism’. What’s your view of this idea that America is ‘exceptional’.

GG: Well, I wouldn’t first of all compare it to the Nazis – nothing is comparable to the Nazis. But it is a dangerous idea that one country is God-given -on top and greater than the others – that cannot be true. I once had an experience on an American radio show in Seattle, where the presenter introduced the item by describing his own country as the greatest country on God’s green earth – so I challenged that immediately. That implies, therefore, I said, that other countries on god’s green earth are less than you. And I’m certainly not going to accept that, and I don’t think that people in other lands would either. But if it was just rhetoric, it wouldn’t matter so much. If it was just vainglory. But it’s put into practice by the international lawlessness of the US which draws on this idea of exceptionalism, and when President Putin challenged that in his US newspaper statement, the Americans were greatly offended. And yet a moment’s contemplation would tell them that no one in the world will accept that any one country can arrogate to itself the right internationally to break any law, invade any country, occupy any land, change any regime, on its own personal whim. That’s just not acceptable but it’s been the practice in the last 60 years – 70 years, nearly – when the US has invaded more than 50 countries. Fifty countries have been subject to American exceptionalism in action.

RT:But you do wonder – is that not the role of the world’s superpower? After all, that’s how it’s seen by so many people, and it has a moral duty to intervene – that’s how it sees itself.

GG: Well, these are two separate questions. Morality and the possession of a large stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons are not the same thing, not synonymous in any way. In any case, the US is not the only superpower in the world: Russia is a superpower, China is a superpower, other countries will soon be superpowers, and they cannot arrogate to themselves the moral right to police and adjudicate the world either, and I don’t believe that the others will want to. What we have to strive for is a world that is government by morality, and the only adjudicator of world morality can be the world body itself – the UN. But a very different UN to the one that we currently have: A democratically constituted one, where power is shared and where no country has a veto on the actions of the security council. 

This file photo shows a B-1B Lancer dropping cluster bombs during a live fire exercise. (AFP Photo / USAF)

RT:Well, you’re there in London, and many countries – including of course the UK (particularly the UK) – really do propagate this image of US exceptionalism. Why is that? They clearly assume there is some substance in it.

GG: Well, it’s a cultural cringe in part, in the UK. I believe that we are Greece, and America is Rome, and our best policy is to cringe along behind them in the hope of picking up some of the spoils – some of the glory. But there’s less and less glory from that kind of thing. The US moral standing in the world has shrunk almost to vanishing point. They still have a lot of hard power – thousands of nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, lots of it. Indeed, they abrogated their obligations under the chemical weapons treaty - talking about Syria – so that they could keep their chemical weapons stockpile for a decade or more longer. They have a lot of hard power. But their soft power is diminishing rapidly. Let me just give you one example: people all over the world tonight are watching Russia Today, but they’re not watching Fox News all over the world. Indeed, anyone with half a brain in the US is not watching Fox News. The soft power of Russia, and in time of many other countries, will overhaul the US soft power. And without soft power, you’re really reduced to being a big bully with a big stick. Nobody likes that; it’s not an attractive look.

RT:Interesting you mention TV and media – just how much of a role, briefly, does the media have in propagating this image of the US being exceptional?  Just briefly.

GG: Well, it has done in the past. I grew up in an era where we watched American television programs and watched American movies out of Hollywood and so on. But nowadays, the most familiar image from the US is the kind we saw yesterday, of a woman in a speeding car being shot dead and trying to ram through security barricades and so on. It’s really a country that’s more marked by columbine and by massacres in colleges and universities nowadays, and they’d be better to attend to that – their own sickness at home, instead of swaggering around the world trying to solve other people’s problems.