Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How America Promotes "We're the Good Guys" Narrative

In a 2017 Super Bowl Sunday interview with President Donald Trump,  Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly authoritatively declared  Russian President Vladimir “Putin’s a killer.”  Trump replied with the question: “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump did something similar more recently after his Singapore Summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim JongUn.  When Fox News' Brett Baier  raised the question  in an interview about "Kim's oppression of his own people", Trump said: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things.”

American Narrative:

Both O'Reilly and Baier were essentially repeating the standard American narrative that wants the world to believe that "we (Americans) are the good guys and those opposing America are the bad guys".

Trump, an unconventional American leader, displayed rare candor in his responses.  The American  media and "research scholars", managed by the "Deep State", sharply criticized Trump and continued to parrot the standard American narrative asserting that "we're the good guys" while vilifying Vladimir Putin, Kim JongUn and other leaders and countries designated as "enemies".

Young and Barbaric:

Trump appears ready to drop all pretenses of US being "the good guys" standing for "freedom, democracy and human rights".  He is not alone in his assertion that "our country (United States) is not so innocent".  George Friedman, the founder of  Stratfor which describes itself as "American geopolitical intelligence platform", is the ultimate "Deep State" insider in America.  Friedman acknowledges that "America, like Europe in sixteenth century, is still barbaric, a description, not a moral judgment. Its culture is unformed. Its will is powerful. Its emotions drive it in different and contradictory directions."

Friedman argues that "perhaps more than for any other country, the US grand strategy is about war, and the interaction between war and economic life. The United States is historically a warlike country. The nation has been directly or indirectly at war for most of of its existence...the war of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm. And the US has been constantly at war in Afghanistan and Iraq since the beginning of this century."

More recently, the United States' interventions in the Middle East have destabilized and devastated Libya and Syria and created a major humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have died and millions rendered homeless and trying to flee hunger and violence.

Narrative Promotion:

So how does America create and promote its "good guys" narrative in the world and demonize others? How do American image builders gloss over its past characterized by the genocide of the indigenous people, the enslavement of Africans and a history of assassinations, invasions, atrocities, proxy wars, and coups in the developing world? How do their actions escape the "terrorism" label that is liberally applied to others, particularly Muslims?  What modern image-making and promotional tools and techniques has Uncle Sam borrowed from the world of brand creation, promotion and management?

The first thing in creating a narrative is the basic story supported by effective language and vocabulary. It is fleshed out by writers, poets, musicians and artists.  The basic American narrative  goes like this:  America stands for freedom, democracy and human rights. It is a force for all that is good in the world. Those who oppose America are the "bad guys".

The narrative is then widely disseminated, promoted and incessantly repeated by Washington think tanks, book authors, major newspaper reporters and editors,  mainstream journalists, television channels and popular entertainment platforms.

Talking points are developed and shared to defend against any criticisms. Inconvenient truths are obfuscated.  Those who accept the talking points are rewarded and those who persist in criticisms are isolated and punished. Rewards come in the form of funding and access. Punishments are handed out by orchestrating attacks by peers and by denying funds and access.

Controlling the Narrative:

The United States government funds think tanks, hires consultants and directly and indirectly influences mass media and popular entertainment platforms to control and promote its "good guys" narrative and to vilify those seen as competitors.

1. Think Tanks:  Woodrow Wilson Center, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, US Institute of Peace (USIP), Rand Corporation and a several others are partially or fully funded by the US government. These are supplemented by dozens of other think tanks funded by major US corporations which have a stake in promoting a positive global image of the United States. These organizations organize conferences, publish books and "research papers" and offer scholarships to promote the American "good guys" narrative globally.  They have both resident and non-resident "scholars", including some from developing countries like Pakistan. Some of the Pakistani "scholars" working for Washington think tanks also work for major media houses in Pakistan. These "scholars" are widely quoted by the media on issues relating to US-Pakistan relations.

2. News Media:  Veteran American journalist Carl Bernstein, famous for his reporting on Watergate along with Bob Woodward, investigated CIA's use of the American media and wrote a piece describing "How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up". Here's what he said:

"Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the Associated Press (AP),  United Press International (UPI), Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune".

3. Popular Entertainment:  It has been suggested that Hollywood has been working with the United States government for a long time.  Some have said that Hollywood is "the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon".  Information obtained under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) confirms that thousands of Hollywood films have received backing from the CIA and the US Department of Defense and other US agencies to promote America's "good guy" narrative. These include 24, Army Wives, Flight 93, Homeland,  Ice Road Truckers, NCIS,  Transformers, Iron Man, Terminator, etc.

Documents obtained recently under FOIA show that the relationship between the US national security establishment and American entertainment businesses is much deeper and more political than ever acknowledged.

4. Books and Literature:  Starting with the Cold War, the American CIA has infiltrated and influenced books and literature to promote the American official "good guys" narrative. "Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers" by Joel Whitney reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway were recruited as soldiers in Cold War.

Editors of top literary magazines were used as a vehicle for this infiltration.  The first time the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines came to light was in 1966. The CIA used multiple guises to financially support young, promising writers as part of a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world.

Summary:

The United States government has developed and aggressively controls and promotes America's standard narrative that "we are the good guys and those opposing us are the bad guys".  This narrative glosses over the history of native American genocide, enslavement of Africans and the CIA sponsored assassinations, coups and proxy wars in the developing world. In a couple of recent interviews, US President Donald Trump has acknowledged the problems with the American narrative. Nevertheless, the American narrative is promoted using a multi-pronged strategy that includes the use of think tanks, popular entertainment, books and literature and the mainstream media.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Hollywood: America's Unofficial Ministry of Propaganda

Free Speech: Myth or Reality?

Social Media Tribalism

Social Media: Blessing or Curse For Pakistan?

Planted Stories in Media

Indian BJP Troll Farm

Kulbhushan Jadhav Caught in Balochistan

The Story of Pakistan's M8 Motorway

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-Japan-US

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel



32 comments:

Habibullah said...

This article has explained thoroughly how American foreign relations are maintained. In simple words it practices the principle of Might is right.Pakistan kay mashhoor mazahia shaer nay ek Qataa kaha:-“Tumhari Bhains kaisay hay kay jab laathi humari hay/Ab is laathi ki zad mein jo bhi aayay woh humara hay//Mazammat kariyon say tum humara kya bigado gay/Tumharay vote kya hotay hain jab Veto humara hay!!”

Mayraj said...

Ian Sinclair interviews Dr Florian Zollmann, a Lecturer in Journalism at Newcastle University and author of the recent book Media, Propaganda and the Politics of Intervention (Peter Lang, 2017). Zollmann starts by setting out the main findings of his study.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/ian-sinclair/propagandistic-nature-of-liberal-media-interview-with-florian-zollmann

Florian Zollmann: Leading news organisations in liberal democracies employ a double-standard when reporting on human rights violations: If countries designated to be ‘enemies’ of the West (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012) conduct human rights violations, the news media highlight these abuses and report demands for action to stop human rights breaches. Such measures may entail policies with potentially serious effects for the target countries, including sanctions and military intervention. If, on the other hand, Western states or their ‘allies’ (in my study, I look at cases from the past including the US-led Coalition in Iraq in 2004 and Egypt in 2013) are the perpetrators of human rights violations that are similar or in excess of those conducted by ‘enemies’, the news media employ significantly less investigatory zeal in their reporting and virtually no measures to stop abuses are suggested.

My study shows, on the basis of an assessment of extensive quantitative and textual data, that the news media utilise different journalistic norms in terms of how they convey emotional sentiment, handle facts and evidence, use sources and perspective and classify events. These journalistic double standards, then, translate into a radically dichotomised news framing of problem definitions, responsibility of actors and policy options in response to what constitute relatively similar human rights violations: Official ‘enemies’ are depicted as pariah states, facing international condemnation and intervention. Western states and their ‘allies’ are depicted as benign forces, which may at best be criticised for using the wrong tactics and policy approaches. The dynamics of such dichotomised propaganda campaigns have had the effect that only some bloodbaths received visibility and scrutiny in the public sphere.

Fahim said...

The propagandistic nature of the liberal media: Interview with Florian Zollmann

http://truepublica.org.uk/global/jonathan-cook-the-corporate-medias-world-of-illusions/


Jonathan Cook: The corporate media’s world of illusions
https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/01/17/german-journalist-who-spilled-the-beans-on-cia-media-influence-has-died-at-56-of-heart-attack/


German Journalist Who Spilled the Beans on CIA Media Influence Has Died at 56 of Heart Attack
https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/10/08/non-official-cover-respected-german-journalist-blows-whistle-on-how-the-cia-controls-the-media/

“Non-Official Cover” – Respected German Journalist Blows Whistle on How the CIA Controls the Media
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGqi-k213eE


https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-03-28/top-german-journalist-admits-mainstream-media-completely-fake-we-all-lie-cia

Anonymous said...

Show me a nation which doesn't exaggerate it's own greatness and white washes it's crimes..

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Show me a nation which doesn't exaggerate it's own greatness and white washes it's crimes.."

None as powerful, resourceful and capable of doing damage as the United States.

Anonymous said...

https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/wjp-rule-law-index/wjp-rule-law-index-2017%E2%80%932018

nayyer ali said...

The US government does not have a Department of Propaganda, and does not control "narratives". The US has its pluses and minuses, but any good US history text covers the minuses quite well. I have a history degree from Stanford, and I learned all sorts of negative things about the US, including its Cold War shenanigans in Guatemala and Iran etc. Not many realize though that the US interfered quite heavily in French and Italian politics in the 1950's to block Communist parties there from entering government (they routinely won 20% of the seats in Parliamentary systems). Popular culture in all countries portray themselves as the good guys, nobody goes to the movies to be told they are bad. But in the US there are plenty of exceptions. The excellent Vietnam War documentary that aired nationwide on PBS by Ken Burns was both celebrated by critics, and was extremely critical of the lies and falsehoods and incompetence behind the Vietnam War. There are a hundred books and many movies critical of the Iraq War.
The US also has its very good points. It is the most welcoming society to outsiders and immigrants.
More importantly, in the grand sweep of human history, there were three colossal threats that blocked liberal civilization in the 20th century. The first was militarism and fascism, the second Anglo-French imperialism in Africa and Asia, and the third Communism. The US was instrumental in defeating through two world wars, diplomacy, and other means, all three, and it was the only country on Earth capable of doing so. It may have done so for self-interest, either in a narrow or an "enlightened self-interest" version, but it did do so. I infinitely prefer living within the sphere of American influence rather than the version of history in which the Nazis or the Soviets or the imperialists still hold sway.
American leaders after World War Two wanted to create a global order of liberal democratic capitalist states led by the US. If one surveys the globe, those countries that embraced that order are much better places to live than those that opposed or rejected it (North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Burma, Russia, Maoist China, most Arab countries etc etc). During the Cold War the US would sometimes have to choose between democratic systems that would put communists into power, or backing dictators that supported capitalism. In that situation, they often went with the dictator, and one can criticize those choices. But that doesnt change the big picture, democracy has expanded from less than 10 nations in 1939 to nearly 100 now. Freedom House ranks 45% of the world's nations as free and another 30% as partly free. The biggest countries that are still "Not Free" are China, Russia, Iran, and DR Congo. Turkey has backslid into "Not Free" but I think they will turn around eventually. There is also the case of Egypt, where the Arab Spring failed, but that is the fault of the Egyptians and no one else.

nayyer ali said...

"None as powerful, resourceful and capable of doing damage as the United States."
I see this mindset a lot, that because America is powerful it is no longer allowed to be a normal country that pursues its own interest, but instead must be relentlessly criticized for doing what everyone else does or would do in the same situation. Only if it becomes the willing servant of whoever is doing the criticizing can it be absolved of its sins. That's not how the world works.

Riaz Haq said...

NA: "I see this mindset a lot, that because America is powerful it is no longer allowed to be a normal country that pursues its own interest,..."

Normal country? Which normal country seeks and achieves global economic, political, military and media dominance as the United States has?

I suggest you read "The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins.

Perkins is himself a former an American "Economic Hit Man". or EHM.

Whatever little benefits that have flowed to the common people in the developing world have been an unintended side effect, not the goal of US policies.

He has used a lot of declassified documents to show how the United States relies on EHMs, Jackals (intelligence agents and covert operatives) and its massive military power to control world's natural resources and to punish anyone who gets in the way by assassinations, coups and military invasions and occupations.

Perkins gives specific examples of US actions in Latin America and Asia to back up his assertions.

Perkins also explains how the US EHM system has come home to roost in the form of the use of money for political manipulation in Washington and debt bondage in the wider debt-fueled economy.

The 2008 financial meltdown was just one symptom of it. The mounting student debt is another. Those who suffer the most from it are the average folks while the biggest beneficiaries are the wealthy corporations and their major shareholders.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a post I wrote back in 2009:

Will American Capitalism Survive?

https://www.riazhaq.com/2009/02/will-capitalism-survive.html

As the modern system of capitalism faces the most serious challenge of its existence since Adam Smith, the name of John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is being regularly invoked by economists, politicians, bankers, and the media. And with good reason. Born in Cambridge, England, in 1883, the year Karl Marx died, Keynes probably saved capitalism from itself and kept Communists at bay. Keynesian Economics advocates the use of government monetary and fiscal policy to maintain full employment with low inflation.

Keynes described Capitalism in the following words: "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

A well-known anti-Semite, Keynes once said, "It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains." As in the past financial crises, powerful Jews on Wall Street and in Washington are being held responsible by many as the culprits of the current economic collapse.

In response to a severe recession or possible depression, Keynes suggested: "The government should pay people to dig holes in the ground and then fill them up." He advocated massive spending by government to stimulate demand when all else fails.

Who was Keynes? Here is how UC Berkeley's Robert Reich described him a few years ago: "A Cambridge University don with a flair for making money, a graduate of England's exclusive Eton prep school, a collector of modern art, the darling of Virginia Woolf and her intellectually avant-garde Bloomsbury Group, the chairman of a life-insurance company, later a director of the Bank of England, married to a ballerina, John Maynard Keynes--tall, charming and self-confident--nonetheless transformed the dismal science into a revolutionary engine of social progress."

Keynes was clearly a very smart man. His ideas of modern Capitalism have created unprecedented wealth and lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And his ideas may still help save capitalism yet again. At least, that is the hope of the Obama administration and the backers of the massive stimulus package of about $800 billion recently passed by the US Congress. However, what Keynes couldn't have imagined are the new heights of avarice and wickedness of the modern political-industrial elite in America that has threatened the very foundations of the system that brought them wealth and power. During the last decade, the behavior of American capitalists and politicians has been unbelievably self-destructive.

Mayraj said...


https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/america-is-regressing-into-a-developing-nation-for-most-people



America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRs4VcHprqI

The US Middle Class is Shrinking and Moving Towards a "Dual Economy"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6P8ECW5S3A
What the ‘Dual Economy’ Model for Developing Countries Reveals About Today’s America




"In looking at the link between labor stratification and crime, Crutchfield divides jobs into two types: “primary sector” and “secondary sector.” Primary-sector jobs offer decent pay, benefits and the opportunity for promotion. Secondary-sector employment is the opposite. It offers dead-end jobs with low wages, no benefits and high levels of instability.

Crutchfield’s bottom line: Adult employment in primary-sector jobs reduces crime, while employment in secondary-sector jobs does not. This is an important fact for public officials to recognize, since much of the recent growth of the economy has been in the secondary sector -- employment many young people deride as “slave jobs.” It is also important to recognize that while crime has been declining for decades, which is surely the result of better policing as well as demographics, the overall decline masks persistent high levels of crime in some places and among some groups."
http://www.governing.com/gov-institute/funkhouser/gov-slave-jobs-crime.html
Want More Crime with That Burger?
Good jobs are proven to reduce crime, yet much of the economy's recent growth is due to dead-end jobs with low wages and no benefits.
http://www.caixabankresearch.com/en/jay-gatsbys-american-dream-between-inequality-and-social-mobility

Jay Gatsby’s American Dream: between inequality and social mobility

So why are Blacks incarcerated at such high rates as they form such large segment of post white US?
Right wants to deflect from policy failure that even the investment manager understands.

As Putnam states: Children who grow up without their biological father perform worse on standardized tests, earn lower grades, and stay in school for fewer years regardless of race and class.”

https://www.mindingthecampus.org/2015/07/19/robert-putnam-knows-the-real-reason-the-american-dream-is-fading/

Robert Putnam Knows The Real Reason the American Dream Is Fading

usind said...

So if the milk turns sour, blame the cow?

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump administration opposes #breastfeeding resolution, defends formula makers' corporate interests, intimidates sponsoring nations at the @UN affiliated World Health Assembly in #Geneva. #Ecuador #breastmilk https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/health/world-health-breastfeeding-ecuador-trump.html

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

----------

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

--------------

The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s.

Riaz Haq said...

US funding for Pakistani journalists raises questions of transparency
US State Department funding, supplied through a nonprofit intermediary, supports the presence of two Pakistani journalists in Washington. Some observers say the relationship should be more transparent.

By Issam Ahmed, Correspondent SEPTEMBER 2, 2011

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2011/0902/US-funding-for-Pakistani-journalists-raises-questions-of-transparency

Two Pakistani journalists filing reports home from Washington are quietly drawing their salaries from US State Department funding through a nonprofit intermediary, highlighting the sophisticated nature of America’s efforts to shape its image abroad.

Neither of the two media organizations, Express News and Dunya News, discloses that their reporters are paid by the nonprofit America Abroad Media (AAM) on their websites or in the reports filed by their correspondents. Though the journalists have worked under the auspices of AAM since February, AAM only made their links to the news organizations known on their website Wednesday, after being contacted by the Monitor.

The lack of transparency by the Pakistani organizations involved could heighten Pakistani mistrust of the US government, which is seen as having an undue level of influence in their country’s affairs.

“If an American journalist working as a foreign correspondent in Pakistan was paid in a similar manner, would it be morally or professionally acceptable for his news organization or audience?” asks Badar Alam, editor of Pakistan’s prestigious English-language Herald magazine.


The amount currently allocated for the project is some $2 million over two years from the public diplomacy funds allocated by the State Department, according to State Department officials in Washington familiar with the project. That includes salaries for the two correspondents – Huma Imtiaz of Express News and Awais Saleem of Dunya News – and a bureau for both TV channels.

Aaron Lobel, president of AAM, says his organization receives donations from a number of private funders, too, which it mainly spends on its programs on international affairs that run on Public Radio International in the United States.

The timing of AAM’s website disclosure – after contact from the Monitor – was a coincidence and the update had been planned for “several months,” he says. “We are a small organization with two web guys. They are really working hard on the new site – not just about the Pakistan project but on everything we do. Yes, it would have been better to have a lot of information [before]. We have been preparing this site for a long time to provide that information.”

“The content production is done first and foremost [by] Pakistanis who are here and work with their channels back home to produce content,” says Lobel.

Riaz Haq said...

Germany calls for global payments system free of US
Foreign minister seeks European autonomy on issues like Iran


https://www.ft.com/content/23ca2986-a569-11e8-8ecf-a7ae1beff35b


German foreign minister Heiko Maas
Germany’s foreign minister has called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US as a means of rescuing the nuclear deal between Iran and the west that Donald Trump withdrew from in May.

Writing in the German daily Handelsblatt, Heiko Maas said Europe should not allow the US to act “over our heads and at our expense”.

“For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system,” he wrote.

Mr Maas’s intervention was the “strongest call yet for EU financial and monetary autonomy vis-à-vis US,” said Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute, a Berlin-based think-tank.

The foreign minister’s article highlights the depth of the dilemma facing European politicians as they struggle to keep the Iran deal alive while coping with the fallout of US sanctions imposed by Mr Trump against companies doing business with Tehran.

The EU has committed itself to the agreement and has vowed to protect European businesses from punitive measures adopted by Washington. But that has failed to convince EU companies, who are more interested in maintaining their access to the lucrative US market than in the more modest opportunities presented by Iran.

Last month Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries from sanctions. Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, formally rejected an appeal for carve-outs in finance, energy and healthcare made by ministers from Germany, France, the UK and the EU.

[Europe must] form a counterweight when the US crosses red lines

Heiko Maas, German foreign minister
On Monday, Total, France’s largest energy company, announced it was pulling out of a big Iranian gas project, after admitting it might be affected by threatened US measures against Iran’s oil and gas industry.

Swift, a Belgium-based global payment system that facilitates many of the world’s cross-border transactions, is also affected. Unless it wins an exemption from sanctions, it will be required by the US to cut off targeted Iranian banks from its network by early November or face possible countermeasures against both its board members and the financial institutions that employ them.

These could include asset freezes and US travel bans for the individuals, and restrictions on banks’ ability to do business in the US.

Mr Maas’s words Handelsblatt come with relations between Germany and the US in their worst state for decades. Mr Trump has chastised Berlin over its large trade surplus, its relatively low military spending and its support for Nord Stream 2, a new gas pipeline that will bring Russian gas directly to Germany.

Meanwhile, Berlin has looked on in dismay as Mr Trump has withdrawn the US from the Iran deal and the Paris climate treaty, imposed import tariffs on EU steel and aluminium and appeared to question America’s commitment to Nato.

Mr Maas said it was vital for Europe to stick with the Iran deal. “Every day the agreement continues to exist is better than the highly explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East,” he said.

He also called for the creation of a “balanced partnership” with the US in which the Europeans filled the gaps left where the US withdrew from the world. Europe must, he said, “form a counterweight when the US crosses red lines”.

Riaz Haq said...

More than 16,000 men fought in the Cuba campaign, but for much of the American public, there was only one regiment that mattered. A dozen correspondents, including Stephen Crane, the novelist already famous for “The Red Badge of Courage,” chronicled the campaign across southeastern Cuba. In New York, customers flocked to Wanamaker’s department store to snatch up the “Rough Rider,” a rakish new style of hat available in a variety of materials, including nutria fur.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/opinion/sunday/spanish-american-war-power.html


Above all, the Rough Riders became instant celebrities because they embodied the public’s newfound, idealistic militarism. “Whether Fifth Avenue millionaires or Western cowboys, they fought together and died together in Cuba for the great American principles of liberty, equality and humanity,” an editorialist for The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote.

Though America’s engagement with the world would wax and wane over the subsequent decades, that same Rough Rider spirit defined the coming American century. It led millions to enlist in the fight against Germany in World War II, to join the Marines landing at Danang in 1965, to volunteer to invade Iraq in 2003. It justified the permanent expansion of the American military after World War II as a bulwark of democratic freedom in parts of the world most Americans could not locate on a map.

Sometimes, American idealism is in the right place; often it serves as window dressing for baser national designs. But good intentions don’t help Americans know what to do next. The ideals that underwrote the American century also undermine the promise of American power as a transformative force.

The Rough Riders landed in Cuba on June 22, 1898; by August, Spain was suing for peace. Along the way, the United States captured Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, where its troops next fought a three-year counterinsurgency using many of the same brutal tactics the Spanish had employed in Cuba.

-------

"When Americans think about the Spanish-American War, if we think about it at all, we imagine a short, unnecessary and largely irrelevant conflict, hatched by a cabal of hawkish imperialists and yellow-press barons. But the war, however brief, was in fact a defining moment in America’s emergence as a global power. It captured the imagination of millions and changed how everyday citizens saw their place in the world. No longer content to merely inspire freedom for the world’s oppressed, people like Colbert decided they had a personal obligation to bring freedom to them....Rarely have these efforts ended in success. America’s righteousness can be blinding; the virtue of the cause prevents the country from seeing the challenge clearly, whether it is rebuilding Cuba or defeating the Taliban. There is a lot to say for America’s commitment to use its power for the good of the world, but also a need to understand its limits — a lesson that begins with Colbert and the Rough Riders...Aside from ejecting the Spanish, it is hard to argue that the American presence made any of these places better off. But these experiences, and countless others, have done little to tarnish the belief that good intentions can justify rash decisions and disastrous outcomes. America likes to assign the blame for its “bad” wars — the Spanish-American War, Vietnam, Iraq — to devious schemers who trick the public into supporting them: William Randolph Hearst, Lyndon Johnson, neoconservatives. But that lets the public itself off the hook. Underlying all these wars is the same broadly held, deeply committed missionary zeal that drove men like Benjamin Colbert and the Rough Riders to war. Until Americans learn to balance their commitment to global justice with an awareness of the limits to military prowess, the country will continue to make these mistakes.

Seeme said...

"President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.
* The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.
* A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-told-russian-officials-in-2017-he-wasnt-concerned-about-moscows-interference-in-us-election/2019/09/27/b20a8bc8-e159-11e9-b199-f638bf2c340f_story.html?fbclid=IwAR1ClGPNcxYEkE98gWw33I0mIejqmIsPeXe9oAHDIk3JiZdGCif20vwNKMU

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump told #Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in 2017 that he was not concerned about Russian meddling in #USA #elections because the #UnitedStates did the same in other countries https://reut.rs/2lQDTRK

President Donald Trump told two Russian officials in a 2017 meeting that he was not concerned about Moscow’s meddling in the U.S. election, which prompted White House officials to limit access to the remarks, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

A summary of Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the U.S. was limited to a few officials in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, the Post said, citing former officials with knowledge of the matter.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

A whistleblower complaint about a July phone call in which Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden is at the heart of the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry launched this week.

A member of the U.S. intelligence community who filed the complaint against Trump said notes from other conversations the president had with foreign leaders had been placed on a highly classified computer system in a departure from normal practice in a bid to protect information that was politically sensitive, rather than sensitive for national security reasons.

Trump’s 2017 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak was already considered controversial after it was learned that Trump disclosed highly classified information about a planned Islamic State operation.


On election interference, Trump told Lavrov and Kislyak he was not concerned about Russian meddling because the United States did the same in other countries, the Post reported.

CNN, citing people familiar with the matter, said efforts to limit access to Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that procedures for handling records of Trump’s conversations with world leaders had changed early in his tenure after calls with Mexico’s president and Australia’s prime minister were leaked.

Riaz Haq said...

#Tech Giants #Facebook, #Google and #Apple As New #Landlords Eye Lucrative #Rent Market With End to Eviction Moratorium Could Leave Millions Homeless. A “tsunami” of evictions is about to sweep across the #UnitedStates when 120-day moratorium ends today https://www.mintpressnews.com/tech-giants-position-themselves-as-landlords-as-end-of-eviction-moratorium-could-leave-millions-homeless/269744/#.Xx429Sa3WWc.twitter

In a ‘normal’, pre-pandemic economy, a number roughly equal to the population of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania – or about 3.7 million people – are evicted every month in the United States, according to Matthew Desmond, principal investigator of Princeton University’s “Eviction Lab” project, which tracks evictions throughout the country and produces the first nationwide eviction database.

But, come Friday, July 24, those numbers could rise precipitously should the moratorium on evictions, included in the CARES Act be allowed to expire. The legislation afforded renters with a 120 days’ grace period from “fees, penalties, or charges in relation to nonpayment of rent” and barred landlords from filing eviction notices of any kind during that period.

The situation facing low-income communities is exceedingly harsh when considering the endemic economic disparity that characterizes cash-poor communities with scant access to any sort of financial resources or affordable credit. Studies on wealth inequality have shown time and again how excessive rent burdens can leave families on the brink of homelessness over relatively minor, unexpected emergencies like a simple car repair or a doctor’s visit.

A “semi-permanent renter class” has developed among poor African Americans, in particular. 1 in 11 people who fall into this demographic face eviction every year. For the rest of the United States, the rate is 1 in 20. African American communities and other communities of color are the most vulnerable to the approaching deadline, which not only opens the door for the resumption of eviction filings but also brings potentially large bills of fees and penalties, which the CARES Act allowed to accrue for 120 days.



A broad crisis
So far, few lawmakers have come out against the end of the moratorium despite the uncertainty and great potential for popular unrest this is likely to cause. Some cities like Houston have already lifted the eviction freeze leading many in the legal profession to expect a “tsunami” of eviction filings. The prospect of homelessness looms large over working families living on incomes under $40K a year; 40 percent of which lost a source of employment in March, according to Shamus Roller of the National Housing Law Project.

Milwaukee and Cleveland are two of the cities most at risk, with a 40 percent jump in eviction rates from their typical level at this time of year. The American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Evictions revealed that a staggering 28 million homes are at risk of coming under eviction orders due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emily Benfer, who chairs the ABA committee is also the co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard put out by the Eviction Lab.

In an editorial published Wednesday by NBC News, Benfer called for a “long-term solution to housing precarity and its disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx families” and warned that without “robust government intervention” the “avalanche of evictions” will take a heavy toll on entire communities. She predicts renters will suffer increasing levels of distress as unemployment benefits are cut off and reopened courts begin hearing thousands of pending evictions.

Benfer decried the Trump administration’s attempts to eliminate fair housing rules, that were set up to push back against “longstanding discriminatory housing practices,” echoing her partner at Eviction Lab, Matt Desmond, who contrasted the plight of African American and Latino renters with white American families who are “buffered” from the looming eviction crisis by virtue of most of them owning their own home.

Riaz Haq said...

U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and
Current Issues
Kennon H. Nakamura
Analyst in Foreign Affairs
Matthew C. Weed
Analyst in Foreign Policy Legislation

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40989.pdf

The United States has long sought to influence the peoples of foreign countries through public
diplomacy (PD) efforts. Public diplomacy provides a foreign policy complement to traditional
government-to-government diplomacy which is dominated by official interaction carried out
between professional diplomats. Unlike public affairs which focus communications activities
intended primarily to inform and influence domestic media and the American people, U.S. public
diplomacy includes efforts to interact directly with the citizens, community and civil leaders,
journalists, and other opinion leaders of another country. PD seeks to influence that society’s
attitudes and actions in supporting U.S. policies and national interests. Public diplomacy is
viewed as often having a long-term perspective that requires working through the exchange of
people and ideas to build lasting relationships and understanding the United States and its culture,
values, and policies. The tools of public diplomacy include people-to-people contact; expert
speaker programs; art and cultural performances; books and literature; radio and television
broadcasting and movies; and, more recently, the Internet. In contrast, traditional diplomacy
involves the strong representation of U.S. policies to foreign governments, analysis and reporting
of a foreign government’s activities, attitudes, and trends that affect U.S. interests. There is a
growing concern among many in the executive branch, the Congress, the media, and other foreign
policy observers, however, that the United States has lost its public diplomacy capacity to
successfully respond to today’s international challenges in supporting the accomplishment of U.S.
national interests.

-------------

A number of congressionally mandated NGOs, many founded during the Cold War, continue to
receive appropriated funds to perform work in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These
NGOs seek to develop long-term relationships and to improve foreign populations’ understanding
of and attitudes toward the United States. Among these organizations are the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Asia Foundation, the East West Center at the University
of Hawaii, and the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Program.

--------------


The BBG had responsibility for supervising, directing, and overseeing the operations of the
International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). The IBB included the worldwide broadcasting services
of the Voice of America (VOA) and television’s Worldnet, Cuba Broadcasting, an Engineering
and Technical Operations Office, and various support services. The BBG also had funding and
oversight authority over surrogate radio grantees: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
and Radio Free Asia (RFA). Among BBG’s responsibilities was to review and evaluate the
operations of the radios, and assess their quality, effectiveness, and professional integrity. It also
was responsible for determining the addition or deletion of the language services under the IBB.16
In 1999, the U.S. government and surrogate services broadcast hours included

Riaz Haq said...

American Values or Human Rights? U.S. Foreign Policy and the Fractured Myth of Virtuous Power
December 2003
DOI: 10.1046/j.0360-4918.2003.00084.x
Authors:
John Kane
15.3Griffith University

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/29457664_American_Values_or_Human_Rights_US_Foreign_Policy_and_the_Fractured_Myth_of_Virtuous_Power

American exceptionalism placed American values at the center of foreign policy, fostering belief in the essential union of American virtue and power. Developing a theme of Henry Kissinger's, this article argues that in Vietnam this union was severed and undermined: America's power was defeated and its virtue assailed. Nixon offered only a pretense of reunion. Carter attempted the real thing by putting universal human rights, not American values, at the heart of foreign policy. His failure was followed by Reagan's denial of sin and reassurance of American values, though the Gulf War of his successor had a deeper impact on the national psyche. Clinton's foreign policy remained subject to the "Vietnam syndrome" and he, despite rhetorical dazzle, developed no new consensus on the disposition of American power. September 11, however, produced a sense of injured innocence in whose defense American power could again be virtuously deployed. The subsequent patriotic surge encouraged George W. Bush to revive American values in foreign policy, with potentially dangerous consequences. Yes Yes

Riaz Haq said...

By Malik Khurram Khan Dehwar

@KhurramDehwar


James Peck describes US Govt modus operandi of using civil society activism in order to achieve US foreign policy objectives in: “Ideal Illusions: How the US Govt Co-opted Human Rights" On how “priority targets” are used to ‘guide & navigate’ them toward American way”.


https://twitter.com/KhurramDehwar/status/1305756160008560640?s=20




https://youtu.be/cDIRl_eT7qo

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt from Peck, James. Ideal Illusions (American Empire Project) (p. 250). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition. 2010

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ideal_Illusions/D2g6JdaK4woC?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=muslim%20world

Zeroing in on their likely constituents, Washington identified the “so-called secularists of the Muslim world: Business people, scientists, non-religious educators, politicians, public administrators, musicians, artists, poets, writers, journalists, actors, and their audiences and admirers”98 as the most “moveable” targets. Among these the “priority targets” were liberal secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, who tended to gravitate to universities and research centers, as well as young moderate religious scholars uncomfortable in the mosque. Women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns were another natural constituency. Finally, moderate journalists and writers needed help with broadcasting their work back into their own countries and, via the web, throughout the Islamic world. All these moderates had “political values congruent to the universal values underlying all modern liberal societies,”99 but again empowering them as a class might “require an external catalyst.”100 As elsewhere, they needed money, organizing, ideas—and a pan-Islamic context to counter the radicals’ advantage in organization, religious funding, and the centrality of the mosque in the local community.”101 They also needed “conceptual systems to guide and navigate” them toward American ways of thinking102—a far cry from the free flow of ideas Washington supposedly defended. Attention, not information, was key. In the words of a Defense Department task force, “What’s around information is critical. Reputations count. Brands are important. Fifty years ago political struggles were about the ability to control and transmit scarce information. Today, political struggles are about the creation and destruction of credibility.”103 Once again, local leaders could be quietly supported, invited to conferences, praised in the media, given awards and academic appointments, their reputations nourished. If they were abused, they could be spotlighted as human rights fighters; their plight movingly told, their families taken care of. In all these domains Washington appreciated the contributions of human rights—its workers, its honors, its support for NGOs fit with its own agenda well enough.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt from Peck, James. Ideal Illusions (American Empire Project) (p. 250). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition. 2010

https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ideal_Illusions/D2g6JdaK4woC?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=muslim%20world

Zeroing in on their likely constituents, Washington identified the “so-called secularists of the Muslim world: Business people, scientists, non-religious educators, politicians, public administrators, musicians, artists, poets, writers, journalists, actors, and their audiences and admirers”98 as the most “moveable” targets. Among these the “priority targets” were liberal secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, who tended to gravitate to universities and research centers, as well as young moderate religious scholars uncomfortable in the mosque. Women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns were another natural constituency. Finally, moderate journalists and writers needed help with broadcasting their work back into their own countries and, via the web, throughout the Islamic world. All these moderates had “political values congruent to the universal values underlying all modern liberal societies,”99 but again empowering them as a class might “require an external catalyst.”100 As elsewhere, they needed money, organizing, ideas—and a pan-Islamic context to counter the radicals’ advantage in organization, religious funding, and the centrality of the mosque in the local community.”101 They also needed “conceptual systems to guide and navigate” them toward American ways of thinking102—a far cry from the free flow of ideas Washington supposedly defended. Attention, not information, was key. In the words of a Defense Department task force, “What’s around information is critical. Reputations count. Brands are important. Fifty years ago political struggles were about the ability to control and transmit scarce information. Today, political struggles are about the creation and destruction of credibility.”103 Once again, local leaders could be quietly supported, invited to conferences, praised in the media, given awards and academic appointments, their reputations nourished. If they were abused, they could be spotlighted as human rights fighters; their plight movingly told, their families taken care of. In all these domains Washington appreciated the contributions of human rights—its workers, its honors, its support for NGOs fit with its own agenda well enough.

Riaz Haq said...

Myth 1: There Is Something Exceptional About American Exceptionalism.

Myth 2: The United States Behaves Better Than Other Nations Do.

Myth 3: America’s Success Is Due to Its Special Genius.

Myth 4: The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.

Myth 5: God Is on Our Side.

Mahbubani, Kishore. Has China Won? (p. 288-294). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

This article was originally published in Stephen M. Walt, “The Myth of American Exceptionalism: The Idea that the United States Is Uniquely Virtuous May Be Comforting to Americans. Too Bad It’s Not True,” Foreign Policy, October 11, 2011, https://foreignpolicy.com/foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/.

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/


Over the last two centuries, prominent Americans have described the United States as an "empire of liberty," a "shining city on a hill," the "last best hope of Earth," the "leader of the free world," and the "indispensable nation." These enduring tropes explain why all presidential candidates feel compelled to offer ritualistic paeans to America’s greatness and why President Barack Obama landed in hot water — most recently, from Mitt Romney — for saying that while he believed in "American exceptionalism," it was no different from "British exceptionalism," "Greek exceptionalism," or any other country’s brand of patriotic chest-thumping.

Most statements of "American exceptionalism" presume that America’s values, political system, and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. They also imply that the United States is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage.

The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America’s global role is that it is mostly a myth. Although the United States possesses certain unique qualities — from high levels of religiosity to a political culture that privileges individual freedom — the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been determined primarily by its relative power and by the inherently competitive nature of international politics. By focusing on their supposedly exceptional qualities, Americans blind themselves to the ways that they are a lot like everyone else.

This unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism makes it harder for Americans to understand why others are less enthusiastic about U.S. dominance, often alarmed by U.S. policies, and frequently irritated by what they see as U.S. hypocrisy, whether the subject is possession of nuclear weapons, conformity with international law, or America’s tendency to condemn the conduct of others while ignoring its own failings. Ironically, U.S. foreign policy would probably be more effective if Americans were less convinced of their own unique virtues and less eager to proclaim them.

What we need, in short, is a more realistic and critical assessment of America’s true character and contributions. In that spirit, I offer here the Top 5 Myths about American Exceptionalism.

Myth 1
There Is Something Exceptional About American Exceptionalism.

Whenever American leaders refer to the "unique" responsibilities of the United States, they are saying that it is different from other powers and that these differences require them to take on special burdens.

Yet there is nothing unusual about such lofty declarations; indeed, those who make them are treading a well-worn path. Most great powers have considered themselves superior to their rivals and have believed that they were advancing some greater good when they imposed their preferences on others. The British thought they were bearing the "white man’s burden," while French colonialists invoked la mission civilisatrice to justify their empire. Portugal, whose imperial activities were hardly distinguished, believed it was promoting a certain missão civilizadora. Even many of the officials of the former Soviet Union genuinely believed they were leading the world toward a socialist utopia despite the many cruelties that communist rule inflicted. Of course, the United States has by far the better claim to virtue than Stalin or his successors, but Obama was right to remind us that all countries prize their own particular qualities.

So when Americans proclaim they are exceptional and indispensable, they are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song. Among great powers, thinking you’re special is the norm, not the exception.

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/


Myth 2
The United States Behaves Better Than Other Nations Do.

Declarations of American exceptionalism rest on the belief that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation, one that loves peace, nurtures liberty, respects human rights, and embraces the rule of law. Americans like to think their country behaves much better than other states do, and certainly better than other great powers.

For starters, the United States has been one of the most expansionist powers in modern history. It began as 13 small colonies clinging to the Eastern Seaboard, but eventually expanded across North America, seizing Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California from Mexico in 1846. Along the way, it eliminated most of the native population and confined the survivors to impoverished reservations. By the mid-19th century, it had pushed Britain out of the Pacific Northwest and consolidated its hegemony over the Western Hemisphere.

The United States has fought numerous wars since then — starting several of them — and its wartime conduct has hardly been a model of restraint. The 1899-1902 conquest of the Philippines killed some 200,000 to 400,000 Filipinos, most of them civilians, and the United States and its allies did not hesitate to dispatch some 305,000 German and 330,000 Japanese civilians through aerial bombing during World War II, mostly through deliberate campaigns against enemy cities. No wonder Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the bombing campaign against Japan, told an aide, "If the U.S. lost the war, we would be prosecuted as war criminals." The United States dropped more than 6 million tons of bombs during the Indochina war, including tons of napalm and lethal defoliants like Agent Orange, and it is directly responsible for the deaths of many of the roughly 1 million civilians who died in that war.

More recently, the U.S.-backed Contra war in Nicaragua killed some 30,000 Nicaraguans, a percentage of their population equivalent to 2 million dead Americans. U.S. military action has led directly or indirectly to the deaths of 250,000 Muslims over the past three decades (and that’s a low-end estimate, not counting the deaths resulting from the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s), including the more than 100,000 people who died following the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. U.S. drones and Special Forces are going after suspected terrorists in at least five countries at present and have killed an unknown number of innocent civilians in the process. Some of these actions may have been necessary to make Americans more prosperous and secure. But while Americans would undoubtedly regard such acts as indefensible if some foreign country were doing them to us, hardly any U.S. politicians have questioned these policies. Instead, Americans still wonder, "Why do they hate us?"

The United States talks a good game on human rights and international law, but it has refused to sign most human rights treaties, is not a party to the International Criminal Court, and has been all too willing to cozy up to dictators — remember our friend Hosni Mubarak? — with abysmal human rights records. If that were not enough, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the George W. Bush administration’s reliance on waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, and preventive detention should shake America’s belief that it consistently acts in a morally superior fashion. Obama’s decision to retain many of these policies suggests they were not a temporary aberration.

The United States never conquered a vast overseas empire or caused millions to die through tyrannical blunders like China’s Great Leap Forward or Stalin’s forced collectivization.

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/


The United States never conquered a vast overseas empire or caused millions to die through tyrannical blunders like China’s Great Leap Forward or Stalin’s forced collectivization. And given the vast power at its disposal for much of the past century, Washington could certainly have done much worse. But the record is clear: U.S. leaders have done what they thought they had to do when confronted by external dangers, and they paid scant attention to moral principles along the way. The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it’s not true.

Myth 3
America’s Success Is Due to Its Special Genius.

The United States has enjoyed remarkable success, and Americans tend to portray their rise to world power as a direct result of the political foresight of the Founding Fathers, the virtues of the U.S. Constitution, the priority placed on individual liberty, and the creativity and hard work of the American people. In this narrative, the United States enjoys an exceptional global position today because it is, well, exceptional.

There is more than a grain of truth to this version of American history. It’s not an accident that immigrants came to America in droves in search of economic opportunity, and the "melting pot" myth facilitated the assimilation of each wave of new Americans. America’s scientific and technological achievements are fully deserving of praise and owe something to the openness and vitality of the American political order.

But America’s past success is due as much to good luck as to any uniquely American virtues. The new nation was lucky that the continent was lavishly endowed with natural resources and traversed by navigable rivers. It was lucky to have been founded far from the other great powers and even luckier that the native population was less advanced and highly susceptible to European diseases. Americans were fortunate that the European great powers were at war for much of the republic’s early history, which greatly facilitated its expansion across the continent, and its global primacy was ensured after the other great powers fought two devastating world wars. This account of America’s rise does not deny that the United States did many things right, but it also acknowledges that America’s present position owes as much to good fortune as to any special genius or "manifest destiny."

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/


Myth 4
The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.

Americans are fond of giving themselves credit for positive international developments. President Bill Clinton believed the United States was "indispensable to the forging of stable political relations," and the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington thought U.S. primacy was central "to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world." Journalist Michael Hirsh has gone even further, writing in his book At War With Ourselves that America’s global role is "the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history." Scholarly works such as Tony Smith’s America’s Mission and G. John Ikenberry’s Liberal Leviathan emphasize America’s contribution to the spread of democracy and its promotion of a supposedly liberal world order. Given all the high-fives American leaders have given themselves, it is hardly surprising that most Americans see their country as an overwhelmingly positive force in world affairs.

Once again, there is something to this line of argument, just not enough to make it entirely accurate. The United States has made undeniable contributions to peace and stability in the world over the past century, including the Marshall Plan, the creation and management of the Bretton Woods system, its rhetorical support for the core principles of democracy and human rights, and its mostly stabilizing military presence in Europe and the Far East. But the belief that all good things flow from Washington’s wisdom overstates the U.S. contribution by a wide margin.

For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler’s war machine was borne by the Soviet Union. Similarly, though the Marshall Plan and NATO played important roles in Europe’s post-World War II success, Europeans deserve at least as much credit for rebuilding their economies, constructing a novel economic and political union, and moving beyond four centuries of sometimes bitter rivalry. Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, a view that ignores the contributions of other anti-Soviet adversaries and the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the "velvet revolutions" of 1989.

Moreover, as Godfrey Hodgson recently noted in his sympathetic but clear-eyed book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, the spread of liberal ideals is a global phenomenon with roots in the Enlightenment, and European philosophers and political leaders did much to advance the democratic ideal. Similarly, the abolition of slavery and the long effort to improve the status of women owe more to Britain and other democracies than to the United States, where progress in both areas trailed many other countries. Nor can the United States claim a global leadership role today on gay rights, criminal justice, or economic equality — Europe’s got those areas covered.

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/


Myth 4
The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.

Americans are fond of giving themselves credit for positive international developments. President Bill Clinton believed the United States was "indispensable to the forging of stable political relations," and the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington thought U.S. primacy was central "to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world." Journalist Michael Hirsh has gone even further, writing in his book At War With Ourselves that America’s global role is "the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history." Scholarly works such as Tony Smith’s America’s Mission and G. John Ikenberry’s Liberal Leviathan emphasize America’s contribution to the spread of democracy and its promotion of a supposedly liberal world order. Given all the high-fives American leaders have given themselves, it is hardly surprising that most Americans see their country as an overwhelmingly positive force in world affairs.

Once again, there is something to this line of argument, just not enough to make it entirely accurate. The United States has made undeniable contributions to peace and stability in the world over the past century, including the Marshall Plan, the creation and management of the Bretton Woods system, its rhetorical support for the core principles of democracy and human rights, and its mostly stabilizing military presence in Europe and the Far East. But the belief that all good things flow from Washington’s wisdom overstates the U.S. contribution by a wide margin.

For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler’s war machine was borne by the Soviet Union. Similarly, though the Marshall Plan and NATO played important roles in Europe’s post-World War II success, Europeans deserve at least as much credit for rebuilding their economies, constructing a novel economic and political union, and moving beyond four centuries of sometimes bitter rivalry. Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, a view that ignores the contributions of other anti-Soviet adversaries and the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the "velvet revolutions" of 1989.

Moreover, as Godfrey Hodgson recently noted in his sympathetic but clear-eyed book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, the spread of liberal ideals is a global phenomenon with roots in the Enlightenment, and European philosophers and political leaders did much to advance the democratic ideal. Similarly, the abolition of slavery and the long effort to improve the status of women owe more to Britain and other democracies than to the United States, where progress in both areas trailed many other countries. Nor can the United States claim a global leadership role today on gay rights, criminal justice, or economic equality — Europe’s got those areas covered.

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/



Finally, any honest accounting of the past half-century must acknowledge the downside of American primacy. The United States has been the major producer of greenhouse gases for most of the last hundred years and thus a principal cause of the adverse changes that are altering the global environment. The United States stood on the wrong side of the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa and backed plenty of unsavory dictatorships — including Saddam Hussein’s — when short-term strategic interests dictated. Americans may be justly proud of their role in creating and defending Israel and in combating global anti-Semitism, but its one-sided policies have also prolonged Palestinian statelessness and sustained Israel’s brutal occupation.

Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive. Americans are blind to their weak spots, and in ways that have real-world consequences. Remember when Pentagon planners thought U.S. troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers and parades? They mostly got RPGs and IEDs instead.

Myth 5
God Is on Our Side.

A crucial component of American exceptionalism is the belief that the United States has a divinely ordained mission to lead the rest of the world. Ronald Reagan told audiences that there was "some divine plan" that had placed America here, and once quoted Pope Pius XII saying, "Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind." Bush offered a similar view in 2004, saying, "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom." The same idea was expressed, albeit less nobly, in Otto von Bismarck’s alleged quip that "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States."

Confidence is a valuable commodity for any country. But when a nation starts to think it enjoys the mandate of heaven and becomes convinced that it cannot fail or be led astray by scoundrels or incompetents, then reality is likely to deliver a swift rebuke. Ancient Athens, Napoleonic France, imperial Japan, and countless other countries have succumbed to this sort of hubris, and nearly always with catastrophic results.

Despite America’s many successes, the country is hardly immune from setbacks, follies, and boneheaded blunders. If you have any doubts about that, just reflect on how a decade of ill-advised tax cuts, two costly and unsuccessful wars, and a financial meltdown driven mostly by greed and corruption have managed to squander the privileged position the United States enjoyed at the end of the 20th century. Instead of assuming that God is on their side, perhaps Americans should heed Abraham Lincoln’s admonition that our greatest concern should be "whether we are on God’s side."

Given the many challenges Americans now face, from persistent unemployment to the burden of winding down two deadly wars, it’s unsurprising that they find the idea of their own exceptionalism comforting — and that their aspiring political leaders have been proclaiming it with increasing fervor. Such patriotism has its benefits, but not when it leads to a basic misunderstanding of America’s role in the world. This is exactly how bad decisions get made.

Riaz Haq said...

The Myth of American Exceptionalism
The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans. Too bad it's not true.

By Stephen Walt


https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/10/11/the-myth-of-american-exceptionalism/

Despite America’s many successes, the country is hardly immune from setbacks, follies, and boneheaded blunders. If you have any doubts about that, just reflect on how a decade of ill-advised tax cuts, two costly and unsuccessful wars, and a financial meltdown driven mostly by greed and corruption have managed to squander the privileged position the United States enjoyed at the end of the 20th century. Instead of assuming that God is on their side, perhaps Americans should heed Abraham Lincoln’s admonition that our greatest concern should be "whether we are on God’s side."

Given the many challenges Americans now face, from persistent unemployment to the burden of winding down two deadly wars, it’s unsurprising that they find the idea of their own exceptionalism comforting — and that their aspiring political leaders have been proclaiming it with increasing fervor. Such patriotism has its benefits, but not when it leads to a basic misunderstanding of America’s role in the world. This is exactly how bad decisions get made.

America has its own special qualities, as all countries do, but it is still a state embedded in a competitive global system. It is far stronger and richer than most, and its geopolitical position is remarkably favorable. These advantages give the United States a wider range of choice in its conduct of foreign affairs, but they don’t ensure that its choices will be good ones. Far from being a unique state whose behavior is radically different from that of other great powers, the United States has behaved like all the rest, pursuing its own self-interest first and foremost, seeking to improve its relative position over time, and devoting relatively little blood or treasure to purely idealistic pursuits. Yet, just like past great powers, it has convinced itself that it is different, and better, than everyone else.

International politics is a contact sport, and even powerful states must compromise their political principles for the sake of security and prosperity. Nationalism is also a powerful force, and it inevitably highlights the country’s virtues and sugarcoats its less savory aspects. But if Americans want to be truly exceptional, they might start by viewing the whole idea of "American exceptionalism" with a much more skeptical eye.