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Progress of America, 1875, by Domenico Tojetti

American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States occupies a special niche among the nations of the world[1] in terms of its national credo, historical evolution, political and religious institutions and unique origins. The roots of the belief are attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville,[2][3] who claimed that the then-50-year-old United States held a special place among nations, because it was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy.

The theory of American exceptionalism has a number of opponents, especially from the Left.[4][5][6][7] Left-wing pundits argue that the belief is "self-serving and jingoistic" (see slavery, civil rights and social welfare issues, Western betrayal, and the failure to aid Jews fleeing the Nazis),[1] that it is based on a myth,[8] and that "[t]here is a growing refusal to accept" the idea of exceptionalism both nationally and internationally.[9]



"...[T]he US has, ever since the days of the American Revolution, wished to distance itself from the Old World. This is a very important point. It created a unique starting position, from which a nation was to be created by incorporating elements from a multitude of cultures into something that was all of these different cultures at once, and yet at the same time not really any of them.[10]"

Dorothy Ross, in Origins of American Social Science (1991), argued that there are three generic varieties of American exceptionalism:

  1. Supernaturalist explanations which emphasize the causal potency of God in selecting America to serve as an example for the rest of the world; for example, see the speech of Reverend John Winthrop to the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts Bay: "For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken... we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world." Indeed, scholars such as Robert Bellah believe there are religious overtones embedded into American history and society itself - a civil religion with its own temples and civic gods.[11]
  2. Genetic interpretations which emphasize racial traits, ethnicity, or gender; for example, Adolf Hitler claimed that because of America's tolerant, multiracial, multiethnic polity, it was exceptional in its racial inferiority, once saying in a speech to his headquarters staff: "I don't see much future for the's a decayed feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance...everything about the behavior of American society reveals that it's half Judaized, and the other half Negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together?"[12]
  3. Environmental explanations such as geography, climate, availability of natural resources, social structure, and type of political economy; for example, Frederick Jackson Turner's seminal work, The Frontier in American History (commonly known as the Turner Thesis) theorized that the presence of a frontier played a fundamental role in the development of American society: "But the larger part of what has been distinctive and valuable in America's contribution to the history of the human spirit has been due to this nation's peculiar experience in extending its type of frontier into new regions; and in creating peaceful societies with new ideals in the successive vast and differing geographic provinces which together make up the United States. Directly or indirectly these experiences shaped the life of the Eastern as well as the Western States, and even reacted upon the Old World and influenced the direction of its thought and its progress. This experience has been fundamental in the economic, political and social characteristics of the American people and in their conceptions of their destiny."[13]

The concept was first used in respect of the United States by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 in his work Democracy in America:[14]

The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people.[15]

American exceptionalism is close to the idea of Manifest Destiny,[16] a term used by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1840s to promote the acquisition of much of what is now the Western United States (the Oregon Territory, the Texas Annexation, the Gadsden Purchase, and the Mexican Cession). The concept of "manifest destiny" was later used in the 1890s by members of the Republican Party as a theoretical justification for the seizure and retention of former Spanish foreign colonies as the colonies and protectorates of the United States during the Spanish-American War of 1898. This short-lived phenomenon of classical colonial imperialism, was an arguably aberrational episode of US history that involved the occupation of the Philippines, as well as Puerto Rico, in addition to the establishment of a protectorate over Cuba, and an imperial adventure in Panama prior to the construction of the Panama Canal. This took place during a period from around 1898 to 1913 in the U.S. expansion outside of North America.

However, it must be noted that this colonialist phenomenon was quite limited in time and scope compared to practically all of the classical imperial powers, such as France, Imperial Japan, the United Kingdom, etc, who had extensive foreign empires lasting for centuries. On the contrary, the United States moved rapidly to grant home rule to and liquidate its acquisitions over the next several decades. At least in the case of Puerto Rico, it requested and received home rule in 1927, and changed its form of government in 1948 to that of a freely-associated Commonwealth retaining complete, unilateral, and popular self-determination over its own future. Since that point, Puerto Rico's people have voted in numerous referenda on free association - including the options of independence from the United States, statehood in the United States (as a sovereign and equal State thereof), as well as to remain freely associated with the United States; thus far, all votes have been in favor of free association with the United States (usually around 50% of votes), although a significant minority has always favored formalizing its association with the United States by becoming a full State thereof (between 35% to 45% of votes); those in favor of ending Puerto Rico's free association and declaring complete independence usually receive a small part of the vote (between 5% to 15% of votes).[17] The Philippines requested and received home rule in 1935, and subsequently declared independence in 1946, following the Second World War. The removal of the Cuban protectorate took place in phases stretching from the mid-1930s until the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro, who subsequently made Cuba a protectorate of the USSR from 1959 to the end of the Cold War. Decolonization of the Panama Canal Zone took place over a period of some 30 years, ending in 2000 with the return of the American-built canal to the people of the Republic of Panama.

The basis most commonly cited for American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States and its people differ from other nations, at least on a historical basis, as an association of people who came from numerous places throughout the world but who hold a common bond in standing for certain self-evident truths, like freedom, inalienable natural and human rights, democracy, republicanism, the rule of law, civil liberty, civic virtue, the common good, fair play, private property, and Constitutional government[citation needed]. The term is also used by United States citizens to indicate that America and Americans have different states of mind, different surroundings, and different political cultures than other nations,[citation needed] and still others use it to refer to the American dream and the slow yet continuous journey of the people of the United States[citation needed], sharing a nation and a destiny, to build a more perfect union, to live up to the dreams, hopes, and ideals of its founders, so that "these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this Earth."[18]

Researchers and academics, however, generally use the term "American exceptionalism" to strictly mean[citation needed] sharp and measurable differences in public opinion and political behavior between Americans and their counterparts in other developed democracies[citation needed].

Persons who are not supporters of the theory of American exceptionalism often argue that it is equivalent to jingoism and nationalist propaganda.[8][19] In their arguments, they often compare the US to other countries that have claimed an exceptional nature or destiny. Examples in more recent times include the UK at the height of the British Empire, as well the USSR, France and Nazi Germany; while many historic empires such as Ancient Rome, China, the Spanish Empire and a wide range of minor kingdoms and tribes have also embraced exceptionalism. In each case, a basis was presented[citation needed] as to why the country was exceptional compared to all other countries, drawing upon circumstance, cultural background and mythos, and self-perceived national aims[citation needed].

Causes in their historical context

"For all (...of Americans'...) differences, they shared that one brave idea (...of the United States as a new world to start again...), and that idea became the point around which they gathered. After two hundred years this is still the glue that keeps the nation together. It’s a fragile construct. And the constant American need for reaffirmation of America’s greatness - their exceptionalism - affirms its fragility."

In essence, it characterizes the course of American history as a "deliberate choice" of "freedom over tyranny" which was properly made. With this in mind, American exceptionalism is just one of many national exceptionalist movements.


Puritan roots

Many Puritans with Arminian leanings embraced a middle ground between strict Calvinist predestination and a less restricting theology of Divine Providence. They believed God had made a covenant with their people and had chosen them to lead the other nations of the Earth. One Puritan leader, John Winthrop, metaphorically expressed this idea as a "City upon a Hill" — that the Puritan community of New England should serve as a model community for the rest of the world.[20] This metaphor is often used by proponents of exceptionalism.

Although the world-view of New England Puritans changed dramatically, and despite the strong influence of other Protestant traditions in the Middle Colonies and the South, the Puritans' deep moralistic values remained part of the national identity of the United States for centuries, remaining influential to the present day. Parts of American exceptionalism can be traced to American Puritan roots. This theory does, however, ignore the fact that the earliest British colonies in North America (such as Virginia, which predates the colonization of New England) were not at all Puritan, and that most of the colonies and citizens thereof that were later absorbed in to the United States were essentially Roman Catholic. It also tends to overlook the fact that the original Puritan colony all-but failed in its first two years, and was forced to admit mass numbers of colonists who were not motivated by any strong religious feelings whatsoever. But, despite their comparative statistical importance, the 'Puritan Roots' of America have become an important, unquestionable, almost sacrosanct part of the American Myth.

American Revolution and Republicanism

The ideas that created the American Revolution were derived from a tradition of republicanism that had been repudiated by the British mainstream. Thomas Paine's Common Sense for the first time expressed the belief that America was not just an extension of Europe but a new land, a country of nearly unlimited potential and opportunity that had outgrown the British mother country.[21] These sentiments laid the intellectual foundations for the Revolutionary concept of American exceptionalism and were closely tied to republicanism, the belief that sovereignty belonged to the people, not to a hereditary ruling class.[22]

Alexis de Tocqueville stressed the advanced nature of democracy in America, arguing that it infused every aspect of society and culture, at a time (1830s) when democracy was not in fashion anywhere else.[23]


One of Alexis de Toqueville's original arguments for American exceptionalism still stands; America remains particularly attractive to immigrants because of its perceived economic and political opportunities. Since its founding, many immigrants, such as Andrew Carnegie and Carl Schurz have risen to the top layers of the economic and political system. The "American Dream" describes the perceived abundance of opportunities in the American system.

The United States has the largest population of immigrants in the world - over 38.5 million people living in the United States are first-generation immigrants.[24] On an annual basis, the United States naturalizes approximately 898,000 immigrants as new citizens, the most of any country in the world.[25] From 1960 to 2005, on a 5-year period basis, the United States was ranked first in the world for every five year period but one for the total number of immigrants admitted - and overall, since 1995, the United States has admitted over 1 million immigrants per year.[26] Of the top ten countries accepting resettled refugees in 2006, the United States accepted more than twice as many as the next nine countries combined, approximately 50,000 refugees; in addition, on average, over 100,000 refugees per year were resettled annually between 1990 - 2000; further, over 85,000 asylum seekers annually come to the United States in search of sanctuary, of which approximately 45% are successful in obtaining.

Critics point out that America is now hardly unique in its appeal to immigrants, and that many countries like Australia, Canada and New Zealand are at least as popular and welcoming to immigrants.[27]

American Communism

In 1927 Jay Lovestone, leader of the Communist Party in America, defined American exceptionalism as the increasing strength of American capitalism, a strength which he said prevented Communist revolution.[28] In 1929, Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin, unwilling to believe that America was so resistant to revolution, called Lovestone's ideas "the heresy of American exceptionalism."[29] In the 1930s, academicians in the U.S. redefined American exceptionalism as befitting a nation that was to lead the world, with the U.S. to serve the older European societies as an example of a liberated future free from Marxism and socialism.[29] More recently, socialists and other writers have tried to discover or describe this exceptionalism of the U.S. within and outside its borders.[30]

Cold War

American exceptionalism became evident during the Cold War when the American Way of Life engaged in a battle against totalitarianism, led by the Soviet Union. These attributions made use of the residual sentiment that had originally formed to differentiate the United States from the 19th century European powers and had been applied multiple times in multiple contexts before it was used to distinguish democracies (with the United States primus inter pares of the democracies) from authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorship.

Aspects of arguments

Republican ethos and ideas about nationhood

Proponents of American exceptionalism argue that the United States is exceptional in that it was founded on a set of republican ideals, rather than on a common heritage, ethnicity, or ruling elite. In the formulation of President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, America is a nation "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal". In this view, America is inextricably connected with liberty and equality.

The United States' policies have been characterized since their inception by a system of federalism and checks and balances, which were designed to prevent any person, faction, region, or government organ from becoming too powerful. Some Proponents of the theory of American exceptionalism argue that this system and the accompanying distrust of concentrated power prevent the United States from suffering a "tyranny of the majority", are preservative a free republican democrat, and also that it allows citizens to live in a locality whose laws reflect that citizen's values. A consequence of this political system is that laws can vary greatly across the country. Critics of American exceptionalism maintain that this system merely replaces the power of the national majority over states with power by the states over local entities. On balance, the American political system arguably allows more local dominance but prevents more national dominance than does a more unitary system.

Frontier spirit

Proponents of American exceptionalism often claim that the "American spirit" or the "American identity" was created at the frontier (following Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis), where rugged and untamed conditions gave birth to American national vitality. However, this 'frontier spirit' was not unique to the United States - other nations such as New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Australia had long frontiers that were similarly settled by pioneers, shaping their national psyches. In fact, all of the British Imperial domains involved pioneering work. Although each nation had slightly different frontier experiences (for example, in Australia "mateship" and working together was valued more than individualism was in the United States), the characteristics arising from British attempting to "tame" a wild and often hostile landscape against the will of the original population remained common to many such nations. Of course, at the limit, all of mankind has been involved, at one time or another, in extending the boundaries of their territory.


For most of its history, especially from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries, the United States has been known as the "land of opportunity", and in this sense, it prided and promoted itself on providing individuals with the opportunity to escape from the contexts of their class and family background. Examples of this social mobility include:

  • Occupational - children could easily choose careers which were not based upon their parents' choices.
  • Physical - that geographical location was not seen as static, and citizens often relocated freely over long distances without barrier.
  • Status - As in most countries, family standing and riches were often a means to remain in a higher social circle. America was notably unusual due to an accepted wisdom that anyone - from impoverished immigrants upwards - who worked hard, could aspire to similar standing, regardless of circumstances of birth. This aspiration is commonly called living the American dream. Birth circumstances were not taken as a social barrier to the upper echelons or to high political status in American culture. This stood in contrast to other countries where many higher offices were socially determined, and usually hard to enter without being born into the suitable social group.

However, social mobility in the US is also now significantly lower than in a number of European Union countries. American men born into the lowest income quintile are much more likely to stay there compared to similar men in the Nordic countries or the United Kingdom.[31]

American Revolution

The American Revolutionary War is the claimed ideological territory of "exceptionalists". The intellectuals of the Revolution, such as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, arguably shaped America into a nation fundamentally different from its European ancestry, creating modern constitutional republicanism, with a limit on ecclesiastical powers. Others counter that there is nothing unique about the revolution — the English "Glorious Revolution" was nearly a century prior to the American Revolution and led to constitutional monarchy. The French Revolution also led to a form of modern democracy and has been credited as the process that forged most contemporary ideals of government and democracy.

Opposing viewpoints

During the George W. Bush administration, the term was somewhat abstracted from its historical context[citation needed]. Proponents and opponents alike began using it to describe a phenomenon wherein certain political interests view the United States as being "above" or an "exception" to the law, specifically the Law of Nations.[32] (This phenomenon might be called a priori exceptionalism or "neoexceptionalism," since it is less concerned with justifying American uniqueness than with asserting its immunity to international law.) This new use of the term has served to confuse the topic and muddy the waters, since its unilateralist emphasis and ahistorical orientation diverge somewhat from older uses of the term. A certain number of those who subscribe to "old-style" or "traditional American exceptionalism" (or, in keeping with the distinction suggested above, a posteriori exceptionalism)—the idea that America is a more unique nation than are others, that it differs qualitatively from the rest of the world and has a special role to play in world history—also agree that the United States is and ought to be fully subject to and bound by the public international law. Indeed, recent research shows that "there is some indication for American exceptionalism among the [U.S.] public, but very little evidence of unilateral attitudes."[2]

In April 2009, President Barack Obama responded to a journalist's question in Strasbourg with the statement, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."[33]

Ignorance of aspects

Opponents of the notion of American exceptionalism argue that, while all societies differ in their history and social structures, the notion that the United States is uniquely virtuous overstates the importance of differences between the U.S. and other countries[citation needed]. They claim it ignores aspects of American history and society that contradict ideals of freedom and equality, such as slavery, segregation of schools in the South, the annexation by force of the Hawaiian islands and the American Southwest formerly Mexican territory, McCarthyism, the poverty and sometimes ghetto-ization of millions of citizens, the unequal quality of health care and education, and the genocide and displacement of the Native American population. Proponents of American exceptionalism counter that these examples indeed show the failure of the United States of America to live up to its putative ideals, but that later generations of Americans have attempted to redress some of these injustices, through programs such as affirmative action. Opponents of American exceptionalism counter[citation needed] that the US was neither the first nor the only nation to attempt to rectify past and present injustices with such efforts.

A common argument against the American exceptionalist position is to identify positive qualities in specific other countries that correspond to allegedly unique qualities of the United States[citation needed], and that there are in fact none of the qualities associated to U.S. exceptionalism are exclusive to it.

Proponents reply that the historical uniqueness of the United States is the result of a combination of many factors and not captured by particular aspects of the national character. Opponents, however, argue that the national character-resulting from all of its components-of each and every nation on earth is unique.

Canadian and American politics and economies compared explores this issue by contrast to the most similar nation, on the same continent, with a quite different history.

Double standards

U.S. historians like Thomas Bender "try and put an end to the recent revival of American exceptionalism, a defect he esteems to be inherited from the Cold War".[34] Gary W. Reichard and Ted Dickson argue "how the development of the United States has always depended on its transactions with other nations for commodities, cultural values and populations",[35] while Joseph Lepgold and Timothy McKeown "demonstrate that there is little or no basis to the claims that US foreign policy has differed greatly from that of other large nations".[10] Roger Cohen asks, "How exceptional can you be when every major problem you face, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to gas prices, requires joint action?"[36] Harold Koh distinguishes "distinctive rights, different labels, the 'flying buttress' mentality, and double standards. (...) [T]he fourth face - double standards - presents the most dangerous and destructive form of American exceptionalism."[37] Godfrey Hodgson also concludes that "the US national myth is dangerous."[38] Samantha Power asserts that "we’re neither the shining example, nor even competent meddlers. It’s going to take a generation or so to reclaim American exceptionalism."[39]

Dissemination in popular culture

Critics point out that the idea of American exceptionalism is not so much manifested in an actual difference between the US and other countries in terms of outward behavior, but more in terms of a ‘truth’ about the mental and moral superiority of Americans[citation needed] being actively reiterated by American popular culture to the American public via movies, television and political rhetoric. To generalize, all Americans are told every day in the media that only they know how the world really works[citation needed], and only they know how it should work. In this way, the myth is kept alive.[10]


Chicano studies and African diaspora scholars have long documented transnational movements, identities, and processes, although their work was often ignored by white historians[citation needed]. Had their vision been taken seriously a century ago[citation needed], Robin D. G. Kelley notes, “It could have overthrown American nationalist, jingoistic historiography once and for all.” The framework, however, has attracted new champions in recent years. American studies scholars, alarmed by renewed U.S. jingoism, have taken aim against American exceptionalism. Transnational perspectives, they hope, will free citizens from the political trap of “with us or against us”[citation needed] as well as the intellectual delusion that the United States is the alpha and omega of history.[40]

The Americanist heresy

Pope Leo XIII, who denounced what he deemed to be the heresy of americanism in the encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae,[41] was probably (?) referring to American exceptionalism in the ecclesiastical domain, when it is specifically applied to the teachings of Christianity and the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.[42] At the end of the 19th century, there was definitely a tendency among the Roman Catholic clergy in the United States to view American society as inherently different from other Christian nations and societies, and to argue that the entire understanding of Church doctrine had to be redrawn[citation needed] in order to meet the requirements of what is known as the American experience, which supposedly included greater individualism, civil rights, the inheritance of the American revolution, Anglo-Saxon cultural traditions, Anglo-American analytical philosophy, economic liberalism, political reformism and egalitarianism, and Church-State separation.

Pre-emptive declinism

New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff calls America "an empire enthralled with its own power and unaware that it is fading."[43] Former Clinton administration official Charles Kupchan concludes that "American primacy is already past its peak."[44] According to Joseph Nye, who served under Presidents Carter and Clinton, America's "soft power—its ability to attract others by the legitimacy of U.S. policies and the values that underlie them—is in decline."[44]

Peggy Noonan, speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, asserts that "in some deep fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed.[citation needed]" Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute warns that America's military "overextension could hasten the decline of the United States as a superpower."

Matthew Parris of the London Sunday Times reports that the United States is "overstretched," romantically recalling the Kennedy presidency, when "America had the best arguments" and could use moral suasion rather than force to have its way in the world. From his vantage point in Shanghai, the International Herald Tribune's Howard French worries about "the declining moral influence of the United States" over an emergent China.[45]

CEPA Director of Research Wess Mitchell says: "With a declining United States, struggling Europe, and resurgent Russia, the unfolding Euro-Atlantic power triangle is a microcosm of the multipolar order ahead."[46]

Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria refers to a "Post-American world", saying "it's not a world that's going to be dominated by the United States".[47]

In 2004, Pat Buchanan lamented "the decline and fall of the greatest industrial republic the world had ever seen." In 2005, The Guardian's Polly Toynbee concluded that Hurricane Katrina exposed "a hollow superpower". In 2007, Pierre Hassner of the Paris-based National Foundation for Political Science declared, "It will not be the New American Century."[48] In 1988, Flora Lewis sighed that "Talk of U.S. decline is real in the sense that the U.S. can no longer pull all the levers of command or pay all the bills." Even in trying to deflect the declinists, James Schlesinger conceded in 1988 that the U.S. was "no longer economically the preponderant power... no longer militarily the dominant power... no longer can achieve more or less whatever it desires." "The signs of decline are evident to those who care to see them," declared Peter Passell in 1990, noting that the U.S. had lost its competitive edge and was losing its battle with the Japanese juggernaut. "Europeans and Asians," wrote Anthony Lewis in 1990, "are already finding confirmation of their suspicion that the United States is in decline." Citing America's dependence on foreign sources for energy and "crucial weaknesses" in the military, Tom Wicker concluded "that maintaining superpower status is becoming more difficult -- nearly impossible -- for the United States."[45]

Similarities between the United States and Europe

In December 2009, historian Peter Baldwin published a book arguing that, despite widespread comparisons between the 'American way of life' and the 'European social model', America and Europe are actually very similar on a number of social and economic indices. Baldwin claimed that the black underclass accounts for many of those few areas where a stark difference exists between the US and Europe, such as homicide and child poverty.[49] However, critics alleged that some of Baldwin's evidence actually supports the stereotype of a distinctive American model: a free-market system with little labour protection, an adversarial legal system, high murder rates, high rates of gun ownership, a large prison population, inequitable and expensive health care, and relatively widespread poverty. [50]

See also


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Understanding American Exceptionalism". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  4. ^ Crowley, Monica (2009-07-01). "American exceptionalism . . .". Washington Times. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  5. ^ "The origins of American Exceptionalism - Review - Institute of Public Affairs". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  6. ^ Prager, Dennis. "Dennis Prager : Who believes in American Exceptionalism? Judeo-Christian values part XXIV".;_judeo-christian_values_part_xxiv. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  7. ^ American Exceptionalism....without exception - Washington Times
  8. ^ a b Howard Zinn. "The Myth of American Exceptionalism". Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  9. ^ "Boston Review — zinn.php". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  10. ^ a b c d Sellevold, Martin (2003). "A Look At American Exceptionalism". Australian Rationalist (Croydon, Victoria, Australia: Rationalist Association of Australia, Ltd.) (65): 46–48. ISSN 1036-8191. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  11. ^ Bellah, Robert N. (Winter 1967). "Civil Religion in America" (Orig. paper, conv. to HTML). Dædalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press) 96 (1): 1–21. ISSN 0011-5266. Archived from the original on 2005-03-06. Retrieved 2008-12-30. "...few have realized that there actually exists alongside of and rather clearly differentiated from the churches an elaborate and well-institutionalized civil religion in America...". 
  12. ^ Shirer, William L. (1960). "The Turn of the United States". The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York City, State of New York, USA: Simon & Schuster. p. 895. ISBN 0449219771. 
  13. ^ Turner, Frederick Jackson (1921). The Frontier In American History. New York City, State of New York, USA: Henry Holt and Company. Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  14. ^ Foreword: on American Exceptionalism; Symposium on Treaties, Enforcement, and U.S. Sovereignty, Stanford Law Review, May 1, 2003, Pg. 1479
  15. ^ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vintage Books, 1945
  16. ^ February 15, 2007, NYT Manifest Destiny: A New Direction
  17. ^ Some in Puerto Rico and elsewhere, such as Fidel Castro's government in Cuba, as well as certain members of the Non-Aligned Movement, especially following its swing towards the Soviet Bloc in the late 1970s and early 1980s, have taken issue with the choice of Puerto Rico's people to remain freely associated with the United States and forced hearings before the United Nations, claiming that it is still a colony of the United States; however, this argument is laid to rest by the fact that colonies are distinctive in that they exist without the consent of the people living there; on the contrary, Puerto Rico has regular, free and fair elections, based on universal suffrage, and pro-independence forces there usually never win more than 10-15% of the vote of its sovereign people, meaning that this argument is rejected by most Puerto Ricans themselves.
  18. ^ "The Gettysburg Address". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  19. ^ Jacobs, Ron (2004-07-21). "American Exceptionalism: A Disease of Conceit". CounterPunch. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  20. ^ The Hanover Historical Texts Project, ed (August 1996). "John Winthrop, A Modell of Christian Charity(1630)". Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, 1838), 3rd series 7:31-48.). Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  21. ^ Paine, Thomas. "Thomas Paine's Common Sense". in Don Vitale,. Archiving Early America 14 February 1776. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  22. ^ New World Encyclopedia contributors. "American exceptionalism". New World Encyclopedia.. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  23. ^ Thimm, Johannes. "American Exceptionalism – Conceptual Thoughts and Empirical Evidence". Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  24. ^ "Number of immigrants (most recent) by country". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  25. ^ "New citizenships (total) (most recent) by country". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  26. ^ "Net migration - United States (historical data)". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  27. ^ "Migration to European Countries. A Structural Explanation of Patterns, 1980-2004". Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  28. ^ Fried, Albert. Communism in America: a history in documents, pp. 7–8, 19, 82–92. Columbia University Press, 1997. ISBN 0231102356
  29. ^ a b Pease, Donald E. Editors: Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler. "Exceptionalism", pp. 108–112, in "Keywords for American Cultural Studies. NYU Press, 2007. ISBN 0814799485
  30. ^ American Exceptionalism - Washington Post
  31. ^ De Grauwe, Paul (2 July 2007). "Structural rigidities in the US and Europe". Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  32. ^ Frel, Jan (2006-07-10). "Could Bush Be Prosecuted for War Crimes?". AlterNet. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  33. ^ "Squanderer in chief - Los Angeles Times". 2009-04-28.,0,4218519.story. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  34. ^ "Index of /wp". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  35. ^ Reichard, Gary W.; Ted Dickson. America on the World Stage, University of Illinois Press, 2008, back cover. ISBN 0252075528
  36. ^
  37. ^ "LexisNexis(TM) Academic - Document". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  38. ^ "Book review: The Myth of American Exceptionalism - Business - The Atlantic". 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  39. ^ Hirsh, Michael (2009-01-21). "No Time to Go Wobbly, Barack - Michael Hirsh". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
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  41. ^ "Library : Americanism, Then and Now: Our Pet Heresy". Catholic Culture. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  42. ^ "The Heresy of Americanism: Response to Radical Traditionalists". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  43. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (June 30, 2005). "Appraisal:Fear in a soaring tower". America (The New York Times): p. 2. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  44. ^ a b Sibley, Robert (August 2, 2008). "Beware false prophets". Ottawa Citizen (CanWest MediaWorks Publications). Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  45. ^ a b "Articles - Three Centuries of American Declinism". RealClearPolitics. 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  46. ^ "The Mice that Roared: Central Europe Is Reshaping Global Politics - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International".,1518,610019,00.html. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  47. ^ Dickens, Geoffrey. "'Newsweek' Editor Declares Era of 'American Exceptionalism is Over'". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
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  49. ^ Lloyd, John (20 December 2009). "Financial Times". Martian myths that flatter Europe.,s01=1.html. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  50. ^ Moravcsik, Andrew (January / February 2010). "The Narcissism of Minor Differences - Book Review". Foreign Affairs Volume 1, Number 89. 

Further reading

  • Bender, Thomas (2006). A Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History. Hill & Wang. ISBN 0809095270. 
  • Blair, John (2001). Against American Exceptionalism: Post-Colonial Perspectives On Irish Immigration. Manuscript unpublished. 
  • Dworkin, Ronald W. (1996). The Rise of the Imperial Self. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 0-8476-8219-6. 
  • Madsen, Deborah L. (1998). American Exceptionalism. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-108-3. 
  • Glickstein, Jonathan A. American Exceptionalism, American Anxiety: Wages, Competition, and Degraded Labor In The Antebellum United States (2002)
  • Ferrie, Joseph P. The End of American Exceptionalism: Mobility in the US Since 1850, Journal of Economic Perspectives (Summer, 2005)
  • Hellerman, Steven L. and Andrei S. Markovits (2001). Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07447-X.  online version
  • Ignatieff, Michael ed. (2005). American Exceptionalism and Human Rights. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11647-4. 
  • Kagan, Robert (2003). Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4093-0. 
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin (1997). American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31614-9. 
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin. "The First New Nation." Basic Books, 1955.
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin. "Still the Exceptional Nation?." The Wilson Quarterly. 24#1 (2000) pp 31+ online version
  • Lloyd, Brian. Left Out: Pragmatism, Exceptionalism, and the Poverty of American Marxism, 1890-1922. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
  • Noble, David (2002). Death of a Nation: American Culture and the End of Exceptionalism. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816640807, 9780816640805. 
  • Ross, Dorothy. Origins of American Social Science. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Ross, Dorothy. "American Exceptionalism" in A Companion to American Thought. Richard W. Fox and James T. Kloppenberg, eds. London: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1995: 22-23.
  • Shafer, Byron E. Is America Different?: A New Look at American Exceptionalism (1991)
  • Rick Tilman. "Thorstein Veblen's Views on American 'Exceptionalism': An Interpretation." Journal of Economic Issues. 39#1 2005. pp 177+. online version
  • Turner, Frederick Jackson Richard W. Etulain ed. (1999). The Significance of the Frontier in American History, in Does The Frontier Experience Make America Exceptional?. 
  • Voss, Kim. The Making of American Exceptionalism: The Knights of Labor and Class Formation in the Nineteenth Century (1993) online version
  • Wilentz, Sean. Against Exceptionalism: Class Consciousness and the American Labor Movement, 1790-1820, 26 Int'l Lab. & Working Class History 1 (1984)
  • Wrobel, David M. (1996). The End Of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety From The Old West To The New Deal. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0561-4. 
  • Marc Dollinger, "American Jewish Liberalism Revisited: Two Perspectives Exceptionalism and Jewish Liberalism." American Jewish History v 30#2 2002. pp 161+. online at Questia

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to American benevolence article)

From Wikiquote

This page contains quotes on whether the United States has benign intentions when she intervenes in other countries.

Supporting views

  • Finally, it should be the earnest wish and paramount aim of the military administration to win the confidence, respect, and affection of the inhabitants of the Philippines by assuring them in every possible way that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of free peoples, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation substituting the mild sway of justice and right for arbitrary rule.
  • Take up the White Man's burden,
        And reap his old reward—
    The blame of those ye better
        The hate of those ye guard—
  • The struggle must continue til the misguided creatures there shall have their eyes bathed in enough blood to cause their vision to be cleared, and to understand that not only is resistance useless, but that those whom they are now holding as enemies have no purpose toward them except to consecrate them to liberty and to open to them a way to happiness.
  • Whether we like it or not, we must go on slaughtering the natives in English fashion, and taking what muddy glory lies in wholesale killing til they have learned to respect our arms. The more difficult task of getting them to respect our intentions will follow.
  • Today the greatest menace to mankind may well be the American tendency to overrespond to heathen evils abroad, either by attacking them or by condemning them to outer darkness. The study of American foreign missions and their long-continued conditioning influence at home needs no special advocacy in an age when we get our power politics overextended into foreign disasters like Vietnam mainly through an excess of righteousness and disinterested benevolence, under a President who talks like a Baptist preacher and who inherited his disaster from a Secretary of State who was also a ruling elder of the Presbyterian Church. Plainly the missionary impulse has contributed both to the American swelled head and to its recent crown of thorns.
  • American post-World War II policy is in this respect devoid of artifice or deception. The American mind set, the minds of our leaders or of the people, was entirely the mind set of an emancipator. In such a mind set, one need not feel or act superior, or believe one is imposing one's ethos or values on others, since one senses naturally that others cannot doubt the emancipator's righteous cause anymore than his capacities. In this respect, the American role as superpower, particularly in the early postwar years, is very analogous to the role that can be attributed to a professor, mentor, or other type of emancipator.
    • Paul Kattenburg, 1980 [6]
  • The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression — to preserve freedom and peace.
  • When I came into office, I was determined that our country would go into the 21st century still the world's greatest force for peace and freedom, for democracy and security and prosperity. We have to promote these values just as vigorously as we did in the Cold War.
  • It is the threat of the use of force and our line-up there that is going to put force behind the diplomacy. But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us. I know that the American men and women in uniform are always prepared to sacrifice for freedom, democracy and the American way of life.
  • The United States is good. We try to do our best everywhere.
  • America has never been an empire. We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused – preferring greatness to power and justice to glory.
  • The growth of entrepreneurial classes throughout the world is an asset in the promotion of human rights and individual liberty, and it should be understood and used as such. Yet peace is the first and most important condition for continued prosperity and freedom. America's military power must be secure because the United States is the only guarantor of global peace and stability. The current neglect of America's armed forces threatens its ability to maintain peace.
  • we are called upon to stand for democracy under attack in Colombia.
  • Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world.
  • Nevertheless Kosovo is not the only indicator of a change of mood, of the sort of moral interventionist internationalism which has come to be associated particularly with Tony Blair. [...] in fact, after a quarter of a century of doing nothing, the 'international community' in precisely the same year as Kosovo did engineer the independence of East Timor.
    • Adrian Hastings, June 2001 [14]
  • There is a difference between questioning policy and questioning motives. [...] no one should poison the public square by attacking the patriotism of opponents [...] Let me say it plainly: I not only concede, but I am convinced that President Bush believes genuinely in the course he urges upon us.
  • We got off to an unnecessarily bad start. But it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad and it is a moral and strategic imperative that we give it our best shot.
  • There was a time, not so long ago, when the might of our alliances was a driving force in the survival and the success of freedom... America must always be the world's paramount military power, but we can magnify our power through alliances... let there be no doubt, this country is united in its determination to defeat terrorism...
  • Bill O'Reilly: The South Vietnamese didn't fight for their freedom, which is why they don't have it today.
    George W. Bush: Yes. --September 27, 2004 [18]
  • There's a great deal of criticism about the United States, but there is one thing that nobody criticizes the United States. Nobody thinks the United States went to strike against Iraq in order to gain land or water or oil, nobody thinks America has any ambitions about real estate. As it happened in the 20th century, the American boys went to fight in two world wars, many of them lost their lives. The United States won the wars, won the land, but you gave back every piece of it. America didn't keep anything out of her victories for herself. You gave back Japan, an improved Japan, you gave Germany, an improved Germany, you've heard the Marshall Plan. And today, I do not believe there is any serious person on earth who thinks the United States, whether you agree or don't agree with this strike, has any egoistic or material purposes in the war against Iraq. The reason is, for this strike, that you cannot let the world run wild. And people who are coming from different corners of our life, attack and kill women and children and innocent people, just out of the blue. And I think the whole world is lucky that there is a United States that has the will and the power to handle the new danger that has arrived on the 21st century.
  • an Inaugural Address striking for its idealism [George W. Bush] told Americans that spreading liberty around the world was "the calling of our time" and that the nation's "vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one."
  • I hope the President is incredibly successful with his policy now that we're there.
  • Two years ago I went to Iraq as an unabashed believer in toppling Saddam Hussein. I knew his regime well from previous visits; WMDs or no, ridding the world of Saddam would surely be for the best, and America's good intentions would carry the day. What went wrong?
  • It wants to stop being seen as the supporter of Muslim tyrants and instead become the champion of Muslim freedoms. President Bush and his secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, are transforming American policy in this realm, and while some of the implementation has been spotty, the general thrust is clear and laudable.
  • ...we guarantee the security of the world, protect our allies, keep critical sea lanes open and lead the war on terror. China, by contrast, seems to be threatening an invasion of Taiwan and could ignite an arms race that takes Japan, South Korea and Taiwan nuclear. [...] the Pax Americana in Asia, as in Europe, has been conducive to a half-century of growth, peace and prosperity. Things might be different if China were democratic. But for now a line must be drawn: An attack on Taiwan is an attack on all democratic states in the region.
  • Never has America been more alone in spreading democracy's promise. [...] It is the last country with a mission, a mandate and a dream, as old as its founders. All of this may be dangerous, even delusional, but it is also unavoidable. It is impossible to think of America without these properties of self-belief.
  • Mr. President, today, in his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush gave a vivid and, I believe, compelling description of the threat to America and to freedom from radical Islamic fundamentalism. He made, in my view, a powerful case for what is at stake for every American. Simply put, the radical fundamentalists seek to kill our citizens in great numbers, to disrupt our economy, and to reshape the international order. They would take the world backwards, replacing freedom with fear and hope with hatred. If they were to acquire a nuclear weapon, the threat they would pose to America would be literally existential. The President said it well. The President is right that we cannot and will not retreat. We will defend ourselves and defeat the enemies of freedom and progress.
  • Whether you were for it or against it or whatever your opinions of it are to date, every American ought to be pulling for this mission to succeed.
  • The American people know the difference between responsible and irresponsible debate when they see it. They know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. And they know the difference between a loyal opposition that points out what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right. When our soldiers hear politicians in Washington question the mission they are risking their lives to accomplish, it hurts their morale. In a time of war, we have a responsibility to show that whatever our political differences at home, our nation is united and determined to prevail.
  • And Olmert will be supporting not only anti-Israeli terror, but also the anti-Western revolutionary movement. His radical unilateral process will disrupt the American strategy in the area and will bury U.S. President George W. Bush's dream of stability and democracy in the Middle East.
  • The US has its own national problems - some of them serious - as well as global challenges such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation. So what the US wants is a peaceful and prosperous Latin America. This has been the aim of US foreign policy in the last 25 years.
  • The default position of leftists like, say, Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation, is that America is essentially a malignant, imperialistic force in the world and the use of American military power is almost always wrong. Liberals have a more benign, and correct, view of America's role in the world and tend to favor the use of military force if it is exercised judiciously, as a last resort, and in a multilateral context--with U.N. approval or through NATO. The first Gulf War, the overthrow of the Taliban and the Kosovo intervention met these criteria; Bush's Iraq invasion clearly did not.
  • America still fields what is arguably the most disciplined, humane military force in history, a model of restraint compared with ancient armies that wallowed in the spoils of war or even more-modern armies that heedlessly killed civilians and prisoners.
  • You start to see — the more times I have been to Washington, the more times you talk to somebody about, we have got to get money for AIDS orphans, or we have to get money for — whether it be any kind of response to any tragedy, often, the answer is, well, we're at — we are at war right now. A lot of money's going to war right now. We don't have — so — so, you start to look at it in a different way. And, so, whether you're for or against the war, you can certainly see that the amount of money being spent at war and the amount of money we are not spending in countries and dealing with situations that could end up in conflict if left unassisted, and then cause war. So, you know — so, our priorities are quite strange. So, we're not — we are missing a lot of opportunities to do a lot of the good that America is used to doing, has a history of doing. And we're not able to be as generous. We're not able to be on the forefront of all of these wonderful things as much.
  • For all the propaganda of al Jazeera, the wounded pride of the Arab Street, or the vitriol of the Western Left, years from now the truth will remain that our soldiers did not come to plunder or colonize, but were willing to die for others' freedom when few others would. Neither Michael Moore nor Noam Chomsky can change that, because it is not opinion, but truth...
  • We will stand with Israel, because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones. [...] We will support Israel in her efforts to send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians, to the Iranians - to all who seek death and domination instead of life and freedom - that we will not permit this to happen and we will take whatever steps are necessary.
  • Militant Islam wants to kill us just because we're alive and don't believe as they do. They've been killing us for decades. It's time to stop pretending these terrorist incidents are mere episodic events and face the reality that our way of life is in grave danger.
  • I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me and it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to -- that there's a level of violence that they tolerate.
  • The unwritten treaty between the United States and Israel is based on a similar world view. Both countries believe in democratic values, respect for human rights, solving conflicts through negotiation using rational and logical arguments, and both would like to see a better, more reasonable world living in peace and prosperity without oppressing people, while providing equal opportunities and exploiting the abilities of each and every person. [...] And anyone who does not want to solve the Middle East conflict because he is unwilling to pay the price of compromise, finds it convenient to hide behind slogans such as a war of religions or a war of cultures, in order to explain that the conflict is insoluble and that no territorial arrangement will satisfy the fighters for religion or culture. The conclusion: It is therefore preferable not to give up anything and to keep what there is, to fortify ourselves for the upcoming Armageddon, and to steal from welfare and education and health so that we can arm ourselves to the teeth.
  • I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude and I believe most Iraqis express that.
  • There can be no debate about the rights and wrongs of what is happening in Iraq today. The desire for democracy is good. The attempt to destroy it through terrorism is evil.
  • Barack Obama: We have set ourselves back in terms of the leverage we have in the world, in terms of our ability to persuade other countries to cooperate with us. And so we're gonna have to fix a very difficult situation. But the one thing I always remind people, because they get discouraged, they say, you know, people around the world, they're expressing hatred towards America. You know, people outside of this country are expressing disappointment because they got high expectations for America. And they want America to lead, they want America to lead through our values, and through our ideals and through our example. But they have high expectations of us because, I think, that this country is still the last best hope on earth.
    David Letterman: This is a tremendous suit you have...
    Obama: You like this one?
    Letterman: This is a beautiful...
    Obama: That's a presidential suit.
    Letterman: That is an electable suit, I would vote for that suit. A good looking suit. We'll be right back with Senator Barack Obama. --April 09, 2007 [42]
  • I want to remind you that after Vietnam, after we left, the — millions of people lost their life. The Khmer Rouge, for example, in Cambodia. And my concern is there would be a parallel there; that if we didn't help this government get going, stay on its feet, be able to defend itself, the same thing would happen. There would be the slaughter of a lot of innocent life. The difference, of course, is that this time around the enemy wouldn't just be content to stay in the Middle East, they'd follow us here.
  • Look, it's real simple what happened. These people came here and killed us because of our freedom of religion, because of our freedom for women, because they hate us... if you are confused about this, I think you put our country in much greater jeopardy. The reality is, these people are planning to kill us because, and this is hard for people to recognize, I usually hear this on the Democratic side. Don't usually hear it on the Republican side. You have got to face reality. If you can't face reality, you can't lead.
  • We had saved the world from Nazism and fascism. We were wealthy and we were safe. Many thought it was time we went home. But Americans like President Harry Truman and General George Marshall saw the truth: that it would require not only America's military might, but our ingenuity, our allies, and our generosity to rebuild Europe and keep it safe from tyrants who would prey on poverty and resentment. Our leaders resisted the imperial temptation to force our will by virtue of our unmatched strength. Instead, they built bonds of trust founded on restraint, the rule of law, and good faith. They were magnanimous out of strength, not weakness. [...] We saw the power of this relationship during the Cold War, when America deterred the Soviet Union from its quest for world domination. We saw it when we established the United Nations and NATO, which have done so much for peace and human rights. After the Cold War, we saw it in Bosnia, where we helped broker a lasting peace. And we saw it again in Kosovo, where we joined our NATO allies to stop a brutal war criminal from perpetrating another campaign of ethnic cleansing.
  • I didn't come here to be a congressman. I came here to do something. And I think the top of our list is providing for the safety and security of the American people. That's at the top of our list. After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat them? Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, if we don't do it now, and if we don't have the courage to defeat this enemy, we will long, long regret it.
  • The reason we have no moral authority is we’re not acting. I heard the same argument with Milosevic. I went over there, found out there was genocide going on, I came to your husband, I said, "We must act!" Now, look, we acted. Not an American was killed. We saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
  • I see four core American interests in Iraq that cannot be abandoned. There must be no Afghan-like Al Qaeda takeover of wide areas. There must be no genocide (say a Shiite sweep against Sunnis). There must be no regional conflagration (for example, a Turkish invasion). And there must be no return to the old order (murderous Stalinist dictatorship). To ensure this, the United States must keep a military presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
  • Boy, America has had a lot of shitty presidents. Just take a stroll down repressed memory land and look at that police line-up from November 22, 1963 through January 1992... What no one is saying is the one overarching reason [George W. Bush]'s the worst: the Bush administration is the first that doesn't even mean well.
  • The American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government, which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people.
  • I understand the bombings brought the war to its end. I think it was something that couldn't be helped. [...] Luckily Hokkaidō was not occupied. In the worst case, Hokkaido could have been taken by the Soviet Union. [...] I don't hold a grudge against the United States.
  • Bill O'Reilly: Talking Points believes America, Britain and our allies that tried to do a noble thing in Iraq. We despise those who are rooting against the effort. But we understand the frustration that good Americans feel over a country that may not want to be free despite the president's opposite belief.
    Tony Snow: ...The Iraqi people when posed with a choice between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government they've chosen the Iraqi government. Think about Anbar Province. Last November written off. Everybody said it's wholly owned and operated by al Qaeda. But when it became clear we were putting more forces in, what happened? The local tribal leaders said, thank God you're here, they're killing our people. They're invaders, they're desecrating Islam. They are humiliating our people. Help us out. What's happened now? They've put al Qaeda to route and all of a sudden Anbar is something that we're pointing to as a success story. Markets are opening, people have political rights. And you know what they're saying to Americans? They're saying thank you. Same thing is starting to go on in Diyala Province, similarly in neighborhoods in Baghdad. Same pattern. ... what they need is a sense you are there to stay, you are in there to fight and you are in there to win. Just told you about Anbar. I told you about Diyala. There is safety in the north, there is safety in the south. --July 12, 2007 [52]
  • ...there are Islamic extremists who do want to destroy America... we have Osama bin Laden on the run, and there's no question that Americans are for justice.
  • Think of it like this. When Burger King, if it closes down in the neighborhood, the McDonald's makes a lot more money because there's no competition. Without America competing for the sanity and safety of the Middle East, the terrorist threat will spread like a cancer, and those cancer cells are all throughout the region... We need to stop listening to the clowns in Washington. Dig deep for the courage and conviction to do the hard work that lies ahead so our kids don't have to. This is like winning this war in Iraq. We as a nation can do anything that we set our minds to. Why? Because we're Americans. We're winners. Because we're on the side of what is right and what is just.
  • This country has shed more blood for the freedom of other people than all the other nations in the history of the world combined, and I'm tired of people feeling like they've got to apologize for America.
  • ...freedom is never granted. It is earned by each generation... in the face of tyranny, cruelty, oppression, extremism, sometimes there is only one choice. When the world looks to America, America looks to you, and you never let her down... I have never lost faith in America's essential goodness and greatness... I have 35 years of experience, fighting for real change... the American people and our American military cannot want freedom and stability for the Iraqis more than they want it for themselves... we should have stayed focused on wiping out the Taliban and finding, killing, capturing bin Laden and his chief lieutenants... I also made a full commitment to martial American power, resources and values in the global fight against these terrorists. That begins with ensuring that America does have the world's strongest and smartest military force. We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working... We can't be fighting the last war. We have to be preparing to fight the new war... We've got to be prepared to maintain the best fighting force in the world. I propose increasing the size of our Army by 80,000 soldiers, balancing the legacy systems with newer programs to help us keep our technological edge... I'm fighting for a Cold War medal for everyone who served our country during the Cold War, because you were on the front lines of battling communism. Well, now we're on the front lines of battling terrorism, extremism, and we have to win. Our commitment to freedom, to tolerance, to economic opportunity has inspired people around the world... American values are not just about America, but they speak to the human dignity, the God-given spark that resides in each and every person across the world... We are a good and great nation.
  • Had I won the Nobel Peace Prize, what I would have done is awarded it to either the Bush administration for successfully disarming the nuclear program of North Korea and working diligently to do the same thing in Iran, or I would have awarded it to General Petraeus and the United States military. If there has ever been an engine for peace in the world, it is the United States military.
  • Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone. [...] Americans acknowledge that liberty is a gift of God, not an indulgence of government. No people in the history of the world have sacrificed as much for liberty. The lives of hundreds of thousands of America's sons and daughters were laid down during the last century to preserve freedom, for us and for freedom loving people throughout the world. America took nothing from that Century's terrible wars - no land from Germany or Japan or Korea; no treasure; no oath of fealty. America's resolve in the defense of liberty has been tested time and again. It has not been found wanting, nor must it ever be. America must never falter in holding high the banner of freedom.
  • a little place called El Salvador, a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, provided that little shield around that government, while they stood up and had free elections and brought freedom to El Salvador... that lady in El Salvador who stood there in the line for the elections... she had a bullet hole in her arm and she was asked, do you want to go to the aid station, and she said, yes, but first, I vote.
  • ...the people who are dying right now, who come back and say that they feel proud because they have been part of something special. Yes, that's absolutely right, absolutely goddamn right. When they come back, they say that the thing that they find is, they're part of building something special that Iraqis have never had before.
  • The entire South American continent has long chafed under the benign neglect of one U.S. administration after another.
  • I think, suggesting that America is somehow responsible for 9/11 is... Reverend Wright did suggest...
  • ...we went into Iraq at the invitation of the government, not as an invasion.
  • You’ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans ... America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before September 11, 2001.
  • I'd like to be a president (known) as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace.
  • In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?
  • We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.
  • Building a democracy, especially in this part of the world, which we did not know any form of democratic government, is very difficult. But we are making progress, and we are moving along, thanks to the help of this wonderful U.S. military who have come from a far to help us and give us a chance to build a decent nation here. [...] Seriously, this is no pandering, these people have saved us from tyranny, from genocide.
  • I believe the United States of America is the greatest country on earth and therefore will not apologize for policies or actions which have served to free more and feed more people around the world than any other nation on the planet. You know what, when everybody else apologizes for all the crap they've done then we can apologize for our crap too. Boo-hoo, cry me a river.
  • It’s now a long, confused history. [...] the price of defending our nation cannot be spending years — at a cost of precious lives and hundreds of billions of dollars — in a vain attempt to give people who despise us a way of life they don’t want.
  •'s a different situation. The Afghan people by and large like America. They like us. They hated the Russians. But they fear the Taliban because they don't have security. [...] I submit we give it one more shot. We give McChrystal the 40,000 he needs and we see what happens.
  • [The United States has] certainly at a high level, gone to extremes to protect innocent civilians. Where they've made mistakes, and mistakes have been made, in Kosovo, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, apologies have followed. The United States, in general, has accepted and tried its best, with the assistance of military lawyers, has tried its best to avoid violating international humanitarian law.
  • Al-Qaeda was embedded in Afghan society, it was given safe haven by Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership. And they were given a chance to turn over al-Qaeda and Bin Laden before we attacked them, and they refused.

Opposing views

  • We believe no more in Bonaparte's fighting merely for the liberties of the seas than in Great Britain's fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object is the same, to draw to themselves the power, the wealth and the resources of other nations.
    • Thomas Jefferson, cited by Mexican historian José Fuentes Mares in Cecil Robinson, ed. and trans., The View from Chapultepec: Mexican Writers on the Mexican-American War (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989): p. 160.
  • We make no hypocritical pretense of being interested in the Philippines solely on account of others. While we regard the welfare of those people as a sacred trust, we regard the welfare of the American people first. We see our duty to ourselves as well as to others. We believe in trade expansion. By every legitimate means within the province of government and constitution we mean to stimulate the expansion of our trade and open new markets.
  • The guns of Dewey in Manilla Bay were heard across Asia and Africa, they echoed through the palace at Peking and brought to the Oriental mind a new and potent force among western nations. We, in common with the countries of Europe, are striving to enter the limitless markets of the east [...] These people respect nothing but power. I believe the Philippines will be enormous markets and sources of wealth.
  • And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one - our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.
  • In its advocacy of the Monroe Doctrine the United States considers its own interests. The integrity of other American nations is an incident, not an end. While this may seem based on selfishness alone, the author of the Doctrine had no higher or more generous motive in its declaration. To assert for it a nobler purpose is to proclaim a new doctrine.
  • You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bitten.
  • We'll smash down your doors, we don't bother to knock. We've done it before, so why all the shock?
  • If we go to war with Russia, I hope the "innocent" are destroyed along with the guilty. There aren't many innocent people there -- those who do exist are not in the big cities, but mainly in concentration camps.
  • Hence in Britain, empire was justified as a benevolent "White Man's Burden." And in the United States, empire does not even exist; "we" are merely protecting the causes of freedom, democracy, and justice worldwide.
  • Everything which the Arab reality offers that is generous, open and creative is crushed by regimes whose only anxiety is to perpetuate their own power and self-serving interest. And what is often worse is to see that the West remains insensitive to the daily tragedy while at the same time accommodating, not to say supporting, the ruling classes who strangle the free will and aspirations of their people.
    • Abdellatif Laabi (Moroccan writer), Jeune Afrique magazine, September 5, 1990, cited by Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander in "Unholy Babylon, The Secret History of Saddam's War" (Victor Gollenz Ltd London 1991): p. 71
  • When the United States leads, the United Nations will follow. When it suits our interest to do so, we will do so. When it does not suit our interests, we will not.
  • I never criticized United States planners for mistakes in Vietnam. True, they made some mistakes, but my criticism was always aimed at what they aimed to do and largely achieved. The Russians doubtless made mistakes in Afghanistan, but my condemnation of their aggression and atrocities never mentioned those mistakes, which are irrelevant to the matter — though not for the commissars. Within our ideological system, it is impossible to perceive that anyone might criticize anything but "mistakes" (I suspect that totalitarian Russia was more open in that regard).
  • Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or "disappeared", at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.
  • Never before in modern history has a country dominated the earth so totally as the United States does today. [...] American idols and icons are shaping the world from Katmandu to Kinshasa, from Cairo to Caracas. Globalization wears a 'Made in USA' label. [...] The Americans are acting, in the absence of limits put to them by anybody or anything, as if they own a blank check in their 'McWorld.' Strengthened by the end of communism and an economic boom, Washington seems to have abandoned its self-doubts from the Vietnam trauma. America is now the Schwarzenegger of international politics: showing off muscles, obtrusive, intimidating.
  • It's threatening enough when government uses force in America, but the really big guns come out when government intervenes overseas. The Cold War may be over, but since then we've still sent soldiers to Somalia, Panama, Bosnia, and a hundred other countries in the name of "keeping the peace". Sometimes we seem to bomb first and ask questions later. We bombed this factory in Sudan... Our interventions may even make America less safe, more vulnerable to terrorism, because they tend to make us new enemies.
  • We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.
  • The CIA, in its present state, is viewed by its Capitol Hill overseers as incapable of targeting Osama bin Laden. That leads to an irresistible impulse to satisfy Americans by pulverizing Afghanistan, a desire heightened by Friday's refusal of the country's Taliban rulers to give up bin Laden.
  • Fundamentally I don't see how the government of my country has done anything whatsoever to address and correct the root causes of international terrorism. Quite the contrary; every action I can see seems almost designed to have the opposite effect — as if orchestrated to maximize the finances of those who make armaments, by maximizing the number of people who now hate me personally for actions that I do not personally condone. How can I be a proud citizen of a country that unilaterally pulls out of widely accepted treaties, that refuses to accept a world court, that flouts fair trade with shameful policies regarding steel and agriculture, and that almost blindly supports Israel's increasingly unjustifiable occupation? And worst of all, I find that my leaders, including you, are calling for war against a sovereign nation that we suspect to be corrupt, thereby (even if our suspicions are correct) undermining all precedents against unilateral action by other countries who might in future decide that our own policies are wrong. If we peremptorily strike country X, why shouldn't country X have a right to do the same to us, and to our children and grandchildren in future years?
  • We haven't [helped pay for schools, roads and even day care centers]. How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?
  • Regime change, substituting one tyrant for another tyrant, with the biggest tyrant pulling the puppet strings of all the tyrants, does not make for peace... When we turn right around and say that our God condones the killing of innocent civilians as a necessary means to an end. We say that God understands collateral damage... We say that God will bless the shock and awe as we take over unilaterally another country... making a preemptive strike in the name of God. We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag, calling on the name a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem...
  • ...I think the more the West supports Musharraf, the stronger the extremist forces grow and the moderate forces are being marginalized, that's not good for Pakistan... There is rising anti-Americanism for different reasons. One of them is that Musharraf is a dictator and people feel angry that the West talks about freedom but turns a blind eye to the empowerment of Pakistanis. The second reason is that we have a very large Pakhtun population and the bombing in Afghanistan led to many civilian deaths and people knew each other across the border, so there is that grief...
  • The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win.
  • Every time you talk about Vietnam, it's always — the Vietnam war is summarized this way, "58,000 American killed and anywhere between 2 and 3 million Vietnamese." There is a distinction between 2 and 3 million, but that's okay. I used to joke all the time — racism in America, is so endemic and so hard to see, but I was always — I used to joke that I was very proud of Bill Clinton because he was the first president, in Kosovo, the former Yugoslavia, since World War II to actually bomb white people.
  • ...the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that ten years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq. I would like to hear that. But that's one of the things that concerns Iraqi people. And when I meet with Arab leaders around the world they all have noticed this. They're the ones that have brought it to my attention and I think it's an accurate statement.
  • We are not going to see any more US troops come home in body bags at Dover for the sake of some Cheney affiliate grabbing the petroleum in Iran's Ahvaz fields.
  • So, what about the inevitable next step - a defensive military force paid for directly by the corporations that would most benefit from its protection? If, for example, an insurrection in Nigeria threatens that nation's ability to export oil (and it does), why not have Chevron or Exxon Mobil underwrite the dispatch of a battalion or two of mercenaries?
  • Whatever the motives of George W Bush, for Tony Blair, the war against Saddam was supposed to be another demonstration that military force could be applied to produce good outcomes by removing one of the worst tyrannies on the planet.
  • He is a war criminal. He brought about the war against Iraq deliberately, with lies and falsehoods.
  • The one who put the bomb to kill the occupier is different from the one who put a bomb to kill an innocent human being. What can we say to the American forces who killed 100,000 Iraqis?
  • Eyes are shedding tears, and the heart feels pain and sadness for our people in Lebanon due to the bombing, terror and clear aggression that the Zionist enemy conducts and that is shielded by a number of countries, including the United States.
  • The scale of the tragedy that has befallen Lebanon is a result of the continuous Israeli attacks, which have reached the point where patience can no longer bear. It is not possible to stand with folded hands before them. The international community must take the intitiative to impose an immediate ceasefire and to halt this horrific tragedy. The Muslim world and all peace-loving people will not excuse the parties that put obstacles in the way of this.
  • [The execution of Saddam Hussein] was an opportunity to set the world a good example of civilized behaviour in dealing with a barbarically uncivilized man... If Bush and Blair are eventually put on trial for war crimes, I shall not be among those pressing for them to be hanged... Uniquely privileged evidence on the American government's enthusiastic arming of Saddam before they switched loyalties is now snuffed out at the tug of a rope (no doubt to the relief of Donald Rumsfeld and other guilty parties -- it is surely no accident that the trial of Saddam neglected those of his crimes that might -- no, would -- have implicated them).
  • In the beloved Iraq, the bloodshed is continuing under an illegal foreign occupation and detestable sectarianism. The blame should fall on us, the leaders of the Arab nation, with our ongoing differences, our refusal to walk the path of unity. All that has made the nation lose its confidence in us.
  • Of course I am an absolute, pure democrat. But you know the problem? It's not even a problem, it's a real tragedy. The thing is that I am the only one, there just aren't any others in the world. Let's look what happens in North America -- sheer horror: torture, the homeless, Guantanamo, keeping people in custody without trial or investigation.
  • The war is an immoral abomination that we'll pay for for decades to come. We're paying for it now at the rate of 100 kids a month while Bush plays politics with it. [...] I've always thought that they were bad people with evil intent - and all that, it's playing out now.
  • ...most of my fellow Democratic presidential candidates want you to think the world is divided between good and evil and they are on 'the side of angels.'
  • Republicans sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement.
  • An even more appalling measure of Western arrogance - also speaking volumes about "us" when confronted with the incomprehensible "other" - is the diatribe with which the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, chose to "greet" his guest, a head of state. Bollinger, supposedly an academic, spoke about confronting "the mind of evil". His crass behavior got him 15 minutes of fame. Were President Bush to be greeted in the same manner in any university in the developing world - and motives would abound also to qualify him as a "cruel, petty dictator" - the Pentagon would have instantly switched to let's-bomb-them-with-democracy mode.
  • The Americans were caught with their pants down after 9/11. They are committing unspeakable acts. I think that the human rights violations there are unacceptable and that they will be sorry for it and pay reparations for it. We are not like that. Because our High Court has prepared the tools to deal with the reality that isn't only 9/11, unfortunately. We have prepared tools to defend human rights in times of peace as well as in times of war.
  • We are a nation at war and in many [ways] the reasons for war are fights over energy sources, which is nonsensical when you consider that domestically we have the supplies ready to go.
  • We have no other choice, we have no power to stop the [U.S.] planes, if we could, if I could ... we would stop them and bring them down.
  • I was always on Darth Vader's side, even when I saw the movie. And I'm sticking with him.
  • Writes a soldier: "I’m a Christian and a soldier. I take offense from your writings. I believe in freedom of speech, but that comes with the responsibilty of tempering it as well. You make it sound like soldiers are evil murderers. Who do you think protects your right to free speach? Who do you think lays their lives on the line every day for people like you who don’t appreciate the sacrifice that soldiers make for you and your family. You may not agree with the War in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat soldiers like they are evil. I hope that one day you rot in Hell." I replied: Sir, do you really think that Bush or Obama can give you the right, and absolve you of the sin, of killing innocent people? That category includes not just civilians, by the way, but also soldiers defending their country from foreign invaders. I hope that one day you go to Heaven.
  • The problem is the American tax code is fundamentally anti-growth, we double-tax savings and investment... Don't bully Switzerland into undermining, emasculating, a very good human rights policy. I thought after Bush spent 8 years irritating the rest of the world, America might have a different attitude, and instead now Obama is going, throwing around the weight of the world like a 800-pound gorilla.

See Also


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