America Exceptionalism

A recent article covered Mitt Romney’s speech at a Memorial Day event at a veterans museum in San Diego.1 Romney sees the upcoming presidential election as a choice in an unsafe world between a nation that is weakened militarily versus “a strong America.”

I want to ask Romney: Why is the world not safe? Who is making it unsafe? His answers, however, would be totally predictable.

Romney’s message was clear: “Americans ‘have two courses we could follow’ when it comes to the direction of the country.”

“One is to follow the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs… and hope for the best. But if we followed that course, there would be no one stand [sic] and protect us.”

Is Romney saying saying that Europe is unprotected or incapable of defending itself?

Romney commits the logical fallacy called bifurcation: limiting choices to two, when other choices exist. For example, why would verifiable worldwide disarmament not be good course?

The other choice, according to Romney, “is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

Now why should this be the foremost commitment? How about this as a commitment?: to commit to preserve America as the most egalitarian in the world, poverty eliminated, second to none, with no comparable egalitarianism anywhere in the world. Phrased in Romney style it still comes across as selfish. Is that the kind of votes Romney is courting? Is the following not a more principled stand?: to commit America to eradicating poverty at home and abroad. If everyone lives under a roof, with food on the table, and at a comfortable level, then does violence born of desperation not disappear? Does this not make the world safer?

The article continues: “Listing off a litany of risks—including ‘Iran rushing to become a nuclear nation’ and the growing military strength of China—Romney said protecting America’s military strength isn’t just to ‘win wars and prevent wars’ but to deter wars.”

The listing is supremacist. Implicit is that USA is the best, only the USA should be nuclear, only the USA can have a large military. If Romney’s logic were sound, which it isn’t, then every nation with such capability should attempt to be the most powerful militarily because they don’t want to lose wars, and they would want to prevent and deter wars. Is this not a recipe for increasing militarism? Does this make the world safer?

The scenario that such logic would lead to: people all over working so their tax dollars can go to building bombs and jets instead of schools and bridges.

“A strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever as been invented,” Romney declared.

How factually accurate is Romney’s statement when one considers that “strong America” finds itself in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and wherever next. It seems contrariwise that having a powerful military removes a deterrent to launching wars.

Is Romney the best candidate the Republicans can come up with? Do Americans really want militarist rhetoric from their presidential candidates? As the article indicates, Romney leads Barack Obama in the polls, but Obama is just another warmonger.

A fellow Republican, John McCain, praised Romney as a candidate who believes in “American exceptionalism” and would make a great president.

“American exceptionalism”? Yes, the USA is exceptional in many ways. The USA is exceptionally violent, exceptionally rogue, and exceptionally classist to name a few.

  1. See Holly Bailey, “Romney warns of a weakened military under Obama,” Yahoo News, 29 May 2012. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.