Exceptionalism, Imperialism, and Morality

Thoughts on the 248th birthday of the United States

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.
— George Washington, Farewell Address to the People of the United States, 19 September 1796

American Exceptionalism

There is an argument that, from post-WWII to the present, international relations and the state of the world would be in a far worse condition except for the actions and forces of the United States’ foreign and military policy. Despite this or that excess, transgression, strategic blunder, or self-serving activity of post-war American international activities, the United States has been a force for good throughout the world, and the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization plays a vital role in maintaining that peace and order. Absent benign American international force and leadership, the era of Pax Americana would have been one of turbulent conflicts, during which the evils of economic and social Marxism would have resulted in global misery and strife. The United States is exceptional for a variety of reasons, of which its commitments to universally promoting justice, freedom, democracy, and human rights- all grounded in a commitment to the rule of law based on a constitution that is predicated on the thesis that all men are created equal and have fundamental, inalienable rights. These characteristics have made the USA an exemplar of a “shining city on the hill” for all peoples and nations.  That the 20th century actually was the American century.

Unfortunately, this train of thought has developed into a general sense of arrogant entitlement on the part of the US military/intelligence complex (security or deep state). Essentially, that the US is so powerful that it can do what it wants, in a unilateral manner, to advance the foreign and domestic policy agendas which have been developed without taking into account the perspectives and opinions of others. Policy positions grounded in a dangerous and counterproductive narcissistic immaturity, otherwise known as Neoconservatism.  Full spectrum US global dominance.

The counterpoint to the narrative of American exceptionalism is usually some version of the narrative that after WWII, the United States just stepped into the power vacuum left by the failed British and European empires and has primarily acted as a disingenuous, hegemonic, self-serving imperialistic global superpower. One whose actions mainly support the interests of its large corporations, oligarchs, and associated industries. Or that the United States is the great Satan if one accepts the simplified demagoguery of the Iranian Islamic State and its surrogates.


These opposing alternative narratives share one common feature. Both agree that after WWII, the United States became an imperialistic superpower. This truth is self-evident. George Washington’s simple, mature wisdom was jettisoned for imperial dreams.

But of course it has, the argument goes, because of the post-WWII power vacuum, some nation-state had to provide global leadership, enforce peace, law, and order (“policeman to the world”), expand “democracy,” facilitate trade and commerce, and provide a common currency (“petrodollar”).  If not the United States, then what other country would lead opposition to and contain the expansionism of Russian, Chinese, Islamic, or <fill in the blank> nation-states.  The logic goes that this is what nation-states do.  They seek power and territory.  They interfere with the internal affairs of their rivals.  Seen through the lens of Austrian economic anarcho-capitalist theory, nation-states are akin to predatory warlords grown large enough to develop a veneer of legitimacy and act accordingly.  And so, realistically (“realpolitik”), if not for the guiding hand of benign United States Imperialism, a chain of chaos and communist dominoes would fall.  If not us, then who?

Let’s wind back in time to 1648, the foundation of the modern system of nation-states, the “Thirty Years War,” and the “Treaty of Westphalia.”

The Thirty Years’ War was a devastating conflict that lasted from 1618 to 1648. It involved many European countries, including the Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, France, and the Dutch Republic. The war was fought over issues of religion, politics, and territory, and it caused widespread destruction and loss of life.

The Treaty of Westphalia consisted of two primary documents: the Peace Treaty of Osnabrück and the Peace Treaty of Münster. The key provisions of the treaties included:

  • The recognition of the independence of the Dutch Republic and the Swedish Empire.
  • The principle of sovereignty was established, which held that each state had the right to govern itself and make its own decisions.
  • The recognition of the right of each state to choose its own religion and to enter into alliances with other states.
  • Establishing a system of international relations based on diplomacy and negotiation rather than war and conquest.

The Treaty of Westphalia is considered one of the most important treaties in European history. It marked a turning point in the development of international relations, and it established a new system of diplomacy and negotiation that would last for centuries. The treaty also had a profound impact on the development of modern nation-states.

Now, fast-forward to the post-WWII period of United States foreign and domestic policy and the “American Exceptionalism” Neoconservative justification for American Imperialism. Consider the argument, “If not us, then who?”

Functionally, who is the “us” in this case, who acts as the guiding hand of United States Imperialism?  The answer is the “deep state”, ergo the national security apparatus, with the CIA being at the center of that bureaucratic matrix.  After WWII, the deep state and CIA were developed into the present form to functionally operate as a private army of the President. The principle tasks achieved by the deep state have largely involved toppling other governments via CIA-led covert operations. In other words, interfering with the internal affairs of other nation-states in the most blatant manner.  Completely contrary to the most fundamental principles of the Westphalian nation-state system.

What is the “deep state”? The President, National Security Council, intelligence agencies, Pentagon leadership, a handful of major military contractors, and the congressional armed services committees.  Over 70 regime change operations were authorized and managed by the deep state between 1947 and 1989, 64 of which were “covert,” as documented in the book “Covert Regime Change” by Lindsey O’Rourke.  Covert change of foreign nation-state governments is what the deep state does.

Unfortunately, for my happiness, peace of mind, and ability to accept this narrative, my eyes are now opened to the current reality of an American nation-state “managed” by techno-bureaucrats who are functionally led by a small, self-serving, corrupt elite, which is what the “deep state” (or blob) has become.  A rogue branch of the United States federal government administrative state that routinely manipulates citizens to accept questionable management decisions by deploying propaganda, censorship, and psychological operations technologies.  One which seems to pay lip service to its founding principles and no longer respects its own laws.  An elite that no longer believes in the concept of sovereign nation-states, and now seeks to substitute a new system of globalized governance led by appointed “leaders” who are closely allied and aligned with very large transnational corporate interests.

This leads me to ponder how we got to this point and what can be done about it.

In his “Farewell Address,” George Washington warned against the dangers of foreign entanglements. He emphasized the importance of avoiding permanent alliances with foreign nations and instead advised reliance on temporary alliances for emergencies. Why?

Washington believed that permanent alliances with foreign nations could lead to:

  • Loss of Independence: The United States risked losing its independence and autonomy by becoming entangled in foreign affairs.
  • Financial Burden: Permanent alliances could lead to significant financial burdens, as the United States would be obligated to provide military and economic support to its allies.
  • Distrust and Mistrust: Permanent alliances could also lead to suspicion and mistrust among nations, as each side would be wary of the other’s intentions.

His advice to the new nation was to:

  • Avoid Permanent Alliances: Washington recommended forming temporary alliances for specific emergencies or crises instead of permanent alliances.
  • Focus on Domestic Affairs: Washington believed that the United States should focus on its domestic affairs and prioritize its interests rather than becoming entangled in foreign affairs.
  • Maintain Neutrality: Washington advocated for maintaining neutrality in international conflicts, avoiding involvement in foreign wars and instead focusing on promoting peace and stability through diplomacy.

Fundamentally,  George Washington was a mature, pragmatic nationalist.  In today’s language, he would probably be labeled an isolationist and a far-right populist.

One of many alternative hypotheses is that the current state of US foreign and domestic affairs is the logical consequence of a decades-long slide down a slippery slope with no limits.  There are no limits to the slope and the slide because the United States has scrapped morality for the siren song of utilitarianism—the greatest good for the greatest number.  Ends justify the means.  Realpolitik.  And increasingly, socialism and cultural Marxism.

As is often the case, choices have short and long-term consequences.

The decision to disregard Washington’s advice and travel down the path of imperialism may have been easy to justify when the opportunity presented, as the world surrounding the United States lay in disarray. Still, it has come at a steep price.  Over the short term, imperialism brought enormous benefits to the homeland, as it always does (at first).  Unprecedented economic benefits, expansion of the middle class, and a standard of living that has been the envy of the world were enabled significantly by importing wealth and resources from other sovereign nation-states.  Augmented by innovation, fueled by freedom of thought (and speech) combined with a work ethic forged in self-reliant, can-do frontier culture.  But the long-term price paid has been the soul of the nation.


Many, including myself, are uncomfortable with imperialism. Interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign foreign nations is not ethical. This stems, in part, from having internalized the fundamental principles of the Treaty of Westphalia. Although I was never taught this in high school civics, the US Constitution is built upon the principles of the Treaty of Westphalia. Indeed, George Washington understood these principles.

Globalism feels wrong to me, in part because globalist theory basically rejects the Treaty of Westphalia and the logic of a decentralized network of sovereign and autonomous nation-states, substituting a single global government in its place.

It seems self-evident that Imperialism is fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Westphalia.  In particular, the principle of sovereignty is that each state has the right to govern itself and make its own decisions.

In the European power vacuum that followed WWII, the US diplomatic corps and intelligence community reached a consensus that it was acceptable to actively interfere in other nation-states’ affairs using various covert “active measures,” otherwise commonly known as dirty tricks. These measures were designed to mitigate short-term risks to US foreign policy objectives. However, actions have short—and long-term consequences, which are often unpredictable.

For example, a case can be made that the British and US-instigated 1953 Iranian coup d’etat, which was primarily performed to safeguard the interests of British oil interests in Iran and overthrew the elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh in favor of the shah (Palavi), eventually resulted in the Iranian revolution and the birth of the Iranian Islamic state. Blowback on a grand scale.

Once the moral line had been crossed and active measures to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nation-states justified in the name of US foreign policy, then the classical incremental logic of all bureaucratic administrative states was set loose. Covert active measures lead to more covert active measures, leading to justifying election interference, overthrowing duly elected “democratic” governments, and assassinations of foreign leaders, all in the name of protecting US foreign interests. And, I suggest, from there, it was only a short step to justifying an American coup involving the assassination of a US President. All to defend the foreign and domestic policy objectives of a post-war permanent shadow US leadership. The primacy of the deep state.

Which brings us to the present, where it seems that anything goes. All is fair in love, war, and politics. Including imprisoning your political enemies. If voting manipulation is acceptable offshore to defend policy objectives, why not domestically? If deploying psychological warfare against offshore opponents is acceptable, then deploying the same technology, strategies, and tactics against citizens is acceptable because the ends justify the means.

I must be naïve because I think that George Washington got it right. We should avoid foreign entanglements.  Tend to our garden and let others tend to theirs because no one can see into the future. Because actions have unintended long-term consequences. Because it is the right thing to do.

Morality is a strange thing. Once compromised, further compromises become inevitable because there is always some argument to justify short-term self-interest—the slippery slope. Recognition of this truth is a sign of maturity, and outsiders often see the United States post-WWI actions and foreign policy positions as immature. Neoconservatism is an immature, narcissistic policy stance.  The United States Government must return to a commitment to its founding principles, to the rule of law, and to a firm, unwavering commitment to the core principles often referred to as Judeo-Christian morality, the values which are rooted in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament. These include:

  • Respect for human life: Both Judaism and Christianity teach that human life is sacred and should be protected.
  • Justice and fairness: Both traditions emphasize the importance of treating others fairly.
  • Love and compassion: Both Judaism and Christianity teach the importance of loving and showing compassion to others.
  • Honesty and integrity: Both traditions emphasize the importance of honesty and integrity in one’s words and actions.
  • Respect for authority: Both Judaism and Christianity teach the importance of respecting authority and submitting to God’s will.

Today, we should celebrate the founding of the United States. But let’s do so with a realistic understanding of what we have become, how far we have strayed from our fundamental principles and morality, and what we must do to Make America Great Again.

Robert W Malone MD, MS is president of the Malone Institute whose mission is to bring back integrity to the biological sciences and medicine. The Malone Institute supports and conducts research, education, and informational activities. Contact: info@maloneinstitute.org. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.