November 18, 2011

American exceptionalism on decline? Maybe, maybe not

The New York Times columnist Charles Blow has a good column about American exceptionlism and its possible decline. He notes that a Pew poll had just 49 percent of respondents saying the U.S. was "exceptional." Among those aged 18-29, the percent saying America was exceptional was less than their counterparts in Germany, Spain and Britain.

Unfortunately, two kinder, gentler neocons, Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz, seemed to have missed the message vis-a-vis Iran. The duo is kinder and gentler because they aren't calling for nuking the shit out of Iran, but for "smarter sanctions."
Here's where they still indulge in American exceptionalism -- claiming that we can dictate the terms of future sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile, despite neocons' general claims to be about a New World Morality, this duo is willing to co-opt China:
(W)e should allow companies from countries that have little interest in Iran’s nuclear program, or its pro-democracy Green Movement, and that are willing to risk their access to American markets — mainly Chinese companies — to continue buying Iranian crude in whatever quantity they desire.
First, how this would be smarter sanctions, I don't know, even with this claim:
This would reduce the number of buyers of Iranian petroleum, without reducing the quantity of oil on the market. With fewer buyers to compete with, the Chinese companies would have significant negotiating leverage with which to extract discounts from Tehran. The government could lose out on tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue, loosening its hold on power. 
In case the Iraq War didn't make it clear, this should. Neocons are generally DUMB as well as amoral. (That's the subject of another post.

That said, the narrow-minded focus on U.S. oil prices the duo betrays is an example of American exceptionalism, namely that we can opt out of world marketplaces just because we say so. Behind that is the American exceptionalist idea that we can lead China around by the nose. That wasn't true when neocons were dumb enough to push to invade Iraq in 2003 and it certainly isn't true now.

UPDATE, Nov. 21: Here's the reality of the U.S.'s cobbled-together sanctions, world opposition to them included.
More proof that American exceptionalism is alive and well? Business immorality, your latest example coming courtesy of the Baum law firm in Buffalo.

Remember the mortgage foreclosure law firm in Buffalo? The one with the Halloween party about coming dressed as your favorite foreclosed tenant? Yeah, THAT Baum law firm, Steven J. Baum PC. Well, now, it's picking a fight with the NYT columnist who helped publicize its evil:
“There is blood on your hands for this one, Joe,” (Steven J. Baum) wrote at the end of that second e-mail. “I will never, ever forgive you for this.” 
But, per New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, people like this, as well as Wall Street bankers, had nothing to do with our financial meltdown.

There's the next part of American exceptionalism that's still alive and well. I think that, in much of the world, even the developed democratic world, politicians expect the public expects they're lying much of the time. In America, land of moral self-righteousness, many politicians still think the public actually believes them.

Finally, when American companies that may support SOPA complain about Chinese web censorship, we now have American exceptionalism entering the online world.

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