In the discourse that the United States has held since its founding, one thing is indisputable: it is an exceptional nation. Bush or Obama, Trump or Biden, nothing changes.
Buried in the collective unconscious, this postulate of identity runs through history. Like a baton we surreptitiously pass from one president to another, it remains intact, as pristine as the Tablets of the Law. For it is truly of the order of structure, not conjuncture. The peculiarity of the United States is that it believes it is the lifelong custodian of a planetary empire. They project themselves beyond the seas, in the name of a civilizing vocation that reveals above all the noble idea they have of themselves.
Nothing is less secular and more hostile to the well-understood secularism of American ideology. The nation in her exception wraps her hunger for power in the folds of freedom, democracy and human rights, in fact, as if these abstract entities represented gods she had a mission to serve by killing the bad guys.
Since she is the embodiment of Good, is not the world at her disposal, the passive object of her saving impulses? Purveyor of a tailor-made immanent justice, the nation of “manifest destiny” places no limits on her beneficent aura, because she sees in it the legitimate consequence of her moral superiority. Its proximity to the Good sanctifying its earthly power, it relentlessly pursues the forces of evil and sacrifices them in atonement for its crimes.
During the campaign, Joseph Biden promised that he would eliminate “dictators like Castro and Putin.” Claiming his election, he declared that “the United States is ready to rule the world.” As soon as a politician takes up residence in the White House, he is stronger than he is: he must begin to want to govern world affairs, he must fit the mold of the planetary vocation of the providential nation. Washington has just accused Beijing of wanting to “dominate the world,” but one must be caught in willful blindness not to see in this accusation a malignant reversal.
For the conviction of divine election, the identification with the New Israel and the indecipherable myth of “manifest destiny” decry, in every tone, the disconcerting claim of the US oligarchy to subdue the planet. Seeing themselves as the salt of the earth, the Puritans had already given the signal for the conquest of the “virgin lands”, i.e. the large-scale massacre of the Native Americans assimilated to the Canaanites and Amalekites.
Doesn’t everything that comes from God’s chosen nation again belong to the field of Good? The successful conquest of the New World, soon emptied of its inhabitants, convinced the Americans that they belonged to the chosen people. It communicated to them the belief that their power was the divine reward for their inherent qualities.
A self-designation as the embodiment of Good that helped to lend credence to the idea at the end of the 20th century that history had ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The triumph of the United States thus achieved the most successful form of liberal democracy. In a majestic apotheosis, it embodied the sublime ideal of the market economy.
With the triumph of liberal democracy, the universal republic, at last, is on the horizon. This democratic paradise, dispensing its benefits to the entire planet, who could embody it if not America? Its exploits realize the divine plan and providence leads to the triumph of Good under the dazzled gaze of grateful peoples. “Light of the nations,” America firmly guides them toward the Promised Land of a reconciled world.
It is striking, among Americans, how their clean conscience coincides with their decay. The GDP per capita is colossal, but 20% of the population languishes in poverty. Violence reigns, and American prisoners account for 25% of those incarcerated on the planet. Over 30% of the population is affected by obesity and the health crisis is wreaking havoc.
Life expectancy is lower than that of Cubans. But these adventures are of zero measure in the face of essentials, and the real has the kindness to be discreet. Morally perfect, an imaginary America thus presents itself as a complete system, erasing all traces of contradiction and looking to the future with confidence. It is strange, but even when talking about the disasters for which they are responsible, the leaders of this country still smile.
The exceptional nation, it is true, exerts its beneficial effects no matter what happens. Since America is condemned by divine decree to become the empire of the last days, its future and its present are already included in its origin. Invested in a planetary mission, he embraces his “manifest destiny” in a saving gesture that defies space and time. This is why the uplifting narrative never stops extolling his genius.
By rewriting its own history as a holy story, America conflates international law with divine right.
American nationalism is no ordinary nationalism: it expresses the pride of a power that postulates its coincidence with the order willed by the Creator. From the Founding Fathers leaving Europe to founding a virtuous society with heroic victories over the forces of evil, American history is more than history: it is the parousia of Good.
America’s irresistible triumph, then, is nothing less than the miraculous recreation of paradise lost. But to accomplish its mission, the beneficent power also faces hell. The forces of evil, the recalcitrants, the rebels to the imperial order willed by God, must be subjected to the test of fire, the robust pedagogy of the carpet bomb and the virile didactics of torture Made in the CIA.
War waged in the name of Good is governed by a principle from which it never deviates: it is an export product. We export violence to other countries as we export goods.
This war of the salvific West made vassal by Washington is the continuation of politics by other means, as Clausewitz said. But whether it affects populations or states, it is above all a moral, clean, surgical war, one waged against “barbarism” and “dictatorship.”
A paroxysmal form of the North-South relationship, a bloody metaphor of unequal development, it strikes outside, never inside the “civilized” world. Reproducing the duality of the world, it obediently embraces planetary division.
War of the rich against the poor, it is like the series of bombs dropped on Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians, Libyans, Afghans, Yemenis.
Its symbol is the B 52, the napalm, the F-15 fighter jet, the Tomahawk missile, the Predator drone, all this sophisticated machinery of death administered at a distance, without risk, without incidental costs for those who carry out the punishment from heaven.
It is also proxy war, embargo, blockade, economic warfare, insidious destabilization, clandestine action, CIA-fomented coups, terror manipulation, Freedom Fighters, sponsored jihadists, all those “free world” wars that democracies love, under the leadership of an empire taking vengeful power. America is the scourge of good. (WN)
by Jeremy Abbott – American Correspondent