A debate has been raging in the media over the concept of American Exceptionalism.  On September 10th, President Obama gave a speech outlining the evidence that exposed Syria’s use of chemical weapons on their own people.  In that speech, he laid out the moral argument for American intervention in preparation for possible action if all the political cards line up and there seems to be a political will or general consensus for us to act. In the last three paragraphs of his speech, he appealed to America’s moral leadership in the world in the past.  By quoting from FDR, who led our nation against the very powerful and very evil Nazi regime, Obama was suggesting by rhetorical connection that we have a moral obligation in the modern world to also oppose evil if it is within our power to do so.  In President Obama’s closing three paragraphs, he said:

“Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way?”

“Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged.” Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used.”

“America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

It was this last paragraph, mentioning American exceptionalism, that garnered the most attention, starting with Vladimir Putin’s unprecedented op ed piece in the New York Times the following day.  Mr. Putin, in reference to the idea of American exceptionalism, wrote, “And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

More on this tomorrow.  May God bless your evening and your rest and worship on Sunday.

 


Comments

It was really informative to read about the American exceptionalism. I agree with the post, I know right, indeed It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. Great post.

Reply
09/15/2017 6:53am

Very good lesson. It gives inspiration to keep learning.

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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