American Exceptionalism

Justice we can believe in or why Bush will walk

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: December 17, 2008

American Exceptionalism

The President ducked two shoes in Iraq recently, just as he will inexplicably also be able to walk away from his office, without the worry of ever having to duck Nancy Pelosi's heels without ever
having to face impeachment by a complicit Congress.

The mind-boggling reason she continues to give regarding why "impeachment is off the table" is that she claims that Democrats are not out for revenge. Somehow, she seems to be oblivious to her
Constitutional duties to defend the Constitution, rather than engage in political calculus (regarding who will control Washington).

Given a different set of circumstances, president George W. Bush and his War Cabinet would not only be impeached, but they would also undoubtedly face war crime tribunals for promoting and authorizing an illegal war and occupation against Iraq a war that is responsible
for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of 4-5 million others.

Chances are likely that Bush will also not have to duck the Obama administration as all indications are that Obama will not show Bush his soles. Instead, he will seek to "move forward" (Washington-speak for ignoring the crimes of fellow politicians) and attempt to govern
from the middle. Governing from the middle is more Washington-speak for ignoring the pursuit of justice.

Perhaps it will be up to history to deliver a verdict against a president that has not simply run circles around the Constitution while ignoring international treaties and agreements but that is
actually responsible for both, Iraqi and U.S. casualties, which number in the tens of thousands.

Despite the glaring evidence that the president consistently lied to Congress and the American public to be able to invade and occupy Iraq, and despite the clear evidence of his approval of torture (claiming that the Geneva Conventions of War were irrelevant) and illegal spying, the question then is, what has been preventing his impeachment and/or imprisonment?

It's called American exceptionalism.

It's the ability to look at the world, not the way it is or ought to be, but rather, through U.S.-rose colored eyes.

Despite the obvious, U.S. politicos and government officials believe that the United States has created the highest form of democracy a shining example to the rest of the world. Here, no one is above the law. In fact, it is loudly proclaimed that "we are a nation of laws." We heard this most loudly when former president Bill Clinton lied to Congress about his trysts with Monica Lewinsky.

But there's also a backside to this idea of American exceptionalism: the United States can do no wrong, or in this case, the president and his underlings can do no wrong. In this case, president Bush authorizing a war that never should have been fought is pedaled not as a crime against humanity, but rather, simply as a policy difference no matter the hundreds of thousands of casualties no matter that thousands of Americans have died and that tens of thousands have been permanently disabled. In the eyes of the U.S. body-politic, that's less a crime or no crime at all because it led to the ouster of a tyrant.

Yet, there's even an exception to this idea; if a president or politico does something immoral something that offends Western/Christian sensibilities such as lying to Congress about having sex, having an abortion or trying to extort money or political favors in exchange for a Senate seat that is considered unforgivable and unpardonable. This is true, more so than starting a destructive
and catastrophic war under false pretenses.

Where does this logic and morality come from? Perhaps from the same logic that says it is permissible to kill a thousand innocents to save one sinner or the medieval idea that found it permissible to kill thousands of non-Christians in the Americas, while seeing it as "a great service to God."

Reaching back to the Dark Ages may seem like stretch, yet, where else can we find an answer that permits a president to war on a weak nation, claiming that God told him to do it and then Congress inexplicably absconding from its Constitutional and moral duties and obligations, not simply to protect the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, but to protect the world from a dangerous and delusional president.

Yet, neither does Pelosi or Obama have the last word on this matter. Thirty years after the fact, Chile's dictator, Agusto Pinochet, and the Argentine generals that waged a "dirty War" in their country, found this out.

(c) Column of the Americas 2008

About Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez:
Rodriguez is a research associate at the University of Arizona
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