Thursday, July 14, 2005

It's the empire, stupid

Once again, a much-needed dose of reality from CounterPunch, this time in the form of Robert Jensen, who writes, in part:

In U.S. political mythology, we were either a well-intentioned giant that simply misunderstood the nature of Vietnamese society (the liberal view), or a well-intentioned giant kept from victory by a fifth column at home (the reactionary view).

In the mythology of U.S. journalism, the news media played the role of tough critic, holding the powerful accountable for their mistakes. In this story, reporters and editors are either heroes for their courage (the liberal view) or traitors for their contribution to defeat (the reactionary view).

The problem is that both myths are myths. The U.S. assault on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia was part of a wider attack on independent movements in the Third World, which U.S. policymakers were eager to destroy. And the U.S. press was mostly boosterish about the war, especially in the early years, becoming skeptical only when larger forces in society turned critical...

...most central to the imperial enterprise: "America Is a Fair and Noble Superpower." It is this American exceptionalism -- the belief that unlike other great powers, the United States is motivated not by the self-interest of some set of elites but by benevolence -- which allows policymakers to sell wars that are designed to extend and deepen U.S. power as a kind of international community service. In the words of pundit Charles Krauthammer, "We run a uniquely benign imperium," a claim that is regarded as absurd around the world but is shamefully easy to peddle to the U.S. public.

Because we are this benign power, "Our Leaders Will Do Everything They Can to Avoid War." Solomon methodically goes through the evidence for the opposite conclusion: U.S. leaders often strive to make war inevitable...

Read the article here.

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