Today I came across an essay posted over at Booman Tribune in the summer of 2006. It was written when the drumbeat of war with Iran was louder than it was today, but it’s still relevant. It will be for the rest of my life, I suspect:
The disconnect between mainstream America and critics abroad is unarguably a wide one, and most likely an unbridgeable one, at least in practical and reality-based terms, but it may be possible for each, if they try, to get at least some sort of understanding of the other’s position, even though it is very unlikely that anyone will change their minds.
Let’s look at the American point of view first, since so many people around the world have trouble understanding it. The first step is accepting, whether you agree with the practice or not, that Americans are taught almost from birth that not only is the United States the greatest country in the world, but it is so much greater than any other country, in every possible way, that laws and rules that may govern the way the global community of nations behaves toward each other simply do not apply to the US because of its greatness and uniqueness. It is not that the US objects, for example, to international laws or the Geneva cnoventions. In fact, if any other nation even thought about going round to other countries and seizing people at will, and hauling them off to secret torture camps, you can bet that the US would be the first to condemn such an atrocity, and would aggressively pursue any and all strategies and methods to put a stop to the practice immediately, and bring that rogue nation to heel, quite very possibly including a very swift and most likely unceremonious regime change. Now there might be exceptions to that. Note that word exception, because you will be hearing it a lot. An exception might be, for instance, Israel. As most people are aware, the US and Israel have a very special and unique relationship. So special and unique in fact that situations, such as that international kidnapping and torture camp thing, might not be looked at in the same way as it would if say Malaysia did it. Or France. Or Iran. Like the US itself, Israel would be considered an Exception.
That word, exception, is so important because to Americans, it’s not just a word. It’s not just a policy. It’s a doctrine. A fundamental core value on which policy is based, and according to which policy is implemented.
Where do we go from here?