How remarkable that the book that tops the New York Times best seller list is authored, if one were to see through the eyes of mid-Eastern victims of American/Israeli invasions since 9/11, by a war criminal.
Put simply, the purpose of the book is to defend the indefensible, the legitimacy of the Iraq war and the justified empirical ends of the Neo-cons and Zionist agendas that have brought America to its knees in the eyes of the world as terrorist states (1). Indeed isn’t this the crux of the problem? Is America exceptional? How is it exceptional? And why is it exceptional?
Cheney sees America’s exceptionalism as global supremacy that must be maintained, a continuation then of the Project for the New American Century, proposed in 1992 by Cheney and his Neo-con cabal in lock step with AIPAC, to make America the dominant nation on the planet. Fifteen years after the “second Pearl Harbor,” Cheney views that project as an enormous success darkened only by Obama’s failure to sustain the pressure to maintain dominance. Yet even a cursory view of research shows that the Bush/Cheney administration bungled their adventure into the mid-East economically, politically, and morally. The only nation that can claim success is the Zionist led government of Israel (2).
Exceptionalism is not dominance as Joseph Conrad noted in Heart of Darkness as he describes the beginnings of European colonialism: “They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind—as is very proper for those who tackle the darkness.”
Ironically, Cheney’s book attests to this very point—America’s exceptionalism as he sees it is just that dominance “when you have it,” and Cheney is witness to Obama’s vision of an America that no longer has the resources to fall further into the ditch of debt in order to maintain “America’s global dominance.” His eyes, Obama’s eyes, see the darkness Conrad mentions which Conrad describes as
“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it…and an unselfish belief in the idea—something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer sacrifice to…” (3) Like superiority of being, like “chosenness,” like racism that permeates the Zionist/Neo-con mentality giving them the belief that they have a right to dominate the peoples of the world who interfere with their chosen agenda. To give him his due, Obama does not see the world through Cheney’s eyes, he sees through the eyes of the social activist, “to see the world through other people's eyes and not just our own,”(4) an empathy for those oppressed and without power.
So what then is America’s “exceptionalism”? It is the idea that is at the back of it, the idea that gave rise to a philosophical defense to break away from, to dissolve the bonds that link it to a mother country, to declare the “rights of mankind” before the world justifying, if need be, a revolution against that mother country. Again, ironically, Cheney recognizes the minds that conceptualized this exceptional distinction that differentiated America from the rest of the world by quoting, would you believe, Charles Krauthammer, an ardent supporter of the Neo-con philosophy, when he references the founding fathers of our revolution from Jefferson to Adams to Madison to Hamilton, Washington, Franklin and Jay. Perhaps Krauthammer thought he could yoke the Neo-con’s manifesto, “Project for a New American Century” to these cherished documents that made America truly exceptional. Unfortunately, Krauthammer excludes from his list the dominant voice of our exceptionalism, Thomas Paine, the one father who lived the words he preached. Unlike Jefferson and Washington he did not have slaves to free to fulfill what the words he wrote truly meant.
But the Declaration of Independence is not enough to declare America exceptional. That document provided the philosophical base for a new perception of humankind: from subject of Kings, Emperors and dictators to the source of the power that provides the government for the people, resident in the inalienable rights of birth made possible by the Deist conception of the Creator, the conditions that gave rise to life on this planet. All are equal, all possess these rights, and that is the concept behind the Constitution of the United States, the means by which the Declaration can be practiced in fact. “We the people…” it declared. How glorious the concept, how unique for its time, an idea that toppled the powers of the world by offering a whole new concept of the individual. That becomes the threat to those in power; the knowledge by the people of rights denied over the eons of centuries now the very premise of existence. That’s exceptional. The concept that is, not the document itself. We must note that the Constitution is a flawed document, glued together by Ben Franklin’s compromise (5) that left silent the omission of “all the people” left out: the Native Americans and the slaves.
Fortunately Jefferson argued with Adams that the signing of the Constitution did not guarantee those rights. He understood the weakness of those who would and could gain power over the people even in a democracy of rights proclaimed. He argued for and in 1791 got the Bill of Rights through the Congress. Now in theory the exceptionalism was complete, three documents that changed the world for those provided the rights of birth. Even more fortunately, those rights are now recognized and provided for under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the United Nations made available to 194 nations across the planet.
Or so it would seem. Not certainly to the Neo-cons or Cheney who believe that their concepts of power overstep the documents of the US and the UN as Cheney states: “No other nation, international body, or community of nations can do what we do,” ... “America’s enemies are on the wrong side of morality and justice.”
Cheney’s book, Exceptional, can only be viewed through his exceptional eyes that have blinded him from the reality of the Neo-cons/Zionist chaos unleashed on the mid-East. The book deserves to be analyzed if only to ensure that its fabrications be seen for what they are. I present here a peep into the Prologue, that item in a book that talks about its content and the authors’ intent.
In order to grapple with Cheney’s Prologue we must keep in mind what he says are Obama’s beliefs and why they are anathema to the Neo-cons/Zionist forces. “He (Obama) is gambling America’s security on the veracity of the mullahs in Tehran. He is unconcerned with maintaining American supremacy because it is inconsistent with his worldview. ‘No world order,’ he tells us, ‘that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed.’” In short, Obama sees through the eyes of one who thinks of others caught in the vice of a colonial idea and living a life doomed to suppression of rights and oppression by military forces.
Cheney opens his Prologue with a quote from Daniel Webster:
“And now let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of the benefit which the example of our country has produced and is likely to produce on human freedom and human happiness. And let us endeavor to comprehend in all its magnitude and to feel in all its importance the part assigned to us in the great drama of human affairs.”
Strange indeed that Cheney would choose a man who, in his indulgence of an “honest exultation,” would omit as an example of our country’s contribution “to human freedom and human happiness” the malignancy that permeated the institution of slavery which Webster supported. Here is what his biographer wrote of this “exceptional man.”
“He spoke for conservatives, and led the opposition to Democrat Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party. He was a spokesman for modernization, banking, and industry, but not for the common people who composed the base of his opponents in Jacksonian Democracy. "He was a thoroughgoing elitist, and he reveled in it," says biographer Robert Remini.” (Wikipedia).
One has to pay attention to Cheney’s words and the words he does not provide lest the reality behind his effusive, shall we dare say “exceptional, unrestrained, lavish” words, veil truth that contradicts the very praise he gushes forth as definitive. This one can surmise, Webster’s elitism is something Cheney also revels in, especially his disdain for the common person or, to put it in democratic terms, the individual citizen who should be respected, treated with dignity and called upon to consider actions to be taken in his/her name, like freedom of speech, like creating war regardless of international law, like recognition of the illegality of torture, extrajudicial execution, abandonment of the writ of habeas corpus, the very abandonment of law in favor of dictatorial directives; such is the mindset of one who guided the development of America’s foreign policy under George W. Bush with the aid of the Neo-cons and PNAC, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” a policy antithetical to the founding documents of this democracy.
“Less than fifty years after our founding, the benefit of America’s example for the world was evident. Yet Daniel Webster could not have begun to imagine the true magnitude of the role we would play “in the great drama of human affairs.” We have guaranteed freedom, security, and peace for a larger share of humanity than has any other nation in all of history. There is no other like us. There never has been. We are, as a matter of empirical fact and undeniable history, the greatest force for good the world has ever known.”
Let’s take a serious look at Cheney’s statement: “We have guaranteed freedom, security, and peace for a larger share of humanity than has any other nation in all of history.” No evidence here to demonstrate the truth of this assertion, but who needs it. Consider by contrast a scholar that has investigated just how much guaranteed freedom and security and peace we have as a nation secured for the peoples of the world. James A. Lucas has compiled here an extensive study complete with pages of sources that testify to the accuracy of his statements. It is this reality that Cheney obfuscates with his exuberant words that bury the truth in the very graves of those destroyed by Cheney’s blessed America.
This study reveals that U.S. military forces were directly responsible for about 10 to 15 million deaths during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the two Iraq Wars. The Korean War also includes Chinese deaths while the Vietnam War also includes fatalities in Cambodia and Laos.
The American public probably is not aware of these numbers and knows even less about the proxy wars for which the United States is also responsible. In the latter wars there were between nine and 14 million deaths in Afghanistan, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Sudan.
But the victims are not just from big nations or one part of the world. The remaining deaths were in smaller ones which constitute over half the total number of nations. Virtually all parts of the world have been the target of U.S. intervention.
The overall conclusion reached is that the United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.
To the families and friends of these victims it makes little difference whether the causes were U.S. military action, proxy military forces, the provision of U.S. military supplies or advisors, or other ways, such as economic pressures applied by our nation. They had to make decisions about other things such as finding lost loved ones, whether to become refugees, and how to survive.
And the pain and anger is spread even further. Some authorities estimate that there are as many as 10 wounded for each person who dies in wars. Their visible, continued suffering is a continuing reminder to their fellow countrymen.
It is essential that Americans learn more about this topic so that they can begin to understand the pain that others feel. Someone once observed that the Germans during WWII “chose not to know.” We cannot allow history to say this about our country. The question posed above was “How many September 11ths has the United States caused in other nations since WWII?” The answer is: possibly 10,000. (James A. Lucas, 24 April, 2007, Countercurrents.org).
N.B. War Crimes Times’ Editor’s note: An edited version of this article appears in the Spring 2014 WCT print edition. The link below is to the original unedited version complete with source notes. The numbers in this article were compiled in 2007. Since then, the U.S. has added to its total through attacks on other nations including Libya, Yemen, and Somalia; with its drone program; with the residual political instability from past actions in Afghanistan and Iraq; and likely from secret special operations.
Needless to say, Cheney mentions nothing of the numbers killed or maimed in these imperialist wars waged in distant countries that he was responsible for, though the rationale for America to wage them is mercurial at best and evil at worst. How does one, as a principle actor in the devastation of millions, avoid recognition of the human destruction wrought by his tenure in office, both under H. W. Bush and W. Bush? How does he as Secretary of Defense under Bush senior omit mention of the most horrific blood bath of that pretty little war of 90 days, the literal burial of thousands escaping from Kuwait on the Highway of Death caught in the pinchers of a destroyed roadway on either end.
Here is testimony by Joyce Chediac to this inhumane bloodbath done under the Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney: “I want to give testimony on what are called the "highways of death." These are the two Kuwaiti roadways, littered with remains of 2,000 mangled Iraqi military vehicles, and the charred and dismembered bodies of tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, who were withdrawing from Kuwait on February 26th and 27th 1991 in compliance with UN resolutions.”
U.S. planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours. "It was like shooting fish in a barrel," said one U.S. pilot. The horror is still there to see. … On the sixty miles of coastal highway, Iraqi military units sit in gruesome repose, scorched skeletons of vehicles and men alike, black and awful under the sun, says the Los Angeles Times of March 11, 1991. … There for 60 miles every vehicle was strafed or bombed, every windshield is shattered, every tank is burned, every truck is riddled with shell fragments. No survivors are known or likely. The cabs of trucks were bombed so much that they were pushed into the ground, and it's impossible to see if they contain drivers or not. Windshields were melted away, and huge tanks were reduced to shrapnel.
"Even in Vietnam I didn't see anything like this. It's pathetic," said Major Bob Nugent, an Army intelligence officer. “This one-sided carnage, this racist mass murder of Arab people, occurred while White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater promised that the U.S. and its coalition partners would not attack Iraqi forces leaving Kuwait. This is surely one of the most heinous war crimes in contemporary history. … they were going home, responding to orders issued by Baghdad, announcing that it was complying with Resolution 660 and leaving Kuwait. At 5:35 p.m. (Eastern standard Time)…. President Bush responded immediately from the White House saying (through spokesman Marlin Fitzwater) that "there was no evidence to suggest the Iraqi army is withdrawing. In fact, Iraqi units are continuing to fight. . . We continue to prosecute the war."
The massacre of withdrawing Iraqi soldiers violates the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Common Article III, which outlaws the killing of soldiers who are out of combat.”
“After the cease-fire, in an interview with New York Newsday, Maggart and Moreno came forward with some of the first public testimony about the burying alive of Iraqi soldiers. Prior to their interview, then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, never mentioned the atrocities, even when he submitted a report to Congress just prior to the interviews.” Never admit to what you cannot defend or mention human misery lest it be considered as a weakness. Silence is security for the rapist, the serial killer and the politician that must avoid truth; it is the “Face of Falsehood” that would turn silence of his massacres into “exceptional behavior” when it is in fact “exceptional callousness and cruelty.”
Cheney’s book is a desperate effort to justify the doctrines of the Neo-cons/Zionists based on policies directly opposed to international law as stated in U.S. law and the Charters and Conventions of the United Nations that we have signed. Cheney has served as Secretary of Defense under George 1st and Vice President under George 2nd: as such he has guided into our foreign policy the right of America to preemptively invade sovereign nations based on our assessment of their ability to challenge America’s dominance in the currency that controls world banking and/or threatens America militarily; he has accepted as American policy the right to torture captured enemy soldiers against the Geneva Conventions, to execute extra judicially individuals determined to be a danger to the United States thus erasing American legal procedures without due process, and he has allowed for removal of Habeas Corpus and freedom of speech and due process for American citizens to mention a few..
The consequences of these imposed policies on the United States has been destructive of the very foundational principles of the American exceptional democracy as presented above. A recent study by Princeton University “spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.”(6)
Ultimately the failure of Cheney’s book lies in its belief that power and the sustainability of power embody the exceptionalism of the United States. It is not so. Cheney knows this and implies as much in his condemnation of Obama’s thought:
“The arc of the moral universe is long,” (Obama) he recites, “but ultimately it bends toward justice,” as though no action is required.’ The truth is America’s eloquent and argued principles will be grasped by those suffering under the boots of oppression because their righteousness cries out to all for relief. Even now the Universal Declaration of Human Rights governs or should govern for the people of 194 nations if member states would take control of that institution and yoke it away from rogue states like America and Israel so that the justice provided for in its operation could manifest itself.
The reality of America’s exceptionalism must be understood before it can be sustained. It is not power, it is a moral transcendent concept that reflects the ultimate meaning of humanity in this world. This concept, the rights provided by life, supersede the transience of military power because they are inclusive of all humans both in America and elsewhere in the world should others desire to accept the concept embedded in America’s foundational documents. These cannot be imposed despite Cheney’s desire to impose what the Neo-cons will.
America can and must declare its faults before it can mirror for the world its virtues. The truth is that we began by hiding the evil we embedded in our Constitution by not speaking truth to the world or to our citizens. Our early Presidents imposed policies detrimental to the values asserted in our foundational documents thus silently declaring justification for those policies. We fought a Civil War that emancipated the slaves only to have the country under Jim Crow laws enslave in a different way. Today the completeness of the freedom guaranteed under the Bill of Rights is not yet complete as the actions in Ferguson so graphically display. All Americans, not just Cheney, must attend to this silence.
For Cheney to wish to impose America’s exceptionalism on the people of the mid-East is more than hypocritical, it is diabolical. Ironically he ridicules Russia for building a wall to separate its people from the enemy, yet he accepts and pays for with America’s tax dollars the building of a 400 mile wall in Palestine calling it self-defense for the Israeli nation. That wall is an insult to Americans who had no say in its construction yet have to bear the hatred of the world for having it built in their name. That wall is an abomination against the very principles America touts to the world, “All men are created equal.” That wall is condemned by the International Court of Justice and subsequently denied as operative by the United States by denying its signature to the right of that court to act. This is democracy?
Who is Cheney to declare what is right and what is wrong. He proclaims the might of America’s military forces and uses them to justify America’s use of power against nations that have not acted against America, but he does not find it abominable that he refused to join those forces and reneged five times, it is reported, because "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." (Slate, 3/18/2004).
A man who has no scruples can justify any actions by sarcastic commentary that mocks those who have nothing important to do and can therefore be drafted, but it doesn’t matter because to him they do not exist. A man who has entered into a position of power cannot afford to deny the premises of his actions without condemning himself before the world, but a man of principle will admit to error because he is not alone in the actions he has imposed. Others have suffered but only if they are recognized by the man in power. A man who arguably directed the administration of George W. Bush cannot give credibility to the consequences of his reign in power even though he itemizes them in his Prologue, not to accept responsibility but to transfer blame to the man who followed Bush: “… the explosive spread of terrorist ideology and organizations, the establishment of an ISIS caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and increasing threats from Iran, China, North Korea, and Russia, President Obama has departed from the bipartisan tradition going back seventy-five years of maintaining America’s global supremacy and leadership.”
A man of conscience does not avoid speaking of America’s role in Vietnam because it is embarrassing to talk about or the Iraq war and its exceptional standing as a morally justified war or the immoral policy that yokes America to the Zionist lobby and its affiliates because it destroys America’s credibility abroad; one says nothing---a strategy of silence and omission. A man without a conscience writes a book justifying the actions of his compatriots using the hyperbole of the masters who have conned us in the past, the greatness of America, the exceptional leaders we have had, the victories we have in our recording of the Second World War, because that was a just war, but nothing of the ones he was responsible for because the less said the better.
This book is the face of falsehood, as Melville called it, the deceptive mask that hides the truth knowing in the heart that it is all a lie. To live long enough to see and bear witness to the failures of the policies you worked so hard to impose and see them damned by the people of the world is not easy to take unless you can find solace with those who executed your policies lost in some magnificent retreat, hidden from the world…or to boldly grab your ego and go forth to the lists, pen in hand and challenge the obvious.
- According to a new poll from WIN and Gallup International, the U.S. represents the largest threat to world peace today.
- Bruce Riedel. “Iran Big Winner in the Iraqi Debacle.” Brookings
- Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness. Everyman, 7.
- Barack Obama. Jim Lehrer News Hour, 2009-12-23.
“ It is very important for I think those of us who desperately want peace, who see war as, at some level, a break-down, a manifestation of human weakness, to understand that sometimes it's also necessary - and you know, to be able to balance two ideas at the same time; that we are constantly striving for peace, we are doubling up on our diplomacy, we are going to actively engage, we are going to try to see the world through other people's eyes and not just our own.”
- Ben Franklin. “Final Speech to the Constitutional Convention.” 9/17, 1787
- Brendan James, Published TPM Livewire, April 18, 2014.
Age of Fools by William A. Cook is now available at Amazon and other book sellers.
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