Examples Of American Exceptionalism

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Lipset (1997, p.26) expresses American exceptionalism as “a two-edged phenomenon” in U.S. domestic politics; and the same applies to foreign policy. As national identity, American exceptionalism explains U.S. foreign policy and policy-making throughout its history (Restad, 2012). Accordingly, it has appeared in political arguments in various ways; not a few previous presidents had explicitly or implicitly expressed their belief in American exceptionalism. Ronald Reagan’s belief in ‘a shining city on a Hill’ based on a bible and “the last best hope of man on earth” are one of the most famous examples (Reagan, cited in Davis and Lynn-Jones, 1987, p.21). People might speak out American exceptionalism only because they believe in it, however, when…show more content…
military interventions. This tendency of American exceptionalism is especially obvious during a crisis in terms of national security (Rosati and Scott, 2011), because “the impact of public opinion on foreign policy has been considered as being of particular importance at times of threatened or actual war” (Johnstone and Laville, 2011, p.4). It is an essential element of American exceptionalism in military-related issues to sharply distinguish between the good and the evil of the world: the United States as the representative of the good camp, and its adversaries as the opposite (Davis and Lynn-Jones, 1987). During the Cold War, for instance, the tension was simply depicted as the good America with democracy and liberty versus the evil Soviet Union with communism. George W. Bush also followed this tradition after 9/11. He drawn the U.S. military action against terrorism not as a simple revenge, but as a mission to combat evil terrorism by using a famous expression, “an axis of evil” to refer to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea (Bush, 2002, cited in CNN). The President’s coherent hard-liner attitude under the crisis was embraced by American public, and led to amazingly high presidential approval ratings: at the highest point, 90% in September 2001 (Gallup,…show more content…
Regarding tortures conducted by American military in Iraq, Ignatieff (Ibid, p.24) indicates the U.S.’s self-contradiction by stating “a country that thinks it is too virtuous, too exceptional, to pay respect to the Geneva Conventions and begins to write its own rules about detention, interrogation, and special status can end up violating every value it holds dear”. Hancock (2007, p.53) also wrote that, while human rights violations in friendly countries are overlooked “as counter terrorism, cultural diversity, necessary acts of self-defense, unproved allegations, tragic mistakes or as regrettable exceptions to an otherwise improving trend” and those acts in “states of peripheral concern to Washington policymakers” are simply ignored even if those are severe, those in enemy counties are “selectively highlighted…as proof of evil and repressive regimes”. Thus, the U.S. has created its own standards distinctively applied to itself and its allies, and its enemies (Hoffmann, 2005; Ignatieff, 2005; Hancock, 2007), and the language of human rights has utilized as technique to legitimize the standards and foreign policies based on those standards (Hancock,
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