Wednesday, June 30, 2010

American Exceptionalism and Israel

Why does America support Israel so strongly. Why does Washington block every UN resolution aimed at Israel and why does it provide the Jewish state with countless billions in military aid every year. The anti Semites among us would have us believe that it is because the Jews control American Foreign policy. Others might argue more reasonably that the pro Israel lobby is the most powerful lobby group in DC. Some might also say that America wants the strongest nation in the region to be an American ally and that US support of Israel is based on a global military strategy. I don't buy into any of these view personally. I believe that American Exceptionalism best explains it.

American Exceptionalism.
What the hell is it ? It sounds arrogant, and I suppose it is, particularly when combined with the notion of the Jews as the chosen people but I do believe that this concept explains the unwavering support that the US has offered Israel for many decades. Proponents of American Exceptionalism believe that the USA occupies a unique role in world history. They believe that its capitalist system and its intolerance of government intervention in the economy has resulted in the largest most powerful economy the world has ever seen. This individualistic system has also led to the most powerful military in all of history. It is not just the capitalist system that is supposed to have brought America to this point. It was the first country that was created not out of ethnicity but because its constitutional republicanism meant that sovereignty belonged to the people, not to a hereditary ruling class. And the American experience of westward expansion throughout the 19th century has apparently helped create a national character which fits into this self help ethos. The result of all this is that the USA is the only nation willing and capable of confronting the threats facing the world. This was certainly true during the cold War. America was the only nation willing to do whatever it took to stop Soviet expansion. They eventually succeed in wrestling the USSR to the ground. Proponents of American Exceptionalism believe that a similar situation exists today as regards the clash that we are seeing between East and West.



Let's look at the war on terror. The dominant thinking in Europe appears to be that if our Foreign Policies are kinder to the Arab World then they will stop disliking us. Perhaps ? But the Americans don't see it that way. They have examined the nature of the threat and are not willing to hide from it. So goes the theory anyway. Just to clarify I have not quite bought into American Exceptionalism. I'm not quite sure whether America does in fact have a unique history and destiny in the world or is this just right wing America engaging in hard core nationalist rhetoric. Truthfully, I haven't quite decided yet. But the belief does exist and I do think it explains US support of Israel.



American Exceptionalism and Israel.
Believers in American Exceptionalism are of the opinion that America is in a unique position to confront International Terrorism and proponents of the Islamic way who favour expansion. They believe that political Islam is fundamentally undemocratic (a theory which I do endorse wholeheartedly) and therefor those who wish to expand it should be confronted and ultimately prevented from doing so. Just like the Cold War, America is stepping up to this task. Israel is the ultimate symbol of the clash that exists between the democratic west and the Islamic East. Others describe it as the front line in the war on terror. Many Americans believe that if Israel were to fall it would only be the beginning. Spain would be next to succumb to the green wave followed by much of Europe. Its sound crazy I know but when you read the contents of Jihadist websites such as Liam Egan's MPAC.ie you become aware that this is the objective more than you might think. This I believe is the principal reason America continues to weigh in behind Israel. It is not out of obligation, alliance or lobby. It is because America believes in Israel.

8 comments:

Gary said...

Ted,
This is a very interesting blog. As an American (and a proud one), I might be tempted to take exception the the exceptionalism concept but I think you are probably right about most of it. Unfortunately, recent events in the USA have been an exception to the notion. The current Administration has been what we feel has been "European" in it's approach to most economic and foreign policy matters (including a "chilling" of relations with Israel) and that has not been very successful. This has resulted in a strong movement by moderates and independents to the right wing. This, I am sure, will be evident in the elections which will take place in November. It is likely that the Presidents control of our Congress will end and he will be forced to modify his policies or face a stalemate.

thesystemworks said...

I believe this is a good starting point for a discussion on the issue. Yes, America assists Israel. But America also trains the security forces of the Palestinian Authority. It sends the PA hundreds of millions of dollars, and has always funded at least two-thirds of UNRWA's costs. 'Lobbys' or 'The Lobby' I believe just to be a convenient scapegoat. Sometimes I feel all this talk of the 'Zionist Lobby' is just scapegoating for all our post-9/11 uncertainties, something to replace the schemeing Rabbis in the 'Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion'. Ironically, much of the secular anti-Zionist discourse originally sprang from Soviet anti-Israel propaganda, home of the Tsar's Protocols.

The fact is, Americans like Israel. The opinions of prominent pro-Israel advocates resonate with the people. There are powerful, well-funded lobby groups in America that have no public support, like the Saudi lobby. Similarly, Muslim groups like CAIR and MPAC are hated by Americans who take the time to learn what they stand for. They are mostly funded from Islamic regimes abroad, and are frontlines in the cultural jihad. Arab supremacists like the late Edward Said provide the 'progressive' gloss.

We often forget to consider that American history is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian soil, that nourishes a special kinship between America's Christians and the Jewish people. The Founding Fathers of the American Republic were deeply influenced by the Hebrew scriptures and believed that they, like the Jews of old, had been taken out of bondage by God and led by Him to a Promised Land. The original design of the official seal of the United States showed Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Hebrew played an imporant role in America's oldest universities, much more than Latin and Greek. Graduates of colleges like Yale gave their graduation speeches in Ancient Hebrew. Long before there was a modern state of Israel, American leaders expressed "Zionist" leanings: "I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation," former President John Adams wrote - in 1819! Nearly two centuries later, millions of American Christians are passionate supporters of the Jewish state. This tradition started with America's earliest residents, earlier even than the Founding Fathers. Remember the words of George Washington, in a letter to America's oldest synagogue, where he laid out how America was always going to be different from Europe in its relationship with the Jewish people:

''May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.''

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks Gary

I know when Obama was recently asked if he believed in American Exceptionalism he answered in a typically clever fashion. He said he believed it in the same way as the British or Greeks probably believe in British or Greek exceptionalism.

As for Obama being a European style socialist. I keep a close eye on the American media so I hear this accusation all the time from the conservative pundits. Perhaps, but when I look at him I still see the American way dominating. The healthcare overhaul is still nowhere as "socialist" as lets say the British National Health Service. And after all, nobody accused FDR or LBJ of being all European (or did they).

I feel this way on Israel too. The Obama administration has not decreased the billions of military aid being sent to Israel on an annual basis. Nor did it come down hard on Israel after the flotilla fiasco which would have been an opportunity for the President to behave very European.

Israel does have obligations and it is right that they should be pressed on them. I have always found it somewhat cringey to watch American politicians all jockeying to see who can be the most pro Israel. As I have said on this blog before, Israel should be supported when it is in the right but it also should be condemned when in the wrong, settlements ect. It's actions, bizarrely seem to get condemned more frequently even in Israel than in the US.

thesystemworks said...

''And after all, nobody accused FDR or LBJ of being all European (or did they).''

The modern Welfare/Warfare State has its origin in Bismarck's Germany. These ideas took hold during the Progressive Era of American history, which saw the introduction of the most evil institution of the income tax and the popularity of eugenics. Anyone who was anyone in politics or academia at this time cut his teeth in German universities.

''Hundreds of young American economists, political scientists, historians, sociologists, and philosophers made the pilgrimage, many of them studying with leading members of the German Historical School, advocates of “state socialism.” The Americans returned home imbued with ideas about the paternalistic state and became leaders of the movement for “social reform”... (http://www.thefreemanonline.org)

In 1915, an American admirer of the German welfare state, Frederic Howe, praised and explained the nature of the system in a book called 'Socialized Germany'.

At this time, Americans would have been well aware of the German roots of the New Order, and most would have referred to Progressives like Roosevelt and Wilson as advocates of a 'German Model' of governance.

Unfortunately, the foreign roots of the ideaology were forgotten over they years. Hilary Clinton refers to 'Progressivism' as having solid American pedigree, and calls herself a 'Progressive' rather than an American 'Liberal'. Her politics are certainly of that era, as well as having some old-fashioned Methodism mixed in there. As a biographer of Hilary wrote:

''More than other Protestants, Methodists are still imbued with the turn-of-the-century social gospel, which holds that Christians have been commissioned to build the Kingdom of God on earth."

Bismarckian state-worshipping Progressivism, religious leftism and a generous dose of New Age, New Left tripe give us the Wicked Witch in the White House we have been plagued with for decades now.

Ted Leddy said...

TSW

Thanks as always for your articulate and well thought out comments. I will respond in detail later today when I get in front of my lap top.

Ted Leddy said...

TSW

On your first comment. Very interesting. I regularly come across some of these points in the blogs that I read. My blogroll includes some blogs that fall under the banner of the Republican Jewish coalition. You should check out "Seraphic Secret" and "The Israel Situation".

On the issue of the welfare state. I have noticed in recent times how in the conservative American media the word "progressive" has replaced the world "Liberal" as the dirty term aimed at the democrats. Perhaps this is an attempt to discredit those Dems who claim to be the political descendants of Theodore Roosevelt and his social model. People who like Hilary Clinton claim that state intervention has a long and noble history in the USA.

thesystemworks said...

Yeah, the 'Progressive' label has been gaining more usage. Jonah Goldberg's very popular 'Liberal Fascism' probably kicked off the trend. He argues (correctly) that much of modern American 'Liberalism' comes from the Progressivism of the era between 1880 and 1920. Whats more, he claims Progressivism and fascism share similar ideaological roots and aims.

Clinton is very wrong about her views. American history has been re-written very well indeed. The Bismarckian roots of Progressivism were all but forgotten by the time of the New Deal.

Its only the libertarians who have historically been arguing this point - Friedrich Hayek wrote about it extensively in his classic 'The Road to Serfdom', where he points out there isn't much of an ideaological gulf between socialism, fascism and even Nazism when you look at their respective histories. They were all revolts against clasical liberalism. I've been reading in Austrian Economics for a while now, so I've been familiar with what the right-wing pundits have currently caught on to for the last few years. Austrian economists like Murray Rothbard and Ludwig Von Mises were writing that their whole careers.

Thanks for the tips, by the way. I'll check out your blogroll.

Anonymous said...

israel is like a vampire sucking the life out of America and the terrorist organization known as AIPAC does control both the congress and the white house. The sooner that zionism and the war criminal, apartheid, ethnic cleansing illegal terrorist state of israel is wiped from the map the better off the planet will be for it.