False Virtue: The Life and Death of “American Exceptionalism”
The impending decline of the dollar is apparently imposing a real Halloween scare on the American foreign policy establishment. An August 22, 2023, article on the Council on Foreign Relations website entitled “The Future of Dollar Hegemony” explained that
the dollar’s global hegemony gives the U.S. government power to impose crippling sanctions and wage other forms of financial welfare against adversaries. . . . In 2022, more than twelve thousand entities were under sanction by the Treasury Department, a more than twelve-fold increase since the turn of the century. U.S. sanctions . . . do ensure that targeted adversaries pay a significant price for continuing to engage in actions the United States opposes (emphasis added).
This reminds yours truly of a very memorable bumper sticker that had an American flag in one corner and read: “Do as We Say or We Will Bring Democracy to Your Country!” The bumper sticker is memorable because it speaks truth to power in a very sarcastic manner. It also highlights how “sanctions” are an act of war that has long assisted the US government in acting as the bully of the world. Dollar dominance is the cornerstone of such bullying since so many dollars are held in so many other countries as their reserve currency. This allows a massive amount of foreign policy blackmailing to occur.
The bullying is always all about the money, one way or another, just as “follow the money” is always good advice when one investigates the causes of any war anywhere. But a golden rule of politics is to never, ever admit that one is interested in anything but the moral uplifting of mankind, the eradication of poverty in foreign lands, saving the widows and orphans of the world, or some other selfless, magnanimous gesture. Protectionists never admit, for example, that their real goal is to use the powers of the state to plunder and legally steal from their customers. They must cloak their greed in nationalism, national defense arguments, anything but the truth.
In the foreign policy realm one must never speak the truth about the real purpose of imperialistic wars and invasions, as did Marine Corps General Smedley Butler in his famous essay, “War is a Racket.” General Butler was a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner and is said to have been the most highly decorated Marine ever. Published in the post World War I era, General Butler explained what he really spent his illustrious career doing:
I spent most of my time being a high class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. . . . I helped make Mexico safe . . . for American oil interests. . . . I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank. . . . I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers. . . . I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests.
The Mother of All U.S. Government Lies
For at least the past century and a half American imperialism has been cloaked in a monstrous lie about the supposed moral exceptionalism of Americans and their government. The lie was never better exposed than by the great novelist Robert Penn Warren in a 1961 book entitled The Legacy of the Civil War. Warren was asked by Life magazine to write the book to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War. The most important point of the book is that, after the war, the US government claimed to possess what Warren calls “a treasury of virtue.” The Republican Party, which monopolized federal politics for the succeeding half century, called itself “the party of great moral ideas.” Lincoln was of course deified
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