Friday, October 25, 2013



Obama’s Favorite Falsehood

By Matthew Rothschild, November 2013 Issue
I imagine Vladimir Putin took perverse pleasure at the op-ed that his foreign service wrote, under his name, for The New York Times.

But he was right about two things.
First, that had President Obama attacked Syria without Security Council approval, he would have violated international law.
And second, that the United States needs to get over “American exceptionalism.”
In the bellicose part of Obama’s speech to the nation on Syria, he said, in Bush-like language: “For nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them. The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.”
Was the United States an anchor of global security and an enforcer of international agreements when it overthrew the Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953, or the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954?
Is the world a better place because the United States helped overthrow Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government in Chile in 1973?
Is the world a better place because the United States killed three million people in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and because we dropped twenty million gallons of napalm (waging our own version of chemical warfare) on those countries?
Is the world a better place because the United States gave Indonesia the green light to invade East Timor in 1975, an invasion and subsequent occupation that wiped out one-third of the population there?
Is the world a better place because the United States supported brutal governments in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s, which killed tens of thousands of their own people?
Is the world a better place because George W. Bush waged an illegal war against Iraq and killed between 100,000 and a million civilians?
And what international agreements was the United States enforcing when it tortured people after 9/11?
When he was at the United Nations in September, Obama again invoked American exceptionalism. It is the favorite falsehood of U.S. Presidents—one we can live without.