Tom Engelhardt: Bragging Rights – Eight Exceptional(ly dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century

Yves here. America’s exceptional love affair with itself is a subject near and dear to my heart. And I bet readers can add examples to Engelhardt’s “so presumptuous only America could have done it” list.

By Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear, as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. Cross posted from TomDispatch, which you can follow on on Twitter or join on Facebook or Tumblr

But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.  That’s what makes America different.  That’s what makes us exceptional.  With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

— Barack Obama, address to the nation on Syria, September 10, 2013

Let’s be Americans, which means being exceptional, which also means being honest in ways inconceivable to the rest of humanity.  So here’s the truth of it: the American exceptionalism sweepstakes really do matter. Here. A lot.

Barack Obama is only the latest in a jostling crowd of presidential candidates, presidential wannabes, major politicians, and minor figures of every sort, not to speak of a raging horde of neocons and pundits galore, who have felt compelled in recent years to tell us and the world just how exceptional the last superpower really is.  They tend to emphasize our ability to use this country’s overwhelming power, especially the military variety, for the global good — to save children and other deserving innocents.  This particularly American aptitude for doing good forcibly, by killing others, is considered an incontestable fact of earthly life needing no proof.  It is well known, especially among our leading politicians, that Washington has the ability to wield its military strength in ways that are unimaginably superior to any other power on the planet.

The well-deserved bragging rights to American exceptionalism are no small matter in this country.  It should hardly be surprising, then, how visceral is the distaste when any foreigner — say, Russian President Vladimir Putin — decides to appropriate the term and use it to criticize us.  How visceral?  Well, the sort of visceral that, as Democratic Senator Bob Menendez put it recently, leaves us barely repressing the urge to “vomit.”

Now, it’s not that we can’t take a little self-criticism.  If you imagine an over-muscled, over-armed guy walking into a room and promptly telling you and anyone else in earshot how exceptionally good he is when it comes to targeting his weapons, and you notice a certain threatening quality about him, and maybe a hectoring, lecturing tone in his voice, it’s just possible that you might be intimidated or irritated by him.  You might think: narcissist, braggart, or blowhard.  If you were the president of Russia, you might say, “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

Yes, if you’re a foreigner, this country is easy enough to misunderstand, make fun of, or belittle.  Still, that didn’t stop the president from proudly bringing up our exceptionalism two weeks ago in his address on the Syrian crisis.  In that speech, he plugged the need for a U.S. military response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian military.  He recommended launching a “limited strike,” assumedly Tomahawk missiles heading Damascus-wards, to save Syria’s children, and he made sure the world knew that such an attack would be no passing thing.  (“Let me make something clear: the United States military doesn’t do pinpricks.”)

Then, in mid-speech, in a fashion that was nothing short of exceptional (if you were considering the internal logic of the address), he suddenly cast that option aside for another approach entirely. But just because of that, don’t let first impressions or foreign criticism blind you to the power of the president’s imagery.  In this century, as he suggested then and in an address to the U.N. two weeks later, American exceptionalism has always had to do with Washington’s ability to use its power for the greater planetary good.  Since, in the last decade-plus, power and military power have come to be essentially synonymous in Washington, the pure goodness of firing missiles or dropping bombs has been deified.

On that basis, it’s indisputable that the bragging rights to American exceptionalism are Washington’s. For those who need proof, what follows are just eight ways (among so many more) that you can proudly make the case for our exceptional status, should you happen to stumble across, say, President Putin, still blathering on about how unexceptional we are.

1. What other country could have invaded Iraq, hardly knowing the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite, and still managed to successfully set off a brutal sectarian civil war and ethnic cleansing campaigns between the two sects that would subsequently go regional, whose casualty counts have tipped into the hundreds of thousands, and which is now bouncing back on Iraq?  What other great power would have launched its invasion with plans to garrison that country for decades and with the larger goal of subduing neighboring Iran (“Everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran”), only to slink away eight years later leaving behind a Shiite government in Baghdad that was a firm ally of Iran?  And in what other country, could leaders, viewing these events, and knowing our part in them, have been so imbued with goodness as to draw further “red lines” and contemplate sending in the missiles and bombers again, this time on Syria and possibly Iran?  Who in the world would dare claim that this isn’t an unmatchable record?

2.  What other country could magnanimously spend $4-6 trillion on two good wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against lightly armed minority insurgencies without winning or accomplishing a thing?  And that’s not even counting the funds sunk into the Global War on Terror and sideshows in places like Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, or the staggering sums that, since 9/11, have been poured directly into the national security state.  How many countries, possessing “the finest fighting force in the history of the world,” could have engaged in endless armed conflicts and interventions from the 1960s on and, except in unresisting Panama and tiny Grenada, never managed to definitively win anything?

3.  And talking about exceptional records, what other military could have brought an estimated 3.1 million pieces of equipment — ranging from tanks and Humvees to porta-potties, coffee makers, and computers — with it into Iraq, and then transported most of them out again (while destroying the rest or turning them over to the Iraqis)?  Similarly, in an Afghanistan where the U.S. military is now drawing down its forces and has already destroyed “more than 170 million pounds worth of vehicles and other military equipment,” what other force would have decided ahead of time to shred, dismantle, or simply discard $7 billion worth of equipment (about 20% of what it had brought into the country)?  The general in charge proudly calls this “the largest retrograde mission in history.” To put that in context: What other military would be capable of carrying a total consumer society right down to PXs, massage parlors, boardwalks, Internet cafes, and food courts to war?  Let’s give credit where it’s due: we’re not just talking retrograde here, we’re talking exceptionally retrograde!

4. What other military could, in a bare few years in Iraq, have built a staggering 505 bases, ranging from combat outposts to ones the size of small American towns with their own electricity generators, water purifiers, fire departments, fast-food restaurants, and even miniature golf courses at a cost of unknown billions of dollars and then, only a few years later, abandoned all of them, dismantling some, turning others over to the Iraqi military or into ghost towns, and leaving yet others to be looted and stripped?  And what other military, in the same time period thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, could have built more than 450 bases, sometimes even hauling in the building materials, and now be dismantling them in the same fashion?  If those aren’t exceptional feats, what are?

5. In a world where it’s hard to get anyone to agree on anything, the covert campaign of drone strikes that George W. Bush launched and Barack Obama escalated in Pakistan’s tribal areas stands out.  Those hundreds of strikes not only caused significant numbers of civilian casualties (including children), while helping to destabilize a sometime ally, but almost miraculously created public opinion unanimity.  Opinion polls there indicate that a Ripley’s-Believe-It-or-Not-style 97% of Pakistanis consider such strikes “a bad thing.”  Is there another country on the planet capable of mobilizing such loathing?  Stand proud, America!

6. And what other power could have secretly and illegally kidnapped at least 136 suspected terrorists — some, in fact, innocent of any such acts or associations — off the streets of global cities as well as from the backlands of the planet?  What other nation could have mustered a coalition-of-the-willing of 54 countries to lend a hand in its “rendition” operations?  We’re talking about more than a quarter of the nations on Planet Earth!  And that isn’t all.  Oh, no, that isn’t all.  Can you imagine another country capable of setting up a genuinely global network of “black sites” and borrowed prisons (with local torturers on hand), places to stash and abuse those kidnappees (and other prisoners) in locations ranging from Poland to Thailand, Romania to Afghanistan, Egypt and Uzbekistan to U.S. Navy ships on the high seas, not to speak of that jewel in the crown of offshore prisons, Guantanamo?  Such illegality on such a global scale simply can’t be matched!  And don’t even get me started on torture.  (It’s fine for us to take pride in our exceptionalist tradition, but you don’t want to pour it on, do you?)

7. Or how about the way the State Department, to the tune of $750 million, constructed in Baghdad the largest, most expensive embassy compound on the planet — a 104-acre, Vatican-sized citadel with 27 blast-resistant buildings, an indoor pool, basketball courts, and a fire station, which was to operate as a command-and-control center for our ongoing garrisoning of the country and the region?  Now, the garrisons are gone, and the embassy, its staff cut, is a global white elephant.  But what an exceptional elephant!  Think of it as a modern American pyramid, a tomb in which lie buried the dreams of establishing a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.  Honestly, what other country could hope to match that sort of memorial thousands of miles from home?

8. Or what about this?  Between 2002 and 2011, the U.S. poured at least $51 billion into building up a vast Afghan military.  Another $11 billion was dedicated to the task in 2012, with almost $6 billion more planned for 2013.  Washington has also sent in a legion of trainers tasked with turning that force into an American-style fighting outfit.  At the time Washington began building it up, the Afghan army was reportedly a heavily illiterate, drug-taking, corrupt, and ineffective force that lost one-third to one-half of its personnel to casualties, non-reenlistment, and desertion in any year.  In 2012, the latest date for which we have figures, the Afghan security forces were still a heavily illiterate, drug-taking, corrupt, and inefficient outfit that was losing about one-third of its personnel annually (a figure that may even be on the rise).  The U.S. and its NATO allies are committed to spending $4.1 billion annually on the same project after the withdrawal of their combat forces in 2014.  Tell me that isn’t exceptional!

No one, of course, loves a braggart; so, easy as it might be to multiply these eight examples by others, the winner of the American exceptionalism sweepstakes is already obvious.  In other words, this is a moment for exceptional modesty, which means that only one caveat needs to be added to the above record.

I’m talking about actual property rights to “American exceptionalism.”  It’s a phrase often credited to a friendly nineteenth century foreigner, the French traveler Alexis de Tocqueville.  As it happens, however, the man who seems to have first used the full phrase was Russian dictator Joseph Stalin.  In 1929, when the U.S. was showing few signs of a proletarian uprising or fulfilling Karl Marx’s predictions and American Communists were claiming that the country had unique characteristics that left it unready for revolution, Stalin began denouncing “the heresy of American exceptionalism.”  Outside the U.S. Communist Party, the phrase only gained popular traction here in the Reagan years.  Now, it has become as American as sea salt potato chips.  If, for instance, the phrase had never before been used in a presidential debate, in 2012 the candidates couldn’t stop wielding it.

Still, history does give Vladimir Putin a claim to use of the phrase, however stomach-turning that may be for various members of Congress.  But maybe, in its own way, its origins only attest to… well, American exceptionalism.  Somehow, through pureness of motive and the shining radiance of the way we exercise power, Washington’s politicians have taken words wielded negatively by one of the great monsters of history and made them the signature phrase of American greatness.  How exceptional!

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  1. psychohistorian

    Our global exceptionalism is a cover for rampant imperialism to make more money for the global plutocrats and enslave the populations of the satellite nations as consumptive debt prisoners.

    Just another Big Lie like the ‘freedom” we bring to kill all who might not like us installing our finance, laws (like my favorite, inheritance) and religious organizations in their countries.

    The exceptional end to our empire is coming in the form of a dollar bubble and let me tell you it is getting exceptionally large…but is a fiat US dollar really worth anything, or will it be to those countries that pop the bubble and stand up to our nuclear threats and posturing about its relative value?……it can’t come soon enough for me, I am getting old and want to see the end of empire in my lifetime.

  2. s spade

    Well, when you look at all this from the point of view of individual humans, the whole Empire mission seems absurd. But from the point of view of those going to the bank on all this appalling waste and casual destruction, it continues to make perfect sense. As for the casualties, they are really rather modest in comparison to say WW I or II, when the lunatics determined to rearrange the map were over in Europe and Japan, not to mention Russia.

    You need a sense of humor to keep from going nuts about this. It isn’t as though history suggests power can be sensibly managed for the greater good. Frankly, I find it miraculous that the world has survived this long and that anybody anywhere enjoys any freedom at all.

  3. mw

    All the following exceptional waste makes perfect sense if you realize the true purpose of these heavily privatized wars is not winning but drawing out endlessly. If the US wins a war decisively, the military industrial complex has to stop looting the nation’s coffer. Destruction of equipments and retrograde are simply bonus profits for those who are involed in the non-competitive, sweet deals of war. In the emptying of the public purse, they are a good rival to another giant, the Wall Street. Two together they make truly ‘exceptional’ robber-toads.

    – “the largest retrograde mission in history.” to the tune of $7billion (Afghanistan)

    – What other country could magnanimously spend $4-6 trillion on two “good wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq against lightly armed minority insurgencies without winning or accomplishing a thing?

    – what other military could have brought an estimated 3.1 million pieces of equipment,…..,into Iraq, and then transported most of them out again (while destroying the rest or turning them over to the Iraqis)?

    – Or how about the way the State Department, to the tune of $750 million, constructed in Baghdad the largest, most expensive embassy compound on the planet — a 104-acre, Vatican-sized citadel with 27 blast-resistant buildings, an indoor pool, basketball courts, and a fire station, which was to operate as a command-and-control center for our ongoing garrisoning of the country and the region? Now, the garrisons are gone, and the embassy, its staff cut, is a global white elephant.

  4. Old Soul

    I would like to expand the success of this century’s American exceptionalism to include the accomplishment of destroying our nation’s middle class and the property rights which allowed some level of stability for families and communities. The great accomplishment of MERS (a computer database) to conceal the real claimants to payment of mortgage debt and which we continue to allow to operate by having “servicers'” employees forge mortgage assignments, satisfaction and releases, resulting in the proliferation of false claims of unsatisfied debt on our nation’s real estate is peerless as an example of rampant criminality. The necessary corallaries to this criminal forgery operation–law enforcement standing down and courts tacitly approving criminal conduct in civil matters by any entity that claims to be a “financial institution”–has brought a near total collapse of the vaunted Rule of Law to which this nation once aspired.
    I have seen the collapse of the Rule of Law firsthand since the “bail out” of the very criminal enterprises which collapsed the world economy by their fraudulent “securitization” scheme in 2008, accelerating to the point of being a total embarassment for the “legal” system and the third branch of the government, the judiciary. This is indeed a grand accomplishment: the collapse of the fundamental rights to ownership of a little piece of dirt and air as one’s own private space, supposed to be protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Due process, procedural and substantive, and equal protection of the laws have been tossed aside for the collection of “debts” grounded on a claim of loans never made, but instead of which collateral was taken for rehypothecation to infinity. One wonders if the unconstitutional private creation of debt as “money” was the source of the funding for these twenty-first century imperialist wars for which we have paid with something far more important than what we delusionally call “money.” We are paying for this with our very homes, our communities, our children’s future and the Rule of Law. In a few decades we have become global criminals and have unleashed those crimes against ourselves.
    The first step has to be to stop the crimes and bring the criminals to justice. Do we remember how to do that? The laws are still on the books.

  5. weinerdog43

    It’s especially irritating to have to point out to some jingoistic dunderhead that patriotism and American exceptionalism are not the same thing. It would also be nice if we could lead by example instead of dropping bombs to demonstrate our superiority. Of course, that ship has sailed too unless one thinks that our current government/corporate kleptocracy is anything to emulate.

  6. fresno dan

    How many countries, possessing “the finest fighting force in the history of the world,” could have engaged in endless armed conflicts and interventions from the 1960s on and, except in unresisting Panama and tiny Grenada, never managed to definitively win anything?

    Orwell: permanent war; or to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, war isn’t everything, its the only thing…

    1. anon y'mouse

      if you’re a believing sort, it could lead you to the conclusion that the gnostics were right. at least about this country.

  7. steve from virginia

    First of all, if you choose to fight wars in faraway countries there are generally few adverse consequences if you don’t win.

    This is a lesson the hapless stupid Germans never bothered to learn, despite the otherwise ‘brilliance’ of their various general staffs.

    American war-making is a form of Keynesianism, put into practice by a brilliant German during World War One — before Keynes arrived on the international stage — then integrated into every economy since.

    Don’t complain: American war stimulates the American economy, right now it is the only stimulator we’ve got.

    1. anon y'mouse

      I agree with you, but I wonder why this stimulus could not have been spent within our borders shoring up our infrastructure, investing in public transport, retrofitting our energy systems, repairing our schools, cleaning our water……

      why do our owning classes prefer to destroy?

  8. F. Beard

    Well, once again I’ll pull Occam’s Razor and point out it’s the money system that’s the root problem.

    And here’s why:

    If we had had a just money system most of us would be MINDING OUR OWN BUSINESS on our own pleasant family farms, orchards, vineyards, family businesses, etc., ie. the Biblical ideal, with a supplemental income in fiat and perhaps stock splits from large US corporations.

    Instead, we have MILLIONS of people who have to JUSTIFY their income by providing some bogus “essential service” such as excessive national defense, “homeland security”, the NSA, etc.

    In other words, we are a nation of paid BUSYBODIES!

  9. optimader

    “the finest fighting force in the history of the world,”

    and not winning is an internal contradiction, no?
    We pay for Fillet Mignon and get tons of hamburger.

  10. Banger

    TE puts this stunning list in one post and he’s talking about a few aspects of the national security state. As we all know if we look at almost any aspect of our society we see massive corruption in most public and private sectors.

    I take some comfort in how public opinion refused to be swayed by almost universal calls by the mainstream to expand the civil war in Syria. Perhaps this will keep the War Party in check for awhile. Of course there is always the fact some new “Remember the Maine” or Pearl Harbor event might occur to change this trend. At some point the American intellectual class will start discussing the international situation with some sense of honesty or am I hoping too much.

  11. reader2010

    A revist to the American history reveals that ALL wars that Uncle Sam has fought since the birth of the country have been used as the ultimate wealth transfer vehicle so that the rich and the powerful can enrich themselves obscenely. The longer a war lasts, the more wealth it can transfer to them. Wasting trillions of money and tens of thoughts of lives on perpetual warz is very rational economic decision from profiteers’ perspective.

  12. nobody

    “As it happens…the man who seems to have first used the full phrase was Russian dictator Joseph Stalin.”

    Ben Zimmer sez, not so:

    But the earliest example given by the Oxford English Dictionary is from a few months earlier [than Stalin’s usage], in the Jan. 29 issue of the Daily Worker:

    1929 Brouder & Zack in Daily Worker (N.Y.) 29 Jan. 3/2 This American ‘exceptionalism’ applies to the whole tactical line of the C.I. as applied to America. (This theory pervades all the writings and speeches of the Lovestone–Pepper group up until the present.)

    And Lovestone may have been using the term earlier than that… If Stalin did indeed tell Lovestone (presumably through an interpreter) to end the “heresy of American exceptionalism” when they met in the spring of 1929, Stalin would have been throwing the phrase back at him rather than coining it anew, since Lovestone’s position on the matter had already been reported in the Communist press.

  13. Chris Rogers

    When it comes to bragging rights the UK is usually close to the top of the pile for ineptitude, crassness and gross hypocrisy. And still I’m glad I’m not a Yank.

    However, I do have the opt-out of stating clearly that I’m Welsh and that nothing the UK does is actually in mine, or my fellow country-mens name – perhaps the US should revert back to States Rights once more, rather than the Federal government you now have that has been corrupted and co-opted to do the bidding of your ruling elite – not what the founding fathers envisaged, although they too were not well disposed to democracy.

  14. Expat

    Interesting that the American exceptionalism meme arrived at about the same time as the sentiments “you must be good if you are rich” and “being famous simply for being famous” replaced notions of character as a basis for respect; that is, around 40 years ago. Such boosterism implies a psychological awareness of — and fear — of short-comings. Can it be a coincidence that the US had just lost the Vietnam War both domestically and abroad?

    Admittedly, being famous for being famous always existed to some degree in the US, but the fatuousness has grown exponentially in the neoliberal era.

  15. Shutter

    1890 (-?) SOUTH DAKOTA  Troops 300 Lakota Indians massacred at Wounded Knee.
    1890 ARGENTINA Troops Buenos Aires interests protected.
    1891 CHILE Troops Marines clash with nationalist rebels.
    1891 HAITI Troops Black revolt on Navassa defeated.
    1892 IDAHO Troops Army suppresses silver miners’ strike.
    1893 (-?) HAWAII Naval, troops Independent kingdom overthrown, annexed.
    1894 CHICAGO Troops Breaking of rail strike, 34 killed.
    1894 NICARAGUA Troops Month-long occupation of Bluefields.
    1894-95 CHINA Naval, troops Marines land in Sino-Japanese War
    1894-96 KOREA Troops Marines kept in Seoul during war.
    1895 PANAMA Troops, naval Marines land in Colombian province.
    1896 NICARAGUA Troops Marines land in port of Corinto.
    1898-1900 CHINA Troops Boxer Rebellion fought by foreign armies.
    1898-1910 (-?) PHILIPPINES Naval, troops Seized from Spain, killed 600,000 Filipinos
    1898-1902 (-?) CUBA Naval, troops Seized from Spain, still hold Navy base.
    1898 (-?) PUERTO RICO Naval, troops Seized from Spain, occupation continues.
    1898 (-?) GUAM Naval, troops Seized from Spain, still use as base.
    1898 (-?) MINNESOTA Troops Army battles Chippewa at Leech Lake.
    1898 NICARAGUA Troops Marines land at port of San Juan del Sur.
    1899 (-?) SAMOA Troops Battle over succession to throne.
    1899 NICARAGUA Troops Marines land at port of Bluefields.
    1899-1901 IDAHO Troops Army occupies Coeur d’Alene mining region.
    1901 OKLAHOMA Troops Army battles Creek Indian revolt.
    1901-14 PANAMA Naval, troops Broke off from Colombia 1903, annexed Canal Zone 1914.
    1903 HONDURAS Troops Marines intervene in revolution.
    1903-04 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Troops U.S. interests protected in Revolution.
    1904-05 KOREA Troops Marines land in Russo-Japanese War.
    1906-09 CUBA Troops Marines land in democratic election.
    1907 NICARAGUA Troops “Dollar Diplomacy” protectorate set up.
    1907 HONDURAS Troops Marines land during war with Nicaragua
    1908 PANAMA Troops Marines intervene in election contest.
    1910 NICARAGUA Troops Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.
    1911 HONDURAS Troops U.S. interests protected in civil war.
    1911-41 CHINA Naval, troops Continuous occupation with flare-ups.
    1912 CUBA Troops U.S. interests protected in civil war.
    1912 PANAMA Troops Marines land during heated election.
    1912 HONDURAS Troops Marines protect U.S. economic interests.
    1912-33 NICARAGUA Troops, bombing 10-year occupation, fought guerillas
    1913 MEXICO Naval Americans evacuated during revolution.
    1914 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Naval Fight with rebels over Santo Domingo.
    1914 COLORADO Troops Breaking of miners’ strike by Army.
    1914-18 MEXICO Naval, troops Series of interventions against nationalists.
    1914-34 HAITI Troops, bombing 19-year occupation after revolts.
    1916-24 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Troops 8-year Marine occupation.
    1917-33 CUBA Troops Military occupation, economic protectorate.
    1917-18 WORLD WAR I Naval, troops Ships sunk, fought Germany for 1 1/2 years.
    1918-22 RUSSIA Naval, troops Five landings to fight Bolsheviks
    1918-20 PANAMA Troops “Police duty” during unrest after elections.
    1919 HONDURAS Troops Marines land during election campaign.
    1919 YUGOSLAVIA Troops/Marines intervene for Italy against Serbs in Dalmatia.
    1920 GUATEMALA Troops 2-week intervention against unionists.
    1920-21 WEST VIRGINIA Troops, bombing Army intervenes against mineworkers.
    1922 TURKEY Troops Fought nationalists in Smyrna.
    1922-27 CHINA Naval, troops Deployment during nationalist revolt.
    1924-25 HONDURAS Troops Landed twice during election strife.
    1925 PANAMA Troops Marines suppress general strike.
    1927-34 CHINA Troops Marines stationed throughout the country.
    1932 EL SALVADOR Naval Warships send during Marti revolt.
    1932 WASHINGTON DC Troops Army stops WWI vet bonus protest.
    1941-45 WORLD WAR II Naval, troops, bombing, nuclear
    Hawaii bombed, fought Japan, Italy and Germay for 3 years; first nuclear war.
    1943 DETROIT Troops Army put down Black rebellion.
    1946 IRAN Nuclear threat Soviet troops told to leave north.
    1946 YUGOSLAVIA Nuclear threat, naval Response to shoot-down of US plane.
    1947 URUGUAY Nuclear threat Bombers deployed as show of strength.
    1947-49 GREECE Command operation U.S. directs extreme-right in civil war.
    1948 GERMANY Nuclear Threat Atomic-capable bombers guard Berlin Airlift.
    1948-49 CHINA Troops/Marines evacuate Americans before Communist victory.
    1948-54 PHILIPPINES Command operation CIA directs war against Huk Rebellion.
    1950 PUERTO RICO Command operation Independence rebellion crushed in Ponce.
    1951-53 (-?) KOREA Troops, naval, bombing , nuclear threats
    U.S./So. Korea fights China/No. Korea to stalemate; A-bomb threat in 1950, and against China in 1953. Still have bases.
    1953 IRAN Command Operation CIA overthrows democracy, installs Shah.
    1954 VIETNAM Nuclear threat French offered bombs to use against seige.
    1954 GUATEMALA Command operation, bombing, nuclear threat
    CIA directs exile invasion after new gov’t nationalized U.S. company lands; bombers based in Nicaragua.
    1956 EGYPT Nuclear threat, troops Soviets told to keep out of Suez crisis; Marines evacuate foreigners.
    l958 LEBANON Troops, naval Marine occupation against rebels.
    1958 IRAQ Nuclear threat Iraq warned against invading Kuwait.
    l958 CHINA Nuclear threat China told not to move on Taiwan isles.
    1958 PANAMA Troops Flag protests erupt into confrontation.
    l960-75 VIETNAM Troops, naval, bombing, nuclear threats
    Fought South Vietnam revolt & North Vietnam; one million killed in longest U.S. war; atomic bomb threats in l968 and l969.
    l961 CUBA Command operation CIA-directed exile invasion fails.

    GERMANY l961 Nuclear threat Alert during Berlin Wall crisis.
    LAOS 1962 Command operation Military buildup during guerrilla war.
    CUBA l962 Nuclear threat, naval Blockade during missile crisis; near-war with Soviet Union.
    IRAQ 1963 Command operation CIA organizes coup that killed president, brings Ba’ath Party to power, and Saddam Hussein back from exile to be head of the secret service.
    PANAMA l964 Troops Panamanians shot for urging canal’s return.
    INDONESIA l965 Command operation Million killed in CIA-assisted army coup.
    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 1965-66 Troops, bombing Marines land during election campaign.
    GUATEMALA l966-67 Command operation Green Berets intervene against rebels.
    DETROIT l967 Troops Army battles African Americans, 43 killed.
    UNITED STATES l968 Troops After King is shot; over 21,000 soldiers in cities.
    CAMBODIA l969-75 Bombing, troops, naval Up to 2 million killed in decade of bombing, starvation, and political chaos.
    OMAN l970 Command operation U.S. directs Iranian marine invasion.
    LAOS l971-73 Command operation, bombing
    U.S. directs South Vietnamese invasion; “carpet-bombs” countryside.
    SOUTH DAKOTA l973 Command operation Army directs Wounded Knee siege of Lakotas.
    MIDEAST 1973 Nuclear threat World-wide alert during Mideast War.
    CHILE 1973 Command operation CIA-backed coup ousts elected marxist president.
    CAMBODIA l975 Troops, bombing Gas captured ship, 28 die in copter crash.
    ANGOLA l976-92 Command operation CIA assists South African-backed rebels.
    IRAN l980 Troops, nuclear threat, aborted bombing Raid to rescue Embassy hostages; 8 troops die in copter-plane crash. Soviets warned not to get involved in revolution.
    LIBYA l981 Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down in maneuvers.
    EL SALVADOR l981-92 Command operation, troops Advisors, overflights aid anti-rebel war, soldiers briefly involved in hostage clash.
    NICARAGUA l981-90 Command operation, naval CIA directs exile (Contra) invasions, plants harbor mines against revolution.
    LEBANON l982-84 Naval, bombing, troops Marines expel PLO and back Phalangists, Navy bombs and shells Muslim positions.
    GRENADA l983-84 Troops, bombing Invasion four years after revolution.
    HONDURAS l983-89 Troops Maneuvers help build bases near borders.
    IRAN l984 Jets Two Iranian jets shot down over Persian Gulf.
    LIBYA l986 Bombing, naval Air strikes to topple nationalist gov’t.
    BOLIVIA 1986 Troops Army assists raids on cocaine region.
    IRAN l987-88 Naval, bombing US intervenes on side of Iraq in war.
    LIBYA 1989 Naval jets Two Libyan jets shot down.
    VIRGIN ISLANDS 1989 Troops St. Croix Black unrest after storm.
    PHILIPPINES 1989 Jets Air cover provided for government against coup.
    PANAMA 1989 (-?) Troops, bombing Nationalist government ousted by 27,000 soldiers, leaders arrested, 2000+ killed.
    LIBERIA 1990 Troops Foreigners evacuated during civil war.
    SAUDI ARABIA 1990-91 Troops, jets Iraq countered after invading Kuwait. 540,000 troops also stationed in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Israel.
    IRAQ 1990-? Bombing, troops, naval Blockade of Iraqi and Jordanian ports, air strikes; 200,000+ killed in invasion of Iraq and Kuwait; no-fly zone over Kurdish north, Shiite south, large-scale destruction of Iraqi military.
    KUWAIT 1991 Naval, bombing, troops Kuwait royal family returned to throne.
    LOS ANGELES 1992 Troops Army, Marines deployed against anti-police uprising.
    SOMALIA 1992-94 Troops, naval, bombing U.S.-led United Nations occupation during civil war; raids against one Mogadishu faction.
    YUGOSLAVIA 1992-94 Naval NATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.
    BOSNIA 1993-? Jets, bombing No-fly zone patrolled in civil war; downed jets, bombed Serbs.
    HAITI 1994 Troops, naval Blockade against military government; troops restore President Aristide to office three years after coup.
    ZAIRE (CONGO) 1996-97 Troops Marines at Rwandan Hutu refugee camps, in area where Congo revolution begins.
    LIBERIA 1997 Troops Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
    ALBANIA 1997 Troops Soldiers under fire during evacuation of foreigners.
    SUDAN 1998 Missiles Attack on pharmaceutical plant alleged to be “terrorist” nerve gas plant.
    AFGHANISTAN 1998 Missiles Attack on former CIA training camps used by Islamic fundamentalist groups alleged to have attacked embassies.
    IRAQ 1998-? Bombing, Missiles Four days of intensive air strikes after weapons inspectors allege Iraqi obstructions.
    YUGOSLAVIA 1999 Bombing, Missiles Heavy NATO air strikes after Serbia declines to withdraw from Kosovo. NATO occupation of Kosovo.
    YEMEN 2000 Naval USS Cole, docked in Aden, bombed.
    MACEDONIA 2001 Troops NATO forces deployed to move and disarm Albanian rebels.
    UNITED STATES 2001 Jets, naval Reaction to hijacker attacks on New York, DC
    AFGHANISTAN 2001-? Troops, bombing, missiles Massive U.S. mobilization to overthrow Taliban, hunt Al Qaeda fighters, install Karzai regime, and battle Taliban insurgency. More than 30,000 U.S. troops and numerous private security contractors carry our occupation.
    YEMEN 2002 Missiles Predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda, including a US citizen.
    PHILIPPINES 2002-? Troops, naval Training mission for Philippine military fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels evolves into combat missions in Sulu Archipelago, west of Mindanao.
    COLOMBIA 2003-? Troops US special forces sent to rebel zone to back up Colombian military protecting oil pipeline.
    IRAQ 2003-? Troops, naval, bombing, missiles Saddam regime toppled in Baghdad. More than 250,000 U.S. personnel participate in invasion. US and UK forces occupy country and battle Sunni and Shi’ite insurgencies. More than 160,000 troops and numerous private contractors carry out occupation and build large permanent bases.
    LIBERIA 2003 Troops Brief involvement in peacekeeping force as rebels drove out leader.
    HAITI 2004-05 Troops, naval Marines land after right-wing rebels oust elected President Aristide, who was advised to leave by Washington.
    PAKISTAN 2005-? Missiles, bombing, covert operation CIA missile and air strikes and Special Forces raids on alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban refuge villages kill multiple civilians.
    SOMALIA 2006-? Missiles, naval, covert operation Special Forces advise Ethiopian invasion that topples Islamist government; AC-130 strikes and Cruise missile attacks against Islamist rebels; naval blockade against “pirates” and insurgents.
    SYRIA 2008 Troops Special Forces in helicopter raid 5 miles from Iraq kill 8 Syrian civilians
    Not Shock and Awe. Shame and Embarrassment should be our credo.

    1. Crazy Horse

      Surely you can’t expect to control 85% of the world’s arms trade like Uncle Sam does without a regular display of your wares?

      And where would our economy be without rousing success stories like the total domination of the international arms market? The horror, the horror– suburbs surrounding Langly totally de-populated with black bears wandering the streets. Thank God we still have a few viable export sectors that we haven’t sold off to China.

  16. policestate_earth

    “…we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.”
    No one could possibly say something this dumb – this is proof beyond doubt that, as some have speculated, Obama is under duress – he’s signalling to us for help.

  17. greg

    It should be obvious by now that the whole point of the War on Terror is not to combat terror but to enslave the American people, by taking away their wealth and transferring it into the hands of a few. The people will be reduced to labor income, which, because of a chronic surplus of labor due to a depressed economy, will itself be reduced to subsistence. The powerful will have free rein in society, though it will be one too impoverished to any longer be a force in the world. America will, however, still be an example for the world, though no longer one to emulate.

    In case you haven’t been paying attention, this is what has been happening, at an accelerating rate, since the 1970’s. In that time, the income of the 1% has risen from about 9% of all personal income to 24% of all personal income. The wealth of the 1% has icreased to 40% of all personal wealth, while already most Americans have essecntially no personal wealth at all.

    The most efficient method of doing this is the total destruction of production, or to put it another way, producing something absolutely useless. Producing something absolutely useless maximizes the profit potential, since the object need preform to no specification.

    It is the economic equivalent of a heat engine, whose work is the enrichment of the few, and whose motive force the the destruction, the burning, of resources. As the most efficient thermodynamic heat engine is one that transfers heat from a hot reservoir to a reservior at Absolute Zero, the most efficient economic heat engine is one that takes precious resources and destroys them utterly. This maximizes the transfer of real resources to those in control. It is only through this mechanism, and similar economic mechanisms, that the distributions of wealth and income can be altered.

    The most obvious example of this process was the building of the great Egyptian pyramids. Despite the romance attached to them, they are exactly what they seem to be: Absolutely useless piles of rock in the middle of the desert. At great effort, the Egyptian people were induced to enslave themselves to their king, who became pharaoh, a living god. The pharaoh stopped the building of the pyramids when the people were impoverished and enslaved, and there was no longer any point to building them. Indeed, Egypt could no longer afford the building of them.

    The American people are too smart to be set to building pyramids, but they are not so smart that they can’t be set to squandering their patrimony in fighting empty wars.

    Note that much of the enslavement was also psychological. Part of the process was that most of those who, through hard work, enslaved themselves, came to believe that they deserved their enslavement, and came to pay allegience to those who defrauded them of their birthrights and liberties. While the powerful came to believe in their inate superiority to the people, and so justified in taking the people’s liberties unto themselves.

    This process is happening now.

  18. Kunst

    The average German of 1935 or even 1940 didn’t see what was happening, the way history views it now. He could have pointed with pride to the progress Germany was making. The modern autobahns, rising employment, a return of pride and energy in Germany. You know, we didn’t really lose in the first war; it was the November Criminals and the Jews who brought us down. Freedom is a euphemism for subversion. What we need is a strong leader to bring back our greatness. Now it’s time to make things right.

    If this brand of exceptionalism doesn’t appeal to you, maybe its contemporaries in Japan and the USSR…well, same story, different language. You can point to a lot of good things in America, but you have to turn a blind eye to the dark sides.

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