COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
DEC 16, 2008
AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: JUSTICE WE CAN BELIEVE IN OR WHY BUSH WILL WALK
BY ROBERTO DR CINTLI RODRIGUEZ
The President ducked two shoes in Iraq recently, just as he will
inexplicably also be able to walk away from his office, without the
worry of ever having to duck Nancy Pelosi's heels – without ever
having to face impeachment by a complicit Congress.
The mind-boggling reason she continues to give regarding why
"impeachment is off the table" is that she claims that Democrats are
not out for revenge. Somehow, she seems to be oblivious to her
Constitutional duties to defend the Constitution, rather than engage
in political calculus (regarding who will control Washington).
Given a different set of circumstances, president George W. Bush and
his War Cabinet would not only be impeached, but they would also
undoubtedly face war crime tribunals for promoting and authorizing an
illegal war and occupation against Iraq – a war that is responsible
for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of
4-5 million others.
Chances are likely that Bush will also not have to duck the Obama
administration as all indications are that Obama will not show Bush
his soles. Instead, he will seek to "move forward" (Washington-speak
for ignoring the crimes of fellow politicians) and attempt to govern
from the middle. Governing from the middle is more Washington-speak
for ignoring the pursuit of justice.
Perhaps it will be up to history to deliver a verdict against a
president that has not simply run circles around the Constitution –
while ignoring international treaties and agreements – but that is
actually responsible for both, Iraqi and U.S. casualties, which number
in the tens of thousands.
Despite the glaring evidence that the president consistently lied to
Congress and the American public to be able to invade and occupy Iraq,
and despite the clear evidence of his approval of torture (claiming
that the Geneva Conventions of War were irrelevant) and illegal
spying, the question then is, what has been preventing his impeachment
It's called American exceptionalism.
It's the ability to look at the world, not the way it is or ought to
be, but rather, through U.S.-rose colored eyes.
Despite the obvious, U.S. politicos and government officials believe
that the United States has created the highest form of democracy – a
shining example to the rest of the world. Here, no one is above the
law. In fact, it is loudly proclaimed that "we are a nation of laws."
We heard this most loudly when former president Bill Clinton lied to
Congress about his trysts with Monica Lewinsky.
But there's also a backside to this idea of American exceptionalism:
the United States can do no wrong, or in this case, the president and
his underlings can do no wrong. In this case, president Bush
authorizing a war that never should have been fought is pedaled not as
a crime against humanity, but rather, simply as a policy difference –
no matter the hundreds of thousands of casualties – no matter that
thousands of Americans have died and that tens of thousands have been
permanently disabled. In the eyes of the U.S. body-politic, that's
less a crime – or no crime at all – because it led to the ouster of a
Yet, there's even an exception to this idea; if a president or
politico does something immoral –something that offends
Western/Christian sensibilities – such as lying to Congress about
having sex, having an abortion or trying to extort money or political
favors in exchange for a Senate seat – that is considered unforgivable
and unpardonable. This is true, more so than starting a destructive
and catastrophic war under false pretenses.
Where does this logic and morality come from? Perhaps from the same
logic that says it is permissible to kill a thousand innocents to save
one sinner or the medieval idea that found it permissible to kill
thousands of non-Christians in the Americas, while seeing it as "a
great service to God."
Reaching back to the Dark Ages may seem like stretch, yet, where else
can we find an answer that permits a president to war on a weak
nation, claiming that God told him to do it – and then Congress
inexplicably absconding from its Constitutional and moral duties and
obligations, not simply to protect the U.S. Constitution and the rule
of law, but to protect the world from a dangerous and delusional
Yet, neither does Pelosi or Obama have the last word on this matter.
Thirty years after the fact, Chile's dictator, Agusto Pinochet, and
the Argentine generals that waged a "dirty War" in their country,
found this out.
(c) Column of the Americas 2008
Rodriguez, a research associate at the University of Arizona, can be
reached at: XColumn@gmail.com
Column of the Americas - PO BOX 85476 - Tucson, AZ 85754
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