[It’s taken me a while to catch up on the Afterburners. There are some major projects in the works — and they have been in the works for eighteen months now — and I promise they will not disappoint.
Here I am on my favorite ground. Some of this may be familiar, but certainly the frame around it is new, and disturbing. One would think the President of the United States might be a little more historically literate concerning the country he has been elected to lead.
Also, I have had many requests for the SILENT AMERICA esssays, many of which did not survive intact from the old site. I’ll start re-posting them here in between the new work. And I’ll start with TRIBES, which has been requested by name several times. Until then, you can find the video link to the True Story of American Exceptionalism Afterburner here.]
The Huffington Post has gained a reputation as the premier philosophical center of the modern American Left, and it is there that we might look to find the kind of in-depth, rational argument that powers modern left-wing ideology.
An example of this kind of reasoned discourse was found in a recent article by leading American intellect Bill Maher. Mr. Maher is outraged that people like me are outraged at a statement made by the President of the United States.
Mr. Obama, while attending a European summit earlier this year, was asked if he believed in American exceptionalism. The President of the United States replied, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Liberal intellectual Bill Maher then went on write, “Yes, our so-called president actually said people in other countries might like their countries better. I was so shocked I nearly dropped the Bible I was using to help me masturbate into my gun.”
Now even those of us without the towering intellects of Barack Obama and Bill Maher can see that that both men are suffering from a simple lapse in comprehension. The question wasn’t whether or not he believed in American patriotism – that is, the love of one’s country. Of course the British and the Greeks love their country. I love my country. I understand this emotion completely, and I think it’s great to have pride in who you are. But that wasn’t the question. The question was, do you believe America to be “exceptional.”
Bill Maher and Barack Obama say no. I say, yes it is, and here’s why:
Let’s examine four international areas of competition to see if there’s any way in which America can be defined as exceptional: Militarily, economically, scientifically, and culturally. There’s the challenge. Ready? My God, this is going to be so easy and so much fun…
Throughout history, certain exceptional nations have dominated the world militarily. Egypt, Rome, The Mongols, Spain, France, Britain, and America’s military dominance since World War II certainly puts it in that category. But the American military exceptionalism is completely different both in terms of relative power, and more importantly, in terms of the use of that power.
At the end of 1945, only two military powers of any consequence remained after the ruin of the World War: the United States, and the Soviet Union, and while the Soviets had large numbers of troops and tanks, they had no navy and no strategic air force to speak of. On the other hand, the United States possessed, intact, the most awe-inspiring, battle-hardened navy the world had ever seen. It possessed sky-darkening clouds of B-29 strategic bombers. And it possessed, alone, the atomic bomb and the will to use it.
Had we been like any other power in the history of the world, the United States of America would have used that monopoly on absolute military supremacy to have planted its flag anywhere it wanted and no one would have been able to do a thing about it.
But what did America do with this once-in-all-of-history military advantage? We scrapped the ships, drove steel bars through the wings of the priceless bombers, and began the largest de-militarization in the history of the world. Oh, and we sent billions of 1940’s dollars – an almost unimaginable sum – to our defeated mortal adversaries to get them back on their feet.
And in all of the years since then, despite what Michael Moore may want you to believe from the comfort of his editing room, the United States has deployed in response to aggression – not to cause it. Berlin, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Korea, Vietnam – all of it Communist – that is to say, Leftist – aggression.
There is another military issue that need to be addressed. It is the idea of American “Imperialism.”
The fair working definition of “empire” is a group of countries ruled over by another country, and the entire point of an empire if for the ruling nation to pull resources and wealth from the subject nations. So, is America an Empire?
Well, over what other nation does the US exercise “supreme power in governing?” Whose national parliament can we overturn at our whim? What nations in this so-called “American Imperialism” does America have ruling governors in? There are none, and everyone knows it. We have a handful of very small territories that repeatedly vote for that status. And in those nations that voluntarily house American military bases, we find we not only do not steal the resources of the host nation, but rather pump vast amounts of money into those countries. When a country – like the Phillipines – decides it no longer wants those bases, the bases are removed. Furthermore, we pay for whatever resources we are sold. That benefits us and our trading partner. Free trade is the economic and moral antithesis of imperialism.
And just as a quick parting shot, let’s talk about a “war for oil.” Unlike the people that bandy this term around, I’ve enough about military doctrine to know what a War for Oil would like like. In a War for Oil, the US would secure the oil fields using Special Operations teams. We’d place an armored cordon around the oil fields, and then, using military convoys under overwhelming close air support, convoy the oil to Basra where it would be loaded on US tankers and escorted out of the region by American Carrier Battle Groups. And if you don’t believe that take on America’s fundamental military decency, I would refer you back to the First Gulf War, when Saddam was high-tailing it back to Iraq and the US Army sat unopposed on the precious, precious oil fields. They were ours; we won them in battle. What did this American Empire do? We put out the fires and then we went home. Again.
So what kind of empire has no sovereignty over its subject nations, deplys no governors to make it’s will felt and which puts resources into the outlying colonies, rather than pulling them in?
What kind of empire is that? An Anti-Empire, that’s what kind. America’s presence is Anti-Imperial. That has never happened before in history. That is one of a kind. That’s exceptional.
Economically, the United States – with less than five percent of the world’s population – produces 20% of it’s total economic output. You don’t find that exceptional? How about this? America, with three hundred and seven million people, produces about 14 trillion in GDP. China, with 1.3 billion, produces almost 8 trillion dollars of GDP. In other words, America produces twice the GDP of second place China, and we do it with less than 25% of their population. You don’t find that exceptional, Mr. President? I find that very exceptional.
And just to shoot down a recurring bit of idiocy I see bandied about out there, let’s just very quickly dispose of the idea that America is rich because it steals all the wealth from the third world.
U.S. GDP, as I mentioned, is a little over 14 trillion dollars. Let’s take the GDP of a poor country – Djibouti, lets say – the not the absolute bottom, but close enough… Djibouti ranks 162 out of 180 countries in the world.
Djibouti’s GDP is a little less than 1.9 Billion dollars annually. The GDP of the United States is 7,600 times that of Djibouti. If we were to send the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines into Djibouti, and steal everything they made that year – everything, we just took their whole GDP – well, that would account for the first 1.2 hours of the first day of January of America’s GDP year. In other words, the United States makes in the first hour and ten minutes of January first what Djibouti makes all year.
There has never been anything like the US economy. No one can look at the numbers I just gave and not see it as the most remarkable and exceptional wealth creation machine in history. But it does seem at times that the President who sees nothing exceptional in America is doing his level best to remove what were the exceptional elements of the US economy – low taxes, low regulation and private initiative – and lead us straight out of this once-in-history economic miracle. Into what? I don’t know. No one knows.
Moving on. One of the common charges leveled – seemingly every week – by deep thinkers like Bill Maher, Janeane Garofolo, Michael Moore and other left-wing idols – is that America is a stupid country. In fact, if you listen to these guys, American’s are not just stupid – we are, literally, according to them, the stupidest people in the world.
Is that true? How does America fare scientifically?
Each year, scientists all around the world write research papers. These papers produce scientific citations. It’s fair to call these citations “units” of science, that is, a measure of how much ground-breaking science is being performed.
Now the last time I checked, China came in sixth, preceeded by France, England, Germany and Japan. Japan, at number, had six and a half million citations in a ten year period.
During that time the United States produced 39,027,838 – more than six times as many as the runner up. Six times as many as number 2. Mr. Maher, I’m not even talking to you any more – you’re an idiot if you can’t see numbers like this. But Mr. Obama, as President of the United States, can’t you see that this is not just patriotism. Six times the number of scientific citations as the number two country, and with less than five percent of the world population… Don’t you find that even somewhat exceptional?
Let’s put this in visual terms…
All of those images of the deep structure of galaxies and nebulae from the Hubble Space Telescope are provided to the world at the expense of the American taxpayer and through American. Almost every image of the surface of Mars, the asteroids, and the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune was sent to the world by American grad students at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal Tech in Pasadena. The American university system is the envy of the world. Nowhere is there better science being done, and no where is there anything like the numbers of people receiving advanced scientific and engineering degrees.
One man – an American named Norman Borlaug, whose name should be sung to the rafters every day – launched what is known as the green revolution. This American agronomist first developed the high-yield, disease-resistant crops that defied the Malthusian projections of worldwide famine and single-handedly fed the entire world. Billions of people are alive today because of this American scientist.
But I can go on. Almost all of the life-saving drugs administered around the world are the product of American pharmaceutical research. Almost all.
To compare American inventive genius relative to the rest of the world, let’s go right to the heart of the modern socialist European state, Sweden. Google “Swedish inventions” and what comes up? Wikipedia has nothing – not one thing – in the 21st century. Swedes did invent the spherical bearing in 1907 – and that’s not a trivial thing – and neither is the first practical dialysis machine, invented by Nils Alwall.
On my monitor, I had to hit “page down” key 3 times to run through the list of Swedish inventions. The list of American breakthroughs took me 69 taps of that button, and revealed – just taking one out of twenty, let’s say – Refrigeration, the electric telegraph, anesthesia, assembly line production, the airplane, the bulldozer, extragalactic astronomy, the liquid-fueled rocket, EEG brain topography, the digital computer, nylon, ,the creation of the first Transuranium element, nuclear weapons, the transistor, supersonic flight, the video game, cable television, radiocarbon dating, the atomic clock, the credit card, the nuclear submarine, the laser, carbon fiber, the integrated circuit, the weather satellite, the birth control pill, the communications satellite, Kevlar, the compact disc, the jumbo jet, the personal computer, email, the Heimlich maneuver, the space shuttle, the graphic user interface, the global positioning system, and in case you missed any of that: TiVo. Oh, and parenthetically, this nation of idiots landed on the moon two generations ago, and we also mapped the human genome about a decade ahead of schedule.
Mr. President, would you not consider that exceptional scientific output for less than five percent of the world’s population? And Bill Maher, sir… you smoke too much pot.
Culturally, I’ll just say this: look at the list of the 50 top-grossing movies of all time. There is a lot of international talent there, certainly, but every single one of them is the product of an American studio. You might object to Lord of the Rings being on that list, but the three Lord of the Rings movies cost about 450 million dollars and New Zealand doesn’t have that kind of money – nothing like it. The top 50 movies are American movies, spoken in English.
In terms of albums sold, American Michael Jackson is the only one to sell over 100 million worldwide. The following six best selling albums are all American, with Andrew Lloyd Weber, of all people, coming in at number 8.
Compare the star power at the BAFTA’s – the British film awards, or the Greek Awards – with the Oscars. That’s not a question of the Brits or the Greeks loving their own movie stars. It’s a question of which country produces the international culture. And by every measure, it’s us. Five percent.
Let’s not belabor this any further. As a reasonable person, based on the evidence I have presented, would you not say that the United States of America is not only exceptional in one or two of these areas, but has historically dominated all of these fields – military, economic, scientific and cultural – in a way never before matched in history. It’s simply never happened before.
It takes lethal doses of cynicism to ignore a mountain of facts this high. I expect this kind of cynicism from Bill Maher. Bill Maher – and Michael Moore, Janeane Garofolo, and all the rest – have made a very comfortable living – well, maybe not Garofalo – by telling a small group of under-educated sycophants that they’re actually really much smarter than the rest of the rubes because they buy their tickets. But no one can seriously believe, in the face of the evidence I just laid out – that this is a stupid country. In fact, you can’t come to any reasonable conclusion other than the United States being the most exceptional country in the history of the world.
So why do they say what they say? Nihilists, you see, believe in nothing. They are hollow, soulless people, and the one thing they cannot tolerate is belief in something good. Belief in America is to them like sunlight to vampires. It makes their skin catch fire. They cannot hear this music, and so they can’t allow you to hear it either. But don’t let them get to you. The facts are on our side, and not theirs.
You know, I can remember a time when a common citizen didn’t have to explain American greatness to the President, but rather the other way around.
I remember a President who thought of his country not as one out of 180 equally good countries, but rather as a shining city on a hill, an exceptional place. A President who once said “After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”
Mr. Obama, like all previous Presidents of the United States, you are descended from immigrants. But I believe you may be the first whose father hurtled through the darkness, towards home, then discovered he didn’t care for it much and hurtled back to where he came from. That’s the true story of the man you revere, along with the Marxist professors you claim to have sought out in college, and the radical Anti-Americans you have associated with your entire life. I fear they may have colored your judgment somewhat, sir, and I would ask that you take a look at the evidence I have presented and perhaps, next time you are asked if the country you lead is exceptional, you might perhaps nod and say, “yeah, you know what? Maybe we are.”