The excesses of exceptionalism

A claim of national exceptionalism has infused the global political scene. It is a version of the ‘chosen people.’ We now have a Western nation which, since about 70 years ago, has claimed the right to extend its influence over the nations of Central and South America to intervene in the affairs of nations all over the globe. Its approaches are multifarious. Its rationale (or rationalisation) reflects tactical creativity, backed by high-sounding concepts implying lofty moral intent.

Seemingly allied to (unidentified) local nations with possibly less-than-lofty intent, and ambitious conglomerations seeking to occupy high chairs, an effort to damage axes-of-evil nations or leaders has led to terrible tragedy in the Middle East. What has been the gain to this nation claiming to be exceptional and to its allies?

On the contrary, the penultimate claim of exceptionalism, by a cluster of nations in Europe – the ‘innately’ superior ‘white race’ colonising a great swathe of each continent over half a millennium – achieved substantial material advantages to these nations, with a side-benefit of accruing many coloured souls to the bosom of Christ.

Christian colonialism, however, destroyed or damaged many societies all over the world, and left a legacy of ongoing tribal conflict everywhere. The European nations have now effectively returned to their own borders. Their recent efforts to achieve a united Europe are, interestingly, being undermined by the odd member-nation seeking the benefits of communalism while exercising the rights of individualism.

There is also a re-vitalised Asian nation now claiming to be exceptional. It relies upon ‘traditional’ ownership of adjoining lands and sea. Were this nation to adopt a ‘pay-back’ stance in relation to those Western nations (plus Japan) for the depredations caused by the latter over a couple of recent centuries, the exceptionalism claims of both nations will be constrained.

After all, there can be only one large mastiff in any paddock. With two, there will be competition, with terrible collateral damage most probable. The current debacle in Syria and Iraq will look like a sandpit squabble were there to arise a battle as to whose exceptionalism is bigger.

Empires do tend to fade into the sunset. Protection for the small nations can, in the meanwhile, be provided by a global governance under the mantle of a tripartite agreement between, say, three powerful nations. Alternatively, a number of agreed spheres of interest may avoid the terrible destruction resulting from the excesses of exceptionalism.

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