American exceptionalism has come to the forefront of the 2012 election to project American influence around the globe. The cost of this influence has resulted in the high cost of American lives and economic stagnation. Based on economic reality, a suffocating debt of $16 trillion, high unemployment and with one in six Americans living in poverty, the cost of American exceptionalism has become unsustainable.
The term "American exceptionalism" has surfaced often during the 2012 election campaign. The term first surfaced in the 1920s and projects that the United States is different from other countries as it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. The phrase was popularized by American newspapers in the 1980s to describe America's cultural and political uniqueness. It projects an outward looking strategy, through economic strength and military power.
When President Obama moved into the Oval Office, America had been involved in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, for eight years. The wars were conducted in the hope of bringing democracy and liberty to those two nations, which were projected to become America's allies in important regions in the world.
The Cold War and the Fall of the Soviet Union
The Cold War, dated from 1947 to 1991, was the state of political and military tension between Western Allies (NATO) and the Soviet Union and its satellites (Warsaw Pact). The two alliances had prolific economic and political differences. Fifthy years ago the tension brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, when President Kennedy stared down Nikita Krushchev and demanded that the USSR remove its missile bases from Cuba. Common sense prevailed and the Soviet Union backed down.
The cost of projecting military powers and the constant arms race resulted in the stagnation of the Soviet economy, the Soviets lost their grip on their satellites, which eventually caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. The rest is history and the United States emerged as the only super power in the world. Chronology of the Cold War - Wiki
American Exceptionalism and Obama's so called apology tour
Fast forward to 2008 and along comes a young senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Then-candidate Obama promised to end the war in Iraq, shift military resources to Afghanistan, defeat America's real enemies, and end the war in Afghanistan.
The new president also went to Middle East capitals, meeting with leaders and gave his famous Cairo speech. He also visited capitals in Europe and gave speeches about America being dismissive and at time arrogant. In the Arab world he promised more tolerance toward Islam. These visits and speeches have been criticized and labeled as "Obama's Apology Tour."
Call it what you may, the fact is that the projection of American power is no longer sustainable. The American public has become increasingly war weary and with the state of the US economy want their politicians to start inward looking and fix the economy.
The war in Iraq has ended and a timetable is in place to withdraw NATO troops by 2014. After departure from Afghanistan there will be a financial commitment by NATO countries for a decade, amounting to $4.2 billion, half of which will be funded by the US.
The United States and its allies in the EU have experienced economic stagnation on the heels of the 2008 financial crisis. Along with spending trillions on foreign wars, failing western economies, exemplified by Greece, Italy, Spain and to some extend France, are forcing a rethink on western strategy. The emergence of China and efforts by Vladimir Putin to assert Russian influence raise questions about the value of attempting to keep pace.
Five reasons for a diminished America
Facing the realities of economic hardship, Americans are starting to look inward. According to a CBC report voters are impatient to end the big military interventions such as Afghanistan. A Pew research survey in October found that 63 percent of Americans want to see less US involvement in the Middle East. There is also the realization that America must develop a new grand strategy that it can afford.
The CBC report quotes Michael Mazarr, a highly regarded scholar at the US National War College, stating that "(t)he question for the United States now is whether it responds to this emerging reality, or continues doggedly trying to ignore it."
Marzarr lists the five reasons why the strategy is unsustainable:
In the end it boils down to common sense and what it is America can accoplish within its means. Given the domestic situation and the state of America's fiances, lengthy foreign adventures are simply no longer sustainable.
Since World War II, America has been involved in the Cold War, Korean war, Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan, the former, along with several shorter conflicts such as Grenada and Somalia.
Reality dictates that the United States can't be the fix all for all of the global problems. While an isolationist policy is not the answer, neither is the role of global policeman.
The right policy is somewhere in between. American Exceptionalism, as it is known today, may have to be sacrificed to face economic reality.
If you like writing about US politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.