No exceptional country
I would like to request all Barbadian and Caribbean people to make it a point of duty to deliver a simple verbal message to any citizen of the United States of America (USA) that they come into contact with.
And the message is as follows:- “You are simply a human being —- no different from and no greater than the other 8 billion human beings who inhabit this planet. Furthermore, the nation of which you are a citizen is no different in legal or moral status from any of the other 200 odd nations that make up the international community. As a result, your nation is subject to the “same / exact” rules and principles of International Law that every other nation is subject to!”
This is a message that needs to be repeatedly drummed into the head of every American citizen, because, some-where along the line, they have managed to delude themselves that their country — the United States of America — is the world’s singular “exceptional” country; that they are the world’s singular “exceptional” people; and that as a result, they are singularly exempted from the standard rules and norms of International Law!
This evil and pernicious doctrine is known as “American Exceptionalism”, and it has been in existence in one form or another since Alexis de Tocqueville published his famous book, “Democracy In America”, in the 1830’s. But it seems that, of late, the most noxious form of the doctrine has been embraced as an “article of faith” by just about every institution and sector of society in the USA! Indeed, it has now become standard practice in US elections — including presidential elections — for every candidate to go before the public and avow his or her profound belief in the doctrine of “American Exceptionalism”.
How many times have you heard or seen American politicians piously referring to the USA as the “shining City upon a hill”, or as God’s own country — a country that is qualitatively different from and better than any other country on earth, a country that is inherently “good”? Well, what you are hearing is an assertion of the doctrine of “American Exceptionalism”.
Those of us who, from early childhood, learnt the adage that “self praise is no praise”, and who approach life with some sense of modesty, would be tempted to laugh at and dismiss these crass, self-centred, pompasetting characters. But we would be making a serious mistake if we adopt the posture of merely laughing at and dismissing these self-righteous Americans!
And the reason we would be making a serious mistake is because this self-deluded nation possesses — by far — the most formidable war-making capability on earth, and the members of the American establishment have interpreted this delusional doctrine of “American Exceptionalism” in such a manner that they arrogate to themselves the right to inflict death and destruction on nations and governments that they disapprove of.
Who or what gives the Government of the USA the right to set itself up as the singular prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner of the government and nation of Syria? The short and simple answer is that the US Government possesses no such right!
International Law stipulates that it is the United Nations Security Council — a body that represents the will of the entire community of nations — that possesses the right and responsibility to determine whether a breach of the peace or an act of aggression has been carried out by any nation or regime, and whether a punitive armed response is required.
Thus, if it is being alleged that the Assad governmental administration of Syria carried out an inherently illegal chemical weapons attack on the people of Syria, it is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to investigate the matter; to make a determination of innocence or guilt; and if guilt is established, to decide upon the appropriate response.
Virtually the entire World Community accepts that this is the settled International Law position. But not the USA! No, not a country that has wedded itself to the delusional and manifestly fraudulent doctrine of “American Exceptionalism”. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Harry Reid, and virtually all the other leaders of American society are capable of casually dismissing out-of-hand the settled, positive logic and rationality of International Law by engaging in a form of delusional “pseudo – logic” that goes something like this:-
“The USA – because of its unique history and its unique physical and natural endowments – is a special and inherently ‘good’ nation, whose God-given mission is to spread freedom and goodness all over the world. And since the USA is an inherently “good” nation, it means that its actions and policies will always be based on and for “the good”. Thus, the ordinary rules of International Law do not apply to the USA, and the USA is therefore at liberty to take unilateral action to impose its inherently “good” policies on a backward and wicked world”.
This is the kind of “logic” that President Obama uses to justify his sending of drones half-way around the world to assassinate men and women who have never been tried and convicted in any Court of law, and to do so even if it means killing dozens of totally innocent children, women and men who simply happen to be in the locality of the assassination target when the missiles come raining down.
This is also the kind of “logic” that Obama is currently using to justify his much desired “punitive” missile strike on Syria. And mind you, this kind of “logic” comes from a nation that has committed genocide against its native people; that enslaved Africans for almost 250 years; that inflicted segregation and lynching on black Americans for over 100 years; that is the only nation on earth to drop atomic bombs on human beings; that used chemical weapons against the Vietnamese and other Asians; and that has illegally intervened in and invaded scores of countries, among a host of other crimes.
Let me therefore conclude by once again appealing to my Barbadian and Caribbean brothers and sisters to let us all collectively resolve to take up the onerous task of constantly reminding the USA that it is not an exceptional country, and that like every other country in the world, the rules of International Law apply to it too!
*David Comissiong is the President of the Peoples Empowerment Party and the Clement Payne Movement.