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GOVT 329 American Exceptionalism

Published : 04-Oct,2021  |  Views : 10


Many conflicts throughout history have been fueled by the notion, "God is on our side!" With so many invoking God as being on their side, it would seem that He has had a hand in nearly every skirmish, battle, conquest, crusade, or war. This attitude, a religious based aspect of "exceptionalism," has justified cruelty toward, and even the annihilation of, entire cultures. A similar motivation that has been used by Americans to justify conquest include that cultures needed "civilizing."

Using this summary as your guideline, you will write an essay arguing for or against the use of torture on enemy combatants as a means of obtaining crucial information. Does our American exceptionalism give us the right to do this or prevent us from doing so?


American exceptionalism is a term which was first used by Alexis De Tocqueville in some 1830s to praise the free democratic thought process of American society but he also did not shy away from mentioning that American society lacked culture and was far behind the Anglo- Saxons in terms of civilisation (Tyrrell, 2016). Nowadays, this term holds an absolutely different connotation. America is the land of diversities where myriads of races and ethnicities blend together to form a democratic society where freedom is placed on the highest altar. The American constitution deeply believes that freedom is a fundamental right given by God to every human being and hence, every citizen enjoys economic, political and personal freedom in this country.

The term ‘exceptionalism’ denotes that the United States is different from other nations and to be specific, different from the conventional ideology of Europe. America is governed by the constitution, typically its own, which offers scope and opportunity to succeed and flourish to every citizen, irrespective of nationality, skin colour or language. It is believed that God is just and hence the USA holds the spirit of justice through liberty, equality and fraternity. But the dark side of this theory is revealed with the incidents of cruelty and torture towards the enemy combatants. According to the reports Senate Report about the Central Intelligence Agency( CIA), the democratic ideals have been distinctly violated while dealing with the suspects and combatants of the 9/11 terror incident.  The abusive methods taken up by CIA include beating, hooding, deprivation from food, drink and sleep to the point of hallucination, subjection to deafening noise, walling and many other beastly actions that actually prove America’s mean display of authoritarian ideology. The punitive measures inflicted on terrorism suspects are absolutely devoid of any humanity and create a long lasting psychological harm. Some of the people who were once interrogated by the CIA as a terrorism suspect still bear the nightmare within their subconscious mind. Hussein al Marfadi, living in Slovakia still bears the fearful memories of dogs, persistent headache and nightmarish sleep as a resonance of his experience in CIA interrogation while Younous Chekkouri of Morocco has lost his balance and keeps himself locked indoors because the faces of the Guantanamo Bay Guards haunt him to insanity (Apuzzo, Fink & Risen, 2017).

Human Rights commission in America has always been on the humanitarian side while dealing with the oppressed groups and colonised minorities (Facing History and Ourselves, 2016). Yet random torture violating humanity was enacted during the administration of second Bush. Although this ugly chapter of USA have been addressed but lack of remorse and equivocation still persists. Obama, in 2009, had put a cease to this intensified interrogation programme but the legislation has not shown much amendment in this sensitive issue. The edifice on which the Foreign Policy of America rests actually lacks the principles of transparency and accountability.

If the CIA is allowed to continue its operations in the similar manner, it is evident that would prove USA to be the most benign superpower in the world history. In this regard, I would like to quote the speech of President Clinton, “America has two choices. We can use our great and unprecedented military and economic power to try to stay top dog on the global block in perpetuity. Or we can seek to use that power to create a world in which we are comfortable living when we are no longer top dog on the global block” (Mayfield, 2014).


Apuzzo, M., Fink, S., & Risen, J. (2017). How U.S. Torture Left a Legacy of Damaged Minds. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from

Facing History and Ourselves (2016). The Human Rights Commission and Blacks in America. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from

Mayfield, T. (2014). The dark side of American exceptionalism. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from

Tyrrell, I. (2016). What, exactly, is 'American exceptionalism'? The Week. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from

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