Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Subject Area

Political Science

Description

American exceptionalism has been interpreted as everything from a double-edged ideology to a domestic political division. At times it has been called a myth and at others given mythological importance. Whether interpreting its darker or brighter sides, however, a single dimension of American Exceptionalism threads through the literature at large: the capacity of those who seek to achieve a political objective to utilize American Exceptionalism as a means to an end. This paper devotes the bulk of its energies to reexamining the Iraq war, specifically the role American Exceptionalism played in implementing U.S. policy in the lead-up to the invasion, as well as in legitimizing the actions of the U.S. Rather than testifying to the fact or fiction of American Exceptionalism, as so many have done before, this paper instead argues that American Exceptionalism serves as a vital legitimizing factor for the United States government, which it uses to justify adhering to a different set of rules from those other nations are expected to follow. In the case of the Iraq War, the United States brandished Exceptionalist spirit to exempt itself from UN treaties in defiance of international law, and to start an unnecessary war.

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May 18th, 3:30 PM May 18th, 5:00 PM

Sanctions from on High: The Legitimizing Power of American Exceptionalism

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

American exceptionalism has been interpreted as everything from a double-edged ideology to a domestic political division. At times it has been called a myth and at others given mythological importance. Whether interpreting its darker or brighter sides, however, a single dimension of American Exceptionalism threads through the literature at large: the capacity of those who seek to achieve a political objective to utilize American Exceptionalism as a means to an end. This paper devotes the bulk of its energies to reexamining the Iraq war, specifically the role American Exceptionalism played in implementing U.S. policy in the lead-up to the invasion, as well as in legitimizing the actions of the U.S. Rather than testifying to the fact or fiction of American Exceptionalism, as so many have done before, this paper instead argues that American Exceptionalism serves as a vital legitimizing factor for the United States government, which it uses to justify adhering to a different set of rules from those other nations are expected to follow. In the case of the Iraq War, the United States brandished Exceptionalist spirit to exempt itself from UN treaties in defiance of international law, and to start an unnecessary war.

 

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