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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 9/30

I found Walt’s article to be an accurate representation of how I have viewed America, especially in recent times. It’s become increasingly evident that many Americans view the United States as being the most important and powerful country in the world. They argue that this makes the United States more important and contributes to our strong national sense of patriotism which is a dominant sentiment in the US. These ideals discussed in Walt’s article directly relate to Zinn’s discussion of expansion because the idea of American exceptionalism contributes to American’s thinking that the United States has the right and authority to expand. I think that in a sense, yes, the United States is a powerful country that has an economic and political presence in the world. As Zinn states, “American trade exceeded that of every country in the world except England” (p. 301). Thus, in some ways it is fair to say that with the US’s power, military, and economy it makes sense to expand.

However, thinking back to previous class discussions about listening to the voice of the oppressed and minorities, the same ideas apply. The United States, a country predominantly ruled by white politicians, asserts an excessive amount of force to expand into the land of another country made up of mainly people of color. This “‘right to intervene'” that Zinn mentions ties into the common myth that Americans believe they have a divine mission to lead the rest of the world that Walt brings up. I’m unsure if this is somehow rooted to white supremacy and that sense of nationalism or if it is genuinely an idea expressed in religious philosophies. Regardless, what we see in Zinn’s discussion of the US’s involvement with Cuba is an example of how American exceptionalism can actually be dangerous when it comes to the United State’s interventionist policies with the rest of the world. Ultimately, the US is not as important as we think it is but it’s the common myths and misconceptions that Americans have of the states that leads to such strong beliefs in nationalism. It’s also important to note a difference between civilized expansion where treaties and negotiations occur, and less civilized expansion which seems to be the majority of the United State’s expansion. If deals can be worked out between both parties, expansion and American exceptionalism is less of an issue than when military force is taken advantage of to take land.

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3 Comments

  1. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    I like your distinction between civilized expansion versus domination, and I find the narrative we learned about many treaties of American expansion fascinating. They seem to be very over-simplified- for example, the Louisiana Purchase is often spoken about as a matter of simple transaction between the US and France. In reality, the two white supremacist powers completely overlooked the existence of Indigenous peoples who had long occupied the territory being traded. Our imperialist parties did not seem to consider the importance of groups that did not provide economic or political advantages to the United States.

  2. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    I thought the way you connected oppressing minorities in America to Cubans was very interesting especially because the US was founded on freedoms they received from fighting against there believed oppression. Then America not only asserts the same dominance over some of its own people but also over another nation. The whole thing is very hypocritical.

  3. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Going off of your point about America’s “right to intervene”, this chapter made me believe that this divine mission is actually just a ploy for economic, political, and military power and not to save the countries or communities in danger. For example, if the US truly believed we are better and everyone and that we can save the world, then we should have intervened with the global issue of climate change in the most affected countries. However, the US hasn’t intervened because of economic interests, so this does align with our history.

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