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.