I have to admit, as presidential acceptance speeches go, Obama’s acceptance speech was impressive. It was emotionally provocative (for Americans and non-Americans alike). It was full of hope, calls to action and the collective responsibility of “we the people”. It was all about pumping popular pride in the great United States of America, as the greatest nation on earth. It pushed all the right emotional buttons for Americans and reminded them about everything they have been programmed to believe, since childhood, about the country they live in. It was all about the American dream and the American myth. Obama claimed he has “never been more hopeful about our future, never been more hopeful about America” and proclaimed that “the best is yet to come.” In short, it was a bunch of jingoistic nonsense that flew in the face of the reality of life in the USA and what it has done and continues to do to the rest of the world.
The myth of America and ‘the American dream’, as promoted by politicians and media pundits (among others), has been very effective in buffering the average American against the truth of what America has been and is today. But the grandiose words of politicians alone are never enough to keep the citizens content and obedient. To be truly effective, claims of American exceptionalism and superiority had to be backed up by evidence of it on the ground, and to that effect, America really has been the most prosperous and developed nation in the world for a long time.
The ‘quality of life’ of the average American over the last 100 years has been above that of other ‘developed’ nations and far above that of most of the rest of the world. This high level of living standard was provided, primarily, by access to modern technology and easy access to jobs and ‘personal wealth’. But how did Americans get access to the technology, and why have jobs and personal wealth been so plentiful in the USA as compared to other nations?
That’s where the American myth comes in.
Americans were told, and readily believed, that they were the ‘greatest nation on earth’ because of their quality of life, and that their quality of life was, in turn, the result of their ‘unique’ enterprising spirit, where a person’s personal wealth and ‘success’ is directly related to how much work they put into making themselves wealthy and successful. In America, anyone could be president. This is the myth. The truth about the origin of American wealth, and where it really resides, is less noble.
Since at least early 1940s, the US elite began in earnest the process of replacing the British Empire with an American one, and over the course of the following decades, they more or less completed the project. Whereas the British elite focused on maintaining their empire by direct military occupation of other nations and genocidal policies towards the natives, the American elite have mainly opted for ‘low-intensity’ and ‘covert’ proxy warfare involving the use of US-funded ‘death squads’ to do the dirty work, and the manipulation of foreign leaders or their removal and the installation of a more ‘friendly’ variety. Nevertheless, this new American style of empire building has been no less destructive to the local populations of the target nation. By 1990, former CIA agent John Stockwell estimates that 6 million people had been killed as a direct result of CIA (and US military) intervention in more than 50 nations since WWII. If we include CIA and US military operations since 1990, the figure is probably closer to 12 million killed, with many millions more suffering displacement, hunger and oppression.