Archive for American Exceptionalism

American Exceptionalism and the Mid-East Crisis

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , , on September 14, 2012 by playthell
Bill Kristol: Pugnacious Chicken Hawk

 Further Reflections on the Arrogance of Power

While most intelligent Republicans – walking oxymoron’s all – either remained silent or criticized Mitt Romney’s vulgar opportunism in speaking out of turn and lying about President Obama’s position on the attacks against American diplomats in the Mid-East; the Arch-neocon ideologue and far right activist Bill Kristol, came out strongly in Mitt’s defense.

“One can question the timing and tone of Mitt Romney’s statement last night.” said Kristol. “One can note he wasn’t as fluent and clear as he might have been at his press conference this morning. Still, the fact remains that the events of September 11, 2012, represent a big moment for the country. Romney is right to sense this, and to seize on this moment as an occasion to explain the difference between his foreign policy and President Obama’s. He’s right to reject the counsel of the mainstream media, which is to keep quiet and give President Obama a pass.”

For me, this statement is proof positive that Romney is the captive of neo-cons, although there are some advisors with different views. (For a thorough discussion of the worldview and objectives of the neo-conservatives see “How the Iraq War Was Hatched in a Think Tank.”)  Since Mitt is as clueless about world affairs as President Bush was, the neo-cons will shape American his foreign policy just as they did under George II after 9/11; a prospect that terrifies this writer.

Kristol, who always reminds me of Daffy Duck with an attitude, is a dangerous sword rattler with a checkered past.  He was the director and guiding light of the Project for a New American Century – from whence the policy wonks who beguiled George Bush into invading Iraq were hatched -and thus played a major role in egging America into war with Iraq.

He is such a rabid right-wing ideologue that the New York Times gave him column but was forced to kick his keaster to the curb after a brief tenure.  Kristol is part of a group of crazed rightwing egghead policy wonks that include people like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz, who believe a unipolar world can be shaped in America’s image through the promiscuous employment of military might.

I can think of no one who is considered a credible analyst of foreign affairs that has been as wrong on the big questions as Bill Kristol.  His continued prominence as an intellectual on the far right testifies to their estrangement from reality.  His role in promoting the Iraq war should have confined him to the sidelines for at least a generation.

Yet here he is still talking the same silly warmongering smack, trying his best to get us into a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran – which would make the Iraq adventure look like a dress rehersal – while we are still fighting wars he helped launch eleven years and four trillion dollars ago.

The truth is that Kristol – an impassioned American Zionist, was calling for an invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Sadam Hussein during the Clinton Administration because he thought Sadam was a threat to Israeli dominance in the region.  In a November 16, 1998 article published in the Weekly Standard, titled “How to Attack Iraq,” Bill Kristol rants, “It now seems fairly certain that sometime in the next few weeks the Clinton administration will have to strike Iraq. There are really no acceptable alternatives.”

Since this was over a year before 9/11 why did Kristol consider an invasion inevitable?  He tells us, “Saddam’s recent demand for the expulsion of UN weapons inspectors and for the removal of Richard Butler as head of the inspections regime is mostly a ploy to buy time…The longer the present crisis lasts, the more weeks the United states spends arguing with its allies and with Russia, the closer Saddam comes to his real objective: Finally acquiring chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them.”

It is enough to know that this crazed, warmongering, rabid American Exceptionalist with grand imperialist ambitions and his ideological minions are architects of Romney’s foreign policy, and observe the present anti- American rage all over the Muslim world unfolding as I write, in order to recognize that Mitt Romney’s election to the Oval Office would be an unmitigated disaster!  It would imperil the national security of the United States and threaten the peace of the world.


Playthell George Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 13, 2012

Barack Apologizes to the Afghans

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , on March 13, 2012 by playthell
Outraged Afghans Grieving their Murdered Kinsmen

On American Exceptionalism and War Crimes

The slaughter of sixteen innocent Afghan men, women and children in their homes by an American soldier is but the latest atrocity committed against innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As I pointed out at the beginning of these conflicts, back when the Bushmen were preparing to invade Iraq, the nature of foreign occupying forces tasked with suppressing indigenous insurrections is certain to result in war crimes.  It is in the nature of the conflict; the elements come together in such a way as to insure that war crimes will result.

Just imagine the following scenario.   An armed Arab force occupies your town; most do not speak English; they know nothing of our culture, history, or religious beliefs – except that it is the enemy of their beliefs.  Imagine these people blocking off streets and arresting your family and friends without the safeguards provided by our Constitution. They sexually violate women and men, bomb sections of the city trying to kill insurgents while slaughtering scores of innocents: people at weddings, baby showers, just going about their business.

This is the situation our young people in the military have been thrust into.  Since they are widely hated by the Afghan people, who neither understand nor agree with US objectives in their country, many support the resistance forces against the American invaders who might not have supported them otherwise.  Indeed US actions are the best recruitment materials the Taliban and other Jihadists could wish for.  Yet most Americans remain clueless on these questions.

.If it had not been so tragic it would have been amusing to watch MSNBC the hard hitting newsman and talk show host Chris Matthews scratching his head, and asking with a ring of indignation, why there was so much outrage about the recent burning of Korans.  It shows how little even highly educated American journalists/pundits understand about Islamic culture….especially in the remote country of Afghanistan.

Hence for the soldier on the ground who is hopelessly confused about his mission, and cannot distinguish between ordinary civilians and armed insurgents, everybody begins to look like the enemy.  And since the insurgents used the tactics of surprise attack and remote controlled explosive devices, our soldier’s nerves are as tense as hair triggers.  In such a scenario the miracle is that we have not seen even more atrocities.

The soldier who committed this atrocity is a 38 year old Sargent who is married with three children.  He had already done three tours of duty in Iraq and was then employed to Afghanistan!  The reason he has served this outrageous number of combat at tours is because the Republicans who started these wars were too cowardly to reinstitute the draft.

They knew that drafting college students and children of the elite would have revived an Anti-war movement on the scale of the movement that stopped the Vietnam war.  From all appearances the soldier cracked under the stress of multiple combat deployments, and the real criminals are those who constantly ordered him on those hellish missions.

It ought to be clear that the war in Afghanistan is magnifying the danger to our national security.  The recent incidents such as pissing on the bodies of dead Afghan soldiers; burning the Korans, and now this wanton slaughter of innocents in their homes, including children, plus the Republican policy of no apologies for war crimes or assaults upon the culture, religion and family honor of Afghans has placed any possibility of victory beyond the pale.

Offering apologies is the least that President Obama should do as an act of contrition to the Afghan people and reduce the danger to our troops!  American Exceptionalism cannot include immunity from war crimes There is no sane choice but to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible and refrain from starting yet another war in the Muslim world…which the Republicans are itching to do!

 Mission Impossible?

                       Fuck Afghanistan: Bring them Home!!!!!!!
Playthell Benjamin
Harlem, New York
March 13, 2012

On The Struggle for Black History

Posted in Cultural Matters with tags , , , , on February 8, 2012 by playthell

      Dr. Carter G. Woodson: Father of Afro-American Histography

Why Afro-American History is Still Suppressed

Although most Americans are oblivious to it; February is Black History Month.  In black communities all across the nation it is a time for celebrating the struggles and achievements of our great ancestors. It began as “Negro History Week,” when it was established by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926, and was extended into black history month during the turbulent 1960’s.

Woodson, who held a PhD in history from Harvard, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 – a period when the public crucifixion of black people called “lynching” had averaged one every two and a half days since 1882 – in an effort to rescue the race from extinction in America.  And like the Civil Rights/Labor Leader A. Phillip Randolph, Woodson believed that his efforts should be financed by black people themselves.

Hence Dr. Woodson sold memberships to the Association and the members got a regular Negro History Bulletin with facinating facts about the accomplishments of their race.  Black people of all nationalities and classes bought memberships.  It was the most successful example of academic entreprenuership that I know of.  To read an indepth portrait of Dr. Woodson check out the book “Reconsidering The Souls of Black Folk,” by Playthell Benjamin and Stanley Crouch, Running Press, Philadelphia and London 2003.

A voluntary group of professional scholars – black and white – the Association was dedicated to excavating and publishing the history of African Americans, employing state of the art research methods. And the next year, 1916, Dr. Woodson established the Journal of Negro History to publish the findings of the new historians he was training for peer review and public consumption.  All of the great black historians who came of age in the first half of the twentieth century studied with Dr. Woodson; among them the Harvard trained PhD’s Rayford Logan and John Hope Franklin.  See “The Place of Carter G. Woodson in American Historiography,” by Dr. John Hope Franklin.

Dr. William Edward Burghardt Dubois

The Father of Black Studies

Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, the first Afro-America to earn a Harvard PhD and wrote the first modern scientific history based on an African American theme – The Suppression of the African slave Trade  in 1896 – spoke of Dr. Woodson in heroic terms.  

Woodson literally made this country, which has only the slightest respect for people of color, recognize and celebrate each year, a week in which it studied the effect which the American Negro has upon life, thought, and action in the United States. I know of no one man who in a lifetime has, unaided, built up such a national celebration.”

Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to setting the record straight regarding the Afro-American contribution to American civilization because he was convinced that our survival depended on it.  Looking around the world at the destruction of the native Americans, the growing extinction of the Australian Aborigines, the Maori people of New Zealand, and the atrocities of King Leopold in the Congo that moved Mark Twain to denounce him and catalogue his horreddous crimes in “The Soliloquy Of King Leopold,” Woodson concluded that a world that thought itself “civilized” tolerated genocide against these peoples because they were considered sub-human, and therefore expendable in the advance of Western Civilization.

Although the world has turned upside down since then, those who argue that  Black History Month Celebrations is an anachronism, a relic from another world that has outlived its usefulness in a nation with a black First Family, are tragically mistaken.  Some whites are openly hostile to the teaching of Afro-American history, or the history of any of the non-white ethic groups that make up the US population.  In fact, Arizona has just passed a law banning teaching the history of the Hispanic people who were the original inhabitants of the state. This is no accident.

For the purveyors of white supremacy and the false doctrine of “American Exceptionalism,” teaching the history of black folks, Native Americans, Puerto-Ricans, Mexicans, et al, is self-defeating.  The history of these groups document the criminal history of “White Supremacy” and contradicts the master narrative of American civilization as the “land of the free and home of the brave where all men are born equal,” upon which white America’s claim to exceptionalism is based.

Hence when Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum get teary eyed recounting how their immigrant ancestors found freedom and unlimited opportunity to prosper in this land of the free; I am reminded that this is a country founded on genocide and chattel slavery – practices the ex-slave intellectual, abilitionist activist/orator and gifted writer Frederick Douglass said “would disgrace a nation of savages.”  These events has defined the character of American civilization as much as the crafting of the US Constitution in the summer of 1787.

That’s why the history of black people continues to be suppressed….and that’s why we must continue the fight to see it taught in every institution of learning in this country; especially those that receive public funding!  The fate of the nation may yet depend upon it!

Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist and Public Intellectual

The Premiere Moral Clarion of 19th Century America!



Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

February 8, 2012