Once again, this Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate – to the unwitting militarist racist tune that is the “Star Spangled Banner” – more than just the nation’s Independence Day. Though most folks will, if at a reasonable social distance, focus more on the backyard beer and brats, U.S. jingoism and exceptionalism will invariably be on the menu.
That last sentiment, particularly amidst the COVID-19 and mass protest-exposing era of forever war at home and abroad, deserves a closer and critical look. For exceptionalism is truly a national disease that ravages American bodies and democratic institutions alike. This malignancy must be named and shamed in pursuit of precisely the “participatory patriotism” the holiday purports to celebrate. As the (late) man said, “Always look to the language;” so let us begin there:
A shining “City upon a Hill;” possessed with the power to “begin the world over again;” imbued with a “Manifest Destiny;” destined to “make the world safe for democracy;” representing, ultimately, a singularly “indispensable nation.” These are the self-styled musings from a country with a near-clinical collective Messiah complex. So diagnosed, the United States, predictably, would never countenance competition from any another power claiming even a fraction of similar self-righteousness. Indeed, in the past, the US has gone to war – hot or cold – with others who dared.
A deep dive into the mind of COL(R) Larry Wilkerson, his career as a U.S. Army officer to include combat in Vietnam, his close professional relationship with Colin Powell, his time at the State Department during the Bush II era, his thoughts on various conflicts to include Iraq and Syria, and his thoughts on the murder of George Floyd amidst the COVID-19 era.
Lawrence Wilkerson’s last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs (2001-02).
Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army. During that time, he was a member of the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College (1987 to 1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97).
Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 as a colonel, and began work as an advisor to General Powell. He has also taught national security affairs in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. He is currently working on a book about the first George W. Bush administration.
Antiwar.com columnist and combat veteran Danny Sjursen and Afghan women’s rights activist Fahima Gaheez speak on the tragedy of the longest war, what the past has wrought, and what the future portends. This appeared at TheRealNews:
Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer meets with Truthdig columnist Maj. Danny Sjursen, a United States Army officer who served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sjursen’s memoir, “Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge,” offers an incisive critique of the war in Iraq.