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.
Like Britain before it, the American Empire has provided the American economy (and people) with access to raw materials from other nations at the expense of the citizens of those other nations. By directly or indirectly deposing democratically elected leaders and replacing them with dictators, American agents of empire were able to ensure very favorable economic terms for American companies desiring to do business with these other nations, and access to very cheap raw materials. This practice is usually euphemistically described as 'opening up the country to foreign investment', but a more accurate phrase would be 'blowing up the country for US (and Western) plunder'. How this policy has directly led to a high standard of living for Americans should be obvious. Indeed, a mathematical formula could probably be created to represent the direct correlation between the high standard of living of any one American citizen and the low standard of living, up to and including death, of any one citizen of a country so 'colonized' by the American Empire.
The existence of 'banana republics' (coined in 1904) is one example of the type of societies created by the expansion of the American Empire. A banana republic is described as a "politically unstable country that economically depends upon the exports of a limited resource (fruits, minerals), and usually features a society composed of stratified social classes, such as a great, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy, composed of the elites of business, politics, and the military". See United Fruit Company as one famous example of how US companies end up literally controlling such unfortunate nations. The fact that 'Banana Republic' is today the name of a large American clothing business that uses 'third world' materials and 'sweat shop' labor is both appropriate and cynical/ironic, although the irony is undoubtedly lost on most people. Indeed, the parent company of the 'Banana Republic' clothing company, 'GAP', would probably be high on the list of examples of the great enterprising spirit of America.
Inherent in the idea of American exceptionalism is the idea that the task of America was and is to spread 'freedom and democracy' around the world. After all, why shouldn't the world's wealthiest and 'freest' nation want to spread such wealth and freedom to other nations? As far as the average American is concerned, such benevolence simply reinforces the idea of America as the greatest nation the earth has ever known.
The American elite create wealth for American citizens by stealing it from other nations under the guise of spreading 'freedom and democracy' around the world. The elite then tell the American people that the wealth generated is the result of the 'unique' American attitude, i.e., the love of freedom and democracy and enterprising spirit, and that it should naturally be shared with other nations. This 'sharing' happens via covert and overt military intervention to depose foreign governments and 'quell' civil rights groups that reject the idea of having their resources stolen in order that the US elite can continue to add to American wealth and thereby continue to convince the American people that their 'unique,' 'home-grown' 'freedom and democracy' should be spread to other nations. Obviously, this is a very effective psychological trap for American citizens.
When nations find themselves 'in conflict' or 'at war' with the US, or more precisely, when nations are bombed and occupied by the US military, the plausible explanation is that, for some strange reason, people of certain other nations don't share the 'unique' American desire to have 'freedom and democracy' and the best of everything, and instead prefer to live under dictators and scrabble around in the mud of Africa or the deserts of the Middle East. In those cases, such people are obviously so primitive that a bit of bombing and genocide is probably necessary if any good is ever going to come of the situation.
As long as their leaders can keep the truth of just how and why America is so prosperous from the American people, it's a system that works. Then again, if the American people were to become aware of the fact that their prosperity is dependent on the poverty and murder of millions of others, would they care enough to do something about it? To paraphrase a popular saying: 'it's hard to convince a person of something when their high quality of life depends on them NOT believing it.'
Arming Jihadis For 'Freedom and Democracy'
The chances of a majority of Americans (or British, or French or Germans, etc., because they are all to one extent or another programmed with the same beliefs in the exceptionalism of Western nations) ever discovering the truth of why America is so 'great' (and therefore realising that it is not) are pretty remote. The mainstream media maintains a constant barrage of sound-bites that reinforces the myth of America, and most Americans (like most Europeans) get their daily dose of reality from the mainstream media. That's not to say that evidence of the truth of how the West was made is not 'out there'; it is, but only in lesser-known history books (not used in schools of course) and even in the odd mainstream media news article:
Consider these excerpts from an Oct. 2012 article in the New York Times:
Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in SyriaA little weeding is needed to dispense with the spin.
Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats. [...]
American officials have been trying to understand why hard-line Islamists have received the lion's share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition through the shadowy pipeline with roots in Qatar, and, to a lesser degree, Saudi Arabia. [...]
Those problems were central concerns for the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, when he traveled secretly to Turkey last month, officials said.
The C.I.A. has not commented on Mr. Petraeus's trip, made to a region he knows well from his days as the Army general in charge of Central Command, which is responsible for all American military operations in the Middle East. Officials of countries in the region say that Mr. Petraeus has been deeply involved in trying to steer the supply effort.
Weapons are going to 'Islamic jihadists', aka 'al-qaeda,' because many of those jihadists (at least the ones leading the 'rebellion') are working directly for the CIA and MI6 and have been for several decades. They are the 'jihadists' who were tasked, by murdered Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens, with entering Syria and sowing the chaos (indiscriminate bombings and assassinations) that was the main US, Israeli and British game plan for getting rid of Assad and turning Syria into the next 'banana republic'. In fact, the NY Times article comment that the US wants arms to go to secular opposition groups should be turned on its head.
The last thing the US and its partners want to see in Syria is a new post-Assad secular Syrian government. Assad has run a secular government for decades. Secular, in this case, really means nationalistic, that is to say, a government that would put the needs of Syrian people before the needs of the American Empire. Historically, when dealing with foreign nations, US governments have always demonised and attempted to remove leaders who showed any sign of not playing by American exceptionalist and expansionist rules.
What the US wants is to choose who runs Syria after Assad is gone (if indeed he goes) because it can then pick the right person for the job of turning Syria into a US client state and 'open the country up to foreign investment'. Faced with a choice between a faction made up of real Syrians who have taken up arms against Assad, and the CIA-trained Islamic fundie fighters, the US government will pick the fundies. This is as true today as it was 60 years ago. As noted by Robert Dreyfuss in his book Devil's Game: How the United States helped unleash fundamentalist Islam,
"During the cold war, from 1945-1991, the enemy was not merely the USSR. According to the Manichean rules of that era, the United States demonised leaders who did not wholeheartedly sign on to the American agenda or who might challenge Western, and in particular U.S., hegemony. Ideas and ideologies that could inspire such leaders were suspect: nationalism, humanism, secularism socialism. But subversive ideas such as these were also the ones most feared by the nascent forces of Muslim fundamentalism. Throughout the region, the Islamic right fought pitched battles against the bearers of these notions, not only in the realm of intellectual life but in the streets. During the decades-long struggle against Arab nationalism the United States found it politic to make common cause with the Islamic right."1I am assuming here that there even are any 'secular opposition groups' in Syria that are fighting against Assad. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the only active groups fighting in Syria over the past 18 months are the CIA's Muslim terrorists.
A final point concerns the reference to CIA director Petraeus. As of yesterday, Petraeus is 'former CIA director', because he resigned, allegedly over an 'extra-marital affair'. Given that Petraeus was heavily involved in arming the al-qaeda Jihadis in Syria, and that he was ultimately responsible for the death of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, because the 'embassy' where Stevens was killed was really a CIA compound and those who attacked the compound included Libyan 'jihadis' that Stevens had been using to send weapons to Syria, it seems that an affair was the least of Petraeus' worries and unlikely to be the real reason for his sudden resignation.
Of course, extra-marital affairs can be easily arranged by third parties in order to put pressure on or force the resignation of certain individuals. Israeli intelligence is well known for their use of 'honey traps' on US politicians that they would like to see replaced, usually because they are not sufficiently pro-Israel. Petraeus may have fallen foul of a 'honey trap', although the trap itself is not the real problem but rather the media exposure that may, or may not accompany it, and the reason for laying the trap in the first place.
Could this be it?
"Statement of General David H. Petraeus, US Army Commander, US Central Command before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Posture of US Central Command, 16 Mar 2010."
"The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests... Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiments, due to perception of US favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the region and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support."Notes:
1.Robert Dreyfuss, Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, Henry Holt & Company Inc, Feb 2006, p2