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Exceptionalism or Imperialism

We the People (aka "The United States of America") have been doing some really nasty stuff lately. We're flying robots around the world killing people extra-judicially -- that is, unconstrained by any national or international law. We operate a prison camp that is outside of either national or international law that has been detaining demonstrably innocent people for many years with no end in sight. Most recently, we have learned that, as many suspected, we are also running a surveillance police state that sweeps up, indexes, and stores vast amounts of communications data. We — you, me, all of us — are doing these things.

Our government claims that these are in our best interests. They argue that America has a special, "exceptional" role in the world. Foremost, they argue, they must do these things to "keep us safe". They say, "America is special" and ask that we all wave a little flag and look away while they do things to others that they would never accept be done to us. Are we OK with that?

Once upon a time, We the People were bound together in a shared mission. We had a shared fate and saw that we sank or swam together. That is no longer true. The United States has become a platform for the monied interests all around the world to maintain their hegemony. But We the People, who actually live here, have become incidental to their goals.

The United States of America is no longer ruled by We the People. It is ruled by the tiny coterie of people who control essentially all of the wealth and the apparatus of the state. They use the United States to maintain their interests throughout the world. The United States is still a democracy, but in name only: neither of the dominant political parties is actually aligned with the interests of the people who happen to live in the United States.

And any state that does not align itself with maintaining the interests of the extremely wealthy is labeled a "rogue state". Any country that tries to use its wealth for any other purpose finds itself pariah.

Edward Snowden, by revealing the extent of the police state that we have constructed, has provided a brief moment of illumination when it is possible to see where we are -- and where we are going. In return, the United States has made him a stateless person and is bending all its will to catch and punish him.

We the People just violated the sovereignty of Bolivia, in a brazen and illegal attempt to catch Snowden. The United States would never tolerate its Head of State being treated in such a contemptuous manner. Is that exceptionalism? Or just plain imperialism? We the People really need to decide.

I call on Barack Obama — if, as he says, he truly welcomes this debate — to pardon Edward Snowden and invite him back with a guarantee of immunity, to testify publicly before Congress and the American People. Democracy demands it. The failure to engage in this dialog in a meaningful way demonstrates the failure of Democracy in the United States. Terrorism is not the existential threat to our Democracy: it is our own police state.