For fair disclosure, before you read this review, I will say that while I enjoy visiting America from time to time, I am disdainful of American foreign policy and its continual aggression, state-sponsored terrorism, wars and regime changes around the world.
I am a Russophile. I think Vladimir Putin is one of the worlds great leaders.
An American pal of mine gifted me this book recently. I promised him I would read it with an open mind. I think I have, but it hasn’t changed my opinion.
Here is some of the book blurb:
Exceptional – Why the World Needs a Powerful America by Dick Cheney
Former vice president Dick Cheney, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and his daughter Liz Cheney, former deputy assistant secretary of state, explain the unique and indispensable nature of American power, reveal the damage done by President Obama’s abandonment of this principle, and show how America can and must lead again.
Since World War II, American power and leadership have been an unmatched force for the defense of freedom around the globe. For seventy years, presidents both Republican and Democratic have shared a dedication to maintaining American power and leadership. President Obama has abandoned this bipartisan tradition, choosing instead to “lead from behind” as he abandons America’s allies, appeases our enemies, and apologizes for this great nation.
It starts out quite interesting, actually. It walks the reader through history as Cheney sees it first, starting off with the founding fathers and the usual stuff about freedom and liberty, and he dwells on the relationship between the US and Europe in the second world war somewhat.
Reading through the lines you start to see the changes in attitude from what started out as good sound principles of freedom and liberty to what we see today (not sure he intended that to show through as clearly as it does). From what I deduced, it was somewhere between the end of the Vietnam war and the arrival of Carter as president the US started to become noticeably aggressive and interventionist abroad.
The book implies that Reagan was single handedly responsible for bringing down the Berlin wall with his Brandenburg speech. Not true.
It is an interesting read initially for the non-American as it offers an insight into *why* Americans think as they do.
What is disappointing in a way is how he described the principles the US was founded on and its early development (I suppose we all knew them anyway but they are well presented therein). He describes a country that anyone would want to live in.
What I see as an outsider (and occasional visitor), is how far wide of that mark and those intended standards the US has become, both with actions abroad and the influence of big media and business on the masses and the political decision making. But that happens anywhere.
I had no opinion on Cheney one way or another, so I can read his opinions without any particular bias against the guy. He seems to have a dim view of Obama, but then again, so do most Americans.
I was finding untruths and flawed thinking early on. The bloke is the neocon of neocons.
He seems scornful of any president who didn’t want to bail into any country, all guns blazing, at the drop of a hat. He thinks the Iraq war was a terrific idea. Obama and Clinton have had scorn. He seems to like the Bushes.
It started out well but then goes downhill rapidly with his train of thought……
Then it gives a scary insight into the neocon mind. Example: Indignation that Assad didn’t step down as Obama “instructed” him to do. Really!
About a third of it is taken up with quotes from other neocons to support his worldview, with some commentary in-between.
Then follows page after page of quotes from Obama with him trying to rip it to bits. The thing was, after reading Obama’s stuff, I am actually starting to like the bloke. I didn’t before.
Then he launches into the real out there stuff: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, etc. were all *super* ideas and they should have gone much, much further.
He thinks Russia is still the USSR, and must be hemmed in and castrated at any cost. He has similar views of China.
Then, there is page after page of what he thinks the next president should do, which basically is rule the world and start World War 3 to do it.
It rounds off with a General Cheeseburger rant about “exceptional”, greatest country in the world, apple pie on Sunday, blah blah.
I can only say its great that this old duffer was put out to grass. If one who thinks like him gets in the White House in 2016, there will be a world war for sure.
All in all it was a disturbing journey into a disturbing mindset. After reading it, I am surer than I ever was of the need to contain American aggression around the world and de-dollarise. I came out of it – unintentionally – with a new-found fondness for some of Obama’s ideas.
Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America
Dangerous: Why the World Doesn’t Need a Powerful America
This review is by Stuart Smith (@RussianHQ)