International Relations

American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam: US by Trevor McCrisken

By Trevor McCrisken

Trevor McCrisken examines the impact of the idea in American exceptionalism at the heritage of U.S. international coverage because the Vietnam conflict. He analyzes makes an attempt by way of every one U.S. management either rhetorically and by way of pursuing international coverage supposedly grounded in conventional American rules. He argues that exceptionalism continually supplied the framework for international coverage discourse yet that the behavior of overseas affairs used to be restricted through the Vietnam syndrome.

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Extra info for American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam: US Foreign Policy Since 1974

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They are the price, paid in blood and sorrow, for America’s awakening to maturity, to the recognition of its limitations. ’23 In 1975, when Daniel Bell declared ‘The End of American Exceptionalism’, he agreed that the ‘American Century … foundered on the shoals of Vietnam’. ’ Cold War foreign policy had, though, ‘done much to force many of us to rethink attitudes that were deep and basic sentiments about our country’. 25 The End of American Exceptionalism? 27 What was it about the American experience in Vietnam that caused Americans to question their national values and aims?

The Cold War and Vietnam In 1941, Henry Luce published an influential essay in Life magazine in which he declared that the twentieth century should be considered ‘the American Century’. Luce portrayed a vision of America that continued the long tradition of regarding the United States as an exceptional nation with a special destiny. He argued that the US must ‘accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence’.

45 ‘Peace with honor’, as defined by Nixon and Kissinger, meant that the American withdrawal from Vietnam must be carried out in such a way that it could not in any sense be considered a defeat. A withdrawal that caused the immediate downfall of the South Vietnamese government would, according to Nixon’s definition, be a defeat. Although he admitted the need to extricate the US from Vietnam, there remained the hope that victory was 32 American Exceptionalism and the Legacy of Vietnam possible or at least that total defeat could be delayed until long after a full American withdrawal.

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