Howard Zinn on American exceptionalism

WARNING: Godwin invoked.

Zinn is something of a left wing broken record, akin to Chompsky, though without the intellectual stature. They, this far Left, are the only prominent remaining Western critics that truly embrace the notion of The Guilty West; but unfortunately, on a superficial level, they’re quite right - and if you don’t recognize their points i don’t think there can ever be a resolution to the ‘dialog’ (if one can use the term) between the West and the rest of the world.

The West supported or at least did not oppose the creation Israel which caused the displacement of the Palestinians; and while Germany pays Israel compensation, Israel -nor the West- pay the Palestinians nothing. According to, America has given Israel, adjusted for interest payments on our debt, approximately 133 billion dollars since Israel’s creation. Considering much of this comes through tax-free charities, much like the funding of radical Islamist counterparts in the Middle East, there is a hypocrisy that can never be netted out when calculating real value of Israel vs. the Islamic ME.

The West supported the dictatorial Government of the Shah, even if when looking at the overall balances he might have been better for the average Iranian despite his despotic excesses. However you can’t blame a people for turning against the tyranny they know to the tyranny they haven’t yet imagined. The West responded to the kidnappings and nationalizing of the Post-Revolutionary Government all out of proportion to the threat, directly helping Iran’s enemy kill millions of its people - many or most of whom were in fact chosen and sent to the front lines because of their opposition to the Islamic Republic. In fact i’ve read some believe had the Iran-Iraq war NOT happened, the revolution could not have held together the many disparate interests that made up the social fabric, the upper, middle, lower classes. The war allowed the government to liquidate opposition and veil itself in nationalistic ferver. By the end of the war the Islamic Republic was firmly established.

The Western powers colluded with the despotic regimes of Egypt, Saudia Arabia, Algeria, South Africa, Chile, ect (too many to bother naming them all) and continue to do so to this day. There are lots of extenuating circumstances, and sometimes a stable but poor country is better off than a poor and unstable one, but this is small comfort.

You can’t expect a country not to respond when attacked, much like Lenin’s delimma when facing the ‘disease’ of nationalism in Russia on the eve of WW1, when the only resolution is to let the attacker win, if indeed the country supported injustice. And like a Lenin, the goals of Islamic movements are just as appalling to us today as his goals were to the governments of the past. Yet these conflicts reflect real problems, not simply expansionist ideologies seeking war and death, born from nothing, in peaceful, content nations, and if we refuse to address these problems, like a Czarist Russia refusing to free the serfs, or a Western nation refusing equal rights to women and lower class workers, these conflicts will never be truly resolved.