The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic?

The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic?

by David Ray Griffin


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In The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? David Ray Griffin traces the trajectory of the American Empire from its founding through to the end of the 20th century. A prequel to Griffin's Bush and Cheney, this book demonstrates with many examples the falsity of the claim for American exceptionalism, a secular version of the old idea that America has been divinely founded and guided.

The Introduction illustrates the claims for divine providence and American exceptionalism from George Washington to the book Exceptional by Dick and Liz Cheney. After pointing out that the idea that America is an empire is no longer controversial, it then contrasts those who consider it benign with those who consider it malign. The remainder of the book supports the latter point of view.

The American Trajectory contains many episodes that many readers will find surprising:

* The sinking of the Lusitania was anticipated, both by Churchill and Wilson, as a means of inducing America's entry into World War I;

* The attack on Pearl Harbor was neither unprovoked nor a surprise;

* During the "Good War" the US government plotted and played politics with a view to becoming the dominant empire;

* There was no need to drop atomic bombs on Japan either to win the war or to save American lives;

* US decisions were central to the inability of the League of Nations and the United Nations to prevent war;

* The United States was more responsible than the Soviet Union for the Cold War;

* The Vietnam War was far from the only US military adventure during the Cold War that killed great numbers of civilians;

* The US government organized false flag attacks that deliberately killed Europeans; and

* America's military interventions after the dissolution of the Soviet Union taught some conservatives (such as Andrew Bacevich and Chalmers Johnson) that the US interventions during the Cold War were not primarily defensive.

The conclusion deals with the question of how knowledge by citizens of how the American Empire has behaved could make America better and how America, which had long thought of itself as the Redeemer Nation, might redeem itself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780998694795
Publisher: Clarity Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/15/2018
Pages: 409
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

David Ray Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University (1973-2004); Co-Director, Center for Process Studies. He edited the SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought (1987-2004), which published 31 volumes. He has written 30 books, edited 13 books, and authored 250 articles and chapters. His most recent books are Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World and UNPRECEDENTED: Can Humanity Survive the CO2 Crisis?

Read an Excerpt

American imperialism is often said to have begun in 1898, when Cuba and the Philippines were the main prizes. What was new at this time, however, was only that America took control of countries beyond the North American continent. As John Bassett Moore, who had been an assistant secretary of state at that time, later wrote:

It is true that the expansion of 1898 involved . . . the taking of a step geographically in advance of any that had been taken before; but so far as concerns the acquisition of new territory we were merely following a habit which had characterized our entire national existence.

This statement is of utmost importance, because it points out that, already in 1898, imperial conquest was a long-standing habit of American policy makers. America had been engaged in expansionism from the outset.

1. The Creation of the American Empire

Maintaining that US imperialism began only in 1898 depends on an artificial distinction between “expansionism” and “imperialism,” holding that conquests are imperialistic only if a sea has been crossed. If that distinction were otherwise enforced, the Mongol Empire created by Ghengis Khan and his sons, the most extensive empire created until that time, could not be called an empire.

Historians who reject this artificial distinction date the origin of America’s empire much earlier. For example, in his important book The Rising American Empire, Richard Van Alstyne reported that “before the middle of the eighteenth century, the concept of an empire that would take in the whole continent was fully formed.” The War for Independence, he added, was fought “under the spell of [the] imperial idea . . . that the continent of North America belonged, as of right, to the people of the thirteen colonies.”

The right referred to here was a divine right. One way of expressing this sense of divine authorization was to call America the “new Israel.” But the phrase that really caught on was “manifest destiny,” which John O’Sullivan, urging the annexation of Texas, coined in 1845 to signify the mission of the United States “to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”

One problem with this assessment of the divine will, of course, was that “our” millions encountered the millions of people who were already here.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

Chapter 1 From the Beginning to World War I 37

Chapter 2 World War I 69

Chapter 3 Between the Wars 90

Chapter 4 World War II 123

Chapter 5 Pearl Harbor 137

Chapter 6 Hiroshima and Nagasaki 153

Chapter 7 The United Nations 170

Chapter 8 Creating the Cold War 183

Chapter 9 American Imperialism during the Cold War 207

Chapter 10 The Vietnam War 247

Chapter 11 False Flag Operations 305

Chapter 12 Some Post-Cold War Interventions 327

Chapter 13 The Drive for Global Dominance 361

Conclusion American Exceptionalism 381

Epilogue The American Century 387

Index 404

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