You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Exceptionalism’ tag.

We have to dispel the notion that the US, UK, and Canada are on always on the side of justice and that we can do no wrong.  If this was the case, we would happily welcome the scrutiny of the ICC in our wars and international affairs, as we would (in theory) have nothing to hide.  Vijay Prashad writing for Counterpunch disagrees.

Clearly, this is not the case.

“The United States is not a party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). It had helped establish the Court, but then reversed course and refused to allow itself to be under the ICC’s jurisdiction. In 2002, the U.S. Congress passed the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, which allows the U.S. government to “use all means” to protect its troops from the ICC prosecutors. Article 98 of the Rome Statute does not require states to turn over wanted personnel from a third party if these states had signed an immunity agreement with the third party; the U.S. government has therefore encouraged states to sign these “article 98 agreements” to give its troops immunity from prosecution.

The enormity of evidence of war crimes by U.S. troops and U.S.-affiliated troops in Afghanistan and Iraq weighed on the credibility of the ICC. In 2016, after a decade of investigation, the ICC released a report that offered hope to the Afghan people. The ICC said that there is “a reasonable basis” to pursue further investigation of war crimes by various forces inside Afghanistan—such as the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and the United States military forces alongside the Central Intelligence Agency. The next year, the ICC went forward with more detailed acknowledgment of the possibility of war crimes. Pressure on the ICC’s prosecutor mounted.

Pressure on the Court

This is where everything seemed to end. The Trump administration, via John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, made it clear to the ICC that if they pursued a case against the U.S., then the Trump administration would go after the ICC prosecutor and judges personally. An application for a U.S. visa by Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, was denied; she had intended to come to the U.S. to appear before the United Nations. This was a shot across the bow of the Court. The U.S. was not going to play nice. Not long thereafter, in April 2019, the ICC said that it would not go ahead with a war crimes case against the United States, or indeed against any of the belligerents in Afghanistan. The Court said it would “not serve the interests of justice” to pursue this investigation.

Trump responded to this decision by calling the ICC “illegitimate” and—at the same time—that the ICC’s judgment was “a victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law.”

Staff at the ICC were dismayed by the ICC’s decision. They were eager to challenge it, fearing that if they let the U.S. mafia tactics prevent their own procedures then the ICC would lose whatever shred of legitimacy remains. As it is, the ICC is seen as being deployed mainly against the enemies of the United States; there have been no serious investigations of any power that is closely aligned with the United States.”

We have one set of rules for the rest of the world and another version that we apply to ourselves.  The exceptionalism that is portrayed in our media and repeated by our political classes needs to be dispelled.  We should not be above the ICC’s reach, nor should we be impeding the investigations that it undertakes.  Yet it is the reality we inhabit.

Most nations will act with a certain level of impunity when it comes to their interests at home and abroad.  We in the West need to acknowledge that through our actions, are no better or worse then the countries we seek to censure through the ICC and the war crimes it prosecutes.

Part I was such a resounding success, it was only natural that Part II would also appear.  Melissa McEwan’s thoughts returns to DWR in the form of a repost of her helpful hints for all the dudes out there.  A big thanks to Shakesville for putting the concepts so clearly and succinctly.

Ms. McEwan says:

“Most blokes, whether they’re trying to be more feminist-minded or not, don’t consider themselves to be the sort of guy who disrespect women’s agency, and yet there are still myriad ways in which men are socialized to express ownership of women.

Here, I’m going to explore three of the prominent ways in which male ownership of women is expressed (and visit some ways in which they can be avoided): Exceptionalism, Breach of Consent, and Failure to Respect Agency.


Some expressions of ownership are insidious, subtle but dangerous: Exceptionalism, which is singling out one woman as an exception to the rule—that is, saying she defies the stereotypes of womanhood—is a less obvious but no less pernicious expression of ownership.

A man who expresses exceptionalism about his mother, his sister, his wife, his girlfriend, his female friend(s)—”My [woman/women] aren’t like those other women!”—is implicitly marking territory around women related to him, the boundary marked by women he is willing to see as individuals, and all other women, who are stripped of their individual humanity to be regarded as a monolith.

It can be difficult for men to accept that exceptionalism, which is often intended as a compliment (and frequently received as such!—because women are socialized to hate women just as much as men are), is, in fact, a profoundly damaging anti-feminist practice. But the flipside of “complimenting” individual women by detaching them from womankind is turning the vast majority of women into an indistinguishable horde with universally contemptible traits.

Exceptionalizing a woman can also, in the long term, serve to undermine her sense of self, as it obliquely encourages her, in a bid to retain her value as an Exceptional Woman, to reject any part of herself that might be seen as stereotypical of women. Even if not so intended, exceptionalism thus becomes a form of control, tacitly encouraging a woman to futilely try to wrench her personhood from her womanhood, which is impossible and thus ultimately breeds self-loathing and/or contempt for the man who exceptionalizes her.

If you find yourself thinking, “This woman is not like other women,” consider how much your understanding of “other women” comes from intimate knowledge of multitudinous individual woman vs. cultural narratives about women as a whole. Consider as well whether meeting one woman who bucks those narratives might suggest, in fact, not that she is one in (literally) three billion, but instead that women are more individual than is routinely suggested in vast and diverse ways throughout our culture.

It doesn’t undermine the specialness of a woman to regard her as a unique person well-suited to your personality and preferences and idiosyncrasies, as opposed to an Exceptional Woman. Indeed, it is more special to be regarded as a cool woman in a world full of cool women than it is the only cool woman on the planet.

Breach of Consent.
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