US politicians love to boast about how this country is exceptional and unique in its goodness. This is, of course, utter nonsense but there is one area where the claim of uniqueness might be valid in that it seems to be the only country, as far as I am aware, in which prominent politicians and media personalities openly advocate for the invasion of other countries or the murder of their leaders. The latest example of this comes from Ohio governor John Kasich, one of the failed contenders for the Republican nomination in 2016.
In a discussion with reporters in Washington, Kasich evaluated the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and suggested that Trump devise a plan to swiftly eliminate North Korea’s leadership.
“How do you deal with this? I think there might be a way, and that has to do with taking out the North Korean leadership,” Kasich said. He added, “I believe the best way to solve this problem is to eradicate the leadership. I’m talking about those who are closest to making the decisions that North Korea’s following now.”
Mind you, Kasich is considered one of the ‘moderates’ in the party and not a total warmonger like Lindsay graham or John McCain or the others who love to attack other countries. The only sign that he shrinks at least a little bit from the awful implications of his words is his use of euphemisms like ‘taking out’ and ‘eradicate’ rather than the more accurate ‘murder’.
We also regularly hear casual threats to use nuclear weapons, as evidenced by the commonly used expression that “All options are on the table” and the refusal to rule out such weapons when discussing the response to any conflict.
There seems to be the assumption that just because America can do some things, it should be willing to do it. This is a bipartisan attitude as exemplified by Bill Clinton’s secretary of state Madeline Albright saying to Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Gary Leupp describes other discussions during the Clinton presidency about finding pretexts to attack other countries.