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Letters: Clarity on U.S. exceptionalism

September 17, 2013

Re "The end of U.S. exceptionalism," Opinion, Sept. 12

Apparently vexed by the "oddness" of President Obama's speech on Syria last week, Timothy Garton Ash's commentary is an odd piece itself.

The term "exceptionalism" was used in the title but never again appeared or explained thereafter, hence leaving the reader guessing. "Exceptionalism" in this article could mean "isolationist" at times and "interventionist" at others, or both, depending on the zeitgeist. Parenthetically, for your "average" American reader, "exceptionalism" has often been thought of as American material and cultural superiority.

What saddens me today is the lack of a real sense of urgency and critical thinking on the part of popular mainstream American (and British) writers and analysts. The root of a problem and an issue is often overlooked or ignored — in this case, U.S. Middle East policy.

Increasingly, Americans are relying on personalities like Jon Stewart for news and analysis, haphazardly finding more precision here and there along with humor and entertainment.

Marshall H. Sheen

Laguna Niguel

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