Ben Affleck and his team won the Academy Award of Best Picture for Argo, and deservedly so. The movie artistically depicts CIA officer Tony Mendez’s heroic ploy to rescue six Americans during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. On top of that, the movie elaborates upon America’s values of morality, individual creativity, and personal initiative, and how they not only make America one of the most influential countries, but also one of the main providers of security throughout the entire world.
America’s ability to apply its unique values throughout different places around the world is what many consider to be American exceptionalism. This idea is supported by centuries of history because America has proven time after time that it is capable of making the world a safer, freer place. Freedom is so deeply rooted in America’s core that it is one of the only countries that makes an effort to install freedom into governments that reject or even demonize liberty. Have you heard of the time when President Reagan said to “Tear down this wall” and remove tyrannical rule in Germany? Reagan’s words solidified one of America’s dominant goals: to influence and help others into becoming free.
America fulfills this goal by basing its principles (such as freedom) on morality instead of law. America believes morals are more important than laws because laws are written by humans, are subjective, and are easily corruptible. Conversely, morals come from a much higher source–our Creator–and cannot be meddled with. It is therefore more important for a person to be good than to remain submissive to laws. Doing the moral thing, such as stopping an evil man, is better than listening to a law, such as one that mandates passivity. America acknowledges moral responsibility, tears down walls of political oppression, and spreads freedom, even if they are all legally restricted. America does so because its people believe doing the right thing is better.
However, international political goals, especially moral ones, are difficult to fulfill without some sort of military strength. A strong military is able to free oppressed people from evil, totalitarian regimes. If rogue governments are “unable to see the light,” military strength ensures that they “feel the heat.”
But what’s unique about America is that it is still able to influence others without using pure political or military strength. The country garners morally strong individuals who stand up and fight foreign threats using the best of their personal talents, wit, and abilities. When other nations tend to shy away from stopping foreign hostility, America’s people try their best to preserve whatever is right. These individuals include CIA officer Tony Mendez, a man who risked his life in order to return six Americans from a volatile Iran back to America. Even though the law prohibited American presence on Iranian soil, Mendez understood that doing the moral deed of rescuing the six lives was more important than obeying the law. (Just like tearing down the Berlin Wall was more important than succumbing to communism.) Mendez endangered his own life in the hopes of protecting the lives of others. His actions resonate with personal, moral initiative and thereby personify America’s most defining characteristics.
On top of that, the method in which Mendez was able to accomplish this was not through brute military force, but through sheer creativity. He believed that if an American military were to enter Iran, massive protests would commence throughout the Middle East and war would be waged. Mendez’s solution was to instead create a fake movie called Argo, convince the Iranian government into believing he and the six Americans were part of a film crew, and then smuggle them onto a 747 headed directly for the USA. Such heroic ideas can only be created within a country that cultivates free thinking, moral responsibility, and individualism.
A goal, such as rescuing Americans, can never be achieved without the people who ensure its success. And so it is with America. The ultimate purpose of America, which is to continue being the greatest hope for good throughout the entire world, requires special and prudent individuals. These individuals, and the values that each of them exemplify, are the ones who make America exceptional.