For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours.
This is something echoed a lot by Americans, but it's a complete fabrication. We've mythologized the founding of our nation because we want heroes and a cultural touchstone, but we disagree with our founders on almost everything.
In 1630, John Winthrop created the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which featured an indigenous man with the words, "Come over and help us" proceeding from his mouth. Our very colonization of this land contradicts Mr. Obama's statement that we don't "seek to occupy other nations" or "claim another nation's resources." And our founding colonies certainly didn't stay within their own borders either, instead we expanded West and South taking land from many other nations, and claiming all of the resources.
As for the comment that we don't "target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours," the philosopher Noam Chomsky writes:
The first Secretary of War, General Henry Knox, described "the utter extirpation of all the Indians in most populous parts of the Union" by means "more destructive to the Indian natives than the conduct of the conquerors of Mexico and Peru."
Long after his own significant contributions to the process were past, John Quincy Adams deplored the fate of "that hapless race of native Americans, which we are exterminating with such merciless and perfidious cruelty… among the heinous sins of this nation, for which I believe God will one day bring [it] to judgement." The "merciless and perfidious cruelty" continued until "the West was won." Instead of God's judgment, the heinous sins today bring only praise for the fulfillment of the American "idea."
The conquest and settling of the West indeed showed that "individualism and enterprise," so praised by Roger Cohen. Settler-colonialist enterprises, the cruelest form of imperialism, commonly do. The results were hailed by the respected and influential Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in 1898. Calling for intervention in Cuba, Lodge lauded our record "of conquest, colonization, and territorial expansion unequalled by any people in the 19th century," and urged that it is "not to be curbed now," as the Cubans too were pleading, in the Great Seal's words, "come over and help us."
Their plea was answered. The U.S. sent troops, thereby preventing Cuba's liberation from Spain and turning it into a virtual colony, as it remained until 1959.
And it doesn't stop there. We proceeded to go to Hawaii because we wanted pineapples, and to Panama and Central America because we wanted bananas, sugar, coffee, et al. The entire history of the United States of America stands in stark contrast to President Obama's assertion that we're a peaceful country with no designs of imperialism.
In the Orwell novel 1984, history was constantly changed to support the political goals of the day. This is exactly what the USA has done throughout the past century with regards to our racist, genocidal past.