The advent of a new scale of international terrorism on September 11, 2001 posed a case for moral and legal evaluation that appeared to some in the global community to evade the reach of received rules or principles of moral or political action. The perceived threat and a certain sense by some governmental actors to an entitlement of latitude in response seemed to sever the situation from rules and principles in a depth dimension of consciousness. For many, the case's enormity overwhelmed its abstract moral definition. The foreign policy response of the United States-the country which had been attacked-further reinforced this quality in the situation, for the foreign policy of the United States is distinguished by a characteristic tendency to assert exceptions over rules. In its at least intermittent inclination to set aside the constraint of ordinary rules and principles for the sake of responding to "terror," the world community found itself caught up in a narrative both global and particular. This was an international narrative, but it was also a national story being now carried forward on the world stage. It was a new chapter in the story of American Exceptionalism.
William G. Wagner, A Study in Law and Literature: Themes of Exceptionalism and Equity in British and American Culture, 5 J. L. PHIL. & CULTURE 87 (2010).