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The communists did broke new ground in violence "exploiration". Some aspects were clearly over the top - few would gladly repeat them knowingly. The standard of US is more dangerous - the example still associates with success somehow.
Hitler, Stalin, Mao & Co touched the high scale standard most emphatically. There is much correlation between them, but little causual influence. Their "unsound methods" have common roots in ancient militant and conspiracy habits. Killing 10-30% of population to achieve your pitty goal was not unheard in history - but that percentage meant millions in the 20th century.
A sad side of "American" standard is the "Carthago delenda est" attitude: shoot first ask later, carpet bombings (and atomic bombings, one can add)... Prolonging a bloody war just for political or carreer purposes is quite a cunning standard:
In the autumn of 1968, [Kissinger] used his contacts with the Johnson administration to tip-off the Nixon camp about an anticipated breakthrough in the Paris talks, which Nixon feared could cost him the campaign.
What US did in the Middle East the last 50 years is far from isolationism. It is more like thoughtless interventionism of imperialist "tradition" - you go there whenever you "need". It is no shocking proposition that current American problems in the Middle East are largely of its own prior making. Violence has plenty of unintended consequences, even if obvious.
The bright side of my point is this: when you are most powerful, you are actually most able to act morally as you wish, even most able to compell others to act ethically. If you the strongest cannot be as good as you want, who can?
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