Saturday, November 22, 2008

Answering a Euro indictment of the US

This from a forum on The Guardian newspaper in the UK regarding Somali piracy:

Before he got down to critiquing my proposal--an elaboration of a Guardian op-ed piece advocating military action to stop Somali piracy--one commentor issued a classic leftist Euro indictment of America. My comments in brackets.

>>Nov 22 08, 12:17pm (about 7 hours ago)

>>...I can see that you have a modicum of intelligence blinded only by an
>>immediate recourse to violence in situations where the world doesn't work
>>in the way you would prefer.

[That would be Mr. Bush, not me. A majority of American voters--including me--voted for Gore in 2000, and around 48%--including me--voted for Kerry in 2004. But since Mr. Bush is a majoritarian, he completely ignored the wishes of half the country for 6years and has only barely acknowledged our existence--except as, basically, traitors--for the last 2. So when you say "America" relative to our international activities for the last 8 years, you're really only referring to the half of the country who, to this day, believe that Saddam Hussein planned the 9/11 attack, believe that we did not evolve, believe that Barack Obama is either a Muslim or some other non-Christian. How'd you like it if I characterized all of the UK by the ideas of its bottom half?

Personally I favor Polonius' advice to his son in regard to violence:

"Beware Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee."]

>>Now maybe this is a consequence of your being a member of a militarised society,

[Actually, since abolishing the draft, most of American society is almost completely untouched by our foreign wars. Only a few percent of our society comprises military families, mostly from poorer, rural areas. I advocate reinstating draft, actually. Then people would be voting to put their own children in harm's way. At worst we're a nation of chickenhawks--like the Draft Dodger in Chief who "leads" us currently.]

>>but I have a feeling that at the bottom of your aggressive attitude lies a deep intolerance for those of alternative beliefs.

[Tolerance is a great virtue within a civilization. It's probably the core value of a civilized society. However, society must be defended against those who won't live by the rules the rest of us abide by. We don't tolerate those who do or abet, for example, so-called honor killings, female genital mutilation (done to 99% of Somali girls by their own parents BTW), rape, so-called child prostitution, bribery of public officials, murder of those who insult someone's religion, bombing commuter trains because you have social grievances, etc. Those I don't tolerate. How 'bout you?]

>>That you fail to calculate that YOUR country created the mess it is in now be
>>it Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Iran, Venezuela, Russia &the many
>>other countries around the world alienated from western democratic forms.

[So if America suddenly vanished or had never existed, those countries would promptly adopt democratic governments? Dream on.]

>>So much of the responsibility for anti-democratic hostility lies in
>>the (fairly accurate ) perception that you claim not to be a colonial power yet you colonise,

[Colonization means your people going to live there, permanently, in large numbers. We did that in Hawaii, & nowhere else. Right now Mexico's doing it to us. Feel free to accuse us of, say, financial exploitation of other countries. But whatever it is isn't colonization.]

>>you claim to be democratic yet your elections are fixed,

[Iran's elections are fixed. Ours are skewed somewhat by various forms of trickery, but it's not enough to change results more than 1-2%. That's what happened in 2000. Fortunately Obama won decisively enough to overcome such trickery. And, unlike many countries, we abide by the results of our elections.]

>>you claim to believe in free trade but you insist on restrictive trade conditions with poor countries whom you have exploited.

[True and shameful, but exactly as true of the EU, as your poor nation trading partners will be glad to tell you. And BTW there's no such thing as free trade and never will be. What we all should seek is fair trade that does right by both trading partners.]

I suppose it's emotionally satisfying to turn a person or country into the boogeyman you can blame everything on, and the most powerful nation in the history of the planet is surely a tempting target. And as the world's oldest continuous democracy, we have creaky electoral mechanisms in need of reform...and when we sneeze, you catch cold. So I get it.

Still, what about Somali piracy? Even if everything you say were true, and even if stopping it now would have disadvantageous consequences...what are our alternatives? Do enlighten us.

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