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A little less than a happy high
Behold what we have wrought
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953

In the face of increasing evidence that the intelligence justifying our action in Iraq was exagerated (if not fabricated), it's probably worth considering what, precisely, the war is costing us.

Current Mood: predatory predatory

8 comments or Leave a comment
From: corvus_coronis Date: August 1st, 2003 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Especially ironic when you compare that with the energy independance figure.
komos From: komos Date: August 2nd, 2003 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the Bushies have told me that this wasn't about oil, but then I can't imagine what it was really about since it appears that it wasn't about WMD, either. (It certainly wasn't a humanitarian aid mission...)

What I found frightening about the site is that it approximates how much my community has contributed to the conflict. Somehow, I think those millions could have been better spent. It's not like I now feel any more secure in the world, and everyone still hates Americans.
From: corvus_coronis Date: August 2nd, 2003 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not a lot of people outside the US realise just how many American citizens actually oppose the Bush regime - it will be very interesting to see what will happen if/when your folk manage to get your country back again at a future election (hopefully the next one)
komos From: komos Date: August 4th, 2003 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that's because most people don't. Either they've bought into the "if you oppose the president, the terrorists have already won..." schtick, or they just don't care. The principle concern here seems to be whether we can maintain our comfortable lifestyles without too much interference from the government or the outside world. I call it the barbecue grill majority.

Prediction for the next election? Kerry will receive the Democratic nomination, but will be made out to be a hopeless centrist by Dean. The Democrats, unable to present a unified front, will hand Bush another term.
givemethewhip From: givemethewhip Date: August 6th, 2003 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Rather than debate about the necessity or practicality or finances of going to war in Iraq-- which would probably lead to nowhere since we're on opposite sides of that political fence-- I'll just comment on the following:

"... everyone still hates Americans."

This is a strange, recurring theme I see quite a bit in liberal/Democratic/anti-Bush/whatever opinion pieces. I've seen it repeated for different effect in conservative/Republican/pro-Bush/whatever commentaries too. But it's simply not true. Lots of people dislike America, or the idea of America, or American policies, or the way America conducts itself in international fora. Fewer people hate Americans, but some certainly do, and with great passion. There's no doubt about it. As an employee at an American Embassy I've been stuck behind bullet-proof glass while some people who hate America have protested my presence in their country, I've had rocks thrown at my car, and I've been spit at more times than I can count by people angry with the US.

But to say that everyone hates Americans, or even that everyone hates America, simply ignores the huge numbers of people in countries around the world, including in the Muslim world, who very much admire and respect American ideals, political philosophy, culture and initiative. It ignores the millions of people who dream of immigrating to the United States-- not just for economic opportunity, but for the type of freedom, justice and equality that they could never hope to see in their lifetimes in their homelands. It ignores the millions of students who have studied in America and found long-lasting friendships with American citizens and American communities. It ignores the thousands of leaders and scholars in foreign countries who have visited the United States on the Fulbright, Humphrey or International Visitor programs, and who have gained a greater understanding of America's strengths and weaknesses, as well as a greater respect for the workings of our government and the contributions of our citizenry. It ignores people like the average businessman I met in Nepal who told me that he's the only one on his block who will do yardwork rather than sitting around doing nothing on a general strike day because, as he put it, "When I was in America to visit my cousin, I saw that when there is work to be done, people just do it, no matter who they are. This is what makes America great. If Nepalis would behave like Americans, Nepal would be greater, too."

Sure, some people hate America. And yes, some of them have good reasons to be frustrated with their lots in life or with what they view as American arrogance or oppression or imperialism or whatever. But millions -- tens and hundreds of millions -- still view America as a land of opportunity; a real and functioning democracy where everyone has a chance to succeed; a political experiment that, for all its flaws, has worked out and which should be emulated in part or in the whole.

Sure, the people who hate America make the news. But think of a local news broadcast from any small American city. Who's on it? Not the 25,000 nice, average moms, dads and kids who went to the park, helped out at kindergarten, worked in the bank or swept the streets that day. It's the one or two people who had something to complain about, committed some sort of crime or were otherwise discontent or dangerous. They're newsworthy, they're important, and they shouldn't be ignored. But let's not forget about everyone else.
komos From: komos Date: August 6th, 2003 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)
While I may have made a flippant comment that exaggerated the unanimity of the world’s dislike of Americans, I think you may be overstating your case in attempt to refute that exaggeration. No, Americans (and indeed America itself) are not universally reviled the world over. Yes, it is perfectly possible to note that some citizens of other nations have benefited from their relationships with us. Yes, it is arguable that admiration of the ideals behind the American experiment are alive and well amongst the world’s general populace.

Once I’ve said, “ok, so it’s not everyone,” where, really, can this conversation go?

At the heart of your reply is your place on the other side of the political fence. Though you mentioned it in the face of our involvement in Iraq, it is just as relevant in this discussion. I am not operating from the assumption that America is a land of opportunity filled with free and conscientious citizens who carry their neighbors’ groceries and give homes to orphaned children. For every anecdotal testimonial of an “average Nepalese businessman” about our amazing work-ethic or American greatness, I can likely counter with an observation from a foreign national (most likely European or Latin American) of American paternalism, opportunism, or apathy. We reach a null sum on that tack.

(Incidentally, just how “average” is he? Is it common for the “average” Nepalese citizen to travel to the States?)

So, what of the idealistic view of the things that America stands for, a view that is perpetuated the world over? Well, let’s turn to history for a moment. The Roman republic was regarded as a shining example of what a society could be, but it was acknowledged that that came at a cost, and in no way can it be argued that the Romans were liked by their neighbors. The French under Louis XIV were almost universally despised despite the fact that children of privilege were sent to Paris to be educated and all of Europe did their best to emulate their society. The British were convinced that they brought new opportunity and new culture to the backward peoples they, erm. civilized. Oddly enough, despite all of the advantages they offered, the animosity towards the British persists to this day.

The myth of American opportunity and freedom isn’t any different than the myths perpetuated by these societies. We’re in a similar position at this point, convinced that the mythology is true and as a result can’t understand why it is that these ideas are not universally held, or why it is that any person, people, or state would oppose such a good and noble nation with good and noble intentions. Such a viewpoint is hubris.

givemethewhip From: givemethewhip Date: August 6th, 2003 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Yep. We definitely have very different views on this issue, and I think you're misstating mine. I certainly wasn't saying we're perfect, or that everyone who lives here is some sort of Beaver Cleaver reincarnation, or that people who admire America (including me) don't also recognize that it has weaknesses as well as strengths. Nor was I trying to make the case for colonialism that you seem to think was hidden in my comment somewhere. I was just saying that there is a segment of the world population that admires America -- a view that in my experience is at least as pervasive as the view that America is the Great Satan.

I guess during my travels abroad I've interacted with an very different set of foreigners than the ones you've encountered-- while, as I said, I've met a lot who despise the US, I've met even more who don't, even if they object to some of our actions. I guess I've seen some American programs and assistance (government and NGO) that aren't in any way related to Roman road-building, Empire-expanding projects, or the "White Man's Burden" of Kipling's British Empire. And I guess I don't view American opportunity and freedom as a myth.

So at any rate, it's clear that you have strongly held opinions and that I strongly disagree with them, and, as you said, we're not going anywhere from there. Diversity is what makes political discourse so interesting. All I would ask is that you don't continue painting my views with the rather broad brush you used at the end of your comment.

As a quick aside: it is fairly common for average Nepali businessmen to travel to the US. It's not common for other average Nepalis, mostly becau
komos From: komos Date: August 7th, 2003 07:17 am (UTC) (Link)
The brush I chose was a direct response to the rather broad strokes you used to address me initially. It appeared that the thrust of your argument rested on the refutation that everyone hates Americans. Leaving aside that the idea was a minor sidebar in the discussion, I conceded early in my response that it was an exaggeration. My contention was that in your attempt to reduce that exaggeration to absurdity (as indeed, any generalization so broad must be), you overstated your case. I saw fit to call some of the things you appeared to believe are self-evident into question. To reiterate, I think that it's dangerous to mistake "desire for our wealth and priviledge" for "admiration." The current American model differs from those I cited only in form. The execution is remarkably consistent.

Let me rephrase my original contention... The history of the outcomes of American intervention in the Middle East from the Second World War to the present suggests that Americans should not feel any more secure for this action in Iraq or indeed for our heavy-handed, vaguely defined, and decidedly clumsy "war on terror." Our actions in the post-9/11 world have done nothing to improve anti-American sentiment, and it is likely that we are laying the seeds for future disaster.

But then, as you said, this isn't really what you wanted to debate.
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