United States


Is the U.S. Arrogant?

Christopher Jones' view of the US is fairly common in Europe. John Wonder, whose view of Europe is fairly common in the US, answers him: " I fail to see how U.S. attempts to prevent the spread of communism could be construed as "arrogance," as Christopher Jones would have it. This seems a grotesque overstatement, especially in view of the fact that other countries did relatively little, and we had to bear the principal burden. If other countries didn't want us to be arrogant, why didn't they do something? The answer is obvious: they didn't want to spent the money and effort. It was easier to sit back and do nothing, and then call us arrogant. I guess it massaged their ego". RH: This exchange reminds me of the exchange between Democrats and Republicans in the US. I am more interested in the global acceptance of government with the consent of the governed as the basis for legitimacy. The consent of the government must be demonstrated in free elections. It is amazing how this has spread around the world: Latin America, fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the communist bloc, Japàn. It is the most important political development of the modern era.

Randy Black writes: "This entire discussion about the manner in which the US is perceived in Europe and elsewhere reminds me of a humorous comment I read last year: "You know the world has been turned upside down when the best golfer in the world is black, to top rap star in America is white, the Germans don't want to fight and the French accuse Americans of being arrogant"."

Christopher Jones says_ "Of course in a round about way, John Wonder is also correct. Other countries also deserve a lion's share of the blame for the current mess in Iraq. Britain, Russia (as the successor to the old Soviet Union,) France, Italy (the largest commercial manufacturer of land mines) are high on the list. Many countries who suffered in the fight against communism so it is difficult to make an absolute tally. But my criticism stands. The US has conducted itself with arrogance and continues to do so in its belief that its "democracy" i.e. elections are a panacea that will cure the world's ills. I could not disagree more with the idea that since 1945, free elections have conquered all: what about China? Here is the world's most dynamic economy ruled by a one party state. And wealthy Saudi Arabia? Elections don't ensure democratic behavior, in the US system where both look so suspiciously the same, they look more and more like pseudo elections. Of course, there is also the question of real voter turn-out".

RH: I stick by my statement that "The consent of the government must be demonstrated in free elections. It is amazing how this has spread around the world: Latin America, fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the communist bloc, Japàn. It is the most important political development of the modern era". Of course there are areas like China and Saudi Arabia where this is not yet the case. I agree with what Christopher says about the disgraceful US electoral system. Of all the English-speaking democracies, the US is the one in which money plays by far the greatest role, with the consequent corruption of the system. For this I blame the presidential system, which requires vast amounts of money to promote candidates nationwide. Unfortunately the likelihood that the US will adopt the parliamentary system is about nil.

Nuclear Bombs

Many WAISers have protested against US plans to make new nuclear weapons. Daryl DeBell writes: "Both of the attachments David Krieger supplies are cogent and to my mind unarguable. The political problem is that, like Democrats, those who subscribe to them would be and have been called 'soft on national defense'. This argument and accusation is hard to refute in spite of its being utter nonsense. It is akin to Kissinger's support not too long ago for making additional atomic bombs when we already had thousands of them, none of which can ever be used. I submit that the realist objective of constantly increasing one's power is the consequence of a truly paranoid mind-set and has in the past and could be again the path to war. "National Security" has been a shibboleth that the Republicans and especially the neo-cons have used for too long to distort national policy and support the munitions makers and the military industrial complex. Now that Europe and Russia are pacific, and Japan has renounced war they are probably left with the Yellow Peril, China the Sleeping Giant who will awake and overrun us. I am sure that Kissinger, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld would brand me as naïve and stupid, probably dangerously subversive, but I would challenge them to provide a scenario in which it would be to any county's interest to attack the U.S."

Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy is a curious organization which I do not understand. Energy covers power and therefore nuclear energy. This is extended to include nuclear weapons, though how the department divides this work with other agencies I do not know, The Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, was questioned by a congressional committee. I was not convinced by talk about developing new nuclear weapons in order to fight terrorists. Abraham was congratulated on organizing in Jerusalem a meeting with Israeli officials, but no details were given about the topics discussed.

Land of the free?

Ross Rogers, Jr, calls our attention to "Land of the Free? (New York Times, 3/31/04) by Steven Clemons.. Here is an excerpt: Even if their applications are rejected, citizens of developing nations must pay $100 for a non-immigrant visa to the United States. Not only is this policy unfair and counterproductive, but it is also unpatriotic. The unfairness is obvious: people should not be charged for something - in this case, a visa to the United States -
that they do not receive. And $100 is a huge sum in nations like India, with an annual per capita income estimated at
$2,600 in 2002, or even Poland, where it is $9,700.

Steven C. Clemons is executive vice president of the New America Foundation. Foir the full text, see
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/31/opinion/31CLEM.html?ex=1081735611&ei=1&en=3b7b5efad7afe2f3

Political System

From France, Christopher Jones writes: "I do agree that a parliamentary system, hopefully with a monarchy, is the best system of government, and I do also agree that the current US presidential circus/pseudo election is a PR exercise for plutocracy. I yearn for the quiet boredom of Switzerland and Andorra to conquer all -- in fact, their forced "grand coalition" of all major political groups is quite similar in some respects (happily not in regard to human rights) to the Chinese and Singaporean systems. In fact, the one party system is just another form of "grand coalition."

But we shouldn't kid ourselves. The US does not have nor should it have the right to run around the world overthrowing regimes that it finds reprehensible without building just that "grand coalition". Its "house" should be first put in order. So far, Bush is the worst example yet, and the best thing he could do in my view is to renounce his candidacy for the Republican nomination, like LBJ did in 1968. Perhaps another candidate will be able to re-establish the basics for conservatives in America. I am thinking of Senator McCain. But there is another man out there who can help: Ross Perot".

RH: Ross Perot appeared as a knight in shining armor, but now he is consigned to the dustbin of history, whence it is doubtful he will emerge. I doubt that George W. Bush will heed Christopher's counsel.

 

Ronald Hilton -


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