December 27, 2002

EMPIRE

Many, many years ago, I heard second hand a true story that still makes me smile. It was the story of an American walking down the Champs-Elysees in Paris. He was enjoying the day, going nowhere in particular.

After a few moments, he came upon a small knot of people clustered in a tight circle, and as he drew nearer, he heard the sound of a guitar. Even from a distance he could tell that most, perhaps all of the group were Americans -- from just-off-the-plane tourists to seasoned, long-term ex-pats. They were smiling as they clustered around a street musician, who was strumming away energetically. Many in the audience had tears streaming down their faces as he sang:

Come and listen to my story
'bout a man named Jed,
A poor mountaineer
Barely kept his family fed.

And then one day
He was shootin' at some food
When up from the ground
Come a-bubblin' crude.

Then, with all the passion of Bill Travis and Davy Crockett calling the Alamo defenders to the ramparts, this crowd of Americans hollered at the top of their lungs: 'OIL, THAT IS! BLACK GOLD! TEXAS TEA!'

Shocked, mystified and undoubtedly worried for their safety and those of their children, the Parisians continued walking by, no doubt giving them a wide berth and that expression we see so frequently from their waiters and maitre'Ds. To the Americans, they and the rest of their city no longer existed, and the unknown musician ' God bless him, whoever and wherever he may be ' grinned like a monkey and picked up the pace:

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip'

That started from
This tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

The smiles, the group singing -- you can just take that for granted. But the tears, the weeping '- we can understand that too. The loneliness, the longing for the simple comfort we find in a kindred spirit, far from home. The instant camaraderie '- 'Pittsburgh? Go Steelers!' And there's something just so damn carefree and glorious about a bunch of oblivious Yankee tourists making complete idiots of themselves, surrounded by two thousand years of culture and art, banding together to sing about the Modern Stone-Age Fam-i-lee! and think about home'

You want to go where people know
People are all the same
You want to go where
Everybody knows your name.


In '98 I spent a terrific three months in Brisbane, Australia. OZ is home to the nicest, most fun-loving people who ever walked the earth. I went boogey-boarding in the Coral Sea, and walked on white beaches so fine and clean that the sand squeaked like new sneakers on polished hardwood with every step you took.

But the night I got up and sang a karaoke Danny Zuko to an adorable, blonde Australian Sandy and a mob of fifty drunken Aussies torturing 'Summer Nights' from Grease'well, to be perfectly honest, I was just so damn proud. That American accent really sold it. My money was no good in the joint after that.





For those of us paying attention, it looks like the world is getting to be not the same cozy place it was when I swam in the Coral Sea or The Unknown Musician put his hat down for a few francs. Something has happened. We all know what that something was, and there's nothing worthwhile I can add about that clear, blue, fall morning.

Something has happened to us as a people, too -' most of us, anyway. And the rest of the world looks at us the same way those Parisians did that harmless afternoon on the Champs Elysees: nervous and apprehensive and deeply concerned. We have already deeply shocked and surprised our enemies '- those that are still alive. But from those we thought friends, we have heard a growing stream of bitter invective and shrill hysteria that has risen in pitch above the range of human hearing and is now audible only to the neighborhood dogs. We are called unsophisticated, swaggering cowboys who have somehow stumbled upon vast power, and many of our erstwhile allies have taken to talking to us as you would a four year old holding a loaded gun.

Our critics watch us with an intensity most of us cannot believe or perhaps even imagine, and they are looking carefully, waiting to see what the American behemoth will do next.

At home and abroad, there have been renewed charges of American Imperialism, of cultural and economic hegemony, and of determined efforts on our part to subjugate and dominate the people of the world through our greed, our ignorance and our cruelty.

Once again, events not of our doing have thrust the United States into a position where military engagements on the far side of the world seem inevitable, and no less inevitable are the charges of American Imperialism. If we are to be worthy of the manifest blessings and freedoms we enjoy, we must take these charges very seriously, and be as ruthless in our self-examination as we are on the battlefield.

Unlike the miserable, poorly trained, ill-fed and disgracefully led legions of conscripts we will face on that battlefield, our soldiers are citizen volunteers, and such free people need, and deserve, a cause worthy of their hardships and sacrifice.

And there is no disputing the fact that it is WE who are going over THERE. To the degree that there are civilian casualties (and there will be), it will be their civilians, not ours, that are dying. There are justifications for such a course of action, justifications that tower above the base and criminal plunder of territory and resources. So if we are about to go and inflict such violence, we had better be damn sure we check our motives before we go.






Accusations of 'Imperialism' are flung at us so frequently, and met with so little defense, that it is actually shocking to see how easily such a simplisme charge can be overturned.

To be Imperial is to possess, or hope to possess, an empire, and these slanders have been made for about a century now. The Cambridge International Dictionary of English defines 'empire' as 'a group of countries ruled by a single person, government or country.' Oxford paperback dictionary calls it 'a large group of states under single authority.' Cambridge goes on to define 'imperialism' as 'a system in which a country rules other countries, sometimes having used force to obtain power over them.'

ANY rational person can see that the United States does not meet these qualifications by any stretch of the imagination. What nations do we rule? Whose legislative bodies can we overturn with a wave of the hand? Where on this planet do people live under an American flag who do not wish to? And as Jonah Goldberg correctly points out, where are our governors and our tax collectors so that we can siphon off the meager wages of our Imperial Slaves? What kind of empire does not have these imperial mechanisms?

At the end of World War II, America stood astride the world as the unchallenged military and economic power. The terrible might of Germany and Japan lay crushed in smoldering ruin. Great Britain, bled white by the near-total loss of two successive generations of their best and brightest, was in barely better shape. China was a collection of pre-industrial peasants fighting a bitter civil war, and nowhere in the rest of Asia, Africa or South America did there exist anything more than local defense militias.

Only the Soviets remained as a potent military force -' and that force was essentially tactical, not strategic, in nature. While strong in tanks, artillery and men, it had no navy to speak of, and an air force consisting mostly of close support ground-attack aircraft such as the Il-2 Sturmovik. While effective against ground targets, the Soviets in 1945 had nothing resembling US heavy bombers such as the B-17, the B-24, or the magnificent B-29.

On the other hand, the United States not only had what was far and away the world's preeminent Navy; we also had large numbers of long-range strategic bombers and swarms of highly-seasoned fighter escorts. We had a Marine Corps flush with victories: battle-hardened men who had invented through blood and horror the means to go ashore on enemy beaches and stay there. We had an Army whose courage and skill in battle was unsurpassed, and whose critical supply and ordinance staffs were, by far, the best in the world.

And, of course, we had the atomic bomb, and the will to use it.

History has never, and will never, record a time when such unchallenged power existed in the hands of a nation, nor of a time when opposing forces were so weak and in such a state of disarray and abject surrender.

And these feared and ruthless Americans, a people who had incinerated cities in Europe and Japan and whose ferocity and tenacity on island jungles and French beaches had brought fanatical warrior cultures to their knees -' what did these new conquerors of the world do?

They went home is what they did. They did pause for a few years to rebuild the nations sworn to their destruction and the murder of their people. They carbon-copied their own system of government and enforced it on their most bitterly hated enemy, a people who have since given so much back to the world as a result of this generosity. They left troops in and sent huge sums of money to Europe to rebuild what they all knew would eventually become trading partners, but also determined competitors. Then they sent huge steel blades through their hard-earned fleets of ships and airplanes and came home to get on with their lives in peace and quiet.

Oh, and some of the islands they had visited had asked to remain under the American flag as territories and protectorates, free to leave whenever they chose.

We are still too close to our actions in those critical years to fully grasp the meaning of what we did. Distant history will show it to be the most magnanimous act in human history, a test of national character passed with such glory and distinction that it baffles and amazes both our friends and enemies to this day.





Of course, many of our critics will claim that those were the actions of a better, simpler America, a place long gone and nothing like the cruel monstrosity we have become today. But isn't it odd that those who call us Imperialists are the first to point out our overwhelming strength ' a relative strength that is starting to approach once again that which we held in 1946? Surely, with the political, economic and military power we command today, we could safely assume the mantle of Imperialism -- 'a system in which a country rules other countries, sometimes having used force to obtain power over them.' -- pretty much at will. And yet we do not.

Once again we see the posters calling for NO BLOOD FOR OIL. Putting aside whether or not oil is indeed worth fighting for, let us look at a past so recent as to be indicative of the people we are today.

In 1991, NO BLOOD FOR OIL had an actual point to make, for during the Gulf War we were indeed fighting to keep oil supplies out of the hands of a madman who would, perhaps ' and eventually did ' try to hold the world hostage to his ambitions by trying to control or destroy this vital resource.

After handing him the worst defeat in modern history, and once again with vast numbers of battle-hardened and victorious troops in place, the United States could have simply claimed the Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil fields as spoils of war. It was clearly the Imperialist thing to do.

Furthermore, it was a fait accompli ' already done. There was no further risk to us. The Republican Guard was running as fast as their stolen Mercedes-Benz's would carry them. We had achieved such a total and spectacular victory that our pilots ' men called baby-killers, sadists, murderers and worse ' refused to drop their weapons on legitimate military targets because the victory was so one-sided that they in their decency could no longer continue to do what they were ordered to do.

And so what did these American Imperialists do with the spoils of such victory, with the precious, precious oilfields completely and totally ours? We sent our best people over there to put out the fires. And then we came home. Again.

How many times will we have to do this before our critics are able to discern a pattern? How many provocations and taunts and slander will we have to endure before anti-Americans wake up to the simple truth that brings us home time and time again, which is simply this: For the first time in history, a nation powerful enough to rule the world has simply refused to do so. It is a moral and ethical choice we make as a people. More than that; it is data. It is evidence.

People who ascribe to us the most base motives imaginable, using ancient rhetoric from 80 years of Marxist failure have, as usual, had to confront the fact that everything they believe in is demonstrably and spectacularly wrong. Despite their shrieking words and foaming mouths, the history of our actions makes liars of them all. It is a truth so simple, written so large and so clearly, that even the most liberal among us can understand it.

Don't let them use that word, 'imperialism,' unchallenged again.





There is no American Empire. There is, however, the possibility of American Hegemony. Back to the dictionaries:

Oxford Online is shockingly direct: 'Hegemony: noun. Leadership.' Clearly, by Oxford's definition, we are an Hegemony.

But it gets more complicated. Merriam-Webster defines it as 'preponderant influence or authority over others,' while Cambridge weighs in with 'the position of being the strongest and most powerful and therefore controlling others.'

'Preponderant influence' and 'the strongest and most powerful' are hard to disagree with. Those seem indisputable facts as applied to the United States, whether it be in the area of culture, politics, science and engineering, or our military prowess. Where the term comes into question lies in whether or not we use 'authority over others' and are 'therefore controlling others.'

We are widely criticized among Europeans for what they call our cultural and economic hegemony. They decry our pop culture as vulgar and commercial, and in fact, it often is. McDonald's are now everywhere on the European continent, and we are reminded what horrible, fattening food it is. Agreed.

What doesn't seem to get through their anti-populist, anti-American blinders is that basic economic principle of supply and demand. I suppose we shouldn't be too shocked to hear this. The birthplace, intellectual home and last bastion of Marxism has always had a tough time with economic reality.

They also have a tough time with democracy, and the idea of people ' you know, the masses ' making their own decisions. And the thing that breaks the heart of every European elitist is the inescapable fact that McDonald's and Cheers are huge in Europe, because their own people can't get enough of them.

I have never been to France myself, but I would presume that daily life there does not consist of squads of heavily armed US Marines rounding up the terrified population, herding them into McDonald's at gunpoint, and shaking their last euros out of them. When France passes laws saying that some minimal percentage of their television programming must be produced in France, then that is an admission ' and it must be, if you will pardon the pun, a galling one ' that huge numbers of their people prefer our culture over their own.

Fact is, dreadful or not, McDonald's is not subsidized by the US Department of World Hegemony. They are a business concern. The day European customers stop eating at McDonald's, the McDonald's will go away.

But they do not. They are growing like mushrooms. American television programming has to be legally constrained. I suspect that Spider-Man out-drew more Europeans in a weekend than all of the films of Truffaut's did in the United States over forty years. This is telling them something, and what it is telling them is that our culture has a greater hold over the imaginations of their own people than theirs does.

To the Average French Citizen, I imagine Spider-Man, Cheers and McDonald's represent more or less what they do to Americans: a fun couple of hours, a few laughs, and something quick to scarf down when you're in a hurry. Big deal.

But to the deep-thinking elites of Europe, these trends are catastrophic, and terrifying. For it shows them, yet again, that a mob of boorish, unsophisticated, common brutes ' that'd be us ' is able to produce art and music and culture that cleans the clock of any nation that lets it in the door.

Spider-Man and McDonalds, and the long lines of their own countrymen waiting eagerly for a taste of them, prove to them daily that the European cultural superiority that they so deeply believe in is'how do we say this delicately?'uh, wrong.

And of course, being unwilling to face these unpleasant logical inferences, the blame has to be put somewhere. And who better to blame than a blinded, staggering, idiotic Cyclops, smashing all the delicate china in its drunken, obnoxious rampage?





So, are we being an hegemony? Are we using some 'authority over others' to force our cultural and political will on unsuspecting, defenseless people? Or do those people, from their own free will, choose to enjoy American movies and food and music and television because it has somehow managed to tap into the human spirit, into a sense of playfulness and freedom and above all, optimism --- things that all people crave, and that their own dark, brooding, pessimistic outlets have failed to deliver? Are these common Europeans being brainwashed by the orbiting Yankee Mind-Control Ray, or is the idea of a place where everybody knows your name or a beat-up teenage kid who can fly through canyons of skyscrapers on gossamer webs something that just about everyone wants to be a part of?

I studied film in college. I sat through Jules et Jim, The Bicycle Thief, 1900, Satyricon and The Grand Illusion. Watching them was work. I enjoyed just about all of these and many other mov -- sorry, films -- and I am a better person for having seen them, but some of them ' like a recent Polish entry in the Academy Awards, 'Life as a Fatal, Sexually Transmitted Disease,' well, that approached prolonged oral surgery in terms of its enjoyment value.

You don't have to have the vast intellectual reserves of a French Minister of Culture to understand why our movies and music have such appeal abroad. They are, more often than not, each small ambassadors of freedom and optimism. From James Dean to Brad Pitt, Americans are cool; cool because they don't spend their evening sitting around bumming cigarettes and discussing global warming. They have bad guys to fight and motorcycles to ride, vast stretches of open road to get lost in and a disdain for any authority whatsoever. Where the European hero is a deeply conflicted soul lost in an existentialist nightmare, the American counterpart is a member of a rag-tag group of Rebels flying out to destroy the Death Star. Or a no-nonsense cop who plays by his own rules. Or an ordinary person, who, as the result of chance (Spider-Man), determination (Batman) or accident of birth (Superman), uses amazing personal power to aid the weak and fight evil.

These are our myths. They lack the patina of history that elevates those of the Greeks and Norse and countless other mythologies. But they are not created in a vacuum. These stories come from our common heritage and our common beliefs. Our heroes are what we make them, and for this country, the most successful have been young men and women thrust into extraordinary circumstances, who fight evils and monsters and never, ever use their powers for personal gain.

Yes, these are fantasies. No, of course real Americans are not so altruistic. But these are the standards we create for ourselves, and these American heroes represent what we represent as a nation. Action over endless discussion and moral paralysis. Rebellion against authority. Defense of the weak and helpless. And most of all, the optimism of the happy ending.

We get a lot of criticism from our betters about how shallow and mindless the Hollywood ending is. Fair enough. It does turn its back on the untidiness of reality. But it is also an expression of how we would have things turn out in a perfect world, a world where freedom and justice triumph and reign. These are the things we believe in, and these are, not surprisingly, immensely attractive to the rest of the world.





Much of that world is now going through a state of cognitive dissonance regarding America and her people. In some places, this split-personality disorder is so intense as to cause us real concern.

Talk to the vaunted 'Arab Street' about America. Watch as their eyes glaze over with hatred and loathing and a desire to see us wiped off the face of the earth as criminals and murderers. Then something amazing happens. Time and time again, after expressing their view that there is no higher calling for their sons and daughters than to kill as many Americans as possible, watch what happens when asked if they want to visit the US.

On a table, place a $100 dollar bill, keys to a nearby Mercedes, a steak and lobster dinner and a US green card, and see which one disappears first.

These people, common people who spend their entire day sipping coffee and planning our violent demise, want nothing more than to go to Disney World (presumably they will blow themselves to pieces after they get through the lines at Pirates of the Caribbean.) They want to live in nice houses and drive nice cars, just as we do. They want to live in affluence and security ' like the Americans. They want everything we have, and admit it cheerfully. And then, some of them revert to planning how to blow up, shoot, poison or infect every last one of us.

How do they sleep with this contradiction? I personally find Islamic fundamentalists revolting, violent, ignorant and cruel. I have no desire whatsoever to visit Cairo or Damascus or Amman. To the extent that they want this fight I am ready to give it to them, with no schizophrenic mental contortions.

Mohammad Atta spent some of his last days in Las Vegas. That must have put the zap on the head of that murdering, smug bastard. He could have despised it from a distance and kept his Muslim soul pure for the butchery ahead. But he and his colleagues did not. They drank alcohol and cavorted with strippers. They could not resist the temptations. Even they, the most committed haters of what we are, could not stay away from what we have to offer.

To be honest, I think the very presence of America drives these Jihadists insane.

Promised world domination from their God and their holy Koran, they see around them nothing but failure and frustration and humiliation; while on the far side of the world lies a nation which, in their minds, has no culture and no history, and is populated by 300 million people bound and determined to break every one of their prohibitions on sexuality, drinking, gambling, and trade. As Steven Den Beste has pointed out brilliantly and often at www.denbeste.nu, not only our evident success, but our very existence calls to lie everything they believe in.

Again, paraphrasing my friend Steven, they look out from under a repressive, brutal government and a religion that demands obedience, conformity and denial of all natural desires... and see in us a society so free and comfortable with ourselves that we had the nerve, the audacity to include "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as inalienable rights!

I have no trouble understanding why such fanatical elements of Islam want to see us destroyed. What I do find hard to understand is how so many of them love us with the look of little children promised a trip to The Magic Kingdom. For many, many people on 'The Arab Street' the very idea of coming to the US fills them with visible glee. I don't think I will ever understand how they can turn this inner argument down enough to be able to sleep at night.





In one sense perhaps, we are, in fact, an Empire. We are an empire of the mind, a place whose dreams and ideals have colonized the world. We are a black hole of desire upon which billions place their unfocused hopes. And yet, to them it seems as if we turn them away. We dangle freedom and hope and comfort in front of them with a glimpse into our everyday lives though television and movies. They want what we have, desperately. And they hate us for not giving it to them.

Well, sooner or later they are going to have to grow up a little and face some unpleasant truths. These people want the fruits of our success; they want our freedoms and our wealth and our confidence. But they are not willing to do the work. They are not willing to pay for it.

They wonder why we do not come and set them free from their own governments, why we don't send our sons and daughters around the world to get killed in order to break their self-imposed shackles. They wonder why we don't let all of them into the Magic Kingdom. They do not see, because they do not wish to see, that these freedoms and ideals cannot be dispensed like Hershey bars from a passing Jeep.

No one gave us our freedom ' we earned it. We fought and died for it. We have paid a terrible price in blood and treasure to keep that freedom. We fight and die to this day to preserve it. Right now, at this instant, American kids have chosen to be sitting in foxholes or cooped up in the bowels of ships, trading the liberty of their youth for poor pay and drab conditions to allow us to keep these freedoms. We will again ask some of these people to die for us, and some of them will.

To those poor suffering billions out there who want what we have, our refusal to hand our success to them on a platter makes us cold and inhuman and uncaring. But freedom is not a gift, it is an idea which only becomes a right when it has been paid for, and to that extent our edifice of prosperity and success is built on a deep and strong foundation that they simply do not have.

These foundations are well known to all who care to pay attention. Freedom of speech, no matter how reprehensible or challenging. Respect for law. Racial, sexual and religious equality. Respect for work and education. Tolerance. We have been hammering on these principles daily for almost two and a half centuries, and we still have a long way to go.

These and a thousand million small webs of trust and interdependency simply do not exist in the countries we find ourselves at odds with, nor do they seem in any hurry to develop them. The millions who stare wide-eyed at all we have accomplished refuse to do the dirty, unglamorous work that makes it all possible.

The founding legal document that we revere with the same passion that they do their religion is not a secret known only to a robed cabal. It is available for study in millions of places, quoted daily and debated in thousands of publications. It is the key to our success, prosperity, and outlook.

But adopting it is not easy. It means abandoning the easy satisfaction of blaming others for one's own failures. It means forgoing fatwahs and murdering people who express opinions you find abhorrent. It means enduring the stress and strain of finding a way to make compromise with people you dislike. It means treating women and homosexuals and Jews and much more that they hate with respect and dignity. More than any of these lofty and essential habits, it means nothing more or less than getting out of bed each morning, slugging through traffic and putting in an honest day's work --- five days a week, fifty weeks a year.

But they don't want that. They just want the Gold Card, and they want someone else to make the payments.






There are a few writers out there who have been responsible for teaching me not what to think, but how to think. Carl Sagan was one of the first; Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Den Beste are two of the most recent. But of them all, the one who has been the most fun has been P.J. O'Rourke. He toured the world pondering why some places work, and some don't. His book, Eat the Rich, is just simply brilliant ' brilliant in how it shows success not to be the product of geography or the accident of national resources, but rather the culture and attitude of the people and the way they view themselves.

PJ ends this really excellent and very funny work by pointing out that while nine of the ten commandments deal with such primal, elemental rules as 'Thou shalt not kill' and 'Thou shalt not steal,' God and Moses added at the end one that is somewhat startling in concept, namely: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; nor his wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.' 'In other words,' writes PJ, 'go get one of your own.'

I believe this Republic will weather the threats we face today in the same way we have for 250 years. I believe we are already a stronger, better place than we were on September 10th, 2001, for we have once again had to take stock of who we are and what we believe in.

And I believe that the power of our American Dream will, in fact, eventually cast off the ignorance and fear that have held so many in bondage for so long, because it is ultimately a fight you are free to join or walk away from. It represents a choice to join a ragtag group of Rebels fighting a desperate battle against tyranny and oppression ' and who would want to walk out on a movie like that?

Posted by Proteus at December 27, 2002 1:15 AM







Welcome to the Eject! Eject! Eject! commenter community. Please read and understand the following:


1. This is not a public square. This is a dinner party on personal property. Good conversation is not only tolerated but celebrated here. But the host understands the difference between dissent and disrespect, even if you do not. Louts will be ignored until the bouncers can show them the door.

2. This is a voluntary online community. Your posting of any material, whether in comments or otherwise, grants to William A. Whittle, Aurora Aerospace, Inc. and their affiliates, a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, sublicense, reproduce or incorporate into other material all or any portion of the material posted, for commercial or other use.

3. If a comment does find its way into a main page essay, print, or other media, every effort will be made to credit the individual making the comment. So chose your screen name accordingly, SLNTFRT33@yahoo.com!

Now let's see some distributed intelligence and basic human decency! Don't make me come down there every five minutes!




Comments



Damn, that was a pleasure to read. Thank you.



How on earth do you keep raising the bar? Well done.



Brilliant, Bill. Thank you.



Bill - As Steve said above, "How do you keep raising the bar"? I hope one day to read all your thoughts in book form. Now that's a collection I would treasure.

Continued success.

Terry



Bill, You have become another 'must read' along the lines of den Beste, Reynolds, and Lileks.

Keep up the excellent work!



Another really outstanding essay and yes, a pleasure to read.

I also enjoyed P.J. O'Rourke's Eat the Rich, but I'm sure you've also read Parliament of Whores?

I'd be fascinated by your take on our system of government as it is now practiced. I spend some time posting on the newsgroups where I have a signature line I found somewhere on the 'net:

The Constitution may not be the greatest work ever set to paper,
but it beats what the Government is using these days.

Keep it up, Bill. I know how much time it takes to craft essays like this. While I'd like to see a new one every day, please don't burn yourself out.

One a week will do! :-)



This is how blogging becomes an artform. That's three of a kind, please continue.



Thanks for another brilliant piece!

Sent the link to your blog to another dozen people.


MonkeyPants
Imperial Falconer




Bill Whittle for President!!

Nuff said!



Great work, Bill.



You're making it really hard for the rest of us to write anything with meaning. :-)

Well done, Bill.



As a life-long car-nut, I have owned a number of vintage vehicles. One was a "T-Bucket Roadster". To the uninitiated, this is the quintessental American "Hot-Rod", of "77 Sunset Strip", and "Beach Blanket Bingo" fame. For the five years, or so that I enthusiatically drove the thing everywhere, it became a study in what you write about in this essay. Perhaps, along with Jazz, Rock N'Roll, and yes, McDonalds, nothing is more American than a "hot-rod". Not a refined, gleaming, hi-performance work of art, like the sports cars of Europe, but a glitzy exercise in wretched excess, born of castaway parts, and good for little more than showing off.

A T-Bucket, sitting next to a gleaming Porsche, is the rolling embodiment of some sentiments in your article. Having actually parked my Bucket next to such cars at rallys, and shows, guess which drew the larger crowds?..the most smiles?

What I discovered that I had was a smile machine. No matter where I went, no matter what age, gender, race, color, or creed, the universal reaction to that car was a smile. Children beamed, giggled, and pointed. Adults became child-like, and gave the thumbs-up, or shouted compliments. These weren't car nuts, but everyday people on everyday streets. The universal appeal of this gaudy, overdone in-your-face contraption was what it symbolized..what it represented. Freedom to choose, freedom to create, freedom to be silly, have fun, make noise, and relish in the obvious wretched excess, with no need of a noble purpose. Free as well from pretentiousness, snobbery, wealth, or image. The freedom of "everyman". The freedom to be an American.

Hubcap



I may not have time to read every blog on my 'roll every day, but I'll be damned if I'll ever miss out on YOURS again!



Well written, enjoyably read! I, too, look forward to the next...and the next....

Thank you.



Bill - I don't think you have it in you to scribe an uninteresting essay. You consistently hit quite a high mark. Not only does what you say ring true, it seems to resonate across the blogspace. Quite an accomplishment. Your empire essay is much like waves of oscillation in the deep ocean. The energy is passed along to others; the peak shows you sparkling vistas at and the throughs provoke self-examination.

You hit the mark dead-on with your statements regarding empire and hegemony. I have often countered those who state that America strives to be in Empire with my belief that America is actually a non-empire.

I state this in the belief that, as you pointed out, empires of often the result of conquest and occupation, with the empire imposing its laws on the subject peoples. Nothing could be further from the truth, in regards to America. We state our beliefs, particularly when it comes to human rights and fairness in the marketplace, but we do not write the laws and impose them against the will of the foreign populace. There have often been statements made by those of somewhat diminished capacities the Canada and Mexico should become our 51st and 52nd states. This raises the ire of the citizens of those countries. This is the basis of the claims for American imperialism. To the contrary, we try to get others to willingly follow our lead.

As an example, think about what occurred in the Philippines and Panama. When we received suzerainty over the Philippines, we did not make them a vassal state; rather, we appointed a governor, and granted them independence shortly after their request at the end of WWII. In Panama, we returned land and the operation of the Canal to the people of Panama. In both cases, no rebellion was necessary. We and they sat down, discussed the needs of the country, and granted the territory back to the local people. Hardly the act of a hegemon.

We are in fact the light and hope many peoples of the world. What other people of the world snipe at themselves, pointing out their own shortcomings for all to see. We see it as a critique of our shortcomings. What others in the world see is a nation where the standard is so high that they can barely imagine rising so far. I liken it to us saying that we still have thousands of feet yet to ascend; they see the mountain they still have yet to climb. That is one of the reasons so many immigrants come to America each year. The hope of improving things for themselves and their children.

When I was a Recruiter for the Army, I once was talking to a young kid about joining. Since he was 17, I had also to speak to his parents. His father had come to America 25 years previously, coming up from Guatemala and working on Miramar Naval Air Station as a gardener. After learning English, he brought his wife up, formed his own company (1 pickup truck and three other workers) and began doing lawn care throughout the San Diego area. Twenty years later, in 1988 when I met him, he had 400 employees, and lived in one of the best areas of North San Diego county. He said his oldest had gone into the Navy for four years, this son was going into the Army, and his youngest would go into one of the services when he was old enough. He felt his family had something to pay back. The boy I was working with took a job that gave him a lot of college money, but simply because he wanted to have the money on his own, not rely on his parents.

In my talks with many migrants, of which California has more than a few, the common response was they came here to have a better life. Whether their family remains where they came from or if they came here also, they willingly and eagerly came here.

I can't think of an Empire in which this ever occurred.



Bill:

I stumbled onto your essay from a Rachel Lucas link; all I can say is that you have given voice to what many of us have stumbled to articulate over the past several years. Gracias!

Dusty



Bill,

I appreciate your writing, but I would like to suggest that world reaction to us as bullies and imperialists is a subtle and complex thing. I certainly agree that envy, and the sense of not being able to compete with us are very strong themes, but I believe that there is more going on. I think Europe has the view that ancient China used have about the rest of the world: it's filled with barbarians who wouldn't know civilization if bit them. The Europeans (continental) can't understand why we're ahead of them, or simply think that we are barbaric gun happy nuts who believe in capital punishment and solve their social problems with jails. And our whole emphasis on business confuses them. They are certain that it is simply the pursuit of money: so few have them have started a business or worked in a really vital one they can't image the idea of work being satisfying. The truth is that our cultures have diverged so much in the last hundred years that they don't have a clue about us.

Speaking of not having a clue "The Arab Street" certainly doesn't. They know about the streets paved with gold, and would like to get a part of it, but they are told by state/religion controlled press that Christian world has been robbing them for centuries. (The fact that the Islamic world spent 1000+ conquering countries and forcing religious conversion seems to be forgotten.) The Arab Street is an uniformed mob. While we must recognize the danger from it, I think its opion is worthless. The demagogic political and religious leaders on the other hand deserve some of your attention.

Hope this is useful in sharpening your already fine pen.



Gawd! Yet another excellent essay. A hearty toast to you!



This essay rambles, and it's too wordy. I can't endorse it as enthusiastically as the others have done.

One point worth noting: Americans do NOT come home every time. There are a lot of American troops billeted around the world. Germany and S. Korea host particularly large contingents, and those countries are growing restive. I think we ought to get all our troops out of Europe, at the least.

It would be good to remember that billeting of British troops helped to trigger the American Revolution.



Hey Bill - Says what I've always wanted to say,
but didn't have the wit to do it.



If the President of the USA ever sees your blog, he should immediately offer you serious sums of money to write his speeches.

No, maybe not. When people found out who wrote the speeches, many of them would elect you instead of him.

IMO, there is a note of hegemony in USA culture. It is, again IMO, inevitable regardless of whether or not it is intentional. You believe the USA to be superior to everywhere else. There are stacks of replies with the same view. The USA is undeniably the most powerful nation in the world today. Put the two together and some degree of hegemony is inevitable. The USA isn't just an 800lb gorilla - it's King Kong. It can't help influencing almost everywhere.

There is a lot that is crude and vulgar in USA culture. There's also a lot that is elegant, erudite and refined. The USA is a big place - there's a lot of everything there. "Crude and vulgar" has mass market appeal, so it's better for export. The Romans had gladitorial circuses, the USA has Jerry Springer et alia. Having said that, some of the export sucesses from the USA are far from crude and vulgar. Consider Frasier, for example. I place that on a par with Yes, Minister.

There are a couple of things that grate on me;

The hypocrisy which is sadly commonplace. Both here and on Rachel's blog, I can see negative comments about "Europeans" from people who object to negative comments about "Americans". What's the difference?

The arrogance in claiming all good things to be American (and ignoring South America, of course). Concepts such as freedom of speech, a fair trial, etc, did not originate with the USA. For example, read a translation of the Magna Carta, focusing on the sections pertaining to criminal justice. Then read the USA Bill of Rights, focusing on the sections pertaining to criminal justice. The latter is clearly very strongly based on the former. Some key parts of the USA Bill of Rights are lifted directly from the Magna Carta, verbatim if you allow for the changes in English over time. The Magna Carta become law above all law in England in 1215. That's a bit earlier than the USA Bill of Rights. What the USA did, and did very well, was to start a country from scratch and build those principles in at the foundation - but they didn't create those principles and those principles are not American. I wasn't completely joking when I said that the best way for Britain to remain true to its old principles would be to become a state of the USA. Nor is the adherence to those principles as perfect in the USA as it is made out to be - numerous actions by various USA governments are arguably in breach of the USA Constitution, and not just in modern times.

The "we did it all" principle affects a great deal, even if it isn't wholly intentional. To give a topical example of this...to future generations, The Lord of the Rings will be an American creation. It's the King Kong thing I referred to, above.

It often is intentional and carried to the point of historical revisionism. Watch "U-571" for a good example...and then find out what actually happened, if you can. In reality, the USA was not involved at all at any stage.

The USA is not the Perfect Society depicted in blogdom and Hollywood. It has one very strong positive attribute, though - it works very well. That proves there's a lot right with it.



Hubcap...you appear to contradict yourself by spending most of your post describing the image of a hot-rod and then saying it's freedom from image.



Sapper Mike...there's a lot of people in Britain whose ancestors came here for a better life, though admittedly most of them came after Britain ceased to be an empire. So there's an Empire people willingly and eagerly came to for a better life. People are still coming here for a better life - and they're travelling through most of Europe to do so, often risking death in the process.

Personally, I think it's a damn good thing. IMO, the hybrid vigour caused by large-scale immigration was one of the factors that allowed Britain to successfully weather the transition from the largest empire the world has ever known to a very small country, while fighting two world wars.



I don't know that the Magna Carta is a good reference document. It quite clearly states that it is in a response to the disagreement between barons and the crown, and nearly all the rights granted therein are granted only to the landed gentry. I would particularly reference the part about nobody being imprisoned or detained on the word of a woman unless it concerns her husband's murder. Also the frequent references to disposition of chattels.

The principle of universal equality was certainly not in the Magna Carta. It classified the people into several separate groups, i.e. barons, knights, freemen, chattels, women. Admittedly the US did not solve the slavery issue for 100 years or so, but it certainly came much closer than the Magna Carta.

Let's see...rights from the Constitution/Bill of Rights...
speech: US yes Magna Carta no.
establishment clause: US yes, Magna Carta no (except the Church of England)
free press: US yes Magna Carta no.
Right to bear arms: more or less a wash.
Quartering of troops: US yes, Magna Carta no.
Self-incrimination: US yes, Magna Carta no.
Reservation of rights not mentioned: US yes, Magna Carta no.
Free interstate commerce: US yes, Magna Carta no.
Confirmation of Judicial appointments: US yes, Magna Carta explicitly no (although they must "know the law". It could be argued that any really egregious appointment would trigger the baronial revolt specifically allowed by the MC, but that could just as easily be because the Judge wanted to apply the law to Freemen, Chattels, and Barons too equally, since, after all, only the Barons could initiate the revolt.)

The Magna Carta is not the foundation of anything except another several centuries of chattel serfdom. It was imposed by the barons, and they were its beneficiaries. It is the founding document of an Oligarchy, not a Republic or a Constitutional Monarchy.

In particular, free speech, free press, freedom of (and from) religion, freedom from quarter, and the checks on judicial appointments were by and large explicit departures from the British conditions of the time.



Dear Angilion,

I expected this critism and would like to respond. Strangely, I realize that what we have here in microcosm reflects the lerger world around us.

This essay is not an uprovoked attack on Europeans. It is a defense of the United States. If you feel it is unjustified and harsh, may I point you to The Guardian for the start of your tour of the kind of things being said about us?

Furthermore, we have a large cadre of elitists in the US media pretty much mumbling and nodding at all of this. I am not willing to let such poisonous remarks go past me without a fight.

I did not get to see the Roman circuses. I have seen Jerry Springer, and I get as many laughs out of it as I do from Benny Hill -- which is to say, quite a few guilty ones. Benny Hill has had me on the floor.

Regarding the Magna Carta, I agree completely that it was a breakthough in the revolt against the authority of the King. My admittedly limited understanding of it, however, reminds me that it took absolute power form the kings, and distributed it to DUKES, EARLS AND OTHER NOBLES. The full force of the Magna Carter was in effect at the time of the American Revolution. Our Founding Fathers apparently felt that it's lack of limitations on Government, particularly a Bill of Rights, did not go nearly far enough. I maintain that the US Constitution properly remains the fist national document to put the power of government in the hands of the People. That said, no one can deny, least of all me, that the United States is the philosophical child of Great Britian. To say it owes it a debt in this regard is to say you owe your parents a debt -- it's inadequate. You owe them your very existence, as we do the United Kingdom.

In re-reading this esay, I cannot find any reference to any passages that suggest "we did it all." If you can point them out tome, I will retract them and apologize.

I can understand the British reaction to the American movie "U-571." For those unaware of the controversy, the actual stealing of the enigma device was accomplished by British commandos, not American. Many Brits accused us of stealing their history.

I do not know a great deal about the circumstances of that British raid. I do now a little more about the capture at sea of U-505, which now rests at the Chicage Museum of Science and Industry. I believe, but do not know for certain, that this was the first time a U-boat was taken at sea. Many of the elements of "U-571" reflect the actions of those Americans.(http://www.msichicago.org/exhibit/U505/)

I don't recall seeing "based on a true story" in the promotion of "U-571." But you have a good point here -- the enigma raid was not done by Americans, it was done by The British. However, this begs the question, which I passed on very briefly in the essay, of the Tenth Commandment: if this was such a great story and vital piece of history, why did Great Britian not make the movie herself? Das Boot, the absolutely brilliant German U-boat film, did very well overseas. Could it have something to do with the very depressing reports we read that 80% of British school children are ASHAMED of their own history?

I am half British. My grandfather was knighted in 1957. You have no idea how painful that statistic is to me. In addition, when I say 'European' I am almost always mentally excluding the Brits, whose leader has been stalwart in our defense against a great internal tide running against us. (For this, I and many, many other Americans are and shall forever be extremely grateful.)

That 80% statistic is ENORMOUSLY worrisome. I started this weblog to do my very small part to try and make sure that that number is never reached over here.

Angilion, you raise fine points in a reasonable, fair manner. It is a pleasure to have you here. Hopefully this clarifies my position a little; if not, I would be happy to respectfully discuss it further with you.



Well said!



I just made the most amazing chocolate & banana cheesecake. Anybody for a slice??



First, in response to Alan Sullivan's comment: Yes, we do stay in some places. Sometimes for our own self-interest, but in the places you have mentioned, and many others, we've stayed to protect others. It was more the nature of the billeting of British troops that riled the colonists, rather than their presence.

Now, on to the meat of things.

I was going to wait until the first of the new year to post this idea somewhere (no blog of my own, yet), but the presence of your 'Empire' essay is too timely to put it off any longer.

The USA is the most powerful nation on the planet, in any sense one wishes to measure such things. We have influence that reaches both wide and deep. We may not be a force for direct conquest and occupation, save in a few necessary places, but we have enormous, potent forces at our disposal.

Given those things, and our stance as a nation striving to be moral, to be ethical, even in the wilderness state of international relations, is it not our responsibility, our duty, to bring the blessings of liberty to -everyone-? There are many around the world who simply cannot throw off the chains placed upon them by their leaders. Does it not fall to us to break those, to destroy those governemts who grind their own people down?

I ask not here for equivalencies between the USA and such places as Iraq, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Cuba, North Korea, China, etc. They're disingenuous at best. There -are- places in the world where the only word that can apply to the practices of their leaders is 'evil', and we should no longer hesitate to use that word. Moral relativism makes such horrors acceptable.

I do not suggest that we immediately invade and rebuild all of these places, and others. What I do suggest is that we should look at this as a problem to be solved over a century, perhaps more. We cannot extend these things by bankrupting ourselves. That we pick and choose our battles carefully, and work towards that end. That we destroy, piece by piece, the structures that have been allowed to flourish that create such amounts of human misery. Some of these battles and destructions will be military, others economic, still others cultural. Many will incorporate aspects of all three fronts.

Should we not strive to extend opportunity and freedom to everyone, around the world? If given the chance, some - or many - might choose not to take advantage of them, but should they be allowed to take away the chances of others to take hold of the dream we offer?

This will not be cheap, or quick, or painless. But if we are determined to strike at those who have chosen to be our enemies, and I pray that we are - we should be determined to bring chances and hope to those who have none. Not to bankroll their avarice, but to let them take their futures into their own hands.



What a terrific essay. I'll be back regularly. However, there is one fact in there I find quite disturbing - YOU WENT SWIMMING IN THE CORAL SEA!!! What are you nuts? Glad you made it back in one piece.



Like multiple people have said... Bill's work is of such quality, writing Fiskings seems almost inadequate. Great job!

But I do have one question, and I wish that you'd put the answer in "Empire Redux." HOW can Europeans eat Mcdonald's and watch Baywatch, yet agree with their elites that America is like a drunken cowboy? Constant investigation and simple observation both reveal that most Europeans do not trust or like the American government's policies against certain Arab nations, and certainly don't like their Israel policy. Their elites thusly keep their powers- remember, Europe is a democracy, although obviously not a perfect one- and the criticism continues. Bill, your points as to why America isn't an empire were bang on: but you still haven't answered the question, why does Europe despise America when they should be thanking the USA on bended knee? Canadians are constantly reminded that the Dutch think we're the greatest people on Earth: why shouldn't they? We freed them from the Nazis. So why don't the French, who were saved by a far greater power that could have conceivably just left Europe to Hitler and kept on being a master power, like America very much at all? Why did Du Gaulle rip America apart, which set French- American relations back 400 years? THAT is the question I would like to see answered... it's a hard one, but I'm sure you can do it if it can be done. :)



Trevalyan:

The short answer is that Canada is easy for Europeans to like, because we have nothing that they envy. The French in particular have spent the last three centuries telling themselves that they are the founders & proprietors of la civilisation, a word they invented; & from the 18th century until the middle of the 20th, 'the Great Powers' meant the European powers almost exclusively. America took away their global pre-eminence; America holds the place in the sun that most Europeans still, in their heart of hearts, believe is rightfully theirs. They cannot appreciate what America gives them, because they are consumed with envy of what America makes for itself. Canada is still a second-rate power compared to Britain, France, or Germany. (Even if we didn't starve our military to the point of extinction, this would still be true.) They do not envy us or fear us.

When you regard yourself as the lord of the earth, you can be gracious & charming as you accept gifts from your inferiors. But when someone gives you such gifts as prove that you are their inferior, you suffer a blow to your self-conceit for which you may never forgive them.



Very similar to Victor Davis Hanson's A Funny Sort of Empire.



Fucking beautiful. Seriously. I'm sending this to people I know. Keep writing, because you're a shining beacon.





Excellent work. You should write Presidential speeches.



Absolutely brilliant.Thank you.



Loved the piece. But you forgot another great example of American non-Imperialism: the Mexican War. In it, we invaded our neighbor, took over the whole place (Halls of Montezuma and all), then gave it back (90+%) except for the part we then paid for. No other country in the history of the world can claim anything similar.



I am going to go all over the place, so let me say Thank You now: ignore the rest if you want.

"...the US Constitution properly remains the fist national document to put the power of government in the hands of the People." Yes, and that is perhaps a large part of why we are not an Empire. There is always the 10% mentioned by Lenin who want control at any price, the 10% who will go along, and the 80% who hope the others will eventually do something good. The US was the first to give the 80% some actual power, and they want to be home rather than trying to dominate others. Even the multi-nationals so hated by many almost always put even top management in "local" hands.

Yes, we are far from perfect - but we have come far in our two-and-a-third centuries. I do hope we will remember that it does take time, eg I think we will have to maintain a presence in Afghanistan until the national government can withstand a coalition of any two "warlord" types. This is not to say we must impose a government, though it may appear so because it has always been a region more than a nation and the regions have seldom cooperated. On the other hand, note that I put "warlord" in quotes. A few months ago, I read an interview with one man who has been branded as such: he was grateful as could be that the Taliban and their predecessors were out, wanted to go back to being a leader for his people rather than their general, but was in no hurry to send someone to Kabul. He wants, no, NEEDS, time to rebuild a thirty-year-old army into farmers and artisans: to that extent he supports whatever happens in Kabul - as long as the US reigns in extremists. Yes, he wants his voice heard in the capital - but is not yet ready. He trusts the US - I hope we do well by him.

And yes, we still have troops in other places. In some, it may at first blush seem anachronistic - Germany, for example, which has forgotten that less than a generation ago there was well-founded that if our "trip-wire" troops pulled out Eastern tanks would roll in the next day. Japan, which knows where China's missiles are aimed. South Korea, much the same. These and others do not want our troops, yet are terrified we will actually recall them. And in none of these cases are we an occupying power. Even in Cuba we pay rent on Guantanomo, if the legal position is perhaps murky.



Well done, Sir - very well done!

Perhaps the verbal support from afar after 9 - 11 was because we were seen as "Victims" as this, of course, fits well into so many themes beloved in certain intellectual circles.

There is something in the American character, in our ethos as a people which rejects this status and our immediate collective American response is to fight back. Whatever we Americans are, it is not victims.

Why is this, do you think?



I can really appreciate the references you made to those who helped you to learn how to think, as opposed to what to think. I read Carl Sagan's Dragons of Eden while I was serving in the Air Force during the last days of the cold war. While I never agreed with his politics, Sagan was a man who compeled you to examnine a subject deeply. I read alot of Asimov, Heinlin, as well as as much history as I could. The comparisons you make between the optimism of American movies and the dark futile tones of European films are well made. We strive to make ourselves better, closer to the ideal heros of our myths. The rest of the world seems to believe that what is, will always be, and that change is futile.

Thanks for your thoughtful article, I'm very glad that I stopped by.



An interesting footnote about the U-571 "controversy" is that there were _two_ Enigma devices captured by the Allies during World War II; one by the British, and one by the Americans. The U-Boat captured by Americans is presently on public display in Chicago.

Of the two, the British capture was more important, because it took place earlier. Nevertheless, it seems interesting that there is a number of British people who firmly believe that there never was a second device.

Who is wrong? Who is being lied to?



So sweetly lucid, it brought tears to my eyes, thanks



Trevalyn will serve as an excellent example of a problem. He believes that Europeans should thank the USA on bended knees. He is simply expressing a common sentiment.

Consider what that means - Europeans should regard the USA as God, or at least as a symbol of God on Earth with a divine right to rule, like a medeival King or Queen.

Perhaps they didn't mean that we should all go that far. Perhaps regarding the USA as a serf regarded their Lord and Lady would be enough.

Do you really have to wonder why such towering condescension puts people's backs up?

It's the "we did it all" thing again. The USA was not the only country fighting the Axis powers, you know. If it hadn't been for Britain and the Soviet Union, there wouldn't have been a war for the USA to enter late and claim all the credit for winning.

Come here and talk to people who lived through the Blitz, then tell them it was of no importance because it happened before the USA joined the war and the USA was the only country fighting the Axis powers, right? Go and talk to people who lived through years of Nazi oppression before the USA got involved in the war, and tell them the same. Go find the relatives of the millions of people who died fighting the Axis powers and who were *not* from the USA, and tell them that their father, their husband, their grandfather, those people did not die, or even fight, because it was the USA alone that fought the Axis powers.

Kneel to you as if you were God? Kiss my arse, you callous, arrogant wannabee tyrant.



"I don't know that the Magna Carta is a good reference document. It quite clearly states that it is in a response to the disagreement between barons and the crown, and nearly all the rights granted therein are granted only to the landed gentry."

The rights granted in the Magna Carta are for everyone who was not a slave (or serf, which was effectively much the same thing). They were not granted only to the landed gentry.

"It classified the people into several separate groups, i.e. barons, knights, freemen, chattels, women"

I'm sure it's normal to pretend that women had a lower status than chattels, but that doesn't make it true. "Freemen" included women who were free just as much as it included men who were free. It's only in recent years that "man" has become sex-specific. The original meaning of "man" was explicitly sex-neutral. It meant "person".

There are references specficially to women in the Magna Carta. These establish certain inalienable rights for women, such as the right to own property and land, etc. Which women had before, anyway. The point of the Magna Carta was to establish them above all law.

The Magna Carta did not establish more centuries of serfdom. It established two key principles - inalienable rights and a law above the ruler.

You might like to note that I did not say that the Magna Carta was the same as the Constitution of the USA, which is the strawman you were fighting.

I said that the Magna Carta was *an* example proving that the concepts stridently proclaimed to have been invented by the USA were not.



"This essay is not an uprovoked attack on Europeans. It is a defense of the United States. If you feel it is unjustified and harsh, may I point you to The Guardian for the start of your tour of the kind of things being said about us?"

I'm disappointed to see that line of argument from you. I expected better, much better.

Two wrongs do not make a right. That's true even at an individual level, but you are not working on an individual level here. You are working on a group level - all Europeans and all citizens of the USA.

I could do what you have done. It's not difficult to find some citizens of the USA who are prejudiced against Europeans and point at them to deflect any criticism of a POV that Europe is superior to the USA. I wouldn't, because I consider that type of behaviour to be profoundly wrong. It promotes prejudice. "Some of are prejudiced against , so prejudice against is justifiable". Then switch the groups around and repeat. You give only a wave in that direction rather than marching down it, but even the wave is a disappointing sign.

I'm so disappointed that I'm not going to reply to the rest of your reply straight. I'm going to have a nice frothy bubblebath first instead.

Besides, it was not a defence of the USA. It's a claim that the USA is better than everywhere else, especially Europe.



Well, the U-505 (the one in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry) was captured by a carrier group that forced it to surface. There were no commando teams involved, and it was a total surprise to the US command (the commander of the carrier, Admiral Daniel Gallery, told his group that he wanted to do it, but never notified his commanders about his intentions). I've read his account of it, but I don't remember whether they captured the code machine off of it. I know they were able to recover a number of code books and such.

Also, the FIRST Enigma machine captured in the war was by the _POLES_. Locals in occupyed Poland managed to steal one, then smuggle it out to Britain. Credit where credit is due, eh? :)



Just a quick list of some of the things in the Magna Carta:

A fair trial by a jury of the accused's peers.

Punishment in keeping with the severity of the crime and not allowing cruel punishments, nor those that remove a person's ability to make a living afterwards.

Security against unreasonable seizure of assets, arrest, etc.

Note that these explictly applied to all free people...just like they did in the Bill of Rights of the USA. If anyone really cares, I'll quote sections from the Magna Carta along with the corresponding Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Note that the Magna Carta is written in Latin, so pick your translation carefully (or, preferably, make your own).

You might also want to look at the English Bill of Rights, 1689 and the Tolerance Act, also 1689. The latter is about freedom of religion.

The revolt of the British colonies in America was partially justified on the basis of British law at the time. The British government, it was argued, was *not* following British law in its treatment of the colonies, who were therefore entitled to declare independence. The same law has been used in Australia quite recently (1971), to form the Principality of Hutt River Province. The status of that country is still undefined, though it claimed independence from Australia in 1971. I get the impression that the Australian authorities are ignoring the issue because it's too thorny and not really worth the trouble.

My point, as I have explicitly stated before, is to show that the USA did not create the concepts generally claimed to be "American" and portrayed as being invented by the USA. What it did with those concepts was to make them the foundation of a country rather than something added long after the country came into existance and to enforce them more strongly. The bluntly unequivocal wording is a joy to behold. As one famous free speech supporter said, "No law means no law. What else can it mean?"

A challenge for the people here:

Is there anything good that you do *not* see as being American?

Now try to pretend that you're not from the USA, and try to see how you'd feel if all the good done anywhere else is appropriated by a country *with the power and influence to make that appropriation stick*



I think that some of what is going on with European and other fear of American "imperialism", fear of what we will do with our great power is really projection. They know what they would do had they such power, because they know what they have done when they had such power, or even fractions of such power.

The greatest thing George Washington did for his country, and for the world, is that he "went home". He had a substantial fraction of a continent under his power at the end of the Revolution, and he walked away from it. This was unfathomable to Europeans at the time, and it still seems to be.

It's not that the US has never had any imperial tendencies, but our moves in that direction have usually been to check the growth of other empires. (To Hawaiians who resent the US takeover, I have asked if they really would rather be a colony of a still imperial Japan.) And we have done some nasty things in that vein (counter to an above post, we brutally quelled an insurrection in the Philippines after we took them from the Spanish empire). But still, our overall behavior in this regard has been vastly different from real empires.



Angilian, Perhaps "image conscious" would have been the better phrase to use for clarity. Hot-rods most definately have an image. Part of it is the absence, for the most part, of any need to project the image in a pretentious manner.

My sister, and her husband spent two years in the UK on job assignments. The reports I received were how the Brits rather matter of factly took credit for the victory in Europe. The Yanks arrived late, and contributed little. Apparently, a provincial attitude can cut both ways. I see little significance in such an attitude by anyone. I only wish that the Brits hadn't seen fit to bang their proof marks into every available surface of our fine, lend-lease small arms. Stamping "NOT ENGLISH MADE" into the sides of them appeared to satisfy the standard British military pecksniffery, and cleared things up for any other country who might import them to our satisfaction as well.

Hubcap



I'm glad to see someone mentioning the Poles and their role in cracking the Nazi codes. Time for a point here - people were fighting the Nazis 15 years before the USA joined the war, and their work was crucial. Perhaps everyone in the USA should thank them on bended knees, Trevalyn, like a serf to the King?

However, Dave's understanding of events is a little inaccurate.

An Enigma device was not captured by Poles in occupied Poland. Poles in unoccupied Poland made replicas of early Enigma devices, the prototypes.

Polish mathematicians working *before* the Nazi invasion of Poland, as early as 1928, collaborated with a traitor in the German cryptography group in 1932. Three Polish mathematicians were trying to crack the Enigma encoding right from the start, which gave them an advantage. Having a tame traitor must have helped a lot. I think it's time he was thanked. Many thanks to Hans-Thilo Schmidt. If he hadn't given lots of classified information to those Poles, it's unlikely that anyone could have cracked the later, far more sophisticated, Enigma devices quickly enough. The Poles had got nowhere in 4 years against the early, far simpler Enigma devices before Hans-Thilo Schmidt gave them the necessary information. They spent 11 years on the work, always at least one step behind the Nazis. They got as far as having crude electromechanical devices built to speed up calculations, "bomba". Thankfully, they were astute enough to realise that a Nazi invasion of Poland was imminent and got their work out to Britain and the genuises at Bletchley Park. IIRC, it took Turing a day to design a machine 10 times more powerful than a bomba. They built programmable electronic computers at Bletchly park, well before the Mark 1 or ENIAC...and then destroyed all the work at the end of WW2, leaving the whole field of computing essentially to the USA. N.B. I'm not suggesting that USA inventors built on the work at Bletchly Park without crediting it. I am suggesting that the British overnment made a serious error in judgement when they killed all work in the field of computing from Bletchly Park and declared it to be Secret Knowledge, not to be told to anyone. Actually, I'm stating it explicitly - they screwed up badly, IMO.



Angilion,

Something is driving this fury of yours that is not in the words written here, at least not by me.

Your entire thrust of the past several e-mails seems to be that we steal credit for everything good in the world. I do not see anywhere where I made that statement, nor have I seen it written in the comments.

Your attack on Trevalyn rabid pro-Americanism seesm to lose a little steam when you realize (if I am correct on this,) that Trevalyn is a Canadian who has also written critically of us in other threads.

You say you are disappointed that I point out things said in The Guardian, The Observer, Fisk, Pinter, and a host of other leading British critics, saying that by responding to their arguments, 'two wrongs don't make a right.'

Sir, that is patently nonsense. It is our OBLIGATION to respond to slander like that, and I will continue to do so.

Regarding America's 'late' entry into the war, I will say, in the words of another unremembered writer, that we were late to your wars the same way a policeman is late to the scene of a crime. This nation was founded specificaly as a response to endless European wars. Thomas Jefferson was particularly vehement on this point, and felt that if we did not isolate ourselves against the endless bloody conflicts that have raged over the European continent since men took pen to parchment, then we would be bled white and eventually destroyed.

This is a democracy, and at the beginning of WW2 there were very large numbers of Germans and other immigrants that wanted nothing to do with yet another fight brought on by the elite Old-Chap diplomats of the Old World.

Do us the courtesy of remembering the lend-lease program, which was damn near illegal, and provided the destroyers and convoy support that kept the sea lanes open. Any reading of Churchill's biographies will tell you that in his opinion, this kept Britain from falling. These were done as an ostensibly neutral country, out of respect and admiration for our British cousins.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I am half British; my grandfather is was knighted as a member of the Order of the British Empire. I do not need that pedigree to love and admire the British. I am a pilot, too, and there is no place in time or space I would have rather been than in a Spitfire or a Hurricane defending the British isles.

With that said, uou might want to carefully examine the level and tone that has been coming from certain elements of your country this past year or two. Morons, cowboys, idiots --- people who steal their wealth from starving Africans; people who never really invented anything worthwhile, just took a European idea and marketed it better in our vulgar, money grubbing way --- this is, in fact, the core of your Magna Carta argument.

We percieve the actions of July 4th, 1776 to be a break in history -- and that attitude and self-confidence is what has made us successful and kept us free.

Where on EARTH did anyone here write that only Americans died during WW2 and other conflicts. Who said -- show me where -- we wrote that we won WW2 on our own? What DOES gall us from Europeans is simply this:

Go to the various military cemetaries throughout Europe and count the American headstones there. Realize that these are only a fraction of the American kids who never had a chance to grow up because they died IN EUROPE fighting beside your country. Now come to the United States and show me comparable cemetaries where French and Germans and Italians died on our soil to keep US free.

You can't do it.

We can handle criticism. We don't call Tony Blair 'a poodle' and 'a lapdog' for standing by an ally -- YOUR country does. As a nation that has fought and died beside you in two World Wars and spent untold treasure preventing a third, we find this PROFOUNDLY disgusting and disgraceful.



The capture of U-505 took place on June 4, 1944. The reason why it isn't referred to much in connection with the Enigma codes is because it was so late.

The film wasn't called "U-505", was it? It wasn't about the capture of U-505, was it?

There are other U-boat captures between the key capture of U-571 and the end of the war. For example, the capture of the communications gear from U-559 in 1942. Some British soldiers deliberately stayed in a sinking submarine, handing out the equipment. Two of them drowned doing so when the sub sank as they handed up the last piece.



It's unfortunate you regarded my remarks as condescending, Angilion, so let me clarify. The bravery of Britain and the Soviet Union in fighting Hitler is certainly not regarded with anything short of honour in North America. However, I maintain that Britain would also have LOST to Hitler if the United States took the hands-off, "Tyrants will be Tyrants," approach to global politics that seemingly dominates European thought now. And the Soviet Union would have lost, with equal valour. AFTER the war, America maintained their war footing in order to prevent the Soviets from finishing the job Hitler started. The elite crew of the European Union repays our generosity with contempt and derision. And we damned well KNOW the reason they wish to maintain the dictatorships of Iraq and Iran is for OIL. Not the sovereignty of nation states, but because they have massive contracts to buy cheap oil from those illegitimate governments. The stunning hypocrisy of their accusations about "blood for oil" rankles worst when I remember this. Certainly it rankles when young Iranian students are fighting their regime, while Europe coddles it!

I'm not asking for lordship over Europe: my statement meant that extreme gratitude would not be out of place in exchange for the vital AMERICAN aid in the defense of Europe against the armies of the Nazis, and then the Soviets. At the very least, we don't expect our allies to be denounced as lapdogs! Is America a perfect jewel: no it isn't, and when I see something I don't like, I'll call the American government on it. But it's a DAMNED sight better than the duplicitous, spineless governments that dominate Europe, and the Du Gaulles of this world who seem delighted to believe that they freed Europe without the help of the American "cowboys." It's like "Idiots Redux" when Europe claims that Saddam would never ever use chemical weapons, or attempt to destroy Israel with nukes, or that he's not a threat. The same thing that happened with Hitler, except the names and technologies are all different.

You can't spend money on deterring tyrants from slaughtering their neighbours? Fine. You want to buy cheap oil from said megalomaniac tyrants? Knock yourself out. But DON'T go posing like enlightened scholars and brave freedom fighters when everyone knows that your actions are taken out of the most base self- interest! And certainly don't sneer at military prowess when it's been all that's kept you safe for the past 60 years! Let Europe chew on THAT for a while... then I'll think about according it a bit more respect.



That was another great post in response to Angilion, Bill. I was gonna write back, but I can't write like that, especially in short order.

Another thing, Anglion, in response to your post at 0956 and to others who have not mentioned a dang thing about the Cold War:

What if America had not come to save the United Kingdom and Western Europe during WWII? Besides many more Europeans on both side dying, the continent and British Isles (even with our supply of materiel to Britain) would have been taken by the Nazis. Ok, how would that be different then the part of Europe that was eventually run by the Communists? Not a whole lot, I don't think, though I can see comments coming about this. Nazis vs. Commies. Not a lot of fun to live under either "system" of government.

So, back to the Cold War. America would have had to take the same stand as we did against the Soviets and their empire, if the Nazi's had the same power (which they would have had). It took major military spending over many years, posting of American soldiers, sailors, and airmen all over the world and 2 hot wars with losses of over 100,000 Americans to keep Soviet rule from spreading.

Yet, we had long-haired (well, and short-haired too) Europeans making a big stink about old Ronnie approving the setup of tactical missiles to counter the Soviet SS-20's. That is a major lack of gratitude. I wonder how they feel now that they can talk to former Soviet subjects and see some of the mess left behind in Russia itself and the former satellite countries. But, President Reagan was not a Bill Clinton or George W. (the way he is turning out). He actually stood for his principles (and I'm not saying I agree with all of them. The basing of tactical missiles to counter the SS-20's and the initiation of missile-defense research ("Star Wars") were the last straws for the Soviets. They could not outspend Ronnie on their military, and not have a total s__thole for an economy.

So, it ended up being Ronald Reagan and lots and lots of Mechanical and Electrical engineers that won the Cold War, when it comes down to it, along with the soldiers of course.

The thing is, this would have had to happen if we had stayed out of WWII, just a different Boss, same as the old Boss. You would have heard just as much Western European criticism of American Imperialism then too, just from a different newspaper - the 3rd Reich Daily.

So, yeah they should thank us, but we don't expect that, Anglicon. We just ignore the comments about American unilateral action, just as we did during the Cold War. I don't expect the European to understand until they are subjects of a totalitarian regime. At that point, I guess they may shut up, cause they have to.



The saving grace of the USA is the ability to take the best from a document, an environment or a government and adopt it for our constitutional use. While the definition of hegemony may be accurate it has not been adopted for our constitutional use. To me the capability of controlling is the difference between We and the European nations. To whit: the position of being the strongest and most powerful and therefore capable of controlling others.”

Few foreign possessions have been maintained and these few were by the preference of the controlled.



I'm a little late to the party but here's my two cents worth.

Regarding so-called American Imperialism/Hegemony, it's non-existent as Bill so eloquently pointed out. Furthermore, those who hurl the accusation are actually self-refuting. Considering how they cozy upto or remain silent about real tyrants, their epithets fall flat. If we truly were global masters, or had pretensions to being so, they wouldn't say a word.

As to Angilion's resentment of the "they should thank us on bended knee" I agree. No one owes me any gratitude, I wasn't alive then and had absolutely no part in the Victory of WWII. I helped out with the Cold War, but I did it for my own reasons and expect no gratitude. Besides, if gratitude has to be asked for then it's not worth having.

It should be remembered that relations between nations are very in-the-moment sort of things. There's alot of what have you done for me lately there.

For a different perspective, if you are an American, just imagine what it would be like if France considered us ingrates because we didn't thank them in perpituity for their assistance during the War for Independence. {Vive LaFayette!!}

Like Bill stated I don't see where "we did it all" is even implied. Maybe Angilion has encountered this attitude elsewhere and is bringing it into this discussion. How far back are we to trace the geneaology of modern governance? Romans, Greeks, the code of Hammurabii?

It might be helpful to keep in mind that our accusers are mostly socialists, or at the very least fellow-travellers. America is practically incomprehensible from that perspective. The welfare state aside, we don't want elite control over our lives. Our history, and the myths that are based on it, are very liberty-centric. One of our main tenets is do what you want as long as it doesn't infringe on others. This tenet is not strictly adhered to, of course, but it is a guiding principle. Strong suspicion of concentrated power, regardless of the noble rhetoric justifying it, has been America's strongest bulwark against the modern world's worker's paradise experiment.

To hubcap: Rock on brother:)




Bill: I first read you on Rachel's blog re 2nd Ammendment. That was remarkable. This is stunning, great, stupendous, etc., etc, etc.
What you have written should be on the front page of the NYT and WP - but sadly, won't. As to our Anglo friend who has a real burr under his saddle, what he doesn't seem to understand is that we come late to the party because we are forced to, not because we want to. We want to stay away, and do so after the dirtywork is done. The greatest criticism that we could undergo would be if we refused to be involved.



Wow...

"Thank-you" just doesn't cut it. Discovering your site, and this essay in particular was the highlight of my week. I hope you don't mind that I excerpted portions of it on my site to entice others to read it as well.

If my grandfather--who voluntarily fought in both World Wars--were still alive, he would shed a tear reading what you wrote.

His favorite saying, which I'm sure you'll enjoy, was:
"Life is not a dream in the clover...On to the walls, on to the walls, on to the walls and OVER!"

God bless you!



There is a precendent for a potential universal state refusing to take over civilization. One of the Ptolemies offered Egypt to the Roman Republic and the Romans turned it down (at least the first time). Before Julius Caesar, Roman dictators went home after their tasks were finished.



That was a wonderful post.

Thank you very much.



Angillioin please refrain from making an a$$ of yourself. (Note, I wrote this slightly angry, so I hope it's cogent.)

As for WWII, it's like this: A friend should be very thankful when another friend helps them out of a mess they made, instead of kicking their friend in the face.

I doubt we were in for much trouble from Germany. I think they would have been content to have Europe and Russia for their Lebensraum. At least, that's the impression I get from history books (of course, Hitler screwed up big time by declaring war first). We had our hands full with the Japanese, who were a greater threat to us. Yet, we decided to start with Europe first. Is it wrong to expect a little gratitude from friends for helping them out, not for just the four years we were in the war, but the 44 years after that, when the big red dog was breathing down Western Europes neck?

Secondly, as for the Magna Carta, get the #*@#(sorry, he made me mad) off your anglo-centric high horse. No one is claiming that America created the concepts of freedom and equality. What people are saying is that the specific combination is unique to America (and so far works far better than other places), because America took a lot of concepts and separated the wheat from the chaff. We got ideas from all over Europe and even from the Iriquois. Britain is not even close to being the main contributor to the Constitution (since, the Constitution is not the Bill of Rights), there were the Iroquois, the Greeks, the Romans, Locke (who was an Anglo) and others. In fact, just an example, the electoral system comes largely from the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois.

In conclusion, America has made many mistakes in the past (particularly against the Native Americans), but it is the best country in the world and I'll be damned if anyone tries to unfairly denigrate my country.



Joseph Hertzlinger: I don't think that's a good example, Ptolemy XII said he'd give Julius 6000 talents if he made him king, instead of taking Egypt over for himself.



Bill, you're completely wrong, they're not slandering America...in print it's libel.


Bill Whittle said:
You say you are disappointed that I point out things said in The Guardian, The Observer, Fisk, Pinter, and a host of other leading British critics,



Every so often I find someone who writes REALLY eloquently and to the point about issues which have, somehow, become hard to explain, but shouldn't be. Your 3 essays: Empire, Freedom and Honor, definitely fall into that category.

I have two other favorites which I would like to share with you. One is a piece from May 2002 by Mark Steyn entitled "Sweet land of liberty: Britain and Europe have free governments, but only in the US are the people truly free" which details crucial differences between EU centralized governance and local control in the U.S. You might wish to link to this article on your site (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1102/steyn.html). Also, one of many places to access Gordon Sinclair's marvelous 1973 pro-American Canadian radio broadcast is http://www.tysknews.com/Depts/Our_Culture/americans.htm.

I live in Chappaqua, NY, and one of the places I intend to share these essays with is with the Social Studies department at the local high school. My daughter graduated from there last year and had to fight her way through because she was a patriot and supporter of the military long before 9/11. She had trouble with both peers and teachers. After a school assembly, she wrote the following, simply because she was so angry and upset. I don't think I ever expected any teenager of mine to be spouting the "Love it or leave it" line I heard in my own youth, but this was the culmination of 12 years of curricula with an anti-American edge that most participants in the school community either don't notice, support or ignore. Nonetheless, she is re-applying for a Marine NROTC scholarship, knowing that she is willing to fight for the right of others to disagree with her. I know she would like feedback about her essay from anyone interested in contacting her. Jessie can be reached through me at DKCGrp@netscape.net.

Social Studies or Socialism?
- Jessica Ruth Cunningham, November 2001

The assembly on Thursday was, in my opinion, a farce. We, the students, were told we were going to have an assembly on the history of terrorism, and the history behind what prompted the 9/11 attacks. That is to assume that we did, in fact, prompt the attacks, an assumption not everyone agrees with. Four teachers stood in front of the entire school and spoke with absolute solemnity the most politically correct, socialist biased, historical drivel ever to pass my ears; and in my long years in the public school system, I have heard a lot of it.

The teachers spoke of American foreign policy, and America, as they have for all of my life, with thoughtful and disturbing dislike. They did not shout out that America is evil. They said it slowly and quietly coating their political views with their titles as teachers; and replacing historical fact with their own opinions. They said many things about how the rest of the world hates us and sees us as imperialistic and nasty. They implied that "the why" was because we are culturally imperialistic. That we push our culture onto other societies and "once we get our foot in the door we proceed to push out or eradicate any other culture already present." They didn't mention that the reason other cultures accept ours, as well as other western cultures, is because they like them. It brings modernizations, new ideas and freedoms.

They never mentioned the fact that many Islamic country's text books paint Americans as devils and evil without morals, ungodly wretches. That these countries breed hatred into generation after generation. That many of the newspapers say either that we are lying about the attacks in the first place, or that they were perpetrated by Israel. The papers paint the bombing in Afghanistan as unprovoked and terrorist. They show Osama Bin Laden to be a hero of Islam. They write about suicide bombers as though they were saints.

I don't know about any of you reading this, but I remember 9/11, and I know we were provoked. I also remember the USS Cole and the US Embassy in the Sudan. We have been attacked and provoked without giving meaningful responses too many times. I know of hundreds of actual heroes, the police and firemen who died saving innocent lives. The men and women in the Army, the Marines, the Air Force, the Navy, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard are also to be remembered and respected as heroes of our country. They protect the innocent, those targeted by suicide bombers and terrorists; they protect us.

They mentioned that many middle eastern countries dislike us because we helped Israel, and have been on their side on all occasions. No one mentioned that we help Israel due to a fifty year old promise made after the end on World War II. After the war ended the UN promised the Jews a homeland. The chosen place, for said Zionist homeland, was, what is now, Israel. This was decided by the UN, not the US. We protect Israel because we promised to fifty years ago; and we are honorable enough to keep that promise, even under threats and pressure.

We, the students, were told that we are materialistic and obsessed with wealth and power. That is of course why we spend billions of dollars in humanitarian aid and assistance funds and helping the homeless, helpless, and hungry everywhere in the world, sometimes even before we do anything at home! We are only interested in the Middle East because of oil; yet no one mentions that we could have all the oil we wanted if we developed our Alaskan oil resources. This is something that many environmentalists are against, yet our own citizens of Alaska want us to do it. Environmentalists aren't the only ones who don't want us to be self sufficient in oil, either. The UN has made it clear that America is a large and crucial part of the Middle East's economy. Without our wealth and food stores they are left with a whole lot of oil, sand and anger; not much else.

We are a great and honorable country, always ready to stand and fight for those who ask for our help, and those we owe our loyalties to. But we have stayed off fighting for ourselves for far too long. I am sick of those who print and speak defeatist propaganda, and I have one thing to say to people who dislike The United States of America: "This is the only country, or at least one of the very very few countries, in the entire world that would allow you to preach your dislike of its government, ideals, and people. If you think its such a horrible place, LEAVE".




>

This is inaccurate on almost every point:

- Although we did indeed take the capital and thoroughly defeat the Mexican forces, we did not in fact occupy the entire country.

- The part of Mexico which we annexed was well over 10% of the country.

- Yes, we did pay for it, but the price was not willingly agreed upon. The Polk administration offered to buy California and the southern extension of Texas several times, but the Mexican government refused to sell. So we invaded, turned out the uncooperative government, and wrote the purchase into the terms of surrender. I'm not complaining -- I'm happy to be living in the U.S. rather than Mexico -- but to pretend it was a willing sale is just naive. (And Texas, which came to us in a more roundabout way, wasn't paid for at all.)

- Many other countries throughout history can claim something similar. In the early modern period in Europe it was standard procedure to invade a country, occupy most of it, and pull back to annex only a small piece of territory in the settlement. In 1870, for example, Prussia defeated France and occupied Paris, but they annexed only Alsace and Lorraine.

mdl



Phil wrote:

>

That's not accurate. Before the 19th century, forced conversion was the exception, not the rule, as is obvious from even a passing glance at Islamic history.

With regard to Christianity and Judaism, the Qur'an explicitly forbids forced conversion. Religions in India and Africa did not enjoy the same scriptural protection, and there were sometimes proselytizing rulers there, but more often the practice was to respect local freedom of religion so long as the conquered people submitted to political suzerainty.

This explains why large Christian communities persisted throughout the Islamic world -- in Egypt, Lebanon, Constantinople, all through the Balkans, etc. Jews fleeing persecution in Europe frequently fled to Ottoman lands, where religious freedom was respected. The large Jewish community in Salonika (later exterminated by the Nazis) was made up of Sephardic Jews who fled the Inquisition in Spain.

The Ottoman Empire was built on a fundamental premise of religious freedom, and its expansion in Europe was largely due to the fact that the Orthodox peasantry routinely favored Ottoman rule, which respected their religion, over the various Catholic princes, who did not.

It's only in the modern (ie, nationalist) era that the nasty genocidal wars (Armenia, India, etc) become a feature of the Islamic world. The Ottoman government stuck to its ideal of multinationalism to the bitter end, eventually losing control of the state to the nationalists. The first Serbian independence movement was actually sponsored by the Ottoman government, against local Turkish landowners.

To a certain extent, the failure of the Islamic world is a by-product of its history of religious and cultural tolerance. It is precisely because the Ottoman Caliphate *didn't* impose a uniform culture that the state lost its coherence in the nationalist era. Nations from the Ottoman sphere (both in Europe and the Middle East) are still struggling with that problem even today.

mdl



I don't think that's a good example, Ptolemy XII said he'd give Julius 6000 talents if he made him king, instead of taking Egypt over for himself.

I think Joseph was referring to an earlier era. Roman forces occupied Egypt during the time of Ptolemies VI and VII, to defend it against Seleucid attack. Rome could have easily annexed it, but they preferred to pull back and leave the Ptolemies in place.

As for Julius, I hardly think he was bribed not to take over Egypt. He was embroiled in his own civil war. So long as whoever ran Egypt acknowledged him as the leader of Rome, he had no need to annex the country.

Rome under the Republic never annexed Egypt. When Augustus took it, he claimed it as his personal property.

mdl



yeah. right you right wing piece of shit.



Bill,

First, I must say thank you! I first read your freedom essay on Rachel's site, then your other essays here. You've written some of the finest, most cogent essays I've seen in a long time, expressing my sentiments better than I ever could.

Second, I'd like to recommend a book called "Beyond Terror," written by a former Army Intel officer, Ralph Peters (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0811700240/). One of the essays in the book, "The American Mission," nicely complements this essay. He argues America has worked to fight against empires for most of her history. For example, we took on the British empire, destroyed the last vestiges of the Spanish empire, defeated the fledgling Nazi empire, and toppled the Soviet empire. It's a good read, and available online (http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/99autumn/peters.htm).

Finally, this is as tip to whomever writes the code for your site. Could you please add 'wrap="virtual"' to the textarea tag in the comment form? It's kind of annoying to have to write comments as really long, single lines of text that don't wrap.

Thanks,
Nathan Machula



Hello, "Yeah,"

Just about what I'd expect from the left: no argument, no rebuttal, no ideas, no class, no clue and no return address. Just a cowardly shot on a passing bus from deep under the rock you crawled out of.

I believe I'll leave your comment right where it is. Compared with the well-reasoned and articulate criticisms above you (and EVERYONE is above you, as you well know deep in your heart) I don't see how I could have highlighted those who oppose us any better.



"Yeah" eloquently expresses the compassionate brotherhood, universal love, and nuanced intellectualism of the Politically Correct "Left".



Sadly like
'Yeah', I don't want to give a return address either. But:

1) Don't think that you can unproblematically find the meaning of an ideologically and emotionally charged word like 'imperialism', 'hegemony' and so on in a dictionary. Producing meaning is a lot more complicated than the easy 'this: means this' of any dictionary or encyclopaedia, no matter how authoritative. There's whole worlds of connotation, context, and so on to consider.

2) Sure, some movements to make people free and dissolve unjust authority have come from the US, but what the US doesn't seem to see is that 'difficult' stuff like the films you don't like is as much part of dissolving bonds that stop us being free as what you're praising in your essay. By presenting itself - performing itself - as 'the Land of the Free', the US perversely makes it harder for it to really set itself free. Eg your use of 'economic reality' - economics need not be the bottom line, it's actually another set of discourses you can problematise. An example of the naivety that us snotty Europeans like to sneer at in US culture?

America absolutely rocks, don't get me wrong. Fun, free, people who know what it means to respect themselves and their own opinions and have integrity, people who can operate in the public domain with confidence. But also a culture that can't seem to question itself rigorously or successfully...any attempts to self-question seem to descend into madness, what I've seen referred to as 'hyper-CNN', manic uberdiscussion of what's going on...Sometimes America seems like not a black hole of desire to which we are drawn but a pulsar giving out information white noise which no one, but no one, on this planet, is sophisticated enough to filter yet.

Wow. Re-reading this, it's a bit wonky and probably makes little sense. I just wanted to agree with 'Yeah' without being so...terse. :)



Very interesting discussion here!

I also like that the tone is GENERALLY civil.

I find that most of my American friends are so completely insulated from external events that they naturally have no knowledge of foreign events save for what is shown on CNN, and in some cases what is shown on PBS if they watch (the median knowledge levels varies of course).

If you MUST talk about the USA being top-of-the-heap, then I'm sure you won't mind absorbing the lion's share of criticism around the world for doing so. Being Canadian I understand what it's like to enjoy a great standard of living. Being Canadian I am also not as shielded from what gives us that standard of living. The criticisms you hear are many times just vacuous vitriol, but much of it is well earned. Canada gets it's fair share too so I don’t buy your idea that the USA will become some self-loathing scrap heap if you suddenly doubt your country once in a while. Second-guessing one's actions helps to make the tough decisions' ramifications sink in (think Pinochet, or the gulf of Tonkin).

The US is NOT an empire by traditional means - it is an empire by economic means. And yes many other nations are jealous, but the jealousy is stupid and vain. I don't know why you focus on that rather than pay attention to the unique qualities that those countries do offer, and looking at what is lost when the US purchases what it says it hasn't invaded.

I work in civic government and I am involved in work with a non-profit NGO that exports good-governance policies and expertise to many nations as they rebuild (Bosnia is one of them). The kind of wheeling and dealing that goes on in nation rebuilding is very interesting. More often than not a country will not get assistance from major players like the US unless there is a strategic interest (oil is one - tropical food sources are another…pick your resource)…think Rwanda (where official US response was one of indifference In light of the nature of the conflict…the Canadian Romeo Dallaire who headed up the UN peacekeeping group there went through years of depression after trying to get major players to intervene

http://www.canadians.ca/more/profiles/d/d_romeo_dallaire.htm

Right now the CBC is running a program called "Cross Country Checkup" and I am listening to a commentary by an American fellow about how the U.S. state department has quietly and wholly supported the second coup attempt to oust Venezuela’s very popular president during his fight with the country's oil elite over redistribution of the oil revenues towards nation-building. This is what people mean when they speak of "Empire" and the dislike it engenders for the sponsor. In case you think that example is one-sided. One of my favourites is the Talisman Energy saga where a Canadian multinational oil concern kept bankrolling the Sudanese government in exchange for oil rights (the government there is clear cutting people as fast as trees to get at oil in populated areas). Canadians nationwide were outraged despite efforts to play down the story. Of course the issue was always about the shareholders ;)

A little self-doubt is good to have as it can allow one to question his or her understanding of events. The assertions made in the article and responses above are often stated as fact but it's always possible to find contrary opinions, no matter what side they fall on. If you think people don't like you, then find out WHY. Most of the time you'll find unreasonable expectations as the source, but hey, shit happens. America is a great country, but there are others, and the great US of A has steamrolled over a lot of international concerns just as they call upon the world community to support them (*cough* World Court *cough*) with a great big blank cheque.

I don't think it's ever a matter of "giving" in to self-loathing as you put it, even mildly.

It's about putting yourselves into a _context_.

To close, I hope that dissenting voice in the US keep speaking as dialogue is a good thing. Right now countries near and far from the US are watching the more insightful commentaries being muzzled along with the rash U.S. self-doubters. There's more of a story there than you realize. I think the US is a great nation, but envious I am not. Having lived there and traveled extensively within (as well as worldwide), I know all the great and little things the US has to offer to people who want to live there. However you have to think at least a little bit about why there are criticisms. The hate –mongering is stupid and EVERYONE has to deal with it…not just the US. The growing criticisms are what you want to carefully dissect. Being so large a power has its responsibilities too.

All the best!

JB




Just a quick come-back to Debbie, too:

'They didn't mention that the reason other cultures accept ours, as well as other western cultures, is because they like them. It brings modernizations, new ideas and freedoms. '

Hmm...Modernisation and modernity are problematic ideas in themselves; new ideas aren't necessarily good by virtue of their novelty...

"We, the students, were told that we are materialistic and obsessed with wealth and power. That is of course why we spend billions of dollars in humanitarian aid and assistance funds and helping the homeless, helpless, and hungry everywhere in the world, sometimes even before we do anything at home!"

Well it does look like a pretty materialistic world view if you see your do-gooding purely in terms of spending dollars on aid! Someone who used their wealth and power for aid and assistance could be just as obsessed with that wealth and power as a greedy person...What about a world beyond wealth and power?

A Superior Snotty European Speaks



Bill,

I have been enjoying your blog, having first read your "Freedom" essay on rachellucas.com. The "Empire" piece was great, keep up the good work.

Most of the critiques have been serious and interesting as well. While America does not have exclusive license to magnanimity, I think you are correct that the disparity of military might and our reluctance to use it truly is without precedent.

Take care!



Jason B, what do you mean by the US is quietly supportting the second 'coup' of Hugo Chavez? What support are we providing? Arms? Organization? Or is it just tacit approval? We supported the Shah too but that didn't make a darn bit of difference. The only thing I've seen is that the Bush Administration has been vacillating between supporting an earlier vote and the unconsitutional nature of any earlier vote. [Yes, I'm aware of the irony of the Bush Administration caring about the constitutionality of an election.]

The hate mongering does have to be dealt by all. It not only hurts the US but it too often serves as an excuse and distraction from the fundamental problems plaguing countries whose people hate the US. Of course the US screws up here and there. More could've been done for Rwanda (did the Canadians do anything) and the international community on the part of the US but the US isn't godlike.

I think the World Court would be very usefull and help the US's interests in promoting it's interests (mostly benevalent). Of course after getting replaced by Sudan on the Human Rights Commission, I understand how the conservative 'black helicopter' crowd in the US would be even more distrustful of anything involving the UN or had worldwide governmental connotations.



Smedley:

1) Modernity is problematic in itself?? You may have had good motives for saying that, but to ME it sounds like the special "left- brand" ethnocentrism (re: racism), where modernity is not to be given to other nations because technological advancement isn't necessarily a good thing. You might want to say it helps preserve culture: but to me it smacks of keeping wealth in the West.

2) Wealth typically IS a good measurement of how much you care. Half of Europe's sucking up to dictatorships may indeed be because they spend relatively less on the Third World, except of course where their "strategic resources" are an option. Even volunteer efforts need cash. And the only way for a world beyond wealth and power is institute communism... and I generally don't trust elites to tell me what's "right reasons" and "wrong reasons." I generally go for results. :)



"The reports I received were how the Brits rather matter of factly took credit for the victory in Europe. The Yanks arrived late, and contributed little. Apparently, a provincial attitude can cut both ways. I see little significance in such an attitude by anyone."

I think there is considerable significance but I, like you, realise that it isn't limited to a single country. In school, I learnt very little about the contributions of any of the Allies other than Britain and the USA. Almost nothing was said about the Soviet Union, for example, and they were absolutely crucial. I think it's significant because it goes against what I see as a key point - it was an *alliance*. There's no way any of the countries involved could have won by themselves.



Angilion: Magna Carta, which I have read in the original Latin, is a document guaranteeing the priviledges specific groups had enjoyed "in their grandfather's time" which was standard for being accepted as Common Law in the early 13thC. Those groups were primarily the nobles and the chartered towns. The jury of one's peers was specifically a priviledge that peers, ie Lord's of the realm, could only be tried by a jury composed entirely of fellow Lords. Commoners could face juries including Lords even if their case involved acts against a lord. The vast majority of the populace was not guaranteed anything in the Charter. Notice the list of complaints against the Crown; they are complaints that the King and his agents had already broken the laws and agreements of the past and demanding the King no longer do so.



" You say you are disappointed that I point out things said in The Guardian, The Observer, Fisk, Pinter, and a host of other leading British critics,"

I said nothing of the kind, and made that very clear.



"Regarding the Magna Carta, I agree completely that it was a breakthough in the revolt against the authority of the King. My admittedly limited understanding of it, however, reminds me that it took absolute power form the kings, and distributed it to DUKES, EARLS AND OTHER NOBLES."

That is a common but somewhat mistaken understanding of it. The rights laid out in the Magna Carta applied to all people who were free, not just nobles. It was largely about given more power to the nobility rather than just the monarch, but it contained a lot that was not about the nobility. The right to a fair trial in a reasonable length of time, for example. Right of passage for foreigners in England. All sorts of things.

"Our Founding Fathers apparently felt that it's lack of limitations on Government, particularly a Bill of Rights, did not go nearly far enough."

England had a Bill of Rights before the USA was formed. 1689, to be precise. I agree that the Founding Fathers of the USA apparently felt that English law did not go nearly far enough in this area. I don't think it went nearly far enough myself. Secondly, part of the problem was that the relevant British law in this area was *not* being implemented fully in Britain, let alone the American colonies. Thirdly, as I have said before, there is a great deal of difference between principles added long after a country has been formed and principles put in at the foundation of a country, as the USA did with principles such as a fair trial, etc.

"I maintain that the US Constitution properly remains the fist national document to put the power of government in the hands of the People."

Not all of the people, only some of them. Bear in mind that slavery was quite commonplace in the USA then, for example.

I think that the Constitution of the USA (including the Bill of Rights, which was added a little later) was a brilliant attempt at using some outstandingly noble principles as the bedrock of a country and that they were remarkably close to getting it right first time. They just needed to expand the scope more - they had the basics right. I have a copy on my PC and I have read it several times. It's a beautiful thing, IMO.

"In re-reading this esay, I cannot find any reference to any passages that suggest "we did it all.""

I was replying to all the posts I had seen so far, about the USA saving everywhere from the Nazis, etc. The closest you came was your references to the 1991 Gulf War.

[regarding U-571, the film about the key capture of an Enigma device by Royal Navy men and the cracking of the code by British experts, which was turned into the USA doing it instead]

"Commandment: if this was such a great story and vital piece of history, why did Great Britian not make the movie herself?"

Commandment? Did you intend to use a different word?

I don't know why the British film industry didn't make a film about the capture of U-571, though I suspect it's because they couldn't afford to do so. It wouldn't have mattered, anyway. It could not have competed with the USA version.

"Could it have something to do with the very depressing reports we read that 80% of British school children are ASHAMED of their own history?"

Could be...if those reports reflect the truth in any way.



On a tangent: Angilion, face it. The U.S. Constitution is superior to any written set of governmental principles in the history of the world. As for Magna Carta, as I write, Commander Cressida Dick of the London Metropolitan Police is heading the "Diversity Division" and prosecuting "free" British citizens for thought crimes.(I'm not making this up.)Where in Magna Carta or the British Common Law does authority reside? Thank God and the authors of the Constitution, we Americans know that authority rests with the governed who have rights, which come from God, and cannot be abridged by any human force or government. I have always loved the early flag of my American ancestors, the one with the coiled snake and the words "Don't tread on me."



Take a look through the posts here...you'll see things as extreme as a claim that Britain caused WW2 (from set). The tone is often that of the USA bailing out a bunch of, as Bill Whittle put it, "Old-Chap diplomats" and the problems they had created, the USA as the policeman arriving at the crime scene those barbaric Europeans had made for themselves, to sort it out for them.

Very little about Hitler and Nazism, or why the USA actually went to war (it was attacked by one of the Axis powers).

I'm glad that the President Roosevelt didn't have that contempt for Britain and the rest of Europe and that he had considerably more foresight in how he defended the USA. Here's a quote from him:

"In the present world situation of course there is absolutely no doubt in the mind of a very overwhelming number of Americans that the best immediate defense of the United States is the success of Great Britain in defending itself; and that, therefore, quite aside from our historic and current interest in the survival of democracy in the world as a whole, it is equally important, from a selfish point of view of American defense, that we should do everything to help the British Empire to defend itself. . . ."

Yes, the USA could have chosen to end up fighting the Axis powers after they had conquered all of Europe, Africa and Asia, when they came for America. USA vs Everywhere Else would not have been a good idea for the USA, IMNSHO.



Beth Reasoner...

If you think I have ever claimed that the Magna Carta is better than, or even on a par with, the USA Constitution (with the USA Bill of Rights), please point out where.

You're fighting a strawman.



Great Job, Mr. Whittle.

Anglilion, There is a tradition among European intellectuals to bad mouth Americans. It gives them something to do while they are waiting for their government checks. They conspire to pile one lie atop another to discomfort us, but it bothers Americans not at all. Why should we care about what effete snobs around the world think of us?

We do not fight the Al-Qeada for the world's benefit, but our own. The world will be safer without the Islamists, but why should we care? We do not spread our values, our culture, our commerce, our democracy, our freedoms through out the world to benefit others, although others are benefited.

We are what we are-- what we always were. It took September 11th to remind us of our greatness. Generations of leftist academics had put blinders on us-- had mocked us to the point of being ashamed of being Americans.

The blinders are off now. No one will be able to put them on again. Mr. Whittle demolished a favorite lie of the European intellectual's-- that America is an empire. I hope he will trash your other lies shortly. Your cohorts will, no doubt, reply with endless sophistries that we American's will ignore. You will put false words in our mouths, but the attempts will fail. You will call us arrogant; say that we think we are better than you.

And you are right; we do think we are better. Not because of any physical trait; we are, after all, the refuse of Europe. The people who would not bend their knee to their betters, and don't do so now. We have surpassed you not because of language, culture or tradition; we share those with you. We have surpassed you because we are still locking forward, rather than back.



"Secondly, as for the Magna Carta, get the #*@#(sorry, he made me mad) off your anglo-centric high horse."

If you were able to read what I had actually written, you would have seen that I cited the Magna Carta as *an* example of various principles. By your own argument, you should get the fuck off your USA-centric high horse every time you make *any* mention of the Constitution of the USA. Of course, it's highly unlikely that you apply your own arguments to yourself.

"No one is claiming that America created the concepts of freedom and equality."

Yes, they are. They are routinely described as American concepts.



Thank you, Louis Wheeler, for such an eloquent mixture of arrogance and hypocrisy. Excuse me for not bending my knees to those you declare my betters: everyone in the USA. Oh, that makes me an American by your definition. How strange.

You are looking backwards - your attitude would not be out of place in the British Empire, or any other such society.



Bleah...retyping this is not fun when you type a lot (hit the back button).

Anyway...more comments above are coming in about why Americans think better of themselves. I don't imagine any nation would think otherwise of itself...why should Americans be any different? Patriotism is a defining characteristic of nationhood.

The lack of self-analysis is the problem.

Honestly...does anyone here ever stop to consider the opposing viewpoints in play here? I can understand exactly where people are coming from when they state for the record that their beliefs in their country's greatness is due to "x" or "y". I can draw a line between all the components of those beliefs, but more importantly, can an ardent patriot honestly ever understand another's viewpoint?

The challenge is this, and it's only a intellectual challange:

Would you argue an opposite viewpoint in a debate on US foreign policy using ALL available facts and lose on facts alone? It's only fair if you really want to pursue a conclusion based on informed analysis that you argue against yourself and find yoru own weaknesses so that you better understand the true problems.

I have dealt with many American friends who wondered aloud any they are poorly received overseas (in general..people by nature generalize less when confronted by a true person). I have a couple of chilean friends from high school whose parents fled the Pinochet regime in the mid 1970's. Their father is a PhD in pediatrics at MacMaster University in Hamilton ON. They are unequivocally angry at the US for supporting and backing the coup there. They could be construed as anti-US but they don't hate americans. Chile lost a lot of innocent people at the hands of US-trained commandos. The type of torture used was specific to that taught in Fort Benning GA at the School of the Americas. My father went through basic training there in 1963 and knows the kind of training that could be had there (prepping for Vietnam).

So in the minds many chileans who barely survived the purges of 1973, the US is a nation which supported the coup against Allende by providing money and tactical training. How is this functionally different than say Al Qaida, which provides/d money and tactical training to terrorists?

Am I as a Canadian any less responsible than the perpetrators if my government aids a regime that ends up "accidentally" replacing an elected government and happens to kill thousands in the process? Should I be surprised if the opinion of Canadians is diminished amongst those in the nation affected? Do I then call them a liar because my national media didn't tell me the same story?

JB



Trevelyan

1)On Modernity:
Modernity's a difficult word, it's not just about technology and all that bag but also a set of relationships to that technology, to culture, to society - and it's not the only one, nor necessarily the best one. Critiquing modernity has nothing to do with levels of technology or prosperity in first, second or third-world socieities, it's about questioning a certain way of going about things which proclaims itself to be 'modern'.

"2) Wealth typically IS a good measurement of how much you care."

I didn't say it wasn't, only saying that someone denying they're obsessed with wealth and power and 'proving it' by going on and on about how benevolent they are in their use of wealth and power is STILL obsessed with wealth and power.

"And the only way for a world beyond wealth and power is institute communism..."

Not necessarily! You can't reduce it to a US style capitalism vs. communism binary opposition. There's always a variety of choices. Quite a few organisations that would probably sound 'lefty' to you (workers cooperatives in Pais Vasco and in Catalunya; squatter organisations that occupy unused buildings in the North of England) are basically founded on small-businessmen's ideology. Even the Luddites who wanted to smash industrial technology were basically just small businessmen, farmers and so on...'the little guy' who, as we keep saying, should not have to sacrifice his freedom for the sake of the state.



Here are replies to Angillion, after this I will no longer acknowledge him/her due to his/her blatant lies, and Jason B, which is how I think you should post if you want to criticize and not make an arse of yourself.

Angillion, go home if you're going to lie. I did not say that and you know it. What I said was that Nazi Germany was no threat to the US at the time and we didn't have to start the war there, but we did. Japan was a more imminent threat to us and could actually have attacked the contiguous states, if it desired.

Also, you are Anglo-centric, because your posts give off the air, and a stink air it is, that England was the sole or main contributor to the Constitution, when it was not. It was important and our Constitution could not have come about without the Magna Carta or English law. Now, as for the Magna Carta, I'm not sure. I can only take Thomas Paine's word on the mess that the English governemnt was in at the time and the fact that it didn't really protect anything, since it didn't have teeth. Words are nice, but do they do anything?

Germany would not have kept going all over, Hitler only wanted Europe, really. That's my interpretation. The US could have taken on Germany even if they had taken all of Europe and Britain, but it would have been a lot longer and much more difficult and resulted in many lives lost on both sides. Anyway, if you want to give an award, for the greatest contribution to Hitler's defeat, you'd have to give it to Hitler.

As for the US-centric comment, I would be on a high horse, if I said that the US Constitution caused good in other people's governments around the world, or even one. But I don't. I say it works for America, that's all I say. While, you seem to lay claim to the Magna Carta as all that is good in the US Constitution. Also, show me where someone said that Freedom and Equality are American concepts? I always thought they were natural.

And JB, I am constantly trying to think of opposing viewpoints, it's really hard when you *think*, notice I did not say know, you know the right answer. I think it's just part of human nature that it's easier to notice other's flaws than your own.

I am very dissapointed in many decisions of the US, but I also think the US has a chance to rectify those mistakes. I admit, we are slow at realizing things, Britain outlawed slavery before us and it seemed as if blacks were better treated over in Europe at the time for a long time, but we eventually come to the right answer.

I think some people do have legitimate gripes against America. Quite a few in Central and South America.

I also, think the comparison America and Al Qaida isn't fair. But, you do present an interesting argument.

As for not knowing much about the world, I think it's a mixed blessing. It should mean that Americans wouldn't want to do anything to the world beyond just economically interacting with it, but in practice it seems as if an elite has risen up to govern our foreign policy. But, then on the flip side, I'm reminded of a song, whose advice everyone should follow, "Mind your own business" because "if you mind your own business, you won't be minding mine."



To Angilion and Smedley and Yeah the drooling village idiot:

1. The fact that most Americans think our society is superior to any other in the world is not a distinctly American trait. Virtually everyone believes that their own culture is superior to that of others. This is basic Anthropology 101.

2. The fact that Europeans believe their culture to be superior does not bother me. What DOES annoy me is that it often seems that Euros EXPECT Americans to believe in their inherent superiority, and act offended when we do not cater to their fantasies. The same people who are so quick to speak of American "arrogance" are themselves guilty of arrogance beyond belief.

3. By what yardstick are Euros "better" than Americans? Not by economics, that is certain. Perhaps it is intellectual, after all, consider the great concepts of Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and Nazism that all came out of Europe in the 20th century. What golden jewels these were for the world. Perhaps America and the rest of the unwashed globe should bow down and kiss Europe's feet for these wonderful gifts from the land of the Wise. Ah ... I forgot, according to some Euros their superiority rests in intangibles, nuances of culture which cannot be expressed in mere words, something which the cynical might interpret as "denial" at best and otherwise as hopeless pig shit. I'm sorry, but if you can't describe it in words I tend to doubt that it exists. Then again I'm just a "simple" American.

4. Americans (other than some of the political class at the far ends of the spectrum) do not believe in Utopia. We want to be left alone to pursue our own interests, not just as a country, but as individuals. When politicians try to "lead" us to the Promised Land we tend to vote them out. If any lesson can be gleaned from the history of the 20th century it is that the road to Utopia leads to and ends at the gates of Hell. Despite the lessons of history, European politics seems to center upon which version of Utopia the electorate wishes to gravitate to. To most Americans this is an alien concept.

5. If any European country had the economic and military predominance that the U.S. currently has, how would they exercise that power? If France was in that position do you really think the world situation would be better? How about
if it was Germany? Name your EU country. Do you really think this would bring about some Golden Age?

Once upon a time America was a backwater, or at least it was perceived as such, and many of the "upper classes" and academia fawned upon European ideas out of some strange inferiority complex. To some extent it still continues today in academia in which the proponents of marxism still hold sway.

But the times are changing. It is no longer America that is the backwater, it is Europe. Europe is sinking into irrelevance. The EU seeks to escape this fall by embracing the economic model of central planning that history has shown to be the path to disaster. I fear that the EU will be nothing more than a "kinder and gentler" form of the USSR, destined to die in an economic implosion. Americans no lomger look up to Europe, we look down, and for good reason.



Smedly, I don't think your usage of Luddites is apt, because they were more of a violent movement. And I don't think having them force the state to put restrictions on the businessmen, for the Luddites sake would be moral.

Also, all of those people can operate within a Capitalist framework, they'd have little hope in a Communist framework, for one the Luddites would have been sent to the Gulags for all their violence.



Gray1, then Set...

1. The fact that most Americans think our society is superior to any other in the world is not a distinctly American trait. Virtually everyone believes that their own culture is superior to that of others. This is basic Anthropology 101.

No. One basic insight of anthropology is most societies think that their way of going about things is 'the' way of going about things, the natural way...and everything else is weird.

2. The fact that Europeans believe their culture to be superior does not bother me. What DOES annoy me is that it often seems that Euros EXPECT Americans to believe in their inherent superiority, and act offended when we do not cater to their fantasies. The same people who are so quick to speak of American "arrogance" are themselves guilty of arrogance beyond belief.

Who says European culture's superior? Europe is as in as much trouble as anywhere, everywhere else is, with its own problems to be sorted out, and so on. Why can't you find anyone here saying the same thing about the US (which IS in as much trouble, with as much problems, as everyone else)???

3. By what yardstick are Euros "better" than Americans?

By no yardstick!!!

All this attack on 'superior' Euros...do you have an inferiority complex?

(Remember I'm a snotty European and couldn't resist putting that in)

4. Americans (other than some of the political class at the far ends of the spectrum) do not believe in Utopia. We want to be left alone to pursue our own interests, not just as a country, but as individuals.

How can you be 'left alone'? There's a world full of other people, the things the individual does have consequences...This ideology at the macro scale (my country right or wrong) is the thing that sets off the alarm bells for we upturned-nose Europeans.

Besides, if you wanted to, you could trace the intellectual history of the concept 'individual', as an anthropologist might, and find it to be just as much a construct as any other society's worldview...So 'just' being left to be individuals it itself a highly charged political, ideological viewpoint (even if it doesn't admit it).


5. If any European country had the economic and military predominance that the U.S. currently has, how would they exercise that power? If France was in that position do you really think the world situation would be better? How about
if it was Germany? Name your EU country. Do you really think this would bring about some Golden Age?

No, it would be just as bad!

>To some extent it still continues today in academia in which the proponents of marxism still hold sway.

I don't think that's fair...Academics are all about critical thinking, being critical. The best tool for criticising the current US status quo is a kind of radical left wing approach...in another situation the tools for criticising the status quo would belong to another ideology!

Posted by: gray1 on December 30, 2002 01:19 AM

Smedly, I don't think your usage of Luddites is apt, because they were more of a violent movement. And I don't think having them force the state to put restrictions on the businessmen, for the Luddites sake would be moral.

>Just depends on your morality, and whether it has qualms about regulating business. We do have anti-monopolies commissions and organisations to look into big business for much the same reason than Ludd and company were worried about their small interests. Yeah, the violence was a problem, but there's actually quite a lot more to luddism. And maybe the violence came about because the state wouldn't listen (something that we all fear, the indifferent tyrannical state?).

>Also, all of those people can operate within a Capitalist framework, they'd have little hope in a Communist framework, for one the Luddites would have been sent to the Gulags for all their violence.

Well depends surely on how the framework was implemented! As I was saying over on the Australian firearms page, communism doesn't equal 24/7 Stalinism necessarily.



"Am I as a Canadian any less responsible than the perpetrators if my government aids a regime that ends up "accidentally" replacing an elected government and happens to kill thousands in the process? Should I be surprised if the opinion of Canadians is diminished amongst those in the nation affected? Do I then call them a liar because my national media didn't tell me the same story?"

Most sensible thing written here today. You can replace 'Canadian' with any word, nationality, social group, you like, still good stuff.



Sorry, Angillion for calling you a liar, I didn't realize until now what you meant by "Take a look through the posts here...you'll see things as extreme as a claim that Britain caused WW2." I replied in the heat of the moment.

I think I wrote very poorly earlier. I was thinking along the lines of Churchill. The UK is guilty of the sin of inaction. They may not have invited Nazi aggression, but they did nothing for their allies to stop it. They didn't start the mess, Germany did, but they did make it worse.



"Am I as a Canadian any less responsible than the perpetrators if my government aids a regime that ends up "accidentally" replacing an elected government and happens to kill thousands in the process?"

It depends on the circumstances. Like everything in life, it's too difficult to say, unless you know the details for the particular circumstances. But, at least you should make sure the perpetrator's are held responsible and pause for some reflection.




My point exactly. The US (or whatever nationality) 'perpetrators', right or wrong, should be held to account for their actions - they are responsible individuals, right? - and we should pause for some reflection on what they're doing.



"Am I as a Canadian any less responsible than the perpetrators if my government aids a regime that ends up "accidentally" replacing an elected government and happens to kill thousands in the process?"

Yes, you are indeed less responsible, generally speaking. You (as in, "you, the citizens of Canada as a whole") may be responsible to some degree, granted. But you do not bear full responsibility for their crimes unless your government had foreknowledge that that was what they had planned and/or aided them specifically for the purposes of implementing whatever abuses or crimes they committed. Again, you may bear some responsibility, especially if you had some reason to believe that they might indeed do that, but that's not the same thing as being a fully knowledgeable and willing accomplice, let alone the actual perpetrator.

Roughly speaking, this is the difference between lending someone a knife to cut a piece of rope, only to find out later that they used it to cut someone else's throat; lending them a knife to cut a piece of rope even though you suspect (but don't know) that they may cut said person's throat; and lending them the knife knowing damned good and well that that's *exactly* what they plan to do with it. It's a difference of degree, and your knowledge and motivations are also a factor.

As a (very) rough example, many Muslims contribute to charities. This is an integral part of their faith, and a fine and noble thing. And I would imagine that the charities they are most likely to contribute to (as a religious duty) are the ones that help their fellow Muslims specifically. Which is also fine; "clean up your own backyard first", as my Dad always said.

But some of those are "charities" that contribute, or did contribute, money (or aid of whatever sort) to groups like Al Qaida, but without necessarily stating that that was what they were going to do with it. They may have a stated mission that is completely altruistic in nature, like, say, feeding starving children, or whatever. But instead they use some or all of that money to help Al Qaida. Does that mean that a Muslim (or anyone else for that matter) who gave to one of these pseudo-charities would therefore be responsible for any terrorist attacks later carried out by Al Qaida?

No, not really. Not in any meaningful sense of the word, anyway. UNLESS they suspected or knew that Al Qaida was actually the ultimate recipient of their money and had at least some idea of what Al Qaida actually planned to do with it.

Again, just an example... and due to the fact that I'm mind-bogglingly tired at the moment, possibly not even a very clear one. But the point I'm aiming to make is that nations, and their people, are only fully responsible for actions that they themselves either aid and abet (knowledgeably or negligently), or actually commit. To say otherwise would be rather like saying that the U.S. government, and by extension U.S. citizens, were responsible for the assassination of JFK, because Oswald was trained by the Marine Corps. But this is not so, if for no other reason the fact that there was no possible way such a result could be foreseen.

Hmm... that last bit is probably stretching things to the snapping point, but hopefully it makes at least *some* sense. But that's my opinion on the subject, anyway. But if I've managed to miss some huge logical hole in the argument somewhere, for God's sake feel free to point it out to me. It wouldn't be the first time I didn't see the forest for the trees. :)

James Salmon




"But the point I'm aiming to make is that nations, and their people, are only fully responsible for actions that they themselves either aid and abet (knowledgeably or negligently), or actually commit"

We're on the same wavelength here. By this token, US citizens should reflect on things like School of the Americas, the Cold War US funding of unpalatable regimes purely because they weren't Communist, and the 80s adventures in Central/Latin America.



Reply to Smedley: If the individual (and _you_ are an individual) is only a social construct, then any degree of totalitarianism seems permissible, and Pol Pot didn't do anything seriously wrong.

Reply to Gray1: If non-political, non-military, non-economic culture is intangible and non-existent, then what are all those strange objects in the Louvre?



Angilion made an excellent point that the Magna Carta did in fact recognize rights of women, e.g., to property. It's long been observed that women have long had a relatively high position in the West, esp. in Northern Europe among the Celts, the Vikings, the ancient Anglo-Saxons, and this going back long before Christianity, as have most of our other Western traditions and values, e.g., trial by jury or the West's passion for exploration.




Back to Steven Malcolm Anderson --

Why does accepting that social units (individuals, groups, organisations, relations) are social constructs, i.e. born of the social system legitimate totalitarianism? It just means you have to come up with a better (more rigorous, more substantial) argument against it than referring back to the rights of the social concept of the 'individual'. (Notice I'm not actually talking about I-me-Smedley writing this, although there's plenty of work done on how subjectivity is constructed thru' language,I'm thinking especially of "individual" as an ideological term in political documents like the Constitution).

"Reply to Gray1: If non-political, non-military, non-economic culture is intangible and non-existent, then what are all those strange objects in the Louvre?"

About this...you can quite easily find a political-cum-ideological-cum-economic interpretation for all cultural products...they're products of a given cultural moment, its ideologies, its politics and so on. The fact that we house them in the Louvre and say they're apolitical could (just could) be a way of distracting ourself from the uncomfortable fact they might have some politics in them...



I hope that my old friend Angilion ("...our Anglo friend who seems to have a burr up his saddle..." as somebody here called him) keeps posting here. He and I have had some sharp disagreements recently over some other things, but his defense of England complements Mr. Whittle's defense of America and is a needed corrective to the errors of some of those posting here. America is a daughter of England, inseparably a part of the culture of Europe, of the West, and I'm glad of it.

To Angilion and all others: _On bended knees_ I thank England, the British Isles, for having given us their ancient common law and Magna Carta, foundations of our freedom, for having raised up so superlative a statesman as Winston Churchill (truly "their finest hour"), and for having bequeathed to the West such an incredibly rich literature and poetry, from Chaucer to Chesterton, from Spenser to Shakespeare to Shelley to Shaw (if you will forgive the alliterations). God (and Goddess) save the Queen! Long live the Monarchy!

I hate Stalin, but _on bended knees_ I thank the millions of brave Russians who gave their lives to stop Hitler. _On bended knees_ I thank all those Englishmen, Frenchmen, Poles, Danes, and all others who resisted the Nazis. And, once again, _on bended knees_ I thank the soldiers of my own country who fought the Nazis, incl. my own father. _All_ of these brave warriors were heroes and _all_ of them deserve our undying gratitude.

_On bended knees_ I thank the French for creating, over the centuries, the most beautiful language in the world, for their exquisite cuisine, for Rheims Cathedral and Notre Dame, for Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc), for so many things. France, with England, has long been the center of our Western culture. They were that at the time of our own War for Independence, and they aided us in that War.

_On bended knees_ I thank the Germans for their unsurpassable music (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.), for their profound Romanticist philosophy (Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Nietzsche, Spengler, etc.), and for their contributions to the theory of color. Germany's political history since 1870 leaves much to be desired, but culturally they plumbed the depths and soared to the heights.

_On bended knees_ I thank Italy, the Scandinavian countries, Poland, and every other great European nation for creating this rich tapestry of culture of which I am priviledged to partake.

_On bended knees_ I thank the Founding Fathers of these United States of America for creating a political system in which I am free to enjoy the blessings of my Western culture without hindrance, and _on bended knees_ I thank our greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Harry S Truman, for defending and preserving that system in the crucible of titanic wars in which our very existence as a free people were at stake.



Back to Steven Malcolm Anderson (this is brief because my last post didn't go up for some random technical type reason)

Reply to Smedley: If the individual (and _you_ are an individual) is only a social construct, then any degree of totalitarianism seems permissible, and Pol Pot didn't do anything seriously wrong.

Just because social units (individuals, groups, families, whatever) might only be meaningful in terms of the system they're built within doesn't justify totalitarianism! It just means you have to find a stronger, more reasoned way of arguing against it.

Reply to Gray1: If non-political, non-military, non-economic culture is intangible and non-existent, then what are all those strange objects in the Louvre?

I think it's quite easy to find artistic production always has some ideological value - all those objects were products of a point in time, its politics and so on. It's only the fact we put them in the Louvre and say that's apolitical art that stops us from thinking the uncomfortable thought that even that art is heavily laden with politics.



I'd better make myself perfectly clear (as President Nixon used to say) regarding my last post here: The Western culture of which I speak has nothing to do with "race" (which _is_ largely a "social construct") or skin color. I could be as black as velvet and yet I would still consider myself a European, spiritually.



I must add to all that that _on bended knee_ I give thanks to the ancient Northern European tribes, Vikings, Celts, Angles, Saxons, Goths, my own distant ancestors, who were the original creators of the Western soul and _style_ before the nations formed, and also to the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans of the Mediterranean world who gave completion and form to the spirit of the Northern Europeans. And, above all, to the Gods and the Goddesses who my ancestors worshipped.



It looks like Smedley here is expressing very articulately and cogently the same basic philosophy that our old friend "Yeah" expressed so inarticulately. Interesting opponents here. Perhaps I'll say more later.



And then one day Italy and America combined to give us Camille Paglia. _On bended knee_ I thank her for her profound wisdom about our culture and its psycho-sexual-esthetic roots.



Oops...double post.

Je suis desole.



Our enemies, both within and without, would love nothing better than to see America and the rest of Europe divided against each other. Right now, their hostility is directed primarily against America and her military might. But what they seek to destroy is the culture that that might protects, and which is the spiritual sustenance of America. Notice that the favorite bete noir of the Politically Correct is the "Dead White _European_ Male".



In short, without America there is no Europe. Without Europe there is no America.




I have no problem with the idea a nation has enemies, that it has to deal with this...I just wonder about the way a nation goes about dealing with it, and about whether it bothers to really think about what it's doing, and even what this thing "culture" is that it's trying to defend.

I don't mean you find the answer before you start defending it (obviously stupid); I just mean you can't afford to put the questioning side of you on 'pause' while going to war. That includes questioning notions of 'culture' and 'spiritual sustenance'.



Anglilion, Do you understand the English language? It is neither hypocrisy nor arrogance to tell unpleasant truths.

We Americans do not want to rule you Europeans, nor will we be ruled. That is why The Kyoto Treaty will never be ratified, and the International Criminal Court will have no jurisdiction here. America will not march to your drummer.

We will remake the world-- just as the British did in the Nineteenth Century, but we will take no tribute for it. We will set the world aright and walk way knowing that you people will muck it up again. No empire would do that.

Next time, put some thought into your response.



"In short, without America there is no Europe. Without Europe there is no America."

Well, they'd still be there, but they'd be very different.



"We Americans do not want to rule you Europeans, nor will we be ruled. That is why The Kyoto Treaty will never be ratified, and the International Criminal Court will have no jurisdiction here. America will not march to your drummer.We will remake the world-- "

Or..."We believe in no higher power than the USA and will not accept a power above us or on the same level as us"...?



Concerning Set: Unlike you, I don't accuse someone of anything unless I have proof. There's no need to acknowledge me - this is for other people.

I said you said that Britain caused WW2. You call me a liar for doing so. Here is the proof for my statement...on the subject of the USA coming to Britain's aid in WW2, you wrote:

"As for WWII, it's like this: A friend should be very thankful when another friend helps them out of a mess they made"

You also said this:

"Also, you are Anglo-centric, because your posts give off the air, and a stink air it is, that England was the sole or main contributor to the Constitution, when it was not."

Quite apart from your silly insults and your poor English, that statement is wholly untrue. I have said, from the start and over and over again, that the Magna Carta is *an* example of certain principles that were built into the Constitution of the USA. The only area where there it could be argued to be the main contributor is the USA Bill of Rights, and I wouldn't make that argument myself. 2 or 3 sections of the USA Bill of Rights, yes. All of it, no. I've no doubt that the people who write the USA Constitution were inspired partly by the Magna Carta, the Tolerance Act (of England) and the English Bill of Rights, but only partly.

As for your comments on Hitler's ambitions:

"Germany would not have kept going all over, Hitler only wanted Europe, really. That's my interpretation."

So...what was the fighting in Africa about?

You remind me of Chamberlain and the other appeasers. They genuinely believed that Hitler only wanted some land, land Germany might have had a claim to anyway. Then a bit more, just a bit more. I don't see any reason to believe that Hitler would have been satisfied with Europe, or Europe and Africa. I think the USA would have been a target, and quickly. In numerous important ways, the USA was the direct opposite of the Third Reich. Hitler couldn't have let it stand. If nothing else, he would have nuked it to slag. I doubt if anyone thinks he would have had any moral qualms about doing so.



gray1:

"The fact that Europeans believe their culture to be superior does not bother me. What DOES annoy me is that it often seems that Euros EXPECT Americans to believe in their inherent superiority, and act offended when we do not cater to their fantasies."

I think you're projecting your own prejudices onto the people your charmingly deride as "Euros".

In fact, I'm sure of it. It's you who EXPECT everyone else to believe in the innate superiority of Americans (you ignore the millions of people in South America, of course) and act offended when they do not cater to your fantasies.

Here's a spanner in your works - I don't believe that my culture is superior to that of the USA, no matter how much you and some other citizens of the USA act to convince me that my culture is superior to yours. You are not the culture of the USA, thankfully. I don't think a country the size of the USA could be said to have a single culture, anyway.

So you're just projecting that idea, too.



"Am I as a Canadian any less responsible than the perpetrators if my government aids a regime that ends up "accidentally" replacing an elected government and happens to kill thousands in the process?"

Yes, you are less responsible than the perpetrators. You are not the regime. You are not the government of your country, so you didn't aid the regime. Where is the reason for you to be responsible for the actions of other people?




Yes, you are less responsible than the perpetrators. You are not the regime. You are not the government of your country, so you didn't aid the regime. Where is the reason for you to be responsible for the actions of other people?


I think the point is the government acts in your place on what you might, with tongue in cheek, call the "world stage". If you accept the ruling party of your country and it goes around doing criminal stuff, there's an argument (which I'm not necessarily going to endorse) for you to have some responsibility for that. How much is between you and your conscience.

Not seeing this argument is why people like a friend from the States I met in Spain get confused when they're attacked for being citizens of a country that would permit stuff like School of the Americas. They don't see that people make the (possibly unfair) link between 'America (United States of)' and "American citizens"



"Sorry, Angillion for calling you a liar, I didn't realize until now what you meant [..]"

Apology accepted. I have replied before seeing your apology, so the tone of my reply is very harsh. Perhaps we should simply forget those posts, as they stemmed from a misunderstanding?

"I think I wrote very poorly earlier. I was thinking along the lines of Churchill. The UK is guilty of the sin of inaction. They may not have invited Nazi aggression, but they did nothing for their allies to stop it. They didn't start the mess, Germany did, but they did make it worse."

I see your line of argument, though I'm I don't it's the same line of argument that Churchill followed. I don't recall Churchill saying that Britain made WW2 worse or that Britain did nothing for its allies. In fact, Britain did a great deal for its allies(*) against Nazi aggression - it went to war when its first ally (Poland) was invaded by Nazi Germany. Your line of argument also puts the USA in a very bad light, as being even more guilty of the sin of inaction, as they waited a lot longer before going to war, and did so only when the Axis powers attacked the USA itself, rather than when the Axis powers attacked an ally of the USA. By your argument, the USA made WW2 much worse. So, on both counts, I disagree with your line of argument.

* And also, like the USA, for itself. If you don't aid your allies against an enemy, you may well end up with no-one to aid you when the enemy comes for you.



"Anglilion, Do you understand the English language? It is neither hypocrisy nor arrogance to tell unpleasant truths."

Loius Wheeler, your hypocrisy is in sneering at Europeans while condemning them for sneering at the USA (including those who don't, especially me). You also expect everyone to regard everyone in the USA as their betters, while condemning that very attitude in others and holding the decision not to do so the essence of the USA.

Your arrogance permeates everything you say, but here are a couple of examples:

"we do think we are better [...] We have surpassed you [...]"

"We will set the world aright and walk way knowing that you people will muck it up again."

Feel free to get back to me when you need another lesson in English.



"The Western culture of which I speak has nothing to do with "race" (which _is_ largely a "social construct") or skin color. I could be as black as velvet and yet I would still consider myself a European, spiritually."

I recall a debate I had concerning the nationality of someone whose skin was black. Actually black, not a relatively dark shade of brown. He was born in England. He spoke English as his native language (he even had a strong and specifically English accent). He had lived in England all his life. The key point was a single question - "Where is your home, the place where your heart is?". It was in Birmingham, England. So I concluded my piece with "This man is an Englishman". Because he was.

Sadly, he would now be classed not as English but as African English.



" I think the point is the government acts in your place on what you might, with tongue in cheek, call the "world stage". If you accept the ruling party of your country and it goes around doing criminal stuff, there's an argument (which I'm not necessarily going to endorse) for you to have some responsibility for that."

I see the line of argument, but I oppose it. My argument is that a person is responsible only for what they have control over or agree to accept responsibility for by accepting a position of authority. For example, if I was the Prime Minister of Great Britain, I would be personally responsible for all actions of the government here, even I knew nothing about them, let alone initiated them, because of the authority I had accepted.

I voted against the current government. I do not support them. Even if I had voted for them, I would not be responsible for their actions because I have no control over them.



Once again a wonderful essay worthy of being read in every school in this nation. I do not care what else you do with your life good sir, but if you love freedom and our nations as you seem so obviously to do, please keep writing and publishing. You have a gift our nation needs.



A little clarification that might clear up something about the Magna Carta:

The first draft talked only about the nobility. A later draft, which was actually signed into law, made the crucial difference of extending the scope to free commoners.



Angillion, yeah I should really cut down on news and politics it's really only adding stress to my life.

I recall it was the Czech that the British let down. My memory is hazy, but I recall, from Chruchill's The Gathering Storm, that the Czech received an assurance from England for help. I also recall that the Czech had equipment equal to the Germans, they just didn't have the numbers. Anyway, if the French and British wouldn't have ignored Nazi aggression in the mid-'30s they could have saved everyone a lot of trouble. Also, I remember Churchill's criticism of the governments of the time was pretty harsh (I think rightfully so).

I also think that the allies, US included, handled the end of WWI very poorly. Britain and the US giving Germany too much in loans, neglecting to put force behind the armistice. On our side I largely blame Wilson, one president I really don't like. I'm don't know too much about the European leadership, so I can't comment on them.

"* And also, like the USA, for itself. If you don't aid your allies against an enemy, you may well end up with no-one to aid you when the enemy comes for you"

Yes, I think that's one lesson we should take from WWII.

As for the US being in a bad light, yeah, but the US, at the time, was sick of constant European wars, and have been sick of them since Jefferson. I don't think all of the US people were entirely clear on all of Hitler's intentions. I'm just going on what I remember hearing what he said in Mein Kampf. I should probably check it out and confirm. Also, I think the US at the time had a policy of neutrality much like Switzerland.

Also, I had another idea. Europe shouldn't have to be thankful for America for helping them defeat Nazi Germany, it was in our best interest. But, we did supply Europe with massive sums of money to rebuild and helped keep Communist Russia out.



Angilion, I don't sneer at Europeans; I don't think much about them at all. Since 9/11, The Europeans have seemed irrelevant. There is an old engineering rule in America, "Lead, follow or GET OUT OF THE WAY." Most Americans, according to the polls, want Europe to get out of the way.

We don't mean this in a prideful or haughty way-- just as a simple statement of fact. Europe's best days are behind her. It is economically, culturally and militarily in decline. Its population is dropping. In 2040, America will have 410 million citizens (fifty million more than Europe) and have double the GNP. Europe is like a disreputable uncle to us-- old, tired, poor and cranky, but that doesn't mean we have no affection. We just don't take you people seriously.

When I disagree with your statements and say so; this does not make me a hypocrite. There is no pretense here; you don't know what you are talking about. You can dispute my evidence or reasoning, That's fair. But, to call people names when you don't know the meaning of the words is ignorant.



Isn't it strange though that as cultures become more "Americanized" there seems to be a directly proportional increase in crime and other socially undesirable effects?

Not that I'm a liberal mind you; I truly appreciate all your work and generally agree with your views; merely an invitation to debate. :)



On the ride home, I thought of another point I'd like to make. You rely heavily on historical data as evidence and fact in your essay. Having served many years in the military and now with other agencies within the US government I've come to realize that history, as documented, is NOT always fact. Have you considered the means that we've employed to arrive at the position we now enjoy?

To borrow a tactic from you - let's look into what "classified information" is, in particular the definition of TOP SECRET information: "That information that if disclosed could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States."

To paraphrase - "That information that if disclosed could reasonably be expected to cause extreme embarrassment to the United States due to socially unacceptable, immoral, and sometimes inhuman tactics employed to achieve a desired political, economic, or military end-state."

Again I feel the need to inform both you and your readers that I AM NOT left-wing. I firmly believe in the “American way of life” and recognize that there are sometimes undesirable means that we must use to secure those rights that we all enjoy. I further believe that there many aspects of our “tactics” that should remain undisclosed for both security in the sense of strategic advantage and that of shielding the “masses” from the horrors of reality in today’s world.

I hold that a truly reasonable person considers ALL the facts before arriving at a conclusion. To manipulate data to prove a predetermined position is a job better left to attorneys.

Thanks for the intellectual stimulation –

Orion


To borrow a tactic from you - let's look into what "classified information" is, in particular the definition of TOP SECRET information: "That information that if disclosed could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States."

To paraphrase - "That information that if disclosed could reasonably be expected to cause extreme embarrassment to the United States due to socially unacceptable, immoral, and sometimes inhuman tactics employed to achieve a desired political, economic, or military end-state."



Angilion is absolutely right about Hitler, FDR, and Churchill. If we had continued to bury our heads in the sand, as the isolationists (many or most of them pro-Nazi Fifth Columnists) were urging us to do, then Hitler and his Japanese allies would have ended up all the resources of Europe, Asia, and Africa at their disposal, with vast populations of slaves and cannon fodder. It would have been but a short step from there to the destruction of our racially-mixed, "Jew-ridden" USA, which Hitler hated.
It is very important to remember this, because if you read Pat Buchanan and other neo-Nazi revisionists and Holocaust deniers, you would get the idea that we hadn't needed to fight at all, that Hitler was a reasonable chap we could negotiate with, and that the War was forced on him by a Zionist conspiracy. As Hitler himself said in his "Mein Kampf", if you tell a lie big enough and often enough, enough people will come to believe it.



Europe without America, America without Europe. Angilion replied that they'd still be there, but they'd be very different. True, and I wouldn't want to live in either.
I'm getting tired of this sneering at "Euros". America is part of Europe.



Therefore, _I_ am part of Europe.



On:

"With regard to Christianity and Judaism, the Qur'an explicitly forbids forced conversion. Religions in India and Africa did not enjoy the same scriptural protection, and there were sometimes proselytizing rulers there, but more often the practice was to respect local freedom of religion so long as the conquered people submitted to political suzerainty."

I was being brief, and less explicit than I should have been. I was mostly thinking of the Mogols in India in terms of forced conversions. That said, I don't believe the folks in Albania felt that they had much choice.

On the other hand Many of the folks in N. Africa embraced Islam as more monotheistic than Orthodox Christianity (trinity).

I am confident the that most people in what is now Turkey were not to happy to be invaded (being the center of the empire and quite well off), and the excursions to Vienna weren't great for most of the people in the way (but I fully grant that many of the nobles there were pretty miserable rulers).

My point was (in attemmpt to get remotely back to the topic) that it is often depicted that the Nasty European crusaders, and then later the imperialists have beaten up the innocent Islamic states, and the great expansion of the Islamic empire (which fully intened to conquer Europe) is ignored. It was an enlightened empire of its time, but it was still as conquest minded as any European state has been.



How do people feel about Turkey being considered for EU membership? I for one have no problem with it but I know it riles an awful lots of people, and despite all the talk of Ottomans and so on we haven't really touched on that...



The comment...

"We Americans do not want to rule you Europeans, nor will we be ruled. That is why The Kyoto Treaty will never be ratified, and the International Criminal Court will have no jurisdiction here. America will not march to your drummer."

And the muddle-headed response...

"Or..."We believe in no higher power than the USA and will not accept a power above us or on the same level as us"...?"

We do not want to rule you and we will not allow you to rule us. How much clearer can one be? No presumed superiority--or implied inferiority, merely a desire to live an let live.

But you speak of a higher power--will you demand that your nation submit itself to the dictates of a higher--or commeasurate power? Will you demand that your nation renounce its' sovereignty? its' responsibilities to it's citizens--in favor of a multinational governing body that does not abide by its own resolutions?

I didn't think so.



I actually have no problem with my nation existing beneath or alongside other powers...strangely enough I believe in cooperation. And cooperation is necessary because this planet is too small for "mere live and let live"...actions on the national and international level (eg actions with effect on environment, international war crimes) have too many repercussions, cause too many consequences to others. I've said, here, and on Rachel Lucas' gun thread, I love my nation but not 'my nation right or wrong'. I'd ditch the concept of nation in a minute if a better way of life was available.

One thing Europe has which seems to occur less when people talk of US nationalism is the occurrence of "nested nationalities"...eg Catalunya is coming to define itself as one nation nested within a larger one, Spain. (In fact the history of Spain, composed as it is of many nationalisms, is highly troubled...but at least they admit it's problematic and they're trying to deal with the fact). Nations aren't mutually exclusive entities: they can overlap, messily, in complicated ways.

Here and on the Lucas thread I've tried just to raise a few questions, about gun control, about 'US imperialism'. I've got one of my old school textbooks by me here from the DDR...in pink are a few "socialist countries" and in blue, as "Capitalist Superpowers" or "Lesser Capitalist States", is pretty much the rest of the world bar Africa. When we were young in the DDR we were made to feel surrounded by an 'Evil Empire', but we learned to question it (the wall came down when I was just into my teens) and now we are free of a bad time, a time of manipulative ideological indoctrination. But over on the side of the "West" there remains an unwillingness to self-questioning, to self-examination, to wondering how ideology permeates its ways of life.

The whole metaphor that this site runs off..."Liberalism is off course, it's time to eject"...could be read, slightly perversely I admit, against itself. Liberalism was one stage in an ongoing attempt to question things and be more just. Now when the questioning gets hard, because we have to question even things which seem 'self-evident' like the Constitution which has done us so much good, people are ejecting rather than complete the mission.

You've got to be brave enough even to question your most dearly held principles, your most highly cherished and inalienable rights, all the things that seem natural and right to you. The circular arguments on Lucas' board have shown how disturbingly incapable quite normal sensible people are of justifying even something as straightforward as the 2nd Amendment, or the idea of Constitutional Rights.

Don't get me wrong, the DDR-Zeit (pre fall of the "Iron Curtain")was bad, we're grateful things are better...but

1) Don't make the same mistake that school textbook did and paint all the socialist republics as if they were the same Stalinist 'Evil Empire'. There were differences in the regimes...Slovaks had increased freedom of national expression even in the wake of Prague 68; in the DDR we were able to discuss alternative, even Western political models (tho' I freely admit discussion was hardly open and easy); Titoism, for its faults, was yet another brand of Communism that was relatively 'soft'. Each country's socialism was different, even if you were taught to see it as one big monolith from Berlin to Peking.

Even at our worst times, in Central-East Europe we still drank drinks, went for walks, talked, wanted to be happy, breathed the air, played sports, took the p*ss out of each other. Life could be bad, some horrific things happened in our nation's name, but daily life wasn't non-stop hell. (Even the US itself has things like Vietnam, or Sacco and Vanzetti on its conscience).

2) Things are better under Western systems, but they're still not perfect. It's still worth questioning things, and when you haven't got answers that substantiate your positions, that's not an excuse to say "p*ss off back to Cuba where you belong!" or whatever. It's not about trying to get rid of the good we have in the west (I now work as a clinical linguist in London, I appreciate what I have), it's about raising the bar, raising the game so what's good can get better. Don't be afraid!

Sorry this was so long. I've been accused of a few things on this thread and the lucas one (even trolling)...I just wanted to do something other than watch my accusers trip over their own feet. No offence intended.

Smedley.



In response to my earlier post Angillion writes:
---------------------------------------------
I think you're projecting your own prejudices onto the people your charmingly deride as "Euros".

In fact, I'm sure of it. It's you who EXPECT everyone else to believe in the innate superiority of Americans (you ignore the millions of people in South America, of course) and act offended when they do not cater to your fantasies.

Here's a spanner in your works - I don't believe that my culture is superior to that of the USA, no matter how much you and some other citizens of the USA act to convince me that my culture is superior to yours. You are not the culture of the USA, thankfully. I don't think a country the size of the USA could be said to have a single culture, anyway.

So you're just projecting that idea, too.
---------------------------------------------
Do you read the newspapers from your own country? How about the editorials in them? The letters from the readers? I suppose the common references to "Bush the cowboy" and "Bush the moron" and the shrill cries of "unilateralism" are are all meant in good fun. And then of course there is the implicit message that any group of people capable of electing a "moron" must themselves be, uh-- deficient. You may not personally consider yourself to be inherently superior to the vile and barbaric Americans, but apparently many of your countrymen do, and they are quite vocal about it. And lets not even get into what the French think.

Then of course there is ever the attitude of "moral" superiority that abounds, as is shown by the reactions to the US refusal to sign the Kyoto and ICC treaties. The fact that the Kyoto treaty would basically cripple the US economy apparently is inconsequential to the Wise Europeans. If you believe that you have the right to give orders to others and are angry when they refuse to comply, what what you call such a relationship? Equality with dispensation due to disparities in wisdom? What euphemism would you use to describe this?

As to the ICC, the very concept of it as it now structured is totally contrary to the precepts of the American legal system. The "crimes" it would prosecute consist of vague terms such as "aggression" which are totally undefined and the protections given to defendants fail to meet the minimum standards required by the US Constitution. Yet we are primitive and backward people who refuse to do what our "betters" insist is the right and moral thing to do.

As to the use of the term "Euro," this was not meant as any sort of insult. What is the correct term for referring to a citizen(?) of the European Union? I certainly wouldn't refer to them merely as Europeans, as this would be duplicating my earlier sin of referring to citizens of the USA as Americans, and everyone knows that the EU does not encompass all of Europe. And by the way, just what term do you use to refer to citizens of the USA? USAers? Certainly not the ugly and demeaning term "yank."
Certainly not.

As regarding the existence of American culture, there are certain attitudes that are shared amongst the majority of the population, believe it or not. I can go anywhere in my country which is geographically bigger than all of the EU, speak my native language to the inhibitants, and have little or no chance of inadvertantly committing some act that is culturally taboo. America is not Europe. Americans are not Europeans, despite the fact of ancestry.

And no, I do not consider Americans (a little side point here, people from Mexico and most of South America refer to USA citizens as "Americanos"--go and figure) as being superior to anyone else, but neither are we inferior to anyone else. I prefer my country to yours, just as you probably prefer yours to any other. This is just human nature, and there is nothing inherently bad about this.

I hope this clarifies what I posted earier.



Oh, and some of the islands they had visited had asked to remain under the American flag as territories and protectorates, free to leave whenever they choose.

Which islands would those be, other than those transferred from German to American custody after WWI?



Smedley, I'm glad to have you here. You are intelligent and civil, the opposite of a "troll", the opposite of Mr. "yeah" (what a clown he/she was, ha! ha!). Your skepticism reminds me of that of David Hume, the 18th century Scottish philosopher. Which was strikingly parallel to that of the Buddha in India thousands of years before.



I reiterate that _I_ am a European, despite the fact of being a native (though not Native) to America and having lived here all my life. I have never yet actually set foot in Europe. If I ever do, I hope that I will so conduct myself as to bring honor to my country and not shame. I am a European because I revere the high culture of Europe, of the West, to which I belong, all the things I mentioned in earlier posts, e.g., Shakespeare, Beethoven, Chartres, Nietzsche, etc..
Our Founding Fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Adams, were English aristocrats steeped in the richness of Western and Classical culture. They believed in what Jefferson called "a natural aristocracy" among men. And Jefferson also recognized that "human nature is the same on both sides of the Atlantic." They had no illusions of creating a New Eden, a New Adam. They were not followers of Rousseau or of Babeuf. They knew that human nature needs culture to be human and not merely animal.
America is Freedom. But Freedom, if it is not to be merely empty and aimless, must be not only freedom _from_ but also freedom _of_, _to_, and _for_. Freedom means freedom to choose and pursue one's values, one's "happiness" if you will. And what I value is the rich stock of culture, which is, for us, the culture of the West.
I do not want to live in an America cut off from Europe, cut off from that rich stock of culture that is my rightful heritage. I do not want to live in America where the creed is that of cultural egalitarianism ("any one thing is as good as any other thing"), of pretentious "unpretentiousness" ("look at my hot rod, baby", "what's happenin', dude?"), of ostentatious vulgarity, where cheap "fast food" is the only cuisine, the only art is TV sitcoms, where culture is whatever the greatest number (esp. the greatest number of teenagers and children) happen to like, whatever appeals to the lowest common denominator.
That is _not_ Freedom (not for me, anyway!), that is not _my_ America, and that is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created this country. What they wanted was freedom for the "common man" to become _uncommon_, to become noble, to rise above the herd, to strive for something better.



"We just don't take you people seriously."

Is just one of the many examples of you sneering at Europeans. It, like your nationalistic arrogance,
permeates all your posts.

You are not a hypocrit for disagreeing with me. You're a hypocrit for doing what you complain about other people doing.



Let me make a clarification.

When I say America will remake the world I don't mean we will do it how empires are built: militarily. No hobnailed booted American, no equivalent of the Roman legions, will tread upon the vanquished. America will not stand like a colossus on a helpless mass of subject people; exacting tribute from the sweat of slaves and near slaves. That is the European way, not the American way.

Will we have influence? Yes. Will the world emulate us? Yes. Why? Because, we have the best that the world has to offer. We are a nation of immigrants; a collector of ideas, cultures, methods and people. The best people in the world have always come to us; those who would have been ground down if they had stayed in their countries of origin; those trapped by tradition, custom and class. We offered these "new Americans" no easy path; no sinecures. We offered them the opportunity to struggle with us, to compete. An opportunity so they could earn their own money, position and power.

Oh Yes, we often failed to be fair. Power was used to deny people their rights. America often failed to live up to its promises. It was seduced by Socialism-- the idea that one could live off another's labors. It was broken with strife, bound by petty regulations, stifled by an unfree press, indoctrinated by leftists in government run schools. And we taxed exorbitantly our greatest benefactors-- those who's enterprise created our wealth. Yet, hobbled at every joint by rules and regulations, limbs bound by foreign ideologies and creeds, we remained free. This freedom produced wealth that was the envy of the world.

The world has had three responses: to want to take that wealth away, to dissuade us from creating wealth or to copy our methods to make wealth of their own. The last method is how we make the world into our image. Oh! There will be regional differences just as Boston is different from Houston or LA. What we will share is a common culture; a common way of commerce, of regulating ourselves, of satisfying human needs.

People of wealth and power are always emulated; questions are asked of how they got there. People around the globe will copy us in the strangest ways. In Asia, they are copying our holidays and improving them. They have two St Valentine's days in Japan, one for Girls-- another for boys. Christmas is a season of good cheer, Thanksgiving a time for gratitude. Why are they adopting these celebrations, to please us? No. To please their rulers? No. Their governments are not pleased. They adopt these celebrations because they had no Holidays of their own. They adopted them for the reason they took to wearing sneakers and blue jeans-- because they are fun.

We adopt the best of the world, change and mold it into our culture and return it to the world. They adopt our values and make it theirs and return it to us. Constant change, innovation and reappraisal are the watchwords. The world becomes ever closer, ever richer, ever freer.

Come on, Europe, join in!



"As for the US being in a bad light, yeah, but the US, at the time, was sick of constant European wars, and have been sick of them since Jefferson. I don't think all of the US people were entirely clear on all of Hitler's intentions."

I'd just like to reiterate that it was not my argument that painted the USA in a bad light, it was Set's argument (that Britain made WW2 worse by not going to war against the Nazis earlier).

If you read Chamberlain's speeches, etc, you'll find precisely the same attitude in them as you show, above. WWI only ended in 1918, and every living adult remembered it, especially in nightmares. It was not like previous wars. As for being clear on Hitler's intentions, it's not the case that all the British people were clear about them, either. Most people in Britain knew very little about them - how could they? Until 1939, Hitler's forces were not using blitzkreig and his politicians were adept at pretending to seek a diplomatic solution. The western part of Czechoslovakia, for example, had always been disputed and most of the people there were basically German. Initially, Hitler and his stated intentions could appear reasonable to people who didn't know what was going on inside Germany.



Angilion, Please get a dictionary. Neither arrogance nor hypocrisy has the definition you think it has. And neither applies to me.

I am neither proud nor haughty. The facts are evident that America is supreme in the world militarily, economically and culturally. New York, not Paris, the center of the arts now. Artists always suck up to their patrons, and the patrons are in America. Sorry, just the facts.

Nor am I insincere. I make no pretense at virtue; I am what I am; I believe what I believe. And I say so. Do I disagree that America is an Empire? Yes. Do I believe that a cabal of European authoritarian intellectuals conspire to defame America? Yes. By any means necessary-- fair or foul-- logical or illogical? Yes. Need I copy their specious arguments? No. I prefer to say the truth, and reveal the lies-- just as Mr Whittle did on empire.



BWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

WE INTERRUPT THIS FLAME WAR FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!

Please see the new post at the top of the home page.

There are "Linker" blogs and there are "thinker" blogs. The Linkers are cleaning our clocks. If this continues, they will get all the hot chicks and the Thinkers will die out. Then Michael Moore will reign supreme, astride the globe like a ravaging Goliath, and we nothing but slaves working in his underground Jelly Donut mines.

Read the top post, get out there and vote, and don't come back until we've struck a blow for all that is good and decent in this world.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO "SECRETS OF THE MAGNA CARTA" ON EJECT-TV.

PS Have a happy New Year. Now all of you go outside and get some air and some sunlight before we all take this too seriously and say something we'll regret later.



Happy New Year, Mr. Whittle, Angilion, and everyone else reading this blog!



"But the point I'm aiming to make is that nations, and their people, are only fully responsible for actions that they themselves either aid and abet (knowledgeably or negligently), or actually commit"

"We're on the same wavelength here. By this token, US citizens should reflect on things like School of the Americas, the Cold War US funding of unpalatable regimes purely because they weren't Communist, and the 80s adventures in Central/Latin America."

Smedley,

Well, we're on a similar wavelength here, possibly, but I don't think we're on exactly the same one. To be sure, however, allow me to clarify my argument a bit, please.

The point that I was attempting to make is that nations (and their citizens) are not automatically responsible for the crimes of another nation (and its citizens) simply because they gave aid to that nation. Nations are only responsible for such if they gave that aid with a reasonable suspicion that that aid would likely be used to further those (or at the very least, similar) crimes, or knew damned good and well that it would be.

A good case in point is, in fact, the U.S. Army School of the Americas that you mentioned. The typical argument against the SOA (and against its successor, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) goes something like this one, taken from the homepage of School of the Americas Watch website (www.soaw.org):

"The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America."

Now, all of this is true, so far as it goes... which is not very far, really. It implies, for instance, that the only things the SOA trained its students in were "combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics", which is not even remotely the case. The SOA also trained people in things like helicopter maintenance and land-mine removal, among many other things. What it did *not* do, as near as I can tell, is actually train and advise people to commit human rights violations as a general matter of policy. Or if they did, they must have been monumentally incompetent at it, considering these statements (as two examples) taken from a manual reprinted by the SOA Watch, and dealing with how to handle the seperation of covert intelligence employees:

"There are many disadvantages in the use of threats of physical violence or true physical abuse." (Handeling (sic) of Sources, Chapter 10, section 2 subsection b.)

"DO NOT make threats of physical violence or use violence or physical abuse." (ibid, Chapter 10, Summary, subsection k.)

(found on this page: http://www.soaw.org/new/article.php?id=56)

Now, I'm not trying to say that the School never did anything the slightest bit shady, or never failed to properly train its students that atrocities are not an acceptable way to do business. I am saying, however, that the SOA trained a great many people, during a period of over five decades, in a great many things, but the stereotypical view of it being a "School of Assassins" is at the very least a gross exaggeration. In my opinion, at least. People who went there may have become assassins later, yes. Whether they were trained there to *be* assassins is another matter entirely.

Which leads us to the second part of the SOA Watch's argument; namely, that graduates of the SOA have committed human rights violations. This is true. But the implication that because the offenders graduated from the SOA, they violated human rights, is at the very least shaky.

Out of the over 60,000 graduates of the School of the Americas since 1946, roughly one percent of them have been implicated in or convicted of human rights violations. Now, if the students of the School of the Americas were being routinely and systematically inculcated with the attitude that human rights are something to be ignored whenever it's convenient, which seems to be the prevailing belief, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that that percentage would be much higher? But instead, it would appear that the opposite is true, considering the fact that 99% of the graduates have *not* been implicated in or convicted of human rights violations.

But in any case, the mere fact that someone who graduated from the School of the Americas and later committed an atrocity is not prima facie evidence that they did so *because* they were a graduate of the SOA, or even that the training they received was a material aid to their doing so. In other words, the fact that the SOA trained someone who later became a criminal is not proof that it trained and/or advised them *to* become a criminal.

And by any stretch of the imagination, the link between some, at least, of the graduates of the SOA who did later commit crimes is tenuous at best. For instance, let's take this example from the SOA Watch's website:

"COL Leopoldo Hipolito Hincapié Segrera, 1971, Automotive Maintenance Officer Course
Disappearance, 1988: Implicated in the detention and disappearance of René Herreño Ortega. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)
Torture, 1979: Participated in the detention and torture of Olga López Jaramillo. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)"

(found at this link: http://www.soaw.org/new/article.php?id=235)

So, in other words, because this man learned how to be an officer in charge of *fixing cars* at the SOA, the U.S. is somehow responsible because *eight years later* he helped to detain and torture someone? By what logic is that the case?

Yes, the crimes he was involved in were horrible. I simply fail to see what our training him to be an auto mechanic had to do with it.

In other words, yes, the U.S. provided that man's government with aid by training him as an Automotive Maintenance Officer. No, it is not responsible for his crimes, because the one had nothing to do with the other. Does that make sense?

Hmm... I've got to stop writing while tired, I'm never sure when I'm being clear enough. Let's try this from another angle. You say U.S. citizens should reflect on the School of the Americas, for example. Fair enough, this particular American citizen just did. In fact, in the interests of fairness, I consulted the website of an organization *opposed* to the School of the Americas to find most of my arguments, and I like to think that I've at least cast a reasonable doubt on the idea that the U.S. is responsible, in whole or in part, for all the crimes committed by graduates of the School.

Now, you can call into question the quality of my arguments if you like. But now that I have, in fact, reflected on the School of the Americas, can you see why I might not automatically believe the U.S. necessarily deserves to be castigated for it, or at the very least not to the extent that it is? And by extension, why I might believe that other claims against the U.S. are just possibly a wee bit unfairly slanted against us?

To put it bluntly, no, America is not always the world's sweetheart. We do occasionally do things that at best are shady, to say the least. But it's not exactly a stretch to say that we also take a lot of flak sometimes for things that have only thin links with us. But the burden of proof seems to be put on we Americans, the accused, to prove our innocence, more often than it's put on the accusers, whoever they may be, to prove our guilt.

So I ask you, in all seriousness... are we the only ones who need to reflect?

James Salmon




"With great power comes great responsibility"

Well, Bill Whittle does claim to like Spiderman...



All of us "Yuropeons", "Amerikans", "Yanks" (or "Damn Yankees", as Southerners called us Northerners during and after our Civil War), "Limeys", "Frogs", "Krauts", "Dagos", "Polacks", etc. -- i.e., all of us of the West -- had better learn to hang together or else, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately (as Benjamin Franklin put it so well). Happy New Year!



And, once again, I hope my friend Angilion keeps posting here. The latest comments that I have seen in reply to him only seem to corroborate his point, and he can frame his answers better than I can. Happy New Year to Angi, Bill Whittle, and everybody else reading this blog (and Rachel's, too).



Dead (and Living, and Yet Unborn) White (and Black and Everything In Between) European (_including!_ American) Males (and Females) -- unite! You have nothing to lose but the chains of Political Correctness! You have a civilization to save! Happy New Year!



>I don't know why the British film industry didn't make a film about the capture of U-571, though I suspect it's because they couldn't afford to do so.

I think this sentence shows a lot about your background in the subject.

It was standard practice for the German navy to skip numbers when designating U-Boats. There never was a U-571 serving in the German Navy during World War II, or if there was, it somehow escaped the incredibly detailed, virtually torpedo-by-torpedo record of the Battle of the Atlantic in "Hitler's U-Boat War."

You are criticizing an American film for showing Americans taking over a fictional submarine on the grounds that it was actually the British who took over this same, entirely fictional, submarine.



RE: comments earlier about the ICC (International Criminal Court) and US enthusiasm for it's jurisdiction:

--------
from [http://www.wfa.org/issues/wicc/wicc.html]

With strong administration support, House Republicans promoted a bill that would allow U.S. armed forces to invade the Hague, Netherlands, where the court will be located, to rescue U.S. soldiers if they are ever prosecuted for war crimes. The bill, sponsored by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, would bar U.S. military aid to countries that ratify the treaty. The bill also would prevent the U.S. from participating in peacekeeping missions that might put American soldiers under the court's jurisdiction. DeLay's bill even would prohibit the U.S. from sharing intelligence with the court regarding suspects being investigated or prosecuted. [http://www.wfa.org/issues/wicc/wicc.html]

The Bush administration's active campaign against the court places the U.S. alongside only one other country, Libya.

--------

Very interested to know everyone's take on this. Why are they picking in Libya??



I fought in the Cold War. I helped win it. Now I read lines of self-doubt and hear sometimes people say
that weak line: The Soviet Union was not so bad and such tripe.
I came across some info on the Ken Hamblin (a talk show host who happens to be black)
I quoted this from one of his essays.
By Ken Hamblin


For some time, I have voiced my concerns that the free enterprise system is being subverted by a liberal socialist bent with
designs on breaking the economic spirit of the American Dream.

Because of that, frequently I have been accused of endeavoring to deny my blackness and trying to aspire to the
dispassionate principles of the white man.

Because I am a product of the underclass, I have been left pretty much on my own to decipher the intended axioms of the
American Dream.

In that process, I came to ponder why success, which seems central to the American way, has been ostracized and scorned
of late.

Recently, a fax from a fan of my radio show bolstered my suspicion of a master class plan designed and supported by a
socialist contingency in America to hinder the economic growth of free men.

The fax contained a transcript of a 1944 warning from then Rep. Samuel Pettengill concerning a socialist manifesto that
congressmen feared would destroy our government if left unchallenged, making us dependent on a centralized government.
Pettengill liste d 10 points of the socialist manifesto:

1. People must be made to feel their utter helplessness and their inability to solve their own problems. While in this state of
mind, there is held up before them a benign and all-wise leader to whom they must look to the cure for all their ills.

2. The principle of local self-government must be wiped out, so that this leader orgroup in control can have all the political
power readily at hand.

3. Constitutional guarantees must be swept aside. This is accomplished in part by ridiculing them as outmoded and an
obstruction to progress.

4. Public faith in the legal profession and respect for the courts must be undermined. The law-making body must be
intimidated and from time to time rebuked, to prevent the development of public confidence in it.

5. Economically, the people must be ground down by high taxes, which under one pretext or another they are called upon to
pay. Thus they are brought to a common level, and all income above a meager living is taken from them. In this manor,
economic independence is kept to a minimum.

6. A great public debt must be built so citizens can never escape its burden, making the government the virtual receiver for
the entire nation.

7. A general distrust of private business and industry must be kept alive so the public may not begin to rely on its own
resources.

8. Government bureaus are set up to control practically every phase of citizens' lives.

9. The education of the youths of the nation is taken under control so that all may be indoctrinated at an early age with a
spirit of submission to the system.

10. To supplement and fortify all the foregoing, there is kept up a steady stream of government propaganda designed to extol
all who bow the knee and to vilify those who dare raise a voice of dissent.

Sound familiar?

Oppressive taxation, liberals proclaiming the Constitution obsolete where the Second and, in some cases, the First
amendments are concerned. Subversion of public educ8-tion. The great debate about whether government is best suited to
determine how we shou ld live. The growing distrust of private business and industry, concluding with a feeling of utter
helplessness without big brother government to guide us, and the breakdown in law and order due to a fostered mistrust in
our judicial system.

Freedom isn't free. If we are to maintain it, there will be no gold-bricking. We can't shirk our commitment to the true spirit of
an economically free American Dream.

Dub me an alarmist, but thanks to Americans like Sam Pettengill, I have come to believe more fervently than ever before that Americans who want to preserve our
great country must stand up against the monster of the ever-present socialist itinerary bent on bringing our nation low.



To stay free we must conserve the political independence and military might of the United States of America, our freedoms as outlined in our Bill of Rights (incl. most definitely the Second Amendment) which has its roots in England's Magna Carta and the ancient rights of freemen which that document expresses, and the values and high culture of the West which has its roots in Europe and of which America is integrally and inseparably a part.



To reiterate: Without the might of America, Europe will be defenseless against her enemies. Without the culture of Europe, America will be spiritually emptied and thus defenseless against her enemies. It is only the enemies (within and without) of the West, of freedom, who have anything to gain by turning Europe against America or America against Europe.



"It was standard practice for the German navy to skip numbers when designating U-Boats. There never was a U-571 serving in the German Navy during World War II, or if there was, it somehow escaped the incredibly detailed, virtually torpedo-by-torpedo record of the Battle of the Atlantic in "Hitler's U-Boat War.""

http://uboat.net/boats/
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-fornv/germany/gersh-u/u571.htm

But you are right to an extent - the submarine from which the first (and therefore most important) capture of an Enigma device was U-110.



Steven Malcolm Anderson wrote "To reiterate: Without the might of America, Europe will be defenseless against her enemies. Without the culture of Europe, America will be spiritually emptied and thus defenseless against her enemies. It is only the enemies (within and without) of the West, of freedom, who have anything to gain by turning Europe against America or America against Europe."

Steven Malcolm Anderson, you write a bunch of nonsense. Europe has chosen to be defenseless as a matter of principal, so it is acting as a freeloader on America on defense. If Europe vanished from the face of the globe American culture (and spirit) would not die. America is turning away from Europe because Europe has little to offer us but bickering and problems.

May I clear up something? I never has any problem with Angilion; I merely disagreed with the definitions he used for hypocrisy and arrogance.

From the beginning he had a chip on his shoulder; he saw a defense of America as an attack on Europe (England?) He read into Mr Whittle's article things that weren't there. He set up absurd arguments (hegemony in American culture, America believes it is a perfect society, America has no gratitude for its European heritage.) But, he refuse to accept that no one had believed that, thus, this was all his imagining. He used the "defeat in detail" technique by arguing forcefully about trivialities. Then he would imply things and when questioned would defy people to prove that he had said it concretely, and of course they couldn't. He was anti-American, but was not straight forward enough to be so honestly. Probably, he thought he would lose the argument.



God bless bickering and problems. God forbid that the never-erring, clear eyed Goliath of US reason get tangled up in all those irrational, difficult, perplexing things that it tramples underfoot!



Please enlighten me Wannabe D, what irrational, difficult, perplexing things has America created which compares to Europe's irrationalities: Imperialism, Socialism, Social Democracy, Communism, Fascism, Multiculturalism and Post-modern philosophy? Please be specific.




[hope this doesn't double post]

My point exactly.

Europe's troubled, difficult and often wrongheaded philosophies are way off beam; but they're up front about their perplexity. The US steamroller admits to no ambiguity or self doubt, introspection or real critique, and presents itself as a being of "reason".

(I'd also point out, that's YOUR America as opposed to every American's America. US philosophers like Rorty - 1 example - show as much awareness of the perplexities as anyone on the other side of the Atlantic.)

(And even "reason", as an Enlightenment invention, was hardly a US "invention").

Wannabe D



Outstanding! Kudos to Bill Whittle. Truly a Model arête, substantially a tout à fait and rapturous paean of common sense. It is a grand and recherché missive to augment the historical files on anyone's hard drive. A great read and synapse provoking au fait reminder of the BIG BLUE MARBLES debt to its historical and anaclitic reliance on the booboisie American praxis and Her largesse these past 150 years. The rest of them and those had well over six or five thousand recorded years to do what America did less than a few hundred. What did they accomplish with their innumerable chances? Look what they begat with their indefatigable recidivistic, smarmy and contumelious, palliative attitudes. Say what? Nothing less than numerous contretemps and horror due to a déclassé, inbred hamartia, bigotry, war, hate, more war and almost total destruction.

This ain't about Kulture and Art! Don't even go there. I shan't.

Then as I read further, Quotha, I noted the deleterious and inane prêt-à-porter pishogue being foisted by those Dadaistic sophist’s who revel in constant oppugnant, and anachronistic kvetching. I tried to understand their reasoning but was \, well, I do not really understand it. Aposiopesis accrues! One needs only to look at their record of accomplishment when of talking fey. We Americans just write it off and realize that Europe and the rest of the ancillary ethno centrists are always going to be a proctalgia fugax, personified as nothing they destroy seems to change their soi-disant, soigné and priggish view of U.S.

The [my] bottom line is… without the American influence, good, bad or indifferent the rest of the commuters on this little sphere would be screw’d blue’d and tatoo’d with the mark of the various beastie’s (666) that happen on the scene from time to time.

C'est triste, faire la guerre aux rochers.



Hi Wannabe D,
You have me confused. America is no monolith any more than Europe is, but it has political factions and ideas which are peculiar to us. The same political and ideological trends have passed through us both but have lead to different results. America is going its own way now and this is resented in Europe.

You write:
Europe's troubled, difficult and often wrongheaded philosophies are way off beam; but they're up front about their perplexity. The US steamroller admits to no ambiguity or self doubt, introspection or real critique, and presents itself as a being of "reason".

Is it that you resent America's power? Or its willingness to use it when its interests are threatened? I assure you that there is plenty doubt and critique here, but we come to different conclusions because we are 20 years ahead of you in turning away from Socialism. Also, you don't seem to have any "Jacksonians." They are why American foreign policy seems so odd to Europeans. Jacksonian's don't look for trouble, but when challenged they fight to win, especially against dishonorable enemies like the Islamists.

http://denbeste.nu/external/Mead01.html

(And even "reason", as an Enlightenment invention, was hardly a US "invention").

True, but we are still trying to hang on to the "age of reason." Nihilism and Socialism served no one for long; not even the authoritarians who used them to consolidate power.



You are welcome, Mo2Ca,

You are putting us on, aren't you? Hints of plainspokenness would peek through the esoteric verbage.

Is this a family trait? How could you get laid with that kind of patter? One generation and kaput!

Lou



Louis Wheeler, you are a patriotic American who would fight to defend your and my native soil. Of that I have no doubt, and you are far above this Wannabe who is a parasite and destroyer. But you write nonsense in reply to my nonsense. You write (and probably speak) English, which is a European language. You bear a European name, as I do.
What is this "American culture" of which you write here? Is it a Native American (i.e., "Indian") culture? For that I can have great respect, but I cannot claim it as _my_ culture. Do you mean popular "culture" (Disneyland, MacDonalds, TV, etc.)? That has its place, but a lower and lesser place, to what we know as "high" culture, that of Beethoven and Shakespeare, which is the traditional culture of the West, and which has its roots in Europe.
Do you mean the culture of our Founding Fathers? They were Europeans, and knew themselves to be Europeans. They were steeped in the high culture of the West, both of their own time and stretching back to the Greeks and Romans. They drew upon that wisdom in writing our Constitution. They were _not_ egalitarians and they would have despised the notion that popular culture is as good as high culture. They believed in what Jefferson called "a natural aristocracy" among men. They declared POLITICAL independence from the rest of Europe, but spiritually they were still Europeans, men of the West, and they knew it.
Yes, tragically, the continent of Europe AS IT IS TODAY is decrepit and debilitated, dying if not already dead, as was predicted nearly 100 years ago by Oswald Spengler in his "The Decline of the West". But Europe AS IT ONCE WAS was incomparably great, and THAT Europe is the root of America's greatness, of that fighting spirit of heroic individualism (Don't Tread On Me) that characterizes all that is great in America. And America still is great, long may she wave.



Hello Steven Malcolm Anderson,

America is not exclusively European. It is the beneficery of countless cultures. We got gunpowder from Asia, "Arabic numerals" from India, algebra from the Sufi Arabs. I never said that we owe no debt to Europe, but for the last hundred years the benefits has been mixed. Sometimes, there was more pain than pleasure.

Because America is still growing culturally, it is still developing new forms. When we look at Europe what do we see? The advancement of fifteen hundred years. America is merely two to three hundred years old. Much of its greatness is yet to come.

America's greatest gift to humanity was that it extended to the common man what had been previously been reserved to the aristocracy. This meant less uniqueness, and sometimes less quality. But, American's today live like the kings of yesteryear, except we can't chop off the heads of our enemies.

Many problems that America faces result from the economic and political fads from Europe. We have a German form of education, and clearly, it is not working. We have the hidebound and imperious bureaucracy copied from France. Should we value these? I agree that we should treasure the good we received from Europe. But, if their ideas don't work here, shouldn't we admit it and effect change?

The founding fathers were not egalitarians because they wanted "equality before the law." They wanted neither persons above the law nor "equality of result." They wanted "high culture" but believed that the common man should not pay for the "upper crust's" pleasures.

Steven, Europe is dying from its vices; its refusal to take responsibility or risks. But, reality is forcing it to confront its weaknesses. Its population is in sharp decline. In forty years, it will have 365 million people (fifty million than we will) and half the population will be over fifty. Its Social Democratic institutions will be unable to support its retiries or those on the dole. Its economy will collapse under the weight of government regulations. Europe will be force to change, forced to give up socialism and try freedom. In that, they will be following us. We are only twenty years ahead of them.

America's attention is being pulled away from Europe toward the Pacific Rim: Asia and to the South. It is where our greatest trading partners will be. Standards of living in the poorer Pacific Rim states have quadrupled in the last ten years. We will Americanize them, but we will adopt many of their practices. The "one worlder's" are right in one sense; a hundred years from now there will be many regional differences, but only one culture: Western culture.
Many people in Europe would view that with alarm.



Sorry, Steven, I got rushed, so I made a mistake. In 2040, the democraphics say that America will have 410 million citizens and Europe 365 million. Over forty percent of Americans will be hispanic, but this is not a problem. Hispanics became the largest minority last year, and will be 50 % of the population before 2050.

The reason this is not a problem is that the hispanics are melting into American culture. The first generation is emotionally tied to their countries of origin, but the children and grand children are true blue Americans. Most fifth generation children no longer speak Spanish. The rate of inter-marriage with whites is very high. As they climb up the economic ladder they will even stop voting Democratic. In the meantime, our hispanics act as good will ambassadors to latin and South America taking back our values. Both the US and these countries benefit from the exchange.



Dear Mr. Wheeler: You make good points. Europe, and therefore America, has assimilated into her culture many elements from Asia, Indian numerals, algebra, gunpowder, printing, and then fused them with our own style. The European Americans gained much from the Native Americans. I have long thought of our Western culture as consisting of several layers.
America, with its extra dynamism and the fact that (with exception of the Natives) we ourselves are immigrants or descendants of such, is able to assimilate immigrants from other cultures much more easily than Europe -- provided that these immigrants themselves are willing to assimilate at least the core values of The United States of America (which means _no terrorists!_).
You are right that our Founding Fathers intended us all to be equal under law -- and in no other sense. I also agree with you that the "common man", the hard-working taxpayers, should not be forced to subsidize the culture of elites or wannabe elites -- much less Communist propaganda under the guise of culture or information (_do you hear me, NPR?_).
You are absolutely right that Europe is dying from its refusal to take responsibility or risks. Which is so tragic because responsibility, risk, adventure have been the special leitmotif of Europe's culture and history, of the West, from the very beginning, and which we Americans inherited and expanded. The torch has passed to us now. We must hold it high.



I should have said this at the beginning, but we in the West have got to stop being ashamed of and apologizing for "empire", "imperialism", "colonialism". We must remember that the Politically Correct smear of "imperialism" was originated by Lenin.
There have been great empires throughout history, e.g., the Egyptian, Babylonian, Chinese, Persian, and Roman, and Aztec empires. And, of course, the empires of the great European nations. The decline of nations like France and Britain has gone hand in hand with their abandonment of their empires.
One of the biggest mistakes they ever made was to succumb to the Politically Correct guilt-complex about their "imperialism" and then to precipitously "de-colonize" Africa before the Africans had assimilated core Western values of freedom. The result was "one man, one vote, one time" and squalid kleptocratic and Communist dictatorships, e.g., Zimbabwe today, and reversion to tribal savagery, e.g., Rwanda.
The Politically Correct today smear every assertion of Western values, such as the primacy, centrality, and finality of the Individual, as "imperialism". We must stop grovelling and, in fact, wear their smears proudly as a badge of honor.



Neville Chamberlain was hailed as a peacemaker. Winston Churchill was attacked as an imperialist warmonger. Call me an Imperialist Warmonger.



According to the Politically Correct, if a woman in Africa or Arabia still has her clitoris, it means she is a victim of Western Imperialism, we are imposing our evil Western values on her culture by not letting them cut off her clitoris. I am a Politically Incorrect Western Imperialist Warmonger -- proudly. Up with the Clitoris! Up with Beauty!



Empires are not good things, Steven, they set up a single direction of control which often becomes exploitive. America broke from England because England turned from being a trading partner into a tyrant. The English crown had ignored the colonies so long as its merchants were happy and revenues were coming in. It ignored that Americans were beginning to rule themselves through their houses of burgesses and assemblies. It ignored this until the crown learned that Americans had a higher standard of living than England. The Crown decided that America existed for England's benefit. America disagreed.

The Leftist's accusation of American imperialism is off-base, since America doesn't use arms to force people into subjectivity. When you point out to Leftists that the Soviet Union did, they freak. Especially, when you say that the breakup of the Soviet Union follows the classic model of a dissolving empire. You can't even get some of them to admit that the Russian Empire was an empire. Crazy, huh?

America is not going the way of empire. Free trade wider than Nafta will exist in the Pacific Rim; South America will drop its European influences and adopt our ways. Meanwhile, the US will discard its Socialism. The nations of the Pacific Rim will have local differences, but much will be the same. Why? For the same reason, that defendants in foreign countries often ask for the first amendment rights they heard about on television only to learn that their country doesn't have them yet.

I am a proponent of what works. Socialism never delivered on its promises; hard work and freedom do. The world will not be perfect, but it will be better than now. There will still be crises, villains, liars and thieves. But, fewer villains will be in charge of governments.

Lou



"May I clear up something? I never has any problem with Angilion; I merely disagreed with the definitions he used for hypocrisy and arrogance."

And then he goes on to some silly flaming about a strawman he attaches my name to and pretends is me. That is far from merely disagreeing about some definitions.

Congratulations! You have earned a place on Usenet in the usual alt.flame.rant.babble ng that almost every Usenet ng could be renamed to.



Angilion, I merely disagreed with you that America is an empire, that America smacks of hegemony, that it thinks of itself as perfect and that America has no gratitude for its European heritage. I didn't make up those arguments; You said those things. You saw a defense of America as an attack on Europe, but Mr Whittle didn't do that.

When I disputed your views you accused me of hypocrisy and arrogance. I repeatedly asked you to check a dictionary, because you were using the words wrongly. I even gave you the definitions in my rebuttals. The methods I described you used were on others, not me.

I was not flaming you. I wanted a logical argument based on facts, but I never got one from you. All I got was accusations.




Two of the stupidest, in fact most treasonous, things we, or our government, ever did were these:
1) Jimmy Carter giving away the Panama Canal -- now it is the hands of the Chinese Communists!
2) In 1956, the same year in which we passively watched as Soviet Communist tanks rolled through Hungary to crush the Freedom Fighters (_not_ terrorists!), Eisenhower, or his State Department under John Foster Dulles, betrayed our noblest allies, Britain, France, and Israel, in order to join with the Soviets in handing over the Suez Canal to the Muslims.
_That_ is what I am ashamed of -- _not_ our Western "imperialism"!



I'll not dispute your illustrations, Steven, but America is not a monolith. Our Leftists saw no danger from the communists or the muslims. They thought that beasts could be appeased. Deals could be made to make people like us.

I'm not sure there is a danger long-term. Communist expansion has stopped. Both Russia and China are forced by the world market to move our way and decentralize its economy and governments. I think both states have a rocky road ahead; one doesn't shed seventy years of tyranny easily. China seems economically shaky.

Of course, America needs to shed its own welfare state, but the American voter is being cagy here. The trends are that the Democratic Party has been in decline since 1976. They stopped being the majority party in 1992. The Republican Party didn't become the majority party until 2002, and it doesn't know exactly how to act like one. It doesn't have the confidence it needs yet, and it probably won't until Bush wins a second term.

This administration's greatest achievement will not be the war with Iraq; that will be over quickly and won't even be very expensive; it will be the judicial appointments. Sixty percent of the Leftist agenda was installed by the courts. The Republicans won't try to roll back the civil rights movement since that has become accepted even among Republican, but every other Liberal establishment will come under attack. The right won't be able to accomplish as much as they would like, since the Left will be fighting a rear guard action. This is only right because the American voter needs time to be convinced that it is in their interest to give up government handouts.

I'm not too worried about China or Russia. America spends 80 percent of the world's military R&D. In Afghanistan, we saw amazing stuff that was five to ten years old. Weapons don't win wars; men do. But, the kind of fighting force that is being developed now has amazing kill ratios. If we wanted the canal back, we could have it in a day. China knows this, and even with the partial SDI scheduled to be installed next year, they aren't going to call our bluff. If it is a bluff.



If you guys want to read a very informative (albeit a little biased, although isn't everyone?) book related to this subject, you should check out "Rogue State" by William Blum. The book points out some very disturbing facts about this country. It may even change the way you read Bill's (finely written) essay.



God bless America!



That was very stimulating to read. Thanks for taking the time to write it :)



A very excellent piece. The irony is, I read this piece while listening to a Russian group.

You just got another reader Mr. Whittle



"We had achieved such a total and spectacular victory that our pilots – men called baby-killers, sadists, murderers and worse – refused to drop their weapons on legitimate military targets because the victory was so one-sided that they in their decency could no longer continue to do what they were ordered to do."

Perhaps you've heard of the Highway of Death. The USAF blew up vehicles at the front and end of the retreating Iraqi forces, before annihilating everyone in between. The Iraqis should have abandoned their armour and walked, but countless thousands of men burned to death on that road so please don't spread the notion that the Air Force are too humane to blow away an army that can't defend itself.

"And so what did these American Imperialists do with the spoils of such victory, with the precious, precious oilfields completely and totally ours? We sent our best people over there to put out the fires. And then we came home. Again."

Perhaps this is an obvious point, but America doesn't need to leave troops in place when a puppet government will do the job just as well. The number of governments in the Middle East that are financed by the US and despised by their people outnumbers those that aren't.

The same can also be said to an extent about World War II. It was not a fantastically good deed that America didn't take over the conquered nations, there was simply no need for it. It would be cheaper to rebuild the nations than to dedicate huge occupational armies for years on end.



Your magnificent essay will stand on its own, despite the sputtering attempts of critics such as Angilion to snipe at it! The American way to express your point of view is to start your own Web site instead of spending an inordinate amount of time and energy spinning your wheels against someone else's. One of the basic rules of salesmanship is: "If your product is any good, you don't ever have to knock the competition."

We have learned from bitter experience that those who start flame wars are in extreme danger of being burned themselves. Further attempts add nothing to the sum of human knowledge.

The day when millions of people patiently stand in line to emigrate to North Korea, Iraq, the Sudan, and other dictatorships is the day when I start believing that the United States doesn't have something special. And it's not just our divinely inspired Constitution, but the way we enforce it, that makes it worth more than the parchment it's written on. For instance, Stalin's 1936 constitution, if taken at face value, was one of the most democratic, enlightened documents ever written - but that did not restrain the Soviet government from sending millions of its own citizens to the gulags.



Wow, that's a well written piece of reading (contrarily to mine. sorry,
english is not my native language). And it is difficult to argue with it as it is
well constructed. It is just so very one-sided, and sometimes a little
stretched, so I'll try anyways. This text might be crude, I apologize for that,
I concentrated on the ideas instead of the form as I don't master the
language.

No american empire? not, indeed, within the definition of the dictionary
(though they are territories here and there rather far from the home land,
but we won't be picky for a few -strategically placed- islands). The US
policy is smarter than that. They do not want the land, and especially not
*the people* on it. They just want the resources. The military option of
occupation is expensive and shameful. There are more effective ways: US
private companies own the resources (eg banana republics in central America
and equator). And to help these companies and US interests, hand picked
local governments. And there is A LOT of activity in that field. Territorial
wars are the way of the past. The new way is just as fierce, it uses :

- lobbying (recent eg Microsoft and the obliging US ambassador in Peru,
DoD in Turkey),

- coups (so numerous it is hard to list them all. May be what happened on
9/11 of year 1973 is a symbolic example. A lot more deaths than 3000 when
dictator General Augusto Pinochet ousted newly elected leftist President
Salvador Allende in Chile, with Henry Kissinger overseeing the CIA's plot
to drive this coup. And a many more deaths to come in subsequent years as
the US promoted and supported Chilean government spread terror in the
country.)

- sabotage (eg Cuba, who was never given a chance.),

- guerilla (eg Contras in Nicaragua, or more ironically arming and training the
talibans against the USSR in Afghanistan)
- etc.

cultural hegemony? of course yes. When they are exported, US movies are
long paid for because of the domestic market's size. It is difficult to fight
against such a financial power. This is the reason for quotas for national
productions. French people will also watch home-made movies. And they'll like
them. Incredible, isn't it? These movies would have no room desides the
flood from Hollywood without help because the market is so much smaller. US
movies are not subsidized, but the financial environment is still very
different. Helping local production has nothing to do with cultural
superiority, just of culture difference. Can't you understand this, when you
couldn't be bothered with other cultures' productions? What would an american
think if all it watched all day on TV was movies featuring small cars in
narrow cobble streets driven by people with strange outfit and hairdo, who
don't shout at each other's face each time they disagree, who don't blow up
people's head (in slow motion please, that is such a nice sight) each time they take a breath, and
who never chew gum? odd, right? Would that be disturbing? a little
undoubtedly since there is so much reluctance against foreign movies. The US
industry even prefers to remake american productions of European successes (eg
"3 Men and a Cradle", copy of "3 Men and a Baby". Sorry, I have no recent
example as I am not really interested in movies. But that should be easy to
find if required.). This film was a straight copy of the original. But it
featured us actors, sets, and so on. And it exported much better than the
original, thanks to Hollywood's distribution channels. The point is the US
think it is quite OK for everyone to watch their stuff (it does sometimes
deserve interest), but they couldn't be bothered watching others' (which
does also sometimes deserve interest). As the blog's author mentionned, you
basically have to go to study film in college to watch these foreign
pieces. That's a comfortable position isn't it? Take our stuff and please keep yours. It is not adapted
to our culture. Right!

There are good productions from Hollywood, but also appalling ones who
still meet success thru good marketing and hype (for eg, Men in Black II
and Armageddon spring in mind) that only the big studios can generate.
Granted, some of this hype is help by, as stated, image. "We are an empire
of the mind, a place whose dreams and ideals have colonized the world". By
their sheer power, the US has become a world beacon. They don't give a
damn about and totally ignore what is going on abroad, but they are watched
from the rest of the world as they have so much influence. And indeed they
do fascinate, which by its own creates power. One more reason not to abuse
this power. Leading is one thing, bullying is another.

The above points are a matter of interpretation, I suppose, though they
are is proved by facts. It is just the other side of the story told in the
blog. But where the article becomes misleading is when it states things
like "To those poor suffering billions out there who want what we have, our
refusal to hand our success to them on a platter makes us cold and inhuman
and uncaring. But freedom is not a gift, it is an idea which only becomes
a right when it has been paid for, and to that extent our edifice of
prosperity and success is built on a deep and strong foundation that they
simply do not have."
Well, that's a good one! I have got news for you guys: it requires a lot
of poor people for make a few rich ones. No poors, no millionaires. Think
about it. By the same token, the richest countries are only so because
there are so many poor ones. What makes the western world wealthy? mainly
strong currencies and cheap commodity prices (where do commodities come
from?). If tomorrow, an Indian worker earned enough to buy the same things the
person doing the same job in the US earned, the american way of life would
be gone. Any worker can buy those ridiculously expensive Nike shoes
*because* you (and me) are not ready to give the other countries' workers the
same right. If you were to pay them what you expect for yourself, these
goods would become out of reach. A lot of people in the world are putting well
beyond an honest day's work --- five days a week, fifty weeks a year [2
weeks holidays a year? how uncivilised... All developped countries have
more, except for Japan and Canada], and get close to nothing for it. And they feed your supply of cheap
goods. So please, no lecture about "we earned it" and so on. You have it
because others don't! Of course wealth creation is important. But to dangle
the carrot that everyone can become rich if they behave. Or even worse
that you deserve it. This is BS.

Similarly: "But adopting it is not easy. It means abandoning the easy
satisfaction of blaming others for one's own failures. It means forgoing
fatwahs and murdering people who express opinions you find abhorrent." Wow, we
should have told that to the people who cleaned up the far west. Your
country was built on genocide. And then on slavery. How much more arrogant can
you be, preaching what you haven't done! How long did it take the US to
become "more" civilised? I still wouldn't want to be black in Georgia! How
long ago was it that you lynched people and policemen watched? Again, I am
not saying the US is worse than other countries, but indeed not better
either, so please stop the preaching.

Changes take time. You can't expect people to come from sometimes after
the middle ages to the modern world in a few years, or even a few
generations. It certainly took you more than that. How many innocent people in the
death row this year? How many youngsters killed by firearm in the last
hour? What a gory white dove!

Same thing about the green card. It is a US fantasy to think the whole
world longs for it. Ask most people in the developed world whether they'd
like to go live in the US, they'll say no, thank you very much. Ask most
people in the third world whether they'd like to go to ANY developed country
and they'll say yes please. No surprise here, right? There is a huge
illegal immigration from poorer countries to the US. And to Europe, Canada,
Australia, etc. alike. What a shock, the US is not the center of the world.
People don't come because they want to kiss the star spangled banner or
thank the founding fathers, but because they want running water.

Anyways, now big business is at the helm of the most powerful nation in
the world, and they intend to "protect national interests", which
coincidentally match theirs, at all costs and fast. I expect the ghost of McCarthy
to come back to life really quickly. No more fussing around. The US now
wants to take the world in charge on their own terms. And the hell with
consensus, others' opinions, or human concerns. He who doesn't agree is an
enemy. Did I say beacon? Probably closer to fire than light at the moment.


PS1 I am not saying all in the blog is misleading. It does tell the truth
(though sometimes a bit stretched). But only part of it. I am not saying
the US are bad and always have been. It is not the case, they have good
sides and bad sides like all countries. They did leave Mexico after invading
it. That was quite uncommon at the time as noted and can be commended if
you wish. But there is much more to it portrayal than the rosy stories told
in the blog. And since the blog is so one-sided, I choose to emphasize the
other side. Ask yourself why the US are becoming so disliked across the
world. Some of you even travel with passport covers to hide their national
identity. It mostly boils down to the US foreign policy, of which most
citizens have no clue. Think about it. There must be reasons.
Your media, schools from the youngest age and government can repeat over
and over, as they do, how great a country the US is. Look beyond.
What has gone wrong?

PS2 As far as I know, the December 15, 1791 Bill of Rights was mostly
inspired by the French Revolution's Declaration of the Rights of Man and
of the Citizen written on August 26th, 1789.
And so was UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th
1948. Sorry, another US myth goes...

PS3 My having to write in english because it is quite likely none of the
US readers can read a foreign language is also significant. Outsiders are
expected to adapt to foreign ways. US citizens are not, they just keep their
own and *find it quite normal*. This is a tell-tale hint, isn't it?



Mmm, looks like I did something wrong. My name disappeared from the post. I don't mind signing, though I do mind spam.



Mmm, looks like I did something wrong. My name disappeared from the post. I don't mind signing, though I do mind spam.



Mr. Whittle,
From the haze of descriptive blathering to the well thought out explanations that one finds on the internet and in newspapers about politics
I have found myself thought-provoked, amused, deeply concerned, deeply in disagreement, deeply in agreement, confused, unsure, and bored.
Never have I run accross an essay that left me
profoundly changed, until this one.
Never have I run accross a posting that cut through outer layer of opinion (where the willing engage gleefully in intellectual masturbation) and not only touched the heart of the issue but spoke from the heart of the issue. I think this article should be a national historical document...perserved for all time.
thank you Mr. Whittle!

clark



Reading this excellent essay, I could not help but think of a college classmate of mine and how he truly exemplifies Bill's assessment of the dichotomy of Islamist thinking regarding America.

This particular classmate had grown up in Karachi, but come to study in America. Being his friend, I can fully attest to his taking full advantage of American college life. This was complete with large doses of booze, women, music, movies and the general irreverence that comes with being young in America. We never fully agreed politically, but any objectivist is used to philosophical disagreements and any political arguments we had were held in the spirit of friendship and good faith.

Some time after college, he returned to Karachi, where I can only assume that he was subjected to local philosophical and cultural influences. Shortly after September 11th, this person began to send over increasingly Anti-American e-mail. Soon, the tone of the essays and commentary he was sending became so spiteful and replete in anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, that I could no longer respond to him in good conscience.

I can make an educated assumption by now that his dislike of America and its "imperialist," "anti-Islam" tendencies have only grown. Yet I do not doubt for a second that he would, if given the opportunity, hop the first plane to New York and reclaim the bar-stools he so often occupied, dance with tightly-clad girls, sip a martini and watch Tom Cruise defeat the forces of evil before going home with Kelly McGillis.

I can only hope that as he grows older, this person might begin to assess his beliefs with a more critical eye, both in regard to the philosophical priciples that they are based on and their complete incongruence with what were probably the best years of his life.



Kudos to the master. Bill Whittle, you've whittled the arguments of deconstruction into a razor's kiss edge.

Angilion, I find your stance in European politics quite confusing, despite all the negative attention thrown at you. I don't mean to make you...uncomfortable...but I checked your email. It's definitely British. For the sake of simplicity, and ingoring the root of your username, I'm going to assume on-hand you're British. If I'm not mistaken, that means...you're not French. In fact, Britain and France have a long history of cross-Channel contempt, irrelevant of being considered on the same continent. After all, "frog" isn't an American term.

You're not yet in the EU. Yet it seems you defend it as your own, though a whopping majority oppose economic unity with the Continent. Before you pontificate, argue, or otherwise condemn, please consider these points...

France is in deep doodoo, and the refusal to be blunt about it won't same them a dime. Their economy is actually in absolute tailspin, and this started well before U.N sanctions and inspections truly became a hot topic. This is what happens with forced "income redistribution", a reason our welfare pales in comparison to the safety net the French unemployed so enjoy. It's next to impossible to fire someone in France, and you can ask a French businessman. (incredibly, I have!) If you can't fire someone without lawsuits, then why risk hiring? This managerial position has been forced on the economy by a socialist government. I do however, believe I'm grateful to know that the French actually make good (at least to an extent on their Utopian march) on some promises, and don't aim to pocket the change like Baathists, but those vows at a better life ring hollow when the Utopia you see the week ahead fades over the year of tomorrows.

The EU is a short term solution. Be it thick or thin, control brings revenue. France wants the central seat in EU, to use its economic potential, and yours to prop up its failing economy. They would gladly take down your bank account if it means keeping theirs up for a week longer. However wise that may be in the short run, standing on the shoulders of giants doesn't guarantee your safety when the giant starts running, and leaves you without a pedestal.

On to point two. I've often wondered what British schoolchildren learn about 1776. Way back then, the Motherland's school's textbooks seemed to just skip it (I find that intriguing), but I'd like to know now what they preach and teach? Are they sorry they didn't crush the Rebels? Do they applaud our courage? Could you fill us in?

I can see you support cogent dialogue...but your dissent is didactic (see dictionary.com), as is the Leftist approach here in America. Ok, so your approach to "morally correct us" is as pretentious as any snob, European or American. The whole European world shares the same path in logic, which is heavy on analysis, without the word "self". And yet, you're frustatingly hard to pin down, because you refrain from the flaming your next-door-neighbors take part in. For this, keep doing so! I may not agree with you, but your disagreement forces me to examine my own views, even if that leaves them unchanged.

Further, I'd like to add knowledge into the carafe of les lecons d'histoires sur la liberte et l'egalite (sorry, pas des accents aigues). Angilion, in the middle ages, "free men" were by no means a majority of the population. Peasants, no doubt some your ancestors, were at the mercy of nobility's kangaroo courts, and at first gained next to nothing from this scroll of parchment. Haven't you read London or Sarum? They have perfect examples! Though it may be emotionally important to you to believe otherwise, the Magna Carta was actually forced on the king by his knights. However pristine the gleam of their silver armor, they where selected from noble steed. The pact itself was between the nobility and the king, and they wouldn't give a damn what you or I believe today. While freedom spread to the peasants, it did not in fact shield them from the avarice of mercantilistic aristocracy in the eras to come, nor did it shield them from royal corruption at the time.

We Americans couldn't believe that we "invented freedom" anymore than a scientist "invented" x-rays. (Assuming education...). So the freedoms made possible because of the Magna carter didn't originate in the New World. It came from the dissatisfaction with the Old. We do believe that the Magna Carta was the turning point in liberty over oppression. But the battle didn't end there. What Rousseau, Locke, and Voltaire were to Americans, Thomas Hobbs was to the European world.

Remember Metternich? The Metternich System of the 1840's crushed American-style revolts in France and Germany. Fifty thousand (a conservative estimate) were killed. He, almighty Prince Metternich, believed the people were sheep, and that only imperial rule could keep the masses from imploding. The reactionist "set-back-the-clock" extreme-conservatism was actually a European ideal. What then was the thorn driving into Metternich's envisioned "enlightened continent"? America! As moot the point may be, royalty of the Continent were actually considering retaking the American colonies. But this fell through, as the British decided their trade relations were even better than before. This isn't meant to taint you today, but to give perspective on your continent a century ago.

We claim we're special, and Europeans hate that. But we're maddeningly correct. We are THE ONE AND ONLY nation founded on and only...principles, and not silver and blood, the money of tyrants and theives.

As you can see, the world knows this. So they purposly avoid criticizing our structure of government, and focus instead on the product actually made: freedom oriented people.

While the world condemns us of proselytizing a set of freedoms open to "modifications without our 'consent'" , we'd condemn ourselves for not.

For I know you and I can agree on one thing: freedom is the most powerful force in all human condition. Once tasted, it's like addiction to heroin, without any negative results. When we say "from every mountainside, let freedom ring", we mean EVERY mountainside, and could care less about who claims those mountains. After all, our hard won fight to modern "American Freedom" entitles every last human being, and if not, means nothing.

Ditariel.



On another topic, have you ever noticed that whoever is in power is accused of obtaining it unfairly?

hmmmm...



why are the pages so long?



Wondering why there's been no response to Mr. Graf's thoughtful response of February 20. Too far down the page? Too many embarrassing revelations about the U.S. occupation of Iraq lately? Too difficult to put down as Eurocentric?

The history that Mr. Whittle leaves out and the arguments he refuses to engage are worth considering. I'll do my best to present as one-sided account as Mr. Whittle's so that we might reach some common ground in the process of debate.

Let's ignore the fact that the English colonies that became the United States were themselves the product of one imperial power's largely successful contests with other European imperial powers to divide and conquer indigenous populations--on the grounds that this history predates the American Revolution and that the newly-formed US had a chance to pursue a different policy. Did we?

late-18th-to-early-19th C: No. We consistently chose territorial expansion and power over Indian tribes--the Louisiana Purchase (made possible by heroic resistance of former slaves in the San Domingo revolution, itself inspired by the French Revolution, to attempts to recolonize the island by French and other imperial powers) to the War of 1812 (which was a mixed attempt to expand both north and south) to Jackson's Indian Removal policy (Trail of Tears after gold rush; Seminole Wars) to compromises over slavery (so as not to threaten territorial expansion) all suggest the US was actively seeking to expand its borders during this period. See the collected writings of William Apess, _On Our Own Ground_, for one perspective on US expansionism during this period.

mid-19th C: No. From the Mexican War to the Indian Wars of the Reconstruction period, from the northerners' to the southerners' versions of the US's "manifest destiny," this period saw expansionism continue practically unabated, despite increasing sectional tension eventually resulting in civil war. See Herman Melville's _Moby-Dick_ and Martin Delany's _Blake; Or, The Huts of America_ for novelistic treatments of some of the issues involved and Melville's "Benito Cereno" for one of the most important short stories of the period on this issue. See Reginald Horsman's _Race and Manifest Destiny_ for convincing arguments that the US refusal to occupy Mexico was driven by racism rather than altruism. See Eric Sundquist's _To Wake the Nations_ for more on southern versions of manifest destiny during this period.

late-19th-to-early-20th C: No. This is the period most commonly identified as "imperialist" by American historians (too many of whom fail to pay as much attention to continuing Indian wars as part of this history)--Cuba, Philippines, Hawaii, etc. If Henry David Thoreau characterized a certain version of anti-imperialism mid-century, Mark Twain carried the torch in this period. Walter Benn Michaels rightly points out that there were many varieties of anti-imperialism during this period, including white supremacist (including critics of the Yankee occupation of Dixie like Thomas Dixon, whose novel inspired _Birth of a Nation_). But this doesn't change the fact that debates over imperialism were a hallmark of this period. I would argue for a fundamental continuity between this phase of US expansionism and earlier phases, despite the shift in tactics to trade agreements and puppet regimes leading to colonial holdings from conquest and purchase leading to territorial incorporation into the US.

early-to-middle-20th C: No. The US decided to side with the dominant imperial power in both World Wars, recognizing that oceans protected it from the devastation the rival European powers were visiting on each other. It then effectively took over the reigns of the world economy from England, in part through aid programs like the Marshall Plan, in part by forming transnational organizations dominated by US corporate interests like the IMF, World Bank, and GATT, in part through Cold War-era security arrangements. See Jeremy Rifkin's _The Hydrogen Economy_ for an overview of the US's strategic advantage from shifting to an oil-based economy and military during this period.

mid-to-late-20th C: No. As the Cold War and national liberation struggles intensified, the US fought several wars and organized several coups to prevent former colonies of European imperialist powers from falling under control of the Soviet Union. The lessons learned in the prior periods meant that the US found neocolonialism more profitable than overt imperialism during this period (why pay for a colonial administration or military occupation when we could set up the rules of accounting, trade, finance, etc. to benefit US corporations and rely on local rulers for keeping labor cheap and order maintained?). Development, modernization, privatization, structural adjustment, and so on were all tactics to continue taking resources from resource-rich countries at profitable rates under the guise of free markets and free trade. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's _Empire_ lays out some of these arguments, and differs in some respects, but it's worth reading on this period.

late-20th-to-early 21st C: No. Whether under Clinton's version of Washington Consensus or Bush's version of American Unilateralism, the US continued to push neocolonialism by any means necessary. The shift from Clinton to Bush is perhaps explainable by discomfort that world-wide protests against the policies of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO and formulations of alternatives to corporate globalization are beginning to result in the potential for the US to lose control of these transnational institutions, and perhaps explainable by projected oil shortages coming sooner rather than later. RUPE's _Behind the Invasion of Iraq_ and Michael Klare's _Resource Wars_ are interesting reading on the post-Cold War, "war on terror" period we seem to be entering.

Mr. Whittle, how would you respond to the argument that US capitalism has simply discovered a more efficient form of imperialism, and that the post-9/11 shifts in national security strategy signal little more than a shift in tactics? "If we can't force the Washington consensus on you through 'legitimate' means, we'll try to legitimize military means to the same ends...."

Gotta call it a night, but I'd be interested in your response to the shortcomings of this admittedly schematic and telegraphic counter-blog. For more arguments of this kind, which I disagree with on some points but find provocative on others, see http://www.rupe-india.org/.

--Bruce



When going for a dental check-up. The dentist takes out an instrument and probes the teeth looking for cavities. If he comes across one that is sufficiently deep or decayed to the point that the nerve is exposed, the patient will react abruptly.

This is precisely what I read here when you ramble on as the apologist that you are. Contrary to your dissemblance, the empire that the USA is today may not mirror empires of the 18th and 19th century any more than those empires reflected the Roman empire of antquity. Non the less, an empire is what America is today. So like it or not, if the shoe fits you have to wear it.



When going for a dental check-up. The dentist takes out an instrument and probes the teeth looking for cavities. If he comes across one that is sufficiently deep or decayed to the point that the nerve is exposed, the patient will react abruptly.

This is precisely what I read here when you ramble on as the apologist that you are. Contrary to your dissemblance, the empire that the USA is today may not mirror empires of the 18th and 19th century any more than those empires reflected the Roman empire of antquity. Non the less, an empire is what America is today. So like it or not, if the shoe fits you have to wear it.



The Romans did not use the word "Empire" when referring to themselves. They used the term " Principate" to descrbe the republic until Diocletian in A.D 305 and "Princeps" (first citizen) to describe the Emperor.
I agree that the United States is not an "Empire" as defined by those expansionist regimes of the past, but it has evolved from the "Republic" that was founded in 1789.
We have entered a uni-polar world and are the hegomony in the world. The question is, "Are we adhering to the democratic principles on which the county was founded in our leadership and actions?"
Where will we be 200 years from now?

The ability to debate is essential to a Democracy



*Correction from an earlier post: I keep confusing economic unity with EU and membership. Britain has been in the system since...1973. That's another nickel in my American bucket...I'm willing to correct myself.

Re Bruce: last post; I'm responding after this post.



Bruce; before beginning a debate, it is essential to agree on what you're debating about, otherwise party A and party B just talk past each other, and get angry when they don't receive an answer.

I hereby declare military and economic empire henceforth ETERNALLY separte subjects, by IMPERIAL DECREE.

In a decent valleygirl accent: so like, uh, what kindof empire are we tawkin about here?

MILITARY. or ECONOMIC. It's time to choose one.

Militarily, Europe is famous for militaristic imperialism. It used physical force to fill its treasure chests.

Financially, America has been numero uno since the turn of the 20th century. It has used its own treasure chests to fill even more. It used interest.

Now which really sounds like America?

I now pass the ball to you.



Aw shucks, Bill. You're so much smarter than me and down-to-earth at the same time. You're so crafty it hurts. I wish I'd grown up comfortable and isolated in the U.S. like you, so I would have had a simple, unchallenged view on life and lots of time to learn how to write corporate-friendly "free market" doublespeak and make it sound "right" to all those hard-working middle Americans.

It's all about freedom, isn't it? Freedom for companies to limit competition, freedom to risk our future, freedom for them to control our political system. Freedom for hard-working people to worry about the future. All of these things are threats to our democracy.

Have you ever read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"? It was a time in our nation's history when corporations were getting out of control and ruining people's lives. I ask because I know we're headed back there.

I'm so glad there are other nations in this world that can show the United States what true democracy feels like. Maybe we'll catch up to them someday.



Bill, as an entering 9th grade student, I have only one thing I'd like to say to you - I wish that when I'm an adult, I'm as cool as you.

Elena



This was as good the second time around, as the first! I'll be reading this every 4th as a reminder of what WE are, as the USA. The United States of America. The rest of the world can eat it's heart out, as far as I care.



hi



Damn Bill,

Yet another masterpiece, all I can say is keep them coming brother. You are so right in everything you say that makes this country great. What makes this even more sad is that despite our greatness and benevolence as a country, there are far too many, even here at home, who wish us harm and think us evil. If we were truly so awful, there would be planeloads of folks running out to wear burkas and be enslaved, er, saved, by the Saudis, the Chinese, etc. But you don't see that, because the lies are not true. America is wonderful. You got it right, from the camraderie of complete strangers, to our restraint in spite of our military might, to our culture, faults and all, winning a war we are trying to fight for the minds and hearts of the world, without even trying. All the Islamic crazies in the world would gladly send their kids to colleges like the one I am going to in a hot minute, even if it would bring about in them the internal conflict you so eloquently spoke of. I look forward to your next essay, and I can't wait for the book. Take care man, and keep up the good fight. God Bless you and God Bless America!



Nice one, Bill, however;
An American-hating Arab in DC with $100 and a Mercedes is NOT gonna be a "common" Arab. It's more likely to be a member of the upper class running whatever country he's in. In most those countries, the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a select few. The common people have enough trouble getting along with their daily lives.
I'd also urge a lot of conservatives not to confuse ISLAM and ISLAMISM. The former is a religion; the latter is a political ideology which hides behind religion to accomplish its own goals. Like the IRA and Catholicism. A lot of people don't make the difference.



Okay, now I've read the comments as well as the essay.
Arab islamic conquest was not at all as brutal as people are trying to make it sound. The Arab Muslims did conquer North Africa, Egypt, the Fertile Crescent and Southwest Asia. They did not force people to convert to Islam. Christians and Jews had to pay an xtra tax, but were otherwise integrated into the community. Hey, this was the Middle Ages, you can't expect Jeffersonian democracy. The Arab Islamic community was actually much more free than was the European Christian community. No witch hunting, women were much more freed, and the expansion of Islam was much less brutal than the crusades (which actually resulted in Christians sacking Constantinople, a fellow Christian city). In India, it also offered freedom to crushed and downtrodden Untouchables. At least that's how it was originally. When the Ottomans took over Islam from the Arabs, they did act much worse than Mohammed had preached, but hey, look at the Crusades. Islam as it was originally concieved was just as free as Christianity as IT was originally concieved, and much more so than christianity as it was when Islam was concieved. (Did you know that Islam proclaimed all men were equal regardless of color? I have never seen that in either of the Bible's testaments).
Uh-oh. Some people may come back thinking I'm a liberal fool who foolishly wants to appease every political ideology which encourages people to do things like September 11, I have no notion of right and wrong, etc. No, I am not one of those folks, although I know quite a few and consider most of them complete @$$holes. I was entirely for the war in Iraq, and the one in Afghanistan, and I believe that we must use all necessary means, including war, to destroy islamism. Please note that I said "islamism". THAT is indeed an evil political ideology. I did NOT say "islam". That's just a religion, like Christianity and Judaism.



I've strayed off the subject here, I just read some comments about Islam that I thought I had to correct in here. As for Bill's essay, though, it was totally brilliant. A must-read for all good patriotic Americans.



Interesting. My previous post is missing.



wow!! this was great!
thanks. i think that every american should read this.



In response to ditariel's 5/25/03 post (with apologies for my own lateness in responding--little things like the end of one semester and the start of a new one, a wedding, a house hunt, and a baby on the way got in the way), I would like to start by reciting a poem (extra credit for identifying its author and era of publication!):

All former empires rose, the work of guilt,
On conquest, blood, or usurpation built:
But we, taught wisdom by their woes and crimes,
Fraught with their lore, and born to better times;
Our constitution's form'd on freedom's base,
Which all the blessings of all lands embrace;
Embrace humanity's extended cause,
A world of our empire, for a world of our laws....

I want to use this poem to suggest that ditariel's suggested distinction between "military empires" and "economic hegemony" doesn't do the work he wants it to do.

First off, "old" military empires didn't enrich the conquering power only through taxes on the subject populations (only a died-in-the-wool conservative would make this imperialism's greatest evil)--there were little things like labor and natural resources and opened markets that conquest also (and more importantly) gained for the conquerors. So I would argue that all empires, even military ones, are in it for primarily economic reasons. What do you think?

As for this latest empire being so different, well, as the poem shows, Americans have been proclaiming themselves to be a "new" kind of empire since the Revolutionary generation (the poet I quoted was David Humphreys, whom Anders Stephanson identifies as "Washington's protege, officer in the Revolutionary Army, diplomat, execrable poet, and member of the Connecticut Wits, the first literary coterie in the United States" [see his _Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right_, p. 19, if you want to look it up for yourself--it's a good book and well worth the read]). In response to my previous post, ditariel tried to banish America's military imperialism 'phase' to the period before the twentieth century--which I think is quite generous, given the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq twice, Afghanistan, etc., not to mention our current military commitments around the world--but, in any case, what Humphreys's poem shows is that the U.S. empire can easily be busy proclaiming its "newness" while at the exact same time doing more of the "same ol' same ol'" (where the only 'new' things are on the tactical level). Unfortunately, that's precisely what I see Mr. Whittle doing in his "Empire" piece. We're like any other military empire operating for maximum profit for the home country--we just have a more nuanced sense of defining and getting that profit. What do you think?

In short, I don't accept ditariel's attempt to relabel my "imperialism"/"neocolonialism" distinction as one between "military empires" and "economic hegemony."

"But," I imagine ditariel responding, "my closing question was 'which really sounds like America?'" I read his 'really...like' formulation as 'ideally'--wouldn't it be great if the United States were everything Humphreys and Whittle claim it to be? Well, maybe. I do think the "American laws" and the Constitution that Humphreys celebrates are pretty special documents. As an American Studies scholar, I find some of Whittle's encomiums to American culture (especially popular culture--go _Simpsons_!) and ideas positively stirring. And our ideas and laws and cultures have had great influence around the world.

But look again at Humphreys's closing line--"A world of our empire, for a world of our laws...." To me, this sounds positively scary in geopolitical terms today, almost like a call for unlimited war to establish our laws and freedoms as the world's. Similarly, arguments like Mr. Whittle's defending a flawed Bush administration strategy sound almost like saying: "Now that we've fought a revolution for ourselves and ironed out all the problems with democracy in America (it only took us a couple hundred years), we are prepared to fight revolutionary wars of liberation on behalf of all the oppressed peoples of the world (at least the ones that are rich in some resource that matters to us). By establishing our own American-style laws in these liberated countries (the minimal necessary, of course, for capitalism to run smoothly), we are using military means to expand the realm of freedom and the rule of law. Which makes it right."

In response to that vision, I find even Adam Smith's free market capitalist alternative as an improvement on Mr. Whittle's defense of U.S. neocolonialism's turn to militarism. Take the following (long) passage from _The Wealth of Nations_:

"The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind.... By uniting, in some measure, the most distant parts of the world, by enabling them to relieve each other's wants, to increase one another's enjoyments, and to encourage one another's industry, their general tendency would seem to be beneficial. To the natives, however, both of the East and West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned. These misfortunes, however, seem to have arisen rather from accident than from any thing in the nature of the events themselves. At the particular time when those discoveries were made, the superiority of force happened to be so great on the side of the Europeans, that they were enabled to commit with impunity every sort of injustice in those remote countries. Hereafter, perhaps, the natives of those countries may grow stronger, or those of Europe may grow weaker, and the inhabitants of all the different quarters of the world may arrive at that equality of courage and force which, by inspiring mutual fear, can alone overawe the injustice of independent nations into some sort of respect for the rights of one another. But nothing seems more likely to establish this equality of force than that of mutual communication of knowledge and all sorts of improvements which an extensive commerce from all countries to all countries naturally, or rather necessarily, carries along with it."

(I got this from _The English Literatures of America, 1500-1800_, eds. Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner, a great anthology of early American literature. BTW, Smith's pretty prescient on why the US didn't go after the USSR after dropping the bomb--twice--on Japan, and why the Bushies are dithering on North Korea today, eh?)

While I see Smith's assertion that the genocide and oppression and exploitation accompanying European exploration and conquest in the modern world were merely "accidents" as facile, and his 'realist' balance-of-power political solution to problems of human rights violations as limited, I do think that the U.S. would do much better to focus on culture and commerce in the worldwide struggle for 'hearts and minds.' Indeed, Mr. Whittle's arguments for the power and popularity of both cut across the grain of his essay, which works hard to suggest they're not enough on their own to change the world.

Hence, I resubmit my prior closing question as follows. What does Mr. Whittle think of the argument that the Bush administration's impatience with multilateralism and transnational organizations is a strategic response to the US's weakening influence over organizations like the UN, WTO, IMF, and World Bank--and the growing worldwide popularity of mobilizations to oppose or reform them--organizations upon which we've depended to exercise our most crucial powers since WWII? That the US's various postwar competitive advantages have been achieved in part by gaming the system (when not writings its rules) and through clever neocolonialist strategies? That the Bushies' turn to overt militarism and occupation of an oil-rich nation is not simply an attempt to draw jihadists into the open, the better to fight them (and somehow, in the process, advance democratic values in the Muslim world), but is part of a larger strategy aimed at extending (until the oil runs out some time this century) the US's dominant position in the world today? If the Bush administration's policies are really all about US "economic hegemony" and not its "military imperialism," why do they violate the very 'free trade' policies Republicans are supposed to believe in whenever it suits them (to gain votes and reward campaign contributors)--as witness the latest refusal to lift agricultural subsidies in Cancun (something that would benefit the poor around the world much more than any further US military 'liberation' operations)?

"Which really sounds like America?" Unfortunately, the United States, for all its exceptionalist dreams, is as complex, contradictory, mixed, and confused as any other nation. To proclaim we're "really" the "new and improved" King of the Hill today is to make a wish rather than report on reality, which is more complex than either Mr. Whittle or myself have represented it as being thus far in our exchange. I certainly hope we start thinking hard about what it means to talk about a global democracy or a globalization of American democracy (and not just its systems of finance, manufacturing, trade, labor exploitation, etc.), but dreaming is a dangerous luxury today.

Please keep in mind two warnings from America's greatest authors. Take Mark Twain's Huck Finn, who said of Tom Sawyer, "He had a dream, and it shot him." Or Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, who says

"Most of the time (although I do not choose to deny the violence of my days by ignoring it) I am not so overtly violent. I remember that I am invisible and walk slowly so as not to awaken the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers."

Please find the passages I'm referring to and consider what they have to say about the complexities of American identities and actions.

Sorry, a long response to a short question, but you did ask.



You heard of this site called www.notatyou.com?



"To be honest, I think the very presence of America drives these Jihadists insane."

But of course you do.

The fact is, they are insane. So what?? How can we fight fundamentalists? By matching them? I think not. Likewise, how can we fight crime in the US? By saying all the general 'x' is a criminal who hates decent society?? Criminals are criminals and madmen are madmen. Don't mix them up with people who have REAL reasons to despise power being exerted over them. There is a world of difference between a fundamentalist nutjob and an innocent man who is tortured by either Saddam or Bush, or a people who have their own backyard full of Corporation-paid militia with the 'Civilised' West creaming off the best their land can offer whilst they get shot for protesting. I mean the Niger Delta, not Palestine, in this instance.

It's not just the 'left' with their head up their arse.

Yes Western Civilisation is a great idea, but it gets visibly and stinkily LESS civilised when it uses poverty stricken people or murdering idiot fundamentalists to excuse it's own evil-doings.

Also, there is an unmitigated avoidance of the 'power' of advertising and psychology employed to keep certain companies earning more than everyone else (not their employees of course). That's not laying blame, I once did it for a job. Advertising is a multi-billion dollar business to 'educate' people using every available method to infringe upon their unconscious. You may say that that is the price of civilization, to live with an endless carrott dangled in front of us. Maybe. i think not, I have more faith in people than that.

We are both utopian dreamers, but I belive that psychology can be used to help people, not to make them feel that they are 'incomplete' or 'less than' without buying something from the people that spend billions in order to convince these children of these fallacies.

Children are educated into brand-awareness. 'Brand-awareness' teaches that 'authenticity' has a 'label'. 'Trust' has a label (although ingredients labelling is of course more lax) It's very simple, yet profoundly effective and intrusive psychology. It's the quietest war. McSchool.

Of course, you can measure that against being garrotted by a bearded 'socialist' (just like all the lecturers ;-) and disclaim any force being brought to bear on anyone. As you say, if people didn't buy it, they wouldn't exist?...

It also works that Brands make SURE that people buy it, otherwise they would not exist. You force ONE person to eat a bigmac, you'd never get them to eat it again. You make ONE kid think that only 'cool' kids get food or toys with 'labels', and his life will be a misery unless in the 'club, unless 'authentic' and of course, unless his parents can be seen to afford 'it'. There is a certain terror in children carrying anything (even food)that hasn't been branded and authenticated. this is nothing to do with safety, nothing to do with the nutrtitional benefits of Sunny D or GMO corn syrup, or MSG. It's nothing else than the need to profit. And children are an EASY market.

As for the adults, they already have a whole rack of brand-associations that can provide for every little nuance. it;s the brand, not the quality, that counts. Call me a snob? Of course you will, because you cannot imagine that someone could abhor every ounce of life being invaded by loud AND subliminal exhortations to buy. It gets to industrial noise level, like buzzing away in the background, until you realise that the machine is the whole thing and it never goes away. Buysellbuysellbuysell.bbzbzzzzzzzz. Of course, that is the cost of civilisation, and being constantly invaded is a small price to pay for the right to own a gun or to not be invaded. Er....

Between Whittle and Moore, there lies a whole world of TRUTH, without a label on it. I hope we get to hear the truth in Whittle and Moore, rather than the braying of self-importance and the endless battles of Left and Right.

Stop putting the USA on the dining room table like an ornament, (to compare with the adjacent molten plastic charred blob of wacko fundamentalists) in order to look good. It's the cheapest shot, and one that the fundamentalists in turn use in reverse. As a human wouldn't you be concerned with yr inventive/compassionate/utopian HUMAN traits rather than yr 'American' ones? As an American, figure out how to be more truthful, less deliberately Pilgerian (the facts fit the agenda, 'us' and 'them') and 'better'.

Admit that Western Civilization carved it's way 'up' financially, in large part, by slaughtering, invading, converting and robbing pretty much everything 'it' found off mainland Europe. And then move on. Columbus Day is one of the biggest lies ever. If we're going to be great, then let's celebrate real greatness, celebrate qualities that are prevalent in every compassionate/inventive and courageous human, not endow merciless pirates from the past with qualities they didn't have in order to explain our success today. That's silly and dishonest. There needs be no shame in us because of something our grandfathers did, as long as we don't hide their contemporaries behind a velvet glove in order to pay for their place at the table.

Honesty is always the best policy. Unless, of course, you want to be 'big' in politics...



"The day when millions of people patiently stand in line to emigrate to North Korea, Iraq, the Sudan, and other dictatorships is the day when I start believing that the United States doesn't have something special."

There we go again. No-one says the US isn't something special, it's a global melting pot for a start. Do you really need to compare it to North Korea??

How can so much arrogance, money and insecurity exist in one country?? Oh, I forgot, it's precisely BECAUSE of that that America is the greatest. American TV also says that the Superbowl is the biggest global celebration. Hmm.

So many truths and untruths prove that America, like everywhere, has humans living there.



"One point worth noting: Americans do NOT come home every time. There are a lot of American troops billeted around the world. Germany and S. Korea host particularly large contingents, and those countries are growing restive. I think we ought to get all our troops out of Europe, at the least.

It would be good to remember that billeting of British troops helped to trigger the American Revolution."

Posted by: Alan Sullivan

If you will kindly remeber it was the billeting of british troops in the HOMES of the American Peoples (yes i know they were still part of the monarchy). Not the billeting of them in their BASES. you name 3 cases where American troops force the German people to house their men.Untill I will have to disagree. Though I can fully agree with the anger of people that have to house all the American soldiers under orders, though I do not know of any off-hand. The fact that we were being unfairly taxed had more than a little bit to do with the revolution. As far as removing all troops from forign soil. You say than when you need serious medical attention (ie you step on a land mine) and your stuck in BFE.I think you would be more then happy to go to Rammstein AFB as opposed to sitting on a really long plane ride. But hey im only 18 what do i know.
-Semper Fidelis In Arduis-



Ni hao,
I am a 26 year old Canadian with an MA in China-International relations and have chosen to teach in China - what I consider to be the real land of opportunity now. Why is it almost impossible to get a visa into the greatest bastion of freedom and democracy nowadays? (Not that I want to go.) Until the Bush regime, and his right wing, oil business, neo-conservative government is removed, I will honestly say that I will not return to America (even though my mother and father have retired in Florida and my sister goes to school.) Most of the comments I have read are filled with an American hubris, and lack of simple moral compassion that is not even recognized by the writer. Start traveling the world and reading something more than...(do Americans read anynmore?) Just watch your football, eat your McDonalds, and live in ignorant bliss. The doldrums of American culture have made me lose faith in what was, at one time in your history, a great country. What would FDR think about the status quo of American elitism among haughty, uneducated idealogues. It's not that most Americans don't know about anything outside its own borders, it's the fact that most don't care to know. Whitman said that the genius of America lies in the common man. What is the common American nowadays? About 25 pounds overweight, likes his football and beer, porno, hates everything foreign, hates gays, loves God & his gun? Can't agree with you Walt.
Franklin Said that Americans should not be worried about culture & art, simply because it had no use & that they were European conepts. The purpose of America was to build itself into a strong and sound country, not necessarily one of culture. Again, can't say I agree with you Ben. But I guess that was a different time. Aside from the Native genocide and your little attempt to overtake my country, I can see how America might have had its perks.
Wealth needs to be re-distributed, not only in America, but in the rest of the world as well. 7000 years of civilization and we still cannot feed and clothe the world. When athletes are paid 50 million dollars a year, and movie stars 100 million a movie, how can anyone, living in a culture such as this, have any real perspective of the world. For them, this is the status quo. A far cry from those dying around the world, because your military must spend almost 9 times as much as the next country to uphold its military and economic hegemony. As Putin said, an international dictatorship, that is getting worse. Ruling through force and money.
George doesn't have too many oil friends in S.America and Russia any more, so let's go get the big one in the middle east. Leverage, mostly against the fear that China's GDP and economic influence in the EU and the developing world will overtake the US, some are predicting 2020, but I'll give it another ten or twenty. I am now convinced with Bush being re-elected, that America's biggest fear is not some terrorist war that has destroyed one of the four ancient civiliations (A historical crime. Mesopotamia - the others are Egypt, India & China for the Americans reading this), but America itself.
I grew up going to the states during the summer, Tiger Stadium in Tigertown, Chicago, Florida, Vegas... I love America in so many ways, but I've lost faith in the majority of Americans that feel they undersand the world and what's best for the world, without stepping one foot outside of their beloved country. I do not think that America is the best country in the world by any sense (quality of life, politically or culturally), and, having been to 16 countries, I believe that my opinion is a viable one.
Baby Jesus is crying George.
Bring America back to its feet people. How about a 3rd New Deal... yeah FDR would like that. Start taking care of Americans, and stop pampering the celebrities you so ardently worship. Go Arnie! Get it together America. China's not going to put up with any of your operations of liberation and enduring freedom in another 15-20.
I am cheering for the Iraqis now. Much like the Vietnamese all those years, not too far back.
Starting looking at yourself America, because you will slowly die in the the next hundred years.

Merry Christmas,
Your friendly Canadian Sinophile



Wow. I'm the first one to comment here in over a year, but I hope people are still reading this. I just discovered your site a few weeks ago.... wow. As the first reviewer wrote, this was a pleasure to read. Keep it up and thank you.