One thing that I am struck by, having been at several conferences lately where we have had discussions about US foreign policy is the inability for foreigners to affect US foreign policy. The US seems ready to ignore the UN and the rest of the world when they disagree with it.

So let me get this right. The US is going to become the world's policeman and will bomb the bad guys into democracy. The US will become so rich and powerful that there will no longer be hatred and wars? The US will become the one nation to rule them all and American culture bind them?

In this scenario the US is kind of like a super state, but only American citizens can vote, right? Only American citizens have rights. What does this mean exactly?

I think that the US needs to seriously consider the consequences of alienating the rest of the world and trying to become a super-class global citizen and ruler of the world without a significant change in its attitude towards other nations and other cultures. We are in an integrated world where it is impossible to isolate yourself economically, culturally or even militarily.

I'm not (yet) asking to be allowed to participate in the US elections, but I do think it is important to understand just how important it is for the US to get along with its neighbors. The only way to get along with people is to understand them and talk to them. The tragedy of the human psychological tendency to not care about cultures and people who you don't know or are different from you is something we can no longer tolerate.

I think the US is going down the slippery slope of becoming one of the most hated nations in the world when it still possible for it to be one of the most loved nation if only it learned to listen to, respect and understand the rest of us.

I guess my point is that we need some sort of global democracy that is inclusive of everyone which embraces diversity. I know I'm oversimplifying the issues, but I've been quiet the last few days so I felt like a rant. ;-)

50 Comments

there's a very fine line between the spread of militant religious doctrine and the spread of militant democratic doctrine. both are based on the presumption that the spreader knows best how someone else should live. that's a dangerous basis for any relationship.

the arrogance that drives current administration policy is something i disavow personally. only someone who believes the "sole remaining superpower" mythology can buy this american-can-do-it-all-alone approach to global diplomacy. and only someone with an exceedingly narrow world view can embrace the idea that "you are either with us or against us." this thought, as it is executed in policy, can only result in alienating everyone, if only because there is always something to disagree about, even between friends. that leaves the united states "against" everyone, and that makes me very uncomfortable.

compounding this problem is the tendency to ignore the problem until it turns into a crisis - next up, uganda.

"what's going on?" - marvin

oh, and a minor point to bring up... we're actually "bombing democracy into them," (welcome or not) not "bombing them into democracy." you see, oppressed people come in many shapes and sizes, and they don't fit the standard bolt pattern on our aircraft...

as easy as it is to lay blame on the current administration, they're basically entirely responsible.

if bush gets reelected, and is a lame-duck president with a congressional majority in both houses, well, i don't even want to imagine.

i vacillate between feeling that american citizens are basically in the same boat as the one you describe foreigners in. That we're the passengers on a run-away train careening towards some horrible end. Or maybe there's a shot in 2004 to prevent the imminent catastrophe.

Then again, Kennedy was trying to get americans out of vietnam, and he got asassinated, so perhaps my pessimism is warranted.

My theory is that the US acts unilaterally and gets involved in lots of other countries because of its citizens national origins.

If the US attacks Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea, or some other foe, the Iraqui-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Libyan-Americans and Korean-Americans (from the north side) would in most cases support such an attack. While this is largely because of the political disagreements that forced these peoples to emigrate in the first place, but I think it genuinely helps the government justify that by doing what Iraqi-Americans want to Iraq, it's helping iraq.

When America's not listening to someone like France, you can probably bet that Americans of French origin are not banging down the doors of their congressmen pleading them to negotiate with Chirac.

It goes both ways though. I bet the US wouldn't be giving as much financial aid, providing military support, disaster relief etc. if the people of that national origin didn't ask for it.

Moreover, you could be sure that Taiwan would be assimilated into China and Israel weakened if it wasn't for support from American emigrants (nationally or religiously). On the other hand, South Africa probably wouldn't have had some of the financial support to continue apartheid and Northern Ireland's IRA wouldn't be funded if it wasn't for American emigrants.


I'm completely overgeneralizing as there are certainly big differences between 1st generation americans and those who emigrated 150 years ago. But, other more homogenous countries don't have a domestic constituency that they can test their foreign policy against.

Some history, that would explain why Democracy is not of the American character...

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
--Thomas Jefferson

"We are now forming a Republican form of government. Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship."
--Alexander Hamilton

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
-- John Adams, 1814

"It had been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience had proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"If we advert to the nature of republican government, we shall find that the censorial power is in the people over the government, and not in the government over the people."
-- James Madison

"...democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
--James Madison, Federalist No. 10

"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

Joi said,
"So let me get this right. The US is going to become the world's policeman and will bomb the bad guys into democracy."

Uh, yeah, didn't you hear Bush the first 10 ten times he said it? That's the great (frightening) thing about the current administration, they are very blunt about their new world order agenda. No shadowy conspiracy or backroom ritual, it's really a "grab your crotch and spit in their eye" group of guys.

History repeats itself. The U.S. is Rome. The Visigoths are coming sooner or later. In the meantime, Caesar will send troops to Iraq, N. Korea, Cuba, heck even back to Japan, if the spirit moves him. America, my home, is heading for implosion. Voting/lobbying and such is a joke (unless you are from big business). America voted numerically for Gore, but big business/oil had its way. What more do you need for confirmation that democracy does not exist in the U.S.? Game over.

Expect more and more nations to pull an India/Pakistan and Nuke Up, it's the only bargaining chip in the face of the Hegemon. If humanity reaches a global cooperative government in the next 100 years without blowing itself up or spreading a doomsday virus first, IT WILL BE A MIRACLE.

And believe it or not, I'm known to most of my friends as an optimist.

Joi, you still haven't simmered down from getting stopped by the immigration guy, have you? You need to cool off and take a deep breath.

You remind me of the corporate executives who go postal with air rage when a flight attendant tells them to buckle their seatbelts or close the window. They're used to being in charge and freak out when someone "beneath" them is suddenly in a position of authority over them. Likewise, you go on a monthlong ape-shit anti-U.S. binge just because a lowly immigration guy didn't know what a "venture capitalist" was and what a big shot you are.

p.s. Having said all that, I think all we're really seeing is that American citizens have about as much control over their government as Japanese citizens--none.

Japan being particularly significant in that it is the second largest economy on the planet, and purports to be a democratic nation as well. and, since Joi posted the original comment, I'm curious how he would resolve what I just said with what's happening in the U.S. Not that the U.S. is in good stead, not at all. But the environmental, human rights, and economic policies being allowed to flourish in japan in the face of a largely apathetic japanese voting pool is deeply disturbing. The Japanese Diet may not be as funky and abbrasive as Bush, but they seem to be doing their fair share of ignoring the needs of many sectors of the people (particularly japan born Koreans and japanese brazilians).

Add to that, Japan STILL has one of the most restrictive closed borders immigration policies of any industrialized nation. Even for citizens of America, it's CLOSEST global partner. I know, I've been to Japan a few times. It's like a constant tacit message, "If you MUST come to japan, please do so quickly, quietly, and leave as soon as possible." Now to throw a real curve ball in, let me say: if given a choice, I'd rather live in Tokyo (I currently live in the U.S.), but Japan's immigration policies have so far discouraged me. Since I don't speak "fluent" Japanese (needed for citizenship), and don't want to be an english teacher (for the visa), can Joi offer me some sort of secret visa voucher for a long term stay? I'm very prominent in my field and could offer Japan solid professional skills that would contribute to the nation. Otherwise, I think someone from Japan should be the last one complaining about America's immigration policies. Japan is like a fortress.

(don't take that as a slap, I love you and your site Joi. )

Did we ask for your opinion? Didn't think so. So just SHUT UP!

Joi, et la,

I have to agree with your points on the US Governments current actions. Unfortunately this is not a new thing, our relationship with the UN is not purely a Post-Bush condition either. In fact the US has been playing global cop for a while, mainly for US interests with a dash of Human Rights flavor thrown in. I agree with your opinions of the US I just see this slightly differently.

I hear your arguement for some way to influence the US foreign policy and believe that this should not be handled through voting rights being given to foreign citizens but handled through the UN. Even if it means the US is reported to the security council and is sanctioned. (Hint this might be a wake up call to standard americans) I'm surprised that this hasn't happened yet. Atleast, I haven't seen any coverage of this sentiment in the english language news.

I wish a saw a more optimistic future for the US, but the reaction to 9/11 was a startling realization to me that my country was not compassionate and woefully ignorant of other ways of life. The reaction to 9/11 has I believe set the US down a road that it can not recover from. Promoting peace through dropping bombs and hostile takeovers is not something that the global community is ready to swallow, atleast I hope it isn't.

So don't knock on the US door for change, that is the US citizen's job and they have been away from their posts, but support the UN, and let your country's politicians know that peace through bombing can not be allowed. (I am not stateing that you haven't/aren't voiceing this opinion)

As for Jon's comments, Jon you can get a visa in Japan that is not an english teachers visa. You just need corporate sponsorship, come on a tourist visa, do the resume cycle and network like crazy before you come, shake the tree and have fun, it may result in an interview and an offer. Although if you want to stay become fluent in Japanese. Just don't hope for citizenship, that is unless you are a seal.

That's all for now,

Mark

"that is unless you are a seal."

LOL! My point exactly. Tama chan gets all the perks, and us filthy gaijin have to dance through flaming hoops. ;^)

Yeah, Keb Gillette is probably right: this can't be a reasonable opinion based on facts and arguments but must be just a ramp made by a frustrated guy, right?

A few things. I don't think that Japan is any better than the US. In fact I think that US democracy is probably one of the best. The big difference is that Japan is not trying to become the world's single super power. Japan can barely send a few peacekeeping troops to Iraq without people marching in protest on the streets. And as you know, I do have my frustrations with Japan and write about them here quite often. My point is that considering the influence the United States is trying to assert on globe, it doesn't seem to consider those under its power in other countries to be citizens, but outsiders of some sort.

Mark. You may be right. The UN may be the only vehicle right now for foreigners such as myself to be heard, but it's quite bureaucratic process that seems quite distant from the hearts and minds of the average Americans. Is there a way for Americans to see UN sessions like they watch CSPAN? Do they broadcast the UN anywhere? (Shows what I know about the UN.)

And it has nothing to do with my personal experiences in the US. Although I think Maher has the right to be sore. The agents I encountered entering the US this last trip were very nice. I did make a point to chose an Asian woman though for my visa review though. Profiling Homeland Security officers...

Joi's points are well-taken: the Bush administration is indeed acting like an imperial monster.

I believe it's important to keep a distinction between the current administration and "America." Remember, the United States has been been subject to a coup, taken over by a bunch of thugs who are intent on looting the country.

Joi writes: "In this scenario the US is kind of like a super state, but only American citizens can vote, right? Only American citizens have rights."

Well, as was proved in 2002 in Florida, the Supreme Court only believes in the act of voting, not the act of counting the ballots. And as for American citizens having rights...those have been severely curtailed as well.

I agree, Joi. As a third-culture American I regularly shudder at the incongruity between the founding values of the United States and its functional politics. There seems to be a new nationalism that harbors on an incipient racism in much of the unilateralism at play in our cadence as a people.

As an American I apologize for this. As a third-culture person I'll also lay out my prejudice: I find it difficult to believe that the monocultural can lead nations effectively in our new global environment.

The ripples of patronizing populism and village ideology no long stop at a country's border. There are tangible international effects to the words and actions of leaders accustomed to the rigid audience barriers of borders to protect their differing stances in local and international politics. Today, borders are functionally irrelevant for all but the passage of bodies through meat-space. Politicians seem, in large measure, not to have caught up to this porous boundary affect and its impact on their craft. Nearly everything is now multicultural/multinational.

That the odd, militant provincialism that makes up much of the ideological grist that fuels the Bush-neocon policy machine could even find voice in our day is shocking to me. This is not partisan as it is a continuation, though unprecedented, of the regime change attempts and precision missile attacks on sovereign nations under the Clinton administration.

If America is to enact a unifying liberty that embraces the diversity that makes the vision of the American Republic great this stance cannot be simply domestic. It is time for great Stateswomen and men to step out and be the embodied bridges between the peoples of our small planet. (In large measure this is already happening, but outside of federal and international governing bodies.) The ways of the American Republic should not dominate, as has become our custom, but influence through respect and common cause--especially with those we have the least in common with.

Rorty said, "a talent for speaking differently, rather than for arguing well, is the chief instrument of cultural change."

Perhaps it is time to begin speaking differently.

Dan Hughes

Thanks to Mark Federman (blog) for directing me to this thread. I will take the opportunity to 'go public' with my online activities for the next twelve months. In typical Canadian fashion, I apologize in advance if my self-promotion is out of line. Note, this is the first public announcement of Voices Without Votes 2004. Find below some excerpts from the draft mission statement.

For those of you who visit the web site, you will notice it remains in early development. Feedback is welcome.

Announcing Voices Without Votes 2004, where non-U.S. citizens can present their viewpoints to U.S. voters:

"The conceptual basis for this project reflects my interest in the effects of new forms of electronic communication on the relations between political communities. An open space in which non-U.S. citizens can voice their concerns, and U.S. voters can access and respond to those concerns, has the potential to begin altering the way the United States relates to its neighbours and to the rest of the world. In an attempt to critique institutionalized American insularity—particularly with regard to the electoral process—I intend to utilize the Internet so as to permit Canadians and others to indirectly take part in the 2004 election. Few people are advocating for, or even expecting, the advent of legal changes that would permit direct foreign involvement in the U.S. electoral process. Yet, the Internet makes possible surrogate participation, and therefore changes of consciousness. The long-term effects of greater international involvement in this touchstone of American domestic politics will not be slight. Canada-U.S. relations could be fundamentally transformed in the process."

"One objective of the Voices Without Votes web site is to give non-U.S. citizens an opportunity to participate in the debates leading up to the next presidential election. Another goal is to offer U.S. voters an opportunity to assess the blind spots in their nation’s public and private institutions, specifically, with regard to how Canada and the rest of the world are portrayed. In other words, this online project is intended to persuade by example. The United States’ public and private institutions will most likely, and for sometime into the future, continue to encourage unawareness of Canada and the rest of the world. During the next fourteen months, Voices Without Votes will be active in amplifying Canadian voices, and those of the rest of humanity, in an effort to reach out to individual U.S. citizens."

It sure is a crazy world. America took it on the chin for many years with its embassies and people getting killed or kidnaped by terrorists.

I saw no outcry from the outside world about terrorist atrocities towards my fellow citizens. If foreigners thought we were all inter-connected, they didn't express that feeling much back then.

I never did buy the "we're all inter-connected" argument over the last 30+ years because it isn't true. That concept is a myth.

Then 9/11 happened here at home. That to me was the end of any discussion process. From that point on, its self-defense in the war started by terrorists.

Now, the weak nations want us to forego our power we are using in self-defense. Now they raise the issue of all of us being being inter-connected. LOL!

Just how are those weak nations fighting back against terrorists? They're not as far as I can tell. Seems like they created a broken connection to me.

I can't count on wimps to protect my fellow citizens, my family, or me. I will not vote for any wimp at any time. I feel most Americans feel the same way.

I'm for President Bush now and in the next four years he serves.

Don

I hope I'm not coming across as anti-American. I'm not. I think the great thing about America is that it really is/was an amazing example of diversity and democracy in action. By the People for the People. Good for them that they extended the defintion of "People" to include African Americans and women eventually, but you'd think it's only a small step to consider everyone else "People".

I think that it's all really about how broadly you can identify with people. Some people can only feel close to their family. Others, their churches, others their nation, creed, etc.

When the Dalai Lama visited Japan recently, he went to the Shinto Shrine to pay his respects. He talked a lot about "Human Values" and "Global Responsibiliy." I would feel a lot better about empowering a government to rule the world if their leaders felt compassion for all human beings beyond religion, race and nationality.

Peter. That's an interesting project. I guess my question is how your information reaches the Americans.

Your basic point of does the rest of the world hava a say against the US, is valid.
For the US the question of does other countries / culture/ peopleseek good or ill for the US.

If say Japan was given seats in the Senate and House or allowed to vote for Presidents, would the Japanese, have the Combined US/Japanese interest at heart or would they favor their own interest exclusively.

It is a nobal goal to continually increase the scope of who is included in a person's concept of "My Tribe". The problem is an tribe that welcomes in a different tribe that does not share the "we are all one tribe" meme, will become extinct.

I have to lead with this but, I hate Bush. I can't stand most of his policies, I can't stand his personality, I def. can't stand his self assumed idea of superiority. However, I can't really argue with his foreign policy. I'm sick and tired of hearing the world bitch and moan about what America does. Honestly, we can't win. If we did nothing, sat on our hunches like quite a few Americans want to do, we'd be hate.

Yet when we actively go out and try and make a difference, somewhere, somehow, to protect ourselves, our interests and maybe, just maybe improve the quality of life in another country. We're hated.

Wait. Hold up. Hated either way? Yea, welcome to the worlds view of America. 90% of the countries in this world hate America. Why? Because we don't kiss their ass. Because we don't give them economic aid. Because we don't listen to the constant and never ending whine and dribble of a global body that is hypocritical to the extreme (Iran on human rights? HAHA) and useless beyond dreams.

Maybe the projection of American power is foolhardy, maybe it will lead to the end of this nation (I highly doubt it). However, the idealistic dreams of a global peace of the moonbat left is just as foolhardy. You can't have peace when religious fanatics slam planes into buildings. You can't have peace when you have men running into cafes with bombs strapped to their chest. You can't have peace when rogue nations think the only way they can have their demands met is at the end of a nuclear weapon.

You want peace? Then get your country to do something. America does what it has to because no one else will. Its sad, american-centric and I know I come off has a blood loving satanic, but such is life.

Joi and everyone:

Rest assured that not everyone is rolling over and playing dead while the Bush Administration is on its "Axis of Evil" trip. One interesting group is the new Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. It's backed by some foreign policy scholars from places like The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute--not exactly hotbeds of liberal politics.

I'm no conservative and no fan of Bush, but these guys have the right idea. Pax Americana and a new American empire overseas does much more harm to both the world order and U.S. self-interest than any alleged benefit to "national security." And the U.S. government's current strategy makes even more tragic loss of Americans and others who are dying in Iraq, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

Someone said "You want peace? Then get your country to do something. America
does what it has to because no one else will."

That's bullshit. America does what it does because it is following an ideology
fraught with ignorance and stubbornness. This gov't has every right to act in
the country's best interests. But its interpretation of said interests is so
freakin' narrow-minded that so many people in the international community are
tearing their hair out of their collective heads screaming "what the hell are
you doing???" ...but to deaf ears in the White House.

Before saying that the U.S. ought to take some action, or that the world at large should take some action against the United States' foreign policy decisions, I think we need to further define the problem and the scope of the problem in its present form.

The U.S. has been on the track of forcefully steering the world for quite a while. After coming to grips with the train that is the U.S. being on that aggressive track, and all the history that has led to where we are today, the question becomes - in what way can the U.S. remove itself from its current foreign policy track, and start down another, more peaceful, more accepting and cooperative track?

The hate associated with the U.S. because of years of global manipulation makes switching tracks a daunting long term effort. Without some sort of plan for the long haul, with short and long term goals, and with buy-in from both in and outside the U.S., the safe thing to do politically, and in the short term, is to continue down the aggressive track that Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton have all continued to do.

Four-year terms cannot begin to right aggravations that have existed and will exist for generations. The economy and terrorist threat force American politicians to be selfishly introspective in their efforts. The American people (at least the majority of them) demand it.

I hate to justify the actions of our government, but those actions are logical in my mind. At the risk of advocating doing absolutely nothing, I would like to see a discussion of the complex, long-term plan for necessary for removing the U.S. from hostile conduct, be it motivated by humanitarian, anti-terrorism, or economic reasons, before a cease and decist is called for. At this point, it would do more harm than good, unless other nations stepped up to shoulder the burden this far into things.

I personally do not believe that ANY power can be in power forever. I think the "End of History" theory is not true. Then the next question is, what kind of world would the US be happy in if they were not the only super-power? Probably one that had an inclusive multilateral governing process. The next step in this process is to consider the best way to build such a thing. Of couse there are people who will bitch and moan and there is a substantial cost to supporting the UN, the Kyoto Protocol, and all other multilateral processes, but I think the US MUST support these things. When you have a global community where asymetrical warfare can allow little guys to fly planes into your buildings, sometimes strange bedfellows can come to your aid.

I think it was Danny Hillis that said that the force of military destruction works well against structures, but not against chaos. We are living in an increasingly inter-connected and chaotic world and dismissing the small guys as irrelevant is a mistake. Spending a little more time bringing everyone together and a little less time on photo ops on aircraft carriers would probably go a long way.

I know I come off exceedly lefty on this, but force and fear don't work on everyone and can be extremely counter-productive to those who are cornered or have nothing to lose.

Joi,

The only oversight in your post is that you overlooked that even US citizens are rapidly loosing whatever say we once had in how our country is run. The president doesn't even need Congressional approval to start a war anymore, a dangerous power that should have never been granted. Additionally, the growing e-vote scandal involving the three Republican owned e-voting machine companies is even more ominous to what may have one time been a free country.

No, we are talking about a relatively small group of insane men who have taken over the US, and in turn used the power of that country to now start taking over the world. Democracy be damned, any rhetoric to the contrary (Bush's recent speech), is just plain double-speak.

Alienating Aliens, unfortunately will not be a concern for your average U.S. citizen until its impact is felt at hime. Its ironic that the events that allowed the Bush Administration to over-react with imperialism are a result of alienation itself. Further still that we feed this cycle in lust for control and the rewards we give so easily who can claim credit for bringing control.

I truely hope that foreign policy will become a major issue in domestic elections. But this will not happen unless its a matter of domestic policy or the war(s) escalates to a level of dispair.

By sense and hope is it will be the former. Over-extension of empire brings the end of every hegemon, and its the economic pain that is felt first. We have had our share of this pain already. And while the economy is recovering, jobs are not. $87 billion after $87 billion, the numbers will add up in the American concisiousness.

The connections we have dismantled, liberties forsaken home and abroad, terror invited and imposed -- all pale to the plight of Paul not being able to buy his Pontiac.

Only *some* American citizens. In Texas where I live, for instance, the powerful UberPols just changed around all the voting district lines so that only Republican Party candidates can win elections.

The rest of us are welcome to vote, but it won't matter mathmematically.

We're allowed to practice citizenship and enjoy the Constitution, but mostly just in the Fifth Dimension.

--------Joi Question-------
In this scenario the US is kind of like a super state, but only American citizens can vote, right?

Here's what it comes down to. The US hasn't changed. The rest of the world has changed in many respects, but we're the same country that turned Germany and Japan on their respective ears. You can disagree with the attack on Iraq, but this really started in Afghanistan in late 2001. We experienced another Pearl Harbor, and the Americans wanted to see action. Now they've seen it, and they're split. Some say we should keep going, others aren't so sure. But that's not the point. The point is these actions are as justifiable as many of the past 50 years. Were we wrong then also? Personally, I don't think so. I think that we've acted in the best interest of our own citizens through the last century, and this century shouldn't be any different. The rest of the world will vacillate between a love and hate relationship for the US. When the Clinton types are in office, and their Albright-type appointees trot the globe and toast dictators and other charlatans, we will be applauded for being more inclusive. When the Bush's of the world are in office, and they see things in black and white, and they kick a little ass when it needs to be kicked, and they care more about what their own citizens think than the fledgling international organizations and tribunals that we've propped up for so many years, the world will be pissed.

To sum up, it is ok to be pissed. We'll swing back the other way for a little while, and you guys will feel better. Then the pendulum will swing again, and you'll be pissed again. Meanwhile, we don't care. The US has to look out for the best interests of its own citizens. If our economy is reasonably strong and we manage our collective resources well, our power will be perpetuated for quite some time. And that is good for us, and not so good for you. And in fifty years, we'll recycle this argument again in the context of new conflicts and struggles. And the US will continue to lead the world. I know it is tough to deal with the insignificance of your position of the world when you're not from a dominant nation, and that is understandable. Most of us from the US really feel blessed to be here. But look at it from the US perspective. Why is it in our interests to position ourselves for a future where we may not be as powerful? How will that help to sustain our current power? Answer- it won't.

P.S.- I'm the right wing tony pierce, you just don't know it yet. :)

Here's what it comes down to. The US hasn't changed. The rest of the world has changed in many respects, but we're the same country that turned Germany and Japan on their respective ears. You can disagree with the attack on Iraq, but this really started in Afghanistan in late 2001. We experienced another Pearl Harbor, and the Americans wanted to see action. Now they've seen it, and they're split. Some say we should keep going, others aren't so sure. But that's not the point. The point is these actions are as justifiable as many of the past 50 years. Were we wrong then also? Personally, I don't think so. I think that we've acted in the best interest of our own citizens through the last century, and this century shouldn't be any different. The rest of the world will vacillate between a love and hate relationship for the US. When the Clinton types are in office, and their Albright-type appointees trot the globe and toast dictators and other charlatans, we will be applauded for being more inclusive. When the Bush's of the world are in office, and they see things in black and white, and they kick a little ass when it needs to be kicked, and they care more about what their own citizens think than the fledgling international organizations and tribunals that we've propped up for so many years, the world will be pissed.

To sum up, it is ok to be pissed. We'll swing back the other way for a little while, and you guys will feel better. Then the pendulum will swing again, and you'll be pissed again. Meanwhile, we don't care. The US has to look out for the best interests of its own citizens. If our economy is reasonably strong and we manage our collective resources well, our power will be perpetuated for quite some time. And that is good for us, and not so good for you. And in fifty years, we'll recycle this argument again in the context of new conflicts and struggles. And the US will continue to lead the world. I know it is tough to deal with the insignificance of your position of the world when you're not from a dominant nation, and that is understandable. Most of us from the US really feel blessed to be here. But look at it from the US perspective. Why is it in our interests to position ourselves for a future where we may not be as powerful? How will that help to sustain our current power? Answer- it won't.

P.S.- I'm the right wing tony pierce, you just don't know it yet. :)

A few months before his wife was outed as a CIA agent, Joe Wilson gave a talk here that was quite chilling. He pointed out that last year's Nobel laureate in economics said that what is really going on in this country amounts to looting (think $87billion followed by another $87billion, none of which is loans!)

He also pointed out that while the current #1 owner of US T-bills is the UK, the #2 is China. Since this administration insists on borrowing and spending, the debt is piling up; in approx 5 years, China will move from #2 to #1. Consequently, the same folks who brought you Gulf War I and Gulf War II are talking about war with China!

In case the partisan posters here think Wilson is some leftist on a mission, remember that he was appointed by Bush Sr.

Here is a recent interview with Wilson that sheds some real light on the subject from a guy who went toe to toe with Saddam Hussein:

http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:oObI1dZujeIJ:www.independent.com/cover/cover.html+Independent+joseph+wilson+santa+barbara&hl=en&ie=UTF-8


Yes, and Joe Wilson has also endorsed John Kerry's campaign for President.

what's missing here may be a solid working model of human behavior - underneath the political conversations, humans are humans - each tribe has it's own rules - prominent among them are rules about how it will act towards the rules of other tribes

another prominent feature of each tribe is the methods it uses to cope with the pain of living in today's world - violence against the "causes" is one example - isolation is another - creative chemistry is another

maybe where we need to sort out our global mess begins with understanding that we're all humans - that could lead to understanding the rules of the various tribes to which each of us belongs - by laying those understandings on the table - maybe we can begin working towards a common set of rules in support of human evolution on the planet

at any rate, it's definitely time for some new thinking

until then, we're pissin in the wind - unfortunately, a lot of people are suffering and any progress we're making as a species is difficult to see

Insightful thoughts and great post, Joi. I don't think it is wrong to oversimplify things now and then in the name of idealism. We should be shooting for higher things. And you pegged one of the traits of our current administration which I hope we can fix in the next election. I see only trouble ahead if we continue down the path of preemptive warfare and declaring other nations must convert to our system.

-- The US seems ready to ignore the UN --
I often here this argument concerning the U.S. ignoring UN resolutions, and it causes me to scratch my head. Iraq was in violation of at least 12 chapter VII United Nations Security Resolutions dating back to 1990. Security Resolutions from 1990 to 2003 constantly point out that Iraq is in violation of previous Chapter VII resolutions and authorizes the use of force by Member States. A quote from 1441:

Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area
Since these are Chapter VII Security Resolutions, I do not see how the U.S. was in violation when they were authorized to use force, "...authorized Member States to use all necessary means." Key points to Chapter VII resolutions:
Article 41
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.
Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.
Please explain to me how the U.S. ignored the U.N..

s/here/hear/

the way i see it the hope for change lies in the hands of american people. the current us administration is depriving american people of their own capacity to think and act freely on the pretence of safeguarding them from the elusive, yet real, threat of terrorism. but this invariably impacts upon other people and cultures.

it's not a matter of whether the US is ignoring the UN. of course it does. that goes without saying., and when it does not ignore the UN, it tries to distort and manipulate the UN' s efforts to produce something of tangible and sustainable value. all US attempts to enfore a global-wide intellectual property regime is nothing but a n ill-conceived shot at exerting control over biopolitics. Take the World Summit on Information society (WSIS) that takes place in Geneva next month. See
http://www.metamute.com/look/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=1&NrIssue=26&NrSection=10&NrArticle=873&ST_max=0

and it's a two way thing. not only citizens of otger countries feel alienated, but americans experience the same traumatic realisation when they travel abroad, particularly in the Balkans. wherever i go in the balkans, the first thing that locals ask me is if i'm american. when i tell 'em i'm noy, i can see their relief. increasingly more people despise americans. and this ought to change, unless americans are happy living in a glass.

I've been an American for 62 years and cannot remember of a time when the rest of the world "liked" America, especially if whomever was doing the talking had no chance of emigrating. (mmmm, which country was it now that took in all the boat people from almost any place that could float a boat?) While we're pointing fingers, let me remember a certain TV program in Japan ca. 1990 when U.S. Senator McCluskey was attempting to have a civil conversation on-air with Socialist Party head Takako Doi. She treated him with such disdain (this was at the peak of Japan's economic ascendancy) that the interpretor could not or would not translate her haughty remarks in the tone or in the word selection that Doi used). In those days, Japan was very much the aggressor in many nations around the world, although the weapons of choice were money and fiscal clout rather than military incursion. As for human rights and compassion for the underprivileged and refugees of the world, Japan's track record speaks for itself. Of course, when we non-Japanese say anything about such things, we're accused of not understanding Japan's "true" intent. I wonder what would be happening if Japan were in the United States's shoes?

Let's look at the Iraq war. First, the US spent a year (and this was after 12 years of UN engagement) tring to get the UN to do something to enforce the UN's own resolutions. Saying the US acted unilaterally is just - stupid. Those who say it was a small coalition don't know history either; it's basically the same coalition (minus Canada, plus Italy) that invaded Normandy in 1994. Was that unilateral as well?

Now, about the President starting war without Congress? When would that have been? There was a Congressional vote to authorize war in the fall of 2002. Both the Senate and the House approved, with both Democratic and Republican votes. War didn't begin in Iraq until after that vote; bombings that were taking place in the north and south no-fly zones were explicitly under UN auspices.

Heck, UN resolution 1441 was approved by a 15-0 Security Council vote, and promised tough actions if Iraq did not comply. Iraq did not, in fact, comply - what exactly did the nations voting on that think that the US and UK had in mind for non-compliance actions? They knew full well what we had in mind; saying otherwise is disengenuous at best.

When you decide that you want to question US (and UK, in this case) actions, it would be best to actually inform yourself as to how and why things developed the way they did. Things chnaged for the US post 9/11 - in much the same way that they changed post Dec 7, 1941, After 9/11, the US decided that the hate filled cesspool that is the current middle east could no longer be dealt with piece-meal - it has to be cleaned up.

iM wrote: " I often here this argument concerning the U.S. ignoring UN resolutions, and it causes me to scratch my head"

Why are you scratching your head? Last time I checked, WMDs that would be in violation of the UN security council's resolutions had not been found by the UN's inpsection team headed by Hans Blix, and it appears that the US forces occupying Iraq haven't been able to find such WMDs either.
Besides, I was under the impression that the Security Council did *not* approve of the latest US invasion of Iraq. Was there even a vote at the SC regarding that issue, hmm ?


To Charles Whippie: You obviously don't seem to be familiar with contemporary History. Once upon a time, there was a president in the US named John F. Kennedy. The US was quite popular in many European and Asian countries back then. The US popularity has been going a bit downhill since then, but that's another story.

Circa 1960, the US was quite popular because of the afterglow of WWII success and the afterglow of the reconstruction efforts in Europe and Asia. That kind of thing doesn't last. As well, let's look at the WMD thing. Pretty much every analyst on the planet was sure that Iraq had WMD's before the war; that really wasn't in dispute. Whether they are still hidden, were shipped to Syria, or destroyed doesn't matter a lot - pre-invasion, everyone thought they were there.

If you want to look at some history relevant to the matter at hand, have a look at how reconstruction efforts were viewed in the US in 1866 (Civil War), 1919 (Europe), and 1946 (Europe). I think you'll be amazed at how similarly to the present day things were being reported.

James:


Make sure you are using an up-to-date browser. If you aren't, do not expect to be able to view any of those Resolutions.

(Note: I'm not the same 'Jon' that posted earlier in this thread.)

A note about democracy and the comments quoted 'way above by Christopher Coulter... in fact skepticism about pure or direct democracy is sensible in many contexts. Democracy doesn't scale well, and is complicated by cultural diversity, one result of which is inherent misunderstanding across cultures. Democracy requires a substructure of information, communication, and shared understanding that didn't exist in the context of those quotes, and doesn't exist today even across counties or provinces in larger states, let alone at a global level. So when we talk about creating democracy on any level, we have to think about what it takes to get there, how we get the shared understanding that is fundamental to democratic problem-solving and decision-making. (Some of us think that the Internet and the blogosphere have a role in facilitating better understanding and supporting ongoing democratic discussion and debate, but that won't just happen. We need more thought about how to get there.)

Lots of well thought out comments in this thread. I'd guess that many of the posters here who either agree or disagree with the recent actions of the US govt may be interested in a series of articles on American exceptionalism which ran in last week's Economist. You can view them online. look in the "A survey of America" section for the specific articles

Joi, are you sure you are not asking to be allowed to vote in US elections? You could do it you know. Just become a citizen and then you are elligable to cast your vote and run for many political offices. You have much more opportunity to participate in the US political process than I have to participate in the Japanese political process. We Texans have a saying which might apply here "fish or cut bait".

With regard to the US ignoring the UN. The UN is in the U.S., it was created largely by U.S. citizens and is financed mainly by contributions from the U.S. (i believe the U.S. still pays the largest contribution in absolute dollars and also as a percentage of GDP). The U.S. has also supported the U.N. in many endeavors throughout the years. For some reason the U.N. did not want to enforce its own resolution this time around and the U.S. and U.K. chose to go it alone. Prehaps some of the other permanent security council members had other reasons why they were relunctant to attack a substantial trading partner. In any event I fully support the idea of global democracy but I would like to remind all which country brought democracy to Germany, Italy, Russia and the former Warsaw pact nations. It wasn't the U.N. Even in Korea (the U.N.'s most successful intervention) democracy would have never been born without the U.S.

"The US has to look out for the best interests of its own citizens. If our economy is reasonably strong and we manage our collective resources well, our power will be perpetuated for quite some time. And that is good for us, and not so good for you."


ahateroftheyplayers, what is it that make you think there is "us" and "you"? There are only people on this planet, not citizens. Nationality is just a concept, a structure to help people manage their lives, a nation is not something that makes people different from each other, we are all the same. Let me say that again, we are all the same. So stop looking at things in terms of us and them and start thinking about what's best for people period.

Rikard Linde,

Thas a very nice kind view you have there. Nationality and citizenship mean alot and in many parts of this earth they are life or death matters. My bet is that you are a citizen of a wealthy, and relatively "free" nation which is why you have the luxury to express such an opinion. All humans may share the same DNA, but we dont all share the same lives.

Let's see if I get this straight: according to the anti-US ben pensante, the US should ignore its own self interest and stop defending itself against enemies who have committed or supported mass murder of its citizens and attacked the headquarters of its military on its own soil because -- some people who already hate America will hold their breath until they explode?

The US acts because it feels it needs to -- and because it can. Let's examine why that engenders hatred.

The Europeans who march or riot in the street, cluck in the press, or actively oppose the US on the world political stage are already biased against the US, and in any case can't really do anything else but complain because 50 years ago they made another one of their splendid collective political decisions in favor of six week vacations and permanent job security in exchange for permanently foregoing economic, military or political leadership on the world stage. Is it any wonder that now they don't have any leverage, and that they are driven to hysteria because they don't have the influence they had under Napoleon or Hitler?

(Actually, it's even less of a wonder when you realize that what's really pissing off the leaders of France and Germany is that Bush terminated their cozy little neo-colonial relationship with Iraq where they traded tens of billions of Euros worth of their manufactured goods for Iraq oil, with the UN, through its Oil for Palaces program, acting as their bagman. What all those Euro-protestors waving signs meant by "No War for Oil" was really "No War Against French and German Oil.")

The American Left is anti-Bush because it hates Bush, not because it has even a semi-intelligent alternative to current US foreign policy. They keep "misunderestimating" Bush, he keeps steamrollering over them, they can't believe the audacity of their inferior (he's supposed to be stupid, right), they throw shitfits. And even if they weren't emotionally disturbed Bush-haters, we're entering an election year in the United States, if anyone noticed, and that means that the Democrats and their supporters in academia and the media (90+ percent of reporters voted for Clinton, from a poll that particularly sticks in my memory) are desperately scrambling to find any issue to unseat a popular president (highest favorables of any president at this point in his term).

Moslems are anti-US because Bush has finally stood up to the Islamic fascists in their midst and demonstrated that the US is no longer going to tolerate them or the governments, charities, mullahs, movements, fellow travelers and whatever element of the so-called Arab street that supports them. But really, should we take any more notice of the Arab or Moslem street today than we would have taken notice of the Italian or German or Japanese street during World War II?

As you can tell, I join the others in this thread who are tired of hearing anti-Americanism masquerading as anything more than a Rorshach test for the pathologies of its proponents, much less an argument for why the US should change its foreign policy. Of course if your only weapon is words you're going to argue that we should just talk this all over, have a conference, reach consensus, launch a commission, build a scaffold of agreements etc. etc. ad nausEUm. But compromise, consensus, and pretty words like peace (in our time) didn't stop Hitler or Tojo or bin Ladin, and the goodwill of hypocrites who hate America while they strut their new Nikes and listen to the Dixie Chicks on their iPods isn't going to stop the next 9/11 or bombings of Bali nightclubs or Istanbul synagogues.

Yours for peace and freedom,

Lysander Spooner

P.S. And enough about Bush bringing fascism to America. Please read a history book. In America today, there is no draft, there is no House UnAmerican Activities Committee, there is no censorship of the press or correspondence, much less concentration camps, suspension of habeas corpus, or summary executions -- all of which have, at one time or another, been part of previous American wars. Remember, it was Clinton and Gore who wanted to give the FBI the power to tap every phone and computer in America, or have you already forgotten the Clipper Chip?

USA needs global democracy but others need local peace.
Today, american people are full stomached charactres to yelling his comfort.
from south korea

NSA DOWN!

USA needs global democracy but others need local peace.
Today, american people are full stomached charactres to yelling his comfort.
from south korea

NSA DOWN!

bon hyeon kim,

You are right. We Americans have grown fat, spoiled, and we often self-victimize.

But consider this one major difference between my country and yours. When the US landed on the Moon, we left a plaque that said, "We came in peace for all Mankind."

If South Korea or any other country besides the USA visits the moon, the thought to leave such a tribute to our species is not likely cross that government's mind.

Oh, I suppose the Chinese might leave a tribute to the Chinese.

My country (and others that unquestionably depend on it)is having problems that we are trying to work through - so it's an easy target for your knee-jerk protestations.

True democracy cannot be realized unless everyone is involved. Was America really a democracy when women, blacks and Native Americans could not vote? The same is true today. The sole super power that effects everyone on the planet can only be voted on by a small minority. The problem as I see it is that the UN does not have a representative arm. What it needs is a house of representives that all people can vote for. It would work just like the US house of representatives where a certain amount of people would vote on a representative. Say if there were approximately 600 representatives for the approximately 6 billion people on Earth. That would be about one representative for every 10 million people and the representive lines could be drawn up on that basis. This would give the UN more legitamacy. And will make all people, including Americans, feel that they have more influence in global affairs. If proportional representation was added into this concept we could have a pretty good system. And for all you right wingers out there, you need to grow up. This is one small planet and it gets smaller every day. We can't "go it alone" because we are not alone. Yes, America has done some good things, but if you really study what we've done in the Middle East since WW1 you'll understand why they're so mad at us. Overthowing a democratic government in Iran and installing a brutal dictator, the shah, makes our claim to want to bring democracy to that region a real sham. Oil is the source of power and we're hooked on both. That's why we've been controlling things there since WW1. See the mini series or read the book: "The Prize: The Epic quest for Oil, Money and Power" That will give you an idea about what's really going on. And to quote someone that the right supposedly believes in. "love your enemies" Understanding is the key to peace.

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