In pursuit of American humility

By Ian Bremmer
October 4, 2013

This week, as Washington navel-gazed its way into a shutdown, its actions didn’t go unnoticed abroad. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, took the opportunity to gloat about the U.S.’s refusal to pay its federal workers, many of whom are on furlough because of the shutdown. “We are now witnessing the crisis in the U.S. We have never been a government that could not pay its personnel,” Erdogan said.

This is how America’s dysfunction at home is undermining its credibility abroad. The latest development: Obama’s desire to maintain laser focus on the Republicans for political gain has prompted him to cancel a pivotal trip to Asia to attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. But it’s not just the shutdown: it is a series of issues over the past decade, chief among them the financial crisis. For decades the U.S. had been espousing the virtues of free market capitalism, urging other countries to adopt the model. America’s exceptional economic success, the thinking went, allowed it to give advice about how other countries should build their own economies.

And then the bottom fell out. The crisis, spurred by lax regulations that were manipulated by the big banks, started in the United States, before its impact spread globally. An unemployment and debt crisis soon followed. So did a rush to rethink the way countries handle their economies. With the free-market system no longer sacrosanct, countries with other approaches were happy to second-guess the system. China’s state capitalist model became a viable alternative as it navigated the financial crisis much better than most. I’ll never forget my meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei in 2009, when he asked me outright, “Now that the free market has failed, what do you think is the proper role for the state in the economy?” The financial crisis was an opportunity to reopen the debate surrounding perceived global values — and to kick the U.S. system while it was down.

That’s a case study that points to America’s larger problem. All too often, America has been leading by rhetoric rather than example. In a G-Zero world — what President Obama described as a “vacuum of leadership” in his U.N. General Assembly speech — strong words do not qualify as leadership. It’s only credible when you call for reforms or actions that you actually stand behind — and reflect them in your domestic policy.

Whether it’s botched Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, a failure to close Guantanamo, or a disregarded redline on Syrian chemical weapons use, the discrepancy between America’s words and deeds opens it up to criticism from abroad. It’s hard enough to defend dysfunctional domestic policies — but when you are projecting those values on to the rest of the world, any mistake is that much more glaring.

On these leadership metrics, Barack Obama has proved to be better in theory than in practice. He certainly can give a stirring speech, but contradictions between the United States’ promoted values and its actions have undercut Obama’s leverage in diplomatic negotiations. Just ask Xi Jinping, whose meeting with Obama was neutered by Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. I wrote a Reuters column back in June explaining the drawbacks of American exceptionalism — and how the Snowden affair was undermining any progress on cyber policy with the Chinese. Even if NSA surveillance and China’s cyberattacks on American intellectual property are apples and oranges, the Snowden affair makes for an easy pretext for China to bury the issue.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding American exceptionalism, from Vladimir Putin arguing against the concept in his New York Times op-ed, to Obama strongly reasserting it in his U.N. speech. But exceptionalism is dangerous and counterproductive when America’s missteps make it an exception to the very rules it champions. Obama was correct in identifying the “vacuum of leadership” in the international system. He could have been more honest about the vacuum here at home. It’s one thing when a student dozes off in class — it’s entirely different if the teacher scolds the student, only to nap right after. As a shutdown leaves the U.S. government unable to perform its most basic functions, how can it presume to weigh in on what a political system should look like?

To be exceptional, the United States need not be the global policeman, nor an indispensable nation. What it needs is a leader who can clearly outline the principles that the administration and the country stand for, uphold them whenever possible, and take ownership of any failures to do so with honest accountability. Recently, America has fallen far short of that mark, and its exceptionalist rhetoric leaves the bar as high as possible. A little humility wouldn’t hurt.

PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the government funding impasse at M. Luis Construction, a local small business in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington, October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

41 comments

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American exceptionalism is the equivalent of someone walking into passing all his professors responsible for teaching him ecomonics,politics,science etc. walking up to a mirror and declaring themselves ‘exceptional’.

Posted by Doodlebug80 | Report as abusive

“contradictions between the United States’ promoted values and its actions have undercut Obama’s leverage in diplomatic negotiations”. This is true, but not new. What we think of ourselves is what we are told to think. Name one politician who has said “we will be just fine when we cut out useless management levels and the american people stop being whiney lazy little babies”? The rest of the world knows it is our tendency to use military force that garners us worldwide support and “respect”. Not that we have higher standards or sensibilities. We actually may be the most disingenuous and self dillusional people on the planet. Our stated goals are hardly ever our real goals.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

@brotherkenny4
Our stated goals are hardly ever our real goals because we do not have honorable people in high offices. We need statesmen, all we have are politicians. Statesmen run countries, politicians run election campaigns.

Posted by JRTerrance | Report as abusive

For over six years, the complicit media has reported on regular European summit meetings, usually focused on the seventeen-nation Euro Zone. Every single report said essentially the same thing: the “leaders” had agreed that sometime in the future, maybe at the next meeting they would address, maybe even resolve the ecomomic issues. The only thing they actually agreed upon was the menu at the summit dinners. They did next to nothing, but bloviate as Europe continued in a deep and deepening depression, a depression that to this day still has an ill-defined ending years away.

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive

This article reminds me reading of Stalin’s propaganda oracle of the 1930s newspaper Pravda. At the time, Pravda suggested that the Soviet Union was “successfully marching towards the bright future of all mankind Communism”, whilst the USA “was laying under the ruins of Capitalism”, implying the Great Depression of course.
In my view, China’s “state capitalist” is oxymoron. China is a modern totalitarian regime that is trying to adapt and mimic free market capitalism in order to preserve itself. Successfully? So far, yes. But that cannot change its real substance and future prospects.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive

“Turkey’s…Erdogan…Prime Minister [gloated] ‘We are now witnessing the crisis in the U.S. We have never been a government that could not pay its personnel…’. As I recall the two Chinese letters used to express “crisis” are, respectively, “Danger” and “Opportunity”.

The current fiscal course of the U.S. Government is that of a runaway train. Ercodan looks at the train as running out of coal being the problem. Clearly his eye is “on the wrong ball”.

The real problem is that America is running at the financial equivalent beyond “full throttle” at “military power”, a setting to be used ONLY in emergency because the engine will suffer damage from such use. Not only is there no emergency, The truth is that America conspicuously lacks the slightest consensus as to it’s ultimate destination. It is sheer insanity to continue to go faster and faster down whatever track we find ourselves on.

American exceptionalism is a reality because America is a reality…a relatively long term one. America does not need humility. It does not need more speeches. It’s not just “…hard…to defend dysfunctional domestic policies…”, it’s impossible!

America needs less hypocrisy. It desperately needs to chart and sail a consistent course to an appropriate and sustainable future.

It needs fewer new programs and goodies such as Obamacare that take from the productive and give to the nonproductive. Why is it radical to expect our government to expand the “productive class” and shrink the “non-productive class”. Just because we have been doing exactly the opposite for decades now?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@OOTS, that was great right up to the last paragraph, then you blew it.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

So, do we need another Roosevelt? Another World War? We can’t make the first, but we can make latter.
I think we need a new leadership that can show the we can still be exceptional, but not by being mavericks or independents. Those times are over. Now we need a leader that understands where the 21st century is going. Social and economic changes are occurring at an exponential rate. Old tried and true theories don’t work anymore. America need drastic changes to it’s economic model of growth based free markets and mindless corporations. We will not have notable growth for many decades. Our free markets have turned into anarchy. Ando our corporations have gone global and abandoned us.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

Great article.

Posted by Colmery | Report as abusive

I find the Bremmer’s article unconvincing, to say the least. Mr. Bremmer is talking about the executive branch, e.g. President Obama. While I see the crisis in the institutional sphere.

Institutions.
There is an ancient constitution that cannot be changed, in full or in part.
The legislation branch of power does not work. The unique and unprecedented system of the two-year term for congressmen and congresswomen doesn’t deliver literate and independent professional lawmakers, but supports the anachronistic, elites-dependent people who can’t and are not in a position to think big.
The judicial system is degraded to a state when one Supreme Court Judge decides the fate of the country’s future course.
The executive power is stuck. No matter who is the executor at the moment, the two-party system doesn’t allow to implement any real changes to the system.
The U.S. Federalism is obsolete – but effective in conservation of the oligarchy system.
The absence of the national referendum institution completes a picture of a society frozen in times.

Yes, the tough social system and the truly exceptional character of the people create enough space for entrepreneurship to maintain an effective business model.
However, the present nation’s divide is the proof that the society established on compromise – does not work well any longer.
How, tell me, the society, state, people or venture capitalists can develop any breakthrough ideas, under the circumstances? It just can’t happen.

Posted by OUTPOST2012.NET | Report as abusive

All of these activities were FORETOLD in our famous Holy Bible. At the end of history, a large economic, financial, and military powerhouse will attempt to conquer the world. It will try to create a hegemony and insist these events must happen.

It will make a god out of himself, magnifying himself over everyone and insist on total autonomy. He will boast that he is greater than them all. Becomes exceptional. (Daniel 11:36,37)

Giving no respect or consideration to subservient people or land. This King will act according to his own will. So great will he fancy himself to be, that he will even take on the Prince of Princes in battle, but in doing so he will seal his own doom. (Daniel 8:25)

This King starts to worship his military and spends lavishly on it. (Daniel 11:38) The strategy taken by this king of the North begins to unravel and becomes very($)costly to him. (He runs debts, deficits, & sequesters). His economic and financial wealth take a hit. His population & cities get old, He starts to GO BROKE! His friends & allies turn on him. And in the end find himself all alone.

This “King” starts to become concerned that he is LOSING POWER and begins to spy on everyone. It will begin use sophisticated forms of intelligence like High-Tech drones. Most people have already heard of the infamous Big Brother is watching narrative where the government will be able to access public records for their own private use.

All of humanity becomes roused because of the policies enacted by the King of the North. (Daniel 7:2) The sanctuary of humanity becomes completely distributed and polarized. People will become divided and start to wage war against each other.

The cycle of violence becomes commonplace. We probably remember our grandparents telling us tales that we would see Wars, Wars, & Rumors of Wars.

Eventually in the End, he shall be broken by the hand of God, though no humans means could overpower him.
(Daniel 8:25)

Posted by Reuters66 | Report as abusive

I already know a history about one exceptional nation, better then the others, ruled by exceptional, delusional leader.

The nation was Nazi Germany, and the leader was Adolf Hitler.
I think many in US should be warned where this path of exceptionalism eventually leads.
All people and nations are equal.

Posted by Wantunbiasednew | Report as abusive

Gee, zero mention of Iran. Can’t mention a positive development. Wouldn’t be prudent. Weakens the hypothesis. Better to punt.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive

Obama cancelled his big trip to the Asia economic summit in Bali this week. And cancelled his meeting with heads of China, Russia, Japan, etc.

Because he does not have the money to make the trip aboard his big fat Air Force One.

Exceptionally stupid and laughable. But the coming consequences of racking up $16.7 trillion in national debt, monthly budget deficit of $100 billion, by the US Administration, and nobody willing to finance it except the central bank simply issuing money out of thin air, will not be so laughable.

Even the ‘exceptional’ United States cannot defy laws of economics and physics. But for a few decades, the country certainly believed it does. What is the word for this behavior?

Posted by TomKi | Report as abusive

The currency of a nation is backed by the economy of that nation. Let’s define the momentum of a currency as the product of its supply (number of units) and its rate of circulation. Let’s also suppose you’re the US Federal Reserve System. If you want to expand the economy of your nation, you will want to proportionately increase the momentum of your currency. Thus, expanding the economy of a nation often requires an expansion of its debt, especially during challenging times. As the economy of a nation has an indefinite lifespan, nations can carry large debt-to-GDP ratios indefinitely. Every nation, including the much vaunted Germany (public debt = 81.7% of GDP) and the much maligned USA (public debt = 73.6% of GDP), takes this approach.

Catastrophe, of which either deflation or hyperinflation would merely be a symptom, would only ensue if the economy failed to grow in proportion to the number of currency units times their rate of circulation. Once in a while, catastrophe strikes, even with the best planning that can be reasonably expected. In a global economy such as ours, as long as they don’t strike too many countries at the same time, such catastrophes should be sufficiently survivable to permit recovery on a publically acceptable timescale.

Posted by MoBioph | Report as abusive

“We are now witnessing the crisis in the U.S. We have never seen a government that could not pay its personnel.” Kind of funny how the casinos always take the gamblers assets. Then the gamblers wants to blame it on the casino. Vicious Cycle that Dragon is.

Posted by 2Borknot2B | Report as abusive

@Wantunbiasednew,

Please. All squares are rectangles but all rectangles are not squares. In similar fashion, all great leaders are persuasive, but all persuasive leaders are not great (or good). One size does NOT “fit all”.

Only someone with head deep and permanently in sand could genuinely believe “nations” like Zimbabwe are comprised of “people” of “equal” opportunity, education, intellectual and/or economic accomplishment to the “people” of America.

At birth all humans have POTENTIAL. But everyone doesn’t get a trophy just for showing up.

What makes one nation greater than another is “people” that have motivation. They must also have and employ aspiration, persistence, intelligence, and/or inspiration to advance their own unique “common good”. A higher QUALITY OF LIFE, obvious to one and all with open eyes, is their just reward.

But even America has all too many people who are a waste of skin and air and other resources. It only takes a few of these to provide the rest of us with a bad example.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

America cannot fall with others. If this is the exceptionalism, let it be.

Posted by gee.la | Report as abusive

@gee.la, if you’re taking drugs, stop. If you’re not, start.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

Yon made a good point, thank you indeed.

Posted by gee.la | Report as abusive

This thing is very interesting. Sometimes, a whole article with many good thousand words couldn’t make any point; sometimes, just a few words did.

Posted by gee.la | Report as abusive

I lived in the United States for three years.
The most (and probably the only) exceptional what I personally saw were the people.

It is the only country in the world where people who live in the lower 10-20% tier – for generations – don’t make the conclusion that the system is flawed. They all somehow manage to keep faith that the chance of becoming wealthy is real and within the grasp.

Yes, I used to call it “brain washed by the oligarchy.” However, this faith is truly exceptional.

Another “exceptional” feature is the segregation by race. The discussion is not allowed due to the political correctness. But if we take Washington, D.C. area – for example – the absolute majority of the whites has never (!) visited Anacostia or other places where the non-whites reside. There is the line between the two words: the 16th street North-West. And people rarely cross this line. They work together in downtown. There are places where there are mixed communities. But not in Washington, D.C.

These two things are no doubt exeptional.

Posted by OUTPOST2012.NET | Report as abusive

@OneOfTheSheep
Somehow: “All people and nations are equal.” got Your attention, not the former sentences of my comment describing ideological similiarities i perceive between American exceptionalism and Nazi Germany ideology. Of course thing about equality is a hyperbole, but one every US citizen should have printed above its bed, just to get perspective.
I find a lot of similarities between Germans ubermensh=super man ideology and we are the greatest nation on Earth American ideology.
World is your lebensraum.
I would never bother to write about this, but unfortunately for all of us citizens of this little planet, United States has strongest military in the world, and this will not change in 30 years.
Think about perspective of other nations.
There is US that says sth about democracy and ideals but regularly uses its military against any norms of international law, just because it is convenient for US interest.

Posted by Wantunbiasednew | Report as abusive

@Wantunbiasednew,

“…similiarities i perceive between American exceptionalism and Nazi Germany ideology?” Depending where you reside on this planet, you should probably thank America that you are not a slave laboring without hope. Without America, the “arsenal of democracy”, the Allies would NOT have won WW II.

You’re obviously not a native English speaker,, so I’ll explain a few facts. Any “…similarities between Germans ubermensh=super man ideology and we are the greatest nation on Earth American ideology” exist only in your mind. The Nazis were racists who believed in eugenics and Aryan superiority. They intended making slaves of all races they deemed inferior.

Americans over two hundred years ago rejected and rebelled against the idea that ANY were their “betters”. But they refrained from elevating themselves above others by attitude or statute. America and Americans have become exceptional as a cumulative ecopnomic result of individual and collective achievement. We are exceptional by comparison to those not exceptional, and not by empty declaration of privilege or priority.

Our society offers citizens an opportunity to succeed and prosper. Individuals from every ethnic and geographical origin who dedicate themselves and sufficient intelligence, motivation, education, skill, innovation, sweat, perseverance and time “move up” to become part of a “meritocracy” of accomplishment.

Our economic success has made our dollar the “paper gold” of the world. Our economy contributed the greatest horsepower of the “world economic engine” today. Yes, our military has been the strongest in the world since WW II. If it were not others would quickly rob us of our success. And yet America has exhibited greater restraint in furthering it’s interests than any other such supreme power this world has ever seen.

We watched the little feifdoms of the middle east side with the Axis. When they lost, we did not demand all or any portion of their oil as reparations as we could have. Our reward has been predatory pricing of the life blood of our industry, yet we came to the aid of Kuwait when Saddam invaded, raped and killed.

Little tin pot dictators arise again and again across the earth, It is mostly the United States that maintains the peace for billions that might otherwise be slaves. The quality of life across the globe has advanced more since WW II than ever before for one and all yet few credit America for it’s contribution to that. In regards to the “perspective of other nations, please. You’ve obviously mistaken me for someone that cares.

When the world’s malcontents step forward with money in hand to pay their fair share of OUR cost to “keep the peace” THEN I might listen to their “perspectives”. But I will not listen to mere jealousy or ingratitude.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

I hear a lot abroad about how americans think their nation is the greatest, but the Sheep above is the first time I’ve heard this rhetoric from an american. It seems you haven’t seen Fight Club recently, so try to remember, we are not beautiful or unique snowflakes. And while you’re redefining the 1% as ‘productive’, I’ve found the wealthiest to be the most lazy, petty and self entitled I’ve met.

Posted by brianpforbes | Report as abusive

lol…what the hell is navel-gazed? is it like a glazed donut?

Elitists like Ian bremmer should be writing for the Onion.

Posted by jimst | Report as abusive

I should certainly hope that the United States should show more self-restraint in wielding power for the last sixty (and more) years, so as to distance themselves from previous empires of notable blood-thirst, such as Britain, France, Belgium, Rome, Athens….

If that is exceptionalism then we have a low bar of achievement for ourselves. The United States has hardly been the stabilizing, peaceful nation that OneOfTheSheep seems to think. Certainly the USA was an important part of the allied victory in WW2, though the war was very simply won by the USSR, who in fact did the bulk of the fighting, dying, and winning. This is true despite the strenuous efforts to forget by the USA.

Other than that, the USA has done next to nothing to ensure any kind of stability other than that of their wealthy class, a pretty common and distinctly un-exceptional role of a powerful government through all history. The fact that citizens of the USA can speak of their post-WW2 adventures with anything other than deep shame shows the depth of the brainwashing. Misadventures resulting in millions of killed are too easy to list, touching every continent: Indonesia, Indochina, Congo, being perhaps the worst, both in lives and in damage to the American moral position in the world.

as for democracy being the supposed driving force behind our foreign policy… all I can say is that this is a truly inconceivable notion. Unless deference to power is democracy.

Though the founders did craft an exceptional constitution, the actual behavior of the country for hundreds of years has been remarkable in it’s similarity to other power structures of the past. This is why power is not self-justifying. Some authority can be justified, but certainly not all. The gap between our professed goals and our actions ensure that this questioning of authority will be our most important activity for a long time to come.

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

I would disagree. Even though I am a Russian, I believe that the U.S. opposition to the Maoism was a needed action.
The Russian version of “comminism” – “real socialism” expanded within the borders of Russia until WW2, and to what we used to the Warsaw Pact after WW2.
The Maoism as an updated version of the same idea for the developing countries had a huge potential.
Though my idea is not commonly accepted either in Russia or in West, I strongly believe that the American lives were not wasted.
It doesn’t mean that I support the idea of “exceptionalism” in a greater extend than written above in this discussion.

Posted by OUTPOST2012.NET | Report as abusive

@Benny27,

Human nature as shown throughout history is neither pretty nor noble. To aspire to do better is admirable. In such context it is pointless to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Throughout history, although there have been missteps, no country has provided a better leadership example than America. Best of the worst, perhaps. But still the best.

Russia treated the countries under it’s control following WW II as booty. You seem unaware that without American arms and technical assistance, some stolen, the massive deaths of Russians in the big battles would still have occurred…but the Germans and Japanese would have been the winners. Big difference.

When there is a world-wide contest for influence and pre-eminence such as followed WW II, largely fueled by envious Russia and it’s sponsorship of Communism across the globe, it is not shameful but an act of intelligence to fight conflicts off of home soil.

That there were misadventures no one can argue, but to presume America alone should have been all-seeing, all-knowing and acted without error is to “place the bar” higher than humans have yet achieved. America’s “Marshall Plan” rebuilt Europe, mostly with U.S. funding.

The western zone of Berlin was an engine of prosperity while East Germany was an embarrassing engine of poverty and want. Many of it’s citizens just wanted to leave, to escape.

By any measure our leadership in transforming Japan from a politically backward Emperor-worshiping militaristic/feudal society into one of the world’s great and financially successful democracies in a relatively short period is historically unprecedented.

Arm chair generals with the luxury of 20-20 hindsight conveniently forget that it was the Communists who started the Korean War and the crisis in Berlin and Cuba. Had we had educationally deficient brainwashed pacifists like you in charge Communism would be dominant world wide today instead of universally rejected or reformed into a “new” collective Capitalism no less ambitious but obviously less openly hostile.

Their new leaderships finally understand that the health of their economies and improvements in the quality of life of their people (which they ignores before) are substantially dependent on the health and continued success of the American economy. Yes, democracy in America is still feeling it’s way along uncharted paths.

“I want it now” generations expect a “Star Trek” economy with equality and a good life for all. That’s like telling a bunch of losers they must go out and win the championship. Not gonna happen without proper preparation and effort.

The path from what our economy is today and such aspirational capability has yet to be blazed or traveled. No one can yet see further than a few steps. Those who would rush forward with great expectation and hope will likely be early casualties.

The personal computer has transformed how we do things. The need for untold millions of “good jobs” such as draftsmen, girls Friday, secretaries, administrative assistants, clerks of every sort (inventory, warehouse, bookkeeping), lower-level management and coordinators is gone. Not offshored,, just gone. Forever!

Laboratories are ever more automated as our knowledge leaps forward ever faster with fewer and fewer people. 3-D printing threatens to replace much of our existing “cottage industries” supplying domestic auto makers and aircraft manufacturers with component parts. As cheap natural gas replaces coal generating our electricity, the environmental gain nationwide is offset by the loss of jobs and economic viability of considerable areas of multiple states.

The considerable challenges of providing productive employment to all Americans and a clear educational path to those positions have yet to be solved. We are growing our underclass, not the number and capabilities of future productive Americans.

It seems that the size and expense of government and government programs at every level is all we are presently growing. It should be clear to one and all that such is a recipe for disaster.

The very rules and regulations that empower bureaucracy also constrain what it does or can do. This is no less true of democracy. Just as every culture may be unique in how it uses democracy to achieve it’s collective goals, the trick is always achieving consensus as to what those goals are. In America we still need to do that.

Today America’s economic challenge is how to harness and make productive an ever-growing underclass that has few good examples and little incentive to get off it’s collective butt and off the street corners and DO SOMETHING worthwhile instead of being an anchor on our economy. We are not meeting that challenge by printing and passing around more and more Monopoly dollars.

But we dare not do nothing. Those who would so so must “lead, follow or get out of the way” because time waits for no one and the American economy and population are each glaciers that are moving (with effect on the underlying planet) whether randomly or with purpose.

There is a name for the “gap between our professed goals and our actions”. It is the difference between aspiration and accomplishment. Envision the gap between two horses that can walk toward or away from each other. It is for us to harness them and get them to pull together in a direction worth going in common cause.

There will always be the necessity for “those in charge”. These are men and women, not gods. They need to be competent. They need to act in good faith with reasonable priority and efficiency. They should “do what they can, where they are with what they have” to greatest effect. That’s a pretty tall order that not all achieve.

So the process is one where the most capable get more and more assets to manage and the least capable get less. That works on both the personal level as well as the managerial one.

So, in the end, we can try to level the playing field with regards to opportunity. It is futile to try to level the playing field with regards to results, for this would render the game of human existence pointless. Even if that be true, how many would admit it?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

OneoftheSheep still lives in the 80s. Did you forget we had one of the biggest slave trades in the world here in America. We built this country by stealing land from the native americans, and using black slaves to build it.

American Exceptionalism. More like American Dillusianalism!!!!!!

Posted by KyleDexter | Report as abusive

OOTS simply has not enough knowledge – but it is fully compensated by the passion.
Say, the post-WW2 period is not simply “European angels under the Russian boot.”
Czechoslovakia made its choice by itself.
Russians freed East Germany from the institution of “common guilt.”
While the American soft brainwashing made Germans so closeted. So hidden and silent – I can’t get any German for our international forum. They simply don’t talk.
Life would be so much easier with OOUTS’ views.

Posted by OUTPOST2012.NET | Report as abusive

@OUTPOST2012.NET
#1 is a keen observation. What you described as “this faith” is based on a free will and free spirit of the American people. There’s probably no other country in the world that gives its people more freedom than the United States, despite all the shortcomings that undoubtedly come with it (flawed?)…
You might be surprised to learn that two Russian writers Ilf & Petrov made the same observation as yours in their book “One-Storey America”… in 1936. I gather, you could read it in Russian.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive

OOTS, once again, your claimed wisdom is lacking. Your assumption that there is a gap between aspiration and accomplishment which explains the massacre and torture of people around the world in a hysterical attempt to eradicate, not communism, but in fact every form of independent development, whether related to communism or not… is to say the least confused.

I am no communist, and so do not have to answer for the crimes of the bolsheviks through the years. In my mind Bolshevik communism shares much with fascism and British imperial Liberalism. That would be why all three worked together to stamp out the Catalan Anarchist rebellion in Spain which ultimately installed Franco. Much better after all to have a fascist demagogue in league with Hitler take power than allow even a province of Spain to fall to self-rule. Or so went the thought in Britain at the time.

I will not take your clumsy attempt to brand me a pacifist not as an insult, though you may have intended it that way. I am no pacifist, though I see little value in throwing my life away for the priorities of my presumed rulers. we have learned from bitter experience this century to be wary of the siren’s calls of blind obedience to power and duty to the state. Your own analysis of our assistance to Russia, which was real, but came after the USSR had done the heavy lifting already, underplays the role of the USSR’s vicious war machine in the entire outcome of the war. Logistics matter in war, but so does winning battles; something the allies had trouble with until after the Red Army tore the heart out of the Wehrmacht in the ostfront. My contention is that the brutality of Stalin’s regime is what made such blood sacrifices possible, and without those horrible battles, Germany would have “won” it all, regardless of whatever help the USA offered to the remaining former colonial powers.

You say that Russia treated it’s ‘sphere of influence’ as “booty to be plundered”, surely a shocking assertion to put forward to exculpate the USA and their own brigand-like actions on the world stage after WW2. To not recognize the USA as the largest plunderer of foreign lands is to in fact utterly fail to analyze what goes on outside our borders. This is not my own opinion, but the opinion of statesmen of the USA, who spoke of capturing such enormous prizes as the energy of the middle east, called the largest material prize in world history by US state planners who then formulated and executed a strategy of conquest or control of the middle east, beginning right after the War and continuing to this day. This does not even mention the sordid history of the USA in Latin America, which should be a national shame: true hypocrisy in service of power, all with the self-righteous and fraudulent cover of fighting “communism”.

It is apparently OneOfTheSheep who is “educationally deficient and brainwashed”, since you keep repeating the propaganda of your American overlords in Finance and Industry, who wove the tale of a conniving and evil Russia, bent on world domination. No doubt if they were given the chance they would have taken over the world, as almost any power in history would have. The fact is we have the documents of government planners in our hands now, from both the USA and USSR of the post-war period, and not surprisingly to me, the leaders of our country as well as the rulers of the USSR believed the insane propaganda they were doling out to their citizens. The USSR honestly thought they had to protect the world from a rampaging fascist United States, while the US honestly thought civilization would unravel if people in central america preferred cooperation over competition as a basis of government.

Meanwhile I don’t see what any of this has to do with my own view, which is that righteous intent does not excuse bad action, and that the USA has a decent heritage of non-interference in others’ affairs, and has made numerous attempts to gain the goodwill of other nations by selfless action to promote common good. But neither do I reduce myself to apologetics for truly genocidal actions taken in moments of rabid hysteria (Vietnam), the reason being that I prefer to think for myself rather than maintain fictions about our benevolence. The USA acts in self-interest, as one would expect of a powerful state. To say “they acted better” than Caligula and Ceaucescu is cynical and defeatist. Since they are the most recent, I would hope they are the most benevolent relative to other empires and dictators. This is not something to aspire to for the future, but rather something to be ashamed of: as in, “we thought we had to do all this, but we realize we were wrong in certain aspects”.

The more you deny our bad actions, the less we can become better than our predecessors. Surely improvement is in part the goal of us all.

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

@KyleDexter,

So you would judge the original English colonists landing on this continent badly for doing what every other nation in the world at that time was doing? It’s amazing that a fundamental hatred of America can blind a mind to such extent.

You can buy a used dictionary, but it won’t help if you can’t spell well enough to find the word you want. And you’ll still have to deal with the intellectual double vision of double-standard thinking.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@Benny27,

You have place before us a huge load of bovine scat to be picked apart and it matters little whether this be through personal ignorance or having been brainwashed in school. Why anyone would so damage their intellectual credibility by advancing such nonsense in a public forum makes no sense. While you are entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts.

Let’s look at your unfounded accusation that America has challenged “…every form of independent development…”. Please. Fascism? Emperor worship? Restoration of the Roman Empire? Humans and warfare have long been wedded and bedded throughout recorded history. America was dragged kicking and screaming into WW II. We didn’t start it. Our atomic bomb finished it.

You seem unaware that Germany swept across Russia essentially unchecked. Had the Germans been more pragmatic, the Russian people would have largely welcomed their domination.

In every theater there were divisions made up of conquered peoples who believed they would have a better life under German masters than under Stalin. This was, of course, long before the world became aware of the true nature and of Nazi Germany and the scale and intent of it’s death camps. Otherwise mundane bureaucrats kept breathtaking detail of horrors previously beyond the worst dreams or experience of ordinary people.

Advancing Germans appropriated or destroyed the lion’s share of military hardware abandoned by flkeeing Russians. The British were similarly stripped of military equipment at Dunkirk. In each case it was for the U.S. as the “Arsenal of Democracy” through “Lend Lease”, etc. to give surviving soldiers of conquered countries the tools they needed to “tear the heart out of the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe.

America’s mistakes as our relocation of citizens of Japanese ancestry, and isolated American war crimes in the Pacific and later at Mei Lai and noncombatant fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan pale in the glare of atrocities such as the Japanese Rape of Nanking, abuse of prisoners by arbitrary execution, the Bataan Death March, to build wartime railways, in medical experiments, and as “pleasure women”, or ethnic massacres in Serbia.

The “USSR honestly thought they had to protect the world from a rampaging fascist United States”? That’s a revisionist laugh. America could AND SHOULD have called up “Uncle Joe” and told him: There will be NO MORE WAR! You have thirty days to disarm or face countless B-29s armed with A-bombs. We will repatriate your spies and you will free the peoples you have subjugated against their will without choice.

Had we done that the problem of nuclear proliferation would not exist. Nor would the hydrogen bomb, or the countless nukes today at risk of accident or misappropriate and misuse. But we didn’t. Let’s look at the result.

Ordinary people in Russia, China or their communist satellites enjoyed NO postwar prosperity. From VE day on, the USSR continued wartime posturing, threatening western Europe with every tank, plane, etc. they could build, beg, borrow or steal. While America was beating swords into ploughshares, the Korean War, another war we did not start and did not expect, literally caught a rapidly shrinking military with it’s pants down.

Russia sent their best pilots and MIGS secretly to bases in China from which they fought Americans. From Cambodia, Viet Nam, and on, the single reason there was no WW III into the 1990’s was that American military capacity quickly and effectively countered every Soviet threat. Your personal navel-gazing clearly fails to understand or appreciate the untold personal sacrifices of many, many other Americans and credit properly due.

Russia was always playing “military catchup” to the United States. At no time had they any hope of defeating an America determined to remain free. Fortunately for all, over time the economy of the USSR economy could no longer sustain the “space race” (which they lost) and serious military competition.

Soon, the Berlin wall came down. Most of us still don’t know (or care?) just how close nuclear war was on several occasions. Labels of “pacifist” or “communist” are largely a matter of “if the shoe fits…”. So long as you (and others who think as you do) see the slightest merit to such concepts YOU are the real and present enemy of all who are (and would remain) free anywhere and everywhere. You have eyes yet cannot see.

In comparison to the above you accuse the U.S. of “…brigand-like actions on the world stage after WW2” and a “…plunderer of foreign lands…”? America could (and should)( have demanded much of the “energy of the middle east…” as war reparations. These nations, by and large, supported and allied with the Axis powers, who LOST! We didn’t.

To the contrary, America instead allowed the despots of that region to hold our economy economic hostage. Some thirty years later Americans waited in lines for gas. Fifty years later the price asked of America for their crude had quadrupled. These facts would strongly suggest that, as a conquering exploiter, America has shot itself in both feet and every toe again and again. Precisely WHAT “foreign lands” did the U.S. plunder? In what form is this plunder? Who benefitted?

With regard to what you refer to as “…the sordid history of the USA in Latin America…”, you speak of a school of enonomically incompetent, inept pihrana republic serial dictatorships. We give them “free trade” access to our markets, yet all we receive in return is a never-ending flood of drugs and hoards of uneducated, unskilled economic refugees and criminals seeking that which they did not sow… unearned and undeserved citizenship benefits. If apology be necessary, I’ll wait and listen!

My point in all this is that the United States has not, since the beginning of the twentieth century, embarked upon colonial-style wars of aggression and conquest. Other lesser nations have. We have largely not acted, but reacted. You admit that we have been “…the most benevolent relative to other empires and dictators…” but believe we should be ashamed we are not perfect.

I find your very thoughts offensive and absolutely disagree. While perfection for any person or nation will ever be a “work in progress” Americans need avert our eyes to no person and no nation. INCLUDING YOU!

In this imperfect world America doesn’t have to be “…better than our predecessors…”. We CHOOSE to be. WE ARE. Such choice and success thus becomes PART of American exceptionalism. Get used to it.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@Benny27 and @OOS
I observed your discussion and have sth to add.
@Benny27
I lived in a communist country (or better said authoritarian military oligarchy) and would always be grateful to US for starving Soviet Union by engaging it in 70′s and 80′s arms race.
Majority of US troops and CIA actions/wars before 1990 to fight communism around the world are (maybe unfortunately for many) understandable and any sensible great power would do the same in US position.
Of course there were wars/coups performed only to defend US economic/political interests, but you could always argue that in bi-polar world of Cold War anybody could be with US or against US, there were no neutral significant countries.
@OOS
You are right, US was the best hegemon on Earth in recorded history. In the period 1990-2013, after the fall of communist block, US was the only hegemonic power in the world, with absolute power. And it only conducted 2 major wars: Iraq 2004, Libya 2011 solely to protect its hegemony (petrodollar status), with only 2 destroyed countries with less than 2 million casualties (direct and due to lack of basic amenities and healthcare), less than 1/1000 of Earth population. In the perspective of world history it is a clean record and
everybody should be grateful for this achievement (hegemony has costs and privileges). The 2nd place in this contest would be probably British Empire, but in any 20 years period casualties of its hegemony would be over 1% of Earth’s population.

US society
US does not provide level playing field for all of its citizens. The access to basic public goods: education, healthcare, public order is worst among all developed countries. Only developed country without single payer universal healthcare as an example. And i do not mean this insane welfare state schemes of Germany or France (that is why they have millions of mainly islamic immigrants that never worked in their lives and destroy their societies).

I think Syria war was the symbolic end of unilateral US world. For Russia (backed by China) even limited war was better than loosing influence in the Middle East and South of former Soviet Union and Obama administration had no balls to call the bluff. Present situation is different from Cold War. Chinese economy is a copy of US state capitalism with less market forces at play to insure fast development of modern infrastructure (you need 100 trillion US dollars to develop China and no private actor can take a burden). Chinese have no ideology, they only want a lot of resources, mainly hydrocarbons.

Posted by Wantunbiasednew | Report as abusive

@UauS:

Sure I read the book. But it was long time ago. That experiment #1 I performed by myself, during my trip across the States. Talking with people in bars in Tennessy and Albama and Texas.

Actually, #2 (apartheid in America) I also got from my own experience. But it didn’t need any trips as I lived in NoVa and Suburbam Maryland.

Posted by OUTPOST2012.NET | Report as abusive

America has many exceptional qualities. But humility has never been one of them.

Posted by Bob9999 | Report as abusive

These United States have been an experiment for over 200 years and thus we should be able to have an expectation that we can endure yet another term of “Obama drama”. We will survive. Think of it, a mildly articulate person is dragged off the streets of Chicago with no character and he is put in power of the most powerful nation in the world for not one four year stint, but two. That is amazing in the sense that no gate keeper in any job for a third rate beer hall would let the guy watch the cash register. Who ever put this guy up for president should be in sales, get the honors as this was the most keenly made sales job for popularity, and in reality whoever has a grain of common sense knows that fundamentally Obama is not a leader. Mr. Bremmer, you are correct the “Obama Drama” is a real life mystery of our country. Humility among other things would be in order. This episode in fantasy play by Obama shows we need better education in government and especially personal finance for each of our individual citizens. Unfortunately, if the education were in place they would be better informed to now watch their dwindling resources evaporate. Please do not expect character from President Obama where none is present. It is absent.

Posted by VirginiaPatriot | Report as abusive

OOTS,
Again with the school attack… You already know I never learned anything like this in school, since that is where I was fed the nonsense you cling to now. Perhaps it is senility, perhaps willful ignorance, but either way you insist on repeating what isn’t true to try to make others look worse? Also, for the record, this is an anonymous forum…? Not sure my academic credibility is at stake here, jack.

Yawn, I do not support communism, so I suggest you learn to read before painting me with that brush (again). Perhaps it is too difficult for people to imagine an alternative to “capitalism” that is not “communism”? Either way, it is wearisome to take the time to specify this point only to be ignored on the topic. Likewise my specification of the US’ behaviour AFTER the war, while you insist I must be referring to fascism, nazism, feudalism(?). Presumably you just cannot comprehend the written word, unless it fits your pre-existing ideology.

Your hysterical lunacy would be amusing, except there is too much confusion in it. I will re-state an interesting point that you foolishly spout: you say the following:
“The “USSR honestly thought they had to protect the world from a rampaging fascist United States”? That’s a revisionist laugh. America could AND SHOULD have called up “Uncle Joe” and told him: There will be NO MORE WAR! You have thirty days to disarm or face countless B-29s armed with A-bombs.”

Such a ridiculous position would have blown up the world, in case you forgot about the soviets having nuclear arms also? I know that you do know this, so I will write this one down as a case of hysteria. I suppose you refer to directly after the war, but then we didn’t have a large nuke arsenal then, did we? and by the time we did, the Soviets had the bomb too…in case your memory is failing. The position I pointed out, that USSR planners in private, internal government planning documents honestly thought the USA was an agent of fascism to be countered by lovers of democracy, is not my own. It is a paraphrase of the real planners whose documents were available to western sources after the fall of communism. You are the laughable one for jumping to the conclusion that I was stating a position, not quoting the fact. I pointed that out to make the point that “leaders” tend to have hyperbolic and simply crazy views, and that our own leaders often share the zeal of our craziest adversaries. Go and read the documents at the National Security Archive, you will see what I mean.

You spit and scream about the USSR training people to fight the USA, but seem to have a perfect ignorance of what we do around the world. Our trainers have been busy around the world, training terrorists and death squads on every continent. So for you it was outrageous that the Vietnamese might try to defend themselves from attack, when even our own planners candidly admitted to each other that they had no connection to communist china/USSR before we invaded and destroyed their country, specifically the south, against the will of the mass of the people. To you it is outrageous that they should have the temerity to be upset by our intentional genocide (destroying dams to flood crops), illegal chemical warfare (agent orange, etc.), and the largest bombing campaign in history (indochina). Then you hold up My Lai as something to be regretted … which just shows the depth of your own brainwashing, since you can only think of the one thing we are supposed to have done wrong there, when examples are so easy to find. This is symptomatic of the self-righteous attitude that since we are right, anything is permissible, much like the famous line attributed to pope Innocent III. You know, the one about God knowing his own?

On to your shoddy scholarship. The so-called arsenal of democracy did help in the War, three quarters of lend-lease went to the british, and lend-lease had barely begun to arrive in Russia by the time the Russians had stopped the advancing Germans themselves. Their own effort to move over 1500 factories to the east is what allowed military production to continue into 1942, when the food, trucks and other supplies reached them from the USA. I never said lend-lease didn’t help, but you sound like a silly propagandist when you imply the USA won the war for the Russians. In fact, scholars seem to think Russia could have won without the help altogether. So my point stands. Russia had the brutal internal system that fought and defeated the wehrmacht, with some help from the other allies. This is not an argument in favor of their system, just a historical fact.

You seem to be incapable of discussing anything between Korea and Iraq, so let me fill you in a little bit. I mentioned three examples that you failed to even refer to, other than the obligatory nod to My Lai (as if that wasn’t representative of a common activity: indiscriminate massacre). Indonesia, Congo, and Latin America. If you don’t know what happened in the Congo, or in Indonesia, home of the closest thing to a completed genocide since the Holocaust, and which was ongoing until Clinton, and ongoing now in Papua and other islands, you really should crack a book, or use the internet.

Of Mobutu, (wikipedia): Power was concentrated in Mobutu, who established a single-party state and a cult of personality.[2] During his reign, Mobutu built a highly centralized state and amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule “kleptocracy”

So you have work to do if you dont want to embarass yourself with such claims as, “Precisely WHAT “foreign lands” did the U.S. plunder? In what form is this plunder? Who benefitted? ”

It is faster to list the countries that the US has not “plundered” though you insist on arguing over semantics so I will spell it out. The US Government didn’t carry treasure out of these countries, but then that practice had ended with the British centuries before. Much better to smash the place up and let our business interests take over the country from within.

AS for Latin America, which you so naively dismiss as, “a school of enonomically incompetent, inept pihrana [sic] republic serial dictatorships.”

This is perhaps your worst intellectual crime so far. Those dictatorships, those coups, were no accident. They were very nearly entirely backed, funded, organized, trained, and supported by us in a coordinated war against independant development. Remember that phrase that you can’t even recognize? You assumed I meant the nazis or the Japanese because you don’t even know that these were nationalist movements almost exclusively, forced into the Russian orbit by a hostile superpower neighbor.

I tire of teaching you what you should already know, and will go now. rant if you want, or ignore me if you want, I know you are too old to change now, and I don’t really care. Thankfully you and those like you are a dying breed, and most of the world sees through the thin veneer that the USA uses to hide it’s true intentions as a great power. My only point here is that the USA is a product of it’s times as well as the iron laws of history. It is the noblest empire yet because it is the most recent, as well as the Enlightnment tradition that it was formed under, as well as it’s heritage from western europe. But it is still a power that will act to protect such power, and it will happily use hypocrisy to achieve those ends. The point is that we should be able to criticize what we don’t like as well as commend what we do like. That is how we progress and make our institutions better. You claim we need to not make the perfect the enemy of the good. If everyone accepted the good as presented to them by their “leaders”, rather than looking for the better, no progress would ever be made. If the USA was only made up of people like OneOfTheSheep, black people would still be enslaved, women would not vote, all (not just most) of the native americans would be exterminated, well you get the point…

Posted by Benny27 | Report as abusive

@Benny,

“…You already know I never learned anything like this in school, since that is where I was fed the nonsense you cling to now.” So what, then, oh wise one, is the source of such current wisdom as would explain your utter disillusionment and distain for the country of your birth and current livelihood?

“…for the record, this is an anonymous forum…? Not sure my academic credibility is at stake here, jack”. I’ll try to explain. If your name really is Benny, it’s only partially anonymous by your own choice. I have no idea why you post on Reuters, but I do to debate and advocate a personal perspective forged over many years from class, reading, personal experience in the real world and introspective observation. So who I actually am is of no consequence but what I advocate or say as OOTS builds or tears down the credibility of OOTS day by day.

The same is true of you…as you spew forth your personal frustration before one and all without reasonable explanation, cause or logic those who read your words may care little whether you support communism, anarchy or idiocy. You cannot convince ANYONE the “U.S. behavior after the war” was inappropriate, evil, or stupid unless you share what you DO refer to and why. YOU may know what you’re thinking, but NO ONE ELSE does until you explain to some degree what and why.

Your pathetic suggestion that “the Soviets had the bomb too” at the time I suggested the U.S. dictate that NO other nation develop nuclear weapons shows your incredible ignorance. The situation then was not unlike that of China and the U.S. today regarding aircraft carriers.

You might say that they have a carrier too, and that would be the truth; but not the “whole truth. They have one, an obsolete colossus of Russian design and construction purportedly sold China to house a floating casino or similar non-military purpose without a propulsion system. America has a half dozen carrier battle groups fully equipped with state of the art aircraft of appropriate capabilities with years of operational experience all over the world. To develop similar capability will take China decades if their economy can afford it.

In the same sense my comment was based on the fact that America not only “had the bomb”, but had made the leap from an unwieldy experimental device of uncertain capability into multiple deliverable weapons of more than one design. There was a third that was never dropped and others in production. At that time Russia had yet to explode even an experimental device and had they been able to produce viable weapons the only thing they had that could carry same was a few captured American B-29s.

While they were reverse-engineering those planes with feverish urgency, America already had hundreds manned by experienced crews. So even if we had only three or four weapons available to back up the order I suggested, we could have sent into Russia hundreds of identical aircraft…they would have had NO chance of knocking down enough to stop us from wiping Moscow and any other Russian city of choice off the map with virtual certainty. “Blown up the world, indeed.”

IT DOESN’T MATTER what “…USSR planners in private…honestly thought…” had they faced the scenario I, with 20-20 hindsight, believe to have been a “best option” not taken. America did not start the Korean War, and “honestly thought” the communist “domino theory” a threat world wide. Yes, in Vietnam, mistakes were made. Terrible ones. But those mistakes bought time elsewhere.

My father was killed at the Rapido in Italy on January 22nd, 1944, in a hopeless frontal attack on the Germans defending a major line of defense with a deep, swift river directly under German guns. The outcome of a Congressional investigation as to the propriety of that attack was that it drew German strength there from other areas that were then exploited. In the fog of war all armies do “what they can, where they are, with what they have; and the price of victory is never cheap.

“The Russians” did NOT stop the advancing Germans. General Winter did. The Germans had expected a relatively quick capitulation like in Europe without taking into proper account the vast size of the Soviet states or it’s weather. German troops were not properly equipped to fight in conditions normal for a Russian winter. Their equipment was not designed to operate in such extremes either, and so there was lengthy stalemate at Stalingrad.

That was sufficient for American arms, food, aircraft and ammunition to give front line Russian soldiers what they needed when they needed it. Russian production of such items had necessarily shut down as factories were dismantled and moved long distances away from advancing Germans during their initial sweep across Russia. The Germans also faced an ever greater logistics problem as every advance lengthened their supply lines while those of their opposing Russians got shorter and shorter.

I never said the USA “won the war for the Russians”. I said that the support America provided to Russia was of pivotal importance to the eventual victory of Russia’s military. Russia’s “brutal internal system” resulted in the execution of a majority of their trained and experienced officers long before the German advance ground to a halt. They ultimately defeated the Wehrmacht IN SPITE of Stalin’s stupid hissy fits and the incredible reservoir of manpower from which they could and did conscript. Russian tactics were much like fire ants, where it was common to send masses of relatively untrained and poorly equipped troops forward in waves to wear down German soldiers and force them to use up available ammunition. THAT is historical fact.

Like it or not, the period between Korea and Iraq was one of international chess between communism and western democracies. That game went back and forth, but had America not played you would not be slinging your smug accusations here today. Your hands would be aching and callused from working hard labor somewhere as a communist slave.

You admit under challenge that “The US Government didn’t carry treasure out of these countries…”, but suggest that we destroyed their economies and that “…our business interests [took] over the country from within.” OK. What countries? Did we get oil, gemstones, slaves, favorable contracts? Show us the money!

Latin America is where the term “Banana Republic” originated. America has sent missionaries, peace corps volunteers, airline companies, engineers and boatloads of money to build the Panama Canal (which we GAVE AWAY). Those people did NOT, by and large seek to advance their educational and economic system with old fashion sweat and persistence for the good of their various peoples. No, the great majority at one time or another instead embraced a “culture of violence” much like the middle east.

Their “independent development” of choice has been to seek conquest and spoils from each other, or to growing and export illicit drugs. So you have Batista followed by Castro in Cuba, that flower of hispanic success, Hugo Chavez and his pet Maduro, Peron in Argentina, and countless other competing rodents. It may be that America’s “game” was to keep them occupied more with each other than to have the multinational flood of uneducated, unskilled, and incompetents of their societies and their criminals and insane that our politicians would roll out the welcome mat for today. Nationalist movements…that’s a laugh.

The U.S. a “hostile superpower neighbor”? You imply the U.S. acts utterly without honor. If that be so, why did we not go in and take control of the petroresources of Venezuela, etc., put our multinational oil companys in charge of the oil fields THEY EXPLORED, DRILLED and BUILT before these SOBs nationalized them, and dictate the “split” of profits thereafter?

I certainly agree that Americans “…should be able to criticize what we don’t like as well as commend what we do like…”, but we should know and use facts and not speculation in the process as you do. America has areas in it’s cities not unlike third world countries in which life is hard. So in Watts in the sixties the resident blacks allowed the radicals and thugs among them to destroy what businesses existed there. There is a right way and a wrong way to “move” one’s place in the world, and that knife cuts both ways.

I think a “Star Trek” economy would satisfy both your dreams and mine. The difference is that you feel you and others like you are entitled to a better and better society and life right now. You are not open to the idea that America has no clear path to that “place” or any means to support it. You are not willing to sweat to bring it about, and a “long term perspective” is three meaningless unimportant words to you. If you are fortunate enough live to become old, you will be very, very bitter; mark my words.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive