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Rising Sun*
04-30-2009, 08:23 AM
An interesting article on America's descent from its high point of righteousness in the WWII era.

I find it somewhat selective, such as by correctly pointing to the greater Soviet burden in defeating Nazi totalitarianism while ignoring the subsequent primarily American burden in defeating Soviet totalitarianism.

I disagree with some of its contentions, such as that America should apologise for nuking Nagasaki and Hiroshima (and even if that is a reasonable proposition, then America and the rest of the world ravaged by Japan should not even begin to think about apologising to Japan for daring to respond to its wanton and bestial aggression until Japan explicity and unreservedly admits - like that's a chance :rolleyes: - and then apologises for its war of aggression, countless war crimes, and crimes against humanity which far, far exceeded in duration, people killed and wounded, viciousness, mindlessness, pointless brutality, and needlessness all Allied bombing of Japan and without which Nagasaki and Hiroshima would not have been bombed).

Still, the article summarises some of the issues and contradictions which have diminished America's standing in the eyes of both its enemies and friends in the post-war era.



Farewell, the American CenturyBy Andrew J Bacevich

In a recent column, the Washington Post's Richard Cohen wrote, "What Henry Luce called 'the American Century' is over." Cohen is right. All that remains is to drive a stake through the heart of Luce's pernicious creation, lest it come back to life. This promises to take some doing.

When the Time-Life publisher coined his famous phrase, his intent was to prod his fellow citizens into action. Appearing in the February 7, 1941 issue of Life, his essay, "The American Century”, hit the newsstands at a moment when the world was in the throes of a vast crisis. A war in Europe had gone disastrously awry. A second almost equally dangerous conflict was unfolding
in the Far East. Aggressors were on the march.

With the fate of democracy hanging in the balance, Americans diddled. Luce urged them to get off the dime. More than that, he summoned them to "accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world ... to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."

Read today, Luce's essay, with its strange mix of chauvinism, religiosity, and bombast ("We must now undertake to be the Good Samaritan to the entire world"), does not stand up well. Yet the phrase "American Century" stuck and has enjoyed a remarkable run. It stands in relation to the contemporary era much as "Victorian Age" does to the 19th century. In one pithy phrase, it captures (or at least seems to capture) the essence of some defining truth: America as alpha and omega, source of salvation and sustenance, vanguard of history, guiding spirit and inspiration for all humankind.

In its classic formulation, the central theme of the American Century has been one of righteousness overcoming evil. The United States (above all the US military) made that triumph possible. When, having been given a final nudge on December 7, 1941, Americans finally accepted their duty to lead, they saved the world from successive diabolical totalitarianisms. In doing so, the US not only preserved the possibility of human freedom but modeled what freedom ought to look like.


Thank you, comrades

So goes the preferred narrative of the American Century, as recounted by its celebrants.

The problems with this account are two-fold. First, it claims for the United States excessive credit. Second, it excludes, ignores, or trivializes matters at odds with the triumphal story-line.

The net effect is to perpetuate an array of illusions that, whatever their value in prior decades, have long since outlived their usefulness. In short, the persistence of this self-congratulatory account deprives Americans of self-awareness, hindering our efforts to navigate the treacherous waters in which the country finds itself at present. Bluntly, we are perpetuating a mythic version of the past that never even approximated reality and today has become downright malignant. Although Richard Cohen may be right in declaring the American Century over, the American people - and especially the American political class - still remain in its thrall.

Constructing a past usable to the present requires a willingness to include much that the American Century leaves out.

For example, to the extent that the demolition of totalitarianism deserves to be seen as a prominent theme of contemporary history (and it does), the primary credit for that achievement surely belongs to the Soviet Union. When it came to defeating the Third Reich, the Soviets bore by far the preponderant burden, sustaining 65% of all Allied deaths in World War II.

By comparison, the United States suffered 2% of those losses, for which any American whose father or grandfather served in and survived that war should be saying: Thank you, Comrade Stalin.

For the United States to claim credit for destroying the Wehrmacht is the equivalent of Toyota claiming credit for inventing the automobile. We entered the game late and then shrewdly scooped up more than our fair share of the winnings. The true "Greatest Generation" is the one that willingly expended millions of their fellow Russians while killing millions of German soldiers.

Hard on the heels of World War II came the Cold War, during which erstwhile allies became rivals. Once again, after a decades-long struggle, the United States came out on top.

Yet in determining that outcome, the brilliance of American statesmen was far less important than the ineptitude of those who presided over the Kremlin. Ham-handed Soviet leaders so mismanaged their empire that it eventually imploded, permanently discrediting Marxism-Leninism as a plausible alternative to liberal democratic capitalism. The Soviet dragon managed to slay itself. So thank you, Comrades Malenkov, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and Gorbachev.

Continued

Rising Sun*
04-30-2009, 08:23 AM
Screwing the pooch

What flag-wavers tend to leave out of their account of the American Century is not only the contributions of others, but the various missteps perpetrated by the United States - missteps, it should be noted, that spawned many of the problems bedeviling us today.

The instances of folly and criminality bearing the label "made-in-Washington" may not rank up there with the Armenian genocide, the Bolshevik Revolution, the appeasement of Adolf Hitler, or the Holocaust, but they sure don't qualify as small change. To give them their due is necessarily to render the standard account of the American Century untenable.

Here are several examples, each one familiar, even if its implications for the problems we face today are studiously ignored:

Cuba. In 1898, the United States went to war with Spain for the proclaimed purpose of liberating the so-called Pearl of the Antilles. When that brief war ended, Washington reneged on its promise. If there actually has been an American Century, it begins here, with the US government breaking a solemn commitment, while baldly insisting otherwise. By converting Cuba into a protectorate, the United States set in motion a long train of events leading eventually to the rise of Fidel Castro, the Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose, the Cuban Missile Crisis and even today's Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The line connecting these various developments may not be a straight one, given the many twists and turns along the way, but the dots do connect.

The bomb. Nuclear weapons imperil our existence. Used on a large scale, they could destroy civilization itself. Even now, the prospect of a lesser power like North Korea or Iran acquiring nukes sends jitters around the world. American presidents - Barack Obama is only the latest in a long line - declare the abolition of these weapons to be an imperative. What they are less inclined to acknowledge is the role the United States played in afflicting humankind with this scourge.

The United States invented the bomb. The United States - alone among members of the nuclear club - actually employed it as a weapon of war. The US led the way in defining nuclear-strike capacity as the benchmark of power in the postwar world, leaving other powers like the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and China scrambling to catch up. Today, the US still maintains an enormous nuclear arsenal at the ready and adamantly refuses to commit itself to a no-first-use policy, even as it professes its horror at the prospect of some other nation doing as the United States itself has done.

Iran. Extending his hand to Tehran, President Obama has invited those who govern the Islamic republic to "unclench their fists”. Yet to a considerable degree, those clenched fists are of our own making. For most Americans, the discovery of Iran dates from the time of the notorious hostage crisis of 1979-1981 when Iranian students occupied the US embassy in Tehran, detained several dozen US diplomats and military officers and subjected the administration of Jimmy Carter to a 444-day lesson in abject humiliation.

For most Iranians, the story of US-Iranian relations begins somewhat earlier. It starts in 1953, when CIA agents collaborated with their British counterparts to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh and return the Shah of Iran to his throne. The plot succeeded. The Shah regained power. The Americans got oil, along with a lucrative market for exporting arms. The people of Iran pretty much got screwed. Freedom and democracy did not prosper. The antagonism that expressed itself in November 1979 with the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran was not entirely without cause.

Afghanistan. President Obama has wasted little time in making the Afghanistan War his own. Like his predecessor he vows to defeat the Taliban. Also like his predecessor he has yet to confront the role played by the United States in creating the Taliban in the first place. Washington once took pride in the success it enjoyed funneling arms and assistance to fundamentalist Afghans waging jihad against foreign occupiers. During the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, this was considered to represent the very acme of clever statecraft. US support for the Afghan mujahideen caused the Soviets fits. Yet it also fed a cancer that, in time, exacted a most grievous toll on Americans themselves - and has US forces today bogged down in a seemingly endless war.


Act of contrition

Had the United States acted otherwise, would Cuba have evolved into a stable and prosperous democracy, a beacon of hope for the rest of Latin America? Would the world have avoided the blight of nuclear weapons? Would Iran today be an ally of the United States, a beacon of liberalism in the Islamic world, rather than a charter member of the "axis of evil”? Would Afghanistan be a quiet, pastoral land at peace with its neighbors? No one, of course, can say what might have been. All we know for sure is that policies concocted in Washington by reputedly savvy statesmen now look exceedingly ill-advised.

What are we to make of these blunders? The temptation may be to avert our gaze, thereby preserving the reassuring tale of the American Century. We should avoid that temptation and take the opposite course, acknowledging openly, freely, and unabashedly where we have gone wrong. We should carve such acknowledgments into the face of a new monument smack in the middle of the Mall in Washington: We blew it. We screwed the pooch. We caught a case of the stupids. We got it ***-backwards.

Only through the exercise of candor might we avoid replicating such mistakes.

Indeed, we ought to apologize. When it comes to avoiding the repetition of sin, nothing works like abject contrition. We should, therefore, tell the people of Cuba that we are sorry for having made such a hash of US-Cuban relations for so long. President Obama should speak on our behalf in asking the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for forgiveness. He should express our deep collective regret to Iranians and Afghans for what past US interventionism has wrought.

The United States should do these things without any expectations of reciprocity. Regardless of what US officials may say or do, Castro won't fess up to having made his own share of mistakes. The Japanese won't liken Hiroshima to Pearl Harbor and call it a wash. Iran's mullahs and Afghanistan's jihadists won't be offering to a chastened Washington to let bygones be bygones.

No, we apologize to them, but for our own good - to free ourselves from the accumulated conceits of the American Century and to acknowledge that the United States participated fully in the barbarism, folly and tragedy that define our time. For those sins, we must hold ourselves accountable.

To solve our problems requires that we see ourselves as we really are. And that requires shedding, once and for all, the illusions embodied in the American Century.

Andrew J Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, is just out in paperback.

(Copyright 2009 Andrew J Bacevich.) http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/KE01Ak01.html

Digger
05-01-2009, 05:41 PM
Certainly an interesting article and a line of thought, but I'm not sure many Americans would want to delve too deeply into the decisions made by American governments concerning matters beyond American borders.

While America's role in WWII is shown as a beacon of the power of America as a nation, an industrial and economic giant, a bastion of freedom, once someone digs deeper even these qualities are eroded.

It's a shame, because America and it's people have given the world many great things, but at a cost.

digger

Nickdfresh
05-01-2009, 07:15 PM
On behalf of the United States, I just want to say I'm really really sorry. I'm sorry we got the bomb before Hitler, Stalin, or the Emperor, and that we didn't manage to get invaded and have such a disregard for our citizen's humanity that we used them as cannon fodder --thereby suffering only 2% of the casualties of WWII. And most of all, I want to apologize to the Iranians and the socialist Cubans. Because, after all, only backward Islamic superstitious assholes constructing a vision of Islam that never actually existed, or cronyist totalitarians trading one colonial superpower overlord for another, should be able to torture, jail, and extrajudicially execute their people for political crimes like not wearing a vale or being a "counterrevolutionary." Not the stooge idiots the US helped to install...

Sorry guys!

No "reciprical apology" of the Japanese to the United States is necessary. After all, it was in fact the Chinese they murdered and inflicted the highest proportional death toll on. Maybe it is they owe something more than a half-hearted, domestically controversial apology too?

Amrit
05-02-2009, 02:10 AM
Shouldn't that be the American 7 decades? Considering the American foreign policy and contributions upto 1941, well 1942 really, (except the years 1917-1919), was basically within their own "sphere of influence", we can write-off the first 40 years of the C20th.

The next decade and half saw America contributing quite significantly to the world's political arena.

However, from the mid-1950s things starting going rather pear-shaped. Rather than being a leader and being admired for their contribution to the defence of the "free" world, they became the instigators of oppression and manipulation just as much as the opposition. Whether directly, or indirectly, America's political games were just as damaging to the small countries and continents of this planet as the Soviets.

Some of the examples cited in that article just show that the cynical "my enemy's enemy is my friend" attitude will come and bite one on the arse one day.

Uyraell
05-02-2009, 04:17 AM
America may have made its' cockups during the last 70 years: I don't think any rational person can deny that.
However, two things need pointing out:

America *could* have ended the "scourge of Communism" in Europe at least, by dropping a couple of nukes on Moscow. There was a 4 year window of opportunity there that America did not employ.

Much of the interference in various foreign governments and territories of various nations was done by the CIA, which was at that time almost a law unto itself, and often left various US Presidents scrambling to adapt foreign policies to fit CIA fait-accomplis.

Does this excuse the USA? In my view, not entirely, though it certainly makes much of American Foreign Policy during the relevant decades comprehensible.

Taken in sum, I cannot see that the USA has fundamentally done any worse than any of the other Major World Powers have, in the last 7 decades.

Granted, perhaps in some instances America *should have known better*: Yet as Gandhi is reported to have said: "In all human affairs the humanity itself is the governing factor: this is why men are men, and not Gods." (Paraphrase, but close enough.)

Can the America of today be at blame for the actions of America-past?
The idea is ridiculous, for to allow of that is to retro-actively rewrite all of history, in effect. Perhaps it is proper that America acknowledge some of it's past faults, but nor should America stand the World Stage with Bowed Head: this world needs at least one Major Power capable of providing leadership, however stumbling that at times may be.

Like it or not, America has by default become that Major Power. For that reason alone, America should stand with her head high, and proud, regardless of past errors.

With deep Respect, Uyraell.

Rising Sun*
05-02-2009, 08:12 AM
America may have made its' cockups during the last 70 years: I don't think any rational person can deny that.
However, two things need pointing out:

America *could* have ended the "scourge of Communism" in Europe at least, by dropping a couple of nukes on Moscow. There was a 4 year window of opportunity there that America did not employ.

While Churchill considered a similar approach in Operation Unthinkable, if the US with or without British support had nuked the USSR, did it have the resources and, after the exhaustion of WWII, the will to follow it up with the necessary ground assault and occupation?

No way.

Anyway, it's implicit in your statement that communism was a scourge. While it imposed a different type of misery and exploitation on the people under its yoke, I don't know that it was any worse than the alternative in those nations run under communist regimes, which usually were also nationalist and, in the case of the USSR and China, also imperialist regimes as bad or worse than the imperialist regimes they railed against. All that most communist regimes did was shift the misery and privilege from one group to another, as part of a power contest between mostly ruthless authoritarian bastards unimpeded by the constraints of anything approaching even contemporary, let alone modern, democracies.


Much of the interference in various foreign governments and territories of various nations was done by the CIA, which was at that time almost a law unto itself, and often left various US Presidents scrambling to adapt foreign policies to fit CIA fait-accomplis.

I can’t think of any examples which support the notion that the CIA was the sole actor and acting independently of American aims and interests, which isn’t necessarily the same as the aims of a given US president. There seem to be instances where CIA or CIA type elements appear to have aligned themselves with fascist governments or interests, such as toppling the Allende regime in Chile, but it is difficult on any interpretation to see that as being contrary to American interests at the time as represented by the American commercial and other interests opposed to communism and, something that most conservatives and American conservatives in particular never manage to distinguish from communism, socialism.


Does this excuse the USA? In my view, not entirely, though it certainly makes much of American Foreign Policy during the relevant decades comprehensible.

I don’t think it’s a matter of excusing but of holding responsible. If America did it, America is responsible, the same as every other nation and person are responsible for their own acts.


Taken in sum, I cannot see that the USA has fundamentally done any worse than any of the other Major World Powers have, in the last 7 decades.

I think it has done vastly worse than most in scale if not degree, from partitioning Korea to invading Iraq (but not Afghanistan, which was necessary although it is almost bound to turn out to be a ****-up of mammoth proportions as the Taliban etc get control of nuclear Pakistan) and everything in between. But that is not a consequence of anything that is peculiarly American but of being so powerful. Britain did it before in many of the same areas when it was the major power, such as in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, various parts of Africa, the Middle East and, most gloriously, Palestine. France did the same in Vietnam and other colonies. Belgium did the same in the Congo. And so on. China is doing it now all over the Third World parts of the planet in less overt ways, but that will change as China’s power grows. It’s all just a consequence of having muscle and using it to pursue one’s own interests.


Can the America of today be at blame for the actions of America-past?
The idea is ridiculous, for to allow of that is to retro-actively rewrite all of history, in effect. Perhaps it is proper that America acknowledge some of it's past faults, but nor should America stand the World Stage with Bowed Head: this world needs at least one Major Power capable of providing leadership, however stumbling that at times may be.

I disagree.

Until Japan honestly admits and sincerely apologises and atones for its wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity I hold Japan of today responsible for Japan’s past actions. Because it refuses to repudiate them and therefore endorses them.

Unlike modern Germany, which has done the opposite and, in my view, has perhaps gone too far in that direction by entrenching in modern Germany an unnecessary degree of national shame and responsibility for the actions of its ancestors. Still, better that than Japan’s preservation at the highest levels of government and society of its shameful past as a national glory.

Any nation, including America, which does not acknowledge, renounce and atone for its past wrongs merely continues them.


Like it or not, America has by default become that Major Power.

It didn't become a major power by default, except to the extent that the efforts of its energetic, inventive, and industrious people overcame those of people in nations which failed to keep pace with the Americans.

Japan was at least as inventive, energetic and industrious as America by the 1930s, but it chose to use its military forces to grab resources and markets for imperial purposes where America sought them primarily by commercial means for commercial purposes.


For that reason alone, America should stand with her head high, and proud, regardless of past errors.

If becoming a major power entitles one to pride, regardless of past errors, then the same respect should have been accorded to Germany and Japan (I think we can leave Italy out of this :) ) by the end of 1942. And to the USSR by the 1960s. And to China in a decade or two. Although none of them could begin to observe the elements of human rights and democracy which America, for all its many failings, has since its inception observed, to varying degrees and for various of its residents.

We need to look not at the acquisition and possession of power but at the correctness and morality of its exercise, nor should we exclude our friends from moral scrutiny just because, as America is to Australia, they are our friends or we approve of their actions because they support our own aims and interests.

As a very distant relative of mine, Lord Acton (a historian rather more distinguished than me), observed in a statement from which a small part is commonly quoted about power corrupting:

"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. "

A final word from Shakespeare:

We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return,
To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips

Macbeth, 1:7

Uyraell
05-03-2009, 09:30 PM
RS* my friend, well reasoned, and well written.

It is fair to say I'm pro-American, though I hazard I'm less blind to her faults than many in the current era.
Certainly your expressed view is a balanced one, and I'm broadly in alignment.

CIA examples: Cuba, (more in the interests of commercial concerns than political, I agree, but valid.) Vietnam and to a lesser degree Laos and Cambodia (scrambling to stabilise earlier French ineptitudes, whilst simultaneously trying to keep NATO a viable entity in Europe and maintain some semblance of stability in Northern Africa) . India, Pakistan, (trying to dodge earlier British errors but making worse ones in the process). Egypt (Trying to keep Nasser from at least getting too far into bed with Moscow). While it is fair to say the CIA was not acting "independently" it is equally fair to say that CIA acted in such a way as to force the hand of whichever relevant President into adopting or pursuing policies that may in other circumstances have been different. In short, CIA had influence on policy vastly proportionately larger than it ought rightly to have had.
(Source: "The CIA Files", Mick Farren, Publ'd Bramley Books, 1999.)


Responsibility: Your point regarding Germany of the modern era is what I had in mind, in saying America should Not "Stand the World Stage with Head Bowed." Yes, America should perhaps acknowledge and accept responsibility for it's earlier errors.
What it should certainly NOT DO is to spend the next 70 years uttering "Mea Culpa" as Germany has spent the last 70 years doing.
THAT was the ethic I was attempting to emphasise. Expressed the other way: Acknowledge responsibility, but do so without forfeiting the dignity America has a right to. For, assuredly, the former Great Nations (Russia, France, UK) are as guilty of similar errors in their own times and spheres of influence, and if America Bows her head, then so also ought they.

Japan: While economically Japan is a powerful nation, I take the view that until Japan does unreservedly as you suggest, she prevents herself from becoming a truly great nation. Seventy years is far too long to be having one's cake and eating it too, as Japan has somehow seemed to manage.
In short, Agreed.

"Done worse." I find it hard to say America has actually done worse in the various regions than the preceding powers, chiefly Britain and France.
What I have in mind here is that whatever America has done has (in broad terms) in general been public knowledge within an extremely short timeframe, as opposed to the public awareness of 50 years earlier, when international communications media were more primitive, and the general public correspondingly gained any awareness of a fact or event much much later.
That American actions became known almost instantaneously, where earlier French or British actions took months to come to light does not, ipso facto, make America "worse".

Expressed another way: That the world of the past 70 years (and, in particular the last 30) has been almost instantly aware of American actions/ decisions whereas her predecessors had the cloak of public ignorance to operate behind does not, in my view make America more guilty nor worse than the great nations of earlier eras.
Accordingly, they are as "in the spotlight" as America where it comes to acknowledgement of responsibility for past wrongs and atonement for same.

In reference to terms of scale, I think Britain and France were as active on as large a scale, but less known-about by virtue of lack of that same media coverage that America has virtually always had to work under the lens of.


We need to look not at the acquisition and possession of power but at the correctness and morality of its exercise, nor should we exclude our friends from moral scrutiny just because, as America is to Australia, they are our friends or we approve of their actions because they support our own aims and interests.

Herein: The moral application of power, I find myself in agreement with you, RS*

While I hold that America has every right to be proud: I also hold that she has every obligation to be responsible, ethical, and moral in the application of the power she now wields.

Though again, she should do so without Bowed Head.

Warm and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

Rising Sun*
05-04-2009, 04:54 AM
Uyraell, my Kiwi mate, I think we're singing from the same page. Just different sides of it. :D


"Done worse." I find it hard to say America has actually done worse in the various regions than the preceding powers, chiefly Britain and France.
What I have in mind here is that whatever America has done has (in broad terms) in general been public knowledge within an extremely short timeframe, as opposed to the public awareness of 50 years earlier, when international communications media were more primitive, and the general public correspondingly gained any awareness of a fact or event much much later.
That American actions became known almost instantaneously, where earlier French or British actions took months to come to light does not, ipso facto, make America "worse".

Expressed another way: That the world of the past 70 years (and, in particular the last 30) has been almost instantly aware of American actions/ decisions whereas her predecessors had the cloak of public ignorance to operate behind does not, in my view make America more guilty nor worse than the great nations of earlier eras.
Accordingly, they are as "in the spotlight" as America where it comes to acknowledgement of responsibility for past wrongs and atonement for same.


A fair and interesting point, which raises the background and timing to colonial acquisitions and interfering in the affairs of weaker powers.

The older European colonial powers grabbed their territory and exercised their interference before America achieved an equivalent stage of power, although America wasn't shy in grabbing formerly Spanish territory on the continental US, Cuba and the Philippines. Which America did before WWI at what was probably the end of the expansionist phase of colonialism.

Germany's problem in WWI was, in part, that it became a nation far too late in Europe, after all the best colonial prizes had been taken by other European powers.

Japan's problem in WWII was somewhat similar, except it had the poor judgement and misfortune to target the colonies or dependencies (I'm using the latter term loosely in relation to the Philippines) of major European powers and America.

On a time scale, the non-German European and non-Japanese powers had spent centuries grabbing colonies and it was an acceptable activity. America came in at the end of that era and wasn't challenged for it.

In pre-WWII China America and the major European powers were all contesting to exploit China as an extension of their exploitative colonial pasts. It became a problem only when Japan started challenging them for the same prizes.

Somewhat similarly, aspects of the 1939-45 war with Germany had the same hypocrisy as Germany sought to colonise its close and distant neighbours. And more appositely the same war with Italy over its actions in Africa where, for example, Britain got all wound up over Italy in Ethiopia while interfering fatally in Palestine and, when Iraq's oil became an issue, denying Iraq the independence supposedly granted to Iraq years earlier.

Nobody has clean hands.

It's just a question of where one stands; who wins a war; and who gets to write the histories which inform the people on the winning sides which, invariably, demonstrate the justice of the winning side's cause and the purity of its motives and actions against exactly the opposite from the bastards on other side.

Uyraell
05-04-2009, 09:09 AM
RS*, Too true my Aussie mate.
I agree, same page different sides of it.
What strikes me in any discussion of the USA is that for half it's life America has literally been operating under the (various) media eyes of the world, and certainly so since the late 1970's. I know, from having watched the nightly news for years.
Whereas, other nations have had the relative benefit of operating at a time (in an era) where the cloak of public unawareness gave an effective anonymity to whatever was occurring.

As you say, history is written by the victors.

While I admire both Germany and Japan, I do see/perceive/feel/gestalt that Japan must needs face her recent past, as Germany has (perhaps "too successfully") done.

Where I am given pause regarding America is this: Until the various other nations, (Germany excluded) including Japan are prepared to stand and face their own pasts and the responsibilities theretofore, America has no obligation to be Primera Confessa.
In my eyes, it is obscene to expect America to be first to do so, simply because she is the youngest yet (now days) most powerful. In one way, Germany, (admittedly under American, British, and French tutelage) has led the way in that context. The other Allied nations should be next to do so, ahead of America doing so.

If I go further than my point above, this risks becoming a ramble, so I'll omit the list of major nations and the order my view would have it done in.

Warm Regards, Uyraell.

Schuultz
05-04-2009, 11:27 AM
If I go further than my point above, this risks becoming a ramble, so I'll omit the list of major nations and the order my view would have it done in.


I'm pretty sure we all know who's on the top for you. ;)

Both you, Uyraell, and RS* have already touched on what I'm about to say, but I'm just going to put it into my own words:

What I feel the author seems to ignore, and many people that love to bash the US unhindered, is the fact that America has in fact done nothing worse by comparison than the world powers before it.

Of course people might argue that America was, and currently still is, the first and only nation to employ nuclear weaponry in anger. While these casualties might be extremely huge, they were only a result of the contemporary possibilities.

Had previous world powers, such as France, Great Britain or Spain had these weapons during their imperial/colonial eras, chances are they would have used them, and most likely with less moral scruples, as their morality could, from today's point of view, be considered 'corrupted' by racism and nationalism.

As Uyraell said, America has the doubtful honor of having been in the international spotlight of a globalized world, since its inception as the world's reigning superpower.

This does not mean that the prior superpowers were worse than the US, as the saying 'Opportunity makes the thief' is probably most ideally applied here. If Spain had photo-journalists with them, capable of taking pictures of them brutally exterminating the Mayan populations, chances are they would have held themselves back, too.
The same can be applied in reverse - if the US had the guarantee that whatever they do to those Mujaheddin will never come to the world's attention as any more than a rumor, they would probably show a lot less restrain in dealing with the Afghans.

In the end, America is, and currently remains, the world's superpower, but nobody should expect them to ignore national interests for the sake of 'fairness' because of this.



Damn it, look at me defending America :neutral:



Edit: Yay, Post #1,000. And a good one at that xD

Uyraell
05-04-2009, 12:26 PM
Hearty Congratulations on a well reasoned and well written Post, and on having made your 1000th, Schuultz my friend:Well Done !! :D

Yes, your guess as to top of list is correct; this isn't to say I'm blind to the errors made by the other nations on that list.
As a rough example: Had Britain not resorted to execution by tying the condemned over the mouth of a cannon in India, (thus sundering the body by fire and making the customary funerary methods impossible under certain belief systems) various groupings in the Indian subcontinent may have been more willing to negotiate rather than go to war against Britain in India. That British activity/atrocity will continue to cost Britain dearly for many decades to come.

As an aside to the above, I cannot see the British behaviour as excusable, notwithstanding that when Italy bombed Ethopians from the air, Britain (who was busily doing the same in Afghanistan in any case, though not publically known as the Italian case was) was the among first to object to the Italian treatment of natives.

One could continue elucidating examples, but as RS* said in his post:
"No one has clean hands".

Warm and Congratulatory Regards Schuultz, Uyraell.