September 21, 2003

False friends

Here's another idea that antiwar groups have been putting forth as a reason to be against the Bush administration's handling of the terrorist threat: the idea that their actions re Iraq and elsewhere have caused us to "lose the friendship of the rest of the world." Friendship? What friendship would that be?

But these sentiments have long prevailed in Jordan, Egypt, and France. During the 1990s, no one said good things about the United States in Egypt. It was then that the Islamist children of Egypt took to the road, to Hamburg and Kandahar, to hatch a horrific conspiracy against the United States. And it was in the 1990s, during the fabled stock market run, when the prophets of globalization preached the triumph of the U.S. economic model over the protected versions of the market in places such as France, when anti-Americanism became the uncontested ideology of French public life. Americans were barbarous, a threat to French cuisine and their beloved language. U.S. pension funds were acquiring their assets and Wall Street speculators were raiding their savings. The United States incarcerated far too many people and executed too many criminals. All these views thrived during a decade when Americans are now told they were loved and uncontested on foreign shores.

Face it, puppies: the ROTW was never America's "friend" -- for one thing, that word is meaningless in international relations. And we were never universally loved before September 11th either. What we were, perhaps, was ignorant and/or in denial of the depths to which much of the world had sunk into envy and hatred regarding the USA.

If Americans have one overriding flaw, it is this puppy-doggish need to be liked. Our national lack of self-esteem is one of the few American products that people in most other countries, especially what I call the Thug World Nations, have not snatched up. On the contrary, I think that you will find that one thing our enemies do have is plenty of self-esteem -- they lack esteem for others. (This is another unpleasant truth that many peacniks don't want to face -- the idea that their Dear Victims of American Hegemony should actually possess monstrous, Hollywood celebrity-sized egos. But that is for another rant.) And the citizens of most other countries outside the so-called "Anglosphere" seem to also lack that need to be loved by the rest of the world. They think, in time-honored tribal tradition, that wanting to be loved by a bunch of foreigners is a puzzling, if not perverted, desire. (The fact that American patriotism pales in comparison to the excessive nationalism of other nations is also for another rant.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at September 21, 2003 12:40 PM

Americans are almost unique (along with their northern neighbor) in being a country made up of people from every country on earth. I suppose the envy and hatred many feel grows from jealousy of their more adventurous brothers and sisters who left for the United States. These adventurous ones were people who often arrived with next to nothing and made of themselves the most prosperous and powerful nation in history.

The so-called United Nations is little more than a parliament of dictators. At best, it is a forum for the people without the imagination and enthusiasm to make for themselves a home-grown version of the American dream. At worst, it is a product of very the injustices which the best of the world decided they could no longer tolerate when they chose to pack their bags and take a chance on being free.

Posted by: Nicholas Packwood at September 21, 2003 at 03:41 PM

Andrea: nailed it.

Nicholas: likewise.

As usual.

Posted by: Mike at September 21, 2003 at 05:53 PM

It’s true. This is one of the most obvious lies of the anti war crowd, and they’re rarely called on it.

In ‘Holidays in Hell’ P.J. O’Rourke described the abuse he got from Europeans after Reagan bombed Libya in 1986. Our ‘friends’ hated us when we tried to defend ourselves then, and they hate us for the same thing now. They called us arrogant then, they call us arrogant now. I guess arrogant is the word they use to define fighting back against terrorism. We need more arrogance in the world, not less.

O’Rourke had an great (arrogant) comeback:

"Back in London, I was having dinner in the Groucho Club . . . when one more person started in on the Stars and Stripes. Eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about 'Your country's never been invaded.' . . . 'You don't know the horror, the suffering. You think war is . . .' I snapped."

"'A John Wayne movie,' I said. 'Thats what you were going to say, wasn't it? We think war is a John Wayne movie. We think life* is a John Wayne movie--with good guys and bad guys, as simple as that. Well, you know something Mr. Limey Poofter? You're right. And let me tell you who those bad guys are. They're *us. WE BE BAD."

"'We're the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We're three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds and descended from a stock market crash on our mother's side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn't give us room to park our cars. We're the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d'Antibes.
And we've got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go…"

Posted by: mary at September 21, 2003 at 06:10 PM

And all the comments above are indicative of the converse of the "puppy-doggish need to be liked" (though I would suggest that the United States should be respected not liked).

A conceit that because we have the greatest country, that we have the most freedom, and that we are the most powerful that we can do no wrong. An arrogance that says we can do as we please, when we please.

And you what, I don't have any problem with that when the actions of our government are truly about the interest of the United States and not about keeping your ass in power for the full eight years you are allowed.

And before those who disagree with me assign me some extreme lefty anti-war label. I agreed with the war initially and still agree with that we should pursue the "War on Terror". However, none of the things that the Bush Administration has stated as "real" reasons for the Iraq War have materialized. The Bush Administration, it appears, has lied, mislead, misjudged, and were arrogant in pursuing this war (the Iraq War). Bush is the man in charge and should be held to account for it.

If you choose to put on a wool coat and run around bleating conservative dogma that is your right.

At this point, it is still possible (not likely) that WMD's will found or that there will be a link found between Al Qaeda and SH. I just do not believe that at this time. Something stinks in the Bush Administration.

Posted by: ESP at September 21, 2003 at 09:15 PM

Well, ESP, I, for one, do not believe the ends have to justify the means. I'm all for doing the right thing for the wrong reason, a concept the Rabid Left ™ just can't seem to wrap their stringy noodles around.

If you want black and white, stick to Rorschach.

Posted by: Arbiter at September 21, 2003 at 09:51 PM

ESP: Bushlied... yawn. And as for all the remarks above being "indicative of the converse of the 'puppy-doggish need to be liked'" -- good. It means people are breaking free of this foolishness. I can see, however, that you have not, despite your remarks about respect. No one respects a toady, or someone who spouts the same boring nonsense about no WMDs, no Al-Qaeda ties, and so forth, as if these were all supposed to be in a big building in Baghdad with signs and arrows pointing to it saying "Look! Nukes and paycheck stubs to Al Qaeda members here!" Please don't comment any more on my blog if you are going to be tedious like this.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 21, 2003 at 09:59 PM

And by the way, thanks for actually reading the whole post. Where in this entire thing I wrote about our own ignorance, denial, and flaws did I say that we were a country that could "do no wrong"? And who else here said or implied anything like that?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 21, 2003 at 10:01 PM

ESP - If there had been a little more arrogance in the world before 9/11, if the West (and the UN) had responded to terrorism by fighting it rather than bleating for peace and making pathetic attempts at negotiations, the situation might not be as bad as it is now. American efforts to fight terrorism before 9/11 were halfhearted, but at least we did something. And Europe hated us for it.

Andrea’s post didn't focus completely on Iraq, it was about the fact that ‘they’ hated American foreign policy before 9/11, they hated it afterwards and they will continue to hate it in the future, so we should just do what we think is best.

No, you don’t sound like an extreme lefty – you sound like a Democrat who is grabbing any chance he can get to cut and paste the same tired message that we’ve heard for months (ie. ‘Bush Lied’ ‘There were no WMDs’ ‘Saddam wasn’t working with al Qaeda!’ – ‘if Bush is re-elected, it will be the end of the world as we know it!’.)

Instead of cutting and pasting tired old arguments, why don’t you try something new. You said you support the ‘war on terror’ – what should we do to fight terrorism? Al Qaeda is just part of a growing Muslim supremacist movement, a jihad, that has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. What should we do to stop them? Any ideas?

Posted by: mary at September 21, 2003 at 10:02 PM

Besides, need this be said?

Most of the reasons given by the Bush administration were valid then and are valid now. WMDs was one of a long list of reasons, that too many have conveniently decided to forget in their obsessive need to believe that because every intelligence service in the world was wrong about WMDs in Iraq, this means "Bush lied."

As for the predicted outcomes: many have in fact come to pass, and many more we always knew would take many years to pan out.

But no matter how many times this is all pointed out, it just makes no dent in some people.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at September 22, 2003 at 02:17 AM

And to add to ESP's comment about being respected rather than liked, that is exactly what Reagan said.

Posted by: Ken Summers at September 22, 2003 at 08:09 AM

"Bush Lied" - big deal. Compared to the lies of the previous administration, Bush is still in Class A baseball. Do you remember the 1992 campaign promise of "I will not implement these programs if it raises taxes."? Guess what? My taxes went up each year during the Clinton years. With more money to spend, our intelligence community was gutted and our military emasculated. Where did THAT savings go? Bush comes in and tries to undo this and gets crucified. Jeez. What's a guy to do? He doesn't simply open the check book the way the Clinton group did when it came time to accomplish some foreign policy task (that is where all the money went, by the way).

Because we are the most powerful, free-est, richest nation in the world DOES in fact make us the greatest nation in the world. Why should we be modest about that? Every nation in the world has nationals trying to become citizens in the US; and no, it is not a two way street - US citizens don't want to leave. Because of this simple fact, I don't care what the other nations in the world think of us and we should do what is in our best interest. Every other nation does to its fullest extent, why not us?

And don't even get me started on the UN. To find out the great UN solutions all we need to do is look at Korea. A few years later and a lot of deaths (mostly US military deaths) later, they decide to do nothing but leave the place alone. DUH! Why have a "police action" to end up doing nothing? If we are going to do nothing, the DO NOTHING; don't waste years and lives deciding to do nothing. I think we should simply leave the UN and see what happens; how long will the UN continue to function without the millions we pump into its coffers?

Life is not a popularity contest. We don't have to be liked. We NEED to be respected.

Posted by: BillH at September 23, 2003 at 12:26 AM

This idea that the non-anglo world just envy you may help your egos... but sorry to burst your bubbles, that's not true. Well, at least I don't! Don't hate you either. I think sometimes Americans are too egocentric, but that's no reason to hate you. May I suggest you read some newspapers published outside America to get a fairer view of what people really think of you, if you are so worried. Try the British news, easy to read since they are written in English.

Posted by: Nicolau at September 23, 2003 at 05:01 AM

Well, Nicolau, Americans may be egocentric, but at least we don't try to represent our little point of view as being the same as that of every other person in the whole rest of the world as you have right now (your "at least I don't" caveat notwithstanding.) As for your suggestion that I read "newspapers published outside America" -- excuse me, where the hell do you think I got all this information about how "people really think of (Americans)"? You display the usual ignorance of foreigners visiting American websites to lecture: you immediately assume, despite the fact that this website is on the internet where I can get access to viewpoints from around the globe instantaneously (and from more reliable sources than "newspapers," by the way), that since I am American, I must not have ever read or even seen a non-American website. Well, I don't have my blogroll publically available right now, but I do have one, and half the blogs on it are not American blogs. But you just assumed, because you think -- somehow by dint of your being European, that you know everything. Well I can tell you, boyo, you don't know fuckall -- you haven't even read any other posts on my website to see where I linked to.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 23, 2003 at 06:00 AM

Andrea. Thank you!!!!! I hate how people think they know so much about us based on the movies, music and televison we export. Finally Americans are saying to themselevs, "Hey! Wait a minute. Maybe I'm not the narrow minded, uninformed one. Maybe it's the Europeans that need a lesson in what America is all about."

I think this Iraq thing has been a turning point for Americans. I really do. (Not to mention 9-11 and the way our allies supposedly supported us and then for the most part turned on us when we wanted to do something about it.)America is now like a wife in an abusive relationship who takes the abuse because she thinks she deserves it. Then suddenly, in a flash of enlightenment or self-preservation she realizes that she is not worthless and finally stands to defend herself. That's where we are right now.

Thanks Andrea! I'm going to link to this on my blog.

Posted by: Patrick at September 23, 2003 at 03:39 PM


Posted by: alfredo stroessner at September 23, 2003 at 05:30 PM

Andrea, this is a little off-topic and I hope you don't mind me talking past you but I'd like to take exception with Bill H's comment that his taxes went up every year during the Clinton admin. While his case may vary from my wife and I, our tax RATE has gone down every single year since '88. I know this because every year I adjust my withholdings based on last year's tax formula, and we always end up getting a refund. Every year.

Yes our total income tax payment has gone up every year that our income has gone up, but the percentage of our income that we paid as income tax has consistently gone down every single year, including both the Clinton years and the Bush years. I'd guess a little more steeply during the Bush years, but I think that characterizing the Clinton years as the tax rate going up is simply false-to-fact in my experience.

Posted by: Owen at September 24, 2003 at 12:50 PM

In retrospect it was a completely off-topic nit to pick. Especially since I agree with everything else BillH said.

This whole topic you are getting into of EU parochialism is one that has been bugging me for a while. Thanks for addressing it.

Posted by: Owen at September 24, 2003 at 12:58 PM