I have a cleaning lady. She comes once a month. In fact, she’ll be cleaning my place this week…
In anticipation of her arrival, I haven’t done any dishes for days. My cloths are polluting my bedroom like collateral damage…
My pots and pans still have three day-old remnants of scrambled eggs sticking to them…
Garbage cans and recycling bins are likely to volcanically erupt they are so overflowing…
And no, I’m not normally a slob. But maybe my cleaning lady assumes I am. Because I know she is coming, I ease up on my cleaning responsibilities. I don’t mind giving her more work — that’s what I hire her for, of course …
If she came once a week would I be a slob all the time?
Often times, the rest of the world sees America as its cleaning lady…
“We don’t need to worry about cleaning up after ourselves, we can rely on America.”
“We can appease dictators. Because America will clean up if our strategy of appeasement ultimately fails. Of course, we can go to bed feeling good about ourselves — because we stand for peace (even though our placating generally leads to war).”
“We can be Western Europe and decimate our military capability. We can turn our military to a welfare system where the average age is double that of the U.S. military and where personnel are 80% of our costs. Because we know we are never going to fight. We can count on America.”
“There’s a problem in Liberia … we want America to send troops. There’s a situation in Haiti … America — can you send some of your nice troops? We’ve got to keep American troops in Germany, in South Korea, in Bosnia, in Columbia …”
“We can propose impractical treaties in Kyoto because we know America will save us by taking an unpopular stand that we do not have to take in front of our people.”
Just like the anticipation of my cleaning lady, the world can act like a slob because it knows that it has the vacuum-wielding, Windex-toting, bleach-carrying, duster-brandishing, Tilex-sporting America ready to pounce when needed. Yes, it is America-on-demand. The USA is like the Wolf from Pulp Fiction — we’ll be there in 10 minutes to clean up your mess … even when you mistakenly blow your friend’s brains out …
I’m not implying that there is any other alternative … only pointing out America’s situation. America certainly shouldn’t shrink from helping to make the world a better place. We owe it to our fellow man to continue to act with a kind heart and be the strong parent (and not the one that’s always letting little Tommy replace dinner with two desserts).
And as the world of terror unfortunately gets bloodier, this “us against them” will fall more and more on America’s shoulders — with the rest of the world rooting for us and against us at the same time.
Rooting against us to appease the terrorists, the dictators, and the oil hoarders. And rooting for us because … well, because … if America retracts then they will have to actually step up and take responsibility.
And who wants to take responsibility?
Not me … I have the cleaning lady coming this week.
Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said yesterday in a New York Times Magazine interview that he would like to vote in the upcoming US prez election. Given how much the US impacts his life and the lives of others outside the US Blix wants a say in US politics. He is from Sweden. Interesting twist — representation without taxation.
A few years ago the Mayor of Paris gave non-French residents who own property the right to vote in local matters. Some 1% of Paris residents are Americans.
But if the US is like Mr. Fox then we choose you. You don’t choose us. Unless you have the private mobile number for Jules of course.
Damn. I need a cleaning lady.
Auren, your analogy is absurdist and full of inaccuracy. It assumes that 1. America is a benign and kind country when there is little evidence that any country acts in ways which are not in the self-interest of the elite and powerful of that nation, and 2. that there is no historical link between past and present events which would necessitate an American reaction. To use your own analogy, America is more like you. It makes a mess, doesn’t clean it up, and pays others to do the dirty work.
“We can appease dictators…” Who are the we? Most countries defer their foreign policy to regional or global leaders. Thus, most are doing whatever the United States does. Whether you look at the coalition of the bribed nations who went against the wishes of their citizenry to support American wars in Vietnam and Iraq or you see a pattern where nations support the dictators who are put into power with massive U.S. support.
Take your example Haiti. It has had the most U.S. “interventions” in the last 100 years. Not surprisingly, it is one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere. The U.S. supported dictator Duvalier was predictably not condemned by other states. Requests by pesky developing countries at the U.N. that the U.S. simply stop sending Duvalier vast military aid were ignored and barely reported in the U.S. press. Due to overwhelming international condemnation of the disregard for the election of Aristide in the early 90s, the U.S. stopped supporting the right wing militias and death squads, Clinton made some wonderful and duplicitous speeches about democracy in Haiti and Aristide was promptly ignored. After elections, many of those in the right wing death squads were given sanctuary in the U.S., mainly in Queens, and allowed to take their looted money out of Haiti to the United States. After George W. Bush was elected, the U.S. actively tried to block all international aid and loans to Haiti, leading predictably to violence which remarkably took 3 years to erupt. Not surprisingly, again, the death squad leaders were the ones inciting violence which lead to the intervention by the U.S. and the old colonial power, France (just to show that there can be cooperation between Old Europe and America). Most from the region who are knowledgeable on the subject were simply asking for U.S. non-intervention, not U.S. troops. But, to read their ideas, you would need to read small journals, written mainly in French or pay attention to human rights groups. If you want a credible U.S. source, I suggest the economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Similarly in Liberia, Charles Taylor was supported by vast amounts of U.S. military aid. His actions were appeased by his neighbors, mainly because they were afraid of U.S. retribution and overthrow which is the usual fate of democratically elected leaders in Africa. Again, those knowledgeable about the subject, did not call for U.S. troops. Tiawan Gongloe, a Liberian knowledgeable about the situation and widely quoted in the United States did call for U.S. troops, but, in his words, this is largely because the situation in the last year was caused in part by U.S. support of dictators throughout the country’s history.
We could take a virtual voyage around the world and through the last 100 years of history and you will find that overwhelmingly the U.S. has supported dictators and tyrants (Germany and Japan being the exceptions), intervening in general to go against the will of the people in the area, all of course in the name of democracy, human rights and the general betterment of the people in the area. If you go back another 100 years, the same paradigm extends to Europe, except that they tried overt colonialism, a method too costly and inefficient for today’s world.
As for troops in South Korea, Germany, and the other 170 or so countries the U.S. keeps troops, public opinion in those countries are often against it, though the elites are happy to have the U.S. presence and U.S. military aid which accompanies it. But this isn’t the U.S. being of service in a subordinate role as a cleaning lady is. Rather, it is the U.S. who is in charge, demonstrating this through its ability to reach any port militarily within days if not hours.
For Kyoto, it’s strange that you think the Europeans and Japanese felt rescued by America’s unpopular stand. In fact, polls show that their populaces support the Protocol in vast measures and many of these nations have begun implementation regardless of the U.S. putting pressure on states to veto it. Considering that the U.S. is the world’s largest carbon dioxide polluter, it is not surprising that the U.S. would take a stance unpopular with the rest of the world, but there is no evidence that the rest of the world feels saved by this. To invert your cleaning lady analogy, many in the rest of the world have claimed that the U.S. does not clean up after itself knowing that the rest of the world will be forced to take out its trash.
There are a lot of great and unique things about the United States. It would be a good idea for you to learn your history and begin understanding what specifically is great and unique about this country. While the list is long, U.S. foreign policy after the Spanish American War for Cuba is certainly not one of the great things about this country if your lens is a moral one. Since then, the U.S. has behaved like a petulant child, taking the resources it wants without paying the cost of these resources. First this only extended to the Western hemisphere, now it extends to all nations in the developing world. This is not much different than the actions or the rhetoric of the British Empire who also had apologetic citizens singing the praises of their enlightened foreign policy. It is not very different than the Soviet, Roman, Chinese, or even attempted German and Japanese empires. Read what their citizens were saying about their foreign policies and compare that to what their subjects were saying. In general, their citizens never pointed to the flaws of their own nation (which would have taken courage), but
If you do want to point to items where the U.S. shines, investigate the checks and balances in the constitution, the racial tolerance and mixture demonstrated on the coasts, the freedom of women, the unparalleled higher education system, the innovations of the public and private sector, the vast natural resources and beauty, the welcoming of immigrants, the freedom of dissent, etc. In most of these areas, the U.S. has been towards the top or is the leader today and historically in these areas.
So learn history from a disinterested perspective and have the courage to point out the flaws of your own nation. And when looking for faults, know thyself and clean up after yourself. It’s good advice for people and nations.