I read a post on one of my fellow blogger's pages, Recycle Thoughts, for July 15th, 2005, and began to post a comment to respond to the blog-post. I usually have common thoughts to much of what he writes, but there are differences. But in responding I realized my comments were way to long for that, so, in the spirit of friendship and for the joy of honest dialogue, I decided to respond to my fellow blogger here.
Ed wrote in response to a letter-to-the-editor in their local paper, who wrote in support of President Bush and the current administration's policies: "If you are looking for a real reason for the latest terrorist attack (in England), it is probably because our foreign policy and the media projection to other foreign nations that all Americans believe what our President is doing is the right thing to do when in fact, the latest polls show that the majority of Americans disagree with how 'The Cowboy From Texas' Bush is handling the war. When are we Americans going to realize that America is turning into the bully that everybody hates?" (emphasis mine)
Ed, I worry about you, my friend.
I am convinced that America is not hated by the average citizens of the world, but by a vocal, influential minority in those countries who stand to lose by our aggressive fight against terror, and our moral values and worldview in general.
My nephew just came back from Iraq, being stationed at the airport in Baghdad. In his experience, most people were happy about Americans being there. They were not happy about how hard things have become, and most are angry at the insurgents for causing trouble. Not at Americans. Most Iraqis he ran into are very glad Saddam is gone, and are looking forward to running things on their own when we leave, but are in no hurry to MAKE us leave. Most felt safer right now because Americans were still there.
The insurgency in Iraq is made up of dead-enders from the Baath party and Saddam's regime, and those that lost out when Saddam's gov't fell. Yes, jihadists are there, but they will always hate America no matter what, because we stand in the way of the ultimate spread of Islam and Islamic law around the world. We could surrender today and leave tomorrow, and they'd still hate and kill westerners.
Mexicans risk death by the thousands crossing deserts to come here, as do Cubans who cross the sea on rafts and dinghies, and thousands of others from all over the world. I know of no other country that attracts people to literally risk their lives to gain a foothold for their families the way America does. People look to America for hope. Hope!
We are the largest contributor to aid and charity the world over, bar none. Period. No other nation comes close. 90% of all tsunami aid in the Indian Ocean last Christmas has been delivered by US forces and US companies using US ships and planes. 90%!
I believe in our culture and the "American way of life", and I stand by that based on the evidence around me. Unparalleled prosperity, freedom, and opportunity, rivaled by no other nation on earth, ever. Our culture has no rival in the world when it comes to across-the-board opportunity for the average person. Not perfection, no where close. But darn good! Better than anywhere else I can think of living.
Those overseas that don't like America are those that are envious of America's place in the world, and are frustrated at their inability to influence it. They are envious of our influence, our strength, and our values.
The French are pissed because we cost them so much money in Iraq, and called them on their two-facedness, but again, it's not the French people, it's a vocal governing minority. They are frustrated at their impotence in standing in the way of our government's march to do what it thought was right. Chirac's popularity is dropping like a rock because his government does not reflect the values of the French people.
Same goes for the Russians. They want their old prestige back, as a world power with influence, and we stand in the way of that because they were, not so very long ago, and very wicked and evil place; the site of murder and oppression on a scale never before seen in human history. Let's not forget, the same people who were in charge in the old USSR are STILL in charge in Russia.
The Communist Chinese envy our place in the world, and our influence in Asia. THEY want to be the predominant influence. They want what we have, and by and large, are on a track to get it. Look what capitalist reforms have done there! Influences from OUR way of doing business (not to mention actual American companies doing business IN China) has enabled China to begin an economic boom that's amazing in it's scope and speed.
I just don't see why American's are so willing to place blame for everything at our own feet. It seems like we are ashamed of being powerful and successful, and have to somehow assuage our social guilt by kicking ourselves.
Look at this country!! It's awesome! We essentially saved the freakin' world from fascism 60 years ago, and are responsible for the spread of freedom and democracy over 1/2 the globe since! Our culture is responsible for lifting millions out of poverty by creating jobs, exporting jobs, buying products from businesses in impoverished parts of the world (we complain about sweat shops, but to many working in them, in such places as Thailand and Latin America, it's more prosperity than many of them have ever seen), not to mention billions and billions in direct aid - a gift - to countries around the world.
We almost single handedly defeated Communism during the Cold War, despite opposition from "grass roots" groups in West Germany and England that protested American military bases and weapons systems. We prevailed, did what we thought was right, and look at the freedom that has spread throughout Eastern Europe. Did you know every single Eastern European nation that suffered under Soviet tyranny supports us in our global war on terror? Why? Because they've experience tyranny, lived under it, suffered under it, and they know who will protect their freedom in the future.
We're not perfect, far from it, and vigilance on our own shores over our own elected officials in an absolute right and a responsibility, but dang, we take it too far in our self-flagellation. We are a good people and a good country! Charitable, noble, and for the most part, very peace-loving and kind. Worth fighting for and protecting, and being proud of!
But at times we must use this hard-won strength to stand up and name Evil what it is, and oppose it in this world. That takes a confidence in our nation, our heritage, and our values that I fear we are losing to ambiguity and lethargy.
Did you know re-enlistment is soaring among those soldiers who have served in Iraq? Its because they believe in what they are doing. They know the truth, and that the goal and the fight are noble and good. Ugly at times, but right.
Dear Lord, did I rant that long? I'm sorry, that's a hot button for me. Can you tell?