Is America really to blame, or do more problems lie abroad? A response to Andy's 10/30 post and some of the comments that followed itgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
On 10/30 Andy posted an article from gold-eagle.com authored by Mr. David Cohen titled "The Gold Market as A Metaphor for America" Quote "Is it any wonder that Americans have never been more despised by foreigners than they are today?" end quote.
I am responding with a separate thread because Andy's post and the comments that followed it raised an important issue regarding the United States and its relation with the world. US foreign relations may become more risky in a world sliding into greater poverty and greater chaos. Will the nations of the world blame America for their problems? Will they be justified in doing so?
In the past I have looked forward to reading Andy's posts, however I am starting to change my feelings toward your writings. In the arguing that followed your 10/30 post, I believe that your aim lost focus and devolved into an I'm-right-your-country's-wrong argument. The argument seemed to become an argument over how the United States is "to blame" for so many problems. For example Andy, you told one forumite:
Get real. The days of $3 Nikes and Cathy Lee T-shirts for 50 cents sold at a few thousand per cent mark up are over. In precisely 8 weeks time. Gus I don't think you like reality - and David Cohen has hit the ugly truth on the head. The world has had it with America - they want out. That simple. . . . . The all too common attitude laid bare above is precisely why the US flag is burnt so often abroad. Sheesh.
I am disappointed, Andy, that when a couple of forumites presented weak arguments against you, you claimed that they were arrogant, and that you would ridicule them with a word like "Sheesh." I have read a lot of your posts in the past few months, and I expect more civil behavior from the Andy I have read from in the past. There is nothing Arrogant about an American not wanting his country being blamed for all of the world's problems, or at least the problems you (and to a lesser extent, Mr. Cohen) seem to be blaming America for.
My simple response to Andy's statement above is that if those "foreigners" want to discontinue selling those cheap products into America's market then, well, Ronald Reagan said it at least once: "Go ahead . . . . Make my day."
Should I also present a more complex response? Well here goes.
If the United Sates is to blame for many of the problems cited by Andy it should also be appreciated as an example of solving problems. Who exactly did the Koreans and Indonesains rely on to solve their problems during their financial crisis? I seem to remember Robert Rubin arguing that if the United States did not donate $15 billion to the IMF, then other nations would not increase their contributions to the IMF, and the IMF and the entire world economy will be in danger. It would be a good idea for you to remember, Andy, that many Americans are uncomfortable with a responsibility that has been placed on us by othger nationsthey demand that we bail them out.
I find it revealing Andy that you asked Gus Been to the Lebanon recently? Anywhere in the islamic world? perhaps India or Pakistan? Indonesia - South America? Russia? . Let's talk about some of these nations. Lebanon -- 240 American Marines gave their lives. Regardless of what you think of the presence of American soldiers in Lebanon those were human beings: they meant a great deal to their families and friends. Indonesia Indonesia has been bailed out by the IMF five times since the 1950's (yes, correct, five times); the five bailouts would not have been possible if it were not for the United Sates' contribution. Russia similar to what I said about Indonesia, except that the Russians are still asking for more money. Even the Russian troops in Kosovo have received a large part of their financing from the American taxpayers. The point here, Andy, is that it is not appropriate for a nation to feed off of American generosity and criticize the United States so harshly at the same time. By the way Andy, have you been to Lebanon lately? Or India? Or Pakistan? Or Indonesia? Or South America? Or Russia? I have not been to these regions lately. I have been outside the United States more than twenty times, mostly in the eighties. I have always been treated very well, every time. Perhaps I was just lucky.
What else has the United States done lately? When western European leaders failed to make a difference in Bosnia, they lashed out against the United Sataes because the United States "wasn't doing enough" After the American phase of that conflict began with the bombing of Serb positions in Bosnia, the United Staes received no credit for it, only a bill for at least half of the cost. When it was time to bail out Mexico, and later the nations of southeast Asia, and later Russia, most nations held back on making contributions until the United States made a huge contribution. How many people do you know of who have thanked the United States for the $15.5 billion that American taxpayers contributed to that effort? (that is money, by the way, that I am convinced will never be paid back). You might not think too highly of the IMF too, but please remember that that money could have built roads in the United States, it could have helped out small businesses in the United States, or helped the hungry in the United Statesit helped the hungry in Mexico, Indonesia, and Russia instead. Do you really have no respect for that contribution? Do you really feel good about heaping more scorn on the United States? If so, what should American taxpayers do? Should they continue giving money to the UN? Or should they choose to take the blame for "not giving enough" to the UN?
What is my point here? The United States is an easy target for blame. That is why America will continue to be used for target practice by corrupted dictators who want to draw their people's attention away from the problems they have largely created themselves.
Is it any wonder that Americans have never been more despised by foreigners [sic] than they are today?
Well Andy . . . Could it possibly be that a more accurate word would be envied? After all, how many millions of Asians are still, today, applying for visas to Russia, or Malaysia, or Cambodia (which is another nation where billions of American taxpayers' dollars have been spent in the past decade, by the way)?
I will now quote Mr. Cohen:
It has taken some time but these foreigners have come to realize that US Dollar hegemony is one of the major reasons why this great debtor nation can produce so little yet consume so much, at the expense of other countries. Well . . . yes this is true the US does benefit from the position of the Dollar and from its ability to export inflation. I will add that the position of the US Dollar is simply the reverse side of the export policies of nations around the world. Man, many nations have put a great deal of effort into making their economy an export-driven economy. These nations' policies result in a signifigant trade surplus with other nations, particularly the United States. It is simply impossible for the nations of the world to enjoy a large trade surplus with the United States witout the Dollar serving as the reserve currency. For what are they going to sell their goods if not for dollars. What Mr. Cohen refers to as "US Dollar tyranny" is not tyranny; it is the rule of the market. If you insist on selling, you accept the price you agreed on and you accept it in the currency agreed on. The alternative is to not make the sale. US Dollar "Tyranny" will end overnight in any nation that chooses not to sell to the United States. Any takers?
Oh yeah, then there's Y2K and the money Americans have spent at home and abroad for remediation . . . Well that's a whole 'nother story.
-- Rick (email@example.com), November 01, 1999
There's enough "blame" to cover every country. The U.S. was once a RELATIVE (not absolute) beacon of freedom and resulting prosperity. Freedom has been lost, and prosperity loss will follow. But there is no denying that the American people and government are arrogant and manipulative. But all the other countries are equally to blame. Why haven't THEY learned/implemented freedom -- and such attendent items such as honest money/credit/banking? Their systems are just as corrupt as those of the U.S. In one sense, their hatred of the U.S. is justified. In another sense, it is just scapegoating.
-- A (A@AisA.com), November 01, 1999.
The first problem is to think "outside" of the U.S. My travels outside of this country gave me the impression that people seem similar. There is still the potential for a blame the U.S. for problems with y2k in other countries. This was commented on in the Naval War College y2k analysis.
If there is already a built in bias to envy the U.S. and we appear to be less affected than other countries this could become outright hostility. Political types in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are not going to fight a see of hatred if there are social problems and major (or minor) disruptions. China has established the U.S. as the big bad power and helped stoked the hatred of the U.S. to provide a directed anger.
How would it look if you saw the wealthiest country with electricity and few problems and food shortages in your town, village or city? It is not a question of whether there is a rational reason for the anti-U.S. feelings, after the belief is established it exists and must be understood. The hatreds in Yugoslavia were not rational at first it was just understood that "they" are the enemy.
To paraphrase, we have met the enemy and they are us. Remember what the Nationalism and desperation gave birth to in Germany.
-- squid (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 02, 1999.