A Dangerous Combination

Stupidity; and too much time on one’s hands…

Ann Althouse asks:

These are starkly opposed positions. What mental leaps are required to decide to believe one or the other? Is it perhaps possible to hold in one’s mind the possibility that either might be true or that both might be part true and to make careful case-by-case decisions as we go along?

Both Sharansky’s and Buchanan’s arguments ring true. Sharansky is correct that democracies, in general, are peaceful. Buchanan’s claim is also true: that the U.S presence in various parts of the world is a source of resentment, and that such resentment culminates in attacks on the U.S., both here and abroad. However, I don’t agree with the conclusions Buchanan draws from his assemblage of the facts.

Buchanan misses the point. Most of the “resentment” that’s being touted is just simply irrational, and that’s a very critical distinction that I never see anyone making. A bunch of religious zealots want us off their nation’s public property because we’re defiling their soil? Our culture is polluting their youth? Etc. I think there are surely reasonable cases to be made about the U.S. being too adventuresome or meddling, but the above examples, and ones like it, are not reasonable or rational in any context. To top it off, they redress these faux grievances through terrorism.

This leads to the real reason for doing what we’re doing. Regardless of how well this turns out, those numbskulls over there aren’t going to suddenly love America any more than most of us are going to start loving their stupid culture (yes, I think it’s debilitatingly stupid on just about every level I can imagine). Setting them up with a democracy and economic stability through some degree of free trade is going to change the way that they seek redress of their grievances—not to mention employ the losers who currently have far too much time on their hands. In a multi-party democracy and modern economy, those offended by the U.S. will then have political means by which to [futilely] air their grievances, just as we do here.

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  1. Jarrod on February 13, 2005 at 15:23

    It is important to remember that some people have very good, concrete and rational reasons for wanting the US to leave, however you have to do a better job of putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Would you really want other countries basing their troops here?

    What if the Chinese for example (I've chosen them since they have a very very different culture, just like ours vs the middle east's), lived in the US. We saw them walking around, talking differently, not obeying our social rules, perhaps every one in awhile getting into trouble. They have totally different morals than us.

    You can be sure lots of people would be up in arms about that. How can you say it's irrational for people to not want foreign troops on their soil? I think that's fairly straight forward.

  2. Jarrod on February 13, 2005 at 15:26

    Forgot tomention the last thing:

    Even if you personally find their resentment and anger irrational, does that matter? If we have troops somewhere and the majority of the country wants them to leave, we should. It's their country not ours. If we want to abide by democratic rules then let the people speak.

  3. Richard Nikoley on February 13, 2005 at 17:41

    Two points:

    1. America has always "followed the rules," which is to say, if a country in which we have bases asks us to leave, we leave. The Phillippines is a good recent example, and we had a huge presence there with an air-force base, a naval base, and a naval air station. With regard to the Middle East, nobody with the authority to ask us to leave, has.

    2. When a nation is a threat to us, or they support those who are, then it doesn't matter what they want.

    The distinction people need to make is that America is not a conqueror. There is no comparison to be made with other nations who are, or who would be (such as China). Morality isn't relevant. There are absolutes.

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