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hey BIKING VIKING(24 posts)

Mar 4, 2002 12:49 AM,11581,661105,00.html

Has the US lost its way?

Does everybody hate America? Maybe the world is just concerned at the lack of visionary leadership from such a powerful nation

Paul Kennedy
Sunday March 3, 2002
The Observer

'By what right,' an angry environmentalist demanded at a recent conference I attended, 'do Americans place such a heavy footprint upon God's Earth?' Ouch. That was a tough one because, alas, it's largely true.
We comprise slightly less than 5 per cent of the world's population; but we imbibe 27 per cent of the world's annual oil production, create and consume nearly 30 per cent of its Gross World Product and - get this - spend a full 40 per cent of all the world's defence expenditures. By my calculation, the Pentagon's budget is nowadays roughly equal to the defence expenditures of the next nine or 10 highest defence-spending nations - which has never before happened in history. That is indeed a heavy footprint. How do we explain it to others - and to ourselves? And what, if anything, should we be doing about this?

I pose these questions because recent travel experiences of mine - to the Arabian Gulf, Europe, Korea, Mexico - plus a shoal of letters and emails from across the globe all suggest that this American democracy of ours is not as admired and appreciated as we often suppose. The sympathy of non-Americans for the horrors of 11 September was genuine enough, but that was sympathy for innocent victims and for those who had lost loved ones - workers at the World Trade Centre, the policemen, the firemen.

There was also that feeling of pity that comes out of a fear that something similar could happen, in Sydney, or Oslo, or New Delhi. But this did not imply unconditional love and support of Uncle Sam.

On the contrary, those who listen can detect a groundswell of international criticisms, sarcastic references about US government policies, and complaints about our heavy 'footprint' upon God's Earth. Even as I write, a new email has arrived from a former student of mine now in Cambridge (and a devoted Anglophile), who talks of the difficulty of grappling with widespread anti-American sentiments. And this in the land of Tony Blair! It's lucky he's not studying in Athens, or Beirut, or Calcutta.

Many American readers of this column may not really care about the growing criticisms and worries expressed by outside voices. To them, the reality is that the United States is unchallenged Number One, and all the rest - Europe, Russia, China, the Arab world - just have to accept that plain fact. To act as if it were not so is a futile gesture, like whistling in the wind.

But other Americans I listen to - former Peace Corps workers, parents with children studying abroad (as they themselves once did), businessmen with strong contacts overseas, religious men and women, environmentalists - really do worry about the murmurs from afar. They worry that we are isolating ourselves from most of the serious challenges to global society, and that, increasingly, our foreign policy consists merely of sallying forth with massive military heft to destroy demons like the Taliban, only to retreat again into our air bases and boot camps.

They understand, better than some of their neighbours, that America itself has been largely responsible for creating an ever more integrated world - through our financial investments, our overseas acquisitions, our communications revolution, our MTV and CNN culture, our tourism and student exchanges, our pressure upon foreign societies to conform to agreements regarding trade, capital flows, intellectual property, environment and labour laws. They therefore recognise that we cannot escape back to some Norman Rockwell-like age of innocence and isolationism, and fear we are alienating too much of a world to which we are now tightly and inexorably bound. After my recent travels, this viewpoint makes more and more sense to me.

So what is to be done? One way to clearer thinking might be to divide outside opinion into three categories: those who love America, those who hate America and those who are concerned about America. The first group is easily recognisable. It includes political figures such as Lady Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev; businessmen admirers of US laissez-faire economics; foreign teenagers devoted to Hollywood stars, pop music and blue jeans, and societies liberated from oppression by American policies against nasty regimes. The second group also stands out. Anti-Americanism is not just the hallmark of Muslim fundamentalists, most non-democratic regimes, radical activists in Latin America, Japanese nationalists and critics of capitalism everywhere. It also can be found in the intellectual salons of Europe, perhaps especially in France, where US culture is regarded as being crass, simplistic, tasteless - and all too successful.

Since there is little that can be done to alter the convictions of either of those camps, our focus ought to be upon the third and most important group, those who are inherently friendly to America and admire its role in advancing democratic freedoms, but who now worry about the direction in which the US is headed. This is ironic, but also comforting. Their criticisms are directed not at who we are, but at America's failure to live up to the ideals we ourselves have always articulated: democracy, fairness, openness, respect for human rights, a commitment to advancing Roosevelt's 'four freedoms'.

Three times in the past century most of the world looked with hope and yearning toward an American leader who advocated transcendent human values: for Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Kennedy made hearts rise abroad when they rejected narrow 'America First' sentiments and spoke of the needs of all humankind.

It is a return to this tolerant and purposeful America that so many worried and disappointed foreign friends want to see. Unilateralist US policies on land mines, an international criminal court and Kyoto environmental protocols fall well below those expectations. Underfunding the United Nations seems both unwise and contrary to solemn pledges. Committing an extra $48 billion to defence, but not committing to amounts or percentages for next month's Monterrey conference on financing development looks hypocritical. In fact, a few of these US policies (for example, on the early Kyoto proposals) can probably be well defended. But the overall impression that America has given of late is that we simply don't care what the rest of the world thinks. When we require assistance - in rounding up terrorists, freezing financial assets and making air bases available for US troops - we will play with the team; when we don't like international schemes, we'll walk away. My guess is that every American ambassador and envoy abroad these days spends most of his time handling such worries - worries expressed, as I said above, not by America's foes but by her friends.

Finally, individual policy changes matter much less than the larger issue. There is a deep yearning abroad these days for America to show real leadership. Not what Senator William J. Fulbright once termed 'the arrogance of power', but leadership of the sort perhaps best exemplified by Roosevelt. This seems to be what EU external affairs commissioner Chris Patten wants when he voices his worries about America shifting into 'unilateral overdrive'.

It would be a leadership marked by a breadth of vision, an appreciation of our common humanity, a knowledge that we have as much to learn from others as we have to impart to them. It would be a leadership that spoke to the disadvantaged and weak everywhere, and that committed America to join other advantaged and strong nations in a common endeavour to help those who can scarce help themselves. Above all, it would be a leadership that turned openly to the American people and explained, time and time again, why our deepest national interest lies in taking the fate of our planet seriously and in investing heavily in its future.

Were that to happen, we would fulfill America's promise - and probably get a surprise at just how popular we really are.

· Paul Kennedy CBE, Professor of History and Director of International Security Studies at Yale University, is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
re: hey BIKING VIKINGBikingViking
Mar 4, 2002 5:23 AM
A lot to digest...I'll be giving it some thought and then reply.

Can't pass this one up!! :o>
and this tooMJ
Mar 4, 2002 5:41 AM,6903,660931,00.html

'Bombing Saddam is ignorance'

Robert Baer, the ex-CIA man in Iraq during the failed uprising in 1995, says the US is not in a position to strike against Iraq because it does not understand anything about the country

Terrorism crisis - Observer special

Henry Porter
Sunday March 3, 2002
The Observer

Robert Baer's objections to an attack on Iraq could hardly be principled. As the CIA's point man in Iraq during the failed uprising in 1995, he encouraged dissident groups to believe that the United States wanted the overthrow and death of Saddam Hussein. Yet Baer, whose memoir of life in the CIA, See No Evil, is published in Britain tomorrow, is appalled at the idea of a US strike against Iraq today.
'If the US is to bomb Saddam and his army until there is no army, what comes after that? No one is discussing the ethnic composition of Iraq or what Iran is likely to do.'

Few in America appreciate the tribal ethnic and religious faultlines that run through the Middle East as Baer does. Iraq is particularly divided. In the south there is a Shia majority which now looks to Iran for support. Occupying the geographical and political centre of the country are the followers of the Sunni sect, which includes Saddam's tribe, and in the north are the Kurds, who are split into two warring parties, the PUK and the KDU.

'The US is in no position to rejigger this because we don't understand anything about the country. If I were the Iranians, for instance, I would try to set up a state in southern Iraq and add three million barrels a day to my account. That could begin to rival Saudi Arabia. Of course, I don't know this is going to happen, but the US government doesn't know either. The heart of the debate is about taking out all Saddam's tanks in a couple of weeks.'

Baer worked for the CIA's Directorate of Operations for 25 years, with postings in Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Tajikistan, India and Europe. His devastating portrait of the agency's decline adds much to the understanding of why America was caught off guard on 11 September, but as important is what he has to say about American sluggishness when it comes to institutional reform.

Towards the end of his time, he searched CIA computer for files on subjects that interested him, for example, the Pasdaran (the Iranian Intelligence service), the Saudi royal family and Syria.

'You know what? There was nothing there. Nothing. They didn't have anything. That's America now, you know. It can't reform.'

After a quarter of century abroad, Baer hardly recognises the States and is appalled at the level of public ignorance.

'There is no debate,' he says. 'People will not address the question of Palestine in the context of the World Trade Centre attacks. It's not in the terms of the discussion. They simply believe that Israel has the right to defend its democracy like the US does. They don't understand that Israel gives no democratic rights to the Palestinians whatsoever. They don't see that it's not a democracy.'

An affable but watchful man in his late forties, Baer is aware that the CIA is mightily displeased with his first literary effort. It can't help that the book has been on the New York Times ' bestseller list for four weeks in a row; that Warner Brothers bought an option and hope to develop the project with the team that made Traffic ; and that Baer is never off US television, often doing three national shows in an evening.

He seems to have few regrets about leaving the CIA. 'I would rather drive a taxi than serve in the CIA,' he says convincingly over lunch at the Alistair Little restaurant in West London.

'Don't ask me how it happened, but the people who work in it just don't match up to the people who got to Silicon Valley or the people who make cruise missiles or design derivatives.'

It's in the innocuous detail that Baer's book is telling. At one point he remembers taking over from a female officer in the Paris station and being handed her list of contacts and agents. When he followed them up, he found that instead of using them to gather intelligence she had been trying to recruit them to a religious sect. The serving US ambassador to France was also involved in the sect. When the two of them were observed handing out leaflets in the street, the French security service thought some kind of operation was in progress.

With good reason he is a pessimist about the CIA and US foreign policymaking. Examples of incompetence abound in See No Evil . In 1986, he was contacted in Germany by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who wanted a meeting. He went to Dortmund and listened to Syrian con tacts propose an intelligence alliance against President Assad. He wrote up a report (on a typewriter, whose ribbon he destroyed afterwards) and sent it to the US embassy in Bonn. A message came back that they weren't interested.

But that was not the last he heard of it. In the wake of 11 September, 16 years later, the FBI contacted Baer to say that associates of the Syrian contacts had been involved in al-Qaeda. That channel, closed down so peremptorily, might have led them to Mohamed Atta.

Over lunch we circled the problem of Iraq. He mentioned that it is easily within Saddam's power to forestall the long-announced air attacks from US bases in Diego Garcia. He could, says Baer, 'simply move his tanks into Syria and proclaim that he was going to liberate the Palestinians', thus pitching Israel into a war with an Arab state.

If there is a fault in Baer's analysis of the Iraqi problem, it is that while he acknowledges Saddam's willingness to use force against civilians he does not believe that the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction is anything but defensive.

Baer says we should look at it through Saddam's regional mentality and that his chief concern is, as it always has been, Iran.

·See No Evil, by Robert Baer, Crown Publications £12.99.
and this tooBikingVIking
Mar 4, 2002 6:40 AM
My initial impression of him is a disgruntled and bitter employee. A lot of anecdotal evidence. If he hated the CIA so much, why didn't he quit? Is he drawing a CIA pension for his 25 years of service? I would suspect so. It would be interesting to hear the CIA side of the story. This doesn't mean he may not have some valid points, but it casts his motives in a suspect light.

Iraq is a nasty nut to crack. I still believe we should have finished him in 1991, but hindsight is 20/20. What to do now? I would support the groups within and actually do it, unlike our feeble attempt in 1995. I would use ALL means, fair and unfair to trip him up, just keep at him in a low intensity manner. I think the Chinese call it "death by a thousand cuts". That area is a hot spot, so we have to be VERY careful with what we do or don't do. There is no evidence linking Saddam to 9/11 as of yet, but if evidence does surface, bring on the B-52s!!

Israel and Palestine...Arafat was given the keys to the Kingdom in 1998 by Barak and he passed on it. Arafat is not interested in peace. He wants Israeli's dead. They attack soft non-military targets and call themselves freedom fighters? I don't think so. If they want my respect, attack the Israeli military, the "alleged" instrument of their oppression.

Israel has a right to defend itself. Civilians are getting killed, but they are not intentional targets like Israeli citizens. However, Israel needs to stop settling the Palestinian areas and soon! That is their fault and contribution to this problem. The US has even called them out on this, to no avail. Were I the Israeli PM, I would halt ALL construction and move the people out. If the violence didn't stop after a reasonable period of time, I woud push Arafat into the sea for good.

Next!! :o)
and this tooMJ
Mar 4, 2002 6:56 AM
I've read a few other articles with the CIA guy - he does seems disillusioned - but he also seems like he was committed to the job

it's very difficult to live abroad as an American and return home to the bissful ignorance that most enjoy

we should have finished off Iraq in the oil war - I don't trust people who scream we shouldn't invade Iraq they should talk to Iraqi refugees

if you look at the deaths Israel is killing far more soft targets than the Paletsinians - I don't think you can ever justify shooting a child/teenager who's thowing a rock at a guy in an APC - if I was Palestinian I would use the soft target option - after all they don't have tanks and planes -they don't want anybody's respect (nor are they entirely blameless)I think they want a piece of the pie

Palestine has a right to defend itself. Civilians are getting killed (look at the body count - it's lower in Israel)

from my point of view Arafat was negotiating with Barak when Barak was voted out by Sharon who personally kicked off the latest bloodletting by his visit in Jerusalem

Israel is behaving like a fascist bully state - sending fighter jets to bomb refugess camps is shameful

in the end though - the point is that the US doesn't actuallly understand the dynamics at work in the war it's trying to fight
A question on fascismMcAndrus
Mar 4, 2002 10:38 AM
Would you please define fascism for me and then tell me why Israel fits that definition? Here are two definitions from Merriam Webster.

1 a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
A question on fascismMJ
Mar 5, 2002 12:57 AM
I think both can apply to Israel - look at their treatment of the Palestinians over the past 60 years and it fits the definition(s) exactly
and this tooweiwentg
Mar 5, 2002 5:32 AM
>>Palestine has a right to defend itself. Civilians are getting killed (look at the body count - it's lower in Israel) <<

I disagree that they or Israel have the right to kill one another. given Ghandi and Martin Luther King, it seems to me that non-violence would be the best option. but forgive the random musings of a semi-pacifist. given what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians, they have the right to defend themselves. in no way, of course, do I condone terrorist tactics. on either side - Israel too is, sadly, guilty of this.

>>Israel is behaving like a fascist bully state - sending fighter jets to bomb refugess camps is shameful <<

I must agree to that. remember also that Israel invaded Palestine first. and that for every Israeli killed several Palestinians are killed in reprisal.
A question on Israel's capabilitiesMcAndrus
Mar 4, 2002 10:44 AM
I believe that if Israel so wished, they could decimate the Palestinians in the Gaza and West Bank and destroy them as a viable political organization. But I wonder if my anaylsis is correct?

As I see it, only world opinion - particularly that of the US - holds Israel back. Would you agree?
A question on Israel's capabilitiesMJ
Mar 5, 2002 1:05 AM
I think the problem with Palestine is that it's nmot a viable political entity - in the governmental, economical or military sense of the word

name one other Palestinian leader? few can without a specialist knowledge on the subject = Arafat is the only leader - nobody else binds the Palestinians together - there will be hell to pay when he dies

Israel could undoubtedly decimate the Palestinians as they don't actually have a military - they've got alot of guys in uniforms (not always) with small arms and some C4

is world opinion holding Israel back? - to some extent possibly - certainly the US who hold the purse and military supply strings are crucial - but I don't think even the most hawkish Israelis are into genocide - I think they would rather have out of sight out of mind with the Palestinians and ignore the problem

the problem being is that Palestine is not a state that can actually function with the confines and restrictions currently placed upon it by Israel - not to mention the extreme poverty, overpopuulation, lack of economy or any infratsructure whatsoever (that's what Arafat and Barak were negotiating over in 1998)
A question on Israel's capabilitiesRA
Mar 6, 2002 7:38 PM
The Truth
re: hey BIKING VIKING - more examplesMJ
Mar 6, 2002 6:39 AM,7369,662708,00.html

Steeling for a fight

Europe must combat US protectionism

Wednesday March 6, 2002
The Guardian

When friends fall out, people get hurt. Feeling the pain at the moment are two of the planet's best political buddies, George Bush and Tony Blair. The reason for their dispute - and the depth of ill-feeling - is to do with the triumph of politics over principle. The White House appears to be ready to impose punitive tariffs on US steel imports - ostensibly to prevent dumping of cheap metal in American markets, but on closer inspection to provide a way of bailing out an inefficient US industry beset by old technology and even older employment practices. This has bruised Mr Blair, who has been America's best friend in troubled times, but who is also Europe's most eloquent exponent of free trade, free markets and economic reform.
Mr Blair has protested both in writing and in speech against Mr Bush's determination to impose up to 30% duties on steel from outside the North American free trade area. Last week he even broke into a transatlantic conversation about whether or not to bomb Iraq to make his point. Although steel from key military allies (Turkey) and bankrupt nations (Argentina) is exempt from the US duties, European metal is not. As the EU exports more than €4bn worth of steel to the US, this is not an inconsiderable financial penalty which will also redirect tonnes of Asian steel from American to European markets. Mr Bush championed free trade during his election campaign. Now he appears ready to embrace protectionism. The reason lies in US domestic politics. Big steel is a powerful lobby which makes a big noise in Washington. Mr Bush owes his job in part to steelworkers such as those in West Virginia, normally a solidly Democrat state but one which voted Republican in 2000. Angering foreign friends and starting a trade war with Europe appears to be a price that Mr Bush is prepared to pay for support from the rust belt, which could swing control of the House in 2002 and of the presidency in 2004. And America's huge, unprofitable mills are slowly going under - more than 30 US steelmakers have filed for bankruptcy protection over the last four years. That sound of blue collar industry collapsing is familiar to European ears, not least in this country. Only last year Corus, the Anglo-Dutch company formed from the ashes of British Steel, sacked 6,000 workers.

The decision to slap duties on imports appears in direct contravention of global trade rules. But this does not bother the Americans. The EU trade commissioner, Pascal Lamy, has accused the US of putting a "gun to the head" of the rest of the world and says Europe will seek redress in the arbitration panels of the World Trade Organisation. The White House knows what this implies, since Europe won the right the impose retaliatory duties after the WTO found that US companies gained unfairly from tax breaks. US officials also know the case has taken eight years and that the EU is still waiting for a final judgment. Such disregard for the rest of the world is a leitmotiv of the Bush administration. The Republican White House and its legislative footsoldiers are sceptical of multi-lateralism - seeing it as a threat to US freedom and a precursor to global government. It scorns global limits on greenhouse gases and refuses to sign up to international aid targets. The Bush agenda, beholden to corporate lobby groups and favouring isolationism, serves to undermine Mr Blair, who has invested so much in promoting globalisation. The prime minister should firmly back a European response to American economic aggression. Speaking the truth may be difficult, but that is what friends are for.
Could be a long one...BikingViking
Mar 4, 2002 6:08 AM
"We comprise slightly less than 5 per cent of the world's population; but we imbibe 27 per cent of the world's annual oil production"

- We have the unique culture of the automobile. Nowhere else do people drive in the numbers we do. Is this good? Perhaps not, but since Sept 11, research on cars that run on fuel cells got a boost in Fed spending. If we could get off the Saudi petroleum "teat" I would be ALL for it!!

"Create and consume nearly 30 per cent of its Gross World Product"

- Why is this bad? We import and export quite a bit contributing to the overall health of worldwide economies.

"and - get this - spend a full 40 per cent of all the world's defence expenditures. By my calculation, the Pentagon's budget is nowadays roughly equal to the defence expenditures of the next nine or 10 highest defence-spending nations - which has never before happened in history."

- This has two parts Yes we spend a lot but we are technically superior to ANY foe we may face now, or in the future. If we lose that edge, American soldiers die because we were too cheap to spend the money for the best gear. HOWEVER, there is a lot of waste and questionable spending. I am not a fan of the National Missile Defense YET. If we start seeing that it's making the Chinese nervous, it's a good thing. I would LOVE to see the world nuclear arsenals go down, but we can't put all of the toothpaste back it the tube. We also pick up a lot of "peacekeeping" for which we receive no credit. We spend a lot of money internationally, but it is forgotten by the world community. Israel and Egypt each get about $2.5 billion a year from us total and that is only the beginning. We are always the first with our transport planes and assistance at any worldwide natural disaster. That also comes out of our military budget.

I will admit we have supported some seedy characters in the past that, in hindsight, probably wasn't too smart. Overall, the US has a pretty good track record on supporting freedom worldwide. I would put our record against any of our naysayers and I think it would be comparable.

The funny part about these countries (especially France, who has always cast a jaundiced eye at us) is that they will ALWAYS act in their own best interest. Why are we castigated for doing the very same thing the non-US countries do? I sense a double standard in this regard. There has been some rumbling about us acting unilaterally during the War on Terror, but when any country loses 2800 people to a heinous and cowardly attack, we MUST act. We must really TRY to work with our Allies (the Canadians, Brits, Germans and Aussies are fighting with us in Afghanistan), but if no one wants to help us, we must go it alone.

Can't imagine I covered everything in the article, but I am happy to make further responses.


Could be a long one...MJ
Mar 4, 2002 6:28 AM
there's alot more in there for sure

I think overall - the two articles paint the standard US = bull in a china shop which isn't too far wrong - there are no simple answers to complex questions but the US, with notable exceptions, seems unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue that is not entirely self-referential - the rest of the world is being alienated while the systems that the US has built up demand it take part in difficult global issues - arrogance of power etc.

the unique culture of the auto can't be good - there are only so many resources out there and before long your drilling for (limited supplied of oil) in pristine wilderness, er, oh yeah they're already doing that in Alaska

certainly France has no right to throw stones and the US does send alot of foreign aid to a wide cast of characters

military budget - seems a bit ridiculous - not a critic of US military; but of the reliance upon them - diplomacy shouldn't be about ignoring the world until you bomb them which is how it seems to be working out these days - all swinging dicks and no brains

anways the CIA guys article is the best riposte about the military
Could be a long one...BikingViking
Mar 4, 2002 6:52 AM
We catch alot of guff from the world beause we are the biggest. If it wasn't us, it would be someone else. I don't think that bombing is ever our first choice instead of diplomacy. The Taliban had three weeks to give up bin Laden and they chose not to, knowing full well what was going to happen. They made a bad choice. Just because we follow through with our threats is not an indication of being unilateral "cowboys". We are pretty engaged with the world, in my opinion. The world just gets pissed when we do what we think is right, not what THEY think is right. BTW, not a big fan of the increasing role of the UN and all of this "global community" junk.

Again, that CIA guy seems pretty angry. I would really like to know the other side of his story. Being it's the CIA's story, we'll never hear it. Oh well...
Could be a long one...MJ
Mar 4, 2002 7:04 AM
the biggest and best are always in the spotlight - that's the price

three weeks isn't diplomacy - it's an ultimatum - diplomacy is comprehensive development and education and inclusion of the poorest people on earth

unilateral is about thinking the only way to resolve problems is with the military

I think you have just highlighted the problem - 'global community junk' - that pretty much says it all - everyone else thinks we're all on this ride together and we should try and agree the best way to manage - you (and the US) seem to be saying we'll do it however we want and we really don't care what you think - we've created a huge global economy which has made us rich but generally we retreat into isolationsim until we have to bomb somone

I think the other point must be that the US doesn't interact with the rest of the world to know what's right - is the only way that's knowing what's right bombing people -look at the article again and see what the world thinks is right and explain why the US ignores it

the arrogance of power
Could be a long one...BikingViking
Mar 4, 2002 7:39 AM
Could debate Israel/Palestine all day...perhaps another thread sometime. May just have to agree to disagree

Three weeks is long enough to demand the custody of the mastermind of the murder of 2800 Americans. Considering the death toll, we were deliberate and restrained in our initial response. We made sure it was him, we demanded him and took the actions threatened to the country holding him. These poorest nations, using a Biblical metaphor, need to stop asking for fish and start learning to fish. We can help them, within reasonable limits, but the US is not responsible for righting the all of worlds ills.

Unilateral is acting alone when no one will stand with you. We have not acted unilaterally yet in this War on Terror, but we will if forced.

I should have clarified "global community junk". It was flippant and now I will explain further. I am all for working with the UN on making things better for the world, but ultimately no nation should cede ANY of its sovereignty to an international organization. In my opinion, there is a movement within Europe (slight perhaps?) toward giving more power to the UN. (That court whose name escapes me, comes to mind) I am TOTALLY opposed to the US ceding any of it's sovereignty to the UN under ANY circumstance.

Perhaps we do ignore other countries, but all countries act in their own self-interest. We are not the only ones that do this. Did France and Spain let us fly over them during the April 1986 Libya bombing? No, they acted in their own interests. We are no different than any other country in that regard. No nation will act for the betterment of the world at its own expense. That's where diplomacy begins and I still believe we are diplomatically engaged worldwide. Whether we agree with everyone...that's another story.
Could be a long one...MJ
Mar 4, 2002 7:58 AM
so from where you're sitting the US is doing everything that needs to be done and everyone who thinks differently is just wrong?

I don't know of any Euro organisation that wants more UN power

once again - diplomacy doesn't happend in three weeks that's an ultimatum - diplomacy is a comprehensive policy of engagement with the rest of the world - it's been absent in GW's admin.

happy to leave Israel and Palestine but it does address the point that the majority in the US don't actually understand the problem

teh article makes several cases and points where the US has failed to be diplomatuiclaly involved/engaged in the rest of the world - you have not addressed those points

most countries think that the best thing they could do as far as self-interest is concerned is to be involved and engage each other in meaningful discourse - the article indiactes that is not what's happening - we're all better if we work together

the article mentions Kyoto - what about Kyoto?
Could be a long one...BikingViking
Mar 4, 2002 8:17 AM
Underfunding the United Nations seems both unwise and contrary to solemn pledges.

- It depends what you mean by "underfunding". We withheld our dues because the US didn't want its money used for, among other things, financing foreign abortions. I believe we have paid a portion our "debt", but we are not getting credit for all of the money we spend peacekeeping every year. No other nation spends as much as we do in that endeavor.

Committing an extra $48 billion to defence, but not committing to amounts or percentages for next month's Monterrey conference on financing development looks hypocritical.

- not familiar with Monterrey, will have to look into it. More to follow

In fact, a few of these US policies (for example, on the early Kyoto proposals) can probably be well defended.

- This gets back to the global warming debate. Is it actually happening? I think it might be, but there is no conclusive proof that humans are causing this alleged rise in global temps. We should not sign onto a treaty based on unproven science that will hamstring our economic growth.

But the overall impression that America has given of late is that we simply don't care what the rest of the world thinks. When we require assistance - in rounding up terrorists, freezing financial assets and making air bases available for US troops - we will play with the team; when we don't like international schemes, we'll walk away.

- I believe this is an oversimplification. Without the author stating specific examples of what we have walked away from (other than what is stated above). It's hard to address. The Turks have faced international condemnation for their war on the PKK, but the result of their fight has been the near-destruction of that terrorist group. Sometimes there is no room for compromise/discussion.

Did I get 'em all?

Could be a long one...MJ
Mar 4, 2002 8:57 AM
was it Nelson Mandela who said 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' - I think the PKK falls into that group - though it could have just as easily been George Washington...

the schemes listed in the artcile are fine (mainstream) examples of how the US doesn't want to play in international schemes until it suits the US

mainstream scientists list global warning (with evolution) as fact not theory - emissions destroy the environment - everyone agrees it does - it wasn't global warming that kept the US away from Kyoto but disregard for the rest of the world - you know the 'we'll do what we want screw everybody else' approach - the 'it's in our best self-interest (at the moment) to keep the economy going' approach - a little short sighted when you think about the long term payoff - unproven science!!!

if you're not going to finance foriegn abortions then maybe you can arrange for somebody to feed or adopt all those babies/children/people - abortion is a good thing - particularly when the other option is starvation - save your Christian sentiments for the distribution of the seven loaves to the needy - there aren't enough resources

anyways - to pull funding for the UN because of abortion is absolutley barking mad

peackeeping expenses - total the US may spend more but I would suspect per capita it's not the case (don't have the figures) - anyways where exactly is the US peacekeeping these days - I understand that the US will not be peacekeeping in Afghanistan - that leaves Bosnia and Kosovo with a US presence - Phillipines and Georgia isn't peacekeeping - I'd bet per capita the UK surpasses the US - I mean we sent both our planes!!

diplomacy US style is about the military - it's not about the environment, financing reform, the UN, Kyoto, development, education, teh sensible use of natural resources, overpopulation, - the US would have spent less money (and US lives lost in NYNY) in Afghanistan if it had maintained an effective diplomatic mission after the Soviet Afghan war than waiting until there was a problem and bombing - bull in a china shop
Could be a long one...BikingViking
Mar 4, 2002 11:31 AM
was it Nelson Mandela who said 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' - I think the PKK falls into that group - though it could have just as easily been George Washington...

-- I would agree with Mr. Mandela, bu George Washington never slaughtered civilians to advance the American cause. THe PKK were killing civilians in droves, bombing markets and such.

the schemes listed in the artcile are fine (mainstream) examples of how the US doesn't want to play in international schemes until it suits the US

-- We will just have to agree to disagree because, after reading the article again, I saw no substantive evidence that the US willfully and regularly disregards the international community.

-- Global warming is another area to agree/disagree on. If you want I can look to see who the esteemed scientists wo say that global warming may not exist. They don't refute that ozone is bad or that we can't do more to help, but what impact humanity is having on the environment is surely a debatable(sp) topic.

I am still pro-choice, but abortion is an awful procedure. I would advise any pro-lifers to watch a video of one being performed and see if they feel the same afterward. It's my tax money and I don't think our gov't needs to be paying for it. But the main point of this is these nation need to take care of themselves. I am tired of people coming to us with their hands out or trying to start a UN tax program (I am already hearing about it). We help out enough, but we are not a bottomless check book to feed and help all poor people on the planet. Show that your REALLY trying and the US will always help.

-- Peacekeeping expenses...debateable, and I have no numbers either so we'll agree to disagree once again!!

Blaming 9/11 on the US for neglecting Afghanistan after the war is absolutely ludicrous and I hope you can see that. We supplied them with enough weapons to keep them from falling under Soviet control. What the Afghans chose to do after that was the Taliban, not a good choice. There were NO non-US bighearted nations looking to clean up that mess after the Soviets left. We were not the only ones content to leave them to their own devices.

I could rightfully then blame the UK for Argentina's current mess because they didn't help the Argie's after the Falklands War. But it doesn't make sense, does it?

I'll FINALLY finish with two things. THe US has RARELY bombed first (Sudan and Afghanistan in '98, oops!) and diplomacy has always been our first choice

Second, I am not a Christian, but there are life lessons in the Bible that transcend religion.
Could be a long one...MJ
Mar 5, 2002 1:25 AM
the ANC approach was very similar to the PKK approach

abortion might be an awful procedure and I would not like to watch a film of the proceudre anymore than any other medical procedure - you must agree that the procedure of slow starvation and being unwanted must be worse

you can't say that other people should take care of themselves when they can't compete and are poor - the strong must help the weak and compassion must be part of diplomacy - we, in the west, can't enjoy the benefits of the global economy and not make provisions for global problems that are in many ways atribtable to that global economy

I am certainly not blaming 9/11 on any neglection of duty - I am stating it is a fact, one that appears to be, by your other comments, repeated far and wide - if Afghanistan has been meaningfully engaged by the global community, not just the US, after the Societ war they would have had a stable government and economy - there would not have been any place for OBL in a stable structured society which we as a global community must see (partuicularly now) how that is in our interest

you must recognise that the Afghans were not capable (just as they appear not to be now) of self-government without foreign (non-Afghan) development/aid - helping people from their fate does not stop after you arm them, which was primarily a US led-initiative

if places like Afghanistan are left to their own devices things like 9/11 will continue to happen

Argentina - read pages 12, 26-30 and 59 of the Economist 2-8 March 2002 for a lesson on the recent Argentinian economic crisis - it's clear from your statement that you don't actually know anything about Argentina - needless to say the demise can in no way be attributed to the Falkland War - though I can assure you we will all be bailing them out one way or another - theirs is a global impacting economic problem - can you say 'loan default' with me?

again - (this is a very simple point please address it)diplomacy is not giving someone an ultimatum - diplomacy is compehensively engaging them in dialogue (it's accepted that where there is a(n economic) power imbalance there is usually a flow of aid as well)

what does the bible have anything to do with this other than to clearly indicate that the US is not being very Christian in it's dealing with the rest of the world? I like the part in the bible about love, forgiveness and giving to those less fortunate - it seems many (fundamentalist) christians forget that God gets considerably reformed in the second part of the book - maybe it's because they haven't been able to read that far yet
Could be a long one...BikingViking
Mar 5, 2002 5:54 AM
Lost the bubble on this one...see the new topic above...other things occupying me at the moment.

But feel free to stir up my hornets nest at a later time.

I do enjoy the intellectual jousting. We never digressed into name calling or other "unpleasantries" and I appreciate that.

Could be a long one...MJ
Mar 5, 2002 5:57 AM
there's no reason to ever be unpleasant - you never know in 'real life' I might even really agree with you