:: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 ::
In response to a discussion that has been going on here and here. I offer the following:
There is an argument that seems to be common in the motivation of those opposed to "nation building"; that being that our failure to act appropriately at some point in the past precludes the option of doing so now. I find this to be absurd in the extreme. While it true that our record of involvement in Central and South American affairs is less than stellar. This stems as much from our dismissal of the importance of many of these nations as it does from a natural reticence at getting too overly involved in the internal affairs of nations with little to no impact on our domestic well-being. The same can be said for Rwanda and many other African, Asian, and European nations and their difficulties that we stayed out of. Could there be a moral case made for intervening in some internecine conflict in some corner of the world on any given day? Sure. Does that mean that we should do so? Not always. However, if a case can be made that the affairs of a nation openly hostile to our own national interests has the potential to cause us harm, then it is our right, and the government’s constitutional duty to address that situation.
As for the subjugation and cultural discrimination aspect, America has only imposed culture where it felt the need to do so as a means of accomplishing the goals stated previously. If a nation or people have their own form of governance, society, and morality, clearly distinct from our own, yet pose no threat to our survival or access to goods and services, we ignore them. It is only when the differences infringe on our interests that we begin to care. Are we always on the “right” side of these disputes when they do arise? No. Does our fallibility rise to the level of justification for inaction in all such circumstances? No again.
Americans, in general, have a bit of the evangelist in our character. We see our own success as a pattern for the success of others. When one system seems to be failing, we have a tendency to encourage the adoption of the system under which we have experienced success. And so we try to attract converts to the American Way; not always successfully. We are saddened by these failures, but accept them if our own lives are not too harshly affected by them. But when the failure of another threatens our own stability, we step in again, and more forcefully.
There are times when we have, as a nation, decided that waiting for the failure is not a prudent course of action. In those cases we stepped in before the fact to prevent the erosion or loss of our liberties, security, allies, or markets; sometimes all of the above. We were never attacked before our entry into WW I, but we saw the events unfolding in Europe as a potential threat to our security. France did not attack us from Mexico following the Civil war, but we sure took an active role in encouraging their expulsion from that nation. The latest events in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Afghanistan, follow that same model. Had Saddam directly attacked the United States of America? I don’t recall such and event. Was he actively working to undermine our influence in a region deemed vital to our stability and directly supporting attacks on one or more of our allies in that region? Clearly, yes. So we took the actions that were necessary to remove his ability to cause us and our friends harm. Were the Taliban a direct threat to US interests? No, but they were lending support and protection to someone that was, and so they were removed.
Someone once posted a clear picture of the American psyche in the international scene. The US motivation can be reduced to 3 simple questions: We have some cool stuff; would you like to buy it? I see that you have some cool stuff; can we buy it? HEY! Did you just mess with us or those with whom we trade cool stuff? Answer those three questions correctly and you can do pretty much anything else you want and we will leave you alone.
:: Mark 11:25 AM [+] ::