Re: War Support Ebbs

From: S.J. Van Sickle (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 08:05:24 MST

On Fri, 9 Nov 2001, Amara Graps wrote:

In general I agree, but things aren't as simple as they seem...

> 1. Find the person(s) responsible for the Sept 11 atrocity and kill him/them.
> 2. Give up on breaking terrorists. There are too many and they hate Americans.
> Eventually they'll die. Maybe they might kill each other.

1. and 2. may be mutually exclusive. And terrorists rarely die fast
enough without help.

> 3. Stop meddling in other countries' governments. (Maybe then, fewer
> terrorists will hate Americans, and maybe fewer foreigners will be
> annoyed at Americans).

I think we should do this, but don't make the mistake of believing that we
won't be hated because of it. One of the major complaints the Afgans have
is that after we helped (and only to a limited degree) them eject the
Soviets...unlike imperialist powers the world over, we *left*. They blame
their civil war on the fact that that we *didn't* meddle. Of course, we
could have left them to the tender mercies of the Red Army...and they
would have loved us for that?
> 4. Let people in other countries find what's appropriate for their own
> culture, make their own mistakes, and so on. If they ask for your help,
> then give it to them, if you can, and preferably, not with the help of
> the government.

Well, I think we have been doing this more or less. Can you think of any
circumstance in the recent past where "help" was given to people who
*didn't* ask for it in some way? If "finding what is appropriate" and
"make their own mistakes" includes the form and structure of government,
how can we help the people without helping their government? How can we
avoid being accused of supporting dictatorships then? How can we withhold
help based on the form of government without being accused of "meddling".
How can the "people" do any of those things under an authoritarian
government? If we (U.S., government or not) help them change their
government so they can, how is that *not* meddling?

Is the World Bank a U.S. government organization? The IMF? The Red
Cross? Doctors Without Frontiers? Chase-Manhatten Bank? Where do you
cross the line from government to non-government help? How does the
average angry young man (and possible future terrorist) tell the

We can be hated for being an imperial power imposing our will on the
world, or be hated for withdrawing from the world and permitting evils
that others perceive (rightly or wrongly) we have the power to eliminate.
Or we can be hated for trying to find a middle ground between the two,
which is what I think the U.S. is and has been doing.

> 4. Practice respect for people, places, and cultures outside
> of the U.S. borders.

Of course. I've lived in Europe and have been painfully embarrassed many
times by my fellow Americans. I've probably embarrassed myself without
knowing it.

Of course, there is a minority in the world that think that "respecting"
their cultures means not letting them build McDonalds or watch Hollywoood
movies, even though the vast majority of their neighbors *like* these
things. I don't know how to avoid being hated by them, short of
systematically destroying our own culture.

The U.S. seems to be widely accused of "arrogance", and I can certainly
understand why people would feel that way. But if I told the judge that I
killed my next door neighbor because he was "arrogant", I don't think I'd
get any slack in the sentence.

So, while I agree that we should mind our own damn business, I don't think
it would make any real change in how much we are hated or in the risk of
things like Sept 11. We are rich and powerful, and there will always be
many people muderously angry with us for not using the money and power in
a way that they see fit.

I see only two real long term solutions: systematically destroy our
military and technological capability, reduce the economy to third world
standards, and shoot anyone who ever made a movie or rock video. Or we
can help make the *rest* of the world rich and powerful as well. But if
you think people are screaming about our "meddling" and "arrogance" now,
wait till we try *that* one in earnest.

steve van sickle

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