Re: War Support Ebbs (almost a rant)

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Sun Nov 11 2001 - 17:24:36 MST

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> Exactly. I am very much on the anti-anti-americanism side here. We have
> no use for silly prejudices when we can dislike each other for what we
> actually do :-) Another reason to fear the anti-americanism meme is that
> is has become tied to quite a few other memes I seriously dislike,
> ranging from assorted leftisms to anti-rationalism and a romantic view
> of nature.

> > I think they assume that self interest, disregarding the rest of the
> > world, is a primary motivator for all US foreign policy.>>
> >
> > This is merely vilianization, without facts, is it not, or being able to put
> > matters in perspective, at the least?

I think it's important to remember that with so many people being involved
in _any_ action taken that can be labeled "US foreign policy", _somebody_
in the group, or the group supporting the group, will be acting in self-interest.

Making the simple bare claim is cartoonish, but comfortable. Same story, different day.
Cui bono, _specifically_? And what about those who _don't_ benefit, but still think
doing <whatever> is important? Too hard to figure that out, let's just get our story
straight and put it out there; we have deadlines, after all.

<much good stuff about human nature from Anders elided>

> > <<And remember - we are your *allies*. Now think about the rest of the
> > world. >>
> >
> > Not to be a total dick, but during WW2 Sweden was a neutral. ;-) Also during
> > the cold war. :o( Heeeeeeey!!!!
> Actually (to get things straight, rather than defend the country) Sweden
> was secretly allied during the cold war and did quite a bit of signal
> scanning for NATO - while the government orated to the public about the
> fine neutrality we held. Hypocricy anyone?

Hypocrites (when I write that, I always think it's the name of a preSocratic
philosopher--and it might be; but his works are so much in evidence! :) )...

Ahem. Start over. As I get old, I find "Hypocritical" is far from the worst label
one can have--I speak of, and as, an individual. The label can be, and is, laid on
a person who has changed his mind in his lifetime, or in the last year, hour, day
or moment.

All that person need to have done is to communicate, and then communicate
(or act) in a way incongruent to the earlier communication. Anyone who disapproves has
an easy label to hang.

This can mean that the only way to be "sincere" is to never grow or change.

That said, and wishing though I do that clear, open communication which
remains consistent, sensible and congruent were the norm, I can't wish for it
at the level of entire countries and their actions during wartime.
Two salient aphorisms for me: "Speak softly and carry a big stick," and
"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you find a big enough rock.'"

All heuristics can be distorted, distended and so on. Where is the hypocrisy?
If I'm on a slow alcohol IV drip, exactly when do I become drunk?

> ...[I]n a world where there is enormous suspicion and paranoia
> regarding the US, the situation might become dangerous if some new major
> power emerges (be it China, India or (rather unlikely) EU) without
> resolving both this widespread anti-americanism and american myopia.

And "they who bury the hatchet never forget where they buried them."

There is another principle I value very highly in the civilization of the USA;
it's a principle of law--I'm not sure if it shows up in Blackstone or where.

"There must be an end to disputes."

This, along with the purpose-of-government-is-to-secure-rights-of-all-people
nugget from the Declaration of Independence, is part of my personal mythos.
And I mean "mythos" in the old-fashioned way, not the post-modern way--on a good day.

But it's another act of faith, with many underpinning presumptions making it possible--
the most obvious being that we're all in this together.

And feudalists might believe it, too--but the "we" is different. "We" can end the dispute
sure enough when whoever "we" are feuding with gets the full Carthage. "There's your end
of the dispute, mate!" Just how much revenge is enough seems to vary.

Am I feuding these days?

I'm not sure.

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