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Why does America seem to (mostly) be on the wrong side of international freedom?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Northside Storm, May 7, 2011.

  1. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    A country in the throes of revolution. An oppressive state known for jailing dissidents is going to fall soon. However, America happens to find itself in the awkward position of being a patron of this dictatorial regime. America soon defines an ambiguous position---the rebels might be a terrorist organization after all, so it is best to tread carefully.

    You can apply this scenario to so many countries it isn't even funny. In this case, I think the sobering story of South Africa is a vivid illustration of hypocrisy in action.

    Congress only declared that the ANC and Nelson Mandela were not terrorists in 2008.

    http://www.johnkerry.com/news/entry/congress_lifts_terrorist_ban_on_mandela_anc/

    America also tacitly supported the apartheid regime and gave military support to South Africa in the South African Border War---though this should also be framed in the context of a Soviet-American proxy battle, it also once again shows how millions of people must suffer in the pursuit of some military goal that does not make sense (let's make a war on words and ideas!).

    Once again, with Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, we are forced to wonder whether or not America is on the right side. I think this is particularly important, since America is the one world power that tries to claim its' legitimacy by offering itself as a luminary of human rights---which it should be said, it does follow up on sometimes.

    However, certain policies it pursues seems to undermine these long-term strategic goals. How on Earth can we be so short-sided to see that depriving people of their freedom might stop a terrorist attack or two, but will generate enough anger to create an infinitely larger amount of terrorists? I also question America's ability to delineate between freedom fighter and terrorist, which seems to be firmly based on whether or not you are trying to achieve strategic American military goals, whatever they may be.

    It should be pointed out that while South Africa has its' problems, you cannot argue that it is more unstable than the carcasses left behind by American military intervention (North Korea situation, Khmer Rouge, the current Iraq/Afghanistan situation). I am all for Realpolitik---but is it not realistic to say that change does not happen overnight, cannot be forced by killing and looting a country, that we must truly support the long-term aspirations of people around the world over our short-term security needs, and that America's stated willingness to help people around the world be free is what truly makes it great?
     
  2. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    This is a function of a America's size and historical prominence rather than our ideals of freedom and opportunity, which still pay off a little better than all countries in our weight category. Big countries make a bigger mess to keep their people happy and therefore make bigger enemies, moral ambiguity ensues.
     
  3. conquistador#11

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    When you have investments, it makes it easier to side with military dicktatorships, even if they're killing christians.
     
  4. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    It's a function of a lot of these countries having radical elements within them that we need help dealing with. A dictatorship that we can easily topple are less of a threat to US security than extremists plotting terrorism. Extremists and the circumstances that create them are far more difficult to deal with from the outside. It's not so much being on the wrong side of freedom as much as protecting our own first. This whole freedom crusader thing is extremely naive.

    I have to say also that I don't necessarily agree with this approach but I understand it. In the long run if we consistently supported freedom then the people themselves would eventually find their way and deal with extremism on their own terms.
     
  5. Dubious

    Dubious Contributing Member

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    Sometimes we are, sometimes we aren't.

    Most of the times where we have been supportive of dictatorial regimes the alternative was communist dictatorial regimes or radical Islamic dictatorial regimes. Until recently there have been few indigenous democratic movements you could trust since most 'movements' require an identifiable charismatic leader to carry the message. You might forget that information hasn't been so easily shared even five years ago.

    Other times, it's just not in the strategic interests of the United States to let the fate of resources to be left to the political winds. What if Saudi Arabia had a democratic movement that elected a Wahabi cleric who decided he would not continue to support Western consumerism and cut way back on oil exports.Yeah democracy! Gas is $20 and unemployment is 30%.

    Sometimes there is just no practical way to support democratic movements. They may just be to isolated to reach or have an entrenched strongman that would take boot on the ground to remove. And if there is no strategic return for then nations investment it's a hard sell even in flush times.

    And of course, sometimes we just make the stupid move.

    Keep supporting the ideals, but live in the real world.
     
  6. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    Simplified answer: Capitalism.
     
  7. CrazyDave

    CrazyDave Contributing Member

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    Why do your threads seem to (mostly) just bash America?
     
  8. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    Because this forum happens to host Americans, and because I don't exactly start debate threads by saying "HEY, YOU GUYS ARE SO GREAT! LET'S DEBATE YOUR GREATNESS!"

    Trust me, I am equally as hard-hitting on Islamic extremists, Arab dictatorships, the Chinese totalitarian state, Russian corruption, European debt states and etc. Usually, I call them like I see them, and I more or less don't give a f*** if feathers are ruffled. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, and think that I have some sort of an agenda, then so be it.

    That said, I'm aware America is probably one of the only places where I can get away with such a critique. And Clutchfans is one of the most civil places I've debated in. so I'm grateful for that.
     
  9. CrazyDave

    CrazyDave Contributing Member

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    Not a terrible answer, but I didn't ask why you post threads in the D&D that are debatable. I said 'why do your threads (mostly) just bash America?'

    If your answer is "Because this place is lousy with Americans" that doesn't really get to the heart of my question (though it is telling). If it is "I bash unabashedly about many things" I would say perhaps, but your threads are (mostly) quite anti-America.

    I only had to search to get an actual count as I already knew the general ratio, but of the threads you've started in this year only, 9 of 11 threads directly bash something about America. Perhaps you're equally "hard-hitting" on other topics, but it seems you have quite the sore spot for America when it comes to starting your own threads.

    That's fine if that's your deal... whatever suits you. I was just wondering... why all the hate? I'm not saying there aren't issues to discuss and debate in this realm, I'm not even saying the issues you've brought up are less than worthy (I often disagree with the slant, but everyone has their methods), it just seems you have a certain skew towards anti-Americanism that is a bit much at times.

    I guess if you were American and it seemed as though you were fighting for changes to the problems you see then I might see it differently, but really it seems like you're always just taking a dump on us... which is not especially constructive or endearing.
     
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  10. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    I happen to like starting topics that have to do with the people in question, and something that helps them get out of their comfort zones a bit. For example, I have started topics on challenging racism in a white supremacy forum, and on Chinese blogs I have posted on the need for democratic reform. These same topics would get no one uncomfortable in this forum, since I think all of us disparage racism and Chinese totalitarianism. Of course, you don't happen to have something that can track me throughout the Internet, so all you can see is my 9 out of 11 or so threads here, so it's understandable if you think I have an anti-American bent.

    Hate? I've never stated I hate America. in fact, I hate no one-not even the racists I've debated. I've learned pretty early on that you just can't fight hate with hate, it just doesn't work.

    I've tried very hard to structure the critiques I have of America in a constructive fashion. And there is no way I will go out of my way to attack America unless the country has done something I perceive as wrong. I have NEVER (and I hope you can agree with me on this) launched onto personal attacks against America or Americans. as the Wire's Bunk would say, "I'm strictly an ideas-and-principles motherf****." Now if you think I am an anti-American because I examine the warts of the country, even while exercising and defending the fundamental set of rights (most notably expression) that define the very notion of America, well, that's your right. But I will tell you I do not hate America or the ideas she stands for.
     
  11. CrazyDave

    CrazyDave Contributing Member

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    Perhaps it just seems that here you try pretty hard to perceive the wrong in one place, America (so popular these days). The constructive manner is subjective and I suppose debatable by various thread subjects and posts.

    No one accused anyone of personal attacks. Just a pattern. I guess your answer is "That is where the audience will be the most uncomfortable." Again, not a terrible answer, but I'm not sure this is necessarily very constructive either. I understand perhaps this is just the side you put forth here. People are complex. Anyway, not even saying I always disagree, just that after a while of hearing songs from a band that (mostly) revolve solely around one theme, you start to wonder if it's really the issues in the songs or just a beef in general.

    I apologize for not staying on topic. Pardon my digression. I actually do agree to a lesser extent on your point in this thread, though your angle on it is much more scathing than my own. I agree with this especially:

    As for this... well...
    these are the generalizations that I don't find particularly productive or constructive.

    Lastly, topicwise, I would say that support of a country in power does not always mean one county agrees with their ideals and methods... or that they even want them to stay in power. Just that for now, they are the best option, and it's always best not to show your hand if you don't have to. This is not an excuse for supporting dictators or for those in power to use when lining each others pockets at populous expense... but it often a reality.
     
  12. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    This forum does seem to revolve around that---if I'm reading an ATW thread or a basso thread, I already know what I'm getting myself into. Perhaps in this regard, you're right, though I never thought, to be honest, that anyone would ever notice my posting habits---in that I am not a very frequent poster. I guess it wouldn't hurt to change it up a bit.

    never apologize for not following the rules though man, rules are meant to be broken. I think we've had a good discussion---hopefully you understand my viewpoint and I understand yours.

    anyways, I'll follow up with a reply on your argument (as well as those of several others) that says America supporting dictatorships is sometimes the only practical step. gotta step outside for a while, but it's something I also need to reflect on myself.
     
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  13. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    Economics is a tool to get the most money out of something. Sometimes it promotes efficiency, but always its about the maximum allocation of resources the way the practicer wants it.

    We want to be the richest nation in the world. Sometimes it takes shortcuts. Other times, it promotes free trade and open markets to stimulate consumer demand for our products. Always (like 99% with some exceptions), it's about getting money and making our country or interests richer.

    The more powerful we are, the more people we affect. And conversely, the more ideological a matter is, the harder it is for larger bodies to consistently conform to it. As other countries grow in stature, they too will share those pains or pass the buck to the bigger and older giant on the block.

    So there's many things at play here, and America gets pulled by them at all directions.
     
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  14. CrazyDave

    CrazyDave Contributing Member

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    Repped, IF, that's a really good post.

    nahh. just wonderin. do your thing, man. I get ya, we're good.
     
  15. Supermac34

    Supermac34 President, Von Wafer Fan Club

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    For diplomatic reasons, aren't you always more likely to be dealing with the group that is currently in power in any particular soveriegn nation? Good, bad, or neutral?

    When you are a big, powerful nation, you have to deal with whoever is currently in power, and can't blacklist and refuse to deal with EVERYBODY that doesn't fit in the limited scope of your cultural views.

    List all the governments that the US does business with that DO support freedom when you make up all your lists of the bad ones.
     
  16. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    This argument is one I am very familiar with, since it forms the basic building block of trade theory. However, one has to be careful when swinging this around. Yes, trades are voluntary and theoretically benefit all parties---but this doesn't provide for the huge bargaining leverage the United States has with its' military might, the negative externalities of trade, and the fact that benefits are distributed inequitably, which provides a huge amount of problems.

    But America can pull back as well, no?

    Given how much military aid we give to Egypt, for example, America has a huge say in how the Egyptian army is slow to launch on free-market reforms that would destroy military-owned and stagnant state monopolies, and how the internal security apparatus imprisons as well as tortures their own civilians. Otherwise, why are we bothering throwing money into what is essentially a black hole?
     
  17. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    The US seems to lash out at certain governments though, and cannot help itself from lashing out at other countries---Iran for example, or China, despite the fact that America has many important trade links with well, the latter at least.

    I think that's a good thing, if it wasn't so conspicuous that some of that denunciation is hypocritical, given American silence on things like Bahrain torturing and killing their own people. It frustrates me somewhat that America has the political courage to denounce essential regimes who are doing wrong (which is something admirable), then drops silence in other cases. It's not like trade with China is suffering that much even if America throws in the constant reminders that China has a very disappointing human rights record, which cannot be denied.

    It is in America's interests to stand up and show that, even when it goes against economic interests, America can be counted on to defend the people's will. This has not happened very often---one can think of Iran and Cuba as very good examples. It needs to happen more often if the United States want more people to engage with it---which can only create a more prosperous and secure world.
     
  18. KingLeoric

    KingLeoric Member

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    Cause they never care about international freedom.
     
  19. Rumblemintz

    Rumblemintz Member

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    You have to consider America's geopolitical goals to come to any reasonable answer. America will always appear wishy washy or inconsistent because America will act in accordance with the main goal of controlling trade. From that perspective there actually is consistency. America will act or react according to what's in it's best interest. How America handles the situation usually brings a lot of criticism but in the end the outcome usually leans in favor of America's agenda. It's been that way since the end of WWII and it's not changing anytime soon, regardless of the propped up economy of China. America still makes the rules.
     
  20. Rashmon

    Rashmon Contributing Member

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    If a Canadian is going to give America a hard time, I prefer hearing it from Neil Young.
     

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