America, Beacon of Hope? Once It Was
Ms. Burleigh is the author of The Stranger and the Statesman : James Smithson, John Quincy Adams, and the Making of America's Greatest Museum: The Smithsonian (William Morrow, 2003).A few weeks ago, President George W. Bush went before the UN, asking for money for the United States from the global community. It remains to be seen whether anyone will come to our aid, but it's easy to imagine the eye-rolling in Europe and especially in third world countries, at the sight of the swaggering superpower asking alms.
The fact that our president has to hold out the hat before a chilly, unfriendly audience of global diplomats shows just how much America as an idea has changed. Not so long ago, the nation was an idea that embodied the best hopes and dreams of Europeans. The power of this idea was so strong in the early nineteenth century that an English scientist who was a complete stranger to our shores -- who had never set foot here and who knew Americans only as they were caricatured in the British press (that is, rail-splitting provincials ) -- gave his entire fortune to the United States to found at Washington an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."
In the two years since the day of the weapon-ized jets and crumbling towers, many Americans have grown leery of traveling to Washington D.C. Those who still visit stroll the green swath between the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building and pass the ubiquitous signs bearing the name "Smithsonian." If they investigate further, they find that even today, entry to each and every one of the Smithsonian museums is absolutely free.
The national mall is today a living memorial to a man tourists must assume played a prominent role in the founding of our nation. On the contrary, James Smithson, a minor eighteenth century scientist and bastard son of the British nobility whose half million dollars in 1836 money founded the nation's foremost cultural repository, had never seen the country nor probably met many Americans at all. His experience of America was entirely intellectual.
Living today, with "U.S.A." a synonym for global supremacy in military power, we and the Europeans tend to forget that eighteenth century Europeans -- from wealthy intellectuals like Smithson to the poor and tyrannized masses -- had a vision for the new nation forming across the water. Whether they huddled in seasick droves to get here, or merely thought and read about America, as did Smithson, the distant, still-savage land represented not brute power, but the promise of a better human condition.
Smithson and his peers believed this vast wild land would spawn a new Athens, with a thriving culture built on freedom of thought. They certainly had no inkling that America would someday be symbolized by fighter bombers or the bullying power of its leaders to force an issue like the invasion of Iraq. Rather, they imagined a place where art, literature, and - for Smithson especially - science would thrive and flourish under a national government that had codified individual opportunity in an officially classless society.
Then, as now, there were American politicians who thought it "beneath our dignity" to take money from a European, and who feared that to spend money on cultural institutions would dangerously expand the power of the federal government. It took a decade for the money to be accepted and put to use to seed the Smithsonian museum complex on the national mall today.
The optimistic spirit of scientific inquiry for the public good that motivated Smithson's bequest was a trend that developed in England during his lifetime. In 1800, Smithson joined with a group of British scientists and reformers -- including the poet William Blake -- to found the Royal Institution, an organization specifically created to diffuse scientific knowledge among the public through a series of lectures.
When Smithson bequeathed his money to the United States, the nation was hardly an emblem of Enlightenment. The trade in human flesh was thriving and shackled blacks could be seen from Capitol Hill, being bought and sold near the banks of the Potomac. The cultural pastimes of Washington D.C. consisted mainly of tobacco-chewing and duelling.
In spite of that, Smithson believed that the diffusion of knowledge among those less likely to attain it could be implemented in the United States, and that that diffusion would bring about a better world. In just a few hundred years, he was proved right. Since Smithson's death, the world has changed beyond the imagination of eighteenth century Europeans, with many of the changes initiated by American scientific men who were not to the manor born.
Living on the cusp between two centuries, Smithson the scientist discerned that the world was on the verge of the vast transformations we now know occurred, but he could not have envisioned the speed, human longevity and global communications that we take for granted. All Smithson had, really, was faith that great and positive changes could emanate from America.
Residing in France for the last few years, I was often confronted with the scornful image that modern Europeans hold of Americans. The cliché is familiar to us all: fat, SUV-driving, culturally backward, anti-intellectual, swaggering, armed-to-the-teeth boors. I see their point, but for all our flaws, we must never let the Europeans - or ourselves - forget that this country did live up to the greatest aspirations of the European forebears. Yes, our popular culture has flooded the world with Britney and bad television, and our scientists have developed monstrosities from the Humvee to the atomic bomb. This same national culture has produced people whose inventions -- cars, airplanes, telephones, light bulbs, and the Internet, to name just a few -- have utterly and forever changed life on earth for the better.
In these post 9-11 times, we have all been trying to understand -- or deny -- the hatred directed at our nation. It is worth remembering that it was not always thus. The act of a man giving the nation a vast fortune because he felt America was the place from which to "increase and diffuse knowledge among men" is a good place to start. To reflect on Smithson and his bequest is to remind ourselves of the facet of our nation that was and is still good, a beacon in the imagination of people living in darker times and places.
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Bill Heuisler - 11/23/2003
One last time,
You wrote on November 17th at 10:58,
"N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me."
The Congressional Record of Mr. Gilman's motion was from 1993; Bill Clinton was President in 1993. President Bush was elected in 2000 and hadn't threatened anyone outside Texas in '93.
History can be so difficult for the close-minded.
Cram - 11/23/2003
To your post:
1) "You pile misinformation on top of falsity and think you're in a debate? This has become a history lesson for a dogmatic Leftist who hates the President."
Wow, that is a lot of piles. One time, I stacked the misinformation on the falsities so high, it almost fell down... yeah that was a fun time... but I digress,
Well professor, perhaps you could tell me what happened a year AFTER this amazing testimony? Don't know. I'll give you a few more minutes.
Still no? Ok, well I'll tell you (but don't tell the "dogmatic-Leftists-who-hates-the-President" organization, they will get mad at me):
North Korea and U.S. sign an agreement in 1994. North Korea pledges to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for international aid to build two power-producing nuclear reactors
2) "Claiming President Bush caused problems in N. Korea makes you look uninformed; defending the nonsense makes you look ignorant."
Uh oh... it's bad enough to be uninformed, but to be ignorent as well! Oh yeah, well not only are you unattractive, your ugly too!
PS: once I made the claim, why would I not defend it?
Bill Heuisler - 11/23/2003
Debate? This is no debate. You pile misinformation on top of falsity and think you're in a debate? This has become a history lesson for a dogmatic Leftist who hates the President.
Here's a source you can't argue with, Cram - can't confuse.
Congressional Record November 15th, 1993
Page E2875 Congressman Gilman, Democrat, New York
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, North Korea's relentless effort to develop a nuclear bomb has reached crisis proportions. Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey testified before Congress earlier this year that North Korea is the most urgent threat to our national security in East Asia, that there is a real possibility that North Korea has produced enough nuclear material to build at least one bomb, and that possession by North Korea of such a bomb would threaten United States allies in all of Asia as well as United States forces in the region.
The administration has acknowledged the seriousness of the threat, but so far has been unable to persuade North Korea to permit fullscope inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency of all suspected nuclear weapons sites. Without such inspections, there can be no assurance that North Korea is not continuing to produce nuclear material, much less that it is not using the material it already has to build a bomb.
The administration has indicated that it is prepared to take stronger measures if North Korea does not promptly comply with its obligation as a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to permit fullscope inspections. Most discussion of stronger measures focuses on the possibility of a U.N.-imposed embargo. The President has recently refused, however, to rule out the possibility of military action.
To underscore Congress' concern about this matter, I am today introducing the nuclear nonproliferation in Korea resolution. My resolution expresses Congress' approval and support for the steps at the administration has taken to date. Further, it approves and encourages the use by the President of any additional means necessary and appropriate, including diplomacy, economic sanctions, a blockade, and military force, to prevent the development, acquisition, or use by North Korea of a nuclear explosive device.
Approving use by the President of all means necessary and appropriate to prevent North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons, including military force, is a step that Congress cannot take lightly. But neither can the threat posed by North Korea's determination to obtain nuclear weapons be taken lightly. I believe my resolution is a response commensurate to the threat."
Good enough? Do you know better than a Democrat Congressman?
Claiming President Bush caused problems in N. Korea makes you look uninformed; defending the nonsense makes you look ignorant.
Cram - 11/23/2003
A pleasure to read your posts as always,
1) “I'm not calling you a liar (like you call the President) I'm just calling you uninformed and dogmatic.”
Whew, thank heavens! For a moment, I thought I was in some real trouble. For the record, can't I call Bush both a liar AND dogmatic?
2) "When you write historical fiction and are exposed, why not admit you were wrong?"
How can historical fiction be "exposed?" In fact, how can historical fiction, or any kind of fiction, be wrong? Isn't that the nature of fiction?
3) “In other words, President Bush was at fault in N. Korea.”
If by “at fault,” you mean to say that Bush took a delicate situation that could have been diffused diplomatically but instead chose to inflame the situation and reinforce North Koreas belief that a nuclear arsenal is the only way to prevent an American attack, then yes, Bush is at fault.
4) “He was not.”
He was so :)
5) “And you admitted he was not at fault in your next torrent of specious, irrelevant words.”
How could the words be irrelevant, and yet say that Bush was not at fault? Wouldn’t their irrelevancy preclude you using them to justify Bush NOT being at fault?
6) “Words cannot substitute for facts”
Uhhhhh, don’t we humans use words to express facts? I would like you to explain the facts to me on the condition that you not use any words as a substitution! If you could mime them, that would be great!
7) “Your excuses are becoming pathetic.”
The question is this: Who is more pathetic, someone who is uninformed, and devoid of all facts, or someone who spends time debating someone who is uninformed, and devoid of all facts?
8) “The N.Koreans began their nuclear development in the middle of President Clinton's Administration. You were wrong. Admit it.”
Actually, my exact words were “N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war.” I don’t recall ever saying that they were not interested in developing them before. (uh oh, Bill… that would mean you… yes… misquoted me).
Pakistan, a nuclear-weapon country, supplied key technology and information to North Korea in exchange for missiles to use in the India-Pakistan conflict around 1997. Since then, it is reasonable to assume that N. Korea had a clandestine program operating. As I maintain however, this program was accelerated dramatically, to the point where they freely admitted its operation in order to avoid what they assumed to be an imminent American attack. From the beginning, N. Korea has said that its conditions for disarming was for Bush to end his belligerence to the nation.
As such, I stand by my statement, so to answer your request that I “admit” I was wrong, no.
Any more questions? Kepp em coming Bill, I never grow tired of them!
Bill Heuisler - 11/22/2003
When you write historical fiction and are exposed, why not admit you were wrong? I'm not calling you a liar (like you call the President) I'm just calling you uninformed and dogmatic.
"N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me. "
In other words, President Bush was at fault in N. Korea.
He was not. And you admitted he was not at fault in your next torrent of specious, irrelevant words. Words cannot substitute for facts, and you seem to have a real problem with facts where President Bush is concerned. Your excuses are becoming pathetic.
The N.Koreans began their nuclear development in the middle of President Clinton's Administration. You were wrong. Admit it. Bill Heuisler
Cram - 11/22/2003
1) "Your Bush-bashing is getting tiresome."
Well, I suggest you either deal with it, ignore it, or confront it, whichever you like because I can assure you, my Bush-bashing is just getting warmed up for the ’04 election.
2) "Well look up the nuclear treaty President Clinton had with N. Korea in Newsweek. Look up how we discovered N. Korea was breaking the treaty. Look up how N. Korea was developing nuke capability back in the mid-nineties."
The 1994 deal made with N. Korea was a good bargain. It went like this:
North Korea would suspend all work at the Yongbyon complex, end all efforts to enrich plutonium for weapons and open its facilities to international oversight.
The U.S. would supply North Korea with two light water reactors (LWRs) to generate electricity, and low-cost oil to help with energy needs until the reactors are built.
The agreement also promised a lifting of most economic sanctions against North Korea, and improved diplomatic relations with the United States.
So… what happened?
Although the sanctions against North Korea were largely lifted, the development of the LWRs was pushed back from 2003 to 2007. Bureaucratic wrangling over contracts slowed the process even more so that the foundations for the two reactors were not poured until August 2002. Meanwhile, the rhetoric against North Korea, especially from Congress, was getting more and more belligerent. This was a breach on our part, not on theirs.
In the late 1990’s, North Korea and Pakistan reportedly cut a deal to trade missile technology for Pakistan's uranium enrichment techniques. Even the US had to concede that while this was breaking the spirit of the law, it was NOT technically breaking the letter of the pact, which only prohibits making enriched plutonium, not purchasing it.
Here is what N. Korea said very recently:
"North Korea is willing to realistically abandon nuclear development at the phase when the U.S. hostile policy toward North Korea is removed and threats against North Korea is eliminated."
See what I mean? Here is a timeline of N. Koreas nuclear progress:
Finally Bill, you can whine all you like about my sources, but I have no intention of changing them. You can either believe them, or not- that is your choice. In any event, you waste precious brain cells by constantly including in every message lamentations about my sources. They ain’t going anyone.
PS Just so no one will accuse me of being some kind of NK sympathizer, the counrty is a cruel dicatatorship that will be much better off when the tyranny who runs it dies! Moral opinions about NK, however, do not justify our counter-productive belligerence towards them.
Bill Heuisler - 11/21/2003
Your Bush-bashing is getting tiresome. Facts should accompany criticisms, particularly on a history site. I've asked before where you get your information. You listed news mags NPR, the Post, etc.. Well look up the nuclear treaty President Clinton had with N. Korea in Newsweek. Look up how we discovered N. Korea was breaking the treaty. Look up how N. Korea was developing nuke capability back in the mid-nineties.
"N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me."
N. Korea broke a treaty with President Clinton. N. Korea was seriously developing nuclear weapons in 1996. Look it up in one of your sources, or get better sources.
C.R.W. - 11/18/2003
You're free to see it your way. That's cool. These issues are more current and will take more time to figure out completely - in many ways we're in uncharted waters. But there are unaddressed points in each of these that I would contest. I'll start with the one I disagree with most strongly.
Iran. If international terrorism is your foremeost security/foreign policy challenge (even Clinton's outgoing security adviser stated as much to his successors) then breaking the terror trail of dictatorships that starts in Iran, leads through Iraq, Syria, S. Lebanon, and culminates w/Katyusha attacks (or worse) on our ally, you'd better believe there's merit in breaking that chain. Depending on how Iraq shapes up politically (yes, a "beacon of hope" is optimistic, but in the long run not out of the question, by any means) then the resulting further isolation of the theocrats can only embolden the pro-democracy elements in a population that increasingly resents its repression. War is not only not the only option, it's not practical. Getting Iran's Shiite coreligionists next-door interested in democracy, and shoving it in Iran's face, just might be.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't remember Iran or N. Korea ever being directly *threatened* with war. Once they got close enough to having the bomb we thought it too risky anyway. The "axis of evil" line was rhetoric, not a threat, and addresses terrorist activities. We wouldn't have had nearly as much of a problem with Kim Jong Il were it not for his involvement in the weapons trade. Also, the U.S. has this picky habit of getting upset when other countries break their word to us. Maybe I got you wrong, but I'm hoping you weren't suggesting we had not declared "war" against terrorism....? We don't have any reason to trust this guy and have no reason to believe that signing anything without more legal/political "teeth," (i.e. disincentives to not comply such as more regional pressure) is going to achieve his begrudging cooperation.
I think that Iran's stated foreign policy goal (before Bush was even president) of settling the Middle East conflict with a single "Islamic Bomb" speaks for itself. They are a huge threat to regional stability and deserve a reshuffling of the cards to realize that ultimately time won't be on their side.
I think sending troops to Kuwait could just as cogently be argued as a way to pressure Saddam into even giving the illusion of complying with us in the way of inspections or anything else. Remember, he was the one that ordered them out back in Clinton's 2nd term. Vying for time and using the diplomatic or U.N.-brokered political process as a way to tie our hands while he forced us to have to trust his "good-will" while relegating us to guessing what he was up to wasn't really getting us anywhere. Something had to change in Iraq. Allowing him to bequeath power to his rapacious sons for another generation while we indefinitely prolonged the starving of his people through sanctions doesn't seem to have been a viable way to accomplish anything constructive over the long-term.
As far as making the case to the people a lot of this boils down to the same stylistics that cause people to hate Bush in the first place. They either do, or do not like his folksy way of speaking and simplifying issues in his popular appeals. Molly Ivins (who is no friend of the Bush administration) wrote a piece in Mother Jones where she talks about how having gone to high school with him, she doesn't find evidence that he is unintelligent, but gives into the speculation among some that his poor communication skills might result from some sort of dyslexia or aphasia, which is a condition that makes it difficult for someone to articulate certain words or speech in general. Regardless of whether or not this popular perception persists in America, it seems to remain the case especially in Britain, and vocally appealing to the European public at large (which probably is pointless and unnecessary) is not likely to change this perception either. His arguments would be prejudged by the fact that they simply think he's too dumb to do the job.
In the unlikely event that whatever I just regurgitated didn't seem outlandish enough to you, you could always check out what our conspiracy theory-spewing friend is up to on the Avi Shlaim thread. ;-)
Cram - 11/18/2003
I know that in the past, we have seen eye to eye, but when it comes to this President’s foreign policy, I must respectfully disagree with you.
1) "I think Europeans have learned from their history to view war very suspiciously."
I agree with you. However, this does not mean that they are always against war. After all, NATO had no problem going into Kosovo, nor did much of Europe mount any opposition to war with Afghanistan. In this particular case, I found Europe’s argument quite cogent: Why go to war when we can accomplish what we want via inspectors and containment.
2) "I had always suspected the WMD thing was overblown. All presidents lie. But I trust Bush over Saddam, Clinton over his political detractors (as an aside), and pre-emptive liberation over appeasement."
I trust intelligence reports over Bush, and the simple fact that we have found NO WMD to be far more compelling then either Bush or Clinton. Furthermore, this was not pre-emption, by any means. That would entail America responding to a clear and present danger, such as Israel in 1967. Furthermore, NOT going to war would not have been appeasement anymore then not going to war with any country is appeasement.
3) "I can't think of any other means to achieve support that we didn't exhaust."
I can: Going to the UN arguing his case for war, in the same way that Tony Blair eloquently presented his case to the British people, appealing to law, history, and humanitarian intervention. Instead, Bush dared them to oppose us. He sent troops to the region before going to the UN, and made it clear in speeches that it didn’t matter anyway. In other words, he made the conflict into a test of wills between the US and a very easily intimidated Europe. Keep in mind that Bush Sr. faced serious resistance at first in 1991.
4) "As far as Iran goes, it could be argued that we're in a better position now."
I honestly don’t see how. The whole world is so suspicious of us that there is no way anyone would support another war, which means we would have to again foot the bill. Given the increasing casualties in Iraq and the mounting price tag, there is no way the American people would tolerate another war, and I believe that frustration with Iraq attested to this. There will be no coalition for Iran, and it just might be the event to turn the entire region into one huge military resistance.
5) North Korea's a different kind of a situation, but after having successfully russled our feathers we figured out what kind of carrots and sticks to break out. (Insisting on multilateral regional mediation and NO pre-emptive guarantees).
N. Korea and Iran did not begin seriously developing nuclear weapons until Bush threatened them with war. N. Korea then asked for a non-aggression pact in exchange for giving up its nuclear ambitions. That sounds like a good deal to me. Since Bush has decided that any concessions will be akin to blackmail, we will be giving our children some very dangerous messes they are going to have to deal with some day.
C.R.W. - 11/17/2003
Well, moral or amoral, love or no love, they are wrong, and I have yet to be convinced that our policy isn't right.
I don't know about respect, nations do what's in their interest, but I don't have much faith that it would have been possible to completely turn around public opinion in societies that are very averse to war. I think Europeans have learned from their history to view war very suspiciously, and the federal integration that they currently strive for is a culmination of policies (i.e. domestic and trade-related) that preclude offending that sentiment. A common future is tricky enough without having to think of a common defense/security policy which still awaits both constitutional elucidation and popular corroboration. Plus, as parliamentary democracies, getting their leaders to stand for principle in the face of public opposition can be a lot trickier.
Deception? I had always suspected the WMD thing was overblown. All presidents lie. But I trust Bush over Saddam, Clinton over his political detractors (as an aside), and pre-emptive liberation over appeasement. 1441 gave us all we needed, and I thought idly complaining about the open flouting of an armistice 17 times over 10 years set a horrible precedent. All dictators should understand contract law.
Do the ends justify the means? I can't think of any other means to achieve support that we didn't exhaust. Sure, Bush set himself up with Kyoto, but what more could he do at that point? He came into the Iraq situation with the U.N./Euro decked stacked against him, it's true. As far as Iran goes, it could be argued that we're in a better position now. North Korea's a different kind of a situation, but after having successfully russled our feathers we figured out what kind of carrots and sticks to break out. (Insisting on multilateral regional mediation and NO pre-emptive guarantees).
Cram - 11/17/2003
You are absolutely right in pointing out the moral emptiness of Europe, and I certainly did not mean to imply that they are right on everything. However, just as I have no problem pointing out the mistakes in other countries, I must point out our own.
I agree that we should not be afraid to more beyond diplomatic means when we must. However, when it comes to the Iraq war, there was no need. If Bush had the diplomatic skills of his father, Clinton, or many others, Europe would have suppored the Iraq war. By what basis do I make this claim? On several:
1) Iraq genuinely commited violations against the UN, 2) Prior to our Iraq adventure, Europe was on excellent terms with the United States and would have ghad no reason to change that.
What Bush did was turn this into an ego contest, forcing much of Europe to act as a rubber-stamp or threatending them. No nation (and especuially not the US if the shoe were on the other foot) should have been asked to tolorate such disrespect.
Iraq was a mistake. They had no WMD, there was no link to 9/11, and worst of all, it distracted us from real threats, such as Iran, and North Korea. That was all I was trying to say. I certainly have no particular love for France.
C.R.W. - 11/17/2003
"As for Bush's leadership, isn't it interesting that under such leadership, European consider the United States to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world?"
Cram, hate to be nit-picky here, but these are the same Euros that put Israel at the top of the list. They either didn't make a quick enough transition to understanding the nature of global threats to national security, or moreso, to inducing their likely causes. This is probably because they've never been in a position to act against them alone [when anything other than diplomacy - (aka appeasement) was required].
I suspect they are also even more domestically protective, provincial, and, perhaps as a result, less likely to be in a position to honestly and successfully penetrate the political difficulties that plague foreign, and especially, non-democratic, nations.
But I think that's changing, fortunately, and not emblematic of each and every head of state.
Maybe we are out on somewhat of a limb when we go it alone, and we could certainly benefit from some assistance. But we shouldn't confuse that desire with the assumption that they're right. Nor should we be afraid to move beyond purely diplomatic means to help them understand what it is that a true ally, even if we are a superpower embarking on a new strategic course, requires.
Cram - 11/17/2003
A few points of disagreement on your last post.
1) "You don't understand what is happening in the world."
I don't? Please feel free to educate me with your thorough understanding anytime you like.
2) "The UN, which appears to be one of your favorites, turned tail and ran the moment the first shot was fired. Who was left to lead the world. Well the answer is GW."
Turned tail and ran where? They were against the first shot being fired at all. It seems as if you believe that the UN supported the war and then ditched us once it got too difficult. In reality, the same countries who oppossed this war since before is started are now telling the US that they will not pay for its occupation. Makes sense to me.
3) "GW is getting support from others in the world for his leadership in pointing out the dangers of terrorists toward disrupting the world economies."
Well, I can't disagree with you there, he is getting some support from "others." However, those countries do not represent their citizens, as polls show strong disagreemment of the war. And just so we are on the same page, you are aware that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, right?
I refer you to a March article in the Washington Times for this support you speak of:
"The current operation in Iraq is almost entirely a U.S.-British campaign, with virtually no military contribution from other countries except Australia."
The administration asserts that 44 nations are part of the coalition, but officials reach that number by lumping nations providing military units or logistical assistance with an eclectic group of nations -- such as Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Honduras, Rwanda and the Solomon Islands -- that are voicing only political support. The administration further suggests another 10 or so nations support the campaign but do not wish to be publicly identified.
The first Persian Gulf War was prosecuted by a 34-nation military force, with each nation listed in the coalition contributing troops on the ground, aircraft, ships or medics....Dozens of others nations voiced support for the war against Iraq in 1991, meaning that under the standards used by the current Bush administration, the size of the 1991 coalition likely topped 100 countries.
Moreover, the list of 34 countries in 1991 did not include Japan, which pledged $4 billion to fund the multinational force and aid frontline states; the Soviet Union, which supported a United Nations resolution authorizing force; or tiny Luxembourg, which paid the fees of Dutch and Belgian ships passing through the Suez Canal.
The first Gulf war was backed by a U.N. resolution that was opposed by two members of the 15-member Security Council; the administration earlier this week withdrew a resolution when it became clear it could muster only four votes in support of it.
If this is "support from others in the world," I would hate to see what happens when we act alone! As for Bush's leadership, isn't it interesting that under such leadership, European consider the United States to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world?
4) "If you think the UN, France and Germany are on the right course then we are in deep trouble."
Well, let's look at that course when it comes to Iraq, shall we? Neither the UN, France, or Germany is boggeed down in a war, none of them are investing billions of dollars a year to support an occupation, and all of them are more popular internationally then the US. Seems like, when it comes to this subject anyway, their course looks pretty attractive!
Some words from your great genius leader:
"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."—Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003
"[W]e've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them, and I want to know who the leakers are."—Chicago, Sept. 30, 2003
"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003
NYGuy - 11/17/2003
You don't understand what is happening in the world. The UN, which appears to be one of your favorites, turned tail and ran the moment the first shot was fired. Who was left to lead the world. Well the answer is GW.
GW is getting support from others in the world for his leadership in pointing out the dangers of terrorists toward disrupting the world economies. Many understand GW's genius and we are being supported in our efforts. If you think the UN, France and Germany are on the right course then we are in deep trouble.
NYGuy - 11/17/2003
What is the author saying? Do we succumb to this simplistic argument made by Ms. Burleigh:
“The fact that our president has to hold out the hat before a chilly, unfriendly audience of global diplomats shows just how much America as an idea has changed. Not so long ago, the nation was an idea that embodied the best hopes and dreams of Europeans. The power of this idea was so strong in the early nineteenth century that an English scientist who was a complete stranger to our shores -- who had never set foot here and who knew Americans only as they were caricatured in the British press (that is, rail-splitting provincials ) -- gave his entire fortune to the United States to found at Washington an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."
The author is apparently ignorant of the modern world, which is a reason not to follow her arguments. We live in a rapidly changing world, which Ms. Burleigh is obviously unaware of, but she says ignore the facts and follow my spin.
Anyone who follows our immigration statistics immediately recognizes this article as another variation of the “hate America” crowd.
Still the immigrants come, flooding into this country. We must offer something others do not offers and which Ms. Burleigh does not seem to recognize nor does Barbara and her myopic view of the world.
Dave Livingston - 11/15/2003
One reason Euopean resentment of the U.S. remains is, according to "The Economist" the average American is a third again as wealthy as his European cousin.
The European, with his cradle to grave statism, yet has a good long way to go to match us for personal liberity.
Dave Livingston - 11/15/2003
Yeah, yeah, if Europe is so great, & I do like most of it I've seen, why must we set quotas on the number of them immigrating to the
U.S. in order to preserve space for other folks? By the same token, it is news to me that thousands of Americans are seeking to immigrat to Europe, the Middle East, Latin America or anywhere else. But to be fair, it is said some of the older Boat people are retiring to Viet-Nam, where the Greenback will stretch much farther than here & they are back in the land of their chilhoods.
Cram - 11/14/2003
With respect, I have a few points of disagreement with your previous post.
1) "Renaming French-fries to freedom-fries and french-kiss to freedom-kiss was a small message to France that we would not condone what they were supporting."
What exactly were they not supporting? Doesn’t every country have a right to decide for itself whether or not they go to war against another country. The name changes were childish, at best, and an embarrassment to our country. If by "support" you mean supporting Saddam Hussein, didn’t we support the same man throughout the 1980’s? Furthermore, France was only one country of many that opposed this war. Our targeting them was nlt due to their veto on the security council, not to any legitimate complaint.
2) "The Bush administration attempted to involve Europe in a war against terrorism."
And do you remember what Europe said: We are wish you. Troops from around the world (including France) went to Afghanistan and are there still. As for Iraq, what does that have to do with the war on terrorism? Iraq was not involved in 9/11, nor were we EVER certain that Iraq was producing WMD.
Furthermore, the above statement is rather misleading. Our troops were sent to the region well before Bush ever went before the UN, and he preceded his visit by telling the world it didn’t matter what they thought anyway. Whether you support the war in Iraq or are against it, I really can’t imagine how anyone could miss the arrogance Bush displayed to the UN.
3) "Some of those who refused to help, like France, had underlying motives. Was the Bush administration wrong for questioning those motives?"
The question is, was France wrong to question OUR motives? When they tried, we dismissed them. The French, as well as the rest of international community, laid out there reasons for wanting to wait, we did not. So no, Bush was not wrong to question their motives, but nether were they to question ours.
4) "If any European country is engaging in activity that will endanger American lives, the President has an obligation to confront that country."
To that I could not agree with you more, however, I don’t see the connection to the current debate. Was France and Germany engaged in some kind of armed conflict with the United States? How was their decision (as well as the rest of the worlds, I might add) somehow dangerous to American lives? At its peak, only two nations on the planet showed a majority of the population supported the war against Iraq: USA, and Israel (which is to be expected since they alone were in genuine danger from Hussein).
Cram - 11/13/2003
In response to Bush "simply asking that other nations support the good work that the American government is doing in other countries," all I have to ask all the conservatives out there, I thought we didn't need anyone's help.
Remember, before the war when the rest of the world urged restraint and we essentially told them to go fu@# themselves? Now we are going to the UN, that same body we dissmissed as useless, and are asking them for money. Why? Because the war is more expensive then we thought, harder than we thought, and longer then we thought. Bush is politically desparate, we know it, and so does Europe.
Hope Parson - 11/13/2003
I believe talk radio is an outlet for people to share their honest opinions, and not have to be politically correct or be afraid of stepping on anyone's toes.
Renaming French-fries to freedom-fries and french-kiss to freedom-kiss was a small message to France that we would not condone what they were supporting.
The Bush administration attempted to involve Europe in a war against terrorism. Some of those who refused to help, like France, had underlying motives. Was the Bush administration wrong for questioning those motives? If any European country is engaging in activity that will endanger American lives, the President has an obligation to cofront that country.
Hope Parson - 11/13/2003
I don't agree that the President was "holding out the hat" to European nations. He was simply asking that other nations support the good work that the American government is doing in other countries.
C.R.W. - 11/13/2003
I'd like to pad the risk of sounding overly speculative in the previous post by pointing out the observation that political libertarians in Europe have become emboldened by the prospect of federal checks against the nation state, to the benefit of individual liberties which politically might be seen as contributing to the American-esque "culture of individualism."
C.R.W. - 11/13/2003
I'd like to hope that further political integration among the Euros will make them a bit more sympathetic. It's much easier to give your people everything under the sun when you govern a tiny or moderate-sized nation and can dispense with the political realities of having to compromise among the various interests that emerge when your population increases above 400 million souls, living in 25 different countries. I also think that the opportunity that America represented meant more to Smithson (coming from class-based 19th-century England), or others in Europe's pre-democratic regimes than it would now because of the obvious lack of reforms and changes that they have instituted since.
So as I watch the historically and politically fascinating developments in the way of a European constitution, I can't help but wonder how the many similar aspects of federalism will affect their view of their continent, and its role in the larger world. Granted, there are obvious differences specific to the continent that will be reflected in its particular legal structure, but many of the questions they face now are the same ones or quite similar to those which we confronted in our own founding; they were answered in ways that continue to reflect our political, legal, and yes, cultural legacy. Perhaps the historical dynamic that we live with will soon become better understood by the Europeans. If they are successful and innovative in their approach to dealing with it, perhaps for the first time in centuries they will be able to teach us something new *and* useful about life in the modern world.
Barbara Cornett - 11/12/2003
I agree with your statements Derek. Stating that Europe is this or Europe is that doesn't in any way justify the failings of America.
I am very very disappointed at the failings of America because I know that we are capable of doing so much better and that we most certainly should set an example for the rest of the world. Perhaps that is why we come under so much criticisim. Especially given the way that we are using our enormous power around the world and in the middle east. Is this the best that we can do?
When I watch the Senate on C-Span it seems as tho the Senators are CEOs working on behalf of business rather then elected officials working on behalf of the people of the US.
About 10 years ago I had an occasion to talk with a young boy in the community and as we talked he told me that his girlfriend was going to have a baby. He was 17 years old and had quit high school. I knew even though he did not, that his life would never get any better. At that age when people have all the hope in the world because their lives are ahead of them they think that their dreams will come true and that their lives will be the way they want them to be. They don't know that they are given only so many chances in life and that everyday they are spending those chances and one day they will not have a chance in the world because of their choices.
Recently he was arrested after the police discovered his meth lab and the taxpayers are caring for his children.
I think this represents the failure of our public school system which is supposed to take underprivledged kids like this boy and make a difference in their lives and take them from Headstart to college graduation.
A principle at a local school supported a state program that allowed kids to attend school in the mornings and work at fast food places in the afternoon so they could get work experience. I was really upset and asked the man if he thought it was his job to prepare the kids for jobs or for college. He seemed to consider that question for the first time when I asked it.
In light of situations such as this shouldn't Americans be the ones who are most disgusted with ourselves for being the uneducated, backward boors? Never mind what others think.
Derek Catsam - 11/12/2003
Why on earth does this have to be a zero sum game? Why is it that for America to be good or great some people have to denigrate all of Europe? Why is it that those who defend Europe feel the need to run down America? Why is it that we pull out the cliches and brand entire societies, indeed, entire collections of nation states, into a caricatured, undifferentiated blob? When I read sentences starting with "Europeans are . . ." or "Americans are . . ." I know some facile generalization is about to spurt forth. Ugh. God knows we would not want to actually get involved in the complexity of the feelings many Europeans have toward America and vice versa.
David - 11/12/2003
Europeans don't listen to American talk radio, so using that to justify European envy is moot. Besides, talk radio is reactive. And neither do talk radio listeners travel to Europe apparently (Michael Moore sneers that 95% of Americans don't have passports).
But you say, with more legitimacy, that the Bush administration has mistreated the Europeans and therefore they hate us. But I disagree.
Europeans have been snide and rude towards Americans for decades. Arrogance and envy both. In fact, they're famous for it.
So nothing new here. Except for one thing. We don't believe the hype anymore. We no longer believe Europe is right about us, we no longer assume Europe is everything they claim to be. That's what's changed, and we're calling them out on it.
tcg - 11/12/2003
I think it important to define the "Europe" I would suspect most Americans hate, or dislike if you prefer. It is not European nations as a whole, or even Europe as a continent. It is, I believe, rather France and Germany that Americans take a pleasure in loathing, (perhaps also Belgium if one has the time and energy after the first pair). Nations which want to be taken seriously must bring something to the table. In reality, with the economic nightmare that is France and Germany, they have little or nothing to offer finacially. Certainly little militarily. I've been out of the loop (perhaps some active duty type could assist) but can they even still coordinate with us at our operation tempo? How old is their C3 gear? If the resurgent Poles can, perhaps the French and Germans can, I don't know. The Germans used to be a tough lot of professionals. Maybe a reverse situation of the old quote "..lions led by donkeys" is relevant. In short, it is wrong to say that American's hate "Europe", we are much more selective than that, even if we can't speak the language.
Cram - 11/12/2003
Europe is certainly not perfect, nor was that the intent of the article to suggest it. Europeans don’t hate America because of our ever widening differences culturally and ideologically, but because America treats them with utter contempt.
Listen to almost any radio talk show, or news network, and what do you see? Pundits or administration officials dismissing Europe as a useless obstruction that we don’t need. Then the next day, we criticize them for not giving us money to fund a war they were completely against. We also see a Congress so immeasurably ignorant and spiteful, that they re-name French fries to freedom fries!! (NOTE: We were not at war with France at the time and the product in question doesn’t even come from that country!!)
The fact of the matter is, if we saw another nations leadership treating the United States the way that the Bush administration has treated Europe (as well as the rest of the world, I might add), I think we would hate them too.
Just to pre-empt potential criticisms of this post, I am not defending Europe and personally, consider most European countries to be morally bankrupt and complicit in many acts of international terrorism. Nevertheless, let us not pretend that they have no right to hate America. Their reason is simple enough: We hate them (or at least our leaders act like they do).
Arch Stanton - 11/11/2003
"Europe is a ticking time bomb." Just American envy. If you had lived in France like this author, you would appreciate life in a society without "fat, SUV-driving, culturally backward, anti-intellectual, swaggering, armed-to-the-teeth boors." France, of course, isn't perfect. There are occasional incidents. But no one was killed on Sunday, when the molotov cocktail was thrown on the bus in Amiens. Only one person, an 18-year old woman, was even critically burned. She shouldn't have chosen a bus that went through an immigrant neighborhood. No one was killed on Oct. 31, when the man and boy carved up the face of the 20-year old woman outside the Chelles train station. She shouldn't have offended them by wearing crucifix earrings. No one was killed on Oct. 20, when the two men stopped their car to beat up the rabbi in Ris-Orangis. He should have been more discrete than to appear in public. Or on Oct. 15, when the man in the keffiyeh beat the two security guards in the 14th arrondisement municipal building with a club. They should have had better security. Or on Oct. 7, when the gang with machetes attacked the three teenagers in the Ermont-Eaubonne train station. Just a critical head injury and a serious hand wound. They should have known not to go anywhere near Sarcelles. And no one was even hurt when the Koenigshaffen social center in Strasbourg was burned on Sunday, the Nimes church was ransacked on Nov. 3, the Belfort school gym was burned on Nov. 1, and the Villeurbanne social center was destroyed on Oct. 27. Americans are so ignorant.
David Smith - 11/11/2003
The Author says: "I was often confronted with the scornful image that modern Europeans hold of Americans. The cliché is familiar to us all: fat, SUV-driving, culturally backward, anti-intellectual, swaggering, armed-to-the-teeth boors."
What do the arrogant and effete Europeans say about the fact that we culturally backward, fat, boorish, anti-intellectual Americans are running circles around them?
I look at Europe today and I see stagnation. They are basically boiling in their own juices over there, and this time they don't have a New World to serve them as an outlet to blow off steam. Plus the massive migration of north Africans and middle easterners causing them demographic nightmares and further disrupting their social fabric.
Europe is a ticking time bomb.
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