Home | Community | Message Board

MRCA Tyroler Gluckspilze
Please support our sponsors.

General Interest >> Political Discussion

Welcome to the Shroomery Message Board! You are experiencing a small sample of what the site has to offer. Please login or register to post messages and view our exclusive members-only content. You'll gain access to additional forums, file attachments, board customizations, encrypted private messages, and much more!

Amazon Shop: Portable Greenhouse

Jump to first unread post. Pages: 1
Fred's son

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
Loc: Dominican Republic
Last seen: 3 years, 5 months
P J O'Rourke on foreign policy
    #3157034 - 09/20/04 07:42 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Why Americans hate foreign policy
By P J O'Rourke
(Filed: 18/09/2004)

Frankly, nothing concerning foreign policy ever occurred to me until the middle of the last decade. I'd been writing about foreign countries and foreign affairs and foreigners for years. But you can own dogs all your life and not have "dog policy".

You have rules, yes - Get off the couch! - and training, sure. We want the dumb creatures to be well behaved and friendly. So we feed foreigners, take care of them, give them treats, and, when absolutely necessary, whack them with a rolled-up newspaper.

That was as far as my foreign policy thinking went until the middle 1990s, when I realised America's foreign policy thinking hadn't gone that far.

In the fall of 1996, I travelled to Bosnia to visit a friend whom I'll call Major Tom. Major Tom was in Banja Luka serving with the Nato-led international peacekeeping force, Ifor. From 1992 to 1995, Bosnian Serbs had fought Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims in an attempt to split Bosnia into two hostile territories.

In 1995, the US-brokered Dayton Agreement ended the war by splitting Bosnia into two hostile territories. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was run by Croats and Muslims. The Republika Srpska was run by Serbs.

IFOR's job was to "implement and monitor the Dayton Agreement." Major Tom's job was to sit in an office where Croat and Muslim residents of Republika Srpska went to report Dayton Agreement violations.

"They come to me," said Major Tom, "and they say, 'The Serbs stole my car.' And I say, 'I'm writing that in my report.' They say, 'The Serbs burnt my house.' And I say, 'I'm writing that in my report.' They say, 'The Serbs raped my daughter.' And I say, 'I'm writing that in my report."'

"Then what happens?" I said.

"I put my report in a filing cabinet."

Major Tom had fought in the Gulf war. He'd been deployed to Haiti during the American reinstatement of President Aristide (which preceded the recent American un-reinstatement). He was on his second tour of duty in Bosnia and would go on to fight in the Iraq war.

That night, we got drunk.

"Please, no nation-building," said Major Tom. "We're the Army. We kill people and break things. They didn't teach nation-building in infantry school."

Or in journalism school, either. The night before I left to cover the Iraq war, I got drunk with another friend, who works in TV news. We were talking about how - as an approach to national security - invading Iraq was... different.

I'd moved my family from Washington to New Hampshire. My friend was considering getting his family out of New York. "Don't you hope," my friend said, "that all this has been thought through by someone who is smarter than we are?"

It is, however, a universal tenet of democracy that no one is.

Americans hate foreign policy. Americans hate foreign policy because Americans hate foreigners. Americans hate foreigners because Americans are foreigners. We all come from foreign lands, even if we came 10,000 years ago on a land bridge across the Bering Strait.

America is not "globally conscious" or "multi-cultural." Americans didn't come to America to be Limey Poofters, Frog-Eaters, Bucket Heads, Micks, Spicks, Sheenies or Wogs. If we'd wanted foreign entanglements, we would have stayed home. Or - in the case of those of us who were shipped to America against our will - as slaves, exiles, or transported prisoners - we would have gone back.

Being foreigners ourselves, we Americans know what foreigners are up to with their foreign policy - their venomous convents, lying alliances, greedy agreements and trick-or-treaties. America is not a wily, sneaky nation. We don't think that way.

We don't think much at all, thank God. Start thinking and pretty soon you get ideas, and then you get idealism, and the next thing you know you've got ideology, with millions dead in concentration camps and gulags. A fundamental American question is: "What's the big idea?"

Americans would like to ignore foreign policy. Our previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler's Germany and Tojo's Japan. Evil is an outreach programme. A solitary bad person sitting alone, harbouring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park.

In the big geopolitical trailer park that is the world today, he does. America has to act. But, when America acts, other nations accuse us of being "hegemonistic," of engaging in "unilateralism," of behaving as if we're the only nation on earth that counts.

We are. Russia used to be a superpower but resigned "to spend more time with the family." China is supposed to be mighty, but the Chinese leadership quakes when a couple of hundred Falun Gong members do tai chi for Jesus.

The European Union looks impressive on paper, with a greater population and a larger economy than America's. But the military spending of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy combined does not equal one third of the US defence budget.

When other countries demand a role in the exercise of global power, America can ask another fundamental American question: "You and what army?"

Americans find foreign policy confusing. We are perplexed by the subtle tactics and complex strategies of the Great Game. America's great game is pulling the levers on the slot machines in Las Vegas. We can't figure out what the goal of American foreign policy is supposed to be.

The goal of American tax policy is avoiding taxes. The goal of American environmental policy is to clean up the environment, clearing away scruffy caribou and seals so that America's drillers for Arctic oil don't get trampled or slapped with a flipper.

But the goal of American foreign policy is to foster international co-operation, protect Americans at home and abroad, promote world peace, eliminate human rights abuses, improve US business and trade opportunities, and stop global warming.

We were going to stop global warming by signing the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. Then we realized the Kyoto protocol was ridiculous and unenforceable and that no one who signed it was even trying to meet the emissions requirements except for some countries from the former Soviet Union. They accidentally quit emitting greenhouse gases because their economies collapsed.

However, if we withdraw from diplomatic agreements because they're ridiculous, we'll have to withdraw from every diplomatic agreement because they're all ridiculous. This will not foster international co-operation. But if we do foster international co-operation, we won't be able to protect Americans at home and abroad, because there has been a lot of international co-operation in killing Americans.

Attacking internationals won't promote world peace, which we can't have anyway if we're going to eliminate human rights abuses, because there's no peaceful way to get rid of the governments that abuse the rights of people - people who are chained to American gym-shoe-making machinery, dying of gym-shoe lung, and getting paid in shoe-laces, thereby improving US business and trade opportunities, which result in economic expansion that causes global warming to get worse.

One problem with changing America's foreign policy is that we keep doing it. President Bill Clinton dreamed of letting the lion lie down with the lamb chop. Clinton kept International Monetary Fund cash flowing into the ever-criminalising Russian economy. He ignored Kremlin misbehaviour - from Boris Yeltsin's shelling of elected representatives in the Duma to Vladimir Putin's airlifting of uninvited Russian troops into Kosovo.

Clinton compared the Chechnya fighting to the American Civil War (murdered Chechens being on the South Carolina statehouse, Confederate-flag-flying side). Clinton called China America's "strategic partner" and paid a nine-day visit to that country, not bothering himself with courtesy calls on America's actual strategic partners, Japan and South Korea. Clinton announced, "We don't support independence for Taiwan," and said of Jiang Zemin, instigator of the assault on democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square: "He has vision."

Anything for peace, that was Clinton's policy. Clinton had special peace-mongering envoys in Cyprus, Congo, the Middle East, the Balkans, and flying off to attend secret talks with Marxist guerrillas in Colombia.

On his last day in office, Clinton was still phoning Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. "Love your work, Gerry. Do you ever actually kill people? Or do you just do the spin?"

Clinton was everybody's best friend. Except when he wasn't. He conducted undeclared air wars against Serbia and Iraq and launched missiles at Sudan and Afghanistan. Clinton used the military more often than any previous peacetime American president. He sent armed forces into areas of conflict on an average of once every nine weeks.

President George W Bush's foreign policy was characterised, in early 2001, as "disciplined and consistent" (Condoleezza Rice): "blunt" (The Washington Post), and "in-your-face" (the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). Bush began his term with the expulsion of one fourth of the Russian diplomatic corps on grounds of espionage. He snubbed Vladimir Putin by delaying a first summit meeting until June 2001, and then holding it in fashionable Slovenia.

On April 1, 2001, a Chinese fighter jet, harassing a US reconnaissance plane in international air space, collided with the American aircraft, which was forced to land in Chinese territory. Bush did not regard this as an April Fools' prank. By the end of the month, he had gone on Good Morning America and said that, if China attacked Taiwan, the United States had an obligation to defend it with "whatever it took".

The President also brandished American missile defences at Russia and China. The Russians and Chinese were wroth. The missile shield might or might not stop missiles but, even unbuilt, it was an effective tool for gathering intelligence on Russian and Chinese foreign policy intentions. We knew how things stood when the town drunk and the town bully strongly suggested that we shouldn't get a new home security system.

In the Middle East, Bush made an attempt to let the Israelis and the Palestinians go at it until David ran out of pebbles and Goliath had been hit on the head so many times that he was voting for Likud. In Northern Ireland, Bush also tried minding his own business. And he quit negotiating with North Korea about its atomic weapons for the same reason that you'd quit jawing with a crazy person about the gun he was waving and call 999.

We saw the results of Clinton's emotional, ad hoc, higgledy-piggledy foreign policy. It led to strained relations with Russia and China, increased violence in the Middle East, continued fighting in Africa and Asia, and Serbs killing Albanians. Then we saw the results of Bush's tough, calculated, focused foreign policy: strained relations with Russia and China, increased violence in the Middle East, continued fighting in Africa and Asia, and Albanians killing Serbs.

Further changes could be made to US foreign policy. For a sample of alternative ideas, we can turn to a group of randomly (even haphazardly) chosen, average (not to say dull-normal) Americans: the 2004 Democratic presidential hopefuls. By the time this is read, most of them will be forgotten. With luck, all of them will be.

None the less, it's instructive to recall what 10 people who offered themselves as potential leaders of the world deemed to be America's foreign policy options.

Incessant activist Al Sharpton pleaded for "a policy of befriending and creating allies around the world". The way Sharpton intended to make friends was by fixing the world's toilets and sinks. "There are 1.7 billion people that need clean water," he said, "almost three billion that need sanitation systems... I would train engineers... would export people that would help with these things."

Ex-child mayor of Cleveland Dennis Kucinich promised to establish "a cabinet-level Department of Peace". The secretary of peace would do for international understanding what the postmaster general does for mail.

Former one-term senator and erstwhile ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun said, "I believe women have a contribution to make... we are clever enough to defeat terror without destroying our own liberty... we can provide for long-term security by making peace everybody's business". Elect me because women are clever busybodies. This is the "Lucy and Ethel Get an Idea" foreign policy.

Massachusetts's thinner, more sober senator, John Kerry, said that he voted for threatening to use force on Saddam Hussein, but that actually using force was wrong. This is what's known, in the language of diplomacy, as bullshit.

Previous almost-vice president Joe Lieberman indignantly demanded that Bush do somewhat more of what Bush already was doing. "Commit more US troops," create "an Iraqi interim authority," and "work with the Iraqi people and the United Nations." Perhaps Lieberman was suffering from a delusion that he was part of the current presidential administration.

But imagine having a Democrat as commander-in-chief during the War Against Terrorism, with Oprah Winfrey as secretary of defence. Big hug for Mr Taliban. Republicans are squares, but it's the squares who know how to fly the bombers, launch the missiles and fire the M-16s. Democrats would still be fumbling with the federally mandated trigger locks.

One-time governor of insignificant Vermont Howard Dean wanted a cold war on terrorism. Dean said that we'd won the Cold War without firing a shot (a statement that doubtless surprised veterans of Korea and Vietnam). Dean said that the reason we'd won the Cold War without firing a shot was because we were able to show the communists "a better ideal."

But what is the "better ideal" that we can show the Islamic fundamentalists? Maybe we can tell them: "Our President is a born-again. You're religious lunatics - we're religious lunatics. America was founded by religious lunatics! How about those Salem witch trials? Come to America and you could be Osama bin Ashcroft. You could get your own state, like Utah, run by religious lunatics. You could have an Islamic Fundamentalist Winter Olympics - the Chador Schuss."

Since the gist of Howard Dean's campaign platform was "It Worked in Vermont," he really may have thought that the terrorists should take up snowboarding. On the other hand, the gist of General (very retired) Wesley Clark's campaign platform was "It Worked in Kosovo". Kosovo certainly taught the world a lesson. Wherever there's suffering, injustice, and oppression, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening.

The winner of South Carolina's JFK look-alike contest, John Edwards, and the winner of Florida's Bob Gramm look-alike contest, Bob Gramm, said that America had won the war in Iraq but was losing the peace because Iraq was so unstable. When Iraq was stable, it attacked Israel in 1967 and 1973. It attacked Iran. It attacked Kuwait. It gassed the Kurds. It butchered the Shiites. It fostered terrorism in the Middle East. Who wanted a stable Iraq?

And perennial representative of the House of Representatives Dick Gephardt wouldn't talk much about foreign policy. He was concentrating on economic issues, claiming that he'd make the American Dream come true for everyone.

Gephardt may have been on to something there. Once people get rich, they don't go in much for war-making. The shoes are ugly and the uniforms itch. Some day, Osama bin Laden will call a member of one of his "sleeper cells" - a person who was planted in the United States years before and told to live like a normal American, and...

"Dad, some guy named Ozzy's on the phone."

"Oh, uh, good to hear from you. Of course, of course... Rockefeller Center?... Next Wednesday?... I'd love to, but the kid's got her ballet recital. You miss something like that, they never forget it... Thursday's no good. I have to see my mom off on her cruise to Bermuda in the morning. It's Fatima's yoga day. And I've got courtside seats for the Nets... Friday, we're going to the Hamptons for the weekend..."

But how, exactly, did Gephardt plan to make everyone on earth as materialistic, self-indulgent, and over-scheduled as Americans? Would Gephardt give foreigners options on hot dot-com stocks? That might have worked during the Clinton years.

As of early 2004, America didn't seem to have the answers for postwar Iraq. Then again, what were the questions?

Was there a bad man? And his bad kids? Were they running a bad country? That did bad things? Did they have a lot of oil money to do bad things with? Were they going to do more bad things?

If those were the questions, was the answer "UN-supervised national reconciliation" or "rapid return to self-rule"? No. The answer was blow the place to bits.

A mess was left behind. But it's a mess without a military to fight aggressive wars; a mess without the facilities to develop dangerous weapons; a mess that cannot systematically kill, torture, and oppress millions of its citizens. It's a mess with a message - don't mess with us.

As frightening as terrorism is, it's the weapon of losers. When someone detonates a suicide bomb, that person does not have career prospects.

And no matter how horrific the terrorist attack, it's conducted by losers. Winners don't need to hijack airplanes. Winners have an air force.

This is an edited extract from Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism by P J O'Rourke (Atlantic), to be published on September 23. To order for ?14.99 + ?2.25 p&p, please call Telegraph Books Direct on 0870 155 7222



Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Ten ThousandThings

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 3,171
Loc: The Shining Void
Last seen: 10 years, 20 days
Re: P J O'Rourke on foreign policy [Re: Phred]
    #3157363 - 09/20/04 09:11 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Nice article. P J O'Rourke is a smart and funny man. I still have a copy of 'Eat The Rich' laying around that my grandpa gave me. I'll have to get around to reading it one of these days.

Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Fred's son

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
Loc: Dominican Republic
Last seen: 3 years, 5 months
Re: P J O'Rourke on foreign policy [Re: Divided_Sky]
    #3157460 - 09/20/04 09:35 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

You haven't read it yet? Dude, that's just..... wrong.



Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Daisy Chain Eater

Registered: 12/04/03
Posts: 2,400
Loc: New York
Re: P J O'Rourke on foreign policy [Re: Phred]
    #3157596 - 09/20/04 10:03 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Pretty funnny.
He should learn piano and be the touring antithesis of Capital Steps.

Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 4,779
Last seen: 13 years, 8 months
Re: P J O'Rourke on foreign policy [Re: Phred]
    #3157602 - 09/20/04 10:05 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

So wrong.. he must be left.  :tongue2:


Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Registered: 09/08/04
Posts: 154
Last seen: 13 years, 7 months
Re: P J O'Rourke on foreign policy [Re: Divided_Sky]
    #3190781 - 09/28/04 10:40 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)


Divided_Sky said:
Nice article. P J O'Rourke is a smart and funny man. I still have a copy of 'Eat The Rich' laying around that my grandpa gave me. I'll have to get around to reading it one of these days.

You wont regret that you did either, it's a good read. I have read all of his books and I love his humor but I also like the way he gives the reader a unique insight into some of the worlds hotspots that you just don't get with other sources.

Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Jump to top. Pages: 1

Amazon Shop: Portable Greenhouse

General Interest >> Political Discussion

Similar ThreadsPosterViewsRepliesLast post
* American voters lose faith in Bush's foreign policy
( 1 2 all )
Zahid 1,543 20 10/14/03 08:57 PM
by Zahid
* A view of American Foreign Policy Ped 888 8 09/09/03 08:11 PM
by afoaf
* New Foreign Policy Coalition Warns of US 'Empire-Building' Zahid 534 3 10/28/03 02:29 PM
by Xlea321
* US foreign policy.
( 1 2 3 4 5 6 all )
Anonymous 3,945 104 01/24/03 01:29 AM
by GazzBut
* An American view of Europe
( 1 2 all )
Ellis Dee 1,302 24 11/17/02 02:44 PM
by GazzBut
* American imperialism - for RailGun headphone 1,181 4 09/06/01 03:08 AM
by MrKurtz
* Why Americans Must Vote for John Kerry
( 1 2 3 all )
Zahid 3,442 40 08/29/04 04:08 PM
by Zahid
* Foreign aid - more harm than good
( 1 2 all )
Xlea321 1,298 22 01/13/04 03:30 PM
by Baby_Hitler

Extra information
You cannot start new topics / You cannot reply to topics
HTML is disabled / BBCode is enabled
Moderator: Enlil
1,084 topic views. 9 members, 4 guests and 1 web crawlers are browsing this forum.
[ Toggle Favorite | Print Topic | Stats ]
Search this thread:
MRCA Tyroler Gluckspilze
Please support our sponsors.

Copyright 1997-2018 Mind Media. Some rights reserved.

Generated in 0.031 seconds spending 0.004 seconds on 16 queries.