May 25, 2005

Dream On, Newsweak, pt 1

I seem to have written a long post. Go figure!

Anywho, here's the beginning:

Pixy Misa has a brutal fisking of commentary in Newsweek's international edition. (This is the stuff they wont print in their domestic dead tree version lest they be accused of being anti-American.)

Pixy did a masterful job responding to the passages that he quoted. But, there is more. Oh, yes, so much more. (I'll not to repeat any of Pixy's points, but who can tell what the future will bring.) Thusly, I give it a go, beginning with the byline...

Dream On America
The U.S. Model: For years, much of the world did aspire to the American way of life. But today countries are finding more appealing systems in their own backyards.

By Andrew Moravcsik

Newsweek International

I suppose that this is a "too each his own" argument. We'll see now that, in Newsweek's eyes, every variant governmental and economic systems deserve unique praise. Er, 'cept for America's.

Jan. 31 issue - Not long ago, the American dream was a global fantasy. Not only Americans saw themselves as a beacon unto nations. So did much of the rest of the world. East Europeans tuned into Radio Free Europe. Chinese students erected a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Tiananmen Square
You had only to listen to George W. Bush's Inaugural Address last week (invoking "freedom" and "liberty" 49 times) to appreciate just how deeply Americans still believe in this founding myth.

"Myth"? If this is gonna be an anti-freedom, anti-liberty rant then I'm gonna...whoa...!...:

For many in the world, the president's rhetoric confirmed their worst fears of an imperial America relentlessly pursuing its narrow national interests.

Aah, yes. Speaking of freedom and liberty is no longer being a beacon, it is just "rhetoric" and our own "bational interests". No, people no longer want to breathe free. Freedom and non-Americans might not fit together. They're not ready.

And, pray tell, what nation does not pursue it's own national interests? Oh, right, those western European ones. The ones that believe in the future of world government.

But the greater danger may be a delusional America—one that believes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the American Dream lives on, that America remains a model for the world, one whose mission is to spread the word.

And we will, in spite of Newsweek.

And, as if we others to tell us who we are... (I presenting these two paragraphs without interuption for a reason):

The gulf between how Americans view themselves and how the world views them was summed up in a poll last week by the BBC. Fully 71 percent of Americans see the United States as a source of good in the world. More than half view Bush's election as positive for global security. Other studies report that 70 percent have faith in their domestic institutions and nearly 80 percent believe "American ideas and customs" should spread globally.

Foreigners take an entirely different view: 58 percent in the BBC poll see Bush's re-election as a threat to world peace. Among America's traditional allies, the figure is strikingly higher: 77 percent in Germany, 64 percent in Britain and 82 percent in Turkey. Among the 1.3 billion members of the Islamic world, public support for the United States is measured in single digits. Only Poland, the Philippines and India viewed Bush's second Inaugural positively.

As an American I can only say that, yes, I believe that we are "a source for good". And I don't need to think very hard to know that. I also believe that President Bush's re-election is good for national security, the security of our allies and, definately, global security. Who else can do it? Cuba?

I have faith in the domestic instutions, though not always faith in the stewards of those institutions. That is why we believe in the rule of Law, not men; not blindly trusted overseers; not unaccountable law-givers; not tyrants.

My ex- once confessed that she tends to resent the people that she depends on. Her shame was deep, but she had no reason to be ashamed. It was her given -- not chosen -- condition that made her dependent on others.

So, I try to imagine myself as a German and I think I understand them, but who knows. If I were German I'd get down on my knees and thank God that America was there to stop the madness. If I were Britton I'd get down on my knees that America was there to defend us -- first with lend-lease, then with hundreds of thousands of farmboys ready to take the beaches in order to save Europe, not destroy it.

If` I were a "member of the Islamic world" I think I'd have some pretty mixed emotions. On the one hand I want my religeon to be prooved universal and to prevail. On the other hand I want my oppressers out of my frickin' life and to just let me be! Al-Jezeera confuses me.

Oh, and Poland, the Phillipines and India ROCK! :D They know better. They value freedom too much to be afraid to fight for it. What's ingrained in us and our history was learned the hard way for them. Do not poo-poo the opinions of the victims of terrorism. Unless they're Spanish, of course...

Tellingly, the anti-Bushism of the president's first term is giving way to a more general anti-Americanism. A plurality of voters (the average is 70 percent) in each of the 21 countries surveyed by the BBC oppose sending any troops to Iraq, including those in most of the countries that have done so.

Turning their backs. "Let them eat cake. Their suffering is none of our business." These are not the words of a beacon, they are the words of a hermit and it's ambiently ironic. Those who clamor for a more powerful world authority also desire, in this case, alienation from the suffering of others. They would enjoy seeing Saddam and his method gone, but only if done by a collective. Otherwise, it isn't legitimate. For one nation to rescue the polpulous of another, without global authority, is just wrong to them. They resent the United States more than they love Freedom and that is shameful, imo.

Only one third, disproportionately in the poorest and most dictatorial countries, would like to see American values spread in their country.

Well, what a surprise!

Says Doug Miller of GlobeScan, which conducted the BBC report: "President Bush has further isolated America from the world. Unless the administration changes its approach, it will continue to erode America's good name, and hence its ability to effectively influence world affairs." Former Brazilian president Jose Sarney expressed the sentiments of the 78 percent of his countrymen who see America as a threat: "Now that Bush has been re-elected, all I can say is, God bless the rest of the world."

The Brazilian legislature wrote a new Constitution while Jose Sarney was in office. 'nuff said.

The truth is that Americans are living in a dream world.

It's called "the future", thank you.

Not only do others not share America's self-regard, they no longer aspire to emulate the country's social and economic achievements.

If Newsweek isn't festering in anti-American blather then I'm Larry Flint. Who led the rescue of the tsunami stricken beachheads? Not us alone, of course, but we kinda maybe sorta pulled a band of American, Australian, Japanese and Indian has-beens together to bring aid and some abject comfort to the victims while the U.N. was tauting that it'd scheduled a meeting nezt week to figure out what to do. Kk! Where was the blessed rest of the world then, Jose Sarney?

The loss of faith in the American Dream goes beyond this swaggering administration and its war in Iraq. A President Kerry would have had to confront a similar disaffection, for it grows from the success of something America holds dear: the spread of democracy, free markets and international institutions—globalization, in a word.

So, we're shifting gears? Now the dissaffection is not from America's promise, but it's proxy presence!
"No thank you America! I loved you're ideals. But when you overthrew my tyrant I kinda got nervous! Please don't do me any favors, go away and leave me as helpless as I was before!"

Countries today have dozens of political, economic and social models to choose from. Anti-Americanism is especially virulent in Europe and Latin America, where countries have established their own distinctive ways—none made in America.

You're welcome. Ingrates.

Futurologist Jeremy Rifkin, in his recent book "The European Dream," hails an emerging European Union based on generous social welfare, cultural diversity and respect for international law—a model that's caught on quickly across the former nations of Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

Oooh! And we'll all hold hands and dance around like happy little sprites and giggle amongst ourselves when someone actually toils and accomplishes something! Yay!

In Asia, the rise of autocratic capitalism in China or Singapore is as much a "model" for development as America's scandal-ridden corporate culture. "First we emulate," one Chinese businessman recently told the board of one U.S. multinational, "then we overtake."

The sky darkens and an omenous cloud hangs over the discussion.

This writer is championing authoritarian economics. Make no mistake about it: Planning from the State down.

'Scuse me, but isn't this what Freedom is supposed to be against? You cannot emulate freedom and then erase it without them annoying smelly Killing Fields. Have we learnt that yet? Perhaps we need to clone Adam Smith and start again...?

Many are tempted to write off the new anti-Americanism as a temporary perturbation, or mere resentment. Blinded by its own myth, America has grown incapable of recognizing its flaws. For there is much about the American Dream to fault. If the rest of the world has lost faith in the American model—political, economic, diplomatic—it's partly for the very good reason that it doesn't work as well anymore.

Oh, shit, you just hit me where it hurts. "...doesn't work as well anymore?"!!!!

(And, with that, wordpad broke so I had to stop. Sorry for any typos or unclear ranting. I was late and I never got a chance to proofread it.)

Posted by Tuning Spork at May 25, 2005 11:23 PM

If I were Britton I'd get down on my knees that America was there to defend us -- first with lend-lease, then with hundreds of thousands of farmboys ready to take the beaches in order to save Europe, not destroy it.

Well, be grateful anyway. Britain did hold the line, fighting and dying but never backing down, until America joined the war in full. There should be mutual respect from that.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at May 26, 2005 12:17 AM

Yeah, I wasn't picking on the Brits. They're staunch allies. And I know full that modern Democracy didn't start with Greece, but with the Magna Carta. It established guarenteed freedoms in 1215. More than 700 years later continental Europe was STILL suffering their tyrants.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at May 26, 2005 08:15 PM

Our country was built by millions of immigrants who came here to escape from kings & tyrants in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. So why should we pay attention to their descendants, especially if they haven't learned from the lessons of history? They will have the right to turn their noses up in self-righteousness when North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran, or Myanmar, rather than the United States, become a beacon to the rest of the word, and people will stand in line to get into those countries rather than coming to us.

Posted by: Bloodthirsty Warmonger at May 28, 2005 12:45 AM

Tuning - another good slapdown of Newsweek and Andrew Moravcsik. But in your mind is it only the article that was wrong, or are all of the unfavorable opinions in other parts of the world about the US wrong too? Doesn`t it trouble you in the least that the prestige of the US has fallen so far in some places that we see either active opposition or indifference to the US?

In the big picture, the relative economic importance of the US has been on a long slide since WWI. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, we enjoy a clear military predominance, but our heavy military spending in fact gives us very little leverage over "old" Europe, Russia, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Japan, Latin America, the Sudan, Zimbabwe etc., and the defense expense in fact cost at a cost of sucking up funds that could be deployed in productive private investment, to the detriment of out long-term position. Those who have prospered under our nuculear umbrella understand this very well.

This is not such a simple issue.

Posted by: Tokyo Tom at May 30, 2005 10:43 AM
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