Addicted to novelty since 2001

To Get Involved or Not

Smug Canadian replies to Dave Winer’s comments about American interventionalism:

Compare east and west Germany, north and south Korea, Japan, east to west Europe. Freedom in the free places was bought and paid for with American lives at the great discount of America becoming an island of freedom in a world of hell.

Huh? He might want to change his handle to ‘Smug, Inaccurate and Generalizing Canadian’. Let’s have a closer look at his list:

  • East and West Germany: I’m skipping this one, because he references ‘east to west Europe’, which I understand to include Germany.
  • North and South Korea: Man, they’re living it up in democratic North Korea, aren’t they? It’s all fireworks and apple pies. As for South Korea, let’s not forget the other 19 nations involved besides the US.
  • Japan: I’ll grant him that one, but let’s not forget about, you know, ushering in the nuclear era.
  • East and West Europe: Has he forgotten about the UK and every other nation involved in the liberation of Europe? And is he actually giving the US credit for the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe? For starters, I know a few million Czech students who would disagree.

The US has enacted a number of fine, admirable international missions in the 20th century. However, what Smug Canadian fails to mention are the US’s many shameful failures, both when they intervened or when they choose not to. To start, here are some failed efforts off the top of my head:

  • Vietnam
  • Nicaragua
  • Cuba
  • Somalia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Angola
  • Haiti

Admittedly, in some of these cases, other nations were also involved. Regardless, America played a central role.

Now, some sins of omission, where a consistent foreign policy would have the US acting:

  • Taiwan
  • Tibet
  • China
  • North Korea

Why haven’t American lives been bought and sold to resolve the gross human rights violations and dictatorial governments in these countries? When I talk to Europeans, this is their number one complaint about American foreign policy: it’s woefully inconsistent.

Like any nation, the US serves its own self-interests. While it ostensibly invaded Korea to halt the progress of Communism, the true origins of the war are highly debatable. Oil was clearly a major concern during the first Iraq invasion. Given America’s checkered foreign policy record, shouldn’t their every act on foreign soil be scrutinized?

54 Responses to “To Get Involved or Not”

  1. QED

    Darren sez:

    Nick: You said “All of the countries that America has helped are better of than those it hasn’t.” What about the countries on my list of failures? How do you make this case for Vietnam, for example?

    Ha! But Vietnam wasn’t a country that the US helped, thus, it doesn’t apply!Darren sez:

    Is it clear, now, how I arrived at a number of 977,701 immigrants to Germany, or will you continue to accuse me of lying?

    But you said, “In 2001, Germany welcomed 977,701 people.” In fact, Germany let in a bunch of Souther European and Turkish guest workers. I noticed that you used 2001 instead of 2002 data from, which gave Germany a slight edge over the US compared to 2002 data. Even so, if you look at “Acquisition of citizenship (total), by year,” arguably a better test of how many people are actually welcomed by a country, you’ll find that Germany and the US are hardly different. Further, if you look at “Foreign population as a percentage of the total population,” the US beats out Germany and has a growing percentage of foreign population as a percentage of total population.Darren sez:

    Like any nation, the US looks out for its own self-interests. However, when they’re the most powerful nation on the planet (by a considerable margin), that behaviour is questionable.

    No way, Darren, Le France and many other fine countries have vetoes in the United Nations Security Council and have nukes and better cheeses. What leads you to believe that the US is the most powerful nation on the planet?

  2. Arthur

    …Arthur, your university links don’t work. Presumably, you wanted me to take them as “official” documentation proving me wrong….

    Oh they do: you just have to remove the ‘).’. They actually link to original declarations of war. If you follow the dates and read the text, there is no mention of the fact that killing tyrants and such things was the reason for going to war. After all, it was that after the war it became known that so many Jews *and* political opponents of the Nazis were eradicated. Comparing the War on Terrorism with the Second World War on moral grounds is totally ridiculous and insult to the people who actually suffered under the Blitzkrieg and the Occupation.

    Regarding America’s consistency, that’s virtually a joke. Name me one country in South America that had a democratically elected official removed and killed with the support of the US. Name me one country in Asia who’s president was allowed to kill hundreds of thousands of its citizens with the support of the US. 30 years later the same president was called ‘a dictator’ by the very US. Name me one country in Europe that was allowed to buy American weapons with American loans to oppress the citizens of a far colony. That’s 3 large holes in shallow rhetorics about tyrants and crooks: now please return if you have found the answers to those questions.

  3. billg

    Richard, I’m on your side, but the only evidence I need of a Saddam-Qaeda link is the fact that terrorists are created in Arab regimes. It isn’t incorrect to believe that the nature of those regimes is responsible for the terrorists.

    Playing Darren’s game of tit-for-tat documentation is best left to children and lawyers.

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