Wednesday, 18 February 2009
America - Right or Wrong?
This is his hut… bombing co-ordinates not supplied. He’s gone by now anyway!
When staying by the beach on Koh Chang a while ago I got chatting to a middle aged farang in the next hut to ours. His nationality is irrelevant but he’d worked his way up from being a builders labourer to a technical college lecturer and I respected him for that.
We touched on a wide range of topics and so couldn’t avoid talking about the credit crunch and the crisis in the world economy.
“Sub-prime mortgages… toxic debt,” he said. “Nothing good ever comes out of America!”
I was quite taken aback so I asked him to elaborate. He seemed balanced and reasonable but he gave me a huge catalogue of disasters that he blamed on America.
As well as toxic debt, they create far more than their fair share of global pollution, he said. Their toxic fast food’s poisoning the world and they champion a vulgar materialism that seduces and overwhelms the distinctive cultures of smaller nations. And then there’s George W whose election was highly irregular anyway.
As for America’s self-serving abuse of its super power might, he laid out a long and depressing list… for example their paranoia about communism that provoked nuclear confrontation with a much weaker Russia, their manipulation of surrogate struggles causing long term instability in Africa, Central America and South East Asia. Indeed Thailand’s current tensions with Cambodia have to be seen within that context, he argued.
Not to mention Israel!
Long term American support for Zionism has destabilized the Middle East and more recently Bush’s aggressive ‘for us or agin’ cowboy style of diplomacy, his ridiculously misnamed ‘War on Terrorism’ and his ‘crusade’ against Islam has set world peace back by decades.
The threat of “weapons of mass destruction” was lies and a poor excuse to finish the family feud with Saddam Hussain. Not forgetting “regime change”, “shock and awe” and the destruction of Baghdad… misplaced revenge that cost at least a hundred thousand Iraqi and American lives.
My natural reaction was to launch a vigorous defense of this, my own Anglo-American culture but I was so taken aback that I didn’t do it too well.
My every instinct recoiled at his barrage of criticism as I was raised by a father who fought in the Western Desert alongside American soldiers. ‘They were grand fellows,’ I remember him proudly telling me.
Having lived abroad in so many countries I’ve also had more American friends than perhaps of any other nationality and I regret not visiting more often as I love being there. As a post-war Brit, my bias towards the US is thus very positive.
Our discussion was cordial but I struggled to refute his onslaught, though I managed a few positive points.
For example, remembering my father’s experiences, twice in the last century our two nations stood together and defeated fascism. Then after World War II through the Marshall Plan and at Bretton Woods, America promoted a new world order of international institutions and laid the best possible foundations for reconciliation. Not to mention the technical creativity of the moon landings and of Microsoft.
Furthermore, America’s founding principles are a fine example to all nations, its creativity and dynamism is admirable and its music, movies and popular culture deserve the place they’ve won in the world. It’s willingness to shed American blood to promote principles it believes in and the electorate’s choice of a fine new president in Barack Obama indicate a strong and adaptable society.
Well, at least that’s what I tried to say, though I admit I was struggling a bit and I’m not sure I won the argument.
We remained friends but my opponent unsettled me and got me thinking. So I now ask you to help me out and to take the debate a little further.
To what extent are the criticisms of the US that were thrown at me valid and fair? What other points should I have made in her favour?
“Nothing good ever comes out of America?” Really?
I’d love to have your Comments.
(To post a Comment you may have to register an account with Google… a fine American company!)