America needs to try to do the right thing while not shortchanging ourselves.
Among the latest detractors of the United States are South Koreans who have been demonstrating to get American forces removed from their territory. The Americans are there to prevent North Korea from making major moves against the south, but the southerners now contend they are quite capable of dealing with their neighbors and want America "out."
Obviously the South Koreans have not been paying sufficient attention to the evidence that North Korea is in a nuclear weapons mode that could be quite intimidating. And, of course, if the Americans pulled out and South Korea suffered a new crisis, it would be America's fault even if the United States did accede to the victims' wishes. And how soon before a more affable South Korea would be begging us to return to fight their battles?
So it goes around the globe these days.
When anything goes wrong in some foreign country, it's generally America's fault or the result of poor handling by President Bush and his staffers, no matter what the crisis.
Germany, for example, declined to join America in its efforts to deal with Saddam Hussein and elected a president who openly lied during a recent campaign. Now the German economy is in terrible condition and, you guessed it, America is at the root of it all. Never mind the German leadership.
As the globe's established superpower, the United States gets a lot of attention everywhere; more often than not it is unfavorable. Granted, Washington has fallen far short of making good foreign policy decisions for a long time now, and there is much ground to be made up.
Yet for anyone to declare that the hatred of America and Americans in the Islamic world or displeasure in South Korea is a new development is ludicrous. Anything the United States has ever done, particularly since World War II, has been criticized if it did not measure up precisely to what a Germany, France, South Korea, the former Soviet Union and now Russia desired.
There are many justifiable criticisms of the United States and the way it has run things during the presidential tenures of Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, the elder George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and/or most any U.S. president. Opportunity after opportunity for progress and enlightenment have been muffed. But more often than not America tries far harder than any other country to do the right thing and be a good world citizen.
Consider what a mess the world would be without America's contributions of the past and present.
Not that we shouldn't continue trying to do what is best for everyone, starting with ourselves, of course. But periodically we have to remind ourselves that no matter what America does, at home or abroad, somebody is going to be unhappy. In some cases, there will be efforts at violent retribution, maybe only because terrorists and other detractors are jealous of what we have and how we live.
It was with this in mind that columnist George Will, discussing the past and the likely future, wrote:
"One thing will not change. This year (2003), the international left, and its American fellow travelers, will continue their descent to the moral level of the philosopher Martin Heigegger, the learned imbecile who said that of course the Holocaust was bad, but so is mechanized agriculture. The left, its anti-capitalism transmogrified into anti-Americanism expressed in the argot of anti-globalization, will repeat that of course Iraq and North Korea are dangerous, but so are McDonald's and Microsoft."
Even if we cannot win the endless battle against anti-Americanism, we need to keep trying by doing the best we can while avoiding stupid errors that do damage to our nation and its people in the interest of making others happy.