Archive for Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Party People: Why is foreign opinion of America so difficult to correct?

April 8, 2008

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Party People

Party People is a monthly forum in which members of the Young Republicans and Young Democrats at Lawrence High School address the same topic in point-counterpoint style, writing columns from their respective political viewpoints. The feature runs on the second Tuesday of each month during the school year. If you have ideas for topics that you'd like the columnists to address, please send e-mail to Terry Rombeck at trombeck@ljworld.com.

Others resent U.S. success

Alex Boyer, senior, member of Young Republicans:

The truth is, we as Americans are easy to hate. Much like how most of baseball hates the Yankees because of their success, most countries that hate Americans do so simply because we are part of one of the wealthiest, most powerful and most influential countries in the world. Some hate us for our political ideology. Some hate us for our political and economic systems. Some hate us for decisions and alliances that our government has made in the past. But for the most part, people hate America and Americans simply because of our success. This kind of deep-rooted, ideological hate is extremely hard to change.

I am not suggesting that international opinion is not important. It is extremely important in creating treaties and in foreign relations overall. For the most part, opinions of America within foreign governments are pretty strong. But there are many countries that will always dislike America for our economic system (China) or our religious and political ideologies (Iran, etc.), and this is almost impossible to correct. We really shouldn't waste our time trying to fix this, but instead establish respect within their government. They don't have to like us to give us their respect.

Personally, however, I think that many of the international decisions our government is currently making are damaging our international opinion. This kind of damage to the American image can be corrected, and our government should look to correct this, but this shouldn't affect all policy making. The American opinion should always come first to the U.S. government, and that should never change.

Bush damaged credibility

Xander Casad, senior, member of Young Democrats:

The Bush doctrine has taken us nowhere. At the level of international moral leadership, it is hard for anyone to argue that the United States has truly prospered from our distinguished commander in chief. From the very infancy of the current presidential campaign the candidates, even the Republicans, have all distanced themselves from Mr. Bush, who apparently cannot successfully lead a political party either. But bashing the current administration is easy; the real challenge for whoever next takes the reins of diplomacy - Democrat or Republican - will be to champion a new and innovative policy for interacting with, not just stepping on, the world.

It is hard spend a day (OK, maybe a week) in the United States and not hear someone expounding on the wonders of our globalized society. And someone's comments are fully warranted; the world we live in today is more connected, more centralized, more personal than ever. Such a strange new world demands a strange (or, at the very least, effective) new foreign policy. Unilateral strikes based on unsubstantiated claims and massive action based on the lingering influence of expansionism is no way to run a country. In an age where everybody has the ability to know everything that's going on, some brand of international consensus is not just smart, it is mandated.

Much has been made in the Democratic debates over Barack Obama's original opposition to war in Iraq. Hillary Clinton has pushed as credentials all her years spent in Washington. John McCain is a veteran and staunch supporter of "The Surge." I do not pretend to fully comprehend the nuances of international affairs, but it seems obvious to me that the most important single decision any new leader of the country can make is a decision for dialogue. For the next American president, and all incoming office holders, I have this to say: Abandon the unilateralism of your predecessor and open up the floor for international debate and action. We are truly stronger when we all hold hands and just work together.

American leaders actually have a long history of multi-party action, but we need not lose sight of that. If we're going to be the world's policemen, let's at least be sure the majority of the world is on our side. Our moral authority on everything, from terrorism to Tibet, depends on it.

Comments

inventrix 9 years, 7 months ago

"But for the most part, people hate America and Americans simply because of our success. This kind of deep-rooted, ideological hate is extremely hard to change."Comments like this expose the extreme ignorance of the so-called American intellectual community. America has consistently placed its economic and military interests above third world human rights and labor protection. Countless democratically elected leaders who opposed American economic and military interests have been assassinated. Countless ruthless tyrants who supported American economic and military interests have been given funding and weapons of mass destruction (including Saddam). Saddam's control of Iraq from 1992 to 2001 was cemented by a brutal economic sanctions policy which international humanitarian organizations have implicated as the cause of the deaths of millions of Iraqi children. Media coverage is absurdly biased, failing completely to report George Bush's grandfather's involvement with the German industrial Nazis who funded Hitler's rise to power. I am not saying that George Bush is a Nazi, but I am saying that if there is a chance that he is willing to sacrifice American and humanitarian interests for the purpose of business profiteering, the American public should have heard about it on mainstream television. As a blonde-haired blue-eyed American of German heritage, I am shamed to see my country blindly support Israeli collective punishment of the Palestinians, who were evicted from their homes in a blatant act of ethnic cleansing. There is only one way out of this mess that we as Americans have created in our blind pursuit of economic and military domination. We must rebuild Iraq and Palestine and Afghanistan, as we did for Japan after the second World War. And we have to realize that a universal truth applies to America, Israel, and Palestine - we cannot protect ourselves through violence. We have to support human rights no matter the risk to our economic and military strength. We have to build schools and hospitals and water treatment facilities for the poorest and most destitute. This is the way of Abraham, Jesus, and Muhammad. There is no other way. It is a tragic and irreversible mistake to invest all of our money into our military-industrial complex while cutting funds for domestic and foreign social programs while creating a gigantic national debt, as the neo-conservatives since Reagan have accomplished. Please read the writings of Noam Chomsky, especially Failed States. Noam will teach you more in one book then Fox News has taught you in your entire life.

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