While staring into an abyss of disillusion, many in the Third World began to wonder: Was the colossus the new apostle of freedom or merely the heir to the throne of Western imperialism? That it could be a bit of both was a subtlety lost on the many to whom the sight of white men killing the natives never had more than one meaning. Fighting the scourge of communism was a worthy cause. But at what price? To make up for all of its dictator-propping interventions in Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Greece, Chile, etc, how many democracies did the US help spawn during the Cold War? Sadly, not a single one. Today, for all his talk of freedom, Bush is busy emulating Saddam by filling graves with dead Shiites. Meanwhile, with 725 bases overseas and troops in 70 percent of the world's countries , the US military footprint is large enough to ensure that, for millions around the world, Americans are people in uniform. Rambo's paternity rights are hardly Hollywood's alone.
How do you want us to celebrate it? "Who cares - we didn't want that continent, anyway."?
... real power is always something far greater than military power alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force, of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase consent. By using physical force in such a way as alienates consent one constantly increases the requirements of physical force to replace the consent that has been alienated. A vicious spiral develops that, continued, ends in the collapse of power.
"Most of the leaders who defied criticism at home to stand with him on Iraq and win his friendship are no longer players on the world stage, or are on their way out. And it was a small band of brothers to begin with." more...
Richard Ullman: It isn't only our military power that makes us number one. For better or worse, our cultural impact is equally profound. The world flocks to American popular culture.
George Kennan: This, alas, appears to be true. We export to anyone who can buy it or steal it the cheapest, silliest, and most disreputable manifestations of our "culture." No wonder that these effusions become the laughingstock of intelligent and sensitive people the world over. But so long as we find it proper to let millions of our living rooms be filled with this trash every evening, and this largely to the edification of the schoolchildren, I can see that we would cut a poor figure trying to deny it to others beyond our borders. Nor would we be successful. In a computer age, it is available, anyway, for whoever wants to push the button and receive it. And so we must expect, I suppose, to appear to many abroad, despite our military superiority, as the world's intellectual and spiritual dunce, until we can change the image of ourselves we purvey to others.
In his book, "Cultural Exchange & the Cold War," veteran foreign service officer Yale Richmond quotes the Russian novelist Vasily Aksyonov, for whom those VOA jazz broadcasts were "America's secret weapon number one." Aksyonov said that "the snatches of music and bits of information made for a kind of golden glow over the horizon . . . the West, the inaccessible but oh so desirable West."
... who could imagine such a reverent, yearning listener in the Middle East, South Asia or anywhere else today? The difference is not just between short-wave radio and unlimited broadband, it is also between Duke Ellington and 50 Cent.
"You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices. ... It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticize others--after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds are there for criticism? This led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticize one another's shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all vices. For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour--you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another.
"... Because they were hypocrites, the Victorians were despised in the late twentieth century. Many of the persons who held such opinions were, of course, guilty of outlandish conduct themselves, and yet saw no paradox in holding such views because they were not hypocrites themselves--they took no moral stances and lived by none. So they were morally superior to the Victorians even though--in fact, because--they had no moral standards at all."
Every courageous and incisive measure to solve internal problems of our own society, to improve self-confidence, discipline, morale and community spirit of our own people, is a diplomatic victory over Moscow worth a thousand diplomatic notes and joint communiqués. If we cannot abandon fatalism and indifference in face of deficiencies of our own society, Moscow will profit--Moscow cannot help profiting by them in its foreign policies.
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