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No, really now...
February 16, 2001 6:29 AM   Subscribe

No, really now... C'mon, get up. And for chrissakes, stop kissing my boots! I mean it! Anyway, you want my dad... he's back at the ranch.
posted by legibility (11 comments total)

 
I don't think there's anything wrong with this.

One of the distinctions of the US Army in the 20th century was that it was a "foreign army of liberation" which really did liberate. After kicking the bad guys out, we didn't stay unless we were asked, and didn't try to run things afterwards except in the case of conquered enemies. But even then we tried to run things for the benefit of the conquered peoples. Compare the fates of Japan and West Germany against East Germany. In 1944, France was truly liberated. But Poland simply traded one conqueror for another.

That's not invariant, of course. The US kicked Spain out of the Philippines but stayed afterwards. But in most cases if those countries really wanted us out all they had to do was say so and we'd leave. One of the reasons the Phillippines was so partison during WWII was that the US had already promised to leave even before any threat from outside. And if Puerto Rico really wanted independence, they'd have it. There have already been two plebiscites given them that choice (and also the opportunity of statehood) and both times the majority wanted the status quo.

This idea of a foreign army which really liberates is truly unusual in world history, and for those countries which benefitted from it it is something for which to be thankful. Kuwait is simply the most recent country to benefit from it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:34 AM on February 16, 2001


If we had really liberated them we would have overthrown their monarchy and put a democratic government in place.

Steven, you're not going to make me give my neo-colonialism speech, are you?
posted by tranquileye at 8:15 AM on February 16, 2001


The point of true liberation is precisely that we didn't try to impose our own ideas on them. Nor did we on France in 1944; the French created their own new government without interference.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2001


The Kuwaiti people should have been given the opportunity to create their own democratic government. Propping up an authoritarian, anti-democratic regime doesn't really strike me as "liberation."

There are many examples of the US intervening in a foreign country with the result that an authoritarian, pro-American government was established. Off the top of my head, these include Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, Grenada, Iran, Iraq, and Chile.
posted by tranquileye at 8:40 AM on February 16, 2001


You're right tranquileye. Essentially, we liberated the dictator, not his people. Besides, by intervening at all we were imposing our own beliefs. As in, we believe that this guy shouldn't be in power, but that guy should. If we had ever, even once, intervened to "liberate" a nation from evil when it went against our own political or economic interest, i'd be more willing to buy that argument.
posted by jpoulos at 9:06 AM on February 16, 2001


Iran is probably the closest example. It should also provide the best lesson of how an emphasis on stability in the short term (just keep that oil comin'), at the expense of freedom, can come back to bite you in the ass. You've also gotta love the irony of the Schwartzkopf connection (dad trained the Shah's goons.) Don't count me among the surprised if a fundamentalist revolution occurs in Kuwait "after all we did for them."
posted by gimli at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2001


Wait a minute. Are you guys saying that there was some principle involved here? Get out! I thought we all just wanted to drive bigger SUVs.
posted by dhartung at 9:36 AM on February 16, 2001


I've heard it said, on NPR probably, that if it weren't for the "truck loophole" in car efficiency legislation we probably wouldn't have intervened in Kuwait. It's almost a sure bet we wouldn't be talking about opening up the refuge in Alaska now.
posted by gimli at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2001


Is it just me or would this seem so much more genuine if it were actually a site that wasn't based in the US?
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 10:52 AM on February 16, 2001


DiplomaticImmunity: Hosts can be anywhere. Perhaps they're so appreciative they decided to put it on a host that'd be local to the people they were thanking?

The majority of web hosts - especially the dirt cheap ones - are American anyway.
posted by cCranium at 1:53 PM on February 16, 2001


Regardless, the site refreshes immediately to this one, after that sympathy-grubbing image of the two kids at what's obviously a "liberation parade." No other content on www.kuwaitthanksamerica.org but the initial message itself. To me, this reeks of a sanctimonious attempt at currying political support from our new president, not to genuinely represent the Kuwaiti viewpoint.

After today's bombing, the principles guiding our new administration's foreign policy should be painfully clear -- Bush won't hesitate to throw down the gauntlet in Iraq if Hussein so much as steps on the 33rd parallel. The military claims that bombing above the no-fly zone is "essentially a self-defense" tactic. Samuel Berger [Clinton's security advisor] supports the maneuver as a means to "protect the Iraqi people," conveniently forgetting the damage ten years of sanctions have done. These days, if you quizzed Bush about who the political leader of Kuwait is, he wouldn't forget: now it's him. Kuwait's success depends entirely on their pliability to US influence, and continuing to provide the resources we need to keep that ozone hole burning.

[Incidentally, Bush spent the day with Vincenté Fox at his ranch, initiating a similar energy-consumption protocol, among other things.]

I don't disagree that Saddam Hussein is a dictator of the worst order. But there is a disparity between keeping him in check for the sake of his people, and doing so purely to perpetuate one's own autonomy. America isn't a dictatorship, but it's as close as you can come in our hybrid democratic-capitalist system.

Sorry if I sound like Chomsky. Wait, no I'm not...
posted by legibility at 2:23 PM on February 16, 2001


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