"Mr Bush, the World Doesn't Want to Be American"
December 31, 2000 11:35 PM   Subscribe

"Mr Bush, the World Doesn't Want to Be American"

"... it is time for America's electorate to be told the blunt truth: that the present situation of the United States, with a part of its population able to enjoy a life of extraordinary comfort and privilege, is not tenable as long as an enormous portion of the world lives in abject poverty, degradation and backwardness."
posted by lia (13 comments total)
It wasn't till the second time I read through the essay that I realized it was written by Mikhail Gorbachev, which of course explains why the latter part of the essay focuses mainly on post-Cold war security, relations, and the future role of Russia.Not to say that his points on those issues aren't valid, but as for myself, I think the most interesting things in the piece come at the beginning, when he talks about globalization and how "American globalization" would be a mistake. Gorbachev of course had his own agenda to discuss later on, but what do you guys think about all of that?
posted by lia at 11:43 PM on December 31, 2000

I do agree. It's a natural, though not necessarily positive, extension of the American way of life to suggest that what we do is best for the entire world. Internal American patriotism seems to be waning, yet we want everyone to live like we do.

[As an aside, I thought the interface on that page was superb.]
posted by hijinx at 11:55 PM on December 31, 2000

Maybe its me, but I'm getting mixed messages from this.

1 - The rest of the world doesn't want American "culture"
2 - America should be more of a leader

Doesn't that seem to go had in hand?

A lot of this also smacks of "join our one world government".

Russia has also been fooling itself these past 10 years that it's a "superpower". Russia has become a 3rd world country, but no one is willing to admit it.
posted by owillis at 12:40 AM on January 1, 2001

Putin admitted it. He said that it would take years of work to bring their economy up to the level of Portugal.


Anyway, Americans don't want to be told the truth. We want to continue blissfully whilst looking askance at other national interests much as we might a person we believe from appearance must be a pickpocket.

We're fooling ourselves that we're anything but a looter of the planet's resources.
posted by dhartung at 1:10 AM on January 1, 2001

owillis, how I understood it was more like "well, obviously, the US is the sole remaining superpower; so you guys have a lot of clout, please start acting like the leaders you say you are (i.e. act responsibly and unselfishly towards the masses you purport to lead) instead of acting solely from self-interest." Not that Gorbachev would've put it anywhere near that way! :)It's the continuous double standard between what the US thinks is acceptable for other countries to engage in, and what it feels it is entitled to do. Like, to borrow dan's example, continuously talking about conserving the planet's resources while being a) the world's largest polluter, and b) being one of the few (as in one of three or five out of all the attendees) of the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit not to sign the environmental protection pact. Or how the US ignores unfavorable WTO rulings, but protests when favorable ones aren't followed by other nations. The impression the rest of us get is that y'all can talk the talk, but can't actually walk the walk -- even if you probably could shove the rest of us into doing it ourselves.
posted by lia at 3:48 AM on January 1, 2001

This whole hypocritical article read like a massive bunch of post-Cold War Russian sour grapes to me. Apparently Gorbachev has yet to purge his vocabulary of stock Soviet propaganda phrases like, "American hegemony". I was expecting him to follow that up with "Running-dog imperialist lackeys". You can take the boy out of the Kremlin, but you can't take the Kremlin out of the boy, I guess.

His gripes (missle defense shield, intervention in Yugoslavia, bigger role for Russia) are utterly predictable when you consider the source. He's not speaking on behalf of the world, he's trying to be the point-man for the empty husk of a nation that has no business lecturing the US on its international obligations (arms sales to Iran, anyone?), and given the situation in Chechnya, shouldn't feel terribly superior about its moral standing in the world either.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:05 AM on January 1, 2001

MrBaliHai, are you saying that there isn't an American hegemony? Just because something is a "stock Soviet propaganda phrase" doesn't necessarily mean it isn't true, y'know. I agree with you about Gorbachev's intentions, I've said that previously, but his intentions (and the "empty husk"-ness, as you put it) don't negate the truth of his statements about globalization,and yes, US imperialism.Actually, come to think of it, your response is about as predictable as Gorbachev's -- I was expecting you to insert "commie bastard" in there, completely without irony! Responding to criticism of one's country by dissing the background and country of the critic isn't exactly an original approach. :)
posted by lia at 7:54 AM on January 1, 2001

i'll throw my hat in saying that Gorbachev has many good points here. as lia has pointed out above, there is an American hegemony. American globalization would be a bad idea. with our wealth and power it would be a great legacy to assist the rest of the world more and line our own coffers less, rather than engaging in global trickle-down hopes.

security has diminished. this should be cause for concern and for increasingly multilateral action.

'world governance', opposed by mrbalihai above, needn't by one world government. it should be a partnership. we need global agreements, including one on the environment, which American policy continually tramps in the mud.

we do need good relations with Russia, though they have become the biggest 'rogue state' of all. a lot of power from their past and the nukes, but a lot of problems that make them extremely destabilized.

sure, G has biases, but many good points, too, points which most likely will not be consonant with American foreign policy in this administration.

posted by Sean Meade at 8:48 AM on January 1, 2001

So let me make sure that I put the right spin on your "commie bastard" comment; because I pointed out that Gorby is still peppering his writings with stock propaganda phrases, classic Soviet appeals to the non-aligned nations, and represents a country that has no moral authority IMO, to be chastizing the US for failures either real or perceived, you're insinuating that I'm some sort of frustrated, humorless, right-wing cold warrior? As for you claiming that my response was predictable and that my dissing of Russia wasn't exactly original, there's a fair bit of pot.kettle.blackness right there in your own response. Hope you can find it.

The concepts of imperialism and globalization are extremely complex topics that I'd resist attempting to summarize my feelings on in an online forum that mostly consists of the web equivalent of sound bites. The meaning and applicability of both terms are loaded and entirely subjective to one's political viewpoint. Whether Gorbachev is right or wrong is beside the point that I was making and that you either missed or chose to ignore.

But to answer your question, "are you saying that there isn't an American hegemony?" I'd say that there isn't in the sense of the classic Soviet definition at least. Any other definitions would again depend very much upon your viewpoint of whether or not you believe that American influence upon the rest of world and the globalization of the world economy is intrinsically good or bad. That's certainly not a discussion that I care to have on MeFi, but you're welcome to drop by my mailbox for a chat...B-)

posted by MrBaliHai at 9:51 AM on January 1, 2001

"pot.kettle.blackness" hehehe
posted by ookamaka at 1:24 PM on January 1, 2001

I would think Mefi is an excellent place for you to air your views MrBaliHai, it may not be perfect but unlike TV at least here you will get plenty of air time.

posted by lagado at 3:39 PM on January 1, 2001

balihai, you haven't really answered the question. You haven't addressed the substance of either the original article or the criticisms directed your way, only more of the same ad hominems. "Consider the source"?

Well, what position on missile defense would you EXPECT a Russian to take -- whether or not he's a Communist? Russian self-interest does not go away just because the Soviet Union does. If Russia continues to appeal to the so-called "nonaligned" nations, what are we doing to appeal to them better? How are our actions on international treaties, e.g. climate, court of justice, proving or disproving Gorbachev's positions?

I really think there's an air of hypocrisy here. At the Republican convention, it's all right to loose balloons and call to the rafters how wonderful it is that we defeated Communism and are the undisputed rulers of the free world, but should somebody else actually say that, well, it's just sour grapes.

I would hope that MetaFilter could manage better political analysis than this.
posted by dhartung at 6:12 PM on January 1, 2001

I really liked Gorbachev's essay. Sure, he has a bit of an agenda, he has some opinions that I don't agree with, but he also makes good points.

This last bit, though, cracks me up:

The world is complicated, it contains and expresses a variety of interests and cultures. Sooner or later, international policy, including that of the United States, will have to come to terms with that variety.

See, he's right. I just love that what he describes as the core of the problem beyond U.S. borders is the same as the core of one of America's biggest internal problems -- that whole "variety of intersts and cultures" thing. I'm not sure if we, as a nation, are sophisticated enough to deal with that variety, and therein lies the real dilemma.

posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:07 AM on January 2, 2001

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