They Like Us. They Sort of Like Us

With Obama in the White House, America is better liked around the world. So what?

Just back from Tehran, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen related the sentiment of Nasser Hadian, a professor at Tehran University and, according to a previous Times article, a "childhood friend" of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "What Obama has already done for the United States in the Muslim world is unbelievable."

Hadian is perhaps not the most reliable observer of popular opinion in Iran, having previously praised Ahmadinejad as a "self-confident, committed and absolutely incorruptible" leader. In 2004, New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof seemed genuinely surprised by his visit to Tehran, confidently declaring that "Finally, I've found a pro-American country." "Everywhere in Iran," wrote Kristof, "people have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States, and often for President George W. Bush as well." And the only hostility Kristof encountered was "from a table full of young Europeans."

Relying as they do on political considerations and selection bias, both observations are of little value to those attempting to gauge the actual mood in Iran. And while Hadian's effusive verdict strains credulity (and Kristof's seems to comport with a variety of independent sources), there is a good deal of evidence that the Obama presidency has indeed shifted attitudes towards the United States throughout the world. But not so much in the Muslim world.

According to a recent Pew poll, Obama has generally pushed America's favorability rating in a positive direction, with the resultant gains largest in Western Europe. In England, France, and Germany, for instance, positive perceptions of the United States have seen double digit jumps. But in Muslim countries, only Indonesia, where Obama spent four years as a child, registered a significant increase in favorability, while Pakistan saw a small drop in goodwill towards the U.S. (from 19 to 16 percent). Despite the administration's very public grappling with Israel, positive opinions of the United States in the Palestinian territories remained at a paltry 15 percent.

This much is true: It can't be a bad thing that the United States' "standing" in the world has increased, though one wonders if most respondents were aware of the Obama administration's flurry of Bush-like foreign policy decisions. But what now?

Obama's "rock star" popularity in Ghent and Schleswig-Holstein doesn't much impress America's antagonists. In a recent editorial, The Washington Post wrote excitedly that "The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma."

Add to that list Iran, whom the administration has offered a "new beginning" of direct engagement. In the meantime, an election was rigged, show trials of dissidents commenced, and three American tourists were arrested after "infiltrating" the country during a hike through the Kurdistan region of Iraq (American journalist Roxana Saberi was arrested in January on espionage charges). Last week, General Ray Odierno told journalists that Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs, including the arming and training of insurgents, "is more targeted now than it has ever been." The rock star has dazzled Copenhagen, but has thus far failed to dissuade Iran from continuing its pursuit of a nuclear program.  

With Cuba, the administration has undertaken a handful of sensible measures, such as allowing unlimited remittances to flow into Cuba from America-based exiles, and eliminating limits on family travel to the island. But other "reset" policies are quixotic, like the administration's plan to allow "U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba." It is nice to know that the White House believes ordinary Cubans too desire to listen to Howard Stern or play along to Cash Cab at home, but it isn't a sentiment reciprocated by their oppressors.

If concessions, no matter how necessary, constitute a "thaw" in Cuban-American relations, it seems likely that Obama is content with a unidirectional policy of change. Indeed, Raul Castro, whom many hopeful experts predicted would take a softer line than his shriveled, half-dead brother, recently told a gathering of Communist Party apparatchiks that, despite the country's deepening economic crisis, there would be no China-like moves towards a freer market. "I wasn't elected (sic) president to return capitalism to Cuba or to surrender the revolution," he wheezed. 

As the Post points out, there has been a "thaw" in relations with Venezuela, too. In the spirit of these times of "resetting," the two governments restored their respective ambassadors, expelled last year during a diplomatic row. And it was doubtless a strategic move for the Obama administration to denounce the coup in Honduras, siding with the Chavez and Castro governments in calling for President Manuel Zelaya to be speedily returned to power.

But if any of these entreaties were expected to change behavior in Caracas, to coax Chavez back into polite company, they have so far come to naught. Despite Obama's siding with Zelaya, Chavez, perhaps out of habit, blamed the Honduran coup on the CIA. In the past week, the Chavista government shut down 34 independent radio stations (with promises to close hundreds more), sent its thugs to attack the only remaining independent television channel, pushed a law aimed at censoring critics engaged in "media crimes," and was again caught arming the Colombian rebel group FARC.

In Afghanistan, even Obama boosters like Slate editor Jacob Weisberg warn that the administration risks "getting overcommitted" and is "putting too much faith in the United Nations, [and] accommodating dictators instead of standing up to them." While the previous administration discredited the idea of liberal internationalism, Weisberg says, "Obama has failed to stand up for the broader ideas of democracy promotion and humanitarian intervention.” Weisberg cautions that Obama cannot merely frame himself as the anti-Bush.

But for now, being the anti-Bush has kept his poll numbers high in this country, too.

During the 2008 election, when I spoke with voters in Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles, most expressed two desires: to "improve our image abroad" and see a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter wish, of course, hasn’t happened. While the streets of Washington, D.C., were crowded with "Funk the War" and "Bailout People Not Banks" demonstrations in 2008 (both documented by Reason.tv), the protesters have fallen silent since inauguration. We might still be tallying casualties in Herat and Baghdad, but the opposition has melted away, and reemerged on issues such as health care and the relative importance of mentally unbalanced "birthers."

But no matter. Those who loathed us, now loathe us a little bit less than before.

So rather than the scorn that so often greets Americans in Western Europe (and trust me, it is ubiquitous), our interlocutors will now praise our good sense in choosing Barack Obama, while paying less attention to our supposedly debased, ignorant culture. None of the standard talking points I encountered while living in Europe—e.g., Americans are fat, undereducated, and cultureless; or, to quote filmmaker Michael Moore, simply "the dumbest people on the planet"—are countervailed by a changing of the White House guard. And neither will be the hostility from Caracas and Tehran.

So by all means rejoice that this country is more likable to bien pensant Belgians, but remember that there is a profound difference between changing attitudes and changing policy.

Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor of Reason magazine.

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  • ||

    Nine


    Eleven

  • ||

    Warren,

    The US' international favorability rating was actually pretty decent before 9/11. There are always going to be nutjobs with a grudge against the US. It's the price we pay for being the world's preeminent nation.

    Now that's not to say we should deliberately antagonize the rest of the world for no good reason, as we did with the invasion of Iraq, but there should be no international opinion veto on our foreign policy.

  • MNG||

    israel palestine rabble rabble moynihan zionist rabble rabble

  • ||

    gosh! now that our popularity in western europe is on the rise we should capitalise on our european level unemployment numbers; and use the excess manpower to throw bicycles into rivers and burn cars/ city busses in the suburbs. then they can't help but love us...

    happy days are here again!

  • ||

    Hadian is perhaps not the most reliable observer of popular opinion in Iran, having previously praised Ahmadinejad as a "self-confident, committed and absolutely incorruptible" leader.

    Self-confident and committed are not necessarily virtues in a politicians, if they are doing the wrong things.

    And "incorruptible" also isn't necessarily a good thing -- if a politician is doing the wrong thing, but can be bribed or pressured to support better policies, that is a good thing.

    But, in view of the election results in Iran, that last word doesn't seem to apply to Ahmadinejah.

  • ||

    There are no friends in foreign policy, only sponsors, clients, and (ideally) customers.

  • bobbyoshea||

    http://img19.imageshack.us/i/obamasocialism1.png/

    the US needs to release a flashy self-promotional music video featuring hard fast cuts (if less than 5% of the population fails to seize, they are not hard and fast enough) and thumping club beats. that will win the Euro's over.

  • Tholan||

    Michael. Good stuff as usual.

    The "popularity abroad" thing has always struck me as sophmoric. People who care about such things are like the popular kids in high school- the ones who go on to work for the unpopular kids in adulthood. That's probably the biggest thing that separates Socialists from Communists. It is clear that Commies don't care what other people think. When was the last time you heard Cuba, China, or North Korea care about what someone thought from abroad?

  • Mike M.||

    If we're truly more popular with all the socialists around the world (as though that's some great thing to aspire to), it's mostly because misery loves company.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Honestly... I've traveled somewhat extensively throughout Europe, though never in one place for all that long I guess... but I have *never* encountered the "scorn" Moynihan is talking about.

    I even once traveled through Livorno & Pisa, Italy with a very large (6'3"/300+lb), suspender-wearing buddy who is as stereotypically "loud" American as you get, and most people seemed to just think it was funny. Even when he'd walk up to them and speak English slowly in order to communicate.

    He meant well.


    As for opinion polls.... Who gives a shit? They are easily lead to whatever conclusions pollsters want to make.

    EG: "When you encounter an obnoxious & arrogant American, are you likely to show that person scorn?" "Uh... Yes."

  • ||

    Honestly... I've traveled somewhat extensively throughout Europe, though never in one place for all that long I guess... but I have *never* encountered the "scorn" Moynihan is talking about.

    Moynihan got beaten up by some Swedes once. Turned him into a neocon.

  • Michael Ejercito||


    Now that's not to say we should deliberately antagonize the rest of the world for no good reason, as we did with the invasion of Iraq, but there should be no international opinion veto on our foreign policy.


    Why would invading Iraq antagonize the world any more than invading Haiti antagonized the world?

  • ||

    The polls make perfect sense. Europeans are more interested in style and rhetoric than substance, and they like Obama's style.
    The Muslim world is more interested in what Obama does, and so far Obama=Bush, except Obama has stepped up the attacks on Pakistan and the polls reflect that.

  • ||

    If higher favorable ratings aren't a bad thing, then WTF is Moynihan's point? What major concession to US foreign policy has been made in the interest of getting better ratings? Does it really rankle you that US telecoms now how the freedom to deal with Cuba? Did US engagement reduce the effectiveness of the Iran protests? What exactly has been given up? I wish Moynihan would go beat his war drums somewhere else.

    I can't take this article as anything other than a disingenuous and underhanded condemnation of a more positive diplomatic policy.

  • Tomcat1066||

    I think the point is that we need to spend more time getting our own shit straight, and less time worrying about who likes us or not.

    A lesson I would have done well to have learned in high school, but didn't grasp until much later. Unfortunately, those who make policy didn't seem to learn it at all.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Why would invading Iraq antagonize the world any more than invading Haiti antagonized the world?



    Why is the sky blue? That's just the way it is.

  • ||

    The US' international favorability rating was actually pretty decent before 9/11. There are always going to be nutjobs with a grudge against the US. It's the price we pay for being the world's preeminent nation.



    IMO, anti-americanism is a phenomenon that has been deliberately cultivated by the socialist left since early in the Cold War.
    The collapse of communism merely removed the counter-example so people no longer had a comparison point to go from.

  • Underzog||

    G-d bless Michael Monyihan.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here!"

    The Jewish Defense League Marching song

  • ||

    Why would invading Iraq antagonize the world any more than invading Haiti antagonized the world?

    It ended billions of dollars a year in Saddamite bribes and kickbacks, that's why.

  • skr||

    The old "dumbest people on the planet" line has always amused me a little bit. If we are so dumb, why are we the richest most powerful nation on the planet? Hmmm....

    Oh wait, I'm being told that being rich and powerful is dumb. I get it now.

  • Federal Dog||

    "it's mostly because misery loves company."

    And the servile love to see everyone else groveling alongside them.

  • ||

    Be sure to watch Underzog's video. This is Moynihan's audience.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Can I also just say - for those who get it... "Fuck you Frank (Luntz)"

  • ||

    "Anti-Americanism" is mostly a phenomenon of intellectual elites and those who fancy themselves as such. For the most part your regular joe just about anywhere rather likes Americans.

    Like most generalizations, there are, naturally, exceptions.

  • ||

    Wait a second. Castro was elected?

    Well, then again, Obama wasn't elected either (directly at least) because of that darned Electoral College.

    I personally think maybe the US should establish an office that would be the political equivalent of a Walmart greater for guys like Obama. While we elect someone who actually runs the country well, we can elect a mascot to make the rest of the world hate us less.

  • $||

    Why would invading Iraq antagonize the world any more than invading Haiti antagonized the world?

    Coming up with a way to blame The Jews! for the invasion of Haiti is a pain in the ass, so no one did it.

  • ||

    I personally think maybe the US should establish an office that would be the political equivalent of a Walmart greater for guys like Obama. While we elect someone who actually runs the country well, we can elect a mascot to make the rest of the world hate us less.

    Pretty much the division of labor between Prime Minister and President in a lot of parliamentary systems.

  • MNG||

    "Why would invading Iraq antagonize the world any more than invading Haiti antagonized the world?"

    One can only wonder at the level of retardation involved in making such a stupid statement...The U.S. suffered 5 total deaths in the invasion of Haiti compared to over 4,000 in Iraq. Not to mention civilian population casualty lists...Yeah, those two are comparable!

    "Why is the sky blue? That's just the way it is."

    Yeah TAO, it's just one of the world mysteries...I mean, who could think of why there would be more people upset about one than the other, the two operations were so similar...

  • MNG||

    "Despite the administration's very public grappling with Israel, positive opinions of the United States in the Palestinian territories remained at a paltry 15 percent."

    Yeah, I mean, they only just had a couple thousand of their fellow citizens and family members killed by the IDF with the explicit diplomatic support of the US government and many by US made or supported weapons, so let's be shocked when Obama's "very public grappling" with Isreal doesn't change their view. Oh the intragience of those wacky Palestinians, will nothing sway them?

  • Robert||

    Wait a second. Castro was elected?

    Well, then again, Obama wasn't elected either (directly at least) because of that darned Electoral College.


    "Elected" just means chosen. It says nothing about who's doing the choosing.

  • ||

    Silly article.

    Complete failure to distinguish between 'Americans' as a collective phenomenon and as a collection of individuals.

    To wit, I don't think anyone in the world ever had much of a grudge against Americans as individials.

    It you consider "Americans" as a collective political entity it's a whole different story though. In this case then congratulations, the world hates Americans slightly less that before.

    Trouble is that even so it's hard to identify exactly what "American" is and what facets of Americanism are distasteful to which people. Free market economy? Exceptionalism? Pop culture?

    As such; an article which generalizes about a bunch of generalizations about nothing specific really. Hmm.

  • ||

    "Pretty much the division of labor between Prime Minister and President in a lot of parliamentary systems."

    It is exactly the division of labor in places like Spain that have a constitutional monarchy. Of course, sometimes the "Walmart greeter" might say "why don't you just shut up?" to Hugo Chavez, but I digress.

  • Income Tax||

    Also read the other reason article on iPods and Buy American. Why couldn't they put bikini models in this article too? If people really start to buy and hire American, will the rest of the world still like us? It strikes me that people like Obama because he represents the opposite of the evil, corporate machine. There was a promise of a more just world, an end to the war, and universal healthcare. And with his skin color there's no way he could do wrong.

  • MNG||

    ultra

    These are the questions they asked.

    Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat
    unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of: a. The United States

    Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat
    unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of: b. Americans

    What, you think they should have asked that question about every individual in the US?

    Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat
    unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of: Aaron Aronovitz of Chicago, Il.

    Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat
    unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion of: Aaron Al-Ahmed of St. Paul, MN.
    etc

  • ||

    "Pretty much the division of labor between Prime Minister and President in a lot of parliamentary systems."

    In the US, the greeter role is assumed by the VP.

  • Aaron Al-Ahmed of St. Paul, MN||

    But everybody loves me, so your survey is bunk, skippy.

  • Michael||

    And it was doubtless a strategic move for the Obama administration to denounce the coup in Honduras...

    Et tu, Moynihan?

  • JD||

    I could never figure out why Obama was so instantly popular with Europeans (beyond "he's a Democrat, and Europeans always like Democrats more than they like Republicans" - but acknowledging that effectively means that liking him is pretty meaningless, since it has nothing to do with anything he's actually done.)

    I'm not completely going to discount the importance of being liked: it can make people more inclned to be patient and to cut deals with you. But why we should give a crap if states like Syria or Sudan or Cuba like us...hell, I'd be afraid if they did.

  • ||

    Good catch, Michael.

    Jeebus H., why is it so frickin' hard for people to understand that what happened in Hunduras was an attempted coup by the guy who got run out of the country, and that the government in Honduras now is a legitimate constitutional government.

    Are people so weak-minded that the repetition of a lie by the White House and their lackeys in the press makes it so?

  • ||

    I could never figure out why Obama was so instantly popular with Europeans

    Why wouldn't the Euros like a left-wing academic surrounded by bloody-knuckled henchmen? Isn't that pretty much par for the course over there?

  • ||

    I occurs to me that during the Clinton years I remember every Democrat, public or private (ie friends of mine) constantly asserting that Bill was really, realy respected and popular in Europe.

    At the same time I was hearing more than a few Europeans saying that in Europe Bill Clinton was thought of as something of a joke. I'm not going to stake a case on anecdata, but i find that interesting.

  • qwerty||

    It's easy. The rest of the world is to the left of America, so the world despises conservative Americans and tolerates liberal Americans. Europeans liked Carter more than Reagan. That tells you all you need to know about their wisdom.

    The Iraq war was unpopular because we fought it mainly for our national interest. If we invaded Zimbabwe and killed a lot of people, nobody would mind because we wouldn't getting anything out of it. But if, God forbid, we act in our interest, even if the cause is just (and getting rid of Saddam was definitely just, even if you don't agree that it was in our interests), that's when we're hated.

  • ||

    MNG,

    Why would invading Iraq antagonize the world any more than invading Haiti antagonize the world?"

    To which MNG says:
    One can only wonder at the level of retardation involved in making such a stupid statement...The U.S. suffered 5 total deaths in the invasion of Haiti compared to over 4,000 in Iraq.

    So at what level of retardation is your utter lack of reading comprehension skills?

  • ||

    qwerty,

    So invading a non-threatening country preventively in order to loot its resources is more morally acceptable than invading one for no reason whatsoever? Maybe that's not what you're saying... Just toppling a dictator is moral justification enough? No matter how much collateral damage accumulates or how unstable it makes the region, I suppose.

    Lots of dictators left, and as Ayn Rand says we have to follow where justice leads us.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Where the hell did she say that, Tony? I need a cite.

  • ||

    STFU, Tony.

  • ||

    "Where the hell did she say that, Tony? I need a cite."

    We're not worthy.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure it was in the voice of John Galt during one of his early interminable lectures, but I could be mixing things up.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    yeah, well, perhaps you should back off that little statement, then, especially since Ayn Rand supported noninterventionist foreign policy and, if she were consistent with her earlier expressed views on war, would have opposed the invasion of Iraq.

  • ||

    TAO,

    No doubt--I was trying to address qwerty's assertion that the Iraq invasion was just since we removed a dictator, and that if that's his definition of the just then we need to start mobilizing for the invasion of all the other dictatorships on the planet.

  • MNG||

    Matthew
    Do you really need me to spell this out?

    The invasion of Iraq involved the killing of many more people and the expenditure of much more money than the invasion of Haiti. To the extent that anti-war types are concerned, oh, I don't know, about the deaths that war brings, or the money spent on war efforts, then there seems to be a good reason why one might oppose the Iraq war with a little more ooomph than the Haiti invasion...

    Oh, and one of those actions was in an area that people tend to refer to as a "powder-keg." That might have motivated some folks too...

  • MNG||

    I referenced the US deaths as an indicator of the fact that the invasion of Haiti was not such a big and deadly affair. It was easier to find US military deaths than civilian casualty counts, but there is usually a ratio to these kinds of things, so I went with the data at hand.

  • MNG||

    From what I can discern Rand basically had two principles on foriegn policy:

    1. We should follow a non-interventionist foriegn policy...
    2. Except for Israel.

    Remember, Rand railed against tribalism...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    MNG, can you point out where she advocated interventionism on behalf of Israel?

    I see foreign aid to Israel, and those remarks arose in 1975, in the context of the USSR-Mideast Alliance.

    So, yeah, feel free to dig up her advocacy for "intervening" on Israel's behalf. you won't find it.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    I was trying to address qwerty's assertion that the Iraq invasion was just since we removed a dictator, and that if that's his definition of the just then we need to start mobilizing for the invasion of all the other dictatorships on the planet.



    Who said that if you affirmatively do a just thing, that you must do it for everyone else?

    I do not think there was anything unjust about the invasion, but it was a massive, imprudent waste of lives and money. But, tell me, Tony, what does justice have to do with it?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Anyway, MNG, I do not sanction the entirety of this article, but here's a start:

    ARI Watch on Israel and Rand.

    I do agree with the general premise that ARI, in addition to being a bunch of warmongering lunatics, has also taken what Ayn Rand said about Israel and failed to apply the concept of her foreign policy to that nation.

  • MNG||

    TAO
    When two sides are at war, I think giving foriegn aid to one of them is a form of intervention.

  • NLE||

    Maybe i was seeing things, but wasn't there a post yesterday from Moynihan about Honduras. I could of sworn i saw it, but now nothing.

    ANy help?

  • jtuf||

    MNG, make up your mind. You start with a rant against Israel, then bring up non-interventionism to try to retroactively hook your grudge to Libertarian principles, then bring up foreign aid. If you want to end foreign aid, I'm all for that. However, we should also end the billions given to Arab countries. Egypt, the PA, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan each get about a billion a year from the US in aid. The Muslim Brotherhood is just as angry about US support for the Egyptian government as they are about US support for Israel.

    A non-interventionist would stick to calling for an end to all foreign aid. He wouldn't try to leverage that aid to shape the policies of other countries.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    When two sides are at war, I think giving foriegn aid to one of them is a form of intervention.



    So, that's your answer? like jtuf said, if you are not opposed to all aid, well, then that just makes you a "partisan" for the "other side".

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Tony, I've been wondering: What do you do with all the straw left over from "demolishing" the arguments in each of your well-thought-out posts around here?

    Do you have animals to feed or something? Perhaps you make baskets?

  • qwerty||

    I'm not advocating we invade any country with a dictatorship. The qwerty rules of foreign policy are that if we are going to go to war, it must be

    A: morally right-(we shouldn't invade Canada to take their oil shale just because we can)

    B: serve American interests-(we shouldn't invade Zimbabwe for this reason: getting rid of Mugabe would be just, and I would praise a group of private mercenaries who did it, but I wouldn't want our government doing it.)

    The trouble is that many people in the world advocate American intervention only if it is morally right and it is against American interests.

  • USA!||

    U! S! A!
    U! S! A!

  • MNG||

    jtuf
    Where is my "rant" against Israel? At 3:48 I mention Israel in order to skewer Moynihan's goofy assertion that because of Obama's "public grapplings" with Israel the Palestinians should have changed their opinion of the US.

    I'm also not trying to hook anything to libertarianism, I don't pretend to be a libertarian, I am a liberal. Someone brought up Rand, and I pointed out that while she preached non-intervention, she made an exception for Israel.

    Also, while we give a lot of money to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, I'm not sure where you get your idea we give the PA that much. As you can see from this chart, which I've linked to many times in discussions with you before, we give Israel about 15 times the aid in grants and credits as we do the PA.

    http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/09s1257.pdf

  • MNG||

    TAO

    If two sides are fighting a war, and we give money and weapons to one side, then you don't see that as being less than "non-interventionist?"

    So we can buy butter for one side so they can spend more of their resources on guns, we can straight out buy guns for one side, but as long as we don't commit actual forces of our own to fight on one side then we're non-interventionist?

    As you yourself admit Rand was inconsistent here, and that was my only point to be made.

  • ||

    If two sides are fighting a war, and we give money and weapons to one side, then you don't see that as being less than "non-interventionist?"

    So we can buy butter for one side so they can spend more of their resources on guns, we can straight out buy guns for one side, but as long as we don't commit actual forces of our own to fight on one side then we're non-interventionist?


    We're selling guns to Egypt and Jordan and Saudi Arabia. So I'm not getting this.

    Fact is most of the Arab world hates our support for Israel not because we are "intervening", but because they want to see Israel cease to exist, and they think it would without our assistance.

    I'm not sure that's an argument for us stopping our assistance though.

  • johnny john john ||

    Whats funny about the European hate is that in much of Europe, they are more economically and socially free than in America. Many countries also enjoy greater GDP per capita than USA. (Such as Luxemborg, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, etc.)

    How terrible that Europe's "socialism" has given its people greater wealth and freedom!

    http://www.stateofworldliberty.org/report/rankings.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita

  • MNG||

    Arg, Hazel, please read upthread.

    I only brought up ceasing aid in regards to Rand's inconsistency on this issue (her, and I stress HER position, which I then criticized as inconsistent was, don't give anyone aid, except Israel).

    But, as to your points, yes we sell/give weapons to both sides, but we clearly favor one side in the amount and quality we sell/give.

    "Fact is most of the Arab world hates our support for Israel not because we are "intervening", but because they want to see Israel cease to exist"

    And how do you know this, telepathy? Not being able to peer into the minds of "most of the Arabb world" couldn't it at least be reasonable that they hate our support because it has been rather one sided and has resulted in many Arab deaths? Why is that such a far out conclusion to reach that we have to ponder up these pathological mental states in entire cultures we don't know well?

    What gets me about this whole thing is that, hey, I get some people favor Israel in this conflict. Truth be told I find them more sympathetic 70% of the time myself. But the Israel love is so fanatical that you guys cannot even get where the other side is coming from at all, you have to conjure up these psuedo-racist mystical theories about why Palestinians might hate the US. Rather than say "oh, they hate us because we keep giving money, diplomatic support and weapons to their enemy" you have to talk about how "the Arab world" is a pathologically defunct culture bent on maniacal madness, and your evidence is that they don't love us, so they must be nuts and bad.

    Sheesh.

  • jtuf||

    MNG | August 4, 2009, 10:11pm | #

    jtuf
    Where is my "rant" against Israel?


    MNG | August 4, 2009, 12:27pm | #

    israel palestine rabble rabble moynihan zionist rabble rabble



    That isn't exactly a well thought out argument. Maybe you and I have different standards for debate.

  • jtuf||

    MNG,

    Moynihan mentioned Obama's policy of leaning on Israel and intervening in Israel's affairs. You complained that Obama's policy didn't go far enough. Then when no one agreed with you, you switched to citing non-interventionism. A non-interventionist would have told Obama to stop pressuring Israel. Pick some principle you're willing to stick to and then we can build a debate from them. If you keep switching your beliefs to accommodate ad hoc attacks on Israel, there's not much point in debating.

  • jtuf||

    Via Voice of America

    At the March 2 donors' conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, the United States pledged $900 million to address the immediate needs of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and support our longer-term approach of fostering the conditions in which a Palestinian state can be realized.



    MNG

    $900 million is about $1 billion.

  • jtuf||

    I'm also not trying to hook anything to libertarianism, I don't pretend to be a libertarian, I am a liberal.

    MNG

    My mistake. I assumed you believed in libertarian principles. After all, why else would you be blogging here.

  • ||

    I do not think there was anything unjust about the invasion, but it was a massive, imprudent waste of lives and money. But, tell me, Tony, what does justice have to do with it?



    I don't know, ask qwerty. If, as a libertarian, you can't even admit that the Iraq invasion and all the waste and death associated with it, a war sold as the correct response to 9/11 based on totally fabricated evidence, was a mistake not just tactically but morally, then why should I listen to you when you lecture about economic morality? I get so tired of the hand-wringing need to defend the Bush administration from some of you. That (R) is really powerful to some libertarians, despite all appeals to history and sanity.

  • ||

    But the Israel love is so fanatical that you guys cannot even get where the other side is coming from at all, you have to conjure up these psuedo-racist mystical theories about why Palestinians might hate the US.

    It's not just the Palestinians, it the entire Arab world, which incidentally doesn't seem to give a fuck about the welfare of the Palestinian people themselves.

    And are you denying that Arab culture is, in fact, largely xenophobic and racist?

    Given that they don't seem too concerned by the welfare of Palestinians, or they would accept them as refugees, one can only conclude that their reasons for hating Israel have less to do with the number of Palestinian deaths, than the insult to their pride caused by Israel occupying "Muslim" lands. Which leads one to conclude that the only thing capable of remediating this insult is for Israel to cease to exist.

    It's not some kind of fantasy that only exists in my head, as I am hardly the first person to have come to this conclusion. It's a logical deduction from the actual actions and behavior exhibited by people in the Arab world.

  • Ratdog||

    " "The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia.."

    With today's news of two Russian nuclear subs patroling off our east coast it appears the Washington Post could be on to something, assuming the reset button the new administration pushed is on the Cold War circuit.

  • jtuf||

    MNG,

    This might shatter your world view, but Arabs are not a monolith. There are many factions within the Arab world. Many of those factions see the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon as "the enemy". For background, check out the following articles:

    In Egypt: President Mubarak vs the Muslim Brotherhood

    In Jordan: Terrorists bomb a wedding

    In Saudi Arabia: Terrorists attack diplomatic facilities

    In Lebanon: Conflict at a refugee camp

    MNG, if anything, your paternalistic view towards Arabs is racist. It is based on the assumption that history only happens when Westerners arrive. Not surprisingly, Arabs have their own internal politics and struggles, just like any population of over 100 million. The terrorist groups in the Middle East have a long list of goals. Mostly, they want to seize power. Their speeches against Israel and the US are mostly red herrings. When you focus on actions, you see that the majority of victims of Arab terrorists are Arab.

  • ||

    johnny john john | August 5, 2009, 3:26am | #

    Whats funny about the European hate is that in much of Europe, they are more economically and socially free than in America. Many countries also enjoy greater GDP per capita than USA. (Such as Luxemborg, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, etc.)

    Dude, nice try. Those countries combined populations are smaller than several of our states pops. And their populations are all homogeneous. Those are not coincidences. The top down control of a socialist paradise is much easier when you have a small homogeneous population. or maybe you were hinting we should kill all the minorities and 2/3 of the whites? Then our socialist model would work just as well!
    Side note: do a bit of research on the problems integrating dark skinned immigrants in modern Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. Socialist paradise isn't so sweet for them!

  • johnny john john||

    blake: You just completely missed the point of what I wrote
    1. Much of Europe has more freedom than the USA
    2. Many mixed economy European nations enjoy high GDP per capita, suggesting that socialist/capitalist mixed economies are highly successful
    3. Your thoughts on race and homogeneity do not change the facts stated in 1 and 2.

    The point is Europe is NOT a socialist paradise as many fools in the USA label it. Every developed country, including the USA, practice a mixed economy.

    If homogeneity indeed is the key to prosperity rather than individuality and freedom as you suggest, why the hell are you a libertarian?

  • ||

    None of the standard talking points I encountered while living in Europe-e.g., Americans are fat, undereducated, and cultureless; or, to quote filmmaker Michael Moore, simply "the dumbest people on the planet"-are countervailed by a changing of the White House guard.

    Speaking from the perspective of an American who has been living in France for the last 3 years. I have heard these criticisms.

    However, the change of opinion and sentiment on the people of the United States since Obama was elected has been huge. In this regard, and in general.

    Also, Johnny John is right, France and the other successful European countries are not socialist paradises, I am loving my life here in France, Great free health Care and social benefits, it is great. I can actually use and benefit from the taxes I pay. :)

  • ||

    Apparently the initial love for Obama turned more into a disappointment in the Honduras. These people remind me what Americans should be/do more of.
    http://www.utilaeastwind.com/

  • Ratdog||

    Good article, Thom Moses, and great to see Hondurans aren't asleep at the wheel and are prepared to do whatever is necessary to protect their democracy. It appears the Hondurans share my views on what seemed to me to be a no brainer. Well, brains is something we won't have to worry about here in the United Socialist States of America. Even the Russians are amazed at the speed in which the Communists overthrew our democracy without so much as shot being fired. What a nice little flock of obedient sheep we've become, indeed.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp.

  • nike shox||

    is good

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