The World should give Thanks to America

The US is the world’s oldest, most diverse and successful democracy.  The genius of the founders was a consititution that limited the power of government, allowing – liberals may say forcing — a free and independent people to take destiny into their own hands. 

This unleashed the process of creative destruction on the small things, but a strong respect for our institutions on the big things.  While we can now IM our pizza orders on an IPod, both liberals and conservatives argue the constitutionality of their arguments on more important matters.

Mark Steyn rocks:

Even in a supposedly 50/50 nation, you’re struck by the assumed stability underpinning even fundamental disputes. If you go into a bookstore, the display shelves offer a smorgasbord of leftist anti-Bush tracts claiming that he and Cheney have trashed, mangled, gutted, raped and tortured, sliced ‘n’ diced the Constitution, put it in a cement overcoat and lowered it into the East River. Yet even this argument presupposes a shared veneration for tradition unknown to most Western political cultures: When Tony Blair wanted to abolish, in effect, the upper house of the national legislature, he just got on and did it.

But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

That is the key.  While much the world’s elite whines about American “imperialism”, when a disaster strikes it is the US that is first in, first out with no bills or strings attached.

Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in – shoring up Afghanistan’s fledgling post-Taliban democracy – most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base.

For a world hegemon, we’re pretty benign. When the US knocks off some troublemaking tin-pot dictator, or Hitler or Hussein, we don’t replace it with some Soviet style puppet regime.  We work to establish a democratic country, turn it over to the people and get out if we can. 

Back in my college days, my euro-wannabee professors would sneer America has really never produced anything greater than the Big Mac.  My first response was “that’s great! They should make food the way I want it, not the way the cook or the government wants it.” 

Of course, pointing out that individual liberty thing brought out “France was better.” 

Dear professor, our Declaration of Inpendence was signed 13 years before the French revolution, and since then France beheaded hundreds of thousands of people, saw Napolean start a Euro world war, restored the monarchy, then descended into imperialism, fascism, communism and the european union. 

Needless to say, I ended up with a “B” in the class.


  1. Chad, gently: success is overrated, as is pure democracy, as is the taste of a Big Mac. You deserved a lower grade, perhaps. Per your allusion to the Lords, you must know that abolishing the US Senate is in the works, with all that “one man one vote” claptrap taking hold since the 60’s. We’re not better, as a nation, just more successful, sometimes.

  2. Charles August says

    …”the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.”

    How do we project this Thanksgiving power?

    With Russian arms smugglers supplying the cargo planes:

    n 2003, several dozen East European cargo firms began to fly into Baghdad, the authors state. Among them was Bout’s new flagship air form, Irbis, which was registered in Kazakhstan but based mostly in Sharjah. Irbis, Farah and Braun found out, “had been hired repeatedly as a secondary military sub-contractor, delivering tents, frozen food and other essentials for American firms working for the US Army and the US Marines”.

    Bout’s airline “also was a third-tier contractor for the US Air Mobility Command, flying deliveries for Federal Express under an arrangement with Falcon Express Cargo Airlines”. And Ibris was also flying, the authors learned, “under reconstruction contracts with the petrochemical giant Fluor, and with Kellog, Brown, and Root (KBR), the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton – the influential multinational conglomerate that had been awarded a massive non-bid reconstruction contract in Iraq and that was previously headed by Vice President Dick Cheney”.

    Bout was evil, perhaps, but, it seems, a necessary evil …

    Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2007, July 9, 2007. ISBN-10: 0470048662. Price US$25.95, 308 pages.

  3. “We work to establish a democratic country, turn it over to the people and get out if we can.”

    My parents fled to the United States escaping Soviet persecution in Czechoslovakia. They repaid the United States by serving in US Army (father) and Lake Zurich, IL police force (grandfather). They taught me to appreciate and respect the USA, and I’ll always be grateful for the lessons they taught me (before the wags start saying, “well, what about you?” – I was born 4-F, so I’ve had to choose civilian service).

    But let’s not be coy, Chad. We have installed and supported some absolute monsters in our day: the Duvaliers with their evil Tonton Macoutes in Haiti, Marcos in the Philippines, the Shah and his SAVAK in Iran, Pinochet in Chile, the foul house of Saud, Noriega in Panama… the list goes on.

    I’m not saying let’s flagellate ourselves until we’re bloody, but let’s not try to gloss over our mistakes and pretend they’ve never happened. This kind of “My country – right or wrong” attitude does the soul of America a disservice.

  4. Klute — my grandparents fled Cuba and my grandmother’s brother spent 10 year’s in Castro’s prisons. So we have something in common.

    Also worth pointing out, my wife was in immigration law and she help tens of thousands Haitian and West African political refugees seek asylum. I have first hand accounts of the ton-tons, Mobotu, Sam Doe, etc if you want them.

    The US is not perfect, but when it comes to foreign relations you do not have a perfect choice. In the Cold War, we either supported pro-American dictators or anti-American dictators.

    What is forgotten is the pressure the US government put on those “friendly” dictatorships to reform, and today, just about all of them are dictatorships.

    Has the left ever opposed an anti-American dictator?

    Being an American of Czech descent, do you feel Havel and many other dissidents are being snubbed by liberals now that they are focused on liberty in Cuba and other dictatorships favored by the Vanity Fair reading crowd?

    What was your family’s take on the Munich Accord? The France and Britain used “diplomacy” as an excuse for cowardice and gave Hitler Czechoslovakia.

    BTW, I do consider it an honor that the famous “Klute” would comment on my posting 😉

  5. I am not so sure about “success is overrated,” if anything, it is underrated. I am not a fan of the Big Mac, but the point is, I am making that choice.

    I have to wonder, when people say “success is overrated”, are they really saying people chose the thing I did not want? Kind of like the election and reelection of George Bush.

    My deserved grade is definitely up for debate, but at this point it does not matter.

  6. So Charles, do support expanded intelligence powers so we can track these things more closely?

    I am also glad to see you recognize the problems Russia is creating in the world. How Chirac with his secret $30M bank account, a lot of it from Saddam?

  7. A feeling of pride and benevolence rises in me whenever I hear the stories of families immigrating (legally) to the land of the free and the home of the brave. I can only imagine how overwhelming a task and experience it must have been for so many.

    My second-generation Arizona native status, my husband’s family has been here since the 1880’s, has left me with no stories other than “I remember when…” or “I could have bought that for….” As a younger, much younger, person I was always amazed when people would move to the valley. I had no idea how they even knew we existed. We were not New York, Chicago or LA. What was the draw?

    I never had such questions about why anyone from anywhere would want to do whatever possible to be a part of this great country. At an early age I understood what the Bill of Rights meant. I heard stories from my grandpa of WWII and through the eyes of a little girl, my mom. How they had to leave the farm and move to town while he was away, change schools, and how my aunt did not know him when he returned. What rations meant and saving “tin foil”; that they were ready and willing to do whatever their country asked of them, whatever it needed. All to defend the country from an enemy that would seek to destroy their way of life, attack their country AND to restore and protect the rights for freedom of people they would never know.

    If I never achieve any degree of personal fame or position, I am an American. Second only to my faith, to me that is about as good as it gets. Who wouldn’t want that?

  8. I spent my early adulthood hanging out with guys named Michelet, Dochelet, and Oreste, so I got my fill of stories Haitian atrocities, both Duvalier and Aristide based.

    Communism sucks for certain. My family was weird, though. My mother’s father was a die-hard Trotskyite. My father’s father was a rabid anti-communist who was disgusted with the Czechs rolling over. They didn’t get along, strangely enough.

    “In the Cold War, we either supported pro-American dictators or anti-American dictators.”

    I’m not naive to the way the world works, but if we’re going to install dictators, we need to acknowledge it and not try to put a happy face on it, or be dismissive of their atrocities. Pat Robertson (and yes, I know he doesn’t speak for all conservatives) made a spirited defense of Pinochet in his book “The Turning Tide”, and I’m paraphrasing here (but not by much) “Sure Pinochet did some bad things, but he made the trains run on time!” (Robertson’s dealings with Mobutu also speak poorly of man who claims to have talked directly with God). But it’s not just Robertson, I remember Buckley clucking his tongue about Pinochet needing to call Chile the “People’s Republic of Chile” to garner leftist support.

    Which, you know, China is a leftist dictatorship which is constantly pilloried by the majority, if not all, mainstream left groups (you’re always going to have your crazies – I’m sure there are leftists who believe Stalin was peachy with a side of keen). Grouping “the left” together does a disservice to the debate. Daily Kos isn’t the Maoist International Movement.

    That being said, it does a equal disservice to the left when the extremists give support to dictators, so… Both sides of the coin here?

    And as for putting pressure on the governments to reform, we’ve done that when the situation was starting to become untenable to remain in power – but they never did it, and with the exception of Noriega in my examples, they only left power because popular leftist uprisings were about to see them hang.

    Havel’s a personal hero of mine, so I’m conflicted about his support of the Iraq War – replacing a dictator with blood-drenched anarchy and talk of putting in a strongman doesn’t achieve his goals of non-violent societal change. It’s simply changing out the type of oppression (and the criminally hamfisted way the occupation has been handled doesn’t help – but that’s a whole ‘nother posting).

    As for the Munich accords, asking a Czech what he feels about them is like asking him if he likes getting poked in the head with a sharp stick. But that didn’t really have anything to do with leftism but with national self-interest.

    “BTW, I do consider it an honor that the famous “Klute” would comment on my posting”

    Yeesh. My reputation precedes me? 🙂

  9. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I’ve known my share of people in the exile community, and I’ve nothing but respect for the community they’ve built in South Florida and for their respect and appreciation for America. I’ve told my dad to keep a couch open so when Castro finally dies, I’ve got a place to stay to attend the festivities. Heh. 🙂


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