Why Do We America Bash?
Over the past few years, I have worked in many different environments with different kinds of people. I worked with young people, middle-aged people, older people, and people of various races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations. I worked in mostly fast-paced environments, but not always. The one common denominator I noticed was that whenever I was a part of a political debate involving foreign policy, I was the usually the sole defender of America. Allow me to go on the record and state that I do not agree with everything America does in the worldwide arena. I don’t believe that anyone does. I do in all honesty find it disgusting when an American opposes everything America does, but loves to reap all of the benefits America has to offer.
Do not get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with criticism of one’s country. It should be welcomed from all angles. That is one thing that can make America great. The fact that we can even voice our opinion’s without having to worry about getting assassinated, persecuted, or jailed is a great thing about this country. A handful of foreigners I have encountered have told me that I do not know how good I have it. They say I am truly free here. In some places, there are some harsh conditions, and lack of regulations. Freedoms are not protected by law. We are fortunate to have labor laws, including those for child labor. We have an entity responsible for inspecting foods and beverages. There are regulations on businesses to protect them from abusing the consumer. One example of that would be nutrition fact panels on containers sold. There are laws that seek to eliminate discrimination (although some institutions and/or people/groups work around these laws). The 14th amendment comes to mind when thinking of equality. Our Constitution does not grant freedoms, it just guarantees them under law. Our government is fairly hands off in almost all approaches to life in this country. They grant us the right to bear arms, worship freely, speak what’s on our mind (within reason), assembly, press, and last, but certainly not least, protest peacefully. That last one is very important.
There is nothing legally wrong with bashing our government, but some take it over the top. If America is truly the “new Babylon”, then why continue to live here? Why not go to socialist France? Why not go to England, and be stripped of your firearm right? How about North Korea or China? Civil rights are a non-issue in those places. Iran is a good choice, unless you are not a certain kind of Muslim. There are other countries around the world that are not so bad. Canada is close and is similar to life here, with free healthcare.
All sarcasm aside, think about things from a leadership position. Let us start with some domestic issues. The most important issue to most Americans is the economy. This is such an important issue, Republicans and Democrats have been fighting over this for decades. Now that the stakes are higher, and politics is even more polarized than ever, the rhetoric is heating up and not much progress has been made. Despite the gridlock, the economy was lifted out of the recession in 2009, and has been steadily adding jobs ever since. The stock market is doing well, and the housing market is about to pick up, as evidenced by the construction industry adding over 100,000 jobs in February 2013. Sure the recovery has been slow, but I would prefer a slow recovery over stagnation or a worsening economy.
Other than the economy, the main criticism of the government has been the ongoing military conflicts our country has faced since 2001. Since 9/11, we have been directly involved in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Iraq. We have had troops stationed in various parts of the world for decades, such as Japan, Germany, South Korea, and bases in the Middle East. We injected ourselves in the Arab Spring diplomatically as well, particularly in talking Mubarak down in Egypt. Even though Al Qaeda has been decimated in the past 4 years, we have withdrawn from Iraq responsibly, and are scaling down numbers in Afghanistan, people still complain? I thought this was what people wanted. Do people want total withdrawal from the world arena? I guess that would save a lot of money on defense. However, the government still contracts out work to defense contractors for weapons systems, ships, jets, planes, tanks, other land vehicles, and other items. There are still logistical elements that need to be paid for, and it is not so easy to cut certain things out of the budget as the typical American would think.
However, let us suppose that Obama could just mock the political process, and unilaterally slashed the “fat” from the defense budget. If all the troops came home, all the contracts were dissolved, and the military was purely defensive. We would lose strategic positions in the world for our bases, we would lose hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs, become more vulnerable to external threats, and leave the world in a more chaotic form than what it is in now. For instance, suppose we pulled our troops out of South Korea. Not only would this embolden North Korea, China (an ally of North Korea) could be emboldened as well, and gang up on South Korea. That would make Japan (who is militarily aided by the US as well) the sole threat to that duo in Eastern Asia. Russia would not interfere, as they have issues with the Japanese, and are not at odds with China. It would totally destabilize the whole region. This would be true for Afghanistan and Japan.
The economy would suffer as well. The contractors would lose their jobs, and possibly go internationally with their talents. This could make the US vulnerable, and weaken the economy, which is already struggling to improve. What about all the military personnel? Since they are technically veterans, they have an advantage in the job market. That means people already struggling to find work would be in even tougher shape. This would devastate the African-American community, as well as young people. If less people have jobs, then the private sector makes less money, as well as the government not collecting as much in revenues. This could spin the economy right back into recession itself.
One thing I learned in my political science course in college was the role of government. The first responsibility is insuring the safety of the people. The United States does this exceptionally well. An external attack has not happened on our soil in 12 years. The reasons? The most important reason is geographical isolation. The fact that we are surrounded by two large oceans, with Allies on one side, makes us hard to attack. Canada is also an ally, meaning we have a northern buffer from attack. Another reason we are not attacked is technological advances due to the privatization of our defense. Although it may be more expensive this way, it has surely been working. American military might has been unmatched for at least two decades. We can detect threats before they reach our shores, and intercept them before they come ashore. We have Pearl Harbor in the Pacific, which can be used for offensive and defensive purposes. The third reason we are safe is because we do the fighting in other people’s land. This is the part most people have a problem with morally, and is a completely understandable position to have. However, if you are honest with yourself, wouldn’t you rather us be over there, than them over here? I promise you it will be unpleasant if any threat was able to sustain attack within our borders. You would wish you bought that 12-gauge then.
The government is also responsible for protecting our interests. These range from positioning, resources, and diplomacy. We need all of these to keep the American people safe and prosperous. For example, Pearl Harbor is a strategic position in the world. It allows us to conduct military operations both offensive and defensive in nature from our western coast to the eastern areas of Asia. It also allows us to span north towards Russia and south to Polynesian islands. Resources like oil are also vital to American prosperity. While it may be wrong to take a nation’s oil, the United States may overthrow a cruel dictator, and hope for a democracy to sprout in its place. The people would be friendlier towards us, and would likely give us the oil cheaper. This has happened in Iraq, and is probably happening in Libya. Oddly enough, people complain about $4 gas, when other countries pay upward of $8 a gallon. $8 gas would cripple our economy as well and likely force people to move closer to their jobs. This would overcrowd some areas, and we could have the 1920s all over again. This could drive up healthcare costs, and increase the possibility of epidemics and pandemics.
The things the United States does may be morally gray, but it benefits our people in so many ways. If we didn’t do some of those things, many of our freedoms may not be protected the same way, and we could easily be like other countries that do not possess the same level of freedom. Before you default to criticizing, stop and think about the situation on a macro level and see if you change how you view the issue.