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05 April 2009 @ 04:13 pm
Methinks Clarifications Are In Order  
Well, I'm getting vibes from various quarters that I've managed to thoroughly confuse all and sundry regarding my position on the United States of America. Now, I know the world won't stop revolving if my opinions on everything aren't known to everybody, because seriously, who the hell cares? But I think I owe it to everyone I've managed to confuse to at least state what my actual position is, since a load of folks seem to be convinced that I hate America or something and it's driving them (and me) up the walls.

First of all, my set of moral values are Western values. This includes the whole concept of freedom of conscience, religion, etc., seperation of Church and state (in the sense that the government should stay out of religion, not vice versa), democracy, the rule of law, the free market principle, and so forth. So, by default, I agree with America (particularly American conservatives) on all the most important issues.

There's just a few points where we disagree. One of them is the whole ultra-Capitalism thing. To my mind, a pure Capitalist system is in conflict with the free market, because the formation of monopolies and cartels marks the end of competitive behaviour. I'm not a Communist/far-left Socialist either. I don't like excessive State control, but I don't want the total absence of it either, because (especially factoring in rural-urban migration, jobless growth, etc.) undirected market forces cannot redress inequality. Keep in mind, though, that this is because I'm in South Africa where inequality between the developed and undeveloped market sectors is a major problem, so I'm not saying America is (or rather was, before the bailout) doing it wrong by being (or having been) Capitalist. They're in a different situation, so they'll have a different solution. I don't have issues with that.

My main problem, however, concerns the way America behaves internationally. That's where this pic [link] comes in and this seems to be the major point of confusion.

Let's put it all in context. The current world order is American. The major international monetary organisations are American. Politically, financially and militarily, the world is under the Pax Americana; and arguably, at least as far as international security goes, we're better off for it in the final analysis. The world between WW II and now has been more stable than at any other time in history, and to a major extent we owe it to American intervention.

However, like all world powers throughout history, America acts only in self-interest. That much should be obvious: everyone, everywhere, be they a person, an organisation, a country or any other human decision-maker, is motivated first and foremost by their own interests. This is where my parody map came in: I finally noticed that the West did not support the secession of Abkhasia et al, but they did support the secession of Kosovo, because it's all part of NATO's chess game with the East. In cases like these, America (like all other major powers) couldn't give two hoots over whether actual justice prevails, because in the end it's not about good vs. evil; it's about superpower vs. superpower. Morality doesn't even enter into the equation, and that's to be expected. But I take exception to the opinion that if someone is supported by America, they are automatically the salt of the earth. Take what happened in WW II, for example; at the time, mass murderer Stalin was known as "Uncle Joe" in the US because he happened to be their ally for the moment.

What I'm saying is this: that it's fine for America to look after its own interests, just as it is for any other country to look after its own interests; but where conflicting interests collide, all else being equal, neither America nor any other country can legitimately claim the moral high ground, except in matters related directly to domestic defense (i.e. repelling a direct invasion).

So to apply this to my own situation: while I appreciate the stabilising role America plays, I don't have to like or agree with everything it does if it conflicts with my own interests, by which I mean South African interests, both at home and abroad.

In addition, while I'm on the subject, I resent the fact that Africa in general gets treated like scum by the international community as a whole, East as well as West. I don't see why my country (and the whole subcontinent as well as the rest of Africa) can only be something in reference to what are basically Cold War era divisions. South Africa and its African allies fought the entire Southern African Cold War on the West's behalf, and a fat lot of good it did us; and we're currently sucking up to the East (China in particular), which is even less helpful. I'm not anti-American, far from it, but where African interests and the interests of uitlanders collide, I'm pro-African. I still share Western values, but I don't have to like foreign meddling. By way of contrast, I'm anti-Far Eastern in principle, because I don't share their moral and economic values of Communism (i.e. all-pervasive State control).

So to sum up: America, you totally rock!! but we don't all have to bend over backwards for you. You, just like the rest of us, are acting in your own interest. Don't lose sight of that fact. Call me crazy, but from where I stand, we can appreciate your good points better while we're drinking American soft drinks, watching American movies, and driving American cars than when we're looking down the wrong end of an American M-16. We have our own countries and our own interests, and we intend to pursue those interests. Much of the world (and especially the rest of NATO) is friendly or neutral towards you, but if you start throwing your weight around and acting like you run the place despite us, "America against the World", don't act so surprised when we get a little peeved. Here in South Africa, at least, we've learned the hard way that America will cut and run when it suits them, even if it was their foreign policy that landed us in the mess we're in, even if we helped them fight their wars.

Make no mistake, I still think America is probably the best thing since sliced bread, and I acknowledge the important role they fulfill, but when it comes down to the crunch I've got my own loyalties, thank you very much. I don't want any superpower to stomp its jackboots on African turf, and this includes America. I'm not bitter, I'm just disillusioned, and much better off for it.
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: irritatedirritated
Current Music: Soldaatvolk
(Deleted comment)
WolfieInuwolfieinu on May 5th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
Oh darn
I kinda... didn't get around everywhere... and it's been a month... wow.

Um, thanks for the message BTW

I'm in trouble now I think ^^;
jofibray on April 11th, 2011 08:59 am (UTC)
Great, I never knew this, thanks.

jofibray on April 12th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
pimples are really annoying, you can kill them using benzoyl peroxide but it will also make your skin red.