Sunday, June 07, 2015

Is America the 'Greatest Nation in History?'

I read conservative websites on the "know thy enemy" theory. Usually, when I read something disgusting (often) I just glance at it and move on. But this article infuriated me not just for its arrogance but blind ignorance.

1. "America Saved the World"
World War I - India, Canada, and Australia all had more causalities in combat than the U.S. Hell tiny Serbia had as many troops in the front lines and almost as many deaths in combat. Sure, America made a big to-do about joining the war and helped the Allies somewhat as the French were running out of men. U.S. soldiers didn't see combat until the Summer of 1918 and only had a decisive effect in one small battle.

World War II - The U.S. did most of the heavy lifting in defeating Japan, so I'll give them that one. But it was the Soviet Union that defeated Nazi Germany. Russia had more combat casualties in one battle (Battle of Kursk) that the U.S. had in the entire European Theater during the entire war. By the time of America's first major battle against Germany (Kasserine Pass, Feb. 1943) the Russians had already turned the tide of the war with its victory at Stalingrad. America's Lend Lease program did provide vital logistics to Great Britain and Russia but we expected to be paid back (we mostly weren't).

2. "America Spreads Freedom"
Augusto Pinochet
Yes and no, but mostly no. First, the good side of the ledger. After WWII, the U.S. helped create democracies in Germany and Japan while the Marshall Plan helped democracies to return to France and Italy.

The U.S. also overthrew democratically elected governments in Chile (1973), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), and Brazil (1964) and imposed brutal dictatorships. The U.S. also supported dictators in other countries such as South Korea, Spain, and Philippines that only became democracies against the wishes of the United States. Even today, the U.S. supports the slave labor policies of Malaysia.

3. "The U.S. Prevents War."
Really? The U.S. is the leading exporter of war. The list of military actions the United States has engaged in over its short history is staggering. The U.S. has military bases in over 135 countries and is actively attacking people, usually with drone airstrikes, in a dozen countries from Afghanistan to Yemen.

4. "We Aren't Invading Everyone."
U.S. forces preparing to invade Iraq.
Okay, I guess. We haven't invaded Canada in 200 years. But, the Pentagon has drafted battle plans for the conquest of Canada just in case we want to.

5. "We Are Technologically and Economic Superior."
I'll give him that one too. However, the major reason we have not needed to militarily invaded countries is the United States' economic dominance.
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There is also a lot that Hawkins misses.

6. The American Genocide
The genocide of Native Americans begun by President Andrew Jackson with the Trail of Tears in 1838 killed hundreds of thousands. By death toll, the Native American genocide equals the Turkish Armenian genocide.

7. Slavery
In 1860, 12 percent of the population of the United States was enslaved.  Over half the population of Mississippi and South Carolina were slaves. Mississippi didn't adopt the 13th amendment abolishing slavery until 2013. As the TPP treaty shows, while slavery is outlawed in this country we are more than willing to do business with slavers today.

8. Military Failures
A great nation is marked by its great military successes. 
America invaded Grenada in 1983.
Since World War II, this is the record of United States military operations.
1950-1953 - Korean War - Draw
1959-1975 - Vietnam War - Loss
1961 - Bay of Pigs, Cuba - Loss
1965 - Dominican Republic - Victory - imposed a pro-American dictator
1983 - Lebanon - Loss - ignoble retreat following Beirut barracks bombing
1983 - Grenada - Victory - Very easy as Grenada had no army.
1989-1990 - Panama - Victory - minimal opposition
1991 - First Iraq War - Tactical victory, strategic draw
1992-1995 - Somalia - Loss
1993-1996 - Bosnia - Victory
1999 - Serbia - Victory
2001-2015 - Afghanistan - Draw
2002-2011 - Second Iraq War - Draw (at best)

That's a record barely over .500 and I'm including the war against Grenada which could have been conquered by a Boy Scout troop armed with slingshots. Excluding Korea where we fought against China, these were wars against tinhorn dictators and ragtag rebels. This list proves two things, the United States is not a peaceful country and our mighty and expensive military is horrible at actually fighting wars.

9. Lack of Longevity
Death of Julius Caesar
The Roman Republic lasted for nearly 500 years until finally devolving into an empire. The empire survived for another 400 years in the west and for a thousand years at Constantinople. The House of Commons in England was first seated in 1341 and is the longest lived elected parliament in human history. The Mongol Empire controlled a quarter of the population and land area of the world in the 13th century. The Chinese civilization has a history going back 3,500 years.

The United States ranks in the top ten of great nations, but it isn't number one.

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