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.
 ♠   ♣   ♦   ♥
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.


Anonymous said...

Tiddly america greatest

the "know thy enemy" theory.
-Sho nuf.
.....I read something disgusting (often)....But this article... arrogance but blind ignorance.
-Alors! You said it! not me....

In this vein I shall attempt rebuttal of your desultory points

1)Not much to say re:ww1, but why do you assume Germany was the bad guy? Princip was rebelling against *Austria* and they don't appreciate any mixup lol. Besides if you think America gives a rising China a hard time, you'd be amazed what guns Imperius Maximus Brittanicus-trained on centuries of opposing the French and absorbing the Dutch-turned on the Germans. Remember that , The Crimean, Franco-Prussian, Boer and American Civil wars all happened in the run-up, and Britain was involved in all of them (minor initial support for the South). America didn't fight Japan eiter in ww1 (despite its unprecedented ramp-up in the Pacific), and being a lesser belligerent in that ridiculous war may actually be in favor of American greatness.

Plus are we forgetting the frenetic pace of inventions in England/USA around that time? Heck the barbed-wire of the trenches was a Wild-West cattle-ranching invention. America's influence permeated, importing immigrants, exporting ideas, riveting imaginations, living in people's heads RENT FREE. The time between Reconstruction and the Depression was a breathtaking moment-The British Empire and Manifested America shook hands like gentlemen, winked at each other like schoolboys, and the torch was passed. To evaliate the fin de siecle thru the lens of ww1 mobilisation is pedestrian.

ww2-Don't forget Japanese control of Manchuria. American involvement is what ALLOWED Russia to focus on the Nazis. Not only wouldsupply-lines to Siberia be a 'bear' so to speak, but it'd leave massive defence holes in the thousands of miles from StPburg to the Caspian i.e perfect panzer-steppe (and you thought steppenwolf was drastic).
Plus debts to America caused Britain to dissolve its empire, meaning Independence instead of just handing it over to Germany. And speaking of not paid back, something something Marshall Plan?

2. "America Spreads Freedom"
Just by not conquering, America is way ahead of the pack. Regarde-America had a nuclear unipolar moment when no-one else had nukes (The Germans came close, the commies used moles- and a decade laer Mccarthy was accused of exaggerating!). Imagine if the Ottoman Empire, or the Portugese (responsible for almost half the New world slavery) had that unipolar moment. What wouldn't they do?

No country ever had so much power. nor abuse it so little. Other than the atrocious Military-Financial complex, Americans themselves aren't imperious or berserk. America is the richest former colony, with some of the fewest slaves (only about 4%...more than Canada, but still...). Furthermore, as Lady Liberty holds a Light to the world, America inspires by example, being the oldest continuous republic, with its free speech and balance of power.
Pol Pot was a zealous student of Marx in his Parisian days. Pity we don't hear as much about foreign zealous students of Jefferson in Washington.

3) Maybe both points are true. because one must consider the counterfactual. Would Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and PRC get along without america? Yet the world shakes its head/fist at 'Yankee Imperialists' because of the sight of the Korean War, brinkmanship etc, and all the unseen squabbles just skate. What about the Uruguay question-how would Brazil and Argentina settle it? (cont'd)

Anonymous said...

Nowadays everyone knows whoever America sides with wins, so better to just keep a lid on, and a stiff upper lip on. I posit that the world outsources war to America like it does manufacturing to China-and for the same reason (great logistics!).

4) Sarcasm doesn't translate well in text, still arguing how seriously to take you. And Canadian staff colleges also discuss first-strike attacks on the USA (prolly revolves around 'Alaska or Minnesota first?). It's called 'war-gaming' jeez.

5) What's your point? Is the economic dominance undeserved, or somehow a bad thing|? I'd say that American wealth has made Americans soft, and lacking the stomach for conquest-as I shall discuss below (and this is a good thing).

6) and 7) are answered the same way-if you hold America to higher standards than other nations, then you admire it. America certainly wasn't the worst, heck the Indians treated each other heap-big shoddy, and the Blacks sold each other down the OCEAN. Oh and ya gal Hillary championed the TPP-took TPP(Trump-Pence Presidency) to kibosh that. You can't blame the govt for corporate policies, either, unless you want sanctions on Malaysia?

8) Your list of wars is tendentious, mendacious and meretricious. What does 'war' mean?All of those wars were, from a Heartland perspective, wars of choice. Plus do you really think America's full firepower was deployed? If Gengis Khan &Sons oversaw American deployments, would the same results obtain? These were wars of choice stopped at will and larded with 'Rules of Engagement'.
The only time American firepower was fully unrestrained was the Civil War, which gave us air-power (dirigibles), semaphores and barbed wire. Few Civil Wars are as studied outside their country.

9) Not only is it early days yet
Not only is the American constitution the oldest still in use
Not only is the human population larger than ever
Not only is America the only nation in history to control its hemisphere of the world (Iberia to Siberia, baby!)
Not only is America the greatest simultaneous cultural force felt by all peoples at once
But America is also the leading country in the most innovative era of human history. Changes that took centuries now happen intragenerationally. The years aren't fungible.

The Chinese were insular, the Euros fratricidal, and there are no other contenders. America is the greatest nation in history.