Monday, July 03, 2006

A Thought from the UK for Independence Day

The following is from the Telegraph in the UK and was filled in connection with a British poll that said, in essence that the Brits don't care for us much.

To hate America is to hate mankind(Filed: 03/07/2006)

Kipling's poem The White Man's Burden is often assumed to be about the British Empire, but it was in fact addressed to the United States, then beginning its global ascendancy following the Spanish-American War.
A century later, its lines -"The blame of those ye better, the hate of those ye guard" - seem eerily prophetic. According to our YouGov poll, even many Britons regard America as malign, although they remain fond of individual Americans.
Of course America occasionally deserves criticism. Like every country, it puts its own interests first, sometimes hypocritically. George W. Bush's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel, while preaching commercial liberalisation, is an example.
Ditto the outrageous one-sidedness of the extradition treaty that allows the American authorities to whisk British subjects away without presenting prima facie evidence, but allows no reciprocal action against IRA gunmen in America.
This is, of course, how all superpowers behave. A hundred years ago, it was Britain that resisted supranationalism, and America that constantly demanded international arbitration. But the fact that other nations would do the same if they could get away with it means little to America's critics.
Americans find themselves damned either way. If they remain within their own borders, they are isolationist hicks who are shirking their responsibilities. If they intervene, they are rapacious imperialists.
Indeed, many of their detractors manage to hold these two ideas in their heads simultaneously. Yet a moment's thought should reveal that they are both unfair. In Yugoslavia, America did everything it could to encourage Europe to act.
Only when European passivity was leading to mass slaughter did Washington intervene - benignly and decisively. (Even the most virulent anti-Americans struggle to explain what possible strategic interest there was in Kosovo.) It is a similar story when it comes to Iran.
For a decade, American policy-makers left it to the EU to defuse the nuclear threat from the ayatollahs. Now, with their tactic of constructive engagement in ruins, the Europeans instinctively look to Washington for protection. But you can bet that they will howl with protest if it becomes clear that such protection is best afforded through the deployment of force.
To dislike a country as diverse as America is misanthropic: America, more than any other state, contains the full range of humanity between its coasts. What binds its people together is an ideal encoded in America's DNA.
Conceived in a popular uprising against autocratic government, the United States has a natural sympathy with self-rule, personal freedom and representative government. To this day, it is guided by the Jeffersonian ideal that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect.
The EU, of course, is founded on the opposite principle, that of "ever-closer union". No wonder its peoples sometimes resent their more successful cousins.
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