Several weeks ago I posed the question: what is the role of the United States in the world? In light of President Obama’s re-election, I thought it appropriate to share some of the answers The Urchin Movement received in past weeks. Obama, who has been regarded as significantly improving America’s relations on a global level, has also been accused of “apology tours.” Should we lead by force or by example? When and where do we step into conflicts? How far do we go to protect “American interests?”
I thought it important to ask what our role in the world is because we so seldom ask ourselves not just what we should do in other countries but why. Here are some of your responses.
Bob – On the issue of Afghanistan. I believe we have the moral obligation to act, combat and defeat at what ever cost a culture that flogs women in the streets, stones women for alleged adultery, and attempts to murder young women for seeking an education. Bullies and thugs have to be stopped wherever they might raise their ugly heads, whether in an elementary school yard or in a foreign waste land such as Afghanistan. Intervention should not depend on the value of a countries natural resources. As a highly evolved species (of course that’s questionable), we have to do the right thing. We cannot ignore the atrocities anymore now than we did in the late 1930′s when the National Socialists were beginning their persecution or more recently in Darfur. Oh,wait a moment. We did. Our bad! As a nation, there is nothing great about us if we ignore the suffering of oppressed people in favor of our own self interests, comfort and safety.
Leigh – I confess…..I haven’t spent much time considering this issue so I did a bit of research and found this site:http://www.choices.edu/resources/documents/USRole-futures_002.pdf (which I recommend to my Social Studies teacher-friends.)
My vote is for “Future #3 – Build a More Cooperative World” – but I believe the ideal approach will be an skillful compromise of aggressive leadership, alliance building and cooperation.
Denise – I’d like to see the United States be more helpful in the world. Why must we hoard the wealth and charge other nations to use resources we have in surplus? Food, medical supplies, education, etc… Likewise, I think it would go a long way to forgive some debt to nations who are working on their own democracy. The United States seems to have a thug-like mentality towards other nations in the world and I’d much rather we be helpful in general instead of extracting our perceived due.
Rory – America’s foreign policy should be relegated to using its influence to curb the proliferation of weapons – nuclear, biological, chemical, and conventional – and we should be involved in mitigating humanitarian crises. However, historically, the West has imperialized other nations based upon the notion of Them being the Other and thus their livelihood should be influenced and improved by our ideas. This is of course a fallacy because it disregards the fact that other cultures have their own history and legacy. It is not the place of America or the Western World to redefine their direction based upon ours which is based upon our own unique history and culture. It’s not fair to force democracy upon a nation that might not see democracy as a viable form of government. Judeo-Christian society has continually forced their ideals and philosophy upon the Other, undermining their freewill and determination which only furthers anti-Western sentiment and frustrates citizens of other nations. Because we don’t truly understand the cultures of the Middle East or Asia, what gives us the right to tell them how to structure their society?