Showing the Real Face of America

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets
    By David Ignatius, The Washington Post
    Tuesday, January 4, 2005

    The picture on the front page of Monday's New York Times captured the essence of America's challenge in 2005: It showed the crew of a U.S. Navy helicopter handing out bottled water for poor villagers in a Muslim region of Indonesia that was devastated by the tsunami.

    That image of American power solving problems, multiplied a thousand times over by similar acts of generosity, is the best antidote for our country's global difficulties. We talk often these days about an "exit strategy" from Iraq. But the truth is that we need a better "entry strategy" into the lives and welfare of people around the globe. The way out of our current predicament, paradoxically, is to become more connected with the world, not less.

    I hope President Bush realizes how much it matters that the world sees the American military handing out water bottles rather than firing M-16s. By increasing U.S. aid for tsunami victims twentyfold over what the administration had first pledged, Bush seemed to be acknowledging that, initially, he blew it. The United States may not have been "stingy," as a United Nations official charged, but the administration missed an opportunity to show the nation's generosity.

    America's commitment needs to be dramatic, and intimate -- powerful enough to cut through thousands of hours of negative programming on al-Jazeera. Personally, I'm glad the president sent his brother Jeb to visit the stricken areas, and not because of his experience dealing with hurricanes as governor of Florida. I'm glad because in any culture, sending a member of your family is a personal way of saying that you care.

    Americans think of themselves as an idealistic and generous people. So it's hard for us to understand that in recent years, much of the rest of the world has begun to form a different impression. Polls show that the United States is increasingly unpopular around the world -- regarded as arrogant, militaristic and selfish. The terrorist Osama bin Laden has gotten higher favorability ratings in some Muslim countries than President Bush. We may think those poll findings are unfair -- outrageous, even -- but that indignation doesn't do us any good. The task for America's leaders is to turn those perceptions around.

    An unpopular America has to seize every opportunity it can -- to "walk the walk" about our values, instead of just talking the talk. It's a moral duty, but it's also a national security requirement. President Kennedy realized that America could best counter communist-led insurgencies in the Third World by making a dramatic commitment to improving the welfare of those in poverty. John F. Kennedy's decision to create the Peace Corps was in some ways a showy bit of public diplomacy, but its core of idealism and commitment survives to this day.

    A similar mingling of moral purpose and pragmatic interests motivated the American missionaries who transformed the Arab world in the 19th century. They created American universities in Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul and other cities that, in turn, created a bedrock of goodwill that supported American power in that part of the world. I sometimes think the only thing that kept America going in the Arab world during the past 50 years was that nearly every influential Arab family -- Baathist bomb thrower or Bedouin oil sheik -- had a personal link to the American University of Beirut.

    That's why the images of the U.S. military dispensing humanitarian aid are so important. They show a reassuring American face. A friend sent me an e-mail this week with a Dec. 29 dispatch from the Pentagon's Armed Forces Press Service, detailing the quick response by the U.S. Pacific Command to the Dec. 26 tsunami. An aircraft carrier task force was immediately diverted from Hong Kong to the Gulf of Thailand, and a Marine expeditionary force in Guam for a port visit began steaming toward the Bay of Bengal. This is the sort of thing America is good at: organizing the logistics to help people when trouble strikes. The more of it we do, the better and safer we'll be in the long run.

    So here is a resolution for the New Year: Let's try to act as if every week brought a humanitarian crisis to the world's poor. The scale of the past week's devastation is stunning, but so is the slow, grinding toll of everyday disease and malnutrition. Let's give back to the world more of America's idealism, and less of its bombs and bullets. Let's try to live as if America's future security depends on our ability to connect with what we too often dismiss as "the rest of the world." Because, in fact, it does.

    davidignatius@washpost.com
     
  2. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    I hope President Bush realizes how much it matters that the world sees the American military handing out water bottles rather than firing M-16sBy increasing U.Said for tsunami victims twentyfold over what the administration had first pledgedBush seemed to be acknowledging thatinitiallyhe blew itThe United States may not have been "stingy," as a United Nations official chargedbut the administration missed an opportunity to show the nation's generosity. 
    Bush is acknowedging nothing of the sort-----He we go again with the thinking that if you don't immeditely jump up and run around like a chicken with you head cut off, you somehow being slow to respond. The guy just thinks though what he's doing and the nations opportunity to show it's generosity is still a wide open window should the world media choose to portray it that way. The people who are actually recieving the aid know where it's coming from and whether the choose to acknowedge American goodwill is up to them.

    (on my fathers grave I will learn how to quote one of these days !!!!!!!!!! )
     
  3. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    Even before 9/11, this was our primary foreign policy problem, even more so than terrorism or the rise of China. Pres. Bush realizes this, and others like Colin Powell and Sen. Bill Frist do as well, and though it will take a lot of time, it is a problem we will overcome.

    We do need a much better entry strategy into the lives and welfare of people around the globe. Running around wiping terrorists out and standing up to the occasional dictator isn't going to do it alone. It takes a cohesive, visionary foreign policy. Pres. Bush has laid the groundwork for it, a future president will be able to truly implement it in the next decade or so.
     
  4. Trigg
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    Trigg Active Member

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    On a news show I was watching they said 35 million is all that the pres. can immidiately offer, for more he has to go through congress.
    Also I think people forget that the death toll was thought to be 30,ooo at the beginning and Bush knew other countries were going to give money also. The amount was upped almost immediatelly when the scope of the disaster was realized.
     
  5. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    I have one problem with the article. It acts like our soldiers in Iraq are only killing. I have seen LOTS of pictures of our soldiers in Iraq helping to rebuild schools, delivering aid packets to children, etc. Just because the media doesn't cover it, that does not mean it is not happening. Believe me, if a Muslim guy ran toward one chopper with a bomb and he was shot dead before he could get there, the media would show that over and over and over again while never showing the other 50 choppers that are handing out food.
     
  6. freeandfun1
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    freeandfun1 VIP Member

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    Furthermore, have they forgotten that in the early 90's we sent thousands of troops to Bangladesh (a Muslim nation) to help them when they were ravaged by floods? Also, when I was in the Army in Korea in the 80's, once a month a group of us soldiers would go to an orphanage our unit sponsored and do work that needed to be done, play with the kids, etc. American soldiers throughout time have had a good heart and have helped when help was needed and when providing it was appropriate. Even when it was not safe for them to do so.
     

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