The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Monday, February 21, 2011

How America and Americans are viewed in the world.

My friends know me as a student of history, one of my favorite quotes are:" Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat history".  I was at work and my mind is always working and I got to thinking how Americans are perceived in the world.  From everything that I read before Vietnam if you went anywhere and people knew that you are an American, you wern't trifled with.  They may not like you, but they respected and feared you.  The word "American" meant a lot, From Teddy Roosevelt's "The great White Fleet" where before the turn of the last century to showcase the growing might of the United States, President Roosevelt had the capital ships of the newly modernized American Navy. 

The Great White Fleet

America became a global power in the latter days of the 19th century by defeating Spain in the Spanish-American War, taking possession of Puerto Rico, the Phillipines and Guam. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt (credited with preparing the Navy for the war, before resigning his appointment to serve as a Colonel in the U.S. Army) understood the importance of naval power to a nation's economic and military strength.

A decade later, as Roosevelt's presidency was drawing to a close, he dispatched four squadrons of four battleships each (and their escorts) from the Hampton Roads, Virginia on a 43,000-mile, 14-month journey that would circumnavigate the globe. This fleet, "The Great White Fleet", began its journey exactly 100 years ago -- and would demonstrate to the world America's global reach and blue-water navy capability.

Tensions with Japan were rising due to Japan's incredibly lopsided victory over Russia's Baltic Fleet in the Battle of Tsushima two years prior -- and their growing sphere of influence in the western Pacific. This led many (including Harpers magazine) to believe that the outgoing president was launching a war against Japan.

       The Great White fleet and the subsequent actions that we did leading up to World War I.  We as Americans didn't have colonial holdings in China or in Africa.  We were in the Philippines and Hawaii and some of the other Islands like Wake and Guam.
     In World War I we as a nation basically saved the Allies who was drained from  3 years of killing a generation of their people in Europe on the trench warfare in France.  We got there the same time the other half of the Imperial German Army arrived from the eastern front after Russia sued for peace when the bolsheviks with Lenin and Trostky basically swept into power after the Czar abdicated in 1917( he and the entire royal family were executed later on)  Following WWI and the runup to WWII we were respected in the world.  WWII cemented that.  We were known for being individuals, rugged with faith in our country and our way of life.  We were the beacon for the world, " this is what you could do if you had a system for the rule of law in place, and it applies equally to all.  Also we as Americans believed that we could do anything, because we are Americans and we believed in ourselves, we were special in the world and we knew it.  
       This changed during Vietnam and the subsequent years during the carter malaise and for a time the poison in our soul receded during the Ronald Reagen years, he believed in the exceptionalism of the American spirit, he made us proud to be Americans again.  Then the Gulf war happened, we were saviors of a country that was brutally invaded by Iraq.  I was part of that, it felt like a crusade to save Kuwait.  Then we elected Bill Clinton( remember the elections have consequences thingie I like to quote)  He weaken us on foreign policy because that wasn't his interest.  Then we had W, he did a lot of things wrong, but the invasion of Iraq and removal of the taliban from Afganistan was proper.  Now we have a president that believe that we are no different than everybody else, that and the several generations of entitlement spending and policies have sapped the American spirit, when you have people that are willing to go on the dole with no shame because they look for the government to take care of them.   50 years ago, the idea of welfare would have been considered shameful.   Now it is used as an opportunity to get free stuff from the government.  Free stuff??  That free stuff is paid for by other Americans who still believe in work and taking care of themselves.
     I went on a tangent when I started this posting.  the point that I am trying to make is that We as Americans are no longer feared, local thugs take us prisoners and we do nothing.  We have illegals crossing the border and we do nothing.  We have pirates capture Americans, because they have no fear.  The United States Navy was built to fight the barbary pirates, the shore of tripoli mentioned in the marine corp song.  We went over there and kicked their butts.  Now what we do, apologize and try to bribe them.   What happened to the chutspah that made us Americans?   Have we been neutered?    I commented that the 19th century was PAX Britainia, the 20th century was PAX Americana.  What does the 21st century going to be?  PAX China?     I hate to think that the greatness of America is behind me, and my son will inherit a country that is weaker and viewed with contempt by the world for our weakness.

  An educated citizenry is the best defence against government tyranny

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