THE BITTER TASTE OF YOUR OWN MEDICINE

After all the claims that Barack Obama was going to be a new type of American president, after all the optimism throughout the world that he would be more internationalist in his policies than his predecessor, it now appears that for those of us who do not live in the USA it is business as usual. Like John F. Kennedy before him, Obama may appear at first glance to be an American president who seeks partnerships rather than master/slave relationships in his foreign policy, but, also like Kennedy, when push comes to shove, he wants to make sure the US gets its own way throughout the world as fervently as any GOP American patriot.

In the last few weeks, Obama has engineered the downfall of the duly elected Japanese government and the ruination of the political career of the Japanese prime minister because he didn't want an American military base in Japan moved to another location in Japan, which the Japanese people had demanded when they elected the first liberal government for forty years less than a year ago.

Obama has also called for an increase of American influence throughout the world because some of the developing countries are beginning to have influence beyond their own borders and are becoming less reverential of the US and its mighty dollar.

Of course, all this is just politics and what one would expect from any national leader. Putting your own country first is not only natural for such people but also extremely sensible if they wish to be reelected.

The leader of the Episcopal Church in the USA, Katharine Jefferts Schori, has been in the news, and on most US based Anglican blogs, this week for, "at last," standing up to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and telling him, in no uncertain words, to bog out of TEC's business. I hope her letter puts a stop to Williams' meddling in the sovereign provinces of the Anglican Communion. But, I also hope that the irony of this situation is not lost on, at least, Anglican Americans.

The reason why American episcopalians are so annoyed with Williams is that he has consistently acted like an American president. He has claimed the role of head honcho of the whole Anglican Communion in the same way that US presidents have, in the recent past, claimed the role of head honcho of the world. Of course, under existing rules and regs neither actually possess the authority or mandate to legally take on such roles. They have got away with their usurping of power simply because they are the biggest bully in the playground.

It is right for TEC to resist the interference of foreign influence in their democratic policies. But making such a fuss about being victims of some foreign oppressor is a bit rich coming from Americans. It is all rather hypocritical.

So, keep fighting, my American friends. But do so with humility and learn the lesson of your situation. And perhaps your new knowledge of the reality of international politics, whether secular or ecclesiastical, will lead you to demand that your secular government develops a less gung-ho attitude towards the other nations of the world. All TEC is asking for is a bit of respect. But remember, Prime minister Yukio Hatoyama could have done with a bit of respect, from Barack Obama, for his democratically sanctioned office. Those who demand to have their cake and eat it too do sometimes end up choking on it - no matter how big their mouths are.

Comments

THE BITTER TASTE OF YOUR OWN MEDICINE — 110 Comments

  1. I have to admit having no idea what you are referring to here. What did Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton do to Japan? Do you have a link?

    FWIW
    jimB

  2. It’s been all over our news for weeks. Are you saying Fox hasn’t been keeping you all up to date?

    Just Google “Japan” and work backwards.

  3. I have watched Fox exactly once a couple years ago in a cheap motel when my flight connections went to hell in a blizzard. They did not have CNN, and I did not have any other room choices. 😉

    OK, I just looked up the resignation of the prime minister of Japan. BBC reports that he resigned because of splits in his coalition government and financial scandals that included two members of his party being convicted. No mention of Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

    I gather your premise is that somehow his failure to find an alternative to Okinawa that our military liked is somehow (a) the secretary and president’s fault (b) somehow the reason those crooked Japanese pols took the bribes?

    Ummm, errr, ahhh, I think we do a great deal in the world we should not. The pentagon is often responsible for this especially where negotiations between USA and other nations are concerned. That said, I think we often get way too much credit when something good happens and way too much blame when something bad happens.

    My quick scan of the news suggests that if this guy had no scandals he could have survived by the simple expedient (always a hit) of running against the USA policies. We probably deserve that. But in any event the fault is probably not Mr. Obama’s. Mrs. Clinton does run State you know.

    When he was elected, I who voted for someone else, said he will be a one term president. I still think that — if IF someone credible comes forward to run. I am hoping a more populist democrat knocks him off because he someone does not, the republicans by simply nominating anyone but Palin will be instantly credible.

    FWIW
    jimB

  4. And who do you think dug up / engineered the scandals?

    Don’t you watch your own TV series, Jim?

    Seriously, I have been following the left wing American political bloggers on this and there has been a fight going on between the US and Japan ever since the election in 2009. Basically, the new Japanese government wanted to gain more independence from the US in more than just military matters and the Obama administration did not want the “relationship” between the two countries to change at all. this ties in with recent pronouncements from the White House concerning upstart developing nations. One thing for Obama, he is pretty open about his diplomacy – at least, outside of the US, he is.

  5. MP–Is this really all you have to say about +KJS’ response to +Rowan?

    How disappointing.

    (Even if I totally agree with you about Obama….)

  6. Oh, I am sure we are intransigent on Okinawa. I am not a naval strategist but I understand it is pretty important to us and there are not a lot of good alternatives. But much like your government, a lot of policy gets made by un-elected actors. In this case because we are talking generals and admirals.

    I think the arrogance with which our ‘liberal’ politicians look at anyone who has not graduated from either Yale or Harvard is pretty shocking. Mr. Obama is unfortunately in that mode. His attack hound (Rohm Emmanuel) is worse.

    “Ah well this too will pass. I have had kidney stones so I know.” (HT to the Weavers)

    FWIW
    jimB

  7. Yes, Doxy. But only because bloggers, such as Mimi, have already done a perfectly good job on the commentary. Therefore, I am content to glean only what the harvesters have left behind. I am part of a neighbourhood, you know. And I take that fact very seriously.

  8. This is supposed to be a positive post. My point is that TEC’s experience of Williams’ bullying should give them an idea what it is like to be not American in the world today. My hope is that TEC will win its battle with Williams, big time and also, informed by their experience of being bullied, alter, albeit in a small way, the US’s general attitude towards the rest of the world. Small acorns and all that.

  9. So what’s with the anti-Americanism lately?

    I should think we are currently well along the way to joining Britain and Spain in the company of has-been global powers (just ask all the Chinese, Indian, and Arab investors buying up New York real estate).
    The Black guy in the White House seems to recognize that reality (in contrast with his predecessor), even if many of the rest of us still think it’s 1953. We don’t have the money or the military anymore to tell everyone else what to do. Those were squandered somewhere between Saigon and Kabul. And now, everyone from Bibi Netanyahu to Kim Jong Il can do whatever they please, and if we should protest, they can tell us to go fuck ourselves knowing that there’s nothing we can do about it.

  10. This is supposed to be a positive post.

    Hmmmmm….do the British have a different definition of “positive”?

    [Doxy toddles off to look it up in the OED…]

  11. Have I said anything that is actually untrue?

    American liberals can be like mothers who will call for the hanging of paedophiles but if told by the police that their own son has been arrested for molesting children because all the evidence proves that he did it, will argue till the cows come home that he couldn’t possibly be guilty.

  12. Have I said anything that is actually untrue?

    Trust me, the press in my country loves to US bash given the slightest opportunity, but this is the first I have heard about the US being the mastermind behind the downfall of the Japanese prime minister.

  13. On the most basic level, he lost the confidence of the Japanese people when he “caved in” to Obama on the military base thing.

    By the way, how many non-US military bases are there on the US mainland?

  14. Well now, “positive” is not a word I would use to describe that post.

    A few years back, I watched the infamous Newt Gingrich spring his “
    “Contract with America” and I was stunned that so many Americans even bothered to discuss it, let alone agree with it.
    Then I grieved that both churches that I love bought into right wing, literalist/superstitious cult stuff and the reforms of VatII were badly midunderstod and trashed. Membership in both churches hasn’t stopped declining even now…..and many were convinced that reform wouldn’ work, and so we have in the RC church, a vicious conservative backash.
    And then we had the vicious excesses of Geo. W. & Tricky Dick who pandered to big business and left the country with a huge debt, an illegal war, and a twisted sense of America and what America stands for…..and you want to complain about the guy with guts enough to tackle this mess? Probably he should have singled handedly fixed everything by now?

    Pul-eeze, MP, you’re curdling my coffee.

    Nij

  15. Obama is business as usual for those of us inside the U.S., too.

    He has yet to encounter a corporation he didn’t adore, and he has spent his entire time in office systematically alienating the traditional Democratic constituencies that made him who he is: teachers, labor, LGBTs, environmentalists, peace activists, etc.

    I had Obama pegged as a talented bullshit artist from the beginning, so none of this is a surprise to me, but others in the base of the party feel genuinely betrayed.

    They will not be out knocking on doors and running the phone banks in 2012.

    Obama will probably be a one-term president, and I can’t say that the prospect bothers me much, since I now react to him the same way I reacted to Bush when he suddenly appeared on my TV–I swear and quickly change the channel.

  16. None. There are probably not any non-US military bases on any US territory, anywhere in the world. But they have bases on many other nations territory, including the UK.

    They have no bases here, but that is because they took half of our country over 150 years ago. The majority of the patrimony they stole, what is now the Southwestern US, is still US federal property and has many military bases.

  17. If Hatoyama had been popular with his own people, he probably would not have had to resign. No doubt Obama’s giving him the freeze contributed to bring the prime minister down, but to what degree is, at least, debatable.

    Sounds to me like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

    Besides, Brits may be responsible for denying Obama a second term because of BP’s oil gusher, about which you (and the BBC!) said 13 days after the blowout, “At the moment we are being told that, although the conditions at sea are treachorous (8 foot waves), which is making the containment of the slick very difficult, at this moment in time, less chance of the major disaster to wildlife and the environment that was originally expected.” 13 days after the explosion with no end to the gush of oil in sight, you said those words, Jonathan.

    Take courage. What goes around comes around. You folks may get Obama yet.

  18. “Obama will probably be a one-term president, and I can’t say that the prospect bothers me much, since I now react to him the same way I reacted to Bush when he suddenly appeared on my TV–I swear and quickly change the channel.”

    President Sarah Palin

  19. With respect MP, you seem to have overlooked two matters which, from what I have seen and read, have contributed more towards PM Hatoyama’s resignation than any specific intervention by the US.

    The first is PM Hatoyama’s ‘financial irregularities’, such as dead people donating money to his campaign. While this is a time-honoured tradition in the US, the Japanese appear to have a much dimmer view of such matters. To make the issues more egregious, recall that Hatoyama ran on a ‘clear and transparent government’/reform platform.

    The other factor is Hatoyama himself. Reading the far-east papers, it appears that the Futenma situation is emblematic of the Hatoyama government but not unique by any means. Hatoyama promised the moon and couldn’t deliver, has had erratic and mostly inept leadership. Again, that sort of crap may work in the States, but Japan still seems to believe in holding their leaders accountable.

    I am not attempting to absolve the US/Obama administration of all blame, but rather pointing out that the situation is far more complex than the standard media outlets and pundits would like you to believe.

    In answer to your last question, Okinawa isn’t the Japanese mainland…and every nation which has forced the US to an unconditional surrender has military bases on US soil.

  20. Regarding the Presiding Bishop’s excellent letter, I posted the entire text of the letter with only one brief sentence as commentary, because I thought the letter spoke eloquently for itself.

  21. Yes, MP, we know about Obama, who is what Americans used to know as a moderate Republican president, if the Republicans hadn’t shifted to the far, far right and surrendered their politics to the Tea Partiers. I really wanted him to be the raving, left-wing Socialist that the Republicans said he was, but no such luck. My chief consolation, along with a lot of other people who voted for him, is that he and Biden are orders of magnitude less destructive than a McCain-Palin administration would have been.

    Be patient. We’re still blowing all our money on two idiot wars and Wall Street bankers, and will shortly have to give up trying to boss the world around for lack of funds.

  22. I can’t remember England being forced to unconditional surrender. Perhaps I was busy doing something else at the time.

    And Williams isn’t the only factor in TEC’s problems.

    I still think it is ironic that the biggest bully in the democratic world has such a thin skinned population when it comes to being criticised or when somebody tries to push them around.

  23. Heck, I rate Obama very highly. I have been criticised in the past for watching his back when most of my American readers were accusing him of backsliding.

    This post is not an attack on him or even his administration. It’s an attack on the hypocrisy of Americans moaning about the nationals of other countries interfering in their business. As they really cannot take the high ground on this I think they should stick to the logical and righteous nature of their policies concerning inclusiveness.

  24. I didn’t publish her letter because you, and virtually every other blogger in the neighbourhood did. I was asleep when it was posted. When Williams issued his letter, you lot were asleep and I was first to publish it.

    For goodness sake, woman. If I ever accidentally post something you have already posted you leave comments all over my blog crowing about how you had published it first. When I deliberately don’t post something because I have seen it’s already on your popular blog, you still attack me.

    I should get paid a lot of money for putting up with you lot!

  25. Jonathan, post on whatever subject you like that I’ve already covered. I don’t care.

    I ripped apart Rowan’s letter days after everyone had their say. So what? No one is forced to read what I write.

  26. Anyway, I don’t rate your presiding bishop. I had a personal run in with her sticking up for someone who had been badly treated by another bishop, and the level of her arrogance makes Tom Wright look like Saint Francis. As far as I’m concerned she is hard nosed, cold and calculating and I don’t see why you are all praising her so highly for eventually doing something she should have done four years ago.

  27. “This post is not an attack on him or even his administration. It’s an attack on the hypocrisy of Americans moaning about the nationals of other countries interfering in their business.”

    Seems to me that I see plenty of non-Americans “moaning about the nationals of” the US “interfering in their business” when it happens. So why should we not also moan when others interfere in our business? OTOH, I’d expect the same reaction to our whining as we give others – “Oh, just get over it!” Which, I think, is what MP is doing here.

  28. Seems to me that I see plenty of non-Americans “moaning about the nationals of” the US “interfering in their business” when it happens. So why should we not also moan when others interfere in our business?

    Sometimes I despair.

  29. I don’t see why you are all praising her so highly for eventually doing something she should have done four years ago.

    Is this where I get to note that I said as much at Mimi’s?

    Would have said it here, but you didn’t give me the opportunity. 😉

  30. Would have said it here, but you didn’t give me the opportunity.

    And I bet my bottom pound sterling that Mimi wouldn’t have gone on and on at you about how you had already commented on her blog. That’s because Mimi is both a racist and sexist pig.

  31. No. What is rich is that I have to put up with Mimi and many others being spiteful about the English most of the time and when I dare to call you to account for being chauvinistic and hypocritical, you all throw a wobbler.

    In England we are hot on the insisting that if you can’t take it you shouldn’t dish it out. This is not something that is in the American psyche. You attack and when someone fights back you act all hurt. And Mimi is the number one champion at it.

  32. MP, you appear to be so grouchy today that every one is on your fecal roster! When I got like that I would bang my pots and pans around and slam cabinet doors in the kitchen. One day I heard one of my kids say to a friend: “Watch out for my Mom when u hear her banging pots and slamming cupboard doors.”
    I suspect that u are trying to get things going hereabouts – bored?
    Grin & Bear it, Mimi!

    Nij

  33. The thing is that almost all of us agree with you about the American government. We don’t think we should be interfering in other nation’s business either (except maybe to stick up for human rights).

    Just who are you trying to “stick”?

    And really…making Mimi your “whipping boy” all the time is getting old. Especially since she spends so much time praying for you…

  34. Don’t patronise me, Nij. Tghis is a serious post about a serious problem everybody in the world who is not American faces all the while.

    If you don’t believe me, compare your trade sanctions and import levies compared to everybody else’s. If you don’t believe me check out which country will dig a well in an African village and then insist the vallagers pay for the water so that they are educated about capitalism. If you don’t believe check out why African farmers are going out of business because American aid to their countries is dependant on them accepting cheap American imports that undercut their home market.

    You think that the world exists just for you. Even when you are being so called charitable, there has to be something in it for you. You can’t give something away without insisting on provisos (usually of some barmy religious nature).

    And I tell you what really gets up my nose about American imperialism. You sell us your, admittedly brilliant, TV series, and then when we are really getting into them, you cancel them mid-story because everything in America has to be the biggest selling or it gets ditched! You cancelled 11th Hour because it was getting slightly less than 50% of the viewers. You cancelled Earl before he had finished his mission. You don’t even bother to do one last show that rounds everything up. Have you got the slightest idea how infuriating that is for ordinary people.

    And then, after all that arrogance, you go on a martyrdom overload when someone behaves arrogantly towards you.

    Woody Allen is your Shakespeare.

  35. Every time Mimi gets in a bad mood or her family winds her up, she takes it out on me. But she does it by email and tells me I can’t publish them. And every time I fight back she threatens to take her football home. I do neither of those two things – ever.

  36. I have disapproved of American “exceptionalism” and bullying since I lived abroad in 1967. My influence on the US government remains limited, however. I vote, I write letters to my congresscritters and to the White House, I sign petitions, I rant on my little blog, I share information. Still, most of what is done internationally in our name disgusts or appalls me. If I try to call our government to account I have no problem with others doing the same. We – and I have to say “we” because it IS done in my name whether I approve or not – are bullies in the world. That is hardly news. I wish it were otherwise but it is not.

    I have little influence in TEC either but I am glad the PB politely and formally told +Cantuar to stuff it.

    I have trouble getting excited when you tell us Yanks to stuff it. Although I do not know enough to opine on the situation in Japan, for the most part I just say touche.

    We all seem grumpy today. May we enjoy some Sabbath rest.

  37. You sell us your, admittedly brilliant, TV series, and then when we are really getting into them, you cancel them mid-story because everything in America has to be the biggest selling or it gets ditched!

    Ain’t that the truth!

    Terminator:The Sarah Conner Chronicles
    FlashForward
    Ugly Betty
    Cold Case
    NUMB3RS
    Three Rivers
    Trauma
    Heroes
    Raising the bar
    Saving Grace
    The Unit
    Without a Trace

    And many times the show has already been cancelled before they even start showing it to us here in Latin America. I go on the internet now to see if a series has already been cancelled and if it has I do not watch it because I do not want to be disappointed later.

  38. Hello, the “ordinary people” in this country are also infuriated by the U.S. television industry and the way they jerk us around with what they put on the air, take off, or move around on the schedule to kill the ratings, like some Black Queen in a game of Three Card Monty, as an excuse to get rid of any intelligent program that the audience likes but the adolescent Hollywood executives are too stupid to understand. That is one of the reasons that following an initial six weeks period of withdrawal, I have not had a television set in this house hooked up to the airwaves, cable or a satellite dish since 1997. It does not seem to have appreciably diminished my quality of life. If something really big or “must see” comes up, I can get myself to the Student Center/Parish Hall to see it or go over to a friend’s house. In the meantime, I am not bothered by the everyday junk-mail delivered to my living room and calling itself entertainment.

  39. I wonder if I should do this, because I’m really fond of you all.

    As a one time graduate student in the HUSFR (History of U S Foreign Relations), I am perfectly comfortable with everything in MP’s post, if not the follow up comments. The U S is and always has been a key part of European Imperialism, however much popular mythology and groveling politicians declare otherwise. I also have personal experience with U S Imperialism, as most of you are aware. I am thus continually amazed that anyone finds a fearful and angry response to U S policy surprising. I thus find MP’s point about learning a lesson to the point, though it makes many uncomfortable.

    As to the specifics, The U S bases on Okinawa have been key to the projection of U S power along the Pacific Rim since 1945. They have been a sore point with the Japanese people for almost that long and an ongoing source of local friction that sometimes escalates into international tension.

    I noted this week the U S media–the Newshour, I think, or perhaps BBC–directly linked Hatoyama’s sharp drop in popularity and resignation to the failure to get the U S to take giving up Okinawa seriously. I had not known Hatoyama had made this a key and popular part of his program, only that the Liberal -Democrats (the conservative party in Japan) had finally been ousted.

    Given the range and magnitude of the issues the U S must address–from two wars, Health care, the economy, and the Great Enviromental Disaster, (you may insert any you feel I missed here) and the reluctance of any U S politician to say anything meaningful about any of them, it can’t be surprising that most of us are surprised that the Okinawa bases could be a BFD to others.

    I therefore commend Jonathan for his attempt to use this as a teaching moment, though I must also recognize that he’s been a very naughty boy in his follow-up remarks, very rude indeed, and, somewhat worse, dull about it. Still, I understand his annoyance and know that I am sometimes overcome by my own.

    You’d think I’ve stirred enough Shit on FB today; would you believe I came here to avoid it!

  40. At some point not too far off, some of the bullying and interference will have to come to an end, because the US is functionally bankrupt – at least we would be if we didn’t own a printing press….. The Pentagon will soon learn that the gravy train is over; there simply is not enough money to continue the grand ride the military and the defense contractors have had for the past half century. We will be forced to pull back much, if not most, of our foreign military forces. Maybe everyone would be better off if they had to protect their own interests with their own money. Maybe there might be a miracle and peace might break out. Our military work miracles for venal politicians who aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit and those same scum balls in Congress then take away half of their retirement by deducting it from Social Security payments. You do NOT cheat people you send out to die for the country. A plague on all their houses….. I’m Strangelove and I’m highly cheesed. What American politics has become is a corrupt travesty of whatever ideals may have existed 250 years ago. Enough.

  41. We are just as shitty to our soldiers. The compensation if they are wounded in action is an insult, made worse by the fact they have to beg for it.

    And, of course, most of the time they are fighting somebody else’s war, or for somebody else’s ideology, nowadays.

  42. Hello, the “ordinary people” in this country are also infuriated by the U.S. television industry and the way they jerk us around with what they put on the air, take off, or move around

    Now we’re talkin’!

    Gilligan’s Island…admittedly they wrapped it up in the last episode but that ended way too soon. So did Dobie Gillis. The Addams Family had years more in it.

  43. The Japanese are not currently equipped to face off China on their own. Nor do they want to invest a large percentage of their GDP in building a military. In the past they have wanted to have US military support, “just in case”.

    The Japanese have 3 basic choices:
    1. rely on U.S. defense
    2. assume the costs and do it themselves
    3. go bare

    I don’t know if there is consensus for any of the three choices. I don’t know the current legal status of Japan developing a full military (whether it would involve a constitutional amendment). I suspect that China would make a big deal of a heavily militarized Japan, given the history of occupation and atrocities (Nanjing massacre, medical experiments on prisoners, rape camps, etc), and might prefer the US.

    The realistic short term approach would be to restrict most soldiers to the base, and give out passes sparingly. Another short term measure would be to invite the locals to define their red light district (presumably close to base), and then the US military would build a fence (chainlink, picket, whatever the Japanese town officials fancy) around it, with checkpoints at the junction of red light and normal areas staffed by MPs whose job would be to prevent non-Japanese servicemen from leaving the red light area, and have MP patrols hauling the obnoxious servicemen back to base.

  44. This will no doubt get me sacked here but what the hell…

    Where did we learn our imperialistic lessons? At the knee of Mother England of course. An empire that made a fine art of high handedness and chauvinism. To be honest I don’t think we’ve quite matched up just yet.

    Do we meddle? Yes. So has every other super power. So spare me the underlying concept here that this is an “American disease”. I don’t offer this as any excuse for what we’ve done and do. I’m just pointing out that this constant harping of the “evil American” is old, thin and without much merit.

    The reality is this – there’s going to be more mutual meddling rather than less. The world is getting smaller and the old model simply won’t hold. And everyone’s going to whine about it. It’s asinine and childish but there it is.

    I love the American exceptionalism that sneaks in here too. We think pretty highly of ourselves – that’s bad. We don’t manage to pull off perfection every time (like healthcare, or DODT or whatever) and we get hammered. We got a start, far beyond anything that was achieved before. But somehow we should have done more, better.

    Twaddle.

    Over the last century when Europe has stuck its collective genitalia in the fire you’ve screamed for America to come help (despite the fact that in the ’30’s we were perfectly content to keep our nose out of it. Wonder how that might have worked out?) We helped to rebuild the world and yes tried making it over in our own image. Hardly surprising (and again not an “American disease” look at England and India).

    Barak Obama was the best candidate available for the Presidency. His first two years have been uneven as most are. I have some serious disappointments with him but I’m also pleased with some of what’s gotten done.

    On the military bases I’ll make the world a deal. We’ll pull out of every single one of them. Bring all the troops home as quickly as possible. And the world needs to take care of it’s own damn problems from now on. Without the ability to react in small force from scattered bases you’ll have to accept that when threatened or attacked we will have no choice but to react with overwhelming long range power. But hey you won’t have us poking around in your backyard (and supporting your economies any more)

    You’ve got to make a middle aged liberal pretty damn mad to get him to this point.

    You all have a nice night. The odor in the neighborhood is a bit much for me tonight.

  45. I wouldn’t congratulate yourselves on helping us out during WWII. All anti-American feeling in Europe can be traced back to your miserable isolationism that allowed so many millions to die.

  46. “A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They’re loud and ostentatious. Perhaps they’re frightened and defensive, or maybe they’re not properly trained and make mistakes out of ignorance.”

    From The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. I read this novel when I was in my teens and it was powerfully and painfully illuminating.

    Recommdended to all U.S. citizens who have difficulty understanding why people in the rest of the world get good and fed up with us.

  47. There’s speedy meddling where meddling is not wanted and there is slowness to respond when the need for help is obvious. For those with much, much will be expected.

    Francis Wheen in “How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World…” says (p 176) “Our visiting Martian might note with some puzzlement, a certain capriciousness in the official (US) demonology.” (Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq etc)..”… great states have no permanent friends or principles, merely permanent interests. They maintain that this deadly cynicism – which they prefer to regard as worldly wise realism – can be justified practically and morally.”

    Sure the US is expected, like a big brother, to come to the aid of any of us being beaten up in the world’s playground. That’s just a fact of life now that the world is one big family. The question is what sort of big brother are they?

    (Mind you, we don’t do so well with Asylum Seekers so I suppose I should shut up.)

  48. I just love listening to MP whine about the U.S. Coming from someone who lives in the dregs of the former British Empire that collapsed on itself in the last century and would have ended up one of Hitler’s colonies if we hadn’t intervened…

    Given the centuries of British arrogance on the world stage until the sun set…

    It just makes me chuckle.

    This overly simplistic comparison between international relations and the dying Anglican “communion” is just silly.

    To suggest that Episcopalians are being hypocritical because they don’t appreciate ABC acting like a Pope…honestly MP.

    Your anxiety over the job interviews must really be bothering you if you feel the need to bait your largest constituency.

  49. As a U.S. American, who is frequently ashamed to be one, especially when I travel, I don’t like the appearance of minimizing +Our Katharine’s response to the imperialist ABC. I wish it could have been allowed to stand on its own.

    At the same time, to my fellow U.S. Americans I have to say I was never more ashamed to be a U.S. American than on the occasion of our response to September 11, 2001. I thought at that time, “At last, the U.S. has joined the rest of the world. We will realize what others have to live under day after day. We will have some empathy” But no, we responded with, “How dare they do that to US, the great and mighty Oz!” And good patriots who tried to tell the government that we are no better than anyone else got pilloried. The one congresswoman, my hero, who voted against the Bush’s war effort got pilloried as anti-American and unpatriotic. I was so oppressed by the sudden proliferation of American flags everywhere, when until then the flag was barely visible.

    I’m proud to have voted for Pres. Obama. I am ashamed of the obvious racism that surrounds some of the U.S. American criticism of him.

    But I am proud, proud do you hear me MP, to be an Episcopalian in TEC this week, because +Our Katharine has told the emperor he has no clothes.

  50. Oohh, Mark, that got a huge laugh from me. Fighting words for a Brit on a soapbox.

    But after reading through this entire thread, I get MPs point.

    America ignores the world when its presence is desired but not yet received. America’s presence is welcomed as long as it suits some nation’s purposes. And finally, they want to throw America away like trash after it has satisfied their needs.

    And most importantly, it’s all our fault because we were born here.

    Bad, bad America and Americans.

  51. “My word, Georgie, you are a puzzle.”

    “In what way may I ask?”

    “Why that’s a new way to win a woman, to go out of your way to make an enemy of her father by insulting his business. By Jove! a new way to win a woman!”

    You only hurt the ones you love … because no one else would stand for it.

  52. “All anti-American feeling in Europe can be traced back to your miserable isolationism that allowed so many millions to die.”

    My point exactly. We’re damned if we do (mind our own business) and damned if we don’t (mind our own business).

    Our isolationism grew out of the arrogant reception we got following the war. The second war grows out of Europe’s boneheaded insistence on punitive war reparations and Chamberlain’s craven leadership. So no we were in no great hurry to stick our hand into the European grinder again. In the end we made the right decision. Then we helped to rebuild Europe. And what has it gotten us? More anti-Americanism.

    And yes, the economies of a great many countries with US military bases would take a sharp blow if all those jobs and free spending Yanks suddenly buggered off.

    Ellie – I’m fully aware and agree that we can be our own worst enemies at times. But we need to recognize that our culture is diverse where most nation’s are much more homogeneous. We react to this by being overly cautious to the point of insularity. Why not? History shows that the rest of the world doesn’t want us to be “American” because we’re too different. We’re supposed to apologize for being the culture that grows out of our unusual circumstance. A country that can occupy most of a continent, resource rich and open to expansion. We think and act big. It’s our national character. It comes with shortcomings. But so does everyone else’s.

  53. I would not have mentioned it if the reaction to Williams’ letter had been to just say why he was wrong. But all through this long unpleasantness, whenever a non-American attacks TEC the main response has not been a philosophical one but rather complete outrage that a foreigner has had the gall to poke his nose into American business.

    I just pointed out the irony and the majority response from my American readers was very interesting. Criticising the US government elicits the same reaction as criticising Islam or Israeli policy. Us Brits are snobs about how wonderful our countries are but if a foreigner criticises the actions of our governments we would join in.

  54. Quite the opposite, Mike. My point is that the US interferes in the rest of the world all the while in areas that suits its self-interest. But when somebody tries to interfere in US policy, such as the Japanese prime minister trying to get a military base moved (or like Rowan Williams telling TEC what to do), then Americans start crying foul.

    It’s ironic. That’s all.

  55. “…whenever a non-American attacks TEC the main response has not been a philosophical one but rather complete outrage that a foreigner has had the gall to poke his nose into American business.”

    Your reaction is philosophical ?!!

  56. We may all have the Chinese for big brothers soon enough. They continue to expand and spread their influence and we continue to implode.

  57. You only hurt the ones you love …

    If that were true there wouldn’t be many posts at OCICBW… Where I differ is that I am prepared to lose readers rather than not say something I want to say. In fact, I never think about possible reactions.

    But, you’re right in one respect, Doug. I do assume I can have a stand up, raging row with my friends, about politics, religion and stuff, without people storming off never to speak to me again. It’s not like I’m dissing their family or ought.

  58. Texas Mike said: “America’s presence is welcomed as long as it suits some nation’s purposes. And finally, they want to throw America away like trash after it has satisfied their needs.”

    Yup, that’s us – the big Kleenex of the world.

    Oh yeah, everyone wants our aid money and/or our military power to help them out of a jam. And we’re always happy to oblige. One thing I think a lot of people have forgotten on this thread is how generous America can be.

    But, as soon as we’re not needed any more, we’re tossed aside and bashed.

    Yet, if we had not done the things that needed doing, in order to BE the military power and financial power that we eventually came to be, who the hell else would the rest of the world turn to for assistance?

    So yeah, people had better suck up to us. We’re not dethroned completely YET.

    And I ain’t apologizing for it. Everyone loves to hate us, so we need to stay on top.

    That’s a little fierce American clannishness coming from me. And dominance, yes. I like dominance. It’s GOOD. There are benefits that come from being dominant.

    I don’t know – that whole “law of the jungle” thing seems a lot more honest and easier to navigate, than nuanced “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” politics.

    Is that better, Jonathan? At least if someone is going to be dominant, be honest about it? 😉

    Oh….I knew Obama was a centrist. It’s why my own real candidate of choice was the really lefty Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

  59. We’re damned if we do (mind our own business) and damned if we don’t (mind our own business).

    You’re not interfering if you’re asked to get involved – and we begged you.

  60. I would assume, Tracie, that with your philosophy, if someone attacked the US then you would either attack back or surrender. You wouldn’t whinge about it because you would realise it’s what the US does all the time in other countries. So, yes, you are being more honest.

  61. Late to this. Sorry, but, one thing caught my eye: the US saving Europe, etc. in WWII. Oh yeah, what was that other country that fought the Nazis? And lost so many millions of its citizens? And stopped them in Stalingrad? And took Berlin?

  62. If someone attacked the US, I’m not inclined to turn the other cheek, no. Kick the shit out of them. It was Joe’s job for three years – and remember, he helped protect the entire free world by being stationed less than 30 kilometers outside the Czech border during the Cold War. It was my grandfather’s and grandmother’s job during WWII (yes, my Nan wore combat boots.) It would have been my dad’s job had he been able to enlist with the USMC. It was the job of my friends Sean and Steve and Earl and Josh and Mike I. and Danielle and Mike T. and Mike S. and three of my uncles.

    We don’t pay our military to just sit around looking hot in their uniforms. We have a US Constitution that is well worth defending against all enemies, foreign AND domestic (as states the oath that all military personnel take upon enlisting).

    So yeah, it just makes sense to me – we have something worth defending, so defend. We have interests worth protecting – so protect. Any nation worth the real estate it is planted on would think the same thing.

    And yeah, we DID learn about dominance from that empire which could once say the sun never set upon. Just because it happened about 150 years ago doesn’t make it any more right than American dominance in current years. The only difference is the year that shows on the calendar.

  63. Oh yeah, PD is right – we turned England into the world’s largest aircraft carrier and saved your English butts from having to speak German to this day.

  64. Actually, no. You learnt nothing from us. In fact, you probably learnt more from the Spanish as you were massacring the natives, like they did before you, at least contemporary with our land grab, if not slightly before. Basically, Trace, like everybody else, you were naturals and saying you were led astray is garbage. And you did genocide much better than we ever could.

  65. You helped, Trace. But it was mostly the Russians with a lot of help from the weather. And, I think we repaid you by showing you how to make those bombs that finished your scrap with the Japanese (who, I believe, we also helped you fight). And you made the most money out of the War, including all that interest on the loan you made us afterwards. And, because of the War you became the dominant world power you are today.

    You have a lot to thank the Germans for. We lost an empire because of them.

  66. Okay, Doug. But just remember that it was David Bowie and Sir Alec Guiness that beat the Japanese single handed. Your lot were little more than spectators.

  67. oh and one more thought: America has a lot of debt. But our debt is still at a manageable level compared to our GDP. Our resources and population and productivity put us in a better place to continue to lead the world. We came back from the depression. We came back from the extended economic crises in the late 19th century. We came back from secession and a southern rebellion. Right or wrong, it will be our game for a little while longer.

    Do we call the shots in the world now? To a degree, yes. We do it poorly. But we are learning. If we can defeat our tea party nativists we will become much better. We can be slow to act but once we get going it is in our nature to make things happen in our favor. Real politics can be ugly.

    Our job as Americans is to remind our government to take some thought for the other people of the world. But I would place serious money on the bet that for the next 100 to 200 years we will still be the dominant power.

  68. “something she should have done four years ago.”

    Four years ago on this date, 5 June 2006, she was still Bishop of Nevada so did not have the office of PB to issue such a letter. She was elected on Sunday 18 June 2006. Minor detail, no?

    Just FYI.

    +++

    wv: menti, past participle of the French, mentir, to lie.

  69. Did Marky Mark and his funky bunch of personalities push you over the edge?

    People who engage in politics & religion at the same time, travel a pot hole filled road littered with broken glass!!

  70. Oh, I’m sorry…did I shatter some of them? Didn’t mean to. I’m almost Republican in my old-school style patriotism.

  71. I agree with Dennis about Japan, though I doubt the Kim dynasty in North Korea will allow them to ditch the American alliance anytime soon.
    I can’t say I agree about China. It seems to me that the last thing the current dynasty wants is a rerun of the early 20th century with the chaos of the regional warlords being played by colonial powers. I think they will do anything and everything to avoid that. I think their exchange of ruthless communism for ruthless capitalism is part of that. Their primary objective is to stay in power, and keep China united. I would imagine that they’ve concluded that becoming a global, and even a dominant, economic and military power is a great way to accomplish that end.

    I also agree that Mexico and Brazil are rising powers, and they will be risen in less than a century.

    I still think the USA is a waning global power; a global power still, but a declining one, and that nations are positioning themselves to fill the power vacuum. I think our almost complete incapacity to influence the Arab-Israeli conflict is a sure sign of that decline.

    A serious tea-party regime would be a major disaster for the USA and for the world. Not only would we pull out of every major treaty organization, we would be much more militarily aggressive, starting inconclusive wars that will drain our resources and stretch our military to the breaking point everywhere (not to mention causing enormous grief and suffering around the world).

  72. Oh dear, am I hearing violin music playing in the background? You are SUCH a drama queen, MP, probably why I like you despite your irascible behavior…

    Better get all of this out of your system now so you can be on your best behavior for your job interviews. Trust me, they won’t want to know that you like to swat at hornet’s nests…just for fun.

  73. “It’s Tommy this, and Tommy that, and chuck him out, the brute; but savior of his country when the guns begin to shoot.” Kipling was right…..

  74. For me, it’s gotten to be like dealing with my brother:

    Open, expansive and very much “kindly-lord-of-the-manor” when you feel fine, but when you are down or worried, you beat on those you love, then pretend that wasn’t what you were doing.

    One relationship of that sort has already nearly killed me.

  75. Mark. In my post I stated that the US interferes in the politics of other countries. I didn’t even condemn it, I said it was just politics.

    The reaction of most of my American readers was interesting to say the least. Unfortunately, it was also very frightening and disappointing.

  76. Okay, Tracie. Tell me where in my original post, I condemned anything.

    In particular, I draw your attention to this paragraph:

    “Of course, all this is just politics and what one would expect from any national leader. Putting your own country first is not only natural for such people but also extremely sensible if they wish to be reelected.”

    I think this is exactly what you said in one of your comments.

  77. Well, first of all, just understand that your definition of “condemnation” might be very different from my own.

    So…that said…

    I say that bringing it up at all is enough to set off warning bells, at least in my mind. It’s like this: “ok, get ready for some America-bashing here…” and it’s not like this kind of thing comes up for PRAISE, do you see what I mean?

    Then, this part of the post:

    “The reason why American episcopalians are so annoyed with Williams is that he has consistently acted like an American president. He has claimed the role of head honcho of the whole Anglican Communion in the same way that US presidents have, in the recent past, claimed the role of head honcho of the world. Of course, under existing rules and regs neither actually possess the authority or mandate to legally take on such roles. They have got away with their usurping of power simply because they are the biggest bully in the playground.

    It is right for TEC to resist the interference of foreign influence in their democratic policies. But making such a fuss about being victims of some foreign oppressor is a bit rich coming from Americans. It is all rather hypocritical.”

    …really does seem condemning to me. You see, it might as well to have read something like “oh you bloody hypocritical Americans, whining about ol’ Rowan! Look at yourselves! You’re no different from him! Pot, meet kettle! You are so black!”

    See?

  78. No. None of that is condemnation. Not by anybody’s definition of the word. But even if it was a condemnation of Obama, so what? I condemn my own prime minister if he gets on my nerves. It seems to me that some Americans are thin skinned to the point of being paranoid. Why the biggest kid in the playground should have such an inferiority complex I cannot imagine.

    But, yes, I was stating very clearly that Americans moaning about people from other countries interfering in their local business is hypocritical because the US administration is always interfering in the business of other countries. If you are not aware of America’s interference in the rest of the world than that is because your media over there censors the news (or so I am told by a source who has experience of the media of many countries, including the US).

    But, at no point in my post did I condemn US interference, did I? And saying that your definition of “condemn” is different to the one found in the dictionary, just so you can claim offence where there was none, is just disingenuous.

    Heck, Tracie, if I got at anybody it was TEC. And you’re not an Anglican.

  79. You never listen do you?

    You pissed on our parade. One of our leaders FINALLY told +Rowan to get stuffed and you couldn’t let us be happy about it for even 5 minutes. You had to give the biggest bunch of hardcore leftists on the Internet a lecture about the United States’ bad-boy ways—as if most of us haven’t been screaming about (and organizing against) that for…well, forever.

    Your timing sucked, Jonathan. The way you bait and bite people who side with you on both secular and church politics sucks.

    You can keep making out that it’s all about how myopic and hypocritical the “Statesonians” are if you like–but this was about your unerring ability to turn a rainbow into a shit-storm. Nothing more.

    You keep complaining about how the number of comments here has plummeted (this thread notwithstanding). Haven’t you figured out why? It’s NOT because we’ve all buggered off to Facebook–or even because we can’t be critical of our own culture/government/church/whatever. It’s because people get tired of getting savaged every time you get in a bad mood.

    (Which is what MarkBrunson said, and much more succinctly than I have.)

  80. Doxy, I say to you what I said to Tracie. Show me where in the post I condemn or attack Obama or Schori. All I did was to state that I hoped members of TEC, complaining about interference in their local business, would see the irony. And let’s face it, every time Williams, Wright et al poke their noses into your business the American part of our neighbourhood squeal like piggies.

    It is the fact that you people claim to be left wing that disappoints me most about your unwarranted, unthought-through, knee-jerk reaction. I had believed that to be true. But, it appears that, when your country is criticised for stuff most other countries’ would criticise themselves for, you are as jingoistic as the reddest necked end time militia member holed up in the backwoods in case the NWO gets him.

  81. You can comment as much as you like about other people’s business, Tracie. I do. What you can’t do is act personally offended by remarks not addressed to you. I did make it very plain that I was speaking to members of TEC and nobody else in my post.

    I can hardly accuse you of hypocrisy, or Jim for that matter, as you two have always been honest about your politics.

  82. Also, Doxy, you have not contextualised. If you have the ability to remember stuff from one day to another, you will know that I have, for over 4 years, waged a one person campaign to try and stop TEC members being isolationist and passive aggressive. You will know that I have constantly called on TEC to fight a positive campaign based on proclaiming throughout the world the righteousness of their inclusive cause, rather than a negative, legalistic campaign based on how offended they are over this and that and how horrible everybody else is behaving.

    This post was my reminder to TEC to stay focused on the goal rather than being distracted by opportunities for martyrdom and patriotic rantings.

  83. This post was my reminder to TEC to stay focused on the goal rather than being distracted by opportunities for martyrdom and patriotic rantings.

    Which would have been just fine…IF you had waited for Kearon’s message about kicking TEC off the Anglican Island. That would have been the appropriate time to reiterate your point.

    Again, you pissed on the parade. Simple as that.

    For someone who is as embarrassed by +Rowan as you are, I have a hard time understanding why you don’t get this. If he were to suddenly stand up and “do the right thing,” wouldn’t you take a few moments to feel happy about it?

    That’s what we were doing–after B033 and “standing in a crucified place” and all the other crap we have put up with since 2006, we were rejoicing at a clear statement from our PB. But you had to turn it into a diatribe about U.S. imperialism.

    Wev.

  84. Doxy. You are projecting. This post was about a specific thing. The tendency of American commentators in our neighbourhood to carp on about interference, which is downright hypocritical.

    You obviously wanted me to write about how wonderful Schori’s letter was. But, it is not wonderful for me, if TEC takes an isolationist route.

  85. Of course, this entire situation between TEC and Rowan reminds me of a really big case of “Irish stand-down”…and it’s just a matter of who is going to be left standing in the end.

  86. Just for the record: Joe has followed most of this thread and he is totally in agreement with your original post, MP. And he also agrees that if TEC goes isolationist, it won’t be good on your side of the pond.

    But he thinks it’s not likely that Rowan will totally just kick TEC to the curb, because Rowan doesn’t want to go down in history as the ABC upon whose watch the Communion went bankrupt. He thinks the American dollar still has that much clout, at least for now.

    Here’s my question, though: at some point in this entire process, didn’t Rowan send a letter to our own Bishop Howe, reminding him that he’s a bishop and people need to look to their local bishops for resolution on all this fun-n-games re: gay bishops and flying bishops, etc? What happened to that idea, anyway?

    Just checking on that. I thought I read that somewhere…long ago…

  87. You may be right about Williams and the American dollar. But my worry is that TEC will just walk away from the Communion before being thrown out. If they are to do that I would like it to be done for positive reasons and not because of offence taken, and with a clear plan in place for getting their message out into the remaining communion. Otherwise we are fucked, and the African gays are dead.