Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Politics for Adults: A World Without America







This is the fourth of 18DoughtyStreet.com's weekly adverts. At a time of rampant anti-Americanism this ad - produced with BritainAndAmerica.com - aims to remind the world of the great economic, technological and political benefits that the US has brought to the world. Click HERE for the page on 18DS.

UPDATE: The viriol against America displayed by some people in the Comments section of this post demonstrate why this Advert needed to be made. There is a disturbing level of anti-americanism in this country at the moment and someone needs to put the case for the defence. Whatever its faults, America is a beacon of freedom and has saved democracy three in the last century - twice from German tyranny and once from the Soviet jackboot. Some of the comments in this thread are from people who ought to know better.

93 comments:

verity said...

That is the most powerful ad you have ever produced and I advise you to send it to Fox News where it will get exposure in the US.

David Anthony said...

I'm so glad I recently found your site. I was beginning to think I was alone.

Matt Frei, Chief American correspondent of the BBC, is the most politically biased reporter that I can think of. His coverage of Hurricane Katrina was a disgrace.

..And again, only last week, Barack Obama's decision to run for President made the top story on the Ten o'clock news. I wonder why that was?

Any news on Romney, McCain or Guiliani? ...No? Thought not.

Anonymous said...

Iain the only problem with America is it has bad management just as this country has ,I just can't see what your trying to prove ,you either love America or hate it I know if left to the UK I would not have had my first transistor radio.

Iain Dale said...

Verity, I am pleased to tell you that Fox News showed it on their 6pm news programme throughout the US this evening.

Benedict White said...

Iain, A couple of comments if I may. Firstly, most countries and civilisations have contributed to the world.

Yes the Americans have contributed advances, we would rather not be without, but then so have we and the French. (And many others)

Churchill recognised the Soviet threat first, for example.

Israel would not have existed but for the Nazi's. nor would it have continued to exist without the French. Whilst there is no doubt that it does continue to do what it does with a great deal of American money, I think the add is very shallow in this issue and on others.

Where America does score highly is its economic ability, combined with the political will to put it behind causes. When led by the right president America is a mighty force for good. However GWB is only just coming to terms with the very bad advice he has received on Iraq. I do hope no Rumsfeld is gone they get it right!

wrinkled weasel said...

Someone with a lot of money and resources is quite mad.

Utter twaddle.

America has spent the latter half of the last century and the beginning of this one engaging in immoral and illegal wars. Everything it touches turns into a monster: capitalism, cheap food, communications,trade and commerce, international relations, democracy - the list is comprehensive and endless.

Yes, we certainly have America to thank for that. America has had two tests of its moral fibre and its will in the present centry: the first was 9/11, when in retaliation, it picked out a country with no links to the bombers and has been the cause of 100s of thousands of deaths.

And then it had the floods in New Orleans, when the most powerful nation on earth couldn't put a proper rescue operation into place because the victims were not white enough or rich enough.

And the special relationship somehow does not extend to sharing the truth about freindly fire incidents.

They can f*ck off.

Why you associate yourself with this shite I don't know.

verity said...

Iain - ZOWWIEE! You go! I love it! I am proud of you, you achiever, you!

Could you tell us where it is on the site? (This isn't ironic.)

verity said...

Iain, could you give us a link, please? (I went to the site but couldn't find it.) I want to send it to my American friends and business contacts.

Iain Dale said...

Verity - here it is http://www.18doughtystreet.com/campaigns_hq/4

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Is there a problem with the 18DS site tonight, Iain?

It took several minutes to resolve the address and has taken over five just to throw up the first few frames of the video...

jailhouselawyer said...

Yes, what an advance into Iraq. And now America has its missiles trained on Iran. More folly. And we still have not had any satisfactory reason for George Bush declaring war on Iraq. And, so far, Tony Blair has yet to justify his decision to follow him. What is the point of America without the rest of the world?

Anonymous said...

Iain,

I don't share Wrinkled Weasel's world-view, but I agree with him that the ad is a childish piece of silliness. It's close to an episode of the office, in that one can think 'is this what it appears to be on the surface, or is it a brilliant parody of a simplistic, right wing nutter's view of America?'

If people want to help the cause of anti left-wing/liberal lunatic politics, the first requirement is rational analysis, not strident, slightly desperate cheerleading... Leave that to the opposition -it's their way of life, after all.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

Rather shallow don't you think. I don't think anyone is asking for a world without America, rather they would like the world's only super power to adopt a slightly more coherent foreign policy. Is that too much to ask?

Voyager said...

Matthias Frei born in Essen was educated at Westminster I believe....wonder which bank his father worked for ?

The USA has been very lucky - two world wars to break Europe and a huge influx of educated refugees from Europe to build its dominance.

In 1900 Great Britain had a world at its feet to throw away....and it did

Sabretache said...

The reality-bending power of propaganda eh iain? - and Fox New will lap it up.

'A world with more danger, more disease, more poverty'? Really? I VERY much doubt it.

When the world has come to see things our way (this way) - or been forced to - by a country that spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined and deploys it throughout the world, then it may have 'less danger'. Until that time there can be few rational people who seriously believe that the world right now is not far more dangerous than it has ever been - and likely to become more so. But never mind, when fearful and mistrusted Western populations - under constant and ever-increasing state surveillance - can be persuaded that a particular 'danger' has become too great, the US caavalry will fix it. The really fundamental thing is that globalisation and Western imposed norms must be made to prevail at any cost - in particular access to what is left of the world's endowment of oil and other resources vital to the continuation of our 'non-negotiable way of life'.

Your faith and loyalty to America is touching but simplistic and more than a little misplaced - but hey, that's the way propaganda works isn't it?

achilles said...

Denim jeans are from France......

The liberation of the Falklands was achieved by the British military....

Perhaps you should name all the countries the US has bombed since WWII?

Roger Thornhill said...

Very good indeed. Of course many other cultures contribute, but that misses the point. France would not be "France" as we know it now, for example. The World is a bit of a job lot - you cannot pick and choose that easily. It is often about the "least worst" option.

Anonymous said...

This ad is one big logical fallacy. What's the target audience? It seems to me that Doughty attack ads are aimed at the people who support the cause anyway. I don't think you'll convince many sceptics with this as, certainly none with an IQ in the three figures. (On a totally unrelated note, I see verity liked it).

Mark said...

Iain, one of the less admirable aspects of the US is the polarity of the politics. Issues are treated as black and white, no room for shades of grey, nuance, subtlety.

Shame your ad suffers from this.

The ad may win plaudits from the US (Verity's wave of emotion says it all), but the over simplification is a clear reminder of why the US is not always a force for good.

grumpyoldbookworm said...

This looks as if it was made by Ricky Gervais as a comedy! We don't need to become GW's poodle because Stalin was a bad guy. Shouldn't you be looking to the future not the past? The US looks an amoral mess at the moment. How many allies in total have their troops killed in IRAQ? Why won't they attnd the inquests? I'd be more comfortable allied with a nation that valued humanity enough to bury its dead, unlike the US after hurricane Katrina. Good blog though

partywhip said...

Iain that is ridiculous disgusting crap. Worst thing I have seen all year on every level. Utter shite.

Raedwald said...

Sorry, I found this utterly fatuous. Disneyesque at its most anthropomorphic. Pro-Americanism is every bit as meaningless as anti-Americanism.

The twentieth century was without doubt the American century, just as the nineteenth was the British century. But let's not make the mistake, as Fukuyama did, of equating the zenith of American influence with the end of historical change.

The ending of the Cold War, and America's leading part in it, just drew one era to an end and opened a new chapter. Let's not be blind to the possibility that America's strength may be just as much of a paper tiger as the Soviet bloc was. As Niall Ferguson has so ably pointed out, the US economy is in critical condition, the country has no taste for Empire or even for being the world's policeman. It has military forces numbering 1.3m but can barely put 300,000 of them into the field. It has breathtaking advanced technology, but New Orleans still lies in ruins. Any US financial collapse would be a global catastrophe, and Chinese investment is keeping the whole thing afloat. The old definition of a superpower - a nation that can fight simultaneous conventional wars with any two other nations - has ceased to apply.

Better and more productive I would have thought to examine America's role in this century. As America's power and influence wane (as they will surely do) we need to look at the implications for the United Kingdom, and be hard nosed about the advantages and disadvantages of both our military and economic relationship with the US.

dearieme said...

No America => no French Revolution, and therefore no Napoleon, no Marx, no Lenin; and therefore no Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot... Silly games.

America- on the one hand, a marvellously hospitable, generous people: on the other hand, lunatics who think 10-year-olds mustn't have library books that use the word "scrotum". America- a wonderful performance in WWII, in spite of being governed by one of their nastiest Presidents. America- whose intellectual class practically all despised their best post-war President, Ronnie. And so on.

Anonymous said...

Tony Blair would be proud of you. Viva La Special Relationship. If this ad is representative of Conservative policy it should scare a lot of people sh*t-less and lose you a shed-load of votes and deservedly so.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it would be a world without McDonald's, KFC and bloody Starbucks and that is good enough for me.

And who do you think invented bloody penicillin ??? And invented the car ?

And invented the television ??

"Fox 'Fair and Balanced' [sic] News showed it on their 6pm news..' why doesn't that surprise me...

leon said...

Wow, that was like something out of Orwells 1984!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

[verity] "That is the most powerful ad you have ever produced.."

Talk about being 'damned with faint praise'...

wrinkled weasel said...

The front pages may be chuffing about an early withdrawal from Iraq by British Troops, but no one seems to be covering this story:

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/BFB5B039-647A-4DBD-BC9E-9EC7750FCD5C.htm

concerning the ongoing trial of the gang rape and murder of a young family by American Troops.

Of course, by rights they should have been extradited for trial in Iraq..it is after all a democracy now and since we extradite terror suspects to the USA, another democracy, fair's fair I would have thought.

Anonymous said...

Painfully bad.

I kind of agree with the message, but this ad makes me doubt it.

kris said...

I think I may share Verity's nationality of birth- and I found it pretty lame.

It's a half-assed re-hash of Gordon Sinclair's quite excellent, The Americans.

Who's funding all this?

Desperate Dan said...

I'm appalled. 18 Doughty Street's reputation was building nicely and now its been trashed. If this is your idea for ensuring that you'll get invited onto US chat shows while you're in Washington it means your morals have to be called into question.

verity said...

Achilles - Denim jeans are from California. The fabric they are made from was de Nîmes. It was sturdy fabric and didn't shrink and the gold miners started having trousers made of it so they could wade into rivers to panhandle for gold, and to walk through scrub and brush. Without the Americans, no one would have noticed the fabric.

Mark - you say,in American politics, there is :"no room for shades of grey, nuance, subtlety." This is a very naive statement and obviously comes from an outsider.

Grumpy Old Bookworm - "We" are not George Bush's poodle. Blair is because he wants to be best friends (never going to happen) with one of the most powerful families in the US. He was looking to his and fat Cher's future earnings. Don't think George Bush isn't aware of this.

Anonymous 10:33 - Ha ha ha ha!

Raedwald - Do you want to know why New Orleans still lies in ruins, despite all the federal aid pumped into it? Because the welfare recipients who populate the place can't get off their lard asses. It's so hopeless that Mayor Nagins, moved his family to Dallas and spends a lot of time there in Texas with them. Most of what is left in central NO, the part that was damaged FRINGE of the hurricane (Katrina actually struck down in Mississippi [R]) which has long been back on its feet, is in the center of the city, populated almost entirely by welfare dependents.

You lot are pathetic, clinging on to past glories. The envy and malice is pathetic. The US is the most powerful country in the world and the richest and, in the main, has used its immense wealth for good. If one school library banned a book for 10-year olds, that doesn't mean that all the 10,000-plus other school libraries also banned it. The US has local responsibility. If we elected our police chiefs and fire chiefs, and our schools were run by locally elected schoolboards, as in the US, Britain would not have sunk into the squalor and anomie it finds itself in today.

All you sneering people, go and live in the US for a couple of years - if you have the qualifications to get a Green Card - and see if you would write the same malicious, envy-filled posts then.

verity said...

kris - I am British.

Anonymous said...

Because you have censored my post suggesting people read 'Globalisation and its discontents' by Joe Stiglitz, let us try something a little easier.

Why don't you surf onto the 'Top Gear' site on the BBC and look at the film they took in New Orleans, 1 year after Hurricane Katrina.

They can spend squillions bombing Iraq back to the stone age, nick all their oil money to 'rebuild it' ,[yeah, right] but they can't do a damn thing to rebuild New Orleans.

This is tosh of the first degree.

Anonymous said...

verity - your nationality may be 'British' but you have absolutely zero 'Britishness'.

verity said...

Anonimo 2:33 - Britain has always been an internationalist country. That's how we built our glorious Empire. But sadly, there are people like you who have never had much experience overseas. The opinions of provincials such as yourself are of no consequence to me or the world at large.

Anonimo 2:30 - Could you try to clamber out of that well of ignorance and at least get your head over the top? Do you have the faintest idea how much federal aid has been sent New Orleans? (It's a rhetorical questions. Of course you don't know.) And what have they done with it? Nada. Even the mayor spends most of his time in Dallas these days. Welfare dependency and gross corruption.

Hang onto your hat. New Orleans has had US$200bn pumped into it. Yes, just about the amount the Americans have spent on reconstructing Iraq. And what have they done with it? Zero.

It does make your malicious post look rather silly, don't you think?

Adam said...

I shall watch this later on.

My thoughts before watching it are that it's pretty hard to say what the world would be like without America because it's not just like you can excise one country from history and assume that nothing would have filled its place. Personally, I am glad America exists and I think that it's been good for the world, overall, particularly for the UK. I wish that the arguments for and against the benefit of America's role in history were often less emotional, jingoistic and/or ideologically driven, but then, I feel that way about any debate.

I think that some (not all) of the people that feel anti-American sentiment are associating the Leadership of America with its people, this despite the fact that the last few presidential elections have seen the winner at best just beating 50% of the people that voted (so significantly less than 50% of Americans). Of course, where 40% of the vote can producing a convincing victory in UK politics, and where many people wouldn't care to be seen in light of Tony Blair, people ought really to be rather more penetrating in their analysis of what Americans are like.

That's not to say that others don't have a fact-grounded axe to grind with America and its foreign policy; I'm just talking about those who assume that Americans must agree with what America's doing because otherwise they'd stop it.

peteblogging said...

Verity

Why don't you live in America?

verity said...

Anonymous 2:30 - you write, regarding the mess NO is in: "... but they can't do a damn thing to rebuild New Orleans."

You seem to be ignorant of the structure of the United States. From your comments, I deduce that you think the President is the boss of every state and that state governors report to him.

Put very, very simply - the President is the head of a body called The United States of America. He is the chief executive of the Federal government. Got that?

State governors are the chief executives of the individual states. The governors do not report to the President of the US. What a hoot!

President Bush can not tell Governor Blanco how to spend the funds that have been sent to Louisiana.

And to all the misinformed people who sneered that President Bush had not even sent the military in - he could not, in effect, invade Louisiana. Three times, he called Blanco begging her to send a request for the military, who he had on standby. She dithered for three days while people died and buildings collapsed.

President Bush was very aware of the horror of New Orleans. He had the ordered the military, and supplies, on standby. The minute Blanco finally sent her request, they started up the engines and were on the streets of NO something like 12 hours later, under the command of the outstanding General Honoré.

Margaret on the Guillotine said...

Sorry to say it, Iain, but as I think the comments here recognise - it isn't black and white, "America good, Stalin (WT*?) bad", as the "all or nothing, us or them" Thatcher-like tradition teaches.

If we on the centre-right are to effectively campaign against Labourites and against anti-Americanism, it can't be by trying to outdo the loony sections of the left in blind unthinking dogmatism, it'll be by seeing the world as it really is, accepting the shades of grey, and by using relevant and rational arguments.

machiavelli said...

A world without America? Would that be one that's not being destroyed by a human race choking to death the planet on climate-changing greenhouse gases?

I was going to write some quip about McDonalds, but I came over all serious for once...

f0ul said...

I must agree with a number of posters on here that this is a real piece of simplistic crap!

I thought 18 Doughty St was meant to be politics for Adults?

verity said...

Adam, thanks for a rational, informed post.

Machiavelli - Nevermind the imaginary greenhouse gases, how is it you haven't choked on your own hot air by now?

Pete Blogging - Why don't you stick to settling the affairs of the planet, with special reference to the United States, and keep your nose out of other commentators' private lives?

partywhip said...

Verity - I think I speak for most of us when I say
"cock off"

verity said...

F0ul - most commercials are simplistic in some ways. They only have a short time to hammer in a message. If you're looking for a Platoesque debate, you should look elsewhere than a TV commercial.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sabretache said...

Anonymous 10:33

'America is the richest country in the world'

Depends how you define 'richest'. In GDP per capita terms it is 8th behind Luxembourg, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark and Qatar - in that order.

It is also the biggest debtor nation in the world by a very wide margin - with the UK and other European states not far behind in per capita terms.

The US also has the largest prison population per capita of any nation on earth and spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined - I wonder why?

As for using its power and wealth for the good of the world; - for the good of its view of the world (in large part shared by other Western governments) agreed. But any suggestion that such use is motivated by anything other than self-interest coupled with a determination that anyone who effectively opposes that world view had better watch their backs big-time, is pretty naive.

Yak40 said...

wrinkled wesael and others

"And then it had the floods in New Orleans, "

Well, this is off topic but it needs saying.

Jeez, I'm so fed up with the press constantly harping on New Orleans. It shows wilfull ignorance of the US system of government in order to paint a negative picture (isn't that a surprise).

This is a FEDERAL system. The failures in the first few days of flooding were the fault of the STATE and city governments (primarily the latter) following decades of corruption where levee building funds were concerned.

If rebuilding funds are seen as slow it's mostly because the STATE can't get its sh*t together and award the contracts.

Contrast Mississippi next door, quietly rebuilding a devasted area the size of England by working together and having a competent governor.

verity said...

Party Whip (whoaahh! Such an aspirational handle!): "Verity - I think I speak for most of us when I say ..."

Who elected you? I would agree that you probably speak for the vicious,malicious, spiteful left.

Sabretache: "The US also has the largest prison population per capita of any nation on earth". What's not to love? You think leaving criminals free to rob, rape and murder,as you do in Britain, is more civilised?

Then you go on to make this knowing remark: "But any suggestion that such use is motivated by anything other than self-interest." I should bloody think not! The US government is there to serve the interests of the Americans, who employ it.

verity said...

Yak 40 - I already explained all of that some way up this thread.

It won't make a blind bit of difference. They want to hate American because "they couldn't even rebuild NO". President Bush sat in the air-conditioned White House and didn't c-a-a-a-r-e for all the poor BLACK people! Halliburton! Bush is prejudiced against black people, which is why he appointed Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to two of the most powerful positions in the world. It's not fair to confuse America-haters with facts.

They cannot accept that it was one of their own, lefty Blanco, who dithered around for three days refusing Federal aid.

I have friends in Mississippi and Federal help was on the streets the morning after Katrina, because the governor had asked for it a day in advance. Du-uh.

verity said...

PLUS - while we are harping, yet again, on New Orleans, let us not forget why the levees crumbled so easily - given that Katrina didn't even hit down in New Orleans; it was only the fringe wind and rain that hit. Cheap materials and bad workmanship shared out among Governor Blanco's pals in the construction industry.

Realpolitik said...

Lend Lease and the Marshall Plan. Lest we forget.

I think the problem is that since the fall of the Soviet Union the USA is the sole superpower so there is no balancing power, and this makes people feel threatened. But then there's always China and India...

oop norf said...

About New Orleans - everyone saying that Bush couldn't have fixed the problems because they're State matters is completely missing the point. The 'antis' aren't criticising Bush exclusively, they're criticising the US.

Whether the failures in NO were Bush's fault or not is beside the point - America, as a whole, failed to deal properly with the situation. Saying "But it's not Bush's fault." doesn't change that.

Raedwald said...

Iain, your update is clearly deeply felt but I do think this must be less about an emotional response and more about hard-edged reality.

The party's interim Security Policy paper says "The drubbing that key relationships have taken over Iraq has served the interests only of our (collective) enemies. And anti-Americanism, which polls show has risen especially markedly in the UK, is a self inflicted wound. But it is also a reflection of the discomfort felt in this country with recent policy outcomes."

In other words, the answer lies not in demanding the reciprocation of some sort of tenuous moral obligation to the US for past deeds, but to seek policy outcomes that win public support and dry-up the current levels of anti-Americanism. The first option won't work.

Yak40 said...

oop north

You are partially correct but the fact remains the press leapt on Katrina and had no qualms about spreading falsehoods and the worst rumours. Would they have done that if there was a Dem president at the time ? Maybe, but I'll bet not so gleefully.

It would be most interesting to see how the UK would deal with an equivalent disaster as there are apparently many experts there.

verity said...

Dear God, I am batting my head against a wall. But never mind. I'm a game girl. I'll give it another go.

Oop Nawf,after having dismissed structure and the Constitution of the United States in one sentence, writes: "Whether the failures in NO were Bush's fault or not is beside the point - America, as a whole, failed to deal properly with the situation. Saying "But it's not Bush's fault." doesn't change that."

OK. Very, very simply - The United States did not fail. The people who failed were Governor Blanco for her three day dithering, and Mayor Nagins for his three or four day dither. Blanco should have done as the governor of Mississippi rightly did - asked for aid in advance when he knew the hurricane was going to hit down in Mississippi. That aid was forthcoming immediately. There was no failure at all.

Again - the hurricane didn't even touch down in Louisiana. Hurricanes are noted for suddenly veering. If you have ever been in the path of a hurricane, you will know that they sometimes suddenly change direction and all the forecast touch-down place gets is heavy winds and rains.

But Blanco and Nagins thought Katrina was going to touch down in New Orleans, and they did nothing. Blanco refused to ask for federal aid - too busy figuring out which of her pals would get what. Nagins, who had 600 school buses at his disposal, gassed up and ready to go, failed to evacuate the stragglers, who then had to be put up in the Superdome. They both dithered inexcusably.

All New Orleans suffered was a severe tropical storm - and the levees still crumbled! And the city still flooded.

There was no failure of the American system, Oop Nawf. Sorry to take that away from you. The failure was of two human beings. The American system works.

Sabretache said...

Verity: "You think leaving criminals free to rob, rape and murder,as you do in Britain, is more civilized?"

No I don't. But neither do I think that locking up and executing innocent people is very civilized either. And it's a pretty safe bet that the US tops the league table in that department too. You should take a look at 'The innocent Project'. It documents literally thousands of cases where the US 'civilised' system has been forced to admit - under extreme protest and legal obstruction - to having done just that.

"Then you go on to make this knowing remark: "But any suggestion that such use is motivated by anything other than self-interest." I should bloody think not! The US government is there to serve the interests of the Americans, who employ it."

Exactly so. My point was that, to an unacceptably great extent, those interests are pursued at the expense of those who do not share the US government view of how the world ought to be. And that any effective show of such dissent deemed to threaten that world view risks the sort of fate that over 650,000 Iraqis have suffered as a direct result of US military intervention.

verity said...

I find the level of malice on this thread quite disturbing. And all of it based on childish assumptions that Britain is the template for the US government, and gleeful, hectoring spite based on ill-educated assumption. The

Founding Fathers of the United States intentionally did not follow the British system.

American democracy is the strongest in the world, because it has so many checks and balances. No one holds absolute power in the US, as the prime minister does in Britain. We have seen how easily democracy can be slipped out from under the feet of the British. Such could not happen in the United States.

Anonymous said...

Ref your update Ian; some of the posters here would be well advised to go to Madingley Cemetery near Cambridge & spend an hour or so reading the inscriptions

verity said...

Sabretache - America has the highest prison population in the world because America has the courage of its convictions and doesn't allow itself to be brow beaten by communists (or socialists, if you would like a more polite term) such as yourself.

The average American who is found guilty and is sentenced to death (that is, in the states that have the death penalty; not all do, and I know the autonomy of the states is difficult for some British lefties to grasp) will get eight to 10 years of taxpayer-funded legal help to fight his case through the Court of Appeals. When all appeals have failed, and most do, he will be executed in states that have the death penalty, or banged up for life - that means until he's dead - in other places.

I'm sorry for posting so often on this thread, but I seem to be the only Brit here (other than Iain) who knows anything about the American system and I want to defend it.

Anonymous said...

Careful there Verity: most of the people 'in here' are not coming across as particularly 'anti-American' - they are, to a greater or lesser degree, pointing out that America is not the deus ex machina that ads like that claim it to be.

For example, speaking as an ex member of the British Army, with a few shiny bits of tin on my chest, the idea of 'special rendition' - ie, it's ok to steal foreigners away from within their country without asking because you want to - is no different to the gunboat diplomacy that the UK gave up about a century ago, or, if you want to be a little more contentious, it is a scary reminder of the Nazis 'nacht und nebel' concept (although they did at least stick to making their own nationals disappear into the 'night and fog'). The US has so much to offer the world, but it would benefit from a little less cowboy 'bomb 'em back to the stone age', and a little more 'explaining what we are trying to achieve in our foreign policy'.

I happen to believe that a lot of the hatred/criticism of the US is about jealousy and envy of an apparently untouchable hyperpower - but it would not hurt them to be a little less arrogant when perceived opponents ask questions.

Anonymous said...

"Denim jeans are from California. The fabric they are made from was de Nîmes. ... Without the Americans, no one would have noticed the fabric."

Actually jeans were first produced in genoa as workwear for sailors.

Denim is ,as you note, from De Nimes.
Jeans is from the french for Genoa, Genes.

"You think leaving criminals free to rob, rape and murder,as you do in Britain, is more civilised?"

Given you are far more likely to be raped or murdered in the US than you're in the UK then clearly locking up more people per capita than anyone else in the world isn't really working.

verity said...

Anonimo - 8:46. I didn't know that about Genoa! When the Californians began using this really quite uncomfortable, but sturdy, fabric, I believe the jeans weren't sown, but had metal studs punched into them. Is this correct? And I believe the first fellow to actually market jeans was a Mr Levi.

Sabretache said...

"to be brow beaten by communists (or socialists, if you would like a more polite term) such as yourself."

You clearly know nothing about me. For your information I spent 8 years on the Conservative candidates list here in the UK in the 70's/80's. I lived for 5 year in Durham N.Carolina (That's in the USA in case you're wondering) and probably know at least as much - if not a damn sight more than you appear to about its systems of government. I also spent 10 years in both the Royal and Merchant Navies and have thus visited more countries of this world than you probably realise exist. I have been self-employed and/or run my own businesses for the past 30 years. The only thing, apart from my immediate family and community that I have a real passion for has been made illegal by this apology of a government of ours. So please, don't lecture me about the meaning of socialism or communism; and do try to be just a little less bombastic and unpleasant in your posting - it is a very masculine failing

Adam said...

I am also British, Verity, and am very much a supporter of the US. I wouldn't be defending the US prison system across the board, however. It's highly variable and in some places clearly falls far short of the standards of decency that Americans and other civilised peoples hold dear, even for convicted felons. Additionally, a reason that they have such a high prison population is in part because of the 'War on Drugs', which results in, for example, pot smokers serving potentially quite long prison sentences at the public expense, which has nevertheless had relatively little impact on the number of people believed to be smoking pot. The US also has a murder rate 4-5 times that in the UK.

I love America, but it has its shortcomings and I think that many Americans, from both sides, would agree that the criminal justice is often one of them (particularly in the cities of America).

Yak40 said...

anon 8:44pm
N&N applied to all in occupied territory. There's an incredible ebook that details a British teenager's experience of it. It's both horrific and very moving.
Synopsis here.

Book here remembering while you read it that he only turned 18 as the war ended.

houndtang said...

Truly embarrassing. Why do people who call themselves patriots insist on crawling up America's asshole at every opportunity?

verity said...

It wasn't Mr Bush who took Britain into Iraq. It was Tony Blair, and Blair took us in on a lie and a part of a Californian PhD thesis Alastair Campbell downloaded off the internet.

But did not lie to Americans. Blair lied to the British. He wanted to be "a war leader".

"The US has so much to offer the world, but it would benefit from a little less cowboy 'bomb 'em back to the stone age'" It would be so nice to read a thread in which the US features and not to see a mention of the word "cowboy".

Anonymous 8:44 - Most people on this thread come across as spiteful, jealous America-haters.

That we are in Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with the level of terrorism being experienced round the world - much of it in countries that are not part of the Coalition of The Willing. This current round of jihad has been going on for 30 years.

wrinkled weasel said...

re: update, no it doesn't. Just because we "don't get it" does not mean that toe-curling propaganda is going to change my mind.

I think we are going to have to disagree.

America is a nation in crisis and decay. It does not know who or what it is and it has an inferiority complex. It uses all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order. For the USA, "democracy" and "freedom" is relative. In American, it means "people who agree with us" and "freedom to do it our way"

We laugh at moribund and super-corrupt Russia, but in terms of conquest and control, as a superpower it has gone determinedly backwards for the last 25 years. Democracy, warts and all, is thriving in former Eastern European countries. It is not easy, but it is a freedom that would have been unthinkable 40 years ago - and it is genuine. Russia doesn't like it, but they are not invading countries in order to "set them free"

America is anti-democratic because it tries to influence bad regimes by providing arms to rebels, and then invades countries when those rebels get all independent and difficult.

If any of you can put yourself in the mindset of Iran at this time..they have seen what the Americans have done to a neighbouring country and they want to defend themselves. Why is that bad, or surprising, and why does America have a divine right to interfere? Why?

More to the point, what is the United Kingdom doing in being a party to an Imperialist Superpower?

verity said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adam said...

WrinkledWeasel, 'crisis and decay' is n't right. Sure, you could apply it to parts of the rustbelt (particularly parts of Michigan) but overall, the US is vibrant and adapting, despite the whinings of the isolationist crowd.

verity said...

wrinkled weasel - "America is a nation in crisis and decay. It does not know who or what it is and it has an inferiority complex."

Don't you wish!

Lady Finchley said...

Wrinkled Weasel and the rest of the rabid anti Americans -
If it wasn't for the Americans you'd all be speaking German. And spare me how they came into the war late - at least they came in and saved your puny asses. Oh yes, and the Marshall Plan. Remeber that? Unfortunately it has irked people like you ever since. Grow up. No country is perfect and by all means make your views known but stop all the frothing at the mouth, rabid rhetoric. Not clever and not funny.

No doubt all the abuse will start to fly (ho-hum)by the inarticulate
fringe who just cannot enter into civilised debate not to mention the ones (you know who you are) who go ballistic when it is a woman who expresses strong opinions.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever its faults, America is a beacon of freedom and has saved democracy three in the last century - twice from German tyranny and once from the Soviet jackboot."

Iain - that's a schoolboy analysis.

a) America certainly did not 'save democracy' in 1918 (which is, I presume, one of your two 'German tyranny' moments.) Without seeking to denigrate their efforts, they arrived after the European nations had bled one-another to a virtual standstill. If a single cause were to be suggested, the Royal Naval blockade, and resultant conditions on the German home front, is a fair candidate - but in reality, there were a host of factors involved in Germany's defeat - and America was a relatively minor one.

b) World War 2: Ironically, the thing that really defeated Germany this time was the Red Army. Look at the numbers of Germans killed on the Eastern front if you don't believe this. America was undoubtedly the major factor in the final defeat of Germany in the West, but even this point has an unpleasant resonance with America's actions today: they ruthlessly and cynically bankrupted Britain as part of a calculated intent to finish imperialism: I think it was last year that we finally paid off our debts to them?

c). The Cold War: probably your least 'fith form' point - if this were all you'd mentioned, the point would have stood. Again, however, it's worth pointing out that while it was ok for the US to stick missiles in Turkey, as soon as the USSR tried an equivalent in Cuba, the Americans unilaterally took us all nearer to being nuked than ever before or since: another clear example of self-interest and inability (or refusal) to accept that others might have a valid point of view.

Please don't let your political leanings - which I share - allow you to make statements which simply give ammunition to your critics.

wrinkled weasel said...

What else can I say? Denial isn't a river in Egypt?

It's your biggest problem, Americans and American sympathisers - a steadfast refusal to repent of your sins.

Does it not trouble you that Americans are raping, murdering and abusing Iraqis in the name of freedom?

Do you lose sleep because, not content with killing hundreds of thousands of its own, the tobacco industry has set its sights on the developing world?

Are you ashamed that you are the last developed English speaking country that still executes people?

Are you concerned that seven million illegal aliens are being alternately exploited or abused or bringing in drugs and diseases, or that half of the 16 year olds (LA Times) in California cannot read and write, sufficient to read a bus timetable or pass a driving test?

Do you worry that, since there are 120 million obese people in the USA, the War on Terror may be jeopardised because they cannot recruit healthy, thin, fit people as cannon fodder?

I'll stop now. I give the USA about 30 more years before it reaches sub-soviet conditions.

As Francis Urquahart said, "Nothing is forever"

Lady Finchley said...

Well Wrinked Weasel, give me one country that all that isn't happening in. The amount of obese, illiterate people in the UK doesn't bear thinking about and as far as smoking - there is a choice you know. So much easier to blame it on the Americans.

As far as Iraq, I think you are mistaking American soldiers for that nice guy Saddam Husein. Of course every American soldier is a rapist and torturer (not). If you weren't so ill-informed you'd be funny.

wrinkled weasel said...

Lady Finchley (how can you use her name thus?)

Ill informed? I think not. I take the trouble to research the facts and figures, from more than one source before I make assertions.

I do this because I think it is important to tell the truth and to engage in debate honestly.

If you feel any assertion I have made is incorrect, please tell me what it is and be prepared to back it up with facts and your sources, and not just something you have seen on Fox News or a Pat Roberts broadcast.

I had no sympathy with Saddam Hussein, but was perfectly happy to let the UN deal with it. You see, I can hold that view because I understand that he was evil, though I also know that the American presence in Iraq was predicated on lies and the illegal desire for regime change. I am also aware that there is an anti-Israel bias in the British Media, and am angry about it, so I am not quite as stereotypical as you imply.

Of course, in the old days I would have been branded a dirty commie. You people have a history of this kind of name calling for dissenters, going back to Senator McCarthy, and frankly, I can put up with it. As far as I am concerned there is no point in engaging in further debate if the best you can do is to hurl cock-eyed abuse.

partywhip said...

Verity

Why is America the only country in the UN not to be signed up to the UN Convention on the rights of the Child?

Why is it the only 'democracy' to continually flout the UN Convention on Torture?

Why is it the country that can get away with using rendition?

Why is it the country that opened Guantanamo?

And as another sane individual pointed out, why is it the last 'democracy' to hold executions?

America is great for TV shows and thats about it.

Get with it love.

Adam said...

Lady Finchley, that 'you'd all be speaking German' nonsense is utter crap. As soon as the words leave your mouth (or, in this case, your fingers) you go from being someone that can make a point against the anti-Americans to someone who'd rather believe something they heard on talk radio than think it out.

If there is a 'without America, you'd all be speaking ...' argument to be made, the language in question would be Russian.

I personally think that anti-Americanism and anti-American stereotypes are extremely harmful. That case is easier to make when people on the same side don't spout that sort of hackneyed drivel.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of you are missing the point (perhaps deliberately so) in your criticisms about the ad being "simplistic" or "cartoonish" or whatever.

It's not intended to counter reasoned discourse or legitimate arguments about the failings of the US government. Nobody is saying that America -- or any other country, for that matter -- is beyond reproach, or doesn't make its fair share of mistakes.

I think what the ad is intended to do is speak out (and hopefully make people think) about the rising tide of hatred for America. It was rational to hate, say, Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany. But it's not rational to hate the United States of America, because the good done by the America far outweighs the bad.

verity said...

Wrinkled Weasel writes: "What else can I say? Denial isn't a river in Egypt?" What an original saying! Have you copyrighted it?

"Does it not trouble you that Americans are raping, murdering and abusing Iraqis in the name of freedom?"

No, because the very tiny minority who are behaving thusly are doing it in the name of self-gratification, not freedom. That is such a Sixth Form common room debating technique.

"Are you ashamed that you are the last developed English speaking country that still executes people?" First, you don't seem to be able to grasp that America does not execute any criminals. Please understand this because so many British people cannot get their head round the fact that "America" is a federation. Some STATES have the death penalty. Some STATES do not, according to the will of the electorates in those states. As you hate the United States (the clue is in the name) so much, you might might be more effective if you were more informed.

To address what I presume your question meant, no. I am pro the death penalty if the conviction is supported by DNA.

"are you losing sleep because the tobacco industry has set its sights on the developing world?" Are they holding a gun to their heads and making them smoke? Are you suggesting that people in the developing world can't make an adult judgement? How very patronising.

Seven million illegal aliens? You are so misinformed! There are an estimated 30m illegal aliens in the US. As well as several million legal ones. They don't "bring in drugs and diseases". They come in to work. They've got things so much their own way that they won the right, a few years ago, to have their illegal immigrant children educated in Spanish instead of English. Wow! Those cruel Americans!

"that half of the 16 year olds (LA Times) in California cannot read and write, sufficient to read a bus timetable or pass a driving test?" I didn't know illiteracy in some deprived American areas had sunk to the level of deprived British areas.

'As Francis Urquahart said, "Nothing is forever" ' I'll say one thing for you Wrinkled Weasel; you certainly do love your clichés and your ill-informed, cock-eyed view of a country I am certain you have never visited.

I am just guessing here, but I'll bet you believe in man-caused global warming? You think Al Gore's a prophet in his own time? Did you know he's one of the biggest tobacco farmers in the South?

Jasper said...

Does it not trouble you that Americans are raping, murdering and abusing Iraqis in the name of freedom?

War crimes are always troubling. What's less troubling is the fact that the US code of military justice provides serious punishment for such miscreants, who, after being exposed by America's robustly free media, are typically prosecuted and sent to jail.

Do you lose sleep because, not content with killing hundreds of thousands of its own, the tobacco industry has set its sights on the developing world?

This is just inane. All countries are home to firms that sell products that are potentially harmful. One can just as easily smoke Gitanes or Dunhills as Marlboros. In the US, as in most of the West, things like alcohol and tobacco are legal, because governments rightly regard prohibition as an unworkable policy that causes more harm than good. Oh, and there's also that bit about personal freedom, and not letting government tell you what to do 24/7 because it "knows" what is better for you than you do yourself. I only wish that the avoidance of prohibition toward alcohol and tobacco were applied to other harmful substances.

Are you ashamed that you are the last developed English speaking country that still executes people?

Ashamed. No. I personally find capital punishment in criminal cases to be morally unjustifiable, but only a tiny percentage of convicted murders in the US are executed, and that number is steadily declining as doubts about capital punishment grow. My own suspicion is that the use of the death penalty in the United States will eventually vanish. This seems to be the trend line.

Are you concerned that seven million illegal aliens are being alternately exploited or abused or bringing in drugs and diseases...

First, the number is usually reckoned to be more like 13 million, second, I'd be far more concerned if the USA failed to attract millions of immigrants (both illegal and legal). Apparently the "abuse" they suffer is a good deal better than their old lives in Sichuan or Chiapas.

...or that half of the 16 year olds (LA Times) in California cannot read and write, sufficient to read a bus timetable or pass a driving test?

The very software we're using to engage in this blog thread was invented in that capital of illiteracy -- like so much of what is critical in the information age. California must be doing something right, as it continues to be at the epicenter of technology. I strongly suspect the dubious statistics you cite (er, or don't cite, as the case may be) encompass young people who haven't yet mastered English because their first language is Spanish. So, America's ability to attract millions of immigrants ends up in this case making it appear that illiteracy is widespread, when in reality it's simply home to a lot of people (as it always has been) who haven't yet learnt the language.

Do you worry that, since there are 120 million obese people in the USA, the War on Terror may be jeopardised because they cannot recruit healthy, thin, fit people as cannon fodder?

The US hardly needs or could make use of a military with 120 million members. And as even a casual glance at Olympics medals totals shows, the United States is home to lots of perfectly fit people. Moreover, the medical definition of obesity hardly precludes someone from entering the armed forces, as there is that little something called "boot camp" that is designed to help fatties lose weight (and thinnies to bulk up).

I'll stop now. I give the USA about 30 more years before it reaches sub-soviet conditions.

Well, given that the wealth gap between America and EU continues to expand in America's favor, I give Europe about 15 years.

As Francis Urquahart said, "Nothing is forever."

One rather hopes the PM was referring to dreary, Guardianesque diatribes about the awfulness of the USA.

verity said...

Anonymous 1:32 PM. You make the point very well. There is an irrational rising tide of hatred for America - especially by people whose lives are not touched in any way by America. As you say, it was rational to hate the Soviet Union, and its ilk. Such malice towards a largely benign nation verges on sickness.

These America=haters don't do business with America or in America. They don't live there. They've never visited. They don't have relatives there. But they hold one truth to be self-evident, America is WRONG about everything. Wrinkled Weasel holds the laughable belief that America will only last another 30 years. If he had ever visited outrageously successful, inventive, energetic country he would never come up with such an ill-informed, laughable thought.

Party Whip writes what he imagines to be killer questions: - "Why is America the only country in the UN not to be signed up to the UN Convention on the rights of the Child?

"Why is it the only 'democracy' to continually flout the UN Convention on Torture?"

I am surprised you have to ask. The United States isn't a one-worlder nation. It accepts no authority higher than itself, except God. The UN is a slimeball organisation run by thieves, thugs and dictators. That is why President Bush made John Bolton America's ambassador to the UN. Bolton hates the UN and threw a spanner in every piece of work. The phonies at the UN didn't know how to deal with plain speaking, because everyone is supposed to admire the emperor's clothes. It's all pretend.

Americans didn't vote for anyone in the UN and thus believe, quite rightly, that it has no legitimacy in attempting to order their lives.

"Why is it the country that opened Guantanamo?" Ummmm, because no one else had the will and the intelligence to do so?

And Whip Boy, bear in mind that if America had been so inclined, it could have conquered the world by now. It has no imperialist ambitions- unlike the laughable UN.

That some states in the United States execute murderers is to its credit. I just wish the states that don't have the death penalty would wake up. I certainly wouldn't live in any of them.

Get with the programme, sweets. Or at least get informed.

Lady Finchley said...

Way to go, Verity!

f0ul said...

Quite a turnout here! When I commented on the simplicity of the ad, I meant that the reasoning was simplistic. For instance, without the US, it is unlikely that Saddam would have got into power in the first place. In 1959, Stalin was already dead - or did the Americans arrange his death?
You mention how the US were responsible for removing polio, but without the US, we would have had no book by Rachel Cason condemming DDT and condeming million to death by maleria.
Yes, you could score cheap points all day long, but the main one is, without the US, we would be no worse off - or better off because the slack would have to be taken up elsewhere.

The one good thing the US has done, it to teach people how to do business - and for that they are to be commended. However a silly advert like this isn't going to do anything but confirm everyone's prestated biases - so what is the point?!

malcolm said...

wjnoifVerity, the US uses the UN when it feels it necessary and in the past has been very skilful in its dealings with that body, the cuban missile crisis is a good example.
Under Bush however American diplomacy has been generally inept both with regard to the UN and around the world. It reached a nadir with appointment of John Bolton who is simply the worst advocate for his cause that I've ever seen. He managed to annoy even many of Americas' friends during his tenure.A complete embarassment to his country as many outside the Bush inner circle well knew.

partywhip said...

Verity

""Why is it the country that opened Guantanamo?" Ummmm, because no one else had the will and the intelligence to do so?"

You have truly shown your true colours here, well done. It's funny that you accuse everyone else of malice........I don't hear anyone else advocating torture.

verity said...

Malcolm - of course the US uses the UN when it suits its purpose. All countries do.

John Bolton was great. Of course the left hates him! I loathe the UN and all one-worlder organisations. There is absolutely no point in it except as a retirement home for gangsters and as a cash cow for sleaze bags.

It was set up in a burst of goodwill after WWII. (For some reason, France got rewarded for being a loser.) The world has changed from 60 years ago and the UN needs to go the way of the League of Nations. It, and all its agencies, have contributed nothing and have caused damage in many places. Country-to-country diplomacy and bilateral agreementw work best.

But you are correct about Rachel Carson and "Silent Spring". All these people who want to shut down progress always do immense damage. That includes Paul Erlich and the population explosion, the announcement around 30 years ago that the world only had enough petroleum to last for another 20 years, global cooling and global warming.

Like the UN, they are all devices to control.

Adam said...

The most unfortunate element of the Bush foreign policy for UN skeptics, to my mind, is that he has made the UN more important than it was; by making clear that he thought it wasn't important and then acting largely outside it, the ensuing problems are in part attributed to what happens when even the most powerful country in the world doesn't seek international support sufficiently assiduously.

Had things gones at least somewhat swimmingly, the UN would be forced to reform its more obnoxious aspects or it really would slip into irrelevance. Alas.

My own opinion on the UN is that it is merely, and importantly, a place for the representatives of all nations to meet and discuss important issues. Those on the Left and Right who lament its failings seem to be share a common delusion, that it can do more than it is designed or can sensibly be expected to do.

verity said...

Party Whip - How cleverly you have discerned my "true colours" which have always been nailed to a tall mast with a spotlight trained on them.

You know that they're torturing people in Guantanamo, do you? Got any proof?

You may call chucking a koran down the loo torture, or playing Paula Abdul at 95m megawatts torture, or waterboarding torture. I guess a lot of would depend on your taste in music.

We're are fighting global terrorism, and frankly, the US seems to be the only country that understands this. This is not pretend. I support whatever it takes.

We have to protect advanced Western civilisation and that means we must defeat the zealots who feel driven on a holy mission to destroy it. Mr Bush understands this. Jimmy Carter (under whose administration this current phase of global jihad began) and Bill Clinton did not.

Brendan said...

Gee, I would think that a hurricane leveling a US city would make them objects of sympathy, but instead it's another opportunity for raw hate. Did we hate the countries pounded by the tsunami? No. Go figure.

Graham said...

Good website. I like the various comments with different opinions from people.
Graham.