Sunday, March 05, 2006

Conservatives across Atlantic – Get off America’s Free Ride

Ever since Britain under Churchill persuaded Yankees during the World War II to throw away the Isolationism and take part in the war as an ally of Britain in the European Theater, every now and then history minded polemical debater in Britain tend to ‘call’ Yankees in their war struggles. Well, at least that is the theory and British intellectuals would like to believe that ‘persuasion’ as the high point of Churchill. Actually, historical correctness matters much less and there is no harm in letting our British friends enjoy some flights of fantasy. All that historical engagement of Yankees turned out to be phenomenally successful is the sweetener (should we say at the cost of Soviet Union’s war causalities?).

It is a human tendency to keep on doing again and again the same thing if it proved successful once. That is what our Conservative friends across the Atlantic undertake periodically. It is hard to ignore a tone underlying such cries of help – a cry of help to a stronger brother who you are proud about and for whom you consider your duty to keep on ‘encouraging’. When it comes to Yankees, all these British Conservatives feel as if they have the role of Master, role of a coach. Like a coach of Olympian athlete these intellectuals want to ceaselessly push Yankees to achieve grandeur. Their thirst for ‘winning’ by this top notch disciple – USA – does not satiate. We wish at times Americans themselves have such an optimistic view about themselves.

You want a proof what I am accusing – read editorial, op-ed columns in The Times from London and other Conservative publications from UK. For them the historical triumph of WWII never fades, all talks start and end with WWII in mind. Whenever a global crisis emerges, you can be sure that the sermon of Churchill will appear. All these Conservatives talk about USA as if how newly wed talks about her spouse, complaining few things but really it is nothing but a cover for eulogizing.

Case in proof is Gerard Baker’s column in The Times – “Yanks Go Home!” (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2067068,00.html). He is loosing his sleep because he fears that Americans would withdraw from Iraq and will give up the fight against Muslim Fundamentalists, the new Evil Empire for Conservatives around the world, the reason for Global War on Terrorism. He is worried that the proposed chapter in future History books about the victory of West in GWT will not come thorough. His cause of concern is the fact that Bush Strategy is not working in Iraq and larger opinion in America is suspicious of the policy ‘march of freedom as the true weapon against terrorists’.

Not only Baker’s perspective is pompous, it smacks of utter selfishness in getting someone to fight your wars or to keep an eye on your own benefits while exhorting others to provide the blood and treasure. One just thinks, hopefully wrongly, that are these Conservatives across the Atlantic looking for a free ride?

If Gerard Baker is worried about London Bombings and how to stop those in future, he needs to ask questions what British people are ready to do; what costs they are ready to pay. Glorifying Yankees so as they solve these problems while short changing British contribution seems like games what British Empire used to play in the Sub Continent. That is what is wrong with these Conservatives across Atlantic – Empire is gone long back, WWII triumph is way back in history books, there is no American Golden Age of Ike when that young country was expanding like a weed in her Western states and building the amazing world beating economy; but still British Conservatives are stuck in that period.

Seriously, today’s America is different. First of all demographically it is diverse and not as tied to Europe as she was in the last century. She has Hispanics, sons and daughters of Civil Rights Movements, many Asians, many Indians, many Vietnamese and people from around the world. In some areas America has retained advantages what she has of 1940s, but many she has lost over the period. And about her Trade and Fiscal Deficits, negative savings rate of Americans, her debt, the crisis of retirement and broken system of Health – let us not talk about; least it will malign the pristine impression this Lady Liberty has across the Atlantic. America of today is ‘wounded’ by deep scars of 9/11 and consequent not so successful strategy of Bush NeoCons. There are growing challenges to her ‘livelihood’ from Asia.

So if American public feels to step back to take a review of things in order to address these challenges, then it is a right urge to do so.

Those who keep on exhorting America all the time for larger good of the world (and for not so hidden selfish goals) need to ask fist what are they doing to solve today’s global problems. Does UK want to leave the cozy comforts of EU and come to the harsh and ruthless world in which America tries to survive? Let Queen decree that first and then we will listen Baker’s call of help. And by the way it has been long since Uncle Sam’s union got a new member. UK will not be a bad member. And hey, they speak English! Union founded by George Washington survived because it kept on getting bigger. So why not think of expanding across the Atlantic? Let us see how Westminster resolves this issue.

Meanwhile look at the old lady of Europe, Russia – she may not be successful so far but she is showing lot of leadership in addressing the Iran issue and Israel - Palestinian conflict. China is doing her bit in cajoling N. Korea. Today’s world is different. America may be the only super power of the world. But having an ability ‘to kill anyone, anytime, anyplace in any circumstances’ is not the only definition of a true global leader. It is the question of ‘solving’ global problems. It is quite likely that many different players will work effectively on many different problems to make our life better. It may not be the case that UK – USA alliance, as the cross bearer of West, plays the role of White Knight. How naïve!

And if you want to read another take on this Isolationism of America – read David Brooks in NYT – “It’s Not Isolationism, but It’s Not Attractive” (http://select.nytimes.com/2006/03/05/opinion/05brooks.html). We have one quite plausible take on America’s psychology here – it is a fitting answer to what Baker is worried about.

Also yet another plain talk is by Robert Kaplan in Washington Post – “We Can’t Force Democracy"
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/01/AR2006030101937.html?sub=AR)
It is not that Brent Scowcraft style Realism does not have it’s limits. But after seeing what happens to the NeoCon adventurism of last 3 years, I guess the world at least owes to Americans that they get the ‘space’ to undertake their introspection before new steps are planned. Let Americans heal their wounds first. Of course, large part of the rest of the world is already praying for such introspection by America.


Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
March 05, 2006.

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