how the world sees america

How America Sees the World

Boundary.jpg
"Boundary [with Mexico] of the United States of America"

Washington DC - This is "How the World Sees America", but a few days at home preparing for Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico inevitably got me thinking about "How America Sees the World."

Last time I was in the U.S. 100 days ago, Iraq dominated the headlines. Now it's the economy. But voter anxieties about the world still loom large.

Our candidates define themselves on transnational issues. Fred Thompson burnishes his anti-illegal immigrant credentials. John Edwards blames big corporations for sending American jobs abroad. Rudy Giuliani, and others across the aisle, say our dependence on foreign oil exposes us to both financial instability and terrorist attacks.

Conversations at home are all about 2008. But even as the headlines pivot from the Iraq War and terrorism to jobs and health care, our view of the world remains central to many of our votes.

Do we combat, compete, cooperate? There is anxiety.

Oil.jpg
Mexican Oil Rig

With candidates romping across North America, honing their messages for the U.S. electorate, painting the world as something to protect against and/or embrace, it seems an apt time to look south to a group of nations with close ties to us.

How do Venezuelans and Mexicans see America? What do they hope for the future? What happens to Hugo Chavez's anti-American rhetoric when his professed nemesis, President George Bush, leaves office? Just out of curiousity, do he and his comrades watch our primaries? What do they hope for? And do average citizens there even care?

How do the immigration policies of our leading candidates appear to mothers south of the border waiting for their illegal sons up north to acquire citizenship so they can reunite? How are Mexican cops combating the flow of American guns going down south, or the torrent of Latin American drugs trucking up north?
Crude oil. Aid. Remittances. Media links. Free trade.

I'm waiting for my Venezuelan visa, so for the next few days before taking off I'll be brainstorming themes I hope to explore down south. I'd love your help expanding my thinking. For now, does the world really matter to Americans more now than it did, say, a decade ago? If it does, what types of things do you want me to ask of our closest neighbors?

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Comments (52)

Jorge Carrillo:

Remember something. America its a continent not a country.

the chakman:

Hernan:

Responses like yours, and the anonymous "scandanavia", are basically feeding an isolationist streak among the residents of estados unidos.

Meanwhile, becuase of Bush's failed policies, more and more Americans are thinking more of how they can protect themselves from the influence of the world, not help it.

jorge covarrubias ramirez:

Hi,I´m writing from Chile,and I believe americans have to care and love more their own country,because
that society seems very divided about riligious,political,economic issues,and something strange is happening with the high standard of violence in colleges, streets. Democracy is an adecuate way of life but preserve it is a everyone´s task.Nothing good we can build if the violence is between us.I don´n care who will be the next U.S.A.´s President because the essential is that person helps to bring peace and hope to that great nation.

Westerner:

Yeah, I am sick of all these americans who hire illegals, no doubt about it. But I am sicker of all the illegal aliens around offering cheap labor and working beneath the radar. On top of which these illegal aliens bring along the dregs of the earth in their societies to create havoc in mine.

ALIEN:

Westerner, you should also be sick of rich northamericans hiring illegals and paying them pennies so that they can keep up with their rich and famous life... And you should also be sick of the illegals who pick up your trash, do your laundry, etc.. I would like to see you doing those jobs..

Westerner:

Frankly, I am sick of illegal people coming to have babies here for the benefits. It's time to change the law so that if both parents are illegal aliens then the baby should not have automatic citizenship. These anchor or jackpot babies are being used as a pawn by illegals.

Hernan:

Hi there,

I am from Venezuela too.. I don't believe in President Chavez because I think he talks more than he does.. He has a clear problem prioritizing Venezuela's internal issues and he makes a lot of noise because his external policy is strong..The country is a mess and all he does is talk, travel, and yes you could say he helps the poor in Venezuela, but insecurity is still rising and so is poverty,inflation,corruption and many other problems... Even though I don't agree with Chavez and the strong link he has with Cuba and Castro, I agree in many of his points towards the U.S..

In the first place, you need to think about the U.S. historial of intervention in Latin America.. Think about Grenada, Nicaragua, Chile, Panama, Colombia,Uruguay, El Salvador and all the atrocities that were commited in those countries just to protect and guarantee "American Interests".. Innocent civilians were killed, Presidents were overthrowned, Dictators were given countries with U.S. help and funding, economies were destroyed, etc..
Don't you think that is enough to understand why is the Anti-U.S. movement is so strong now in Latin America? The atrocities were always there, but there weren't leaders capable of publicly talking about it around the world because of the lack of resources and balls.. Chavez is in a key position, he has lots of money because of all the oil he sells to the U.S. at elevated prices, so he knows he can't be touched and goes on talking bad about the U.S. everywhere he visits...
Not only have atrocities been commited in the U.S., but in Iran, Pakistan, almost everywhere in the Middle East..
What most annoys me about the U.S. speech is it's hipocrisy... What gives you the right to invade a country like Irak because it's leader is a dictator and supposedly has weapons of mass destruction?? In the first place, the U.S. was the one who helped Saddam become president and gave him the weapons.. Then they invaded Irak in the nineties and took all the weapons back from him.. Then in 2003 you make up a lame excuse, invade him again because of some weapons which were never found, take Irak's oil, and completely forget about the war because of an economic crisis... The U.S. could at least planted some weapons to say they've found something, but they don't really give a damn about it... And the U.S. media is complice too, because now they completely shifted their focus towards the economic crisis and people are still dying in Irak and it is still a mess...
You might ask why is this hipocrisy??
Well, why doesn't the U.S. go straight and invaded Saudi Arabia? A country with a dictatorial monarchy that controls it like a business and has the people starving... No, they dont invade them, instead they are their allies because Saudis provide them oil... very nice...
Hipocrisy..
What about Pakistan?? He is also a dictator, but no he is good because he let's us have our military bases in his country... Hipocrisy
What about Iran? Oh no, Iranians hate us because they are Islamic and their religion is crazy, they want to develop nuclear energy but we can't let them because they haven't signed the treaties...
But, Israel on the on other hand, does have nuclear weapons, signed no treaties, and no one says a thing... And then, more hipocrisy, what gives the U.S. the right to let or not other countries develop nuclear energy? They have been the only country to use a nuclear bomb against innocent civilians, not one but twice, to end a war which was already over... But thats another point...
One more hipocrisy, Turkey... Oh no Saddam kills Kurds... Well Turkey chases them as well.. But Turkey is good, they let us have our military bases there, so the hell with Kurds being chased by the Turks...
And the list goes on and on and on and on and on....
What is very sad? 50% or more U.S. citizens agreed on Bush for a second period... So now you want us (the rest of the world) to believe you want CHANGE? CHANGE? Oh yeah, from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.. That is CHANGE...

The U.S. is not going to stop unless stopped by a more powerful countries, say China... They will continue to intervene in other countries to secure oil resources and economic benefits...

MARIO:

Hello, there.

I'm from Venezuela, i have a very liberal politic view, so I just wanted to say that Chavez, doesn't actually cares who’s the leader of U.S., he just hates you because you're America.

The guy is obviously crazy, I personally think Bush is crazy too. The point here is... U.S. always disproof every little thing Chavez does, because he pretends to make Venezuela into communism, so in his anger, envy and foolishness he just shouts and insult against "the empire" that's you.

VICTORIA:

fred thompson dropped out of the race today.

bd:

Fred Thompson is right. It is time to take care of Americans first. This is not short sighted, however it is essential. That is the basis of the preamble.

This does not mean the social safety net, however it is aimed at removing the obstructions place in front of them.

We are not the moral police of the world and we should not be. Wind down the Iraq war and let rest of the world chip fall as they may.

bd:

Fred Thompson is right. It is time to take care of Americans first. This is not short sighted, however it is essential. That is the basis of the preamble.

This does not mean the social safety net, however it is aimed at removing the obstructions place in front of them.

We are not the moral police of the world and we should not be. Wind down the Iraq war and let rest of the world chip fall as they may.

Marcos:

Most of people of the countries do not worry about what other people think about their country and they don't care about what happen in other countries. Americans can think this way too but when their president launch an attack against another country (Irak and Afheganistan), they should think about. United States is involved in all world's concerns and that makes important that americans must think about what other people think about them. It would be helpfull to elect a president more responsable with the foreign politics issues.

JOAO DA ROCHA:

O GOVERNO AMERICANO AGIU A FAVOR DO POVO

QUEREM CRIAR UMA AMPLA RECESSÃO, DE QUALQUER JEITO

Pela primeira vez, em décadas, o Tesouro Americano deixou de tutelar, de fato, as sugestões e iniciativas dos grandes cartéis financeiros. E essa inesperada reação, com o anúncio de um pacote de medidas pelo governo americano, que não beneficia bancos, mas a economia do país e milhões de americanos, está acarretando, em cadeia,uma forte transformação no mercado financeiro mundial cartelizado.

O governo americano entendeu e outras nações também devem entender, que a fragilidade dos Bancos Centrais no monitoramento
do sistema financeiro, é que está causando tanta tempestade e rebordosa.

O mundo se cartelizou no sistema financeiro, no petróleo, nas bolsas de valores e de mercadorias e em uma dezena de outras atividades e os governantes das principais nações do mundo, ficaram escravos e impotentes para agirem na defesa dos interesses dos povos de suas nações.

E, agora, estamos vendo, com transparência,como o sistema financeiro agia em absoluta tranquilidade e, em, alguns casos, com irresponsabilidade total e impunidade que continua até hoje. E esse alvoroço todo só tem um culpado, o próprio sistema financeiro, sofisticado, competente, ágil e se comunicando para iniciativas de um mesmo comando e On line.Por outro lado, os Bancos Centrais não foram capazes de acompanhar e de monitorar essa evolução que beneficia milhares, em detrimento de bilhões de pessoas.

Os cartéis estão tentando, de todas as formas, um maior envolvimento do Tesouro americano, com a crise que os próprios bancos criarem, alimentarem e se beneficiaram dela, auferindo lucros de alguns bilhões de dólares. Agora, terão que voltar ao mundo real,entendendo que o dinheiro de bilhões de pessoas não pode mais ser transferido para milhares de pessoas da especulação volátil, improdutiva, sem custo, mas com sacrificio e a troco de que ou de quem ?

Uma nova paginação para os Bancos Centrais e para o sistema financeiro é imperativa, urgente e passa necessariamente por profundas transformações, benéficas para as Contas do Tesouro de países pobres e ricos, totalmente factíveis e de efeito imediato, dependendo apenas da vontade política das Nações.

Como os cartéis que atuam em todas as áreas, estão cada vez mais fortes e os governos cada vez mais fracos para enfrentá-los, basta simplesmente a criação do Cartel do Povo,via Tratado ou qualquer outro instrumento, através dos governantes do G-20, para defender os direitos de mais de 6 bilhões de pessoas, apenas limitando o ágio, acima da inflação, a um porcentual máximo de 3%, para rolagem ou assunção de dividas. É uma iniciativa de efeito multiplicador, democrática, capitalista e de cunho também profundamente social e que pode gerar economia de mais de USD 1 trilhão para os cofres de países ricos e pobres e os matemáticos podem confirmar. E com isso, com certeza, não haverá mais a necessidade da costumeira democratização de lucros e da socialização de prejuízos( em nome do mercado livre) e o mundo viverá em tranquilidade para gerar mais riquezas e reduzir as gritantes desigualdades entre nações ricas e nações pobres e para extinguir a categoria de indigentes. Em consequencia, a vergonhosa ratificação estatística de que somente 2% da população mundial responde por 50% da riquezas, será compulsoriamente reduzida, ano a ano. E o Brasil, que assumirá, em poucos dias, a Presidencia Financeira do G-20, poderá entrar para a história das nações, se conseguir criar esse Cartel que defenderá os interesses de bilhões de pessoas, para que tenham condições dígnas de vida.

Quanto ao sistema financeiro, que ganhou muito com as Letras Hipotecárias, em Investimentos de alto risco e ainda acumula lucros de bilhões de dólares nos últimos cinco anos, é natural que devolva agora parte dessa gordura que está bem localizada e que não levará o paciente à UTI. E países como o Brasil, devem refletir,com calma, sobre a importancia da iniciativa do governo americano ao cortar o cordão umbilical atado ao pernicuioso protecionismo ao capital especutivo mundial. Essa corrente americana começou e deve continuar e se fortalecer, mesmo com as fortes pressões de todos os lados, porque está no correto caminho de defender bilhões para não continuar privilegiando somente milhares de pessoas. O capitalismo de hoje nunca mais será o capitalismo perverso de ontem, felizmente.Esperamos que o presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, não deixe que o noticiário da imprensa mundial e dirigido, atrapalhe a tragetória de queda da Selic, em decorrencia das frágeis argumentações. Façamos uma corrente prá frente, Brasil. E PARA ONDE ESTÁ INDO ESSE CAPITAL APÁTRIDA DE TRILHÕES DE DÓLARES ?

pappy:

"How do the immigration policies of our leading candidates appear to mothers south of the border waiting for their illegal sons up north to acquire citizenship so they can reunite?"

Come on Amar, stop with the emotional blackmail. Those mothers should be encouraging their sons to fight for a better life south of the boarder, so that they don't have to leave in the first place. What that mother thinks of the American candidates is irrelevant. She wont be voting in America. She should be spending her time following the views of the candidates in her country. Instead of marching in the streets for rights in a country in which you are an illegal immigrant, march in your own damn country and demand a better life there.

VICTORIA:

mike- i just watched bill moyers interviewing a thomas cahill the other week, and he asked what the similarity was between the start of the fall of rome, and american-

mr cahill stated that both had an upper class that paid no taxes and a working class that paid the bulk of them-
i thought it interesting

hi rick and vic
long time no read

Vic van Meter:

Well Rick, I'd like to be mad at Hillary. I'd love to be mad about her Iraq War vote. But that might be a little hippocritical of me.

Remember back the five or so years to the run-up to the war? There was an absolutely HUGE percentage of us who were all for going to war. We were for going to war for a variety of reasons, but the biggest was probably the fear of nuclear arms and biological/chemical weapons (the latter of which they were developing). I should have questioned the findings when Bush and his company said something about Al'Qaida being involved. I didn't believe that, or a couple other things they said, for a second. But I thought, "How stupid could Hussein be? He'd kicked out his weapon inspectors and certainly acted like he had them."

Well, apparently he was bluffing and the whole country was taken for a ride. Bush had clearly played up the whole tirade and had lied us into a war. Even then, we could overlook this, right? Saddam was an evil dictator who celebrated on the eve of his "victory" over America. If Bush had gone in, wreaked havoc, and left Iraq to squalor in the dust, he'd have a lot more supporters. Americans love a clear and decisive victory. And there can be no argument that the war between America and Iraq was short lived and clearly one sided.

But Bush decided to continue hacking at the corpse of Saddam. He wanted to "free" the Iraqi people and make them into another Japan. And this is simply where he dropped the ball. You can't do nation-building in two zealot-packed countries at the same time with an all-volunteer military. Afghanistan was one issue, but Iraq was completely another. Bush failed here, and we have since been paying for it.

If he had succeeded, he would not be my friend, but I would hardly hold the war against him. That's where, perhaps, I'm confusing. I've voted Democrat twice based purely on choice and weigh-in. I am not really a centrist as much as I have a broad spectrum of ideas that hit everywhere. To be honest, I'm simply reducing everything down to component reality.

The Israeli situation probably confused you because I'm reducing it. Israel wasn't defeated by Hezbollah and Hezbollah certainly did not lose. But the reason non-conventional warfare is successful is because conventional parties have weapons made for conventional warfare. I see one of a few things occurring in this particular circumstance. Technology may advance to the point of non-conventional weapons being more standardized and effective. Other than that, it is simply a matter of time before something absolutely horrendous occurs and the Western world realizes that the only way to kill a cancer is to extract a good deal of living tissue. It is more of a matter of when civilian casualties will be included as simply collateral, but it is the only end result. I try to see things from this light.

I have only ever voted Democrat because, quite frankly, the Democrats fielded to the election were more intelligent than Bush. Conservativism and liberalism are ideas made to affiliate unaffiliated ideas so that your opinion is forged less from thought and more from association. All in all, if I was anything, I would probably be a Democrat. But I tend to be somewhat hard-lined on issues of war. And this blog being what it is, that is mostly what we speak of. America's peaceful work is hardly newsworthy since it is carried out by other groups. We are known in many regions mostly through our military.

I suppose America has a long way to go with the world. But America right now is biting the bullet and not simply bulldozing through people to get at the infection in Islam. We are, unfortunately, bound to give Islam a chance to find its identity and make itself known. Unfortunately, the way we are known through our military, Islamic nations are known through their terrorists. Americans I have spoken to, for the most part, at least seem to question Arabic peoples here in America even if they live here. Not so much because they believe they are terrorists, but because they think all Arabic people hate America and support terrorism. After all, peaceful movements in Middle Eastern countries do not fit our mold and are hardly newsworthy themselves.

So we find ourselves in a bind, and I suppose the rest of the world can share the blame. Between Western countries condemning the Middle Eastern countries for their practices and the rest of the world condemning America, they have inadvertently squared the two sides off against each other. Because of oil, relations is not an option. Involvement is a necessity brought on by American consumption and Arabic sale of oil. But instead of being cordial and businesslike, these relations have become more of an idealogical war between America and the Middle East. And with other sides in Europe fueling both sides with both insults and incentives, we are waging war upon each other.

A bit like facing off two pit-bulls trained to fight, the Western world's right fist is squaring off against the Eastern world's religious crusaders. American involvement in the Middle East has become a quagmire, and everyone is to blame for the situation we find ourselves in. The whole relationship is a mess because world leaders lead their countries from the rear (and quite frankly, they speak as though they talk from the rear...) so they can waver their power out in front of them like expendable armor. The brave are led by a cadre of cowards who have the ability to speak well. And unfortunately, America is supposed to be leading the world.

As I've previously stated quite a bit, America is not known for dealing with situations peacefully across the table. We have a disgust of people who do not stand up to fight us when we come. We hardly understand the world as a series of conflicting interests that can be peacefully cooperative. Americans tend to see the entire world, indeed the world even around themselves, as a kind of all out war where the only good alliance is one that enhances your ability to compete. It's a nasty, frustrating, violent, aggressive world where even those people who will never lift a finger to harm another person's body have no problem fighting them socially, politically, morally, economically. America's success is built on the backs of a cadre of incredibly productive competitors trying their best to outdo each other.

That is also the way our government tends to see other nations and people. You've probably read other Americans talking about how the world is against us and that we should withdraw. Some believe the world is against us and we should shift course to compensate. Some of us believe the world is against us and we should strive harder in the same direction. But it is very difficult to find an American who does not wholeheartedly believe that the majority of the world is fighting to keep us down. And other peoples around the world hardly keep their contempt for America a secret. Which would be constructive, perhaps, if we were not so competitive and did not see this simply as a challenge to be overcome.

Unfortunately, and much to my personal frustration, other nations have both called America unfit to lead the world and yet expect America to lead the world anyway. The world has a failure to grasp America's almost neurotic approach to the global situation and, instead of guiding the charging bull, they attempt to grab it by the horns. I have already said we are not the correct country to expect to be ruling the world. Most Americans hardly care to be ruling it either. Most nations believe America wants to rule the world as an empire. Hardly. Americans just want to win in a head-to-head fight against anything that has the audacity to fight us. Actually ruling the world in peacetime is, if you've read many of the isolationist pieces of other Americans, not very popular.

I suppose America has a disconnect from the rest of the world as we see everything as a hurdle we can eventually jump, but the larger problem is being misrepresented and misunderstood in the world stage. Americans tend to be more Spartan than Athenian, and I can personally guarantee that if the world were still a place of war and conquest, there would not be a more successful country on Earth. But times have changed, and the world has to figure out how to utilize our skills and curtail our weaknesses just like any other country.

Americans and the rest of our allies may be on the same page, but we may not share the same line. Two things shall probably have to happen. America is going to simply have to accept the global stage is not a global arena and that the rest of the world may not particularly want us dead. Then again, the world also has to recognize that Americans are simply a contained version of any of the world's great warrior people. There are few mountains Americans will not willingly climb. The problem is making sure we are pointed in the correct direction.

The Oracle:

I would suggest to Mr Bakshi that he ask the people in the countries he visits,how much progress their own country is experiencing compared to how much conceived progress they observe in the US.

The policies of the US during the Bush years has been like watching a catastrophy in slow motion.
The economy now emerging as another prime example on his glorious list of achievements.
However,in the countries I have visited in South America many show remarkable signs of progress.

The immigrants of today will be the tourists of tomorrow.People in the US should get used to this fact as soon as possible

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Vic Van Meter,

Thanks for the excellent post. I am pleasantly surprised to learn that you, like me, voted against our dear President Bush on two occasions. I apologize for having had you pegged for a right wing nut job based on your previous posts. I don’t recall what gave me that opinion. It must have had to do with our friendly discussions on Israel.

I agree with you that John McCain is the best of the Republican candidates, in spite of his zeal for war, and Hilary would be an acceptable candidate. However, I prefer Barack Obama because I believe he is more electable for one thing, and because Hilary was duped into voting for the Iraq war among other things. Hilary is the one thing in the world that can unite and inspire the struggling Republicans. I believe that we must have a democratic president to undo the disastrous mistakes of our last president in Iraq and our economy and fiscal policy.

I apologize if I am straying off topic. To Amar I would say that unfortunately most Americans see Latin America as an immigration threat and a region to exploit for their natural resources; i.e. oil and cocain:) (Just kidding about the cocaine.)

Usmaan:

I think a lot of people swerved off topic when they got caught up in other hot issues (not unusual around here.) The question you were posing was, "how does the world view America?" And you also wanted suggestions on how to structure such an article. Personally, I'd like to see an article based on countries, ex: Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia. Then I'd like to see the article broken down further into major issues, ex: immigration, the economy, crime, the wars abroad, etc. So you might have a heading that says,

Venezuela ---> How Venezuelans view immigration?
The U.S. economy?
Drug enforcement efforts?

Then the same thing for another country.

Columbia ---> How Columbians view immigration?
The U.S. economy?
Drug enforcement efforts?

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Sorry Jayme,

I did not see your last post which came in as I was working on mine. You are soooo right about the influence of the AIPAC Israeli lobby in leading us astray in Iraq and Palestine. When will the American people ever wake up?

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Jayme Hall, like many of us thinks that we spend “trillions of dollars” in foreign aid. Actually, in 2006 we spent $22.8 billion total on foreign aid, with Israel being the largest recipient by far with $2.5 billion or 11% of the total, even though Israel is one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Next is Egypt at $1.8 billion or 8% of the total and the only other country receiving more than $1 billion. Jordan is fifth at $461 million. Egypt is not a developing country, but the aid to Egypt and Jordan is actually a bribe for signing a peace treaty with Israel and could be classified as additional aid to Israel.

http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/us-foreign-aid.htm

America sees the rest of the world as property to exploit. We maintain three carrier battle groups in the Arabian Gulf region to protect our access to our oil fields. When King Faisal of Saudi Arabia decided to play the oil weapon briefly, after the 1973-Arab-Israeli war he was murdered by a nephew who had arrived recently into the Kingdom from the USA.

Jayme Hall:

Sadly, Anonymous, you are right. I see that in 2002, 30% of our foreign aid went to Israel. Imagine that? With so many people holding positions of power in our government with dual citizenship's of both USA & Israel, it becomes clear why. The Israel Lobby in Washington is noted to be one of the most powerful.

Sad isn't it! This is probably related to the escalating costs of financing an undeclared war in Iraq to provide them freedom. (tongue in cheek). We have, as part of our national budget, what is called a "discretionary fund" 40% of our nation budget falls under this budget.

According to "US Economy"
Discretionary Spending Is Negotiated by Congress and the President: Nearly 40% of the budget is Discretionary. This is what is governed by the appropriations that are passed each year. It includes:
Defense, which is half of Discretionary.
International, which is about 5%, and includes the diplomatic offices and foreign aid.
Other Discretionary, which includes all other domestic programs.

So they have been robbing Peter to pay Paul. Plus, borrowing from the Chinese to finance our undeclared war in Iraq. At some point, we will have to stop. I know how much I paid in Federal income taxes & Social Security taxes this year and it is nothing to sneeze at. I wish I had it to sink into my retirement fund. This doesn't include my State taxes, Local city & County taxes, an employment tax for both our city & county, my property taxes, my car taxes & then our .06% sales tax & massive gasoline & tobacco taxes that I have paid this year. So, as an American citizen, I am pretty much taxed out.

It's time for a change. I've worked hard all my adult life & raised 2 children. I have never taken a dime from the Federal Government or my State or Local Government. All I do is pay them. And for what? I'm really not sure. Our Federal Budget reads like it was written in Greek. Who could understand it? Not me.

All I know is that I can not afford to pay any more taxes. It already costs me over 1200.00 just to pay an accountant to prepare my taxes. This doesn't include what I pay on a monthly basis to my accountant to figure out what I need to pay monthly to the Feds & the State for payroll taxes. Then you have State unemployment & Federal unemployment & Workers Compensation payments.

It's really outrageous! But.. it has become so complicated that unless you own no property & do not run a business & work only as an employee, then you are pretty much screwed. You must have an accountant prepare your taxes.

The tax codes are pretty much a mess. As a small business owner, they have just about taxed me out of the market.

Vic van Meter:

We have a monstrous economic problem on our hands. The reason Iraq has been knocked off the top of the list of concerns is because of the scope of the economic problem. We are worried about the coming possibility of a recession, but we should have seen this coming. And we have no one to blame but our elected officials who have failed in their chief endeavor: to make us richer.

Perhaps I sound cynical, but I promise I'm not. The country we live in keeps us because of our money. The world that does like us likes us for our money. Our American image of war, pain, pride, and suffering needs one common bar of competition, and if you've never noticed, that bar is wealth. The more money you have, the more successful you are. Every fight is met with the ability to make more money. It is our great equalizer, and our biggest problem is that in the past some thirty years, our government has simply eaten when we were no longer feeding it.

Let me be a bit more specific. I'm referring in particular to Bill Clinton's balancing the budget. He truly, honestly believed that by fixing the government deficit and trade differential that he could right the economic flagship. And somewhere in the mess of that, he caught the .com northwind. Things were sailing rather smoothly until one fateful day when Clinton told us America was again in the black.

So we had a surplus of money and had righted the ship. What to do with the money we had saved? The country was presented with two options. One option was to save it in case something happened where we would absolutely need it and continue to generate surplus numbers to save even more and stabalize our deficits. The other option was much easier to fathom. Why save when you can spend it? If you give money to the people, higher income brackets first, they would spend money on more products and produce more wealth.

Indeed what could happen? Well, 9/11 happened. And even without the Iraq War, Afgahnistan was necessary as a conflict. If it isn't obvious, in my first presidential election I was eligible to vote for, I voted for Al Gore. Almost, if not more, people voted for George Bush. I recieved almost nothing as far as a tax incentive goes. The surplus was gone. And now the war against terrorism is driving our government spending through the roof while George Bush feels it unwise to raise taxes to pay for the effort.

Money has to come from somewhere. The deficit comes from somewhere in particular. Mostly European banks, American bonds, and now China have all been loaning us money and will gain enormous amounts of money themselves from the interest we will be paying. And still, regardless of our government's ability to eat, they continue to consume more and more.

The government is a bloated mess now. Our deficit is mammoth and the people responsible for our trade deficit are also our lenders, so we cannot take much in the way of action. In the wake of the surpluses and instead of reducing the government and its spending (one of even Clinton's vices). We leaned on the entire world like a crutch and have taken no steps to recovery. So it is all our fault.

My vote was not enough to push Bush from the White House for either of his terms, but I could have predicted this problem. Hokey as it was, Gore's message of saving for something dire was the correct option. And unless our country tightens our belts again to bail out our adolescent government and our lawmakers can make a meaningful change to make us competitive in the world, we can expect further difficulty.

Even if we succeed and save our economy before it falls into depression, the only winners will be the foreign banks and governments who will earn monstrous amounts of interest from us. And perhaps our next candidate will be more frugal and intuitive about the economy and its relationship to foreign debt.

I suppose I'll endorse some candidates here. I did a bit of check-up on the candidates (which is hardly relevent, since Ohio's primary is not likely to have a grandiose effect on the nomination and I will likely only end up voting between two individuals) and I prefer candidates who have well-thought out plans and a steely sort of demeanor. Probably out of line with most of the country, I tend to support candidates who have flexible opinions based on circumstances. A great deal of my country frowns upon "flip-floppers" which I find to not be wholly discouraging. Are we to disparage people who will shift their views in accordance with information and public opinion? They do serve us, at any rate.

As such, I suppose the most realistic plans come from Senators Clinton and McCain. Neither is a fool and both are career politicians. Both are better known as steel-skinned candidates who are capable of making quick decisions on their own platform judged with information they are given. Of course, they both have their own relative flaws and benefits, but out of the bunch they seem the most grounded and in-touch with reality.

Of course, we are looking through the blue-and-red glasses of the primaries, as these candidates appeal to their bloodthirsty bases. Things will be much more interesting if one, or both, make it through the primary with their nomination. Then it will be a matter of seeing those plans on the table as they appeal to the center of the country.

I suppose I simply want strong, smart leadership in the country for once. Is that too much to ask from our elected officials?

Anonymous:

As a scandinavian I find it mystifying that most americans seems to think that they are giving so much of their assets to help other parts of the world.They actually seem to believe that they help!

When we observe the "USAID" grainbag in some place where hunger and restlessness prevails,it is easy to pat oneself on the back.
How many emerging democracies have been "nipped in the bud" the last few decades.

John Perkins book "The Economic Hit Man" and other sources has already confirmed how and by which methods the empire is expanded and controlled.

Jayme Hall:

At this low point in American history, I find your question very interesting. I consider myself to be the average American citizen. So, here's how I think the world sees America.

They see us as a real threat. We consistently do the wrong thing. We spend trillions of dollars in "foreign aid" that ends up in the hands of all the wrong people. More reason for us to stop our idiotic foreign aid policies. We need to allow those best able to get aid to the real people, like the Red Cross & many, many other reputable entities, handle foreign & domestic aid to the people.

We send trillions of dollars each year to foreign governments, who also do not use the money properly. Latest example, Pakistan. We must stop this.

It seems to me that it's just about time we started helping the "people" of the world, not the governments of the world. This would include helping our own people.

It's just about time we stop arming both sides of the world & hoping it all comes out OK. Did we not aid, train & arm Osama bin Laden against the Russians? That turned out really well!

As Americans, the majority of us are good people. We see someone that needs help & we want to help them. We do help them if we are able.

At this time our government doesn't care about the people anywhere in the world. They only care about money & more power. It's about time we all raised the window & screamed at the top of our lungs, "I'm mad as hell & I'm not going to take it anymore!".

Today, my American government no more represents me & my thoughts than it does the majority of the other 301,139,946 citizens of the USA. It's time to basically start over, with the American Constitution & it's Amendments in hand, & follow it! It's pretty darn simple.

Our foreign policy to date has been to stick our noses in when it was not wanted, of course, all under the rouse of spreading freedom. The other people of the world are a lot smarter than we have been. They knew right off it wasn't freedom we were fighting for, it was dominance of power, money, oil, you name it?

So, again, in answer to your question of how the world sees America. I think they see us as a threat to their world.

Isaac Bonyuet:

Hey Amar, I live in Caracas, and I was wondering what are you're plans while you are in the country, I would like to collaborate on your investigation, so I'm not gonna put and email here, but I am on facebook, my name is not common, so you can do a google search and everything that says Isaac Bonyuet is me, let me know if you need anything. I might forget to check the comments on this blog again, good luck.

Isaac Bonyuet

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

MIKE SPEHAR,

Great post!

Congratulations!

Except ....

Except that, as the primaries are showing, the 'multitude' in America is in fact deciding that the Economic problem of foreclosures of millions of home and the onset of recession (both home grown problems which Paulson has tried to in part 'export' to China by unsuccesfully asking the Chinese to revalue the Yuan) is more important than Iraq even if 'we' have to stay there as long as the duration of the Roman Empire (see Mike's posting at 11.05 a.m.)

Read the opening sentences of the book 'The Multitude' to see how 'The Multitude' can ACTUALLY be right even if the aggregate is built on individul assessments that are totally crazy. You will also read how 'The Multitude' can be an antidote to empire.

America is a great, great country. But it is not the ONLY great country. And even if it is THE ONLY great country, nannying other countries, even in cases where they have not called for help, is a sure recipe to stunt their growth.

Mike Spehar:

What Americans think about the world is as varied as their individual experiences. A great deal of our attitudes forward other countries is flavored by economic interests, which some call greed and others call simply doing business. But we should remember that our attitudes and actions are also flavored by our revolutionary past.

There are many reasons why the United States is involved in so many places around the world. One is trade, without which we would be far less rich than we are today. Another is the knowledge that the world is a pretty small place and trouble is often best nipped in the bud. To be fair, another is a bad dose of hubris, born from a long habit of addressing problems when others cannot or will not. But yet another reason is charity and Americans are amongst the greatest givers in the world. The day we stop caring what happens to others in the world will be the day when we’ll begin that inevitable decline that comes to every great country.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say we have to help anyone else. It neither mandates nor suggests that we join with other nations in common cause. Neither does it forbid such things. But it didn’t have to tell us how we should act in the community of nations because another document had already laid out some quite revolutionary principles that still affect how we think about the world. Read these words again:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

The Declaration of Independence is arguably the most revolutionary document ever written. It doesn’t say that only all Americans are created equal. It doesn’t state that only Americans have certain unalienable Rights. All people have them, everywhere, granted, not by Man, but by their Creator, however they might envision that Being or even if they don’t believe in Him at all. Eventually, the power of those truths, those Rights, drew men and women from all over the world, all wanting to share in the dream. In our collective consciousness, America can never really forget that those truths, those Rights, belong to everyone, everywhere. Though we sometimes act against very principles, we still believe in them. So do others. Indeed, the best in governance found anywhere in the world holds some version of the same principles as we claim in our Declaration. They are universal. We cannot deny them, lest we deny our very argument for existence.

We've been engaged with the world from the very start. Our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have succeeded without the help of a dissolute European monarch looking to poke his rival monarch in the eye. They had no great love for the French king, but they sure needed his navy. We owe our very existence to the efforts of various ne’er-do-well aristocrats from numerous countries and the striving of foreigners – second sons, dreamers, and refugees. More than most other nations, the United States is the product of foreign influence.

We once had the luxury of pretending that we were separate from the rest of the world, but it was only pretense. Still, the United States didn’t plan to become the world’s lone super power. To a great extent, our preeminence is the result of a seried of Historical accidents. But whatever the reasons for our power, whatever the cause, we are here now, and we must deal with the world as we find it.

We could, if we choose, look solely to our self interest – certainly the welfare of our own people come first. We can say to hell with the troubles of the world, most of which will never be solved in our lifetimes or even those of our grandchildren. We can reserve all our treasure and the lives of our children to do great things at home, because certainly we have our own problems to fix. And it certainly cannot be said that we always make things better wherever we go. As in all things run by humans, we have made dreadful, tragic errors, even committed crimes, in any number of sorry places around the planet. Some now claim that the United States is the source of evil in the world. (Or so they'll claim until there is no other place to go to for help.) Many now think we should just pack it all in and tend to our own garden.

And yet, “We hold these truths to be self-evident….” We teach these words to every child. Politicians, whether sincere or pandering, formally reaffirm them in public gatherings. And despite our faults, people around the world still believe that we stand by those principles. They might be fools to believe that, but if they are fools, they are no more foolish than were our forefathers who wrote them. We can neither ignore the world, nor attempt to control all of it. But we have not shed all our principles, simply because we sometimes tire of the effort to apply them.

This is not to say that America should attempt to make everything right in the world. We should stipulate that we cannot solve all the world’s problems. There will always be injustice, poverty, war, and disease and it is beyond the power of any nation to rid the world of them. Let us keep our own interests firmly in mind and acknowledge that often our best course is to just butt out. But it is impossible for us to divorce ourselves from the world, if for no other reason than that our economy is inextricably linked to that of the world as a whole. If we must live in the world, deal with the world, and are dependent upon the rest of the world, then the state of the world is of concern to us, as it should be to all good governments and peoples. To a very real degree, the fate of the world is our fate and there is no avoiding it. So America must continue to act, to try to make things better, to act when we must, when we can, sometimes with allies, sometimes without, hopefully when it’s smart, but sometimes even when it isn’t. We’ll make errors and take wrong turns, but we’ll continue to try. That’s what a great nation does and we are a great nation.

mike:

If Americans were smart they would take a look at and follow the model of the Roman Empire.
It had its faults but it lasted over 1000 years.
Why?
Because the people in it felt they got more from it than they would have without it.

JOAO DA ROCHA:

REFLEXÕES SOBRE 2007 E PARA 2008


Como somos um país de dimensão continental, correspondendo a 15 vezes a área territorial da França, 34 vezes da Inglaterra, 23 vezes da Alemanha, 22 vezes do Japão ou 28 vezes da Itália, temos problemas que eles já superaram . Mas os países citados, estão no grupo das oito maiores economias do mundo e não apresentam nenhum desigualdade entre regiões ou no PIB per capita e que está acima de USA 30 mil. E esses países, mais os Estados Unidos, China, Rússia, Canadá, Índia, Espanha e também o Brasil, respondem por mais de 80% do PIB mundial. Isso prova que existe uma desigualdade muito gritante entre as 20 nações mais ricas e as 136 nações mais pobres.

Classificaram o nosso País, como a Quinta maior população mundial, com 22 habitantes por quilometro quadrado; o Sétimo maior PIB mundial ou o Sexto pelo RPC (paridade do poder de compra) e como a Sétima maior reserva internacional e a Sexta maior força de trabalho. E a nossa dívida externa , em relação ao PIB, não passa de 11%, enquanto ela representa para os Estados Unidos, 80%, para a Inglaterra, 335%, para a Alemanha, 151%, para a França, 185%, para a Itália, 113%, para a Suiça, 326%, para o Japão 37% e, para a Holanda, 27%. Teoricamente estamos em uma situação muito privilegiada em relação ao resto do mundo. Mas esqueceram de esclarecer, que todas essas riquezas que levaram o país ao seleto clube do G-20, estão praticamente localizadas nas regiões sul e sudeste, que concentram 55% da população brasileira, 70% do PIB e ocupa somente 18% de nossa área territorial total, mostrando, com clareza, que temos dois Brazis.

E as regiões norte, nordeste e centro oeste, ocupando 82% do território nacional, apresentam um PIB maior, tendo em vista a inclusão de Brasilia. Mesmo assim, na média, não passa de US$ 5.000 ou seja, 30% da renda per capita do sul e sudeste.

Diante de tantas informações positivas, acrescentamos ainda o aumento nos empregos formais, o crescimento de 11% nas receitas administradas do Tesouro Nacional, na capacidade de compra e de endividamento dos brasileiros, mesmo pagando os juros mais absurdos do mundo, a auto suficiência em petróleo e a redução da pobreza e das desigualdades regiões, em decorrencia dos programas sociais de Governo. E esses números estão fazendo com que o governo mantenha um volume desnecessário de reservas internacionais (pagando elevados encargos) e não amortize dívidas, pense em Fundo Soberano (um luxo de países que tem sobras de caixa e não sacrificam as prioridades internas) e , mais ainda, em oferecer linhas de créditos, através dos Bancos de Fomento ( BB, Caixa, BNDES e outros) para o financiamento e compra de empresas , no estrangeiro, mantendo, lá, a garantia de emprego, renda e consumo, Tudo isso está acontecendo, porque o governo deixou de fazer completos raios X do Brasil, de norte a sul e de leste a oeste.

Com toda essa euforia, as estatísticas e os raios X nos mostram um Brasil real, que tem 52% de eleitores semi-analfabetos e 8% totalmente analfabetos, 50% de todas as riquezas nacionais (PIB) concentradas em somente 1% ( hum por cento) da população , nível de desemprego acima de 9% e ainda com 20 milhões de pessoas em estado de pobreza quase absoluta. Portanto, não é a hora do Brasil financiar o deficit americano (com as reservas internacionais), a aquisição e instalação de empresa no exterior e de criar facilidades para o capital volátil, mantendo, uma Selic que agride as contas do Tesouro em mais de R$ 30 bilhões anualmente, considerando uma Taxa de 9% ao ano e ainda 100% acima da inflação (uma das maiores do mundo). Devemos encarar, ainda, que no orçamento do pobre, os ítens escola e alimentação pesam muito, porque faltam estabelecimentos de ensino gratuítos de qualidade e o plantio de produtos que possam manter o equilibrio entre a oferta e a procura.

A prioridade que o brasileiro espera e cobra, não está relacionada com a transferência de recursos gerados pelo seu suor, para a manutenção do desenvolvimento dos países ricos, mas sim, visando a solução para os inúmeros problemas internos. E não é concebível que o Brasil, com área arável de 5% do seu territorio ou de 200 milhões de hectares, produza , em grãos, pouco mais de 45% do que os americanos colhem somente em toneladas de milho e que corresponde ao porcentual de 50% da produção mundial. Em 2008, a produção prevista será de pouco mais de 135 milhões de toneladas ( utilizando 50 milhões de hectares), concentradas na soja ( 58 milhões), no milho (53 milhões). no arroz ( 11 milhões ) e no feijão (3,5 milhões). É muito pouco, no contexto de uma produção mundial de dois (2) bilhões de toneladas e aquí temos clima tropical, subtropical, com estações bem distintas, além do governo ainda gastar bilhões de reais com projetos de irrigação. Não há justificativa nenhuma para que o alimento e a escola e até o lazer, tenham um peso tão forte nos índices inflacionários. Falta ao governo elencar e materializar as verdadeiras prioridades do País e administrar, com rigor, os recursos disponibilizados pelo erário. E além dos problemas na educação e na produção de alimentos, falta ao Brasil recursos para a construção de usinas hidroelétricas e de eclusas, para um melhor aproveitamento do transporte fluvial; falta a construção de ferrovias de norte a sul, leste a oeste , para facilitar e baratear o escoamento da produção e o transporte de passageiros; falta infra estrutura de portos e aeroportos; falta a conservação e mais rodovias de qualidade; falta saneamento básico; falta habitação popular e faltam recursos,mas com bom e honesto gerenciamento, na área de saúde. Se faltam tantos recursos para agilizar o nosso desenvolvimento, proporcionando mais emprego, renda , consumo e melhor qualidade de vida para o brasil subdesenvolvido e desenvolvido, porque então proporcionar o conforto lá fora, quando aquí não produzimos alimentos suficientes para alimentar os 185 milhões de brasileiros e não temos escolas de qualidade e gratúitas para matricular os jovens de hoje, para não ser tornar os analfabetos de amanhã. Somos abençados por Deus para cuidar da melhoria das condições de vida de todos os brasileiros e não dos estrangeiros e AINDA FALTARAM MAIS DE R$ 50 BILHÕES PARA COMPLETAR O PAGAMENTO DOS JUROS SOBRE A DÍVIDA E DEVIDOS EM 2007 E QUE ESTÃO SENDO TRANSFERIDOS PARA A CONTA DO PRINCIPAL.

E os brasileiros cobram ainda do Governo, uma prestação de Contas bem Transparente e analítica e diária de todos os órgãos da administração pública direta e indireta (principalmente do BC e do BNDES), via Internet e não só a publicidade das receitas administradas. A contra partida é muito pequena em relação aos R$ 600 bilhões arrecadados em 2007. Caixa Preta com o dinheiro do Povo, não pode existir, em nome de qualquer sigilo, para acobertar irregularidades. O Governo deve contar com o povo e com os Internautas , para a fiscalização de suas Contas.

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

DONTTYPELIES,

I am not BLAMING those who give out of good will.

It is their choice to give. Sometimes, the actual donors -- the taxpayers -- have to give, even if they don't actually choose to give. The decision is made by those who don't give but RECEIVE.

However, it is my duty to explain what actually happens, which differs from the perception that is created.

As for blaming the 'thief', believe me, I am in the 'West' because I have had the courage to not only blame the thief but take them on in terms that have caused them enough discomfort to hit back at me. Because I had my education in North America in the 1970's, and my wife and children can contribute and produce significantly more than they consume, we have been welcomed as immigrants and are here. Of course, I would have preferred to stay back and contribute in "my part of the world", in particular giving my children the opportunity to DIRECTLY contribute to the welfare of their grandmother who helped raise them. But, to take on the kleptocrats and the thieves, you need a critical mass. Sadly, after 30 years' efforts, I have had to admit that a critical mass will not be created during my lifetime. My crusade has been quixotic. The decision to move to the West was collective. On my own, I may have been too blind to see that my 30-year crusade was quixotix.

Regards, Sir, and thank you for giving me an opportunity to clarify.

fred:

"What happens to Hugo Chavez's anti-American rhetoric when his professed nemesis, President George Bush, leaves office? Just out of curiousity, do he and his comrades watch our primaries?"

Two words: Hillary Clinton.

Mark:

Show me a prosperous, progressive country where people wait in line for 3 days outside the U.S. Embassy for a chance to immigrate. That might be true of places like Iraq - and if it is, you might want to compare the lines with those that existed (or didn't) before the U.S. "intervention" wrecked it - and others where the poor far outnumber the middle class, or no middle class exists. If you want to view that as a plus for the U.S., be my guest.

frank burns:

America is in a downward spiral fueled by self-centeredness. Their once great world standing is on the wane, because their military and economic strength alone are not enough for greatness.

DontTypeLies:

Mr. Malleck, what those thieves do with the good will money is beyond our control. It is not good ethics to blame the people who give out of goodwill. The onus is on the dictators and their theiving corrupt scheming system. You would be more righteous if you blamed the thief, not the charity giver.

DontTypeLies:

Ok Roy. Then tell me why the American embassies all over the world have lines that people wait in for 3 days sometimes, just to go inside and get a form to immigrate to the US? Is this happening in the other embassies? I see you are not much proud of being an American, you sound rather ashamed by the way you exaggerate.

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

SAM,

I worked at the African Development Bank for 16 years and I cannot but agree with you (not that the reason is that I am now in North America and jointly with my wife we head a household ranked in the highest income tax-paying bracket), but this supposed development aid money mostly ends up in the pockets of kleptocrats who are then held to ransom to help megacorporations buy out oil fields, mines, breweries and sweatshops on developing countries' privatisation lists on the cheap.

You and I pay, Sam, and it is the corrupt rulers, the oil thieves, and the raiders of mining outfits in the developing world that are going through a rough patch who get rich. Not to talk of the so-called 'security' companies like Blackwater!

Zathras:

The United States is like most very large countries, in that most of its people devote most of their attention to developments that occur within their borders.

A resident of Singapore does well to keep himself informed as to the state of affairs in Indonesia and Malaysia; German politics matter a lot to Danes and Czechs; most Canadians know much more about American politics than the other way around. Travel for very long in the interior of the very large countries -- China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia -- though, and you will find a level of general ignorance about international affairs easily comparable to that of Americans.

The comment is not meant pejoratively. People devote attention to things they believe will impact their own lives, and most of the time that means things that happen close to where they live. In all very large countries, including the United States, it is quite possible to live a full and active life without ever encountering someone from another country. To the extent our country, in which the government requires the consent of the governed to operate, must be active in international affairs, a heavy burden falls on those holding the relevant public offices to explain what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what is required of the people to accomplish our objectives. This is not a burden the people in American public life have often chosen to carry in recent years.

Sam:

America sees the world as a bunch of rude, stupid, ungrateful, jerks, who just want us to give them our money, fight their pointless wars for them and let them come over and gorge themselves on the welfare programs that hard-working Americans pay for. I agree completely with Fred Thompson on AIDS funding. If private citizens want to send pity money to Africa, they should do it from their own paychecks. The American government is not a charitable organization. It shouldn't be sending American money overseas to sick foreigners while American people are sick at home.

G. Gerson:

How America Sees the World?

The world? What is that?

We just need to watch the Weather Channel in order to realize that... the world begins and ends within the U.S. borders. There's nothing outside, with the exception of the oceans at the east and west of the U.S., and those grey regions to the north and to the south.

Those human-like visitors from those regions are righfully called "aliens", the same way we would call visitors from Mars. Some aliens are beautiful, very much like us, for example Nicole Kidman, Pamela Anderson, David Beckam. Others are small, dark-skinned, ugly, don't speak our language; we suspect these aliens want to conquest our world over a few generations, because of their reproduction rate.

Toys come to our world from some nearby planet called China. Good cars come from another planet called Japan. In exchange for these products, we give Chinese and Japanese aliens some papers printed by our government.

Our troops are fighting an inter-galactic war in the Iraq black hole. That's why they can't come back.

Mark:

This is actually a pretty good example of how America sees the world - as in, what world? The comments above posted by Americans living in America are mostly concerning their personal pick for president. President of what, the world? No, the United States, the only piece of the world that seems to matter to Americans. Anyone who doesn't come from there and is not a doglike-loyalty supporter of U.S. foreign policy - which aims to make everything outside America more like America - is just getting in the way of America's destiny.

Kirtidev Bhatt:

Although it would be better if the world changed to confirm to America's image of itself, but our experience suggests that it is not going to happen anytime soon. America believes in a document written some two centurys ago, but it has given up on most of the principles prescribed in the document and all the accumulated knowledge gathered by experience of waging wars through the ages, as soon as it received one blow from a nafarious gang that does not hold any teritory, nor is the gang capable of assembling an army, nor does it have an industrial base that can supply arms or develop new weapons.

War against El Qaeda is like fighting a war against houseflies. They are so.... anoying! Can we eliminate them by killing them with flyswatters? Yes...One or two....no problem but the real way to eliminate houseflies is to drain the swamps, clean the kitchen and install screen windows that will not allow flying insects from outside to enter the house. It is a boring, unglamourous task. Given a choice between a man and a woman, Only a woman can clean it up. Without demeaning the capabilities of women to lead this country or the importance of the Office of the president, I would prefer to elect Hillary Clinton in 2008 election. Good luck Hillary.

Kirtidev Bhatt:

Although it would be better if the world changed to confirm to America's image of itself, our experience suggests that it is not going to happen anytime soon. America believes in a document written some two centurys ago, but it has given up on most of the principles prescribed in the document and all the accumulated knowledge gathered by experience of the ages as soon as it received one blow from a nafarious gang that does not hold any teritory, nor is the gang capable of assembling an army, nor does it have an industrial base that can supply arms or develop new weapons.

War against El Qaeda is like fighting a war against houseflies. They are so.... anoying! Can we eliminate them by killing them with flyswatters? Yes...One or two....no problem but the real way to eliminate houseflies is to drain the swamps, clean the kitchen and install screen windows that will not allow flying things from outside to enter the house. It is a boring, unglamourous task. Only a woman can clean it up. Without demeaning the capabilities of women to lead this country or the importance of the Office of the president, I would prefer to elect Hillary Clinton in 2008 election.

Roy:

As an American living in another country, I see American's opinion of the rest of the world as condescending. Instead of being proud of the fact that American clothing, music, video games, movies and learning American English is very popular in the world, Americans expect others to "Westernize" as a matter of divine right. Most Americans traveling abroad expect English to be spoken everywhere. Some Americans, especially neocons and neochristians see anything and everything that looks or sounds different as an enemy that must be converted to their definition of "truth, justice and the American way" or destroyed.

Americans forget that there are other people in the world who go about their daily lives, work, party and raise their families without needing
America and/or American style conversion. Americans think that they are the center of the universe and that everyone else is inferior or would be better if they were like Americans. As Mark Twain said: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."

Amar C. Bakshi:

Jaoa Da Rocha, thanks for your thoughtful comment in Portuguese. I just share one quick idea with the usual suspects on the comment thread, and ask their suggestions. I think it would be great to translate comments written in other languages once they go up. Also, you could translate your comments back into the language of whomever you are speaking with perhaps.

I don't know what site is the best at doing this for free online. I turned to Google because it was most obvious, but let me know.
(http://www.google.com/language_tools)

For now, I'm going to post the Google translation of Jaoa's post for readers. Here is the link to Google translator. Let me know of better one's out there, and please feel free to translate other people's comments using this and pasting it on the thread so we have a running multilingual dialogue going on as best as possible with modern translational technology. If you speak the other language, please help too!

Thanks again, now here goes with Jaoa's post:

***

FROM JOAO IN ENGLISH:
The financial system always manipulated and controlled in their favour, the U.S. economy and with reflexes in the world economy.

Now it clear that after decades, the financial cartels will no longer have the most central banks as their main allies. The Americans discovered late, but knew the evils that almost all central banks are causing the world economy, the benefit of the greater concentration of riquesas.

And the American Treasury has made it clear, the package received publicity, which will not inject resources of the American people to the maintenance of abusive earnings that the bank had with the credits podres. If the bank created and still fuel the crisis, which was not contained by incompetence or connivance of the Central Banks, they solve the problems they have created and with their own resources.

And the space for easy gains with the speculative capital, is narrowing increasingly in Europe, Asia and North American.

I do not know because Brazil, as the tenth world economy is not following the same trend and continues paying premium of 160% above inflation (perhaps the largest in the world) for the scroll of its debt.

If the G-20 is unisse, as a united OPEC, the Cartel Financial and more, determining, through a treaty, that the premium on inflation of any such country can not move from 3%. The amount of the economy, with such simple measures, would quietly of $ 1 trillion and that those resources are going to improdutividade, would be better used and allocated in education, health, road, rail and urban (quality) and in
In sanitation. And the most important is that significantly reduce the concentration of riquesas. Suggestions are feasible to implement in the short term.

The redefinition of the importance of central banks and the current model of action, it is absolutely necessary. What these banks become, in fact, to defend the government of their countries and not the Treasury of Cartels Financeiros.É a subject that should be widely discussed. They want because they want to expand the American crisis. But it will not be easy to face the reality of an economy that accounts for more than 25% of GDP and World finance its deficit with premium around zero. Where it is the recession? Only in the same reduction in abusive Profits of Banks'. Because in the United States, is not. And it is regrettable as Brazil continue as a paradise for the world financial speculation

JOAO DA ROCHA:

A CRISE AMERICANA ESTÁ MESMO É NOS BANCOS QUE NÃO QUEREM DEVOLVER O QUE
GANHARAM COM OS FINANCIAMENTO PODRES


O sistema financeiro sempre manipulou e controlou a seu favor, a economia dos EUA e com reflexos na economia mundial.

Agora ficou claro, que depois de décadas, os cartéis financeiros já não terão mais os Bancos Centrais como os seus principais aliados. Os americanos descobriram tarde, mas conheceram os males que quase todos Bancos Centrais estão causando à economia mundial, em beneficio da maior concentração de riquesas.

E o Tesouro americano deixou bem claro, no pacote que deu publicidade, que não vai injetar recursos do Povo americano para a manutenção dos abusivos Lucros que os Bancos tiveram com os créditos podres. Se os Bancos criaram e ainda alimentam a crise, que não foi contida por incompetencia ou conivencia dos Bancos Centrais, que eles resolvam os problemas que criaram e com os seus próprios recursos.

E o espaço para ganhos fáceis com o Capital especulativo, está se estreitando cada vez mais na Europa, Ásia e Americana do Norte.

Não sei porque o Brasil, como a décima economia mundial, não está seguindo a mesma tendencia e continua pagando ágio de 160% acima da inflação ( talvez o maior do mundo) para a rolagem de sua dívida.

Se o G-20 se unisse, como se uniram a OPEP, os Cartéis Financeiros e outros mais, determinando, através de um Tratado, que o ágio sobre a inflação de qualquer um desses países não pode passar de 3%. O montante da economia, com essas simples providencias, passaria tranquilamente de US$ 1 trilhão e esses recursos que estão indo para a improdutividade, passariam a ser melhor aproveitados e alocados em educação, saúde, transportes rodoviários, ferroviários e urbano ( de qualidade)e em
em saneamento básico. E o mais importante é que reduziria expressivamente a concentração de riquesas. São sugestões factíveis de se concretizarem em curto prazo.

A redefinição da importancia dos bancos centrais e no modelo atual de ação, é absolutamente necessária. Que esses Bancos passem, de fato, a defender o Tesouro de seus países e não o Tesouro dos Cartéis Financeiros.É um tema que deve ser amplamente discutido. Querem porque querem ampliar a crise americana. Mas não será fácil enfrentar a realidade de uma economia que responde por mais de 25% do PIB Mundial e financia o seu deficit com ágio próximo de zero. Aonde mesmo está a recessão? Só mesmo na redução dos abusivos Lucros dos Bancos ?. Porque no Estado americano, não está. E é lamentável o Brasil continuar como um Paraíso para a especulação financeira mundial

Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada:

You ask " Do we combat, compete, cooperate? There is anxiety."

What America (and everybody else for that matter, including both Mbeki and Zuma in South Africa, Kibaki and Odinga in Kenya, Palestinians, and an Israeli Defence Force that is getting back into the delusion of invincibility that prevailed before its latest defeat by Hizb'Allah but has discovered the inevitable boomerang effect that the Kassam rockets are made from Israeli metal) needs to do is to be realistic, REALISTIC.

In the case of America, that means adjusting its act to take in the reality that, during the Bush years, the world has morphed irrevocably from unipolar to a state that is already tripolar, but whose third, Asian, pole has not yet taken final form (the two other poles are, of course, the US and EU). The Asian pole might be an Asian NATO that groups China, India and Russia, or it might be just Russia, China and Central Asian satellites, or there might be two variable-geometry Asian poles, one around a China/India axis, a second one around a Russia/Central Asian states axis.

That brings me to your trip to Latin America. Where does the tripolar world leave Latin America -- eternal backyard of the US? Nope, like Greater West Asia (Middle East including Turkey, Iran and Pakistan/Afghanistan) they will, in the near term, be groping their way into constituting their own geostrategic pole.

Cause for anxiety? Only if you are obsessed with hegemony. If, like cutting-edge multidisciplinary scientists in systems theory, emergence and complexity, you have started to grasp the nature of the fabric of reality -- in particular recognising that the bravado statement that "We are now an Empire; We make our own reality" is utter delusion) --- then there is plenty of reason for hope. Because, as Freeman Dyson said in his Templeton Award Acceptance lecture, in out three-dimensional world, the minimum polarity structure that is stable is tripolar.

gary:

if you want to see the real america read the declaration of independence. our rights come from above,not from the peice of paper. the country you are headed for get their rights from hugo. also, all other constitutions have fine print that says if things aren't going right it will be recinded.this is the greatest country in the world. we are having to shake tings out.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Thanks Victoria regardless! It's an interesting possibility. I'd love to travel around the U.S. Just got to think of the right hook. Moving through Latin America might help me find it, being so close and yet so far away. Mexico would be a great transition point between looking at how the world sees America, and how America sees the world. I wonder how to break down a tour of the U.S. By region? Demographic? Theme? Just a cross country drive?

VICTORIA:

hey amar-

isnt htis a hiatus for you? yo still seem pretty busy to me-
in response to your question, (or part)

" Is there a tour of the U.S. you guys would like to see that would help explore some key issues at stake in the election"

i think the candidates are taking that tour for us- yes, we get alot of staged questions etc...but there are lots of little moments-
(the ron paul supporters in NH for instance)

it seems obvious that you sould be doing a tour of america sometime soon to ask americans what THEY think about people in other lands-
kind of the polar opposite of your current tour-

omigod- i just saw the title of your post here-
(i didnt read it- responded to your last post here as i figured youd look here first)

ummm, welll, never mind!

Amar C. Bakshi:

In an op-ed today, Michael Gerson takes on Fred Thompson for his reluctance to commit the U.S. to helping combat AIDS in Africa. I've excerpted it below, and provided a link, because I think it's an interesting perspective on this debate of America's global role.

From MICHAEL GERSON: "Thompson went on: "I'm not going to go around the state and the country with regards to a serious problem and say that I'm going to prioritize that. With people dying of cancer, and heart disease, and children dying of leukemia still, I got to tell you -- we've got a lot of problems here. . . . " Indeed, there are a lot of problems here -- mainly of Thompson's own making.

While he is not an isolationist, he clearly is playing to isolationist sentiments. His objection, it seems, is not to government spending on public health but to spending on foreigners. But this is badly shortsighted. America is engaged in a high-stakes ideological struggle in Africa, where radicals and terrorists seek to fill the vacuum of failed and hopeless societies. Fighting disease and promoting development are important foreign policy tools in this struggle, which Thompson apparently does not appreciate or even understand."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/17/AR2008011702243.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Frederick Paxson:

FRED THOMPSON is the best person to lead this country. He is a true conservative and has been his entire life. All one has to do is check his record to see this.

During my time in the Army as an Intelligence Analyst, I served under both Presidents Carter and Reagan (as my commanders in chief). Without argument, President Reagan was the best commander-in-chief a military person could ever have served under. Fred Thompson possesses the same qualities and vision as President Reagan in that he is strong on national defense and sees a dire need to secure our borders and control immigration.

I can think of no better person to lead this country and fix the problems we have. He is the only candidate from either party who has specific and detailed plans on border security and immigration reform; revitalization of America’s armed forces; saving and protecting Social Security; and tax relief and economic growth. These are detailed on his Web site at www.fred08.com . I challenge you to find any other candidate who has laid out specific plans to fix anything.

Fred Thompson has published his first principles, some of which are mentioned above. In addition to those, he strongly believes in individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, federalism, traditional American values, the rule of law and is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment — all concepts established during the birth of our country and documented in our Constitution.

Again, try to find any candidate who has laid out their plans to “fix” this country. You will find they all speak in vague and abstract terms on their plans.

For those who have heard Fred Thompson speak, you will usually hear him say that the Fred Thompson you see today is the same Fred Thompson you saw yesterday and is the same Fred Thompson you will see tomorrow. He stands by his principles and values and doesn’t shift his positions based on polls or public opinion; in other words, he doesn’t say what the voters want to hear just to get elected, but remains steadfast on his views and convictions.

During his time in the Senate he focused on three areas: to lower taxes, strengthen national security and expose waste in the federal government. Fred Thompson has foreign policy experience, having served as member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Intelligence committees.

As chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, he opened the investigation in 1997 on the Chinese government’s attempt to influence American policies and elections, and this investigation identified connections with the Clinton administration (documented in the committee’s report).

As a member of the Finance Committee, he worked tirelessly to enact three major tax-cut bills. Fred Thompson remains steadfast and even though a person may not agree with all his views and he understands some may disagree with him, you can count on him to be consistent and unwavering.

Don’t be fooled by his laid back approach and what critics call his “laziness.” As a former assistant U.S. attorney, he earned a reputation as a tough prosecutor and he possesses the toughness this country needs in order to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s issues.

I ask that you take a hard look at what this country needs, then take a hard look at all the other candidates’ views, policies, their records and their track record on consistency. Fred Thompson possesses integrity, loyalty, commitment, energy and decisiveness, all traits of an effective leader, and will emerge as the best person to take this country boldly forward.

Please help Fred win in 2008:
https://www.fred08.com/contribute.aspx?RefererID=c637caaa-315c-4b4c-9967-08d864cd0791

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