Anna Gregoline | August 13, 2004
Should the United States offer foreign aid only to those nations which support our policies?

Scott Hardie | August 13, 2004
This question can tick off liberals and conservatives alike. We both want to catch flies, but we differ on whether honey or vinegar is best way to do it. It's not unfair to call liberals foolish for giving aid to nations that don't like us, and it's also not unfair to call conservatives cold-hearted for ignoring hostile nations who need our help.

I'm a firm believer in two foreign policy principles: That a nation can sustain its status as the sole superpower only if other nations tolerate it as such, and that the Marshall Plan and other forms of sharing the wealth are the only way other nations will continue to tolerate it.

Throughout world history, the dominant world power in each era achieved its position through a combination of military victories and cultural excellence, both of which we've had in spades for most of the past century. But the dominant power always fell when the rest of the world turned on it, no longer accepting its status because it was perceived to be abusing its power. I don't want my grandkids' grandkids to look back on the U.S. as a fading has-been, usurped from prominence by combined European and Asian economies that ganged up on it because it wouldn't share its wealth. That we pursue our own interests to the detriment of other nations' interests continues to top foreign polls of complaints about the United States, and it's a trend we need to damper before it harms us decades from now when it's too late.

Jackie Mason | August 13, 2004
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John Viola | August 14, 2004
'Throughout world history, the dominant world power in each era achieved its position through a combination of military victories and cultural excellence, both of which we've had in spades for most of the past century.'

Agree with the 'military victories' part of the sentence. Curious about the 'cultural excellence' part. What do you mean by it, and can you give some examples, perhaps contrasted with past cultural excellence?

Jackie - yes, self-interest seems to reign supreme.

Scott Hardie | August 14, 2004
I mean excellence in the sense that our recent cultural output has significantly exceeded that of the rest of the world in terms of quantity, accessibility, popularity, and production quality. If judged by its artistic merit, well, that's another story. :-)

Jackie Mason | August 14, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | August 15, 2004
I don't think that's necessarily true. I mean, WE copy a lot of other cultures, and steal whole sitcoms from other countries regularly.

Scott Hardie | August 15, 2004
It's true, ripping off other cultures is a global phenomenon and always has been; ask the ancient Romans whose gods they worshipped. But of the cultures on Earth right now, I suspect ours is ripped off more than any other, for the reasons I listed above. Foreign stores have cheap knock-offs of American toys, American candies, American fashions. We inspire hairstyles, we influence cooking methods, we instigate programming trends. And that's not even considering the spread of American-style pop music.

Even when we steal things from other countries, they sometimes come to be considered quintessentially American, like blue jeans (French invention) or hamburgers (German invention).

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