A little bit of politics

I was accidentally included on an email exchange today between a few intelligent Americans talking about Barack Obama’s recent Berlin speech. The back-and-forth quickly turned into a discussion regarding America’s role in the post-World War II rehabilitation of Europe. The Marshall Plan was, after all, one of a series of important measures that helped rebuild the economies and cities of the battered continent. Sure, there may have been a little bit of self-interest, but nobody’s doubting that America stepped up to the plate when it needed to.

But every so often in any debate about foreign policy, someone will make a comment that forces you to question whether you actually read the email correctly. The kind of statement that makes you wonder why Americans are surprised to find out that some people regard them as pariahs in the international arena.

A statement that in this case reads “if it wasn’t for us, 90% of the world would be speaking Russian.”

The 43rd President of the United States is near-universally derided as the worst occupant of the Oval Office, but you’ve got to imagine that even he would have second thoughts about saying something like this.

By the way, I read that an AOL poll on who should be the next president has John McCain ahead on 64%. Will the last person to leave America please turn the lights out?

5 thoughts on “A little bit of politics

  1. Brett

    We get it. You be the fish swimming in a different pond type Blogger…its a narrative I can dig…its just one of those things…like Some people surf the web looking for the X-Rated…when I’d just rather track down some X-patriated. Since you aren’t technically a fish from a different pond…rather instead a fish from across the pond…I find it surprising that you would consider the email exchange as providing an insightful look into the American Psyche. Nobody actually THINKS Russian would be the language of the Welsh or Bavarians had the US chose an alternative approach…All it actually means is The Russians had a lot of influence…and that influence was checked. Its a reply straight out of Americana…nothing more…Your tried to assign the trifecta of Negative American characterizations to a single offhand comment.

    STUPID AMERICAN,
    POORLY-EDUCATED AMERICAN,
    Narcissistic AMERICAN

    It was a clever way of furthering a narrative while not showing any cards

  2. Dylan

    Hi Brett – thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. I should clarify that I was merely commenting on this one American, and not trying to make a statement on the whole of Americankind. As I said to him in a reply, I wouldn’t deem fit to defend all Britons, or all the actions of Britain past or present. After all, if there’s one thing that Britain does well, it’s misplaced nationalism. Sadly it seems that event has been removed from the line-up for the forthcoming Beijing Olympics.

    I appreciated the nuances of what he was saying, but the fact is that his suggestion that America ‘saved the world from Communism’ is just wearisome. It doesn’t mean he’s ill-educated or stupid, or that all Americans are narcissistic. But I couldn’t let his email go without replying. And as I blog about the interrelationship between Americans and Brits, I thought some people on here might be interested in it here too.

    All I will say is that there are responsibilities that come with free speech. And thinking before you write or speak is one of them.

    Sorry if I offended you, or gave people more reason to think that I’m anti-American. I think maybe it’s time I put a health warning on this blog – a Victor Kiam style disclaimer that says “I love Americans so much, I married one” maybe?

  3. LolaBloom

    Please don’t start censoring yourself at all.. Things can be interpreted in SO many ways by SO many people and I think anyone having read and followed your blog for any period of time wouldn’t take offense – even us American born folk 😉

    And even if you had meant it in the way that Brett interpreted, it’s your blog, say what you like. I guess it’s a risk of the whole blogging thing in general tho, huh.

  4. Alasdair

    Dylan – it would seem that this may have been your seminal encounter with a US trait – they take *everything* way too seriously and personally ! (and I tend not to use words like “everything” and “always”)

    Having spent my first 21 years in a culture where the Gratuitous Insult is a respected art-form (and being Scots), it took me a while to realise that what was, to me, an innocent expression of said art-form was being taken directly and personally and not happily by US dorm residents …

    When I subsequently got into University-level debating (as an outlet for my creative abilities with Gratuitous Insult), and was introduced to American-style “debate”, I ended up having to write my responses on index cards to pass to my debate team-mate (otherwise I would have exploded ! Parliamentary-style debate with its cut-and-thrust gained new respect from me … plus, my team-mate enjoyed ’em, and often responded very well for a Yank … (grin) …

    So – consider your blog to be the equivalent of those index cards … express yourself … the folk who still possess a living sense of humour will still respect you … the others, basically, never did anyway …

    (Personally, my observation is that, if the UK hadn’t held out against Hitler long enough for the US to enter WWII, the national language in North America would have been German by now … if the Nazis had been able to consolidate the entire Eurpopean industrial base, North America would have been toast a couple of decades later … basically, it took ALL the Allies to win WWII – no single Ally earned all the credit – and if any of the major Allies had not contributed, the rest of the Allies would have lost WWII)

  5. Almost American

    Clearly it was a team effort . . . and I do believe that some (a very few, generally older and Republican) Americans are quite serious when they say that they believe we would all be speaking Russian or German now if it were not for the American involvement in WW2.

    I find it interesting that Brett sees British as basically the same as Americans: “you aren’t technically a fish from a different pond…rather instead a fish from across the pond”. Nope. It IS a different pond Brett. Not quite as different as some others, I’ll admit, but different all the same!

    McCain is ahead?! I may have to start job-hunting back in the UK 🙁

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