View Poll Results: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

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  • Yes, America is the greatest Country.

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Thread: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

  1. #171
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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by celticwar17 View Post
    As a side note, Americas racism is overblown in comparison to most of the world and even most of Europe, The Scandinavian countries are the only ones more racially tolerant. America is on the same level as Canada and the UK.THIS DOES NOT MEAN that racism is not something we should all actively fight and strive to improve, it's just a matter of perspective....I hear a fair amount of people from around the world, because of the media, think America is some rampant KKK powerhouse.... when in fact that is not the case, America is a extremely diverse and accepting country in comparison to MOST countries in the world INCLUDING Europe.
    From my experience of meeting Americans, you are very good at naturally showing respect to individuals in their diversity. Racism is hard to define well but, on gut instinct, I wouldn't say that the USA is more racist than England.

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    The only thing that jarred was your final sentence, about the birth of a superpower. But by common definitions of "superpower", if we must use the term, then I accept that the USA has been one since WW2. But why you should want to use the terms begs many questions.

    Going back to the thread, it really is for history to judge if one country was the "greatest" or the "best" in any period and, even then, arguments are bound to rage because of the arrogance of any such claim. What I am picking up from this thread is that there is a strong current in American thinking that it is important that they acknowledge that they are the "best" or the "greatest" country. This is very worrying. As soon as this thinking starts to take hold, people move into an unreal world where they are the good guys and they must sort the good guys from the bad; it also makes it harder to accept mistakes humbly and learn from them. A nation that thinks this way about itself will cast itself as having the "burden" of resolving major world problems, according to some God-given mandate. Ultimately, these beliefs lead to thinking that the lives of the people in their country are more important than the lives of other people. As I say, this is an extremely familiar mentality for Brits and, by no means have we recovered from it. If any Brit made similar claims as to how we were ever the "best" or "greatest", he or she could expect a similar response.
    Well I had to take a swipe at the Canadians... little brother and all that.

    The reason I included the last sentence, and mentioned that WW2 was the moment that gave birth to the United States as a superpower, was simply to point out the magnitude of the event insofar as how it has shaped the world around us since that time. I'm making the case that had the United States not gotten involved in the European part of WW2, we would not have been the power we are today, and, ergo, there never would have been a counterbalance against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, there never would have been a counterbalance against communist expansion in Latin America and Asia during the 50's through the 80's, there never would have been a counterbalance against those Middle Eastern nations who want to wipe Israel off the map.... etc.

    The world would be a very different place. And that's worth noting as an interesting fact.

    As for your fear that American arrogance will lead to blindness and unpredictable action, I think your fear is understandable, however I don't share it. You are looking at it from a chiefly European perspective, through the lens of European history and experience. Europe has a history of Fascism, which is essentially what you're describing to a tee - a people believe they are superior to other groups of people, therefore they commit atrocious acts against other people justified internally by their own sense of superiority.

    American patriotism is a rather different animal compared with European fascism, and a much more benign one.

    Ours really stems from two things. First, we're a nation of immigrants. The majority of white Americans originally came from some form of oppression in Europe - either religious, economic, political, etc. America, to those people, represented the land of freedom and opportunity which they did not have in Europe at the time they left. This positive attitude has carried over the generations and that's why we still identify ourselves as the "land of opportunity" and with concepts like "freedom" and "liberty" and so forth, even though one could rightly say that other nations have since caught up in those respects.

    The other key point is simply cultural. Americans value a positive, confident attitude and a "can-do" attitude to a much greater extent than other countries I've lived in or visited. We're generally more comfortable around someone who is self-aggrandizing than someone who is self-deprecating, and I would say this is quite opposite from what you see in Britain and can indeed be the source of some cultural friction. We can get in to that in more detail if you wish, but suffice it to say for now that it's just the way Americans are, and you shouldn't take much from it.

    When we puff our chests out and say "America is the greatest," it's meant as a statement of self-confidence, not in any way an indictment of other countries. Most Americans would fully expect and encourage you to counter "Britain is the greatest" or "Scotland is the greatest" or whatever. We'd be more comfortable with that than the self-deprecating European "no country is the greatest, we all suck, blah blah."

    It's just a cultural thing.

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    America's cockiness is just as dangerous as that of Britain's of the past, perhaps more, because of sheer devastating firepower. You'll never find me harking back to the greatness of Britain's colonial past - though many Britons sadly still do. The Americans were right to insist that Britain relinquish the empire after WW2, but are wrong to copy this mentality, as though it was their turn. The chickens have long been coming to roost as a result.
    I disagree. I think America, while undoubtedly making mistakes along the way, has overall been a force for good in the world since WW2. On the political front, American power has been the counterweight to the Soviets, to the spread of communism in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, has been responsible for opening up China to the West, has ensured the survival of Israel and the post-holocaust Jews both by protecting Israel and by welcoming the largest number of Jews on to our shores of any nation on earth since the war.

    On the economic front, America has essentially fed the world by exporting cheap food and has been integral in the global population boom since WW2, has been the champion for free trade and economic prosperity both in the east and west, has furthered the world culturally with everything from inventing Jazz, then Rock and Roll to Hollywood and the Internet, has exported its values of diversity, open competition, and capitalism throughout the world.

    We helped end Apartheid in South Africa. We helped bring down the Berlin Wall.

    We have not colonized, although we could. We have not conquered, although we could.

    Overall, America has been a force for good in the world. I only hope this continues, and that we don't see our power get to our heads and corrupt us in the future.
    Last edited by Peter Grimm; 05-05-15 at 11:33 AM.

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    Thank-you for the information. You write well and I enjoyed reading it.

    I am sure the Canadians were heavily involved in WW2 but I don't know when their involvement started.

    I'm really not doubting that the USA made a huge contribution to the defeat of the Nazis and it's something we should never forget. I don't know exactly what commemorations will take place for VE Day this week (70th anniversary) but I hope that the USA has a big role - they certainly should.

    The only thing that jarred was your final sentence, about the birth of a superpower. But by common definitions of "superpower", if we must use the term, then I accept that the USA has been one since WW2. But why you should want to use the terms begs many questions.

    Going back to the thread, it really is for history to judge if one country was the "greatest" or the "best" in any period and, even then, arguments are bound to rage because of the arrogance of any such claim. What I am picking up from this thread is that there is a strong current in American thinking that it is important that they acknowledge that they are the "best" or the "greatest" country. This is very worrying. As soon as this thinking starts to take hold, people move into an unreal world where they are the good guys and they must sort the good guys from the bad; it also makes it harder to accept mistakes humbly and learn from them. A nation that thinks this way about itself will cast itself as having the "burden" of resolving major world problems, according to some God-given mandate. Ultimately, these beliefs lead to thinking that the lives of the people in their country are more important than the lives of other people. As I say, this is an extremely familiar mentality for Brits and, by no means have we recovered from it. If any Brit made similar claims as to how we were ever the "best" or "greatest", he or she could expect a similar response.

    I'll hold back on specifics as to how America's best" and "greatest" mentality has led to horror for many people around the world for now. But if the thread continues in this vein, then expect some reality checks along these lines.
    I think another important point when distinguishing European-style fascism with American patriotism, and this one is important, is the question of blame.

    When Hitler came to power in Germany, or when Mussolini came to power in Italy, etc, the attitude of the fascists in these countries was to blame outsiders for the trials and problems faced by their respective countries.

    Hitler blamed the Jews, blamed the French, blamed everyone except the Germans for their failures. This led to a hatred of others, and justified, in their minds, violence against others.

    Americans, while cocky as can be, don't blame anyone other than Americans for their woes. It's inconceivable to an American that we wouldn't be the masters of our own destiny. In fact, we're an open book.... dig through this forum and I challenge you to find many instances in which an American of any political persuasion blames a foreign country for what is going wrong in our country.

    American liberals blame American conservatives. American conservatives blame Obama. There's a lot of finger pointing, but it's all internal. We believe that we are responsible for our own fate, and that, my friend, is a huge distinction from the fascists of Europe who blamed others and thus used this to justify violence against them.

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Grimm View Post
    I think another important point when distinguishing European-style fascism with American patriotism, and this one is important, is the question of blame.

    When Hitler came to power in Germany, or when Mussolini came to power in Italy, etc, the attitude of the fascists in these countries was to blame outsiders for the trials and problems faced by their respective countries.

    Hitler blamed the Jews, blamed the French, blamed everyone except the Germans for their failures. This led to a hatred of others, and justified, in their minds, violence against others.

    Americans, while cocky as can be, don't blame anyone other than Americans for their woes. It's inconceivable to an American that we wouldn't be the masters of our own destiny. In fact, we're an open book.... dig through this forum and I challenge you to find many instances in which an American of any political persuasion blames a foreign country for what is going wrong in our country.

    American liberals blame American conservatives. American conservatives blame Obama. There's a lot of finger pointing, but it's all internal. We believe that we are responsible for our own fate, and that, my friend, is a huge distinction from the fascists of Europe who blamed others and thus used this to justify violence against them.
    Ok. Lots to chew over. I've never compared US patriotism with European fascism. I don't think Brits are inclined to think this way, though I have to speak for myself. I've never seen it anyway.

    Brits tend not to blame other countries either for their problems, though more recently concern has risen over the level of immigration. There is also a big section of the population who disagree with membership of the EU, or at least the power of the EU (I am in this group) because of the impact on our home-grown democracy.

    Though British Conservatives would think differently, I have to disagree with your assessment of the US's role in preserving world peace. With its dropping of A-bombs in Japan in 1945, amassing of nuclear weapons, invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, and Cold War posturing the USA has proved itself to be more of an enemy of world peace than a friend since WW2. I think that the American position on world events is closely aligned with the protection of its commercial interests, which is bolstered by a Messianic belief in its own righteousness. Britain's contribution as a key ally has been no less dismal. I don't have a problem with individual Americans - just American politics, as it affects the rest of the world.

    On culture, I like country music (unusually for an Englishman), many US sitcoms, a lot of classic US rock music, and some Hollywood films. However, gratuitous violence in Hollywood films is now really bad and I am careful what I watch. Rap music and heavy metal and their associated cultures are disturbing. And generally, the dominance of US culture across the world is often not good for the healthy development and preservation of local cultures. On the other hand, its widespread nature has given us common cultural references which bridge nations at a certain level. So American culture is a mixed bag for me.

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    Ok. Lots to chew over. I've never compared US patriotism with European fascism. I don't think Brits are inclined to think this way, though I have to speak for myself. I've never seen it anyway.

    Brits tend not to blame other countries either for their problems, though more recently concern has risen over the level of immigration. There is also a big section of the population who disagree with membership of the EU, or at least the power of the EU (I am in this group) because of the impact on our home-grown democracy.

    Though British Conservatives would think differently, I have to disagree with your assessment of the US's role in preserving world peace. With its dropping of A-bombs in Japan in 1945, amassing of nuclear weapons, invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, and Cold War posturing the USA has proved itself to be more of an enemy of world peace than a friend since WW2. I think that the American position on world events is closely aligned with the protection of its commercial interests, which is bolstered by a Messianic belief in its own righteousness. Britain's contribution as a key ally has been no less dismal. I don't have a problem with individual Americans - just American politics, as it affects the rest of the world.

    On culture, I like country music (unusually for an Englishman), many US sitcoms, a lot of classic US rock music, and some Hollywood films. However, gratuitous violence in Hollywood films is now really bad and I am careful what I watch. Rap music and heavy metal and their associated cultures are disturbing. And generally, the dominance of US culture across the world is often not good for the healthy development and preservation of local cultures. On the other hand, its widespread nature has given us common cultural references which bridge nations at a certain level. So American culture is a mixed bag for me.
    The point was that generally, when Europeans view American patriotism with fear and skepticism, it comes from viewing patriotism in a wider sense through the lens of European historical experience, which includes the relatively recent fascist history of Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.

    You equate patriotism with nationalism, and nationalism with violence, as that has been your experience on your continent. My point was not to in any way claim that Europeans are still fascists or that Britain has this problem, I only meant to show that your view of American patriotism may be skewed since you're looking at it through the tinted lens of your history, culture, and experiences which do not exactly correlate with ours.

    As for the US' role in preserving world peace, let's pursue a thought experiment: Say the United States dropped off the face of the earth following WW2 and the rest of the world were exactly in tact as it was in 1949. We'll continue to assume that the allies won the war, just for fun.

    The Soviet Union would surely have been the world's only superpower for at least 40 years following the war. Logically, Germany would never have been divided in to east and west, and all of Germany would have fallen under the Soviet sphere. NATO would never have existed. The only existing military power in Europe would have been Britain, not strong enough by herself to withstand Soviet influence, and certainly not strong enough to encroach on the USSR's influence of continental Europe.

    As such, most of Europe, with Britain as the possible exception, would have been communist, with nations like France, Germany, and Italy being much like today's Eastern European nations.

    China would never have opened trade with the West, and it's modern capitalist/communist mix would most likely be purely communist. Japan, a mess after WW2, would never have been rebuilt in to the robust economy it has today. A war between Japan and China would have been likely.

    Israel would have fallen to its neighbors, and, in addition to the 6 million Jews that died during the holocaust, several million more would have died in Israel in the years following.

    Lacking the grain exported by the USA and lacking any robust economic development in Europe (as a result of Soviet communism), many in third world nations would starve.

    Man would never have walked on the moon.

    A series of important inventions would never have occurred, or would have occurred later, since they were invented in America.

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by ObamacareFail View Post
    The biggest single source of funding for Islamic terrorism is oil wealth. The fact that the majority of that funding does not come from American customers does not matter to me. The fact that any amount comes from profits of fuel sold to Americans does matter to me. As long as he maintain any dependence at all on Mideast oil, at least a small portion of what you pay at the gas pumps is in fact funding Islamic terrorism. North America producing all of it's it's own oil would have a major effect. It would produce a glut that would force OPEC prices downward.
    Since most ME wealth is ultimately sourced to oil then yes, oil money funds terrorism. But most terrorist funding (except for ISIS) comes from established wealth -- the fruit of decades of oil exports. Nothing done now, to produce or not produce, or to purchase or not purchase, would have any appreciable effect.
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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Grimm View Post
    The point was that generally, when Europeans view American patriotism with fear and skepticism, it comes from viewing patriotism in a wider sense through the lens of European historical experience, which includes the relatively recent fascist history of Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.
    No, I don't recognise that at all. No one I know compares modern US nationalism with European nationalism of a century ago.
    You equate patriotism with nationalism
    Please define to me the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

    ...and nationalism with violence, as that has been your experience on your continent. My point was not to in any way claim that Europeans are still fascists or that Britain has this problem, I only meant to show that your view of American patriotism may be skewed since you're looking at it through the tinted lens of your history, culture, and experiences which do not exactly correlate with ours.
    When you have a history of positive experiences of nationalism to balance against negative European experiences of nationalism, then we can talk further.
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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahlevah View Post
    I think Will McAvoy's (Jeff Daniels') monologue is a little too idealized, as if one day the U.S. "stood for something" but then the next day it didn't. Even when the U.S. with its allies defeated the Axis Powers we had black soldiers and airmen coming home facing Jim Crow. For example, in a story I read earlier this year about two Tuskegee Airmen who died on the same day I ran across this tidbit:



    Ironic, isn't it? These men selflessly went to war in Europe to fight for freedom while they couldn't use a public restroom meant for "whites only" in the Jim Crow South of their own country. No welcome wagon for them.

    So then I'm left to ponder: Was America great because it "stood for something," or was America great because it had people who felt it was still worth dying for even as they were denied the full benefit of the freedoms it offered to its white citizens? I'd say the latter is closer to the truth.
    I believe the former. Once on understands that all men are fallible or as the bible says "all have fallen short", we no longer look to the imperfect neighbor as a guidepost. We instead look to the ideals and principals that we can agree make a great society and then strive for that. We "stood for something", because we had common values, even if we were imperfect in applying them.

    Now however I'm not so sure that we have common values anymore. There has been a decline in religious instruction, a decline in civic education, a decline in history, geography, philosophy, and logic in education. These disciplines shape values. On the other hand there has been more social and cultural education, which is fine, but has led to cultural relativism which weakens common values.
    "It is only when men contemplate the greatness of God that they can come to realize their own inadequacy." Jean Calvin

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    Re: Is America the greatest Country anymore? Or do you agree with Will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    On Nobel Prizes, if the issue arises as to which country has won the most, then it's fair enough to quote the stats and leave it at that. But there's no need to induce that this is evidence of the USA's "greatness". Let non-Americans pay you that compliment, if they choose.
    Why? If a statement is true, what difference does it make who utters it? Of course, reasonable people can agree or disagree on what criteria to use, but to say that there are no objective criteria one could come up with to induce some measure of a nation's "greatness," depending on how one defines that term, is beyond ludicrous. If I had to come up with a definition, it would revolve somewhere around a nation's impact on world history, culture, politics, and scientific achievement, to name a few. But if one assumes that nations, as such, can't be ranked or there are no such objective criteria, then you're basically saying they've all contributed equally to these areas of human endeavor. It reminds me of the idea that when kids participate in sports in grammar school they should all receive trophies just for showing up so that we don't damage their little, underdeveloped psyches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    If you rejigged the results table pro rata according to the world's population or GDP, perhaps both our countries would be well down the list.
    No doubt it would affect the results, but then having a large economy or a large population is no guarantee of human achievement. For example, China has a population of 1.3 billion and the world's second-largest economy and is the recipient of 12 Nobels. It's never received an award for medicine, chemistry, or economics, and its last award, for literature, was recieved in 2012. On the other hand, China ranks highly at sending its brightest overseas to study, and also does a great job, through various systems of espionage and "joint venture" arrangements, stealing the ideas of others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anglo-scot View Post
    If you excluded European emigres, then perhaps the USA would again fall down the list. Jewish people could claim that their race is the greatest if you looked at the ethnic origin of the winners. In any event, there's just no point trying to use these kind of stats to make a point about the USA being the "greatest". If you do, then expect others to keep kicking your country in the proverbials until it learns a little humility.
    How far do you want to go back? If you want, we can go back to the Norman Invasion and just include among British achievers descendants of loincloth-clad sheep farmers. As far as the Jews are concerned, we're talking about countries, not religions or people of different ethnic stock. What I can say is the U.S., through a system organized to allow freedom of thought and open inquiry, provided the environment for people of every background imaginable to advance the society. I mean, there are still a lot of Jews in Russia, but the country has only 28 Nobels to its credit. If it had been up to Soviet authorities, Boris Pasternak's novel, Doctor Zhivago, never would have made it out of the country.
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