America first is not America alone

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America first is not America alone

Editat: des. 20, 2020, 11:39am

it sets up a straw man by fundamentally mischaracterizing what “America first” has meant in practice. It certainly did not mean “America alone.” It certainly did not call for dismantling U.S. international engagement. It did not mean abandoning a network of alliances.

The thrust of the Foreign Affairs article is that the United States should base its foreign policy on the principles of “cooperative security.” The problem with cooperative security is that it requires states in the international system to subordinate their interests to a fictional “international community” and act in accordance with a system that operates independently of national interest.

a fictional “international community”

des. 20, 2020, 12:27pm

There is nothing particularly exceptional about the United States or the people who live here. We share the same planet with people from other countries--we share the same biologies and have the same needs and are subject to the same desires. Laws and documents don't change any of that---neither does our version of capitalism, how we do elections or somebody or other's faith in God does not make them better than somebody else's faith or no faith in God.

....and I'm sorry if this disappoints people but ideas about superiority are crap. Having the means to kill more people than anyone else doesn't make us better.

des. 20, 2020, 1:25pm

>2 lriley: There is nothing particularly exceptional about the United States or the people who live here.

Riffing off this, I've been curious for a long time about this idea of "American exceptionalism". I don't know where it came from or even exactly what people want it to mean. The word "exceptional" is ambiguous, after all - it can mean "an exception to the rules", as in "America doesn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else", or it can mean "particularly excellent", as in "America is a particularly excellent nation". Honestly, I don't know which one people mean by it, or if they mean that the latter justifies the former, or even if there's any shared meaning for the term at all. I can think of a a couple of other interpretations, some of which might be interesting, but none of them really feel like they're what anyone means.

Does anyone feel like they have a firm meaning for the term? If so, what is it, and where did you get it from?

des. 20, 2020, 1:33pm

"There is nothing particularly exceptional about the United States or the people who live here."

In order to calculate exactly how many ways this statement is wrong, I will need to borrow a quantum computer from the local university.

des. 20, 2020, 1:46pm

What's most exceptional about the USA might be its ecosystem diversity. We're in the top ten of biodiversity and have systems that don't exist in comparable countries. Strange, then, that our goverments are often reluctant to work with others to protect any of it.

des. 20, 2020, 1:50pm

#3--the sense I've had for a long time is that a high % of people living in the United States actually want to believe we are better as a people and as a if we've reached some kind of perfection. There's a lot of improvements that could be made though. I'm kind of envious for instance of the Canadian or Scandinavian health care systems and if you were a Norwegian and had the choice between paying your taxes for funding a mammoth war machine with no guarantee of health care or staying Norwegian and having a fairer more socialized economy where everyone's health care is covered I'm betting most Norwegians would stay just as they are.

But those are good definitional points that you are making as well.

des. 20, 2020, 1:54pm

. . .dismantling U.S. international engagement. It did not mean abandoning a network of alliances is just one of the reasons I can find no truck with Trump supporters. Their jubilation over f^cking over our NATO allies weakened NATO; insulting Western world leaders while praising repressive overlords crushed cooperation with previously well-disposed powerful friendlies; disengaging from well received alliances and treaties weakened our security and reputation (hooray!); self-adulation about "going it alone" and "I alone can fix it," which is inherently arrogant and foolish is regarded by Trumpty-Dumbpties as strength.

The list goes on. But Trump's ceaseless groveling before Putin, Xi, Kim, and Bolsanaro was NEVER opposed by Republicans and his fans. They worshiped Trump's brazen bravado as "Trump being Trump" and as an indication of "owning the libs."

They elected, supported, encouraged, and cheered the greatest Russian asset this country has ever seen. They still have not acknowledged, objected, censured, or made any effort to stop his sedition and betrayal. They have, with him, courted our adversaries and disdained our allies. That can not be forgiven nor forgotten. History will not. Pretty words come too lately are vacuous before their record.

Editat: des. 20, 2020, 3:10pm

>2 lriley: "There is nothing particularly exceptional about the United States or the people who live here." --"lriley" (Trump-hater and reluctant Biden-by-Default Supporter)

Would you please sign and date that? I'll also need a big color photo of your mug.

You see, we need this testimonial to be put up everywhere-- in large posters, on billboards, television monitors--wherever people are congregating in transit: bus stations, airports, rail stations, taxi stands, ferry and seaports, all places of exit and entry around the world from outer Mongolia, west to Easter Island, from Anchorage, East to Adana.

Everywhere, everyone, around the world, all those scheming to get into the U.S. one way or another--stowing away on a steamer, a tractor-trailer truck, a cargo or a passenger plane--let's advise all these people that they're just fucking nuts. They don't have any idea how good they have it.

"Nothing special here, folks." I want that printed clearly in 127 languages on little slips of paper--with your photo and signature on each--to be handed to every illegal migrant and deportee as he or she boards a transport back to wherever the fuck he or she has come from.

See?-- even if the bullshit idiocy you typically post here makes me want to puke, we can agree on something: Get illegals the fuck out the U.S. before "the horrors" of that nation have a chance to befall them.

It's only right. They can hardly be expected to have a very clear conception of just how fucking stupid and disgusting are around half the people of the U.S. who, unutterably fortunate by comparison with the vast majority of the world's humanity, still talk their own country down.

Such people ought, themselves, get the fuck out of the U.S. while they can. If it were up to me, they'd be chucked out so fast that their silly fucking heads would swim.

"Don't get up, gentlemen; I'm only passing through"... I used to care, but, things have changed.

des. 20, 2020, 3:15pm

>8 proximity1: Well, proxy, if you think America is such a great country to get people out of, maybe you should set the example and find some place that you actually would want to live in.

Or, to translate it into your langauge:

Well, proxy, if you fucking think fucking America is such a fucking great fucking country to fucking get people out of, fucking maybe you should fucking set the fucking example and fucking find some fucking place that you actually would fucking want to fucking live in.

(yeah, I can see how that generic insertion of gratuitous profanity really clarifies the point...)

Editat: des. 20, 2020, 3:36pm

Really?!? Words bother you? You balk at others' use of "shit" or "fuck" but you wouldn't lift a finger or break a sweat to keep your own country from being turned into a fucking shit-hole by simply refusing to allow unlimited numbers of the very worst of humankind to come right in unhindered and turn the place into a gypsy junk-yard?

Another genius explains his priorities for us.

Thank you. If only Trump could have put you and Riley on television ads as supporters of Biden and what they think.

des. 20, 2020, 3:46pm

#8--it's as signed and dated as it's going to be.

Aren't you the cute little expat living in England and France? What gives with that Mr. America? There you are there and wanting to chuck out people left and right over here just because of where they were born or what language they speak. They're not up to your higher standards. I don't give a shit about your standards and I don't give a shit about the orange ape and his fucking wall. He'll probably be joining you in exile one of these days if only to keep out of prison.

des. 20, 2020, 5:38pm

>10 proximity1: The fact that you seem to think that "immigrants" and "the very worst of humankind" who are going to "turn the place into a fucking shit-hole" are interchangeable notions tells me a lot about why you have to resort to profanity rather than trying to make a case for what you believe.

If you had something convincing to say, I think you'd probably say it. But even you seem to understand that you can never convince anyone of that, so you think that randomly saying "fuck" will distract people from the fact that you've got fuck-all to back up your vacuous rants. And apparently your hypocrisy - you yourself are an immigrant? What country are you busy turning into a shit-hole lately, if I may ask? And why don't you stay where you were born, like a good little nativist?

If I'm wrong, and if you're actually capable of defending your claim that immigrants like yourself are "the very worst of humankind", I'm sure you'll go ahead and do that.

If not, I'm sure you'll either dump another load of profanity* on us, or else you'll just pretend you haven't read this. And then we'll know that you've got nothing.

* just so you know, I've worked as a stagehand. I'm not impressed by your command of vulgarity. It reminds me of a six year old who just discovered that some words make mommy mad. If you haven't got the chops, you oughta just leave your horn in the bag, baby.

des. 20, 2020, 8:09pm

>9 kiparsky: I'm not sure how to label something as off-topic, and I'm not certain this is actually off-topic, but I do think that it could be of use.

des. 20, 2020, 10:23pm

>8 proximity1:

People choose to migrate to other countries for a variety of reasons. You and I are both examples of people who have chosen to live abroad. But if you are implying that the USA is "exceptional" because people want to go there to escape poverty, oppression and war, then you've set a pretty low bar. For desperate people in those circumstances, almost anything looks better than what they are suffering.

>10 proximity1: refusing to allow unlimited numbers of the very worst of humankind to come right in unhindered and turn the place into a gypsy junk-yard

As I say, you and I have chosen to live abroad. Are we "the very worst of humankind"? It's a dangerous and malicious fallacy to suggest that migrants are "the very worst of humankind". It's also completely false to suggest that they are "unhindered" (in the fact the USA has very strict and onerous immigration requirements) and that they "turn the place into a junk-yard" (there are plenty of studies that show immigrants to be a net gain to the economy). The pejorative use of the term "gypsy" does you no credit.

des. 21, 2020, 1:35am

#14--we're a melting pot and a nation of immigrants. Our own roots are in other countries. To slander those coming now is to slander those who came before and I'm just not going to slander my own antecedents. We've spent the last 4 years listening to Trump demonize immigrants of all kinds though particularly black or brown or non-christian ones--people who are amongst the poorest and most desperate in the world. It's not right and yeah I think that Obama's administration wasn't very good at this either though they never stoked the fires like Trump has. It's pretty much a disgrace--people whose ancestors came here a couple centuries back have completely lost touch with who they are and where they came from when they now want to lock the door completely.

Editat: des. 21, 2020, 2:06am

I'm not sure how we got onto immigration - oh, right, it was a random leap by proxette, I remember now - but the simple fact is, in terms of economics, when someone moves from one part of the world to another for economic opportunity, this necessarily makes the place they move to better off. This is perfectly straightforward: if it did not make the place they were coming to better off to have them, there would be no economic opportunity. It also generally makes the person who moves better off as well, but this should not bother us. If it did not make them better off, they would not take the trouble to move, and since they bring us great economic benefit, we should be happy that they do take the trouble to come here and help make us richer.

This is literally Econ 101 stuff. Anyone failing to grasp this has failed to understand the most basic facts about market economics - which is to say, they don't understand and have no basis to talk about capitalism, socialism, or anything else to do with the allocation of scarce resources.

We can talk about ethics and morality all day, and we should, but let's just get the plain facts on the table: restricting immigration is a terrible thing to do to the working people of any country, because it always makes them less well off. Anyone advocating it is taking the side of the employing class - the people who want to have a despised and outlawed subclass who they can use as a threat or as an underpriced substitute, to keep wages as low as possible. If you are against open borders, you have to explain why you hate the working people enough to screw the economy, and your own prospects, in order to make their lives worse - because this is exactly what you're doing if you advocate for restrictions on immigration in a market economy.

des. 21, 2020, 2:05pm

This is a random note that Donald Trump's current wife is an immigrant from Slovenia (formerly Yugoslavia), his mother was from Scotland, and his paternal grandparents were from Germany (not Sweden, as was misreported for his grandfather in the fictionalized biography, The Art of the Deal).

Sources: and

des. 21, 2020, 2:34pm

#17--Melania is something of a border hawk now too.

des. 21, 2020, 3:08pm

>18 lriley: It's not unusual for immigrants to take a hard-line position on immigration, once they're safely over the line. It's sort of the history of US immigration policy, in fact.

I'm not sure exactly when that started, but it can't have been too much after the Pilgrims.

Editat: des. 21, 2020, 4:34pm

#19--that is true.

As Melania would have it all these undocumented immigrants 'have been teached what to say'--and yeah I'm picking on her English.

des. 21, 2020, 5:42pm

>3 kiparsky: Growing up in the 1950 and 60's, it was literally true. Most other first world countries, except Canada, were flattened by WWII and were still recovering. Read Savage Continent to get an idea of what post war Europe was like.

Canada and the US were not flattened, but the US was far richer. We had good health care, we had the best regulatory agencies which kept us from debacles like thalidomide. We had the best university system (before we started staving it to death with cuts of government supporting funds). We had the best technology and were at the top of the space race. The middle class was growing, more people were getting a college education, and we were innovative.

When Reagan took over as President he liked to promote this idea that the Us was best, but it was no longer true at that point and his policies accelerated our fall from being the best in almost every measure. That has only gotten worse through the years as we have decided government is the problem not away to solve problems.

des. 21, 2020, 5:59pm

Jebus! Going for a world record today. Hello, folks! Let me introduce you to "Only I can say 'fuck'" Nazi. Is this a variant of IOKIYAR?

des. 21, 2020, 8:30pm

>21 Judith_Moffitt: Ah, one more person coming out...against...freedom....What a forum this is.

Editat: des. 22, 2020, 7:38am

A significant freedom enjoyed in the United States is the freedom of speech. That means that one can speak one’s mind. People from other countries are entitled to express their opinions about whatever they choose, including the United States and its government. It’s a red herring to object to those opinions based on country of origin. If you disagree with what someone says, address the issues they bring up.

Unless, of course, you can’t address those issues and feel forced to fall back on saying that no one outside the US can have an opinion on US matters. If that is true, then the US government has a great deal to answer for regarding their armed (or not) interference in the internal business of other countries. Or is that ok because it’s the US?

Just a reminder: born, raised, lived all my life in the US.

Editat: des. 22, 2020, 8:03am

To the topic: Of course nations must operate in their own best interests, and they will. So America first is a given in the US.

However, that shouldn’t be construed as a blanket, “My needs and wants only, and be damned to anyone else who gets injured in the process.” This is particularly true in view of the fact that many US policies are short-sighted, without any regard for long-term effects.

Is this a powerful country? Absolutely. And it should be, given the percentage of the GDP that goes to all things military. Does might, then, make right?

I love my country and I’m not ashamed of that. But love doesn’t mean I have to shut my eyes and ignore the mistakes we’ve made over the last 250 years, nor does it mean that we, as citizens of this country, are inherently better—in any way—than citizens of other countries. We’ve done some wonderful and amazing things. We’ve done a lot to improve the opportunities available to people here in the United States, and that draws immigrants to our shores.

But we’re not perfect. We’re not even close. As the world becomes smaller through the advances of technology, and as all of us across the globe begins to realize that we have only the one planet (Elon Musk to the contrary), it’s time to plan and to act with others, to recognize our common needs, and to at least try to fix some of the mistakes that all of us, globally, have made.

And anyone screaming about immigrants ruining this country needs to come home from foreign shores and start being part of a solution.

des. 22, 2020, 10:11am

"we’re not perfect."

I thought you were...

des. 22, 2020, 11:29am

I’m interested in on-point discussion.

des. 22, 2020, 3:56pm

>24 bohemima:

"A significant freedom enjoyed in the United States is the freedom of speech."

Of all the fucking nerve! How could it be that the ground did not open wide with a groaning roar as it swallowed you alive, those outrageous words barely issued from your hypocritical mouth?

des. 22, 2020, 4:46pm

Possibly because you are still here spouting your foul-mouthed venom.
Or perhaps my demons protect me.
Take your pick, as the proponent of free speech that you always have been.

A Happy Christmas to you, Proxy.

des. 22, 2020, 4:49pm

>28 proximity1: I've noticed that you seem to have given up trying to make any sort of point, ever. Is this intentional?

des. 22, 2020, 6:20pm

#30--I think the reality for prox has finally set in. Trump is a one and done. E. seems to be still in denial but no Cubby or Carny or fuzzi. The Supreme Court--traitors one and all. They don't make up laws to keep a POTUS in power like they use to---I guess. What good are they? Meanwhile Senator McConnell put another hole in the hull and when Fox and Newsmax started apologizing to Smartmatic and Dominion it was time to abandon ship. He has kicked Kemp and Ducey off the lifeboat though. There's always some satisfaction to be had by blaming someone else for your fuckups. Giuliani, Sidney and Wood as your legal team is even a bigger clown show than his administration was---good luck winning with that team.

des. 22, 2020, 9:28pm

America can move to higher ranking as soon as she gets rid of Trump, his pernicious appointees, and his brown shirt supporters who threaten and carry out violence on Americans who don't think and look like them.

Then She can consider being exceptional after sharing all the anti viral research and treatments for Covid with the rest of the world, especially countries without the resources and development to fund their own research and treatments for whatever reason.

Some people are not more equal than others. In the face of a pandemic virus that it is beyond foolish to think is aware of borders and politics, no country is more equal than another.

des. 22, 2020, 9:28pm

>31 lriley: I agree. It’s evident that proxy has seen the futility of denying reality, and is now directing his attention to bringing down the next president without any time waged on seeing how Mr. Biden does in the role.

I think E also has seen the future and hates it, so is reduced to a few posts from less-than-reliable sources and heaping his contempt on those who disagree with him.

Whatever. Their side lost. It happens in politics all the time. Apparently they’re unaware of simple political history in the US.

des. 22, 2020, 9:30pm

>32 Limelite: Hear, hear.

des. 22, 2020, 10:10pm

#33--E. if you're asking me is also a bit in over his/her head here. Basically he/she's an anti-intellectual and pretty much because he/she doesn't know any better than to be anything else. It's not necessarily a sin but IMO it makes him/her not really worth wasting my time on. Too many foolish arguments is exasperating and not good for peace of mind or the soul. Maybe if he/she were family I might take the time to work with him/her a bit. But he/she is not so it's the ignore button. Sorry E. I'm sure you have some good qualities.

des. 22, 2020, 11:13pm

>35 lriley: Your optimism is breathtaking. Where do you get it from?

(obligatory literary reference: Is it perhaps the same mail-order company in Hoboken that used to supply Harlan Ellison with his ideas?)

des. 23, 2020, 12:38am

#36--I'd heard of Harlan Ellison but I honestly had no real ideas formed about him---so off I went to look at this wikipedia page. 'Possibly the most contentious person on earth'---that's pretty funny. From that it seems like he was happiest when he was at battle with somebody. My dad use to recite this bit by Chesterton 'For the great Gaels of Ireland were the men that God made mad--for all their wars are happy but all their songs are sad'.

Not sure what #35 has to do with optimism or pessimism but I do look at myself more or less as an optimist. I think it's very possible for us all to create a better world and by better world I don't mean just better for me but better for everyone in general. This goes along with ideas like shared wealth and acknowledgements of personal and cultural misbehavior---also being kind to the land, waters and sky and responsibilities towards other living creatures who live amongst us......and it's frustrating when we're making little or no progress or sliding backwards. That said no one is perfect and I've never said I wasn't a bit of an asshole at times.

des. 23, 2020, 2:03am

>37 lriley: I was referring to the last sentence of your post #35...

If you haven't read Ellison, he's certainly worth a look. I'm sure he's not everyone's cup of tea, but for me when he's on form he's unbeatable, and he was often on form.

And yeah, a contentious son of a bitch. I'm pretty sure he would have argued with a chair if there was nobody else available. The difference between him and some other argumentative pricks that you might run into on your travels is, even when he was completely insanely off base, he always had a point, and he always got it across. The world pissed him off, but it was because it could have been so much better if it would just try a little harder.

My kind of son of a bitch, really.

des. 23, 2020, 5:41am

#38--I'll have to check Mr. Ellison out. Any recommendations?

des. 23, 2020, 1:52pm

>38 kiparsky:

Kinda like the literary Clint Eastwood?

des. 23, 2020, 3:35pm

>39 lriley: I'm finding it hard to pick one collection, to be honest. I'm very fond of Angry Candy, but I'm tempted to say that The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World might be a better introduction to his work. You might also consider picking up a copy of the original Dangerous Visions anthology, and if you find his commentary on the stories compelling, then take a deeper dive into his own works. Or then again you might play it safe and pick up a collection like The Essential Ellison which is likely to represent a broader spectrum of his work.

des. 23, 2020, 3:38pm

>40 Limelite: Hm... maybe, in that they're both extremely prolific masters of their craft, who made their name as both artists and craftsmen.

But of course they're very different sorts of people, and I honestly don't think Eastwood has demonstrated nearly the gift for finely-tuned invective that characterizes Ellison's standard mode of engaging with the world.

des. 23, 2020, 4:44pm

In the sense of their mutual fondness for "apostrophizing" an empty chair.

des. 23, 2020, 4:57pm

>43 Limelite: Ah, gotcha. Yeah, that went right by me the first time...

No, the "he'd argue with a chair" was actually metaphorical in Ellison's case. That might be a big difference between them: Ellison understood metaphor a lot better than Eastwood.

des. 23, 2020, 6:57pm

#41--just got back---it's been a busy day. I think I'll go after both Angry Candy and the Beast.

des. 23, 2020, 7:55pm

Awesome, I hope you enjoy them!