Democrats & Liberals Archives

War & Peace: America’s Helpful Dichotomy

America’s response to the Haitian earthquake proves once again that it is a country capable of great acts of selflessness and compassion. In a time when government spending has become more scrutinized than ever, President Obama did not think twice about sending relief aid. This is commendable. It is important to keep in mind that we are only obligated to aid Haiti out of a shared sense of human compassion, nothing else. And despite our apparent “look-the-other-way” attitude on everyday human rights disasters around the globe, we at least helped out when a sudden massive tragedy unfolded.

In this act of compassion though, we see a strange dichotomy in how America views its role in the world, primarily in terms of providing “help” to those who need it. On one side we don’t even blink when providing relief efforts through manpower, monetary aid, medical aid, and whatever other resources we can spare, as we have done in Haiti. But on the other side we just as easily offer “aid” through warfare. We believed we were “helping” the people of Iraq, or the people of Vietnam, or Korea. We believed, and continue to believe, that it is acceptable to use monstrous force to “help” foreign peoples, even in times when they do not ask for our assistance.

How is it that we so easily brush under the rug our hypocrisy of helpfulness? We can send tens of millions of dollars, legions of doctors, rescue workers, and endless medical supplies and foodstuffs, and yet we can also wage a bloody, fruitless war that claims the lives of thousands of innocents, including children, without even a shrug of our shoulders. One hand blows innocent people to pieces in the name of vengeance because we have no way of accurately identifying our enemy, while the other hand offers peaceful aid and assistance. How do we excuse atrocity and promote compassion all in the same breath?

We spend untold trillions on a fruitless war that kills more innocent people than actual enemies, and when the president sends a mere fraction of that amount in aid for the Haitian earthquake victims people jump on his back for grandstanding, or just plain wasting money. If we weren’t spending so much money on our war we could have given even more aid to those who truly need it. Imagine if we stopped burning money on military endeavors and spent a fraction of that fortune on actually helping people around the world, or, Americans who could use the help. Why do we seem to have no problem spending all our money on violent “help” when we could just as easily use less money for peaceful assistance?

Could it be that we are simply a country in love with the military campaign? We do romanticize war and scoff at peace. When the idea of diplomacy and an outreached hand is hinted at the hawks claim it makes us look weak and vulnerable, but as soon as the option becomes available to reign fiery death down from the sky on anyone who looks slightly different than us, or believes in something different than us, that becomes the obvious, patriotic, American thing to do.

Is it so hard to see the world scrunch their brow and scratch their head when America invades a country in once instance, but then selflessly gives of itself to another? We are a nation of hypocritical ideologues, and everyone seems to see it but us.

Posted by Michael Falino at January 19, 2010 5:01 PM
Comments
Comment #294095

Michael

America is always among the biggest donors and our navy does most of the deliveries of aid in any disaster. It will be the same in Haiti as it always is.

Posted by: Christine at January 19, 2010 8:21 PM
Comment #294154

Falino wrote: “And despite our apparent “look-the-other-way” attitude on everyday human rights disasters around the globe, we at least helped out when a sudden massive tragedy unfolded.”

This kind of attitude and myopia on the Left is truly baffling. I am a middle of the middle class person, and I have enormous compassion for those in need, and desire to help them. HOWEVER, my first responsibility in managing my resources is to myself, my wife and daughter who depend on me and good management of our resources. This IMPOSES a mathematical limit on how much I can contribute to helping others in need. I wish it were more, but, I count on Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to make up for our limited resources. America is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT THAN I.

America has limited resources, and desires to help those in need. HOWEVER, America MUST LEARN TO LIVE WITHIN HER RESOURCES, or fail so catastrophically as to be of no help to anyone, including herself and her citizens.

What part of this simple exercise in logic do folks on the LEFT not get? I truly am baffled. We are en route to a 20 Trillion dollar unsustainable national debt by 2020 and well beyond that with Soc. Sec. and Medicare unfunded mandates beyond 2020. Why does it not occur those on the LEFT that America’s first obligation is to her own citizens when managing the people’s tax dollars? It’s as bad as those on the RIGHT who think NOTHING of subsidizing corporate interests while doubling the national debt in 8 years. The Iraq War was the greatest transfer of American tax dollars to corporate coffers without ANY benefit to America whatsoever, in the history of our nation.

A pox on both your Parties, and I am pleased to see the anti-incumbent Independent voters have struck again in Mass. Trust me, they have more and more surprises to come for BOTH parties as their numbers and organization continues to grow.
And it is WAY, WAY overdue.


Posted by: David R. Remer at January 20, 2010 3:12 AM
Comment #294160

MF
Perhaps we should allow Haitian sugar and rum exports without duty. Also some investment in same. Sugar is more efficient that corn for ethanol production also.


BTW
For all Dems
Mass. was ,I hope a wake up. BHO needs to start explannig himself much louder. Forget compromise. Max Baucus wasted months trying to get an agreement. We won. There are things to do,vital things. Cap and trade, Employee choice, more attempts at economic repair, re-regulation of banking, campaign finance reform to name a few. Strike NOW. Perhaps Dean should bow out. We need a wartime consiglari.

Posted by: bills at January 20, 2010 7:03 AM
Comment #294161

DR
Are you almost as proud as when third party voters put Bush in office? Does that mean you favor more ,even more Americans without access to health care?Does that mean you are happy that a plan you generally supported faces the possibility of never comming to pass? Wheres the logic in that? You had better bring a microscope to find it,if lucky. Thank God there are at least three options to pass the basic bill. The one most likely is that the House simply agree to the Senate version. Done deal. No need to worry about an obscure non-constitutional custom interfering with democracy. Too bad though, the reconcilliation committee was doing good work.

Posted by: bills at January 20, 2010 7:14 AM
Comment #294167

bills
It is agreed people want health care reform but not what is in congress now. Why is it those on the left can’t get that through their heads? The vote in Ma. is a message to those on the left, IF YOU DON’T LISTEN TO WE THE PEOPLE we will find someone who will. Democrats have their own selves to blame for this one. If you think that ramming this bill through prior to Brown getting seated is going to help, you better think again. You think those incumbent Democrats up for election aren’t thinking twice about this, think again.

Posted by: KAP at January 20, 2010 9:32 AM
Comment #294169

KAP,

What exactly do WE THE PEOPLE want in health care reform? Conservative rants against the recent proposals provide little clue as to the desirable acceptable option. You consistently imply that you know what is needed. So, what is it?

Posted by: Rich at January 20, 2010 10:15 AM
Comment #294170

Rich
I never implied I KNOW what is needed. The implication is to the liberal Democrats who continue to ram a bill through congress with the notion they know what is best for everyone. As far as me I would like more competition and allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, affordability, NO TAXES on any plans, no penalty for existing conditions, AND NO GOVERNMENT INTRUSION, and not being forced to buy HC if I don’t want it and not being penilized if I decide to not carry insurance.

Posted by: KAP at January 20, 2010 10:59 AM
Comment #294199

KAP,

Just so you know, you can’t force insurers to cover preexisting conditions without mandating that everyone carry heath insurance or pay into some sort of fund. Otherwise people would only buy insurance when they got sick, which is as ridiculous as buying fire insurance after your home is already on fire. Although I’d love to live in a world where this could happen, the fact is any insurance program (public or private) would be quickly bankrupted if it was forced to operate in such conditions.

We require drivers to own automobile insurance because we know it is inevitable that a significant portion of drivers will be involved in a collision that necessitates costly repairs. A similar analogy could be drawn to healthcare. It is inevitable that a certain portion of human bodies will be involved in situations that necessitates a costly repair.

Maybe things would have been better if an option was included to waive one’s right to not be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition in exchange for an exemption to the fine. But alas, no Republicans have offered to vote in favor of the final bill in exchange for such an amendment.

Other than that, the bill that passed the House of Representatives last November fits all of the criteria you listed, yet you still oppose it.

The Senate bill taxes some health plans, but this is necessary if we ever want to disassociate health insurance from employment. Right now, many workers receive a health care plan in exchange for a reduction in their salaries. This reduction isn’t explicit, but its still there. One reason many workers do this is if workers trade some of their salary for a health plan, then that benefit comes tax free. If we remove the tax exemption from some of these plans, we remove the incentive to associate a health care plan with employment. If employers offer their workers a salary increase instead of a heath plan, then those workers can use that money to shop around for their own health care plan, and employers will be happy because they won’t have to deal with managing the health plans for the workers.

Look, I’m not happy with some of the things that have happened such as the deals Nelson, Landrieu and Lieberman got. And there are a lot of ideas I’d rather support such as single payer or some sort of voucher based plan. However, I think the bills produced by Congress are at least slightly better than what we have now. Massachusetts has already shown that this sort of plan is feasible and won’t immediately turn into a train wreck. And if things don’t go exactly as planned, we can always repeal it later.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 20, 2010 3:17 PM
Comment #294204

W. R.
What I’m wanting is a bill that will appeal to all not just one group or the other. Right now that aint happening. Last night, I think sent a message to congress to cut the crap especially from a liberal democratic state like Mass. Liberals and conservatives alike have to start to give and take to get this matter done. We need HC reform but we need to get the economy together and jobs before we can even think about HC or else we’ll never be able to pay for it.

Posted by: KAP at January 20, 2010 4:42 PM
Comment #294213

KAP,
I live in Massachusetts, so I know what message people here are trying to send. Although I lean left on most issues, I am disappointed at how Congress has acted last year. Democrats acted as if they had nothing to lose. The actions of Nelson, Lieberman and Landrieu especially made me cringe. Although I voted for Coakley, I am sort of glad she lost. Now the Nelson, Lieberman and Landrieu crowd won’t be calling the shots, instead it will be Brown, Collins and Snowe. Unless the House decides to approve the Senate bill from last December of course.

You mention that both liberals and conservatives will have to give and take to get this done. Maybe I’m biased because I’m a leftist, but I know the left has sacrificed ideas such as single-payer, the public option and others in order to placate those on the right. What will the right sacrifice? Right now the GOP has decided to oppose any HC bill that 1) Raises Taxes, 2) Cuts spending, or 3) adds to the deficit. Unfortunately, any HC bill will have to do at least one of those three things, and it will probably require two of those things.

As for the economy, we’ve already spent $787 billion in stimulus and another $700 billion bailing out the financial industry. Neither I nor the rest of the electorate can stomach any more spending. The government has done the most it could do, it’s time for the private sector to do its work as the stimulus money continues to be spent. I’m pretty sure the economy will have picked itself up again by the end of 2011, and it probably will happen sooner than that.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 20, 2010 5:31 PM
Comment #294348

I agree that there’s a dichotomy in how America spends its money. However, of course the US would spend more on war, since those are in America’s interests whereas peace-time efforts seldom win anything in the long run. But I definitely agree that America should stop interfering in other countries’ wars and focus more on giving aid in times of peace, as Obama is doing in Haiti.

Posted by: emily at January 22, 2010 10:16 AM
Comment #294689

“Foreign aid consists largely of one government “helping” another government by beefing up its budget, increasing its power over the private sector, and multiplying its leverage over its citizens. As economist P. T. Bauer observed, there is an “inherent bias of government-to-government aid towards state control and politicization.”

First of all, I would like to make it clear that Haiti is in dire need of aid, unfortunately the kind of aid our government gives is counter-productive. People hold assumptions that our government steps onto foreign lands under altruistic purposes, this is simply not the case. These unfortunate circumstances open possibilities for large governments to control production in the third world. Please read a very detailed analysis on foreign aid based relief from the United States before responding to this comment with vigor. http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa065.html

Foreign aid equals foreign debt. We develop the third world in order to exploit their resources, their markets, and their people. Please read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” if you are unfamiliar with these practices.

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