It seems like America had a definite interest in humanitarian issues around the world. It has intervened in the policies of many nations in order to protect civil liberties from evil despots...right?
Nah. American has done what it has always done from the very beginning. Protect it's own economic interests. Nations are merely big businesses with the option of physically removing the opposition. If you look at nations like huge conglomerates of businesses, then their actions in history and at present are obvious. All is done in the pursuit of wealth and power and when you are on top, the last thing you want to do is really help the little guys out. You throw a few charity bucks here and there and it seems like a huge thing, but in comparison to the money being taken away from these very same places, it's like returning half a penny on the the dollar. Basically, they make sure these little nations stay little and, even better, live as source of contribution to our own nation even if it is at their expense.
This is what nations do, though. Certainly what superpowers (super-businesses) do. A business or nation naturally evolves to dominance if it is in their ability. Those who can't be dominated with must be negotiated with and those who refuse to remain beneath must be chopped down. On the other hand, if you are the weaker nation, you are forced to submit to demands from the strongest power that confronts you. When America appears to intercede on the part of the suffering, America enters on of it's three modes; intervention. But it is not to the benefit of the suffering. America intervenes to prevent these hells from slipping into the hands of communist regimes that have the ability to bolster their economy and increase their own power. Should these places have never seemed to edge toward communism or something else they would have been ignored and remained the hells they are. The despots would have been free to hack away at their own population to the extents of their pleasure. Intervention is usually just aiding a favorable side in a dispute, but may and does extend to limited militaristic operations. Of course, when these two fail...
Imperialism. Remove them by force. It is a direct push for power, influence, and new markets. No country will ever claim to be imperialistic, though. It uses the time honored action by justified defense or righteous cause. We are either defending our friends or defending ourselves. Rarely though, if history can be believed, is a war based on either much more than a fabrication or a small event blow out of proportion. When we are not in the act of intervention or imperialism, we are...
Idle. Looking back in history between the span of actual armed conflicts the nation is involved in, we are rarely idle. Idle is more like a short breather before hitting the war trail again. As a superpower, we always need money an resources because we consume much of it. While we seem balanced and prospering, we are more like Galactus- always on the lookout for more to consume.
So China...yeah. The Middle East...of course. Like South America, Vietnam, Korea, and some other silent conflicts Americans aren't even aware of, America is either defending or pushing it's economic dominance in the world. We are meant to see China as this huge aggressor state that potentially wants to take us over and they probably aren't wrong in some cases. Where America seems magnanimous to other countries, it is often undermining. China does not "come around" to the good of democracy because America isn't looking out for the good China. Democracy/capitalism is like Christianity in the medieval period, a vehicle by which America can insert its influence into foreign politics and a cause for bloody wars and injustices the world over. If you look back, the defense from communism on capitalist America is very similar to the defense from Islam on European Christianity. (more offensive than defensive)
But we help, right? We do good in the world. Well the actual contrast to the tons of aid that go into Africa and the suffering states around the world from the US (that rank in the hundreds of millions) and the billions and trillions literally reaped from these places over centuries, not to mention the past and further exploitation and subjugation of true local economic independence and prosperity by economic and political entities and the veneer of foreign magnanimity rarely receive attention. In many places, we have supported the monsters we later fight- probably because at some point they wish to break free from American cornering and when they can't be convinced to accept the situation any longer, they are forced.
Currently, I think the last two pushes into the Gulf, and the more recent business we have in the Middle East (ahhh...terrorist hunting? Liberation?) are serious attempts to try and re-invigorate an economy I think the government must have seen cracking no less than ten or fifteen years prior. I think (and I take a conspiratorial slant here) that all the wild business frauds and controversy that was unearthed recently were well known by our leaders and even supported because whatever they were doing it seemed to generate money and that was a good thing. Now that it has crumbled, they brow-beat them all while desperately looking for a way out of the depression left in the wake of imaginary prosperity. I believe the current troop through one Middle Eastern nation after the other culminates in a failed bid to mitigate that depression before it ever became publicly realized. Worse, and humorously, they were attempting to do what China is already doing in Africa. Seek lucrative construction jobs centered around nation building. But after years of exploitation and American (although at the time it was not really known by many Americans, it was clear and apparent to local Middle Easterners who lived with the results) support of maniacs, they were probably greeted with a more or less curt f*** you.
I don't consider this to be bashing. Seems more like the normal turn of things. Every empire suppresses others. Every empire wreaks it's share of havoc. And, as we are seeing, every empire has to come to the shock of watching it's successor rise above them like a new sun over the horizon. If China is that successor, in time, it will be no less different than we were. Power shifted between Rome, Africa, Persia, France, Britain, Spain, and Germany- each trying to escapade and elevate themselves over the pressures of being under a dominant power. Each came to suppress in turn, and expand on that with all the reach modern prosperity could give them. Power shifted from Britain to the American Colonies. Now power shifts may be shifting again. And like all those former great powers, we are definitely going to hold on for as long as possible.
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