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We all do it, it's human nature. However, what factors help you in your judgement, let's say, of another country? It's Government, the people, whether you have met any of them or not, their religion/s, beliefs, laws, treatment of each other? I think, for example, the US is judged mainly by its Government; the UK? the people, the Royal Family, politicians; but mainly by the people, who have traditionally been world travellers. Canada? Probably considered boring by many.
I used to like Mexico, and spent many days and nights on layover in Mexico City, but I wouldn't visit that country today for love nor money. It's so corrupt, it is sickening. Then there's the drug cartels, which weren't that prominent when I was there, but I was told by a policeman who acted as our guide to the pyramids that the country was changing, crime was changing; people from the wartorn countries to the south were coming into Mexico, and they look and sound like Mexicans, but they are extremely violent. Mexico had crime before he told me, but the violence wasn't there. The newcomers would rob a business, and kill as many people as they could. Today Mexico is a very unsafe place to visit.
The main thing I'm interested in is why the US is judged so harshly by much of the rest of the world. They give more aid to the less fortunate countries in the world than the rest of us, they send their sons and daughters to all corners of the planet to help others, or to hunt down dangerous enemies of the US. Many take issue with this, but how can anyone fault them for defending themselves? Mostly, I judge the US from my numerous visits to that country; for the most part fine people, courteous, friendly, helpful if you require help; I've never had a problem. Not so with many other countries I've visited, including the UK.
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Denny, I think I hear the lid being levered off a can of worms
How do I judge other nations (as opposed to people) by the way they behave to their own people and the rest of the world (I make the distinction as, having worked with people from many nationalities in many different parts of the world, including Middle East, Japan, Europe etc I have come to realise that we are all basically the same, some I like, some I can tolerate and some I actively avoid)
As to the US, they suffer from a public relations problem and are perceived as too brash and sure of themselves, too rich and powerful and not sensitive to cultural differences between nations. "My way or No way" could sum up their perceived approach to diplomacy
I think the most amusing perspective on the US was when in Japan in the late '70s. A little group of us expats got friendly, including a quiet and refined Texan (shows how the stereotypes can be wrong for a start! ) Another "Yank" walked into the bar where we were chatting and the Texan asked us to hide him from view as "This guy was typical of everything he hated about the US, loud, brash and self-opinionated"
US, loud, brash and self-opinionated that will never change, but are the Brits any different really, since we follow in the footsteps of the US.
The US is a big 'ol place and somewhere that I cut my teeth when I was stretching my wings and beginning to travel, to be honest wild horses could not drag me back there now, I'm over it
Judging individuals is very different to holding a view on the political policies both foreign and domestic of nation states, I have friends from a host of nationalities and the percentage of people that I don't get on with does not seem to be defined by where they were born... I do however find discussing politics with your average American as frustrating as it is with your average British person, I now spend most of my time living in a rural Hungarian backwater, a country that is politically much maligned by the mainstream at the moment and it does have problems but no moreso than anywhere else!
My problem with the US foreign policy is that it is in no way shape or form about defending the US it is about proactively and aggressively forwarding US economic interests and those interests are not about improving the lives of your average American, in fact they quite often work to the detriment of the ~250m folk that call the US home!
Reminds me of a quote from Monty Pythons 'Life of Brian' when Brian falls from a balcony on the Jerusalem version of Speakers Corner:
Brian - err, Dont pass judgment on other people, or you might get judged yourself!
Onlooker - what?
Brian - I said dont pass judgement on other people, or you might get judged too!
Onlooker - Who, me?
Brian - Yes!
Onlooker - Ooh! Thank you very much!!
Quote: Canada? Probably considered boring by many
I have always thought of Canada as a civilised version of the US.
Quote: The main thing I'm interested in is why the US is judged so harshly
Ruthless capitalism, cultural imperialism, ultra-right gun-loving nutters, craven politicians in hock to corporate interests, bullying and hectoring foreign policy…
Take your pick.
Quote: Ruthless capitalism, cultural imperialism, ultra-right gun-loving nutters, craven politicians in hock to corporate interests, bullying and hectoring foreign policy…
That's one view but it depends on which side of the argument you decide to take. The US has many merits but you choose to demonstrate only one-sided version.
I see the US and the UK in a totally different light.
We went on a walking tour in London yesterday and our guide, more used to visitors from overseas, told up that the three things we are generally known for are our history, royal family and drinking!
I do know that you have to separate the people from the politics. I have visited many places where I don't necessarily agree with the political framework but have found nothing but charming and friendly people. Having said that, I do take an open mind and a smile wherever I go, the more friendly I am the more friends I find.
This article from Mark Steel encapsulates the problem of pre-judging nationalities and although it is a commentary in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, I think it applies to almost daily life:
I shall call these 'people who for some demented reason think they are speaking for 'the nation'
Quote: When it was known the bombers were nice and foreign, the fun could start. Bob Beckel, a reporter on Fox News, informed viewers this was the time to “cut off Muslim students from coming into the country”. The New America Foundation in Washington, which influences the government, declared that the problem was whether Muslims see themselves as “Americans first or Muslims first”. New York Senator Steve King was one of many who concluded: “We must increase surveillance amongst Muslims.”
And I shall call these 'the people', on behalf of whom no-one needs to speak because they are the same as anyone from any other country
Quote: There is another America, in which thousands of Boston people gave blood to help victims of the bomb, and tens of thousands have already registered for next year’s marathon.
Is it Zee Germans turn yet?
Quote: Is it Zee Germans turn yet?
No Cathy - that's the £5 argument in room 101!
Quote: That's one view but it depends on which side of the argument you decide to take. The US has many merits but you choose to demonstrate only one-sided version.
I was merely responding to the question of why the US is judged so harshly. Of course the country has many merits. I've been there often enough to know.
Quote: The main thing I'm interested in is why the US is judged so harshly by much of the rest of the world. They give more aid to the less fortunate countries in the world than the rest of us, they send their sons and daughters to all corners of the planet to help others, or to hunt down dangerous enemies of the US. Many take issue with this, but how can anyone fault them for defending themselves? Mostly, I judge the US from my numerous visits to that country; for the most part fine people, courteous, friendly, helpful if you require help; I've never had a problem. Not so with many other countries I've visited, including the UK.
I reckon people the world over are pretty homogeneous in their intelligence, innovation, empathy for other humans etc. but then greed sets in and their ruling bodies become corrupt and the rest is History - and sadly very much the present.
Quote: but how can anyone fault them for defending themselves?
But surely they are continually creating the conditions whereby they have to defend themselves. I mean they have numerous bases across the globe and continually interfere with other nation's affairs and stirring up trouble - and don't forget the numerous 'false flag' incidents they have created.
The trouble you mention in Mexico might well be as an indirect result of US intereference in Latin America generally...?
As I've said before, the US has created so many wonderful ideas and technological advances etc. but these advances have taken several steps back due to the sheer greed and plain insanity of their big corporation - dominated administrations.
I think it's all about the power of ruling elites over their people, not just about cultures and that's why of course we have to constantly fight for something resembling democracy.
Democracy is merely one of many possible forms of government, all of which were tried by the ancient Greeks at one time or another and all of which were found to be wanting.
The US does seem to want to ram democracy down the throat of people who find it utterly alien. Afghanistan, for example, has been a feudal society since time immemorial and a few years of enforced democracy is unlikely to change much. I believe that countries need to be allowed to develop at their own pace when their people want the change. Afghanistan does become a problem when it acts as a base for terrorists who attack the West.
Large corporations have been more powerful than countries for about a century. Some years ago, I saw an interesting book about the meeting of industrialists from all countries that took place in Switzerland during WW2. It put a new slant on the progress of the war and explained why no bomb had fallen on any ICI plant during the war. The world's most famous camera and optical factory, the Ica Works in Dresden was untouched although the city itself was nearly erased from the map.
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