Monday, September 13, 2004

sobering reminder

Simon writes:

Australia, rightly or wrongly, has been a strong supporter of the USA in this new war. Following the events of 9/11 (but also the earlier terror attacks such as the earlier WTC bombings and the bombings of the American embassies in [Africa]) many nations pledged support for the USA. However few followed through in [joining] what became the "Coalition of the Willing". Joining this alliance did not involve a quid pro quo: it was simply considered fighting for what is commonly believed to be worth defending. America has always been the main embodiment of those values: liberal capitalist democracy.

But America can make itself hard to love. Feelings of support that the world showered on America are reciprocated at times like now. It doesn't matter that no Australians were killed [NB: this refers to the recent bombing of the Australian Embassy in Indonesia]. What matters is terrorists killed innocent people in a clear attempt to attack a Coalition member. The US Government quickly pledged support and sympathy, as was to be expected. That too is not the point. What matters is what the American people themselves believe. Using the major media and the blogosphere as (an admittedly imperfect) proxy, there [have] been some expressions of sympathy and interest, but far broader indifference and ignorance. Instead there's much concern over whether George Bush dodged a medical 30 years ago and whether the proof was faked. I agree it is an issue. So is John Kerry's Vietnam record. But [they] are nowhere near as important an issue as what does need talking about. Where are Bush and Kerry planning to take America in the next 4 years? What are they planning to do in the war on terror? On Iraq? On helping allies like Australia? On defeating Al-Qaeda, JI and their ilk? There seems to be a major case of not seeing the forest for the trees at the moment in American polity. The losers are not just Americans, but the world.

A long while back, Andrew Sullivan was going on and on about something called The Anglosphere-- a coalition, if you will, of right-thinking (not necessarily right-wing) people who value liberal democracy and are willing to fight for their beliefs. The Anglosphere, by Sullivan's reckoning, included nations like the UK and Australia. It also included non-anglophone nations like the ex-bloc countries of Eastern Europe. As time went on, Sullivan spoke less and less about the Anglosphere, but I still find the idea of such a group compelling. To his credit, Sullivan did bring up the issue of whether the US would properly show its appreciation for the support it's gotten from so many different corners-- support often ignored by people who insist on labeling US action as unilateral. (I'm all for adopting a critical attitude to government policy and actions, but not for resorting to wild-eyed labels. US action has not been unilateral. Hugely unpopular, yes; unilateral, no.)

I'll take Simon's words as a sobering reminder to us that we do indeed have friends who often go unappreciated. If the American blogosphere wants to help recover some of the diplomatic capital we've lost through our efforts over the past year, it'd be nice to see some bloggers, especially warbloggers, tip the hat to Anglosphere governments and citizens that have been a big help to the US, often in spite of fierce opposition from large swaths of the populace. That might be a good homework assignment: find those countries and list their achievements and sacrifices by way of thanks. Hell, extend the list to the non-Anglosphere countries that have helped out!

Context: I think Simon's own political viewpoint lies somewhere left of mine (true, Simon?), so please don't interpret the above SimonWorld block quote as part of a right-wing spiel. I don't think Simon would appreciate being misunderstood. Go read his full post. He's a great blogger.


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