As a rule, I tire of news coverage that blames America for all of the world’s ills, and I don’t think I am alone. Following the celebration of our country’s 230th birthday, I’d like to take a moment and point out for the world what America does right and why, despite all of the criticism, we are the No. 1 destination for anyone on the globe who wants to better themselves.
Home of the free and land of the brave is not some catchy slogan, but in fact the truth about the type of people who call this country home. Free to do as we please, under a form of constitutional government that has outlasted any other country in modern times. Brave to do what is right, even when it means taking an unpopular position. In the last 230 years, the world has seen dozens of experiments with governance and, while some had merits, all ultimately failed.
None of them have proved better. Indeed, most have proved worse.
For those who use the opinions of the much-vaunted “international community of nations” to measure how the United States is doing in the world, let me say this: Its condemnation is nothing new. For most of our country’s history, we have been the international outcast, a country prone to unilateral acts while the community of nations discussed the problem ad nauseum.
And remember what that “community” has done in the past: In order to secure the peace of Europe, it served up Czechoslovakia to Hitler in 1938, defended and supported the Soviet Union from the 1950s on, and did nothing as a million Africans killed one another in the 1990s.
To doubt the fundamental good the United States has done for the world in the last half century, we do not need to go to the beaches of Normandy. I would argue that the recently ended Cold War against the former Soviet Union is perhaps the best proof of the positive good the United States has done (and continues to do) for mankind.
If you doubt me, pick up a copy of Anne Applebaum’s recently published Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps. There, in 600-plus pages of excruciating, scholarly detail, the author outlines the rise and continued use of that nation’s official oppression machinery, including camps built specially for the children. Siberian communities exist today because people whose thoughts were deemed too dangerous for society were forced by Soviet officials to build their own prisons with their bare hands, or die trying (many did both).
What amazes me about the work of scholars who worked on the USSR before, during and after the end of the Cold War is that their entire understanding of what the Soviet Union was has changed.
The reports of evil and torture and what we would call ethnic cleansing all happened in the Soviet Union on a scale unimaginable, even for today. Literally millions suffered in the gulag archipelago at the very same time that western scholars and reporters were extolling the virtues of communism over the vagaries of capitalism.
Indeed, in the midst of perpetrating these many dark acts against humanity, the USSR played a large and very influential role as a leader of the “community of nations,” a community that so often found fault with capitalism and the United States. Few today doubt that, without the support and long term determination of the United States to do unpopular things, the Soviets would still be there today.
Like it or not, until very recently, the “community of nations” was nothing more than an aggregation of nation-states trying to accomplish at the negotiating table that which they could not pull off on the battlefield. Indeed, the main reason we are vilified the way we are is that we have the ability to play both ends of the game, using one to back the other up. We don’t bluff.
That we use force unapologetically is perhaps our greatest fault in the eyes of the world, but you cannot argue with the results. Capitalism is not perfect, and as My Lai and Abu Ghraib prison demonstrate, it is still a work in progress, but our track record is pretty impressive. On the whole, the United States has done more for world peace and individual liberty in its 228 years than any other nation in the recorded history of time. That’s not a bad track record at all.