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The American Psyche is inclined to War

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Egalitarian Zetetic Donating Member (255 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:27 PM
Original message
The American Psyche is inclined to War
Edited on Tue May-25-04 01:29 PM by Egalitarian Zetetic
This was written in 1999 and I thought it was intresting if not applicable today

Through the long sweep of American history, there have been many occasions when public opinion, or at least an important part of it, got ahead of politicians in demanding war. Many of the Indian wars were caused less by Indian aggression than by movements of frontier populations willing to provoke and fight wars with Indian tribes that were nominally under Washingtons protectionand contrary both to the policy and the wishes of the national government. The War of 1812 came about largely because of a popular movement in the South and Midwest. Abraham Lincoln barely succeeded in preventing a war with Britain over the Trent Affair during the Civil War; public opinion made it difficult for him to find an acceptable, face-saving solution to the problem. More recently, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were all haunted by fears that a pullout from the Vietnam War would trigger a popular backlash.


It is often remarked that the American people are more religious than their allies in Western Europe. But it is equally true that they are more military-minded. Currently, the American people support without complaint what is easily the highest military budget in the world. In 1998 the United States spent as much on defense as its NATO allies, South Korea, Japan, the Persian Gulf states, Russia and China combined. In response to widespread public concern about a decline in military preparedness, the Clinton administration and the Republican Congress are planning substantial increases in military spending in the years to come.


Americans do not merely pay for these forces, they use them. Since the end of the Vietnam War, taken by some as opening a new era of reluctance in the exercise of American power, the United States has deployed combat forces in, or used deadly force over, Cambodia, Iran, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, the South China Sea, Liberia, Macedonia, Albania and Yugoslavia. This is a record that no other country comes close to matching.


Why is it that U.S. public opinion is often so quickthough sometimes so slowto support armed intervention abroad? What are the provocations that energize public opinion (at least some of it) for warand how, if at all, is this "war lobby" related to the other elements of that opinion? The key to this warlike disposition, and to other important features of American foreign policy, is to be found in what I shall call its Jacksonian tradition, in honor of the sixth president of the United States.

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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
1. All things can change
Even this war mentality.
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mrgorth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:30 PM
Response to Original message
2. We're xenophobic
and scared someone's going to take our stuff.
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CulturalNomad Donating Member (123 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. that was funny - still laughing
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tjwash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:35 PM
Response to Original message
4. That's because the those in in charge are...
Edited on Tue May-25-04 01:35 PM by tjwash
descended from blue eyed northern Europeans.

To quote the great George Carlin:

"Everyone learned REAL early, that when those blue eyes come sailing in from the north you better hide everything, because if it ain't tied down they'll steal it, if they can't steal it they'll burn it, and if they can't burn it they'll fuck it..."

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shance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:40 PM
Response to Original message
5. Perhaps the drive for profit drives war? How about too much testosterone?
Edited on Tue May-25-04 01:43 PM by shance
I think those are valid questions.

On the other hand, too much estrogen would probably create a depression/manic driven society....***

I think too much of anything creates an extreme environment.

I think the drive for profit has challenged our moral compasses and many have decided that profit is their moral gage instead of principles.

And, with any great empire, it is the loss of the moral compass, increased arrogance and denial that begins the descent of all empires.

Lets hope we collect ourselves and return to some of the things that are the most important.

(Community is one such thing.*)
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 01:49 PM
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6. It's not just Americans
I've got a sad feeling that it's the nature of the white man; i.e. us Europeans. I fear that in Europe today the agressive tendency is only sleeping, probably held in check by the vast force that the USA wields.

Throughout the dark ages and mediaeval centuries it was always Europe that was backward and uncivilised, compared to cultures and civilisations that were living in the East and India (and probably other places too).

Things changed when guns were invented. Gunpowder had been known about in China for centuries, but it never occurred to them to make a weapon with it. Oh no. But us white people knew what we could do with it. Bombs came first of course, until someone realised that it could be used to propel projectiles.

Even then, there was only so much you could do with cannons. Imagine a fleet of ships, impotently firing cannons towards the edge of a continent. Unfortunately, once we started making guns small enough to be carried all hell broke loose.
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forgethell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 04:23 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. All men are aggressive
and prone to imperialism. To think otherwise is foolishness. The Europeans had the good fortune to get an industrial age first. Otherwise, this might be an Asiatic or African descended culture today.
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The Magistrate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 06:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. A Small Note, Mr. Skank....
Edited on Tue May-25-04 06:06 PM by The Magistrate
The original use of gun-powder in China was magical, to frighten demons: it served as a sort of artificial substitute for the popping of green bamboo in fire.

It was very swiftly put to use in weaponry, mostly in the form of explosive missiles, thrown by hand or launched from catapults, or planted as mines. Other usages were to increase the range of arrows, and larger forms of rocketry. Cannon were in use by the latter Sung dynasty, before the Mongol conquest. Cannon were often made from bamboo and leather, as close range anti-personnel devices, and these could be encountered in village fueds even in the twentieth century.

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mrgorth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
7. Can we back away from the evil white people meme?
Look. All you have to do is read some history. All people have a proclivity towards tribalism. People also have a natural lust for power. Thus, tribal leaders like to convince their people to wage war on other tribes while they sit back and drink, fuck and smoke. Blacks, whites, yellows, everyone. We haven't always been like this. It took awhile for us to get into WWII. Unfortunately, We were so good in WWI and WWII we think we can kick everyone's ass now.
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nomaco-10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
10. Yep, Murkans love to kick ass...
they're also fond of threatening third world countries by saying they will turn them into parking lots. Of course most of this swagger is born of ignorance, arrogance and a false and exagerated sense of superiority. This thinking will come back to bite Murika in the ass, big time. Mark my words.
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Egalitarian Zetetic Donating Member (255 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 06:29 PM
Response to Original message
11. The American psyche is unique to the rest of the world the article also
deals with the two schools jeffersonian and jacksonian.
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
12. That's why we need universal service like in Europe.
- Being in the infantry really cools off that lovefest with war.
- To the rich people and those who don't serve, war is just a REALLY EXCITING TV SHOW. Of course, for the rich only, it is a great MONEY-MAKING OPPORTUNITY.
- I favor universal service with STRICT deferment policy (e.g. anal cysts don't get you a bye). Of course, with the power that the rich exert in the US now, they will never allow this to happen.

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