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Am I blaming America when I criticize U.S. policies?

By Perry Willis

I’ve written a large number of articles criticizing past U.S. wars. In this article I want to address the number one objection I’ve received in response to those articles. Many people have written me to ask…

“Why do you blame America for everything?”

It’s simple. I have never blamed America for anything. Instead, I have blamed American politicians for specific bad policies. Can you see the difference? Some people can’t. They assume that…

  • The “government” is the same thing as the country
  • Politicians are the same thing as the government
  • Criticizing politicians is the same thing as criticizing the country
  • And criticizing the country is like blaming each American individually (including the reader, who then gets offended)

These are likely unconscious reactions. So let’s do some conscious thinking about them, starting with this question…

Do countries cease to exist when governments fall?

Did Germany vanish when the Nazi government fell? Did Russia cease to exist when it was no longer a part of the Soviet Union? Of course not! That’s because governments and countries are different things. And the same is true for the politicians who control governments. Thus…

  • It’s possible to love your country while disliking both your government and the politicians who rule it
  • I’m criticizing neither your home nor you personally if I say that U.S. politicians did something bad

Capisce?

Now, let’s carry the point a bit further…

Why am I so hard on politicians?

I don’t like politicians as a class of people. Some are okay, but most are not. Nearly all of them…

  • Assume they’re qualified to make large choices for vast numbers of people.
  • Feel justified in imposing their personal preferences through threats of violence — “Do what I and my fellow politicians say, or we will punish you. Continue to resist us and our agents will kill you.”
  • And what is true of U.S. politicians is true of politicians everywhere in the world!

In other words, it’s not only American politicians I dislike, it’s all politicians everywhere in the world, and throughout history. I well recognize and agree that no matter how bad U.S. politicians have been, many foreign politicians have been even worse. Indeed, some foreign politicians are infamous in ways that no U.S. politician could possibly match. Even so…

When it comes to reviewing military history, do we really need another article telling us how bad Hitler and Tojo were? I think not. What we really need is more honesty about our own government’s military history. We have a greater chance to control that, and more responsibility to do so.

Plus, there’s one more crucial reason to focus on what U.S. politicians do with the military. Many writers have observed that…

When the U.S. catches a cold, the rest of the world catches the flu

All U.S. actions are magnified because of our size, wealth, and power. Good U.S. actions have more impact, but so do U.S. mistakes. And, as Shakespeare observed, the good we do is often buried with our bones, while the bad lives on. I think this has been exactly the case when it comes to U.S. wars. The magnified impact of U.S. policies makes it very important to study and learn from U.S. military history.

In case you’re interested, here are the articles where I make my case that U.S. politicians have constantly misused the military. They have made Americans less safe and less free, while also making the world worse than it might otherwise have been. If you decide to read these articles, please keep in mind that I know foreign politicians and policies have been even worse, and that I am specifically criticizing U.S. politicians and their policies, but not America itself. Here are the articles…

Show Comments 4

 

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      Author
  1. Distinguishing criticism of politicians from criticism of a country is an important point. I totally agree. Thank you for helping me break out of old molds of thinking….I’d suggest going even one step further in the logical chain, in an effort to encourage a healthier political atmosphere. We should criticize politicians, not as a class, but by focusing on individuals who are fostering inappropriate actions. Also, we could do more to praise politicians, as individuals, when they foster policies that lead in good directions. We’ll always have politicians, so we need to encourage the right-thinking ones in every way we can!

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      Author

      I agree completely. Focus on the actions. Praise the good actions and criticize the bad actions.

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