Skip to comments.American mythology (Ref: Fred Thompson) [Barf Alert]
Posted on 09/24/2007 2:00:31 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
'You know," drawled Fred Thompson at a recent rally in Des Moines, Iowa, "you look back over our history and it doesn't take you long to realize that our people have shed more blood for other people's liberty than any other combination of nations in the history of the world."
This is an interesting statement, and not only because Fred Thompson has a good shot at being the Republican nominee for president in 2008, and an outside chance of winning. It's also interesting because of who Thompson is.
Fred Thompson is a Washington lobbyist. That's not what his campaign highlights, but it's what he has been for most of his working life. He is also an actor typecast as the growling, no-nonsense authority figure. And Thompson was, briefly, a U.S. senator who was mainly known for his affable manner and relaxed work ethic. And for being tall. Fred Thompson is very tall.
Thus, Thompson has little experience in management and less in elective office. He has no original ideas that anyone has been able to discern. He has embraced no particular cause. He doesn't even seem terribly interested in being president; it is widely believed his smart and ambitious wife cajoled him into running.
But despite all this, rank-and-file Republicans love the man for one, simple reason: Fred Thompson says only what they believe and he says it the way they want to hear it. And that is what makes Thompson's statement particularly interesting.
Thompson and his speechwriters know that a large swath of the American public believes the United States, alone in the world, fights wars to liberate oppressed people far away. America may occasionally make mistakes -- only very rarely, of course -- but it is always pure of heart.
This belief is dogma. It is a given. And any attempt to critically examine it will be answered with a few factoids and a barrage of condemnations. In that sense, it is the mirror image of the belief held by Noam Chomsky and his followers that the United States is a uniquely wicked power whose actions have brought nothing but woe and misery to the world. What distinguishes the two dogmas is the number of faithful sitting in the pews: Chomsky's cult is vastly outnumbered.
Happily, lots of Americans have not taken leave of reason and so a fact-checker at the Washington Post put the statement that opens this column under a microscope. In eight foreign wars since the late 19th century, the Post found, 623,288 Americans lost their lives. But Soviet losses in the Second World War alone were an order of magnitude greater than that and it was the Soviet Union's victories in the east that broke Nazi Germany's back and led to the liberation of Europe.
Of course the Soviets replaced Nazi chains with their own so it's a little disturbing to think of them as liberators. It's also true the Soviets only got into the war after being attacked, so it's a stretch to see the liberation of Europe as a factor in the country's decision to go to war.
But the same can be said about the American record. Remember that the U.S. sat out the first three years of the First World War and only got involved after German submarines attacked American ships and Germany was exposed urging Mexico to declare war on the U.S. That's quite a contrast with the British Empire, which decided to go to war after Germany invaded France and neutral Belgium. Thus, unlike the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and other countries can plausibly claim to have entered the war for the purpose of liberating foreigners.
And in the course of that war, the British Empire lost one million soldiers -- far more than the U.S. lost in all wars combined. Among the Empire's casualties were 65,000 Canadians -- a per capita loss far greater than the U.S. suffered in any of its foreign wars.
This scenario was repeated in the Second World War.
The U.S. did not declare war on Japan when it invaded China. Nor did it declare war on Germany when the Nazis invaded Poland, or overran Western Europe, or raced across the Soviet Union. Only in December, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, did the U.S. declare war, and even then only against Japan. The U.S. may never have gotten involved in Europe if Hitler hadn't foolishly declared war on the Americans.
Not so Britain, France, Canada and others. They all declared war in response to Germany's invasion of Poland, and so they can all argue they went to war to liberate people far away.
Now, I don't want to answer dogma with dogma. Strategic and national interests played major roles in the decisions of all combatants in the First and Second World Wars. They do in every war. It's a messy world and the motives of nations are seldom simple and pure.
The sort of Americans who cheer for Fred Thompson would agree with that statement -- as it applies to other countries. What they cannot seem to accept is that it applies to their country, too. For them, Americans are unique. The United States is unique. And what sets America and Americans apart is purity of heart.
"We are proud of that heritage," Thompson said in Iowa after citing the mythology of America-the-liberator. "I don't think we have anything to apologize for."
Nothing to apologize for. Never did anything wrong in 231 years of history. Nothing.
This is infantile. And dangerous. A superpower that believes it is pure of heart and the light of the world will inevitably rush in where angels fear to tread. And then it will find itself wondering why the foreigners it so selflessly helps hate it so.
For further reading, see: "Iraq, invasion of."
Dan Gardner's column appears Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. E-mail: email@example.com
Naturally. Canadians are mainly the lapdogs of US liberals.
The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. Millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic. Their commitment to build a free society with liberty and justice for all must be constantly renewed if the United States is to fulfill the destiny to which the Founders pledged their "lives . . . fortunes . . . and sacred honor."
John Paul II
Pure Marxist BS. The Russians got to Berlin eating American grown food, marching in American made boots, supplied by American made trucks, with weapons repaired and maintained by American made tools carried to the Russians on American made trains. Since Easter Europe were not a freed by the Sovs, and only American lead Cold War made them free from either Nazi or Sov domination, Thompson's statement is correct and this author a silly ass.
LMAO, this is some pretty humorous stuff. Fred’s wife cajoled him into running...
I thought the student editor, or at lest the teacher would give thumbs up or down on eighth grade diatribes like this.
I’ll bet the kid got free hamburgers for a week and enough acne jel to last for three months for writing this sophmoric fender bender.
He made Fred’s case very nicely. We are slow to enter wars and we do so for the benefit of freedom.
Here’s one for the FRead, jb.
"the Soviets only got into the war after being attacked"
Nazi-Soviet Pact...Russo-Finnish War.
So this guy basically makes tha accusation that there are a group of see-no-evil Americans who will react in a certain way to the statements he makes and then, naturally the FR horde proves him right.
The real point to be made here is not necessarily what gets a country into a war. It is what that country does after it wins a war. Those nations that were “liberated” by the Soviets are now just emerging from their half-century of “liberation”. Whereas within 15 years of being occupied by America, most countries are paragons of freedom, wealth and responsibility.
The problem with Iraq was by no means the motive or intention - it was the unbelievably incompetent and negligent mismanagement that is inherent in this administration. WWII gives some very good lessons as to the number of boots on the ground it takes to win the peace.
“In eight foreign wars since the late 19th century, the Post found, 623,288 Americans lost their lives. But Soviet losses in the Second World War alone were an order of magnitude greater than that and it was the Soviet Union’s victories in the east that broke Nazi Germany’s back and led to the liberation of Europe.”
This guys about as nutty as a fruitcake. The Soviets weren’t sacrificing their lives for the freedom of others. They weren’t even sacrificing their lives for their own freedom. They were defending Joe Stalin.
So you disagree with Senator Fred Thompson’s statement, I take it?
“Thus, Hillary has little experience in management and less in elective office. She has no original ideas that anyone has been able to discern. She has embraced no particular cause. She just seems terribly interested in being president; it is widely believed her smart and ambitious wife cajoled her into running.”
Kind of disconcerting that of all these, we could probably only provide the food anymore.
Nope, we could still do all of it.
But not without converting our factories to mass produce those items we’ve outsourced.
And not without it taking considerable time.
Remember when we bought our military berets from China?
And yet he only mentions a few... what about the rest of the eight? How did we fail to fight for freedom in Korea and the others? And interesting that he fails to note the most important, and bloodiest, American war... the American Civil War, where each side was fighting for freedom, as they saw it.
“relaxed work ethic”
Liberal buzz-words for “limited government”.
They see a laissze faire (sp?) government as *lazy*.
This guy says it was the USSR who broke the Nazi’s back and that the USSR only invades when attacked. What about Poland?
What about all the countries under Communism which were made part of the USSR after WWII? Can Mr. Gardner likewise show which countries we ‘claimed’ for the USA? USSR took half of Germany. If we hadn’t been there, all of Europe would have been behind the ‘iron curtain’.
This Gardner guy is NO student of history OR facts. Someone needs to confront him and teach him the difference between truth and lies.
Soviets won WWII for us -
straight out of the USSR History books.
But that’s not Fred’s point (denigrating others’ troops).
He’s simply responding to the left’s anti-America viewpoint of “America: always wrong”.
And yes, we on the right want to see that viewpoint CONFRONTED.
Oh, you have to love leftists.
Let me re-phrase the above into what we hear from the left:
"Nothing to be proud of. Never did anything noble in 231 years of history. Nothing."
You know, this is great, actually. A leftist getting upset because a candidate isn't trashing his country. All we have to do, folks, is draw them out and expose them, and the battle is won.
But what about the claim that more British died in the 2nd world war than Americans in all of our wars?
I’m accepting for this argument your rejection of the soviet claim, although fred’s statement wasn’t about who gave the most support, but about how many people died, so does it matter what boots those dead russians were wearing?
Also, while I love my country, and believe we have our hearts in the right place most of the time, and certainly in modern times have little interest in aquiring territory, our history is not without the occasional military conquest. We did take over this country from the natives (not saying we didn’t have a right to do so, but we didn’t buy it from them), and there was the whole Philipine thing.
Still, what this really shows is that it’s better as a politician to speak in generalities when making general statements of our greatness. Nobody could argue that we have a history of fighting for other people’s freedom. IT’s only the specific claim of the number of dead Americans that can be questioned.
The Russians died to enslave, not liberate people
Imagine the liberal press beginning an article this way...
'You know" screeched Hillary Clinton at a recent rally...
Okay so there isn't an "s" in 'You know', but you get my point.
The author cleverly pulls a sleight of hand here. He actually claims more casualties for the "British Empire". That apparently includes Canadians, Australians, S. Africans, Indians, Singapore, Hong Kong, and likely the civilian casualties in the Blitz. He then compares that to the military casualties of just the U.S.
Now, he may be right and Thompson may be wrong with the actual numbers, but when I see statistical hanky-panky like this, I suspect the numbers are thoroughly cooked.
The Canadians were certainly not their “empire forces” in World War 2.
And while the British were in more danger of the war than we were, we WERE attacked by the Japanese before we entered the war, and we WERE attacked by the Germans before we sent our troops to Europe.
And while it is true that many British died defending their own country, many of them also died retaking France and pushing the Germans back and eventually defeating them.
I think Fred’s point was accurate, but your defense illustrates the difficulty of the quote as pointed out by Mark Steyn.
In order to defend what Fred said, you had to resort to claiming that the British and Canadians weren’t fighting for others, but simply to save their own butts.
So why are the British fighting side-by-side with us in Iraq? Why are the Canadians in Afghanistan?
We are NOT the only country in the world who is willing to send our own people to die to help others. We can praise our own selfless sacrifice without making it a contest or denigrating the sacrifice of others.
‘The British, and their empire forces like the Canadians, died to protect their empire, not liberate it.’
What nonsense. So far as I can recall, neither Poland, France, Holland or Denmark were in the British Empire.
When Britains allies were attacked, Britain declared war on Hitler. When Americas allies were attacked they ummed and arrhhed and eventually sent some weapons. I don’t blame America for one second for putting it’s own best interests ahead of it’s allies, but please, enough with the moral high gorund.
‘Now, he may be right and Thompson may be wrong with the actual numbers, but when I see statistical hanky-panky like this, I suspect the numbers are thoroughly cooked.’
Here are some more historically accurate figures:
‘Pure Marxist BS.’
Not pure BS.
The battle of kursk makes the D-Day landings look like a minor skirmish. I don’t think allied forces would’ve landed on that fateful June day if there had been no eastern front to exhaust and dilute the nazi forces.
‘Steyn wrote, “Sorry, guys, if that’s the level of bragadocio required, include me out. It should not be necessary in “supporting our troops” to denigrate everybody’s else.”’
What a refreshing attitude for this forum where ones ally is often more hated than ones enemy.
While Britain and France DID declare war on Germany after the invasion of Poland, they didn’t actually DO anything until France was attacked.
The British (quite rightly) believed that forward defense (fighting the Germans in France) was preferable to allowing the Germans to solidify their positions there. The result was Dunkirk.
Nobody went to war in WWII JUST to liberate Poland...
In Hillary's case, I think Bill is the 'wife'. ;-)
I see that now. A quick glance of online sources shows the United States had more military deaths than the United Kingdom, but fewer civilian deaths. Most countries involved in the war had a greater number of deaths per capita than we did, but we gave a lot of lives to end that war.
The total casualty count of WW2 is staggering, especially when you add the Axis powers.
We balk at 3800 deaths in Iraq. Germany lost 5 million soldiers, China had 15 million civilians killed. France had 212,000 soldiers killed (which is fewer than we lost, pretty interesting given that their country was overrun by the Germans and we had to take it back).
Least of all the Soviets.
They’d already “liberated” half of it in 1939 before Hitler got greedy. In fact, if Hitler had stopped there, we might still be living with the 3rd Reich.
Small little man with a small little mind, in a small little cubicle, somewhere in Ottawa,
Fiercely typing away, on a spittle specked keyboard, about his rabid jealousy of, and hatred for, America and Americans.
Sad little fellow.
Pity him if you can.
The writer is a liar. Fred said neither of these things and most conservatives believe neither of these things. Fred said, and most conservatives believe, that America has done more for others' liberty and that America is usually relatively goodhearted.
Oh really? Widely believed by WHOM exactly? Sounds like someone is trying to start another negative rumor about Fred, in order for it to be lazily picked up by others.
Those British didn't all die fighting for the freedom of folks other than themselves. Some died fighting the enemy that had attacked their homeland, and was threatening to invade it. Or they died in defense of the other members of the British Commonwealth. Thus, they were fighting for their own liberation. Other Britons died in the relentless bombing by the Nazis. It doesn't make their sacrifice unworthy, or ignoble in any way.
America was not in imminent danger of being invaded, as was England or other countries in Europe. We didn't have to go from island to island fighting the Japanese in order to make them leave our homeland. We did that to liberate the folks who had been conquered and enslaved by the Japanese. We crossed the Atlantic and did the same for all those countries that had been conquered by Hitler, and whose people were systematically being slaughtered by his troops. We didn't HAVE to do either of those things, but we did, and our soldiers died for others, rather than for themselves or their fellow Americans.
Fred wasn't trying to be triumphalist, just stating the fact that our military is not one of conquest for imperialist reasons, but of liberation.
The Soviets were defending their homeland, as were the Brits and the French. Yes, they went into Europe, sometimes outside their borders, but only because that's where the enemy happened to be. They were trying to vanquish Germany so it would no longer threaten them directly.
America wasn't sending her soldiers across the Atlantic ocean to fight to protect our homeland directly, because we weren't in danger of being invaded by Germany. We just went, as Allies, to help Britain, France, and the Soviets, push Germany back to defeat, and free those who had been, or were under threat of being, subjugated by the Third Reich.
I shouldn’t argue this point any more, but it would be wrong to say that our entrance into WW2 wasn’t at least in part because we decided finally that the war COULD hurt us directly. Until Pearl Harbor, we were staying out of the conflict because it didn’t effect us.
I say I shouldn’t argue because I agree with the general point made by Thompson — we as much as any other country do our part to make the world a safer place.
But we do so at least in part for selfish reasons. We don’t get involved in wars where we see no self-interest.
Of course not, but we get into them for additional reasons as well, usually for the liberation of a particular people, or to stop the movement of forces that would deny freedom to people, not just our own.