Beinert on the Tsunami and the Right’s Isolationism

A nice commentary by The New Republic’s Peter Beinert on what US conservatives’ reaction to the tsunami reveals about their view of the world: Distant shores.

To win over global hearts and minds, the United States must show Muslims, and others, that we are benevolent–that we want a better world for them; that we are not just in it for empire and oil. That means financial generosity–giving money for economic and social development rather than only military assistance. But it also means what might be called intellectual generosity–a genuine curiosity about the rest of the world, even when our safety is not directly threatened, even when the dramas aren’t primarily about us.

It is that curiosity that is so profoundly absent from Bush, who tries to see as little as possible of the countries he visits.

Beinert pretty much nails it. The campaign to convince the world of US benevolence is doomed, at least as long as the current team is responsible for US foreign policy, because the current team simply doesn’t do benevolence. Bush doesn’t care, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

6 Responses to “Beinert on the Tsunami and the Right’s Isolationism”

  1. Patriot Says:

    Tell me, aside from being the most generous country in the world especially in times of crisis like during the aftermath of this tsunami, how should the United States show “benevolence” to islamo-facist/terrorists who have dedicated their lives to killing every last American and Jew?

  2. Patriot Says:

    excuse me, strike “killing,” replace with “murdering.”

    a little grammatical oversight.

  3. John Callender Says:

    A good starting point would be expressing enough of an interest in the outside world to recognize that random citizens of south and southeast asia are not, in fact, associated in any meaningful way with “islamofascist/terrorists”.

    From a distance, it’s easy to stereotype in the manner that you, and Bush, do. Up close, it’s not. Policies that are founded on ignorance and misperception tend to be ineffective. Treating all of Islam as our implacable enemies doesn’t stop terrorism. In the long term, it actually strengthens it. A lot.

    As long as you’re educating yourself about the rest of the world, you might as well update your information on US generosity. The US is the “most generous country in the world” only according to a very self-serving analysis that doesn’t hold up to closer scrutiny. If you compare US rates of giving to our GNP, or to our population, we lag well behind many other countries.

    Given your willingness to accept government propaganda as truth (well, at least the propaganda of the side you support), I suppose you’re also a believer that the money we’re spending on military activities in, say, Iraq, are actually a form of generous foreign aid. In that sense, I’d have to admit, we are extremely “generous.” We can only be grateful that the parts of the world currently benefiting from that form of generosity aren’t (currently) in a position to reciprocate.

    Violence, death, and aggression: The gift that keeps on giving!

  4. Craig Says:

    This whole mini-tempest about the initial aid pledge by the US/Bush, is less about an actual concern of how much money we should have been giving immediately, and more about a reflexive anti-Bush response which has carried over from the campaign. It’s the itch that has to be scratched raw.

    Even though this whole things grows more moot by the day, as the volume of money, material, and manpower being donated by the US and the world grows to huge proportions, let’s look at the pledges from December 28th. The US: pledges 15 million with assurances that this is only the beginning. The 25-nation EU: 4 million. China, who is a regional power in that area, with a booming economy: 2.6 million. The oil-rich, Muslim countries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who have people of their same faith in such peril: 10 million and 2 million respectively.

    The fact is, no one truly appreciated and acknowledged the gravity of the event, in the immediate hours and days of the event. Those still yelling about the perceived initial stinginess of Bush, even in the shadow of the mountain of money and supplies that now exists, are not unlike those who still argued over a “stolen” 2000 election, even on the eve of the next one.

    Any conceivable point to it all has been long overtaken in relevance and importance by the events of the present.

    Yet some will stubbornly cling to it.

    As proof, I suspect most comments to this thread (if any) will be less on the pledge topic and more on Bush’s past sins.

  5. ymatt Says:

    I think we’re doing all we can that’s right at appropriate. I’ll save my criticism for where its richly due.

  6. Jen Says:

    I don’t think Bush or USA will ever regain the trust with the Muslim World, not after what happened in Fallujah, all that bloodshed and the killings.

    The only way to regain their trust and confidence: The Killings Must Stop There. Occupation must Stop invading in their Lands. Seek Peace Solutions with the World Leaders. Then It may happen.

    It will be long time to come- maybe even years.

    This is the only way. Stop all the Crap over there and clean it up and bring it home. Then Talk to them on the Table and perhaps fixing the USA Foreign Policy. Osma Bin Laden is not the only one that complains about it, there are other Countries that does not like it, naming North Korea, Syria, oh yes these are deemed as Axis of Evil! (I see that now). What is wrong with getting along with them without violating their intergity?

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