There is a certain method of argumentation, used especially among the American right wing, that is designed to intimidate an opponent. When people criticize American foreign policy–its illegal invasions and occupations, its torture of foreign nationals, its attempts to buy other countries’ support through foreign aid–they often face the charge that they are “part of the Blame America First crowd.”
This is a particularly common refrain among the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, or Mark Levin. In American culture, we often hear “arguments” that are not really arguments at all, but attempts to intimidate people into silence. When someone says that you are “blaming America first,” what are they really saying?
That America is never to be blamed?
That America is always right?
That those who criticize our foreign policy are by definition anti-patriotic?
(A corollary intimidation technique is to say that “all criticism of America stops at our shores.” This means we can argue about domestic policy, but foreign policy is sacrosanct, somehow. Thus when Barack Obama made a stop in Berlin this summer, and actually criticized some aspects of American foreign policy, he was accused of “criticizing the American government from the territory of a foreign country”–an allegedly unforgivable sin.)
Libertarians often face this type of criticism, because of the fact we often espouse unpopular beliefs. Thus, when libertarians support ending the insane War on Drugs, they are often confronted with the accusation that they support Colombian drug lords and want to create more crack babies.
Libertarians are used to this sort of thing. But there is a certain contingent of what might be called paleo-conservatives who are now facing the same type of argument. Paleos are those conservatives who thought conservatism called for small, non-intrusive government, and staying out of foreign intrigues and alliances. More and more, they are finding themselves ostracized, both from the conservative movement, and from the Republican Party.
Foremost among these good-hearted Paleocons is Paul Craig Roberts, who has been pointing out the criminality of the Bush Administration for years. You can read a particularly good article by Roberts at http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts259.html . In this article, Roberts clearly and concisely points out why we should “blame America first” for the recent atrocities in Mumbai, India. His logic is irrefutable.
Muslims would have no reason to target Americans if Americans did not have a sordid history of meddling in the Middle East. This meddling includes overthrowing a democratically-elected government (Iran in the early 1950’s), and installing a tyrant (the Shah of Iran) who maintained his grip on power by using a particularly bloodthirsty secret police called SAVAK.
You wonder why so many Iranians distrust the US government? Folks, blame America first.
Then there is the illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign country that was no threat to America: Iraq. Toss in a few bombings of civilians, torture of innocent Muslims, bombings of weddings and–the American Gestapo’s favorite technique–the 3 AM home-invasion terror strike, and you get Iraqi citizens who actually wish to resist the American occupation. Does it really surprise you that people would resist an invasion and occupation by foreigners who do all the above? That they would target the invader’s troops, using homemade explosive devices? If the situation were reversed, would you not do the same thing?
Blame America first, folks.
Then there is the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia. And of course, the full support of Israel, even when it clearly violates the human rights of Palestinians. You know, there really is another side to the story regarding Israel and the Palestinians, but the American MSM pretty much marches in lockstep with the Likud bloc of the American government.
Blame America first, folks.
In an individual, self-evaluation and deep introspection are signs of a healthy psyche. The same holds true for countries. Those countries that refuse to question and challenge their premises are ready to be led around by the nose by any tinpot dictator who happens to capture fifty-one percent of the vote. For more information on this problem, look up George W. Bush.
So, go ahead and try a new approach. Blame America first. Play with it. Enjoy it. When some loudmouth radio talk show host accuses you of being part of the dreaded “Blame America First” crowd, don’t fight it–agree with him.
Because often, blaming America first is the right thing to do.
[Update Dec 8 2008. Paul Craig Roberts nails it again. See http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts260.html ]