Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I haven't been everywhere in the world, but among the places I have been, the U.S. is still the best place to be. This is in spite of, rather than because of our politics and attitudes.
America's main attraction, as always, is her natural resources and open spaces. I've been to Europe and Japan, and of necessity they do not have anything like the way we assume the freedom of having free, natural, open spaces.
Most of the Olympic Peninsula, where I live, is rain forest and mountains, inhabited only by animals and birds. Germany has forests, but seen from the air they're rectangular, and seen up close, manicured, like an expensive haircut.
Even today, after 150 years of continuous habitation in the most recently settled parts, America has almost unbelieveable agricultural potentional, but it will only be realized if we get rid of outfits like Monsanto and Cargill and get a handle on the rapidly-heating climate, which means getting a handle on fossil-fuel emissions. The drought is threatening to permanently cripple much of our best agricultural land. Being a patriot, I think a person must witness the farming culture of Washington and Oregon to get an idea of how abundant and gorgeous mother earth could be, all over the country.
Our political and cultural life, as opposed to our natural lives, is a different story. We started out by stealing this beautiful and rich place, of course, from its former inhabitants. And "make no mistake" (as our beloved leader likes to say), the US was an empire from the beginning. Starting with Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana Territory in 1803 which may or may not have been legal under the Constitution, for the first 100 years the Empire was strictly continental. Further expansion in the 19th century was got by war with Mexico, a treaty extorted by intimidating England for the spot I'm sitting on right now, ending with the purchase of Russian Alaska in 1867.
By the end of the century with nowhere left to expand to, the Empire jumped overseas with Bill McKinley's noble crusade to liberate Cuba from the Spanish so we could have it for ourselves. However, the real war was in the Philippines, where the "Spanish-American" war ground on for years at great cost to both sides before Filipino resistance was shattered.
Then comes America's first Democrat "peace" president, Woodrow Wilson, and World War I, then Calvin Coolidge's blessing of the United Fruit Company's commitment to taking over and running Central America as a plantation, at which point a few people began to notice the symbiotic relationship between capitalism and war.
It would have been really hard to stay out of the big, colossal, world-scrap that came up a few years later, probably the last one of its kind. I still think of it as "the good war," and it's how Frank Roosevelt got us out of the first Wall Street depression and launched us into the evil times that have followed.
No point to even writing anything about what came after WWII. I do that here every day. And at any rate, that chapter, and that evil time, is just about done.