Happy birthday USA
Russell McMahon email (remove spam text)
Jim & list
I went back and read what I'd written to see if I would reasonably expect
such a response. I suggest you have another look at what I said. As I
noted - verbatim quotes here -
I'm a friend of the US and what it stands for,
I'm keen to see it continue to mature and grow in self discipline
and genuine disinterested interest in the affairs of the world
(I & most NZers) wish you well,
... are pleased with what in sum total you add to the world
and hope that you all .. will long continue as a bastion and
supporter of a flavour of democracy.
Presumably you didn;t find fault with any of that.
It behoves a true friend to not just be a toadying yes-man but to point out
to their friend when they stray from ways ideal or when they may be
upsetting others unawares. A friend who will not do this is not worthy of
The points you raised largely dealt with the US's good deeds - ones which we
would both be largely in agreement over.
I am not, and do not ever claim to be, an expert in things US, but I suspect
that you know even less about this little nation here at the bottom of the
world. We do not have the size of the US - being 50 to 80 times smaller in
population (depending on year etc) our affect in absolute terms is
necessarily far far less. Measured in per capita terms you may be surprised.
> How many sons and daughters has NZ lost in the
> two great World Wars and various conflicts since RM?
I note you address me as "RM" which is indeed the signature I use on
flippant, brief or throwaway posts. I did not so sign myself here. Should I
take this appellation as a sign of your displeasure (as well as the clues in
the rest of your post ) ? :-)
Willingness to be involved in foreign wars can be a dubious measure of one's
NZ was not born as a nation when you fought your war of secession and only
just so when you fought the war in which the US suffered the most fatalities
of any war so far. (Almost double the US losses in WW2) I doubt that we sent
We, rightly or wrongly, sent about 6,500 troops to the "Boer War" of 1899 -
1902 in South Africa to support the British. 228 NZ sons died. I don't think
the US was represented. I'm sure we thought the cause was just and in the
interests of world order & peace - I'll leave it to the historians to debate
I have no comprehensive figures for WW1 but those for WW2 may surprise you.
I acknowledge the debt of world freedom to the US for their role in WW2 BUT
the cost in absolute terms was far higher for 14 other countries than for
the US ! and in relative terms was twice as high for New Zealand as for the
US and also for many other small countries. Putting it in realistic terms -
a randomly chosen NZ family was twice as likely to have had a son or father
die in WW2 than a US family.
Fatality stats at www.stokesey.demon.co.uk/wwii/casualty.html
are illuminating and dreadful.
Absolute fatalities were greater amongst the allies for Soviet Union (25M),
China (11M), Poland (6.8M), Yugoslavia (1.7M), Rumania (985k), France
(810k), Hungary (750k), Greece (520k), Czechoslovakia (400k) and Great
Britain (388k) than for the US (295k). These figures are probably about as
accurate as can reasonably be arrived at. Note that UK absolute fatalities
exceeded those for the US - the US paid a higher price financially than the
British but not in sons and daughters.
Notice that Jews are not separately identified on this list.
Germany lost 7M, Japan 1.8M, Austria 525K, Italy 410K.
Even neutral Spain (a Nazi sympathiser) lost 22k - more serving with the
Allies than Germany. .
Re WW1 - Google up "Gallipoli ANZAC" to see the terrible price paid by NZ
son's - and their families in World War 1 in a misguided and badly executed
plan to take the heights overlooking the Bosporous.
Note that the Soviet Union was, regardless of the evils of Stalin, THE great
opponent of Nazi Germany for a very large part of the war (and their ally
initially!). The Soviet Union lost 25 MILLION lives fighting Germany - over
8,000% (yes - 80 times) higher than the lives lost by the US (- over 25
million fatalities compared to 295.000 for the USA. By noting these facts I
do not wish to diminish the role of the US, which was absolutely pivotal,
but to note that MANY other nations played a very very very great part at
very great cost to themselves. (2/3 of the Soviet losses were civilians. 1
(or 6 according to this site
http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/wwii/jbb.htm) of the US losses was,
strictly speaking, civilian. (Killed by a Japanese balloon bomb)). (Another
site http://www.seanet.com/~johnco/fugo.htm )
New Zealand has, rightly or wrongly, been represented in wars alongside the
US in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait/Iraq and, at this moment, Afghanistan. Did you
New Zealand was THE first country in the world to declare war against Nazi
Germany (followed within a day by Britain, Australia, Canada and France.
If you want to see how much this small country was prepared, rightly or
wrongly, to "do it's bit" internationally compared to the US look at the
dates of the sinking of the Lusitania (WW1) and Pearl Harbour (WW2) and the
dates of US entry into each of these conflicts and reflect about why the US
did what it did and what it would have done if either of these "events" had
not occurred. Historians will debate this as long as they exist. It has been
alleged, with some justification, that both these events were engineered to
force the US to enter each of the wars concerned (the latter allegedly BY
the US President and his right hand man).
Great Britain, for what it's worth, declared war against Japan after Pearl
Harbour BEFORE the US did.
We have had our own internal disputes and loss of life.
For our own interesting history see -
> I have had a chance to see the after-effects first-hand
> what war does to people - as my Dad worked at a VA
> Hospital (Veterans Administration Hospital - where
> those who didn't die in the wars go *if* they can't
> make it in society due to mental or physical conditions).
> When I was growing up there were vets there from WWII
> and the Korean conflcit. Later men from the Vietnam
> conflict arrived ...
I have had less of a chance. My father and an Uncle went overseas in WW2
(Father saw no combat -war ended.)
My Grandfather was a WW1 rifleman. I knew a Vietnam vet here. Vietnam
involvement here was voluntary for members of standing armed forces - how
many US volunteers would have gone to Vietnam? (rightly or wrongly).
(Recall: Hell no, we won't go, Hey Hey LBJ ..., but I didn't inhale
...)(Don't take that wrongly - but do remember the general national attitude
> There is no country on the face of this earth that
> has contributed more in the way of these men (and
> material) in the attempt at liberating men's minds
> and bodies from tyranny - whether it was Hitler or
> the communists in the form of the various Soviet
> leaders (whom history records as having killed of
A quick plug for the daughters & sons of Mother Russia (actually Soviet
Union) . Do not blame Russia's sons & daughters for her leaders. Surely many
have followed wrongly but the great evils were driven by the very few. When
Hitler fought Russia the common people had to fear their own leaders AND the
Nazi threat. The sons & daighters of Russia gave far more and suffreed far
more from Hitler than the US ever has in any external war. You would have to
go back to the US civil war to see similar US suffering at home. Regardless
of the privations of wartime conditions and the loss of loved ones, one
cannot compare what the US went through with what the Russian people
suffered for the cause of freedom.
> We are also (from what I read and see) the BIGGEST
> donor of aid from charitable NGO's (non-gov organiza-
> tions) organizations in the world.
That may well be true. I genuinely hope it is. Is this true on both an
absolute AND a per capita basis? (I hope so).
> And WHY do we do it? Because, in our founding documemts
> (like the Declaration of Independence) we declare that
> our rights extend from God and not simply from some
> tyrant that lineage has decreed is to be our ruling
> sovereign ...
We could almost get political on this :-).
But I'll try not to.
Note first that as a committed Cristian I wholeheartedly support the
expressions of divine motivation and guidance found in the US constitution
and other documents.
I note in passing that a certain 9th circuit US judge would have had it
expressed otherwise but I understand that he has, and I'm pleased, changed
his mind already.
It is worth noting that the tyranny of kings was held by almost all to be a
God given right - to robustly & safely say that the US leadership was God
given, but that Royal appointment was not, one would have to have a
confident grasp of history far beyond mine.
> So we just *naturally* extend this 'opportunity' to any
> and all that express an interest and that they would
> like to taste, exercise and embrace their God-given
> rights and the freedom to live one's life as we *have
> fought* to do.
> I let *all* of our record stand - as long as the the
> above is part of the record of testimony ...
And finally this is where the real detail begins and where I'm going to
(fairly soon :-) ) stop.
Most have no complaints with the good that the US does.
But the record contains much else.
As a gentle nudge in the ":right" direction, consider this. Does the term
"pork barrel politics" have any real justification in the US internal
system - Is there any truth that political influence and expediency is a
major factor in where money is spent, who gets a particular new plant or
industrial facility or government contract. Are all decisions made in the
interests of the genuine majority or has human nature got a strong hold on
If, just possibly, you feel that the internal reasons for doing things,
continuing or stopping a particular project etc etc WITHIN the US are not
done fairly or logically or equitably or ...., then why would one expect
things to be done differently externally?
I understand that M Condoleezza Rice is on record as saying that essentially
the reason things are done by the US in the world is US self interest and
that if there's nothing in it for the US then why do it?
Surely SOME US external actions seem to be driven by pure motives (as well
as can be seen from way down here). Even a degree of self interest is
entirely acceptable. Somalia seemed to me (in my blissful ignorance) to be
an example of attempted humanitarian assistance. Similarly US involvement in
Grenada - even though it was obviously in US interests to have a supportive
government there, the main aim seemed (perhaps in my naivety) to be based
largely on philanthropic merit.
Other cases become greyer. eg Iraq/Kuwait/Desert Storm. I am satisfied about
the improperness of the Iraqi action and that the world should not allow
such things to happen but the layers of murkiness about motivations etc when
compared to equally appealing or apalling "opportunities" elsewhere make one
wonder. Oil is a great motivator. US friendship with the house of Saud is
understandable but seems to be a case of supporting the rather bad devil you
know rather than ... The correlation between US interestes and US actions
seems high. There is no internationala law that says the US SHOULD be the
policeman/woman of the world and NOT correlate its actions with its
interests. However, as long as there IS a strong correlation between self
interest and action then a skeptical attitude is the least one should allow
an external observer.
A measure of how well you might expect yourself to be viewed may be able to
be found by comparison with how you feel about your dealings with other
people. Regardless of what is "fair" or "moral" or "achievable" if YOU in a
dealing with someone else in which they have control of what happens, find
that YOU have been much less advantaged by the deal than they have, then YOU
are liable to be less happy than you might have been. Or worse. Still more
so if you both committed resource to the deal and they benefited far more
than you. Even worse again if you comitted all the resource and, while
benefitting, find that they benefit far more (whether in absolute or
relative terms or both). No matter if you have benefited. No matter if you
have made a profit. No matter if you have had your lot improved beyond what
it would have been before the deal took place. If you in dealing with
someone else realise that the benefit that they gain far outweighs the
benefit that you gain then you are liable to be "unhappy". In a big enough
forum this can translate to "there will be trouble" as defined by Robocop.
> I should *also* mention (I kind of assume that everyone
> knows this!) that the citizenry of the US is and has
> been made up of people's from all around the world
> that came in search of something else - whether it
> was to flee tryranny or a famine - they came seeking
> relief from that which 'afflicted' them where they
> were previously.
> The USA's progress is a direct result of those new
> immigrants and their children enjoying the freedomn
> to do their best - and to invent and discover and
> innovate at their own pace without direct fear of
> the whip!
Yes, sort of. The whip can take other forms than a long leather weapon, but
yes, US freedom is for the most part incomparably greater than for many
other peoples. Some in the US would feel far freer than others. No amount of
fancy words about people being free to improve themselves or go to another
location or job or whatever will fool a person who is ground down to the
bottom of the social or finnacial pecking order - in the US or anywhere
> And don't get me wrong - the USA is surely not a
> 'finished work' either to be held high on a pedastal
> as the 'ultimate ideal' either. But I think (and I
> believe) that we have worked in the past several
> centuries to build the right foundation upon which
> to form a means 'to govern the affairs of men'.
Yes - imperfect but a good start :-)
> But there is a down side to this, for any attempt to
> govern will have it's greasy, seemy underside where
> the 'work' must finally get done, where the rubber
> necessarily meets the road and HARD decisions HAVE
> to get made -
Freedom starts to die when it uses the tools of its enemies to protect
itself against its enemies. A difficult truth to accept. One that the US CIA
of past decades often failed to subscribe to. When making HARD decisions
means working against the freedom you seek to shore up you are on shaky
ground (or so the Boss says)(Matt 5:39)(also Ro12:17,1Th5:15,1Pe3:9)..
> so in closing I quote Churchill:
> "It has been said that democracy is the worst form
> of government except all the others that have been
I'm somewhat of a student of WC. I've read much of what he wrote for general
public consumption. He was not the most ideal of men in all that he did but
he did relatively well for the world in his time. I'm happy enough with
democracy (and happier with it than most of the other forms that have been
tried). Even more so when those who practice it at home also seek to the
best of their ability to extend its benefits to those they deal with beyond
their shores who are not so blessed.
> Respectfully submitted to RM and to the Piclist -
No RM here - he's busy replying to Jinx's messages.
good (and therefore sometimes critical) friend of the USA -
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