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  #1  
Old 05-05-2009, 09:47 AM
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"...everybody knows we still have the big stick"

The Sean Hannity types have been acting all outraged (maybe they really are outraged) about Obama going overseas and saying that the United States has been arrogant, etc. I don't know whether that attack is getting much traction with people, but it just struck me as such a timid attitude. Do they really see America as being that fragile that it cannot withstand self-criticism? Or do they think that America is perfect?

I think Secretary of Defense Gates said it well:
Quote:
"Well, I like to remind people that, when President George W. Bush came into office, he talked about a more humble America. And, you know, you go back to Theodore Roosevelt and his line about speaking softly, but carrying a big stick.

"I think that acknowledging that we have made mistakes is not only factually accurate, I think that it is unusual, because so few other governments in the world are willing to admit that, although they make them all the time. And some of them make catastrophic mistakes.

"And in speeches myself, I have said that at times we have acted too arrogantly. And I didn't feel that I was being apologetic for America, I just was saying, because the next -- I was just saying that that's the way we are in terms of being willing to recognize our own limitations, and when we make a mistake to correct it.

"Because I think the next line that I always use is, no other country in the world is so self-critical, and is so willing to change course when we feel that we've strayed from our values, or when we feel like we've been too arrogant.

"So, I think -- I have not seen it as an apology tour at all, but rather a change of tone, a more humble America. But everybody knows we still have the big stick."

http://washingtonmonthly.com/
Isn't that exactly right?
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  #2  
Old 05-05-2009, 09:54 AM
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I find his use of terminology interesting. "America" was claimed in the name of various Kings (England, France, Spain to name a few). "America" is a continent, while the "United States" is a country. since words have meanings, it appears he is speaking of "America" which includes a lot of real estate. so.....question arises, is he speaking of a joint effort between member nations (NATO) as having a "big stick" or what? seems like an ambiguous statement.......
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:59 AM
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You think his use of the term "America" might include Europe?
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:08 AM
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I think to him, "America" means all the countries we have a military presence in.
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:15 AM
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The Neocons were arrogant, but where does the self-criticism get us? What did it get Obama at the G20?
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ForcedInduction View Post
I think to him, "America" means all the countries we have a military presence in.
That seems like a strained interpretation to me. In my experience, when people say "America", they mean the United States. When Secretary Gates's comment is taken in context, it's clear that he is using "America" to mean the same thing as the "United States." If some other meaning was intended, then Obama's comments about America sometimes being arrogant would make no sense.
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Old 05-05-2009, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
The Neocons were arrogant, but where does the self-criticism get us?
For one thing, it's honest. I think people respect honesty.
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What did it get Obama at the G20?
We'll never know. By the same token, I don't see where it did any harm.

BTW, since we are talking about the meaning of words, what does "by the same token" mean?
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:01 AM
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I'm unsure what, exactly he is talking about. he might be talking about NATO, but then again he might not. since he used the term "America", let's take a look at the dictionary to see what it means.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/America

since "America" is a continent and not a country or nation, it would seem that "America" doesn't carry a stick at all, it is just dirt rock and sand. the "United States" on the other hand, certainly may carry a big stick. of course, the policies of it's political leaders may appear to the outside world differently than the way we natives think of them.
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:13 AM
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In some cultures, timidity and self criticism equate to showing weakness. being percieved as having a weak national command structure could make it hard to get along in this world and might make it where we have to use the big stick....International relations is a big bluff n bluster game where the weak are ignored or preyed upon or at least tested. JMO, YMMV
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:58 AM
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Yes, everybody knows we still have the big stick. However, the fight is not won by who has the biggest stick in their closet unless you are doing "Show and tell". The question is what stick you are willing to pull out. Case in point, you come at me with a knife and I tell you that back at home, I have a huge 1000 Magnum. Big deal. If all you have here is a twig, my knife will cut you apart.
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HuskyMan View Post
I'm unsure what, exactly he is talking about. he might be talking about NATO, but then again he might not. since he used the term "America", let's take a look at the dictionary to see what it means.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/America

since "America" is a continent and not a country or nation, it would seem that "America" doesn't carry a stick at all, it is just dirt rock and sand. the "United States" on the other hand, certainly may carry a big stick. of course, the policies of it's political leaders may appear to the outside world differently than the way we natives think of them.
The United States of America. Commonly referred to as 'America'. Just because Merriam-Webster doesn't list America as a synonym for the USA, doesn't mean it isn't in the general vernacular. As the biggest country in America, the continent, we get the privilege of using America as our nickname. Sorry 'bout that Canada, (as if you would even want to be called America) we have many more people, so are seen as being bigger, even though we are not.

As for our policies being perceived differently by the rest of the world, isn't that what O is trying to address? Trying to pass along the idea that some of us understand that our dealings with the rest of the world have, at times, been somewhat heavy-handed. Seems like a good way to rebuild some alliances that the previous administration ran rough-shod over. Most of the countries that would see that as a sign of weakness are either already aware of the strength of the US, or are not strong enough for it to matter.
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cmbdiesel View Post
As for our policies being perceived differently by the rest of the world, isn't that what O is trying to address? Trying to pass along the idea that some of us understand that our dealings with the rest of the world have, at times, been somewhat heavy-handed.

Seems like a good way to rebuild some alliances that the previous administration ran rough-shod over.

Most of the countries that would see that as a sign of weakness are either already aware of the strength of the US, or are not strong enough for it to matter.
From having been elsewhere, I see that each country will try to nudge the other into doing something their way. It may be subtle or it may be brash but it is there if you look closely. Take Malaysia. It too tried to use water that it was selling as a tool to get compliance. Yet, they have been upset at what they perceive as the US being heavy handed. Kinda of a double standard, if you ask me.

You want to get the alliances here, bring them something valuable. Remember the definition of the word alliance. It is because we have a common cause and not that we are BFF.

Don't be too sure of that. Like I have said before, it is more about the stick you bring to the fight than what you tell me you have in your cupboard. Give Al Qaeda half the weapons we have and we would be praying 5 times a day to Mecca. Level the playing field and we will end up as a glass zone.
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:12 PM
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All Presidents are supposed to love America and what it stands for; one of the President's jobs is to promote American ideas of freedom and liberty, and I don't think apologies to the world for who we are, what we do, and how we do it are going to benefit us. I think Obama is a pessimist who sees so many wrongs in America, while I am an optimist and I see all the good that we do for the world.
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:14 PM
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All Presidents are supposed to love America and what it stands for; one of the President's jobs is to promote American ideas of freedom and liberty, and I don't think apologies to the world for who we are, what we do, and how we do it are going to benefit us. I think Obama is a pessimist who sees so many wrongs in America, while I am an optimist and I see all the good that we do for the world.
We do good for the world because it is by coincidence. The basic thing we need to understand is that we do good for ourselves, first and foremost. That is how the world is.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuskyMan View Post
I find his use of terminology interesting. "America" was claimed in the name of various Kings (England, France, Spain to name a few). "America" is a continent, while the "United States" is a country. since words have meanings, it appears he is speaking of "America" which includes a lot of real estate. so.....question arises, is he speaking of a joint effort between member nations (NATO) as having a "big stick" or what? seems like an ambiguous statement.......
America is also a shortened version of the United States Of America that many people use because United States of America is a mouthful.


Gates is exactly right. We punish soldiers who don't behave according to our standards, unlike just about every other country in the history of the world. We do so because we stand by our principles, and when they are not upheld, we respond. The President reaffirming our principles and acknowledging that they have been ignored is right.
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