Anti-americanism or reality dysfunction?
Posted by aogTuesday, 30 September 2003 at 16:46 TrackBack Ping URL

One (in my opinion strong) contentation that much of the protesting of the US invasion of Iraq is based on anti-Americanism (or tyranophilia) is the amount of complaint about actions of the USA and not other nations who do similar or worse things. For instance, invading another nation without UN approval. The standard reply to this (at least for American citizens) is that one’s duty is to police one’s own nation, not the behaviour of other nations. (A weaker form is to state that such protests are far more likely to have an effect on the USA than, say, Cuba, but as this demonstrates one reason the USA is a morally superior nation it’s kind of counter-productive).

However, it occurs to me that this counter-argument runs aground on the rock of holding up these other nations as examplars, whose moral judgements are critical to justifying international actions. For instance, it’s one thing to say “It doesn’t matter if France armed the genocidal faction in Rwanda, I’m talking about the USA” and another to follow that with “The USA is wrong because it didn’t get France’s permission to invade” (i.e., UN Security Council approval).

I suppose the response to this is that the UN isn’t France, or Russia, or any of its members. This is another aspect of the perfectability issue. The view seems to be that somehow, magically, gathering together the representatives of morally suspect nations can, with the proper structure, produce a near-angelic good that is the UN, giving it the unquestionable right to judge others regardless of the actual behavior of its constituent nations. Unfortunately for the Tranzis, the more the American citizenry is exposed to this concept, the less they believe it.