Monday, December 17

America and its un-American foreign relations policies

The number of super-rich persons -- those whose net worth is at least $50 million -- who live in the top ten wealthiest nations totals 114,581. Out of that number 70,540 are American. China's number of super-rich is a distant second with 16,510.

The rest of the top-ten nations -- Australia, Britain, Canada, France, India, Italy, Germany, Japan -- are, individually, home to 3,000+ super-rich people. For the breakdowns by country see this December 16 RT report, Top Ten Countries the Super-Rich Call Home.

RT sticks to the ten wealthiest nations so the report doesn't address how many super-rich are in Russia and other nations that are big exporters of oil and gas. But the report does mention:
Credit Suisse analysts noted that the overall number of individuals whose wealth exceeds $50 million also rose four percent [during the past 12 months ending in October], reaching 149,890 people.
That leaves 35,309 super-rich scattered among nations that aren't in the category of top-ten wealthiest. So the number of American super-rich also dwarfs that of all super-rich individuals combined who live outside the top ten wealthiest nations.

Given America's vast geographic size and population -- second only to Russia in land mass and third to India and China's populations -- the country would be a land of idiots if our number of super-rich didn't dwarf that of others. This fact is so consistently overlooked by American politicians and foreign-relations policymakers that it's reasonable to wonder whether they really know their own country.

They don't. 

The United States of America and its population take up such a big chunk of this world that trying to get a clear idea of what it's like from looking at a map and demographic data is like trying to imagine what a million dollars looks like by reading the dollar figure.

There is only one certain way to get a deep understanding of the United States of America, and that is by walking across a big part of it. As to how many Americans in the public eye have accomplished this feat in the modern era: one.

His name is Paul Glover. He walked from the city of Boston in the state of Massachusetts to the city of San Diego in the state of California. You read that right if you're looking at a map and wondering if such a journey is even possible for one person on foot.

Added to the difficulty of gaining a clear picture of such a vast country is the low priority U.S. schools place on teaching American history. Yet there are special reasons why it's important for Americans to study their history. Because the USA grew up as a democracy it's not really accurate to describe it as a young nation. It's not the years, it's the mileage. One way to appreciate this is if you've been listening for a decade or so to John Batchelor's discussions with historians who chronicle different aspects of American history. *

The takeaway from John's tour de force, for which I believe he deserves a Medal of Freedomis that one can spend one's life studying American history and not come to the end of it. A big part of the reason is that America was forged as a constitutional republic that gave primacy to efforts of the individual and welcomed vast numbers of immigrants. And so the history of this country is stuffed with tales of ordinary people who had enough freedom under a written constitution to accomplish extraordinary things and often against overwhelming odds.

Thus, the unbridgeable gap between the history of the United States and other nations, which evolved over millenniums under kings and emperors, or empires that oversaw peoples in lands far distant from the power centers. The recorded history this produced is very much a story of rulers and the aristocracies that served them, whereas America's history is very much that of personal struggles of a great many commoners.
This unique aspect of the United States produced a vast storehouse of common-sense wisdom about democracy. Yet the wisdom was tossed aside when American government policies came to be shaped by those whose understanding of this country and knowledge of its history could have fit on a flea's wing. 

Nowhere is this truer than in foreign relations policies that developed in Washington after World War Two and continue to this day. That our leaders turned their backs on hard-won American wisdom in bids for power the United States in its vastness does not need, and which only drag this country down, is a horrific tragedy that has harmed Americans and many peoples outside U.S. borders. 

To this I can only cry out in fury, in despair, at the ghosts who inhabit today's imperial Washington, "What in God's name were you thinking?"

John doesn't only discuss American history. He's covered so much history from so many eras and world regions that there's no way to encompass what he's accomplished. And because he started out as a novelist he turns every history he talks about into a page-turner. Time and again I've announced to the radio, upon hearing of the show's upcoming book topic, "NO I am NOT interested," but if I don't turn off the radio right away I'm soon riveted by a tale and even on the edge of my seat wondering, "And then what happens?"

That's quite an accomplishment for a history teacher when the tale can be thousands of years old. 

[chuckling] Yes indeed, loyal John Batchelor Show listeners are students of history in spite of ourselves. The free education that no amount of money can buy is one reason I stay tuned year after year, even though I'm often in vociferous disagreement with the opinions of many of his guests and John himself about various U.S. policies.

For those who've never heard any of John Batchelor's book discussions, here's a podcast of one from 2016 that I've pulled at random from the Audioboom/JBS sidebar:

Climate 1314 AD: "The Third Horseman: A Story of Weather, War, and the Famine History Forgot" by William Rosen



bdoran said...

What do you think of the Syria pullout announced today [Dec 19.2018] by Trump?

I think that yes Trump didn't like his media so he changed the subject again.

But beyond that?

Pundita said...

I think loose lips sink the ship. A few more events need to unfold. Until then look busy.

Pundita said...

Mattis out. Bingo. Now looking for Double Bingo.

bdoran said...

We really can't know with Trump what he's up to until he's done.

The Mattis move may be just Syria/Kurd$$ or may be The Wall [TM] being built by the US Military as well.

However - Trump has always wanted to leave Middle East and indeed has no interest in War.
If he had an interest in War he would have gone to war somewhere.

Every President since Truman that went to war has been stalemated or defeated but not in battle but at table - the effect of which is to favor the permanent government over the elected President. This is the constant of our stalemates and defeats since 1945.

Therefore no wise President goes to war and indeed ends wars. See Eisenhower, Carter, Obama.

This angers the RISK players at State and the War Dogs crowd but Trump is their mortal enemy anyway.

The overarching struggle for power is between the elected and the unelected coming to a head now and that's all.

The foreign stage is simply shadow of the main play.

Do not mistake shadows on the cave* walls for the sunlit world behind; turn round Madam and cast your eye the other way at America itself - not the eternal blood-soaked Opera of the Middle East.

*Take the Red Pill. You keep swallowing Blue Pills and they make you sick. Yes.
Because the Blue Pills aren't working anymore.

Take the Red Pill. It's America not our Foreign Policy.