Friday, April 15, 2005

Because So Much More Is Expected

I found the site dealing with Germany’s reception of Bush and Putin. Both are leaders of countries that invaded another country but they were not received in Germany the same way.

When US President George W. Bush visited Germany last February, tens-of-thousands of angry demonstrators turned out in Mainz and all across Germany to vent their outrage at the Iraq war and the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Now, less than two months later, Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Germany. And a whopping 30 protesters showed up to demonstrate against the bloody Russian war and widespread human rights violations in Chechnya….Chechnya never came up and the German media has all but ignored the topic.

I left the following comment but I have expanded on it some (plus correcting my syntax and grammar is an on going endeavor). I’m hesitant to try and parse the German mind but the inconsistency in protest may be due to expectations. The Russians have a reputation for abusing human rights especially those of other people they control. The Americans have a reputation of respect for an individual’s rights and religion. People have voted against Russia by leaving it; people have voted for America by moving there.

The history of our founding, our Constitution, our national identity are all tied to individual freedom and rights. Now of course the U.S. was never as perfect as we claim or would like to think, but our ideals are. Regardless of our blunderings in the past, for us to act cavalier in regards to another country in this day and age flies in the face of expectations. The idea of American promises more and more is expected.

While soldiers from other countries have a reputation for rape and pillage, American soldiers are known for chocolate bars and spam. We are supposed to be the good guys. We free people we don’t enslave them. Now, I know that not all soldiers are perfect gentlemen, but most are decent human beings. There are individual Americans who can be just as savage and brutal as any one from any where, but most are basically good.

I have no doubt that if I was in combat and saw my friends killed, I would become a heartless killing machine and take it out on prisoners or wounded enemy soldiers. That sort of behavior is part of fighting a war. It comes with it. What I have a problem with is when abuse becomes government policy. When we do that, we are making a mistake for which later generations will condemn. Just as we look back at slavery or the imprisonment of Japanese during WWII or the unfair treatment those who worked in factories or mines, one day Americans will look back and question our decisions

This country was by no means a perfect country when it was formed. But the declarations and itemized rights set forth at this countries beginning were lofty ideals. For some people these ideals not realized until many years later, and for others and inspiration, admired and the goal of generations from around the world. Just as some feel we should do what ever is necessary to protect this countries, others feel just as strong we should do what ever is necessary to protect that for which we stand.

The two receptions in Germany are symptomatic of this expectation. Americans are more harshly judged by the world because more is expected of Americans.
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