September 5, 2004

"I'm sorry. What team?"

Mac Frazier posted a comment here, I'm putting it in because it's funny:

At the end, though, you said something that threw a switch in my head:
America has always been an isolationist nation, not very concerned with the opinions of other countries.
The accepted "wisdom" these days, I believe, is that America historically has always swung back and forth between isolationism and interventionism. ....But we've never really seen ourselves as team captains, and historically the American people have never really put much value in The Team. Our former team mates are only just beginning to catch on to that, though, and for some it is a very slow learning process.

As you said, America has always been an isolationist nation. It just appeared otherwise at certain times, and so part of the world is confused about our behavior this time around.

Germany: Hey! What about the team?
USA: Huh?
Germany: You're missing the chance to heal the team!
USA: And...who are you?
Germany: I'm your best bud! You know...we sort of stood together against that bully back in the late 20th century...
USA: Um...er, yeah. I sorta remember there being someone lying on the ground there. Was that you?
Germany: Yeah! We were great together! So here's what I'm thinking—me and some of the other players have talked it over, and we're willing to come back on board if you let someone else be captain this time.
USA: Uh...captain of what?
Germany: The team!
USA: I'm sorry. What team?
Germany: You know...
USA: Look, kid, I'm trying to do something important here. If you want to come along, you're certainly welcome. You can even bring your pea-shooter and your slingshot, if you like. But if you're not coming along, please get out of the way. This isn't a game, you know.

Actually, I don't actually think "isolationist" is the word to describe us. Or that we are not team players.

I think it's sort of like in the Old West. If somebody is organizing a posse, or a bucket-brigade, or a defense against redskins, the fellows don't palaver, they just jump in and help. It's expected. And if some mollycoddle wants to organize a conference first, and discuss seniority of command, or the moral basis of preemptive action...Americans will ignore him and just get on with the job. And such ad hoc teams usually do the job just fine. Hang 'em high!


Posted by John Weidner at September 5, 2004 3:14 PM
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