Americans and America

#1
I've noticed a certain edge in some of the discussions around here, specifically, an anti-American edge. While some of this is easily dismissable as banter - and taken as such by both sides - there's a tendency for some of this to go a bit far and, to my mind, it comes across as mean-spirited and inaccurate.

I thought I'd just quickly jot down my own view and then ask folk for comments. Please remember it's not the NAAFI bar.

The USA is a hyperpower, the only one around. It has immense military might and a powerful economy - as well as a massive deficit.

The US Armed Forces are our (the British Armed Forces) closest friends. Our stock hasn't done too well with them in the last few years, mainly as a result of some piss-poor political decisions by our lords and masters (the retreat from Basra, anyone), but also as a result of some unjustified arrogance by some of our folk, who thought they understood COIN better than anyone. Despite this, we're still close and find it easier to work with Americans than anyone else (and vice versa).

The US political system is fundamentally different to ours - they have a Republic, we have a monarchy. Much of the respect and reverence we feel for the monarchy, they invest in the Presidency and the symbols of their Republic. They do not respond well to piss-taking about either of these.

They are far, far more religious than we are. They take religion extremely seriously and do not respond well to ribbing about that, either.

They are both more conservative and more overtly patriotic than we are. A US liberal might count as a middle-range conservative over here. They take the flag and country stuff very seriously and have no problems with assertions of national power in the national interest.

In many ways, the US of today reminds me of the British Empire in about 1880 - a global hegemon, confident and assured and perfectly capable of doing Realpolitik in pursuit or defence of its interests.

It's probably clear from what I've written that I like them, well, most of them and admire some aspects of the US approach to foreign policy. They do get it wrong sometimes, but who doesn't, but, generally, to my mind, they're still a force for good. If nothing else, having the Americans around probably saved us from having to learn Russian back in the day.

So. Thread open. Keep it courteous and constructive, if you would.
 
T

Tinman74

Guest
#2
They have given us Bruce Springsteen. In all honesty i have met some throbbers from over there and i have met some decent folk. The USA is both good and bad bit like us really.
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#4
I'm not dismissing the rest of your post GIAO but turning to the first paragraph; while there are undoubtedly some utter morons on here who are overtly anti-American, the level of banter / abuse seems to vary in direct proportion to how much of an arse the American is.

I may have missed it but certainly I've never seen Cali_Tanker, Virgil, JJH or any of the other sensible bods given any abuse (outside of the NAAFI, obviously) because they know what they're talking about.

Some of the others (who I shan't name for fear of them appearing) who continually bang on about their weapon collections and how sorry they feel for us not being able to openly carry, for example, clearly bring it on themselves.
 
#5
Seen some good ones, seen some right muppets. As someone has already stated, they have good points and bad points as every country. Although am fed up of hearing "we saved your asses" crap when its not true, fed up with the better then you attitude, foreign policy needs a good rethink (as does ours for very different reasons).....the ones in KAF at the moment need to learn to drive desperately. On their own, great people...in a group...hmmm.
 
#6
I've lived in America and I loved it. Yes it has its faults and yes the world view of a lot of Americans is extremely narrow minded. They are also incredibly polite, friendly and generous.

As sixty says, folk like JJH tend to get hardly any abuse as they have are able to engage in debate and even if they are in the wrong argue their point in a reasonable manner.

If I can pick one fault with Americans its that their patriotism sometimes prevents them from being able to self depreciate, something us Brits overdue at times. We seem to slate everything about our country and expect everyone to follow suit.
 
#7
I've noticed a certain edge in some of the discussions around here, specifically, an anti-American edge. While some of this is easily dismissable as banter - and taken as such by both sides - there's a tendency for some of this to go a bit far and, to my mind, it comes across as mean-spirited and inaccurate.

I thought I'd just quickly jot down my own view and then ask folk for comments. Please remember it's not the NAAFI bar.

The USA is a hyperpower, the only one around. It has immense military might and a powerful economy - as well as a massive deficit.

The US Armed Forces are our (the British Armed Forces) closest friends. Our stock hasn't done too well with them in the last few years, mainly as a result of some piss-poor political decisions by our lords and masters (the retreat from Basra, anyone), but also as a result of some unjustified arrogance by some of our folk, who thought they understood COIN better than anyone. Despite this, we're still close and find it easier to work with Americans than anyone else (and vice versa).

The US political system is fundamentally different to ours - they have a Republic, we have a monarchy. Much of the respect and reverence we feel for the monarchy, they invest in the Presidency and the symbols of their Republic. They do not respond well to piss-taking about either of these.

They are far, far more religious than we are. They take religion extremely seriously and do not respond well to ribbing about that, either.

They are both more conservative and more overtly patriotic than we are. A US liberal might count as a middle-range conservative over here. They take the flag and country stuff very seriously and have no problems with assertions of national power in the national interest.

In many ways, the US of today reminds me of the British Empire in about 1880 - a global hegemon, confident and assured and perfectly capable of doing Realpolitik in pursuit or defence of its interests.

It's probably clear from what I've written that I like them, well, most of them and admire some aspects of the US approach to foreign policy. They do get it wrong sometimes, but who doesn't, but, generally, to my mind, they're still a force for good. If nothing else, having the Americans around probably saved us from having to learn Russian back in the day.

So. Thread open. Keep it courteous and constructive, if you would.
As far as the American view on the UK it's almost a given that we are staunch allies and I think that if many Americans read these boards they would not only be surprised, but utterly shocked at some of the attitudes and variance on mutual respect.

When London was attacked many Americans took it as if it was an attack on American soil. Not that the US thinks it *owns* Britain in any way, more like someone punching your brother. An attack on our allies is an attack on us.

External perceptions of outside the US:

Most Americans have a very simple world view, it's not for lack of caring but in thinking about it, more in line with just keeping up with events in the US alone.

You have to remember that the US is a fairly large country and keeping up with what's going on here is like knowing what's going on with every country in Europe.

Most could not tell you where Switzerland is on a map, but in the same token they couldn't tell you where Rhode Island is either. It's not arrogance, it's simply a lack of education or reliance on technology.

I think that the main "average joe" in America loves his/her country and either has parents, grandparents, or great grand parents telling them about the evils of the "old country" and why they left may attribute to the world view.

External and Internal Perceptions of the US:

I was talking to a colleague of mine from India. I asked him about his perception of the US, now, and prior to being here. He said that prior he had an entirely different pre-conception of what the US was like, that it was run by white texans and that there was a level of caste system, et al. Now that he's been here a while he felt that he was entirely wrong and that this country is nothing like what he thought. In fact, he said that Dubai was more like he thought the US was like than the US, just exchange texan for Arab.

Why we argue when insulted:

One thing to understand in regards to the responses of Americans on insults to America is that we tend to take these things rather personally. That's why you may see such vehement response to such discussion.

I'm not sure why this is, it's like a family I suppose. You may not like your cousin, and your brother may ruffle your feathers now and then, but cause injury to one of them and you will quickly see them band together and face all of them. You may have witnessed that in the extreme after 9/11.

Violence:

The US is a child born from this. From the early days of colonization, to western expansion, to now. The US is not a country with an abhorrence to violence. Not saying it's a good or bad thing, simply saying that it is what it is.

I assure you that no one I know has ever killed an Indian or a red coat or even a mexican, in fact, when the reparation casinos came about it was met with enthusiasm by most. We try to live by the sins of the father shall not be inherited by the son.

Integration:

What I think at least, that many Europeans and perhaps others misunderstand is the actual level of integration in the US. It's pretty much a microcosm of the planet in a sense and all the things good and bad that go with it.

I have never been to the UK. Although I plan to, as I am descendant from Welsh heritage (insert random sheep joke here) I have read that many of the issues in the UK stem from segregated communities in certain areas.

I do not know the veracity of this but find that in the US integration works well when bound by language ie: if someone speaks english very well they tend to be more accepted than if they do not, as opposed to culture or color of their skin. Not that there are not racists here, there are plenty, I'm simply talking in generalizations or personal observations.
 
#8
When London was attacked many Americans took it as if it was an attack on American soil. Not that the US thinks it *owns* Britain in any way, more like someone punching your brother. An attack on our allies is an attack on us.
.
Unfortunately it took 2 planes for that view to be instilled in the American population. Before 9/11 a great deal of funding for the IRA was sourced from your shores.
 
#9
Unfortunately it took 2 planes for that view to be instilled in the American population. Before 9/11 a great deal of funding for the IRA was sourced from your shores.
I don't think so. Sure, some parts of Boston had particular views and links but I think overall the general population had no such knowledge of those actions in support of the IRA nor viewed or still view the IRA as anything other than a terrorist group. I think the view of Britain most took was that of respect, well prior to 9/11 or 7/7.

It didn't take a bombing for the respect to come, just for it to be overtly vocalized.
 
#10
The US political system is fundamentally different to ours - they have a Republic, we have a monarchy. Much of the respect and reverence we feel for the monarchy, they invest in the Presidency and the symbols of their Republic. They do not respond well to piss-taking about either of these.
If they were that close to their President why was their such a fuss about his middle name being Hussain/his birth certificate/his healthcare program etc? It was just the usual Peter Dow type fruitloops making those comments.

I think you are using specific examples of where they are good but ignoring their bad points. (like all countries they have both)

As Smudge67er says they were fine and dandy will freedom fighters until the 11th of september 2001.
 
#11
Unfortunately it took 2 planes for that view to be instilled in the American population. Before 9/11 a great deal of funding for the IRA was sourced from your shores.
Agree with the above post ,
I have worked with some good americans and some throbbers , I have close friends and relatives who live and have busines's there .
I think the problem is the American attitude or perception of it - for years they have had the attitude that they will do what they want when they want and sod the rest of the world , maybe not a bad thing but the consequnce of this is they have pi##ed off most of the rest of the world.
Americans as individuals are not bad - I love the sexy southern drawl coupled with the stunning looks of some of the women from those parts.
 
#12
GIAO, What is your point exactly?
 
#16
I don't detect as strong an anti-US slant on Arrse as an anti- EU one. But I don't complain about it, just take the opportunity to express my generally Europhile views.

Why are we appealing to moderate Arrse's stance on the US which is the sum of its contributors? Can't the US take it?
 
T

Tinman74

Guest
#17
9/11 was the first major success of eternal terrorism in the USA, world trade centre one (the car bomb not the tower) was a warning. America had not been exposed to external terrorism on the scale it witnessed on 911, I do believe if the 7/7 attacks had happend and we were not already involved in afgan, our actions would have been similar to the USA in early 2001, spec ops in country with airpower on dial. The only problem I can see is how Blair sat there panting ( while delaying the deployment of forces) trying to play the UK people that IRAQ was a just conflict. Take the invasion of Iraq out of the discussion, (politics also) we have a broad understanding and respect of each other.
 
#18
I've lived in America and I loved it. Yes it has its faults and yes the world view of a lot of Americans is extremely narrow minded. They are also incredibly polite, friendly and generous.
The Americans I have met have been very polite and nor have they held the "I'm american so every thing about me and my country is better than you and yours" attitude that many believe they have. The American exchange officers we have had have been absolutly brilliant and would certainly stand up for the troops.

However in the DEFAC's in KAF none of them said please or thank you to the serving staff, just grunting Chicken, Fries, or More when being served, yet would be polite and courteous to ourselves. Were we viewed as equals and the Nepalase serving staff beneath them?

RP
 
#19
I may not make a great deal of sense (having just inhaled about a gallon of WD40), but here goes...

I think the main problem is fundamental variances in perceptions and attitudes between Americans (by and large) and Europeans (by and large) which are, while less dramatic, almost as broad as those between, say, the average native Briton (i.e. those who've largely been integrated with British cultural norms) and the average Afghan. Europe's rejects, malcontents and downtrodden became America's famed "huddled masses"; it is, as someone once said, a nation born of Europe, and made by the ened to be apart from Europe. Beneath an occasionally fairly European veneer there's a very non-European set of attitudes, borne by the sort of people who were willing to "fight their own private war of independence", up stakes and take the voyage across the Atlantic to that land of promise.

One might say that people went to America thinking they would be free of the rule of Europe's hereditary monarchs, and the "American Dream" is, at least partially, built on that very idea. The sort of people who believed that they could, or would, make their fortunes went to America; likewise, the variety of people who were prepared to endure considerable personal risk for the sake of the idea of that freedom. The sort who (like me) believed it would merely be exchanging the overlordship of Kings for that of tycoons stayed behind.

I think one of the biggest problems in discussing this sort of thing lies, moreover, in the sheer level of earnestness one often sees in Americans. I've met a great many, most of them very courteous and great conversation and such, but a lot of them are quite remarkably earnest about everything. It often comes across and mawkish and affected (which, of course, is great for the British, possessors of the driest sense of humour known to man), and I think a lot of the time the affectionate element of that dry humour is missed. As a mate of mine once said: "We wouldn't take the piss if we didn't like you."
 
#20
By coincidence my sister is just about halfway back to her home in Wisconsin having been back here in the UK for the first time in ten years, married to a septic, her three kids have all been educated in the states,due to both her and her husbands jobs they have lived in various areas ranging from New Mexico to South Dakota. As well as the UK.

Her memories of "home" were of a different land to that which now exists of course, a culture shock was how she described it.

Her view of Americans, shared by her husband is that they are "not particularly interested" in what is going on in the rest of the states, never mind in Europe, the "brit" dry sense of humour is not easily digested and offence can be quickly taken, most of her friends and co-workers would not have the faintest idea who our prime minister was or care. The intellectuals among them argue vehemently for the republic and cannot understand why we are so tolerant of a monarchy, which in their view contributes very little to our society.

In general then isolationism is good, enemies are to be jumped upon swiftly from a great height, screw the rest of the planet we deserve cheap gas!

She herself is still undecided which of the two countries she would rather live in, her septic has no doubt and would move back here at the drop of his stetson, figure that one out.
 

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