Friday, September 18, 2009

Morning Breakfast Notes

Thanks to everyone who came out so early this morning. The actual discussion didn't cover all of the following, but these are the notes I prepared in case folks who weren't able to attend are interested.

Value statement:

“It is wrong to judge other cultures by our own cultural standards.”

True of false?

Pass out documents.

Let groups make recommendations.

Pass out sermons while the groups talk.

Did you experience cognitive dissonance with the handouts?
Artifact of what we taught you in elementary school.
See also: “Violence never solves anything.”
“Native Americans were environmentalists.”

Your recommendations would seem odd to most countries around the world. The cardinal principal of diplomacy is self-interest. Think Machiavelli or Bismarck (Realpolitik)

But in America, we base foreign policy on more than just self interest. It’s a legacy of our Puritan heritage.

The City on the Hill Concept

Phrase comes from John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity”
A sermon preached onboard the Arbela on the passage to America
“We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.”

1) We are different and better than all other societies
2) Other people should be like us.
3) We should help them to be like us.
And maybe:
4) If they won’t take our help, we should force them to be like us.

This concept is still present in our society today and our desire to see other nations emulate us is both HUMANITARIAN and PATERNALISTIC.

Tension with tolerance/multiculturalism: Inherently judges other cultures as inferior and in need of help.

We aren’t na├»ve and we don’t disregard our national interest entirely (does anyone want to fight a war with China to save their political dissidents?) but the CITY UPON A HILL is a thread running through American foreign policy

Two-headed American diplomat
National interest (Realpolitik) and The Prince
Plus
Humanitarian impulse and A Model of Christian Charity

This interpretation does not say America is always altruistic; BOTH motives are behind American foreign policy
Usually. Mexican War as an exception.

Americans want to help the world and show them how to lead better lives.
Missionaries
Wilsonian Foreign Policy
1920s Disarmament movement
Aid organizations
Peace Corps
Vietnam “Inside every Vietnamese boy is an American just waiting to get out”
Reagan’s “city on the hill” which defeated (history is argument) Communism
Realpolitik and City on the Hill combined
Bush’s attempt to make a democracy in Iraq
During campaign: “"our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world"”
Fear of Saddam and WMDs
Belief that spreading a democracy brings peace and reduces extremism
Desire to improve lot of Iraqis and the entire Middle East: Democracy as a spreading virus.

For many people around the world – the “unwashed masses yearning to breathe free” – we are a beacon of hope to the world. Immigrants come here from all over seeking a better life. Many reformers abroad see America’s successes and cult of individualism and want to copy it.

Other people see America as an arrogant power and resent America’s exportation of culture – a culture seen by many as decadent. They believe that America’s attempts to help show that we are not a city upon a hill

Citadel upon a hill: Military Force

It doesn’t have to be military power: SOFT POWER. American ideas are attractive to young people and threatening to cultural conservatives (Baywatch #1 export)

Blue jeans in China. Secret satellite television in Iran. Reformers in Mexico and India.

Bush after 9-11: 'America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world,
Unique element of America. As we study history, we will see an odd combination of goodwill and arrogance in our interaction with the world. Course-long theme.

John Winthrop
“A Model of Christian Charity”
Sermon aboard the Arbella, 1630

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going. And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. "Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil," in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it. Therefore let us choose life,that we and our seed may live, by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity.

Ronald Reagan
CPAC Speech
1974

Standing on the tiny deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop said, “We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.
.. We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.

Ronald Reagan
Farewell Speech
January 1989

I've thought a bit of the "Shining City upon a Hill." The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim.... He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.

Barack Obama
Inaugural Address
January 2009

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us - watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.


Please read and discuss the following scenario within your group. The scenario may be either a current one or an historical event. Either way, the scenario is written in the present tense.

In South Africa, a rigid caste system based on skin color – Apartheid – keeps people separated into four groups. The tiny minority of Whites controls the vast majority of wealth and keeps the other groups suppressed through state-sponsored violence. Blacks live in grinding poverty without access to basic shelter, education or health care.

The white majority is dependent on foreign investment; if America decides to withdraw investment, the system of White superiority will collapse.

What should we do?

Please read and discuss the following scenario within your group. The scenario may be either a current one or an historical event. Either way, the scenario is written in the present tense.

In many parts of West Africa, the patriarchal society maintains control over females using a practice called female genital circumcision. Many women’s rights activists call this female genital mutilation. To make sure that wives do no cheat on their husbands, when girls turn thirteen they are held down in the middle of the village square. A prominent village woman takes a piece of glass (usually unsterilized) and hacks off the outer parts of the girl’s genitals. Anesthesia is not used. This is a horribly painful experience, but many girls look forward to it as a symbol of their womanhood. Some girls die from resulting infections. All women who undergo this procedure can no longer enjoy sexual activity.

The governments of nations where this occur are dependent on American foreign aid.

Should America use this financial leverage to force those nations to make this ritual illegal?

Please read and discuss the following scenario within your group. The scenario may be either a current one or an historical event. Either way, the scenario is written in the present tense.

In Iran, the penalty for extramarital sex is death for females and twenty lashes for males. Women’s testimony cannot be accepted in court unless it is corroborated by another male. A young girl of 15 became pregnant. When on trial for extramarital sex, she claimed that she was raped. The accused rapist denied the charge. Because there was no male corroboration, the charge was dismissed. The girl has been sentenced to death and will be hanged.

America has very little leverage with Iran.

What, if anything, should the U.S. do?

If the U.S. could save the girls life without using military force, should it?

Please read and discuss the following scenario within your group. The scenario may be either a current one or an historical event. Either way, the scenario is written in the present tense.

Japan is a very patriarchal society. During the occupation following World War II, Douglas MacArthur is writing a new Japanese Constitution.

Should he give women equal access to education and legal and political equality?

Please read and discuss the following scenario within your group. The scenario may be either a current one or an historical event. Either way, the scenario is written in the present tense.

In the Sudan, a racial, religious, and economic conflict has led to modern day slavery and genocide. The Arab Muslim leaders of the North are enslaving and exterminating the Black Christians of the South.

Should America try to stop these practices through economic pressure?

Please read and discuss the following scenario within your group. The scenario may be either a current one or an historical event. Either way, the scenario is written in the present tense.

In the former Yugoslavia, the Christian Serbs are committing genocide against the Muslim Bosnians. Europe and America have negotiated to put a stop the killing for a decade but the Serbian government has ignored diplomacy and continues to engage in mass killings of civilians.

President Clinton’s patience has worn thin and he has had his advisors draw up plans for a military strike against the Serbian army that will result in minimal civilian casualties and seriously hamper Serbia’s ability to carry out massacres.

Should he launch the attack?

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