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Sometimes I Wonder If People Just Need to Have An Enemy

August 16, 2019, 11:10 am

I find this depressing:

We seem to NEED an enemy.  We hop from one enemy to another — Soviet Union to Iraq to Al Qaeda to Russia to Iran and now to China (with a certain minority always having Israel as their enemy).   I find this depressing.  As I told a reader in a private email the other day, for whatever cynicism I project here, I am actually a sloppy optimist, a pacifist, and a conflict avoider.  Maybe that is part of the appeal of Canada or New Zealand in surveys — I mean, its hard to imagine them having enemies.

We had a Chinese exchange student back when my kids were in high school who frequently visits us here in the US.  The first day we saw here in America she looked exactly like Honey in the Doonesbury comics — Mao jacket and hair and glasses and all.  After four years of college at Michigan, she is as American as my kids.  She and her friends want so much to be like us in so many ways, without rejecting her Chinese cultural heritage.

This country has so much positive soft power — everyone around the world wants to be here and partake of our culture.  I don’t think either Republicans or Democrats really understand the real reasons behind this pull.  Republicans seem to believe folks are lining up at the border for welfare checks while I don’t know what Democrats believe any more, as their Presidential candidates all reject many of the great things about this country I would have thought attracted people.  Maybe that is why politicians of both parties so consistently piss away this potential goodwill.

I am not naive about China — they are an authoritarian state desperately in need of reform.  I just don’t think going into cold war tension mode with them is going to help.  I tend to believe in the power of engagement by ordinary people with the rest of the world to drive change, which we should have been trying years ago in Cuba.  Isolating authoritarian regimes is really just doing their work for them.

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