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Independence Without Acrimony

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  • Jo Ann Schwartz
    Dear All, A small antidote to the acrimony that grips the US these days. Happy 4th of July to all, Musing on the rocket s red glare... JoAnn ... Independence
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4 9:03 PM
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      Dear All,

      A small antidote to the acrimony that grips the US these days.

      Happy 4th of July to all,

      Musing on the rocket's red glare...
      JoAnn

      -----------------------------------------------

      Independence Without Acrimony
      By Matthew Yglesias

      One of the most remarkable things about the Fourth of July is, I think, that's
      it's an entirely positive, upbeat holiday about America's Founding and our own
      accomplishments and aspirations for ourselves. One might think that a holiday
      in commemoration of the launch of a colonial rebellion would have a subtext of
      animosity toward the former colonial overloard -- Great Britain. But of course
      our celebrations have no such subtext, for the UK is probably our closest ally
      on the planet. Its only serious competition is Canada -- the outgrowth of those
      British colonies on the North American continent that did not rebell against
      the crown, to which most of the loyalist inhabitants of the USA emigrated, and
      whose territory we tried to concur in our second military conflict with
      Britain.

      The lessons embedded in this process seem to me to be at least as profound as
      the ones more usually contemplated on this holiday. That we proceeded from the
      conflict-strewn world of the early 19th century to the contemporary one, where
      Americans recognize that even though we could concur Canada there would be no
      point in doing so is quite the remarkable achievement. That even earlier the
      rulers of the British Empire saw that establishing friendly relations with the
      rising power of the American Republic would better serve Britain's interests
      than a futile attempt to contain it is, in many ways, much more so.

      The goal of peace has acquired a lot of fairly dippie associations --
      meditation crystals, patchouli oil, etc. -- but the sphere of peace that began
      among the English-speaking nations, expanded to include France and outlying
      bits of Europe, then Germany, Italy, and Japan, and now Eastern Europe as well
      is founded on the hard-headed economic fact that expanding the quantity of
      resources under the physical control of your countrymen has little value in the
      context of market economies. The actual historical processes through which this
      peaceful zone has come to exist show, however, that though cultural and
      political affinities play no formal role in the demonstration of peace's value,
      they seem to be integral to its realization in process.

      The allegations that Iran's new president was a participant in the 1979
      hostage-taking serve, to me, above all as a reminder of how little content
      there is to US-Iranian conflict. Instead, the hostage taking started us on a
      cycle of bitterness, suspicious, and hostility that have simply played out for
      a quarter of a century to the point where the specific locations of US-Iranian
      conflict are premised on mutual antagonism between our countries rather than
      serving as genuine causes of conflict. That US-British relations started off an
      a somewhat similar foot shows that it need not ever be thus, though finding a
      way out of the current spiral would be extremely difficult.

      At the moment, the Global War on Terrorism and its consequences tend to take
      center stage in our thinking. Over the longer haul, however, the most important
      question for our security almost certainly has to do with our relations with
      China. The cycle of hostility with Iran -- a medium-sized country at best --
      has had unfortunate consequences. Similar conflict with China, even were it to
      fall shot of actual warfare, would be almost infinitely worse for the world.
      But there seems in the modern world to be nothing inevitable about conflict. If
      both our countries' leaders choose wisely, and both reject the counsel of those
      stoking the forces of paranoia, we may be looking forward to a 21st century
      that is much happier than the hyper-destructive 20th.
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