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Old 07-04-2011, 08:01 AM   #1
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Default America's quantifiable greatness

Last September I was in Munich for Oktoberfest. I was the only American in a travel group of mostly Canadians and Swedes. We stupidly decided to hit up the bars at night after drinking all day – and on the train returning to our hotel a group of Germans asked us if we were American, and before I had a time to respond, one of the Canadians snapped, “No... Canada… **** America.” I’d like to point out that he was eating a Whopper from Burger King and wearing a Hollister sweatshirt while he said this.

Everyone wants a Keyensian when times are bad. With the US debt over $14 trillion, two wars, below-average elementary education, obesity and general sentiment of isolationism, much is made of the fact that the US, with 5 percent of the world population and using 25 percent of it's resources. people – especially people who have never been here – love to stress the bad. But greatness can be quantified.

Consider for a second empires past. British colonialism, the Dutch slave trade, the Spanish inquisition, the Mongolian empire, Indian caste, Nazi Germany, Italian facism, the Napoleonic wars. The United States of America is the most ethical superpower ever, and its best days are still ahead.

Now with that out of the way, consider this my tribute to the greatest civilization in the history of civilization. Empires are built around how leaders respond to power and wealth. Rome did not fall because it was the birthplace of democracy, nor did it fall due to lack of innovation. It fell because its people became too fat and lazy and overwhelmed with power politics. Is America headed in the same direction? No. While the Europeans and Canadians – indeed the entire developed and developing world - love to point out US dysfunction, I thought I would take this, American Independence Day, and the God-given birthright of American exceptionalism to familiarize my friends with a few facts:

- The US has the highest percentage of college graduates in the world with four-year degrees from tier-1 institutions, according to US News and World Report.

- Excluding two-year degrees, the US produces more scientists and mathematicians per capita than any other country in the world.

- While lacking in lower-ed, the US has the best higher education system in the world: according to the UK guardian, 67 of the top 100 colleges in the world are in the US. Second place is Britain, with 12.

- 24 of the largest 25 foreign direct investments in 2008 were in the US, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

- While the US lags behind the UN mandate of .7 percent of GDP for foreign aid (in reality the only countries that fufill this quota are Norway and Switzerland), this doesn’t account for private charity – which, if included, you’ll find that the US gives more per capita in humanitarian aid than any other nation in the world.

- America conducts 76 percent of the world’s biomedical research – the next great medical innovation will almost certainly come from here, according to Foreign Affairs magazine

- The US conducts more nanotechnology research than the next three nations (Germany, Britain and China) combined, according to Foreign Affairs magazine.

- A lot is made about the fact that the US uses more energy per capita than any other nation… but in doing so, America is leading the world in green technology. And that doesn’t even account for economic capital. According to the US energy information administration, which measures energy usage (in British thermal units) in terms of economic capital created, the US is actually doing quite well. When factoring in economic capital, the US has a more environmentally efficient economy than Canada, Australia, Luxembourg, China, Switzerland, and all the Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.

Indeed, the entire developed world depends on the US for prosperity. As generations progress, people forget that it was the US that developed the Marshall plan, Bretton Woods and the UN. Consider:

- After WWII, Europe was in shambles. The United States’ Marshall plan rebuilt not only Europe’s infrastructure, but also mandated a Kantian perpetual peace – and no European power has been at war since. Indeed, without the US, it is not unlikely that Europe would still be in poverty, and would have suffered through more major wars.

- The only other major European war since then was in the Balkins in the 90s. The Americans saved the Europeans there, too.

- Bretton Woods established the global financial system, and established the IMF, World Bank, and floating exchange rates (and indirectly supporting democracy by weakening the appeal of communism). The IMF and World Bank continue to be the main financial institutions that help underdeveloped countries pull themselves out of poverty.

- The US spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and dominated military research and development. The entire democratic world lives under the umbrella of US protection.

But let’s continue the history lesson. American ingenuity doesn’t stop with Bretton Woods:

- While it was the Brits that invented the computer, America perfected it by creating the home computer

- The American military developed the internet (the ever-contentious military industrial complex)… suck it, doves and peaceniks.

- The Big Mac… and 24-hour markets.

- The light bulb

- The air plane

- Curing polio

- Stopping Hitler (German is such an ugly sounding language, I’m glad I don’t have to speak it.) I would also like to apologize to all my German friends for even mentioning this, as in my experience the Germans are the most pro-American of all the foreign developed countries.

All evidence points otherwise, but if America is to decline, then that decline will surely be a product of a dysfunctional political system. The bane of civilization has always been unchecked democracy. The founding fathers were torn between two systems: Federalism and bicameral Democratic-Republicanism. The latter prevailed precisely because the founders wanted to empower the voters, without seceding effective government.

Today, our congressmen and senators are smart people, but they are people nonetheless. What little news value I gathered out of the Anthony Weiner scandal was twofold: first, it demonstrates the machtpolitik (told you German words sound ugly) of those who run, and secondly, the partisan response - par for the course in the American campaign system. American politics truly is a bloody, gloves-off power game. Politics unleashes intelligent, thoughtful people into partisan discord, creates an influx of special interest and pseudointellectual movements like the Tea Party, and gets people to actively vote against their interest. Triangulation in politics now means that socially-conservative, populist union members and farmers are now voting GOP because of trivial social issues, rather than what should be truly important to them, like health care, minimum wages, fair trade, and agrisubsidies. At the other end of the spectrum, younger voters who are new to the political system are moving more to the left, despite the growing debt.

Is America on the decline? I don’t think it’s functionally possible that American dominance will decline in a unipolar or multipolar global system. Our GDP continues to be three times bigger than the next largest competitor, and GDP growth remains high and constant. The EU is dysfunctional right now and even if China catches up, or even surpasses the US, they sill have a massive population to support.

While the younger generation is willingly allowing the boomers to finance our future, all signals point to American leadership in the future, even if that leadership and quality of life is weakened. I have faith that my generation can abandon the culture war – the thing that worries me is that the left will come out of the culture war victoriously. So tread softly, my fellow Americans. Enjoy today because in the long run, we’re all dead.

Go America… Go Broncos.


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Old 07-04-2011, 08:50 AM   #2
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Wow, so many errors in a single post, did you get this from Fox News?

Quote:
The US has the highest percentage of college graduates in the world
No, you are not even in the top 10. Ireland, Canada, Belgium, New Zealand and Japan all rank substantially higher.

Quote:
While the US lags behind the UN mandate of .7 percent of GDP for foreign aid (in reality the only countries that fufill this quota are Norway and Switzerland), this doesn’t account for private charity – which, if included, you’ll find that the US gives more per capita in humanitarian aid than any other nation in the world.
No, your private charity to foreign aid is not even 1/3 of your total foreign aid and it still doesn't get you into the top 10 per capita aid providers.

Quote:
- A lot is made about the fact that the US uses more energy per capita than any other nation… but in doing so, America is leading the world in green technology. And that doesn’t even account for economic capital. According to the US energy institute, which measures energy usage (in British thermal units) in terms of economic capital created, the US is actually doing quite well. When factoring in economic capital, the US has a more environmentally efficient economy than Canada, Australia, Luxembourg, China, Switzerland, and all the Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.
There is no such thing as the US Energy Institute, are you talking about the ExxonMobile 21st century energy institute? because it really isn't a very reliable source. The US generates less of its energy from non-fossil sources than a bunch of European countries, the US hasn't developed any significant fossil fuel reduction or filtering techniques in the last 20 years, while Europe and Asia have made several innovations.

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The only other major European war since then was in the Balkins in the 90s. The Americans saved the Europeans there, too.

- Stopping Hitler (German is such an ugly sounding language, I’m glad I don’t have to speak it.) I would also like to apologize to all my German friends for even mentioning this, as in my experience the Germans are the most pro-American of all the foreign developed countries.
I know the Americans don't like losing to the Russians, but the Russians did much more to beat Germany in WW2 than the US, Britain did much more than the US to beat the Germans in WW1.

Quote:
- The US spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and dominated military research and development. The entire democratic world lives under the umbrella of US protection.
Aside from the democratic leaders you have replaced with dictators. More dictators and despots have been propped up by the US and are being held in power by the states than democracies. There is a reason you haven't won a war since you turned up late to the party in WW2, you are not that good at it.

Quote:
- The American military developed the internet (the ever-contentious military industrial complex)… suck it, doves and peaceniks.
A common misconception in the States. The technology and concept was developed partially at MIT, UCLA and quite a bit of work was done at UK national lab. TCP/IP which is the base of the internet was developed at Stanford.

Quote:
- The light bulb
Another piece of American revisionist history, in fact the first light bulbs were demonstrated in the UK nearly 25 years before Edison was born.

Quote:
- Curing polio
That wasn't American ingenuity, that was Polish ingenuity.

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Is America on the decline? I don’t think it’s functionally possible that American dominance will decline in a unipolar or multipolar global system. Our GDP continues to be three times bigger than the next largest competitor, and GDP growth remains high and constant. The EU is dysfunctional right now and even if China catches up, or even surpasses the US, they sill have a massive population to support.
The GDP of the EU is 20% higher than the GDP of the US.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:10 AM   #3
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1. The college graduate statistic only includes four-year degrees from tier-1 institutions. It depends on who you ask, too - especially in terms of defining the quality of the degree. The college board policy center has the US at 6th - http://completionagenda.collegeboard...eport_2010.pdf
2. Again, I don't know about this... I think I did actually get this statistic from Fox News a while back.
3. http://www.eia.gov/ sorry, "US Energy Information Administration"
4. You deny that the A-bomb contributed significantly to the end of WWII... likewise, you skirted over the Balkans.
5. Yeah, we protected our vital interest. And it defeated the Soviet Union. For example, Pinochet was a bastard... but was he any worse than Allende? Maybe, but Chile's economy receded under Allende and grew under Pinochet. And what is the norm now? Former US backed dictators are dropping - Saddam (overthrown), Mubarak (we basically threw him under the bus when the Egyptian revolution started), etc.
6. The US military developed the internet, and the public institutions you mentioned are all American.
7. Correct, but Edisons lightbulb was the only one efficient enough for widespread use. Edison invented the light bulb that people actually used.
8. I don't know about this... I was quoting Fareed Zakariah
9. I was going to mention the EU GDP in the note, but it was getting too long. The EU is dysfunctional right now, and their per-capita GDP is significantly lower than the US. Look at Greece and Spain - you're an idiot if you think the EU is a single entity.

If you love the Soviet Union so much, why don't you move to Turkmenistan?

Read this article and get back to me:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/art...can_power.html

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Old 07-04-2011, 09:16 AM   #4
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You post was supposed to be a rebuttal of the facts stated by the OP, but you failed to back up any of your points either making your "facts" just as dubious as his.

Worse, you were not honest or objective in your assessment which leads me to believe that you are more interested in arguing your point than informing.

For example, this point was particularly dishonest:
Quote:
- Curing polio
That wasn't American ingenuity, that was Polish ingenuity.
I assume that you are saying that because the person who developed the vaccine was an immigrant from Poland, that makes it less of an American achievement. I have news for you: everyone is this country, minus Native Americans, is either an immigrant or a descendent from an immigrant. The research and development of the Polio vaccine happened here in the US. The strength of this country has always been that we attract great people from around the globe.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:22 AM   #5
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by glennst View Post
You post was supposed to be a rebuttal of the facts stated by the OP, but you failed to back up any of your points either making your "facts" just as dubious as his.

Worse, you were not honest or objective in your assessment which leads me to believe that you are more interested in arguing your point than informing.

For example, this point was particularly dishonest:


I assume that you are saying that because the person who developed the vaccine was an immigrant from Poland, that makes it less of an American achievement. I have news for you: everyone is this country, minus Native Americans, is either an immigrant or a descendent from an immigrant. The research and development of the Polio vaccine happened here in the US. The strength of this country has always been that we attract great people from around the globe.
If Albert Einstein helped the US develop the A-bomb, and he was a German immigrant... so... Germany developed the a-bomb?

Likewise, the US bombings on Camobodia during the Vietnam war were architected by a German, Henry Kissneger... wow, it's such a great burden off our back knowing that the Germans were responsible for Vietnam
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:43 AM   #7
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1. The college graduate statistic only includes four-year degrees from tier-1 institutions. It depends on who you ask, too - especially in terms of defining the quality of the degree. The college board policy center has the US at 6th - http://completionagenda.collegeboard...eport_2010.pdf
2. Again, I don't know about this... I think I did actually get this statistic from Fox News a while back.
3. http://www.eia.gov/ sorry, "US Energy Information Administration"
4. You deny that the A-bomb contributed significantly to the end of WWII... likewise, you skirted over the Balkans.
5. Yeah, we protected our vital interest. And it defeated the Soviet Union. For example, Pinochet was a bastard... but was he any worse than Allende? Maybe, but Chile's economy receded under Allende and grew under Pinochet. And what is the norm now? Former US backed dictators are dropping - Saddam (overthrown), Mubarak (we basically threw him under the bus when the Egyptian revolution started), etc.
6. The US military developed the internet, and the public institutions you mentioned are all American.
7. Correct, but Edisons lightbulb was the only one efficient enough for widespread use. Edison invented the light bulb that people actually used.
8. I don't know about this... I was quoting Fareed Zakariah
9. I was going to mention the EU GDP in the note, but it was getting too long. The EU is dysfunctional right now, and their per-capita GDP is significantly lower than the US. Look at Greece and Spain - you're an idiot if you think the EU is a single entity.

If you love the Soviet Union so much, why don't you move to Turkmenistan?

Read this article and get back to me:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/art...can_power.html
Seriously, you lose any argument when you take that path.

Gyldenlove is correct about the Soviet contribution to WW2. It was massive.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:50 AM   #8
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If Albert Einstein helped the US develop the A-bomb, and he was a German immigrant... so... Germany developed the a-bomb?

Likewise, the US bombings on Camobodia during the Vietnam war were architected by a German, Henry Kissneger... wow, it's such a great burden off our back knowing that the Germans were responsible for Vietnam
Many individuals of various nationalities and several countries contributed to the A Bomb.

The quick answer:

Quote:
During World War II, the United States, with the assistance (collaboration) of physicists, mathematicians, and engineers from the U.S., Britain, Canada and Germany (former Nazi physicists), completed the Manhattan Project to produce the first atomic bomb.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:54 AM   #9
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:57 AM   #10
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Seriously, you lose any argument when you take that path.

Gyldenlove is correct about the Soviet contribution to WW2. It was massive.
And all it cost the Soviets was most of their farmable land and several million people.
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Old 07-04-2011, 09:59 AM   #11
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before I had a time to respond, one of the Canadians snapped, “No... Canada… **** America.”
You never did say if you let that statement slide or did you kick his Canadian ass across the room?
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:05 AM   #12
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The biggest surprise on that list is NZ @#7.

They are so active year round. A lot like CO, but with coastlines too.
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:06 AM   #13
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And all it cost the Soviets was most of their farmable land and several million people.
26 million by most estimates.
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:21 AM   #14
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You never did say if you let that statement slide or did you kick his Canadian ass across the room?
No I just went home with the German girl he was hitting on that night...
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:45 AM   #15
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You never did say if you let that statement slide or did you kick his Canadian ass across the room?
That'd be a pretty sad day when it comes to busting a Canadian in the mush for nation smack. I've always taken the tact of who cares what a Canadian thinks about America. The French can include themselves in this as well.

USA #1...Hairy warts and all. The rest of the world can battle it out for the loser's spots.
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:56 AM   #16
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What is the American obsession with being the best evah? It's so ****ing weird. It's a great country to live in and there's a lot we get right. But there's also a **** ton we get wrong but if we always turn a blind eye to that, we'll crumble. I don't get the arrogance.
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Old 07-04-2011, 10:59 AM   #17
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It's not arrogance it's pride!
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:05 AM   #18
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It's not arrogance it's pride!
That's a fine line. There's being patriotic, then there's consistently needing to prove yr way is better than another. It's nationalistic and weird
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:22 AM   #19
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No I just went home with the German girl he was hitting on that night...
I would have at least made fun of Canada to piss him off. Then again I get my Canidia info from SOUTHPARK. But then I remember my dads story about 2 Canadians saving his ass from being beat really bad while on leave in Subic Bay in the Phillipines. Came out of nowhere to help him while he was all alone and being assaulted so I guess I have to say Canada kicks ass....sometimes.
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Old 07-04-2011, 11:33 AM   #20
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What is the American obsession with being the best evah? It's so ****ing weird. It's a great country to live in and there's a lot we get right. But there's also a **** ton we get wrong but if we always turn a blind eye to that, we'll crumble. I don't get the arrogance.
I wouldn't call it arrogance. Most foreigners are really our on the idea of American exceptionalism, as is any power in a unipolar system.

I love European culture. Paris is amazing and the food is great there. Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia has far more social equitythen we do (mostly due to social hegemony)... Italy is amazing, too.

But if any of them were in our position, you better believe they would be the same way.

If you get a chance, you should read Power and Weakness by Robert Kagan.


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I would have at least made fun of Canada to piss him off. Then again I get my Canidia info from SOUTHPARK. But then I remember my dads story about 2 Canadians saving his ass from being beat really bad while on leave in Subic Bay in the Phillipines. Came out of nowhere to help him while he was all alone and being assaulted so I guess I have to say Canada kicks ass....sometimes.
He was begging to go to Burger King all night. He was obsessed with the Calgary Flames and wearing Holister California, and he was humming Akon... I think I said something along the lines of "WTF are you talking about, you're more American than I am."

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Old 07-04-2011, 11:38 AM   #21
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Poor Morans guy, he made a clever sign when he was protesting Jim Moran, and now lives in Internet infamy.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:10 PM   #22
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I wouldn't call it arrogance. Most foreigners are really our on the idea of American exceptionalism, as is any power in a unipolar system.

I love European culture. Paris is amazing and the food is great there. Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia has far more social equitythen we do (mostly due to social hegemony)... Italy is amazing, too.

But if any of them were in our position, you better believe they would be the same way.

If you get a chance, you should read Power and Weakness by Robert Kagan.




He was begging to go to Burger King all night. He was obsessed with the Calgary Flames and wearing Holister California, and he was humming Akon... I think I said something along the lines of "WTF are you talking about, you're more American than I am."
Alot of Euros also have misconceptions of today's America. Most Swedes I talk to (now having been there a couple of times, and theres a decent swede population in LA) are quite surprised to learn that there's actually more economic mobility in sweden than there is in the US (which is odd all things considered, but its sadly true). I'm not sure what the whole "if they were in our position, they'd do it this way too" thing means, but i will say i dont really think there's a right way to govern 300 million people. No matter what, someone's gonna get the shaft. We obviously do a decent job of it, but we're awful rigid in the face of adaption and change. Again, I think america is a great place to live, i like living here, but i wouldnt mind living in other countries too...and i'd jump at the chance to live in one of those scandinavian social demos (but i have to admit im a bit sensitive to the cold.

I don't call american patriotism arrogance, but most americans seem to be nationalistic, as if any other country in the world is unlivable compared to ours. I was always irked by that dumb lyric "im proud to be an american, its where at least i know im free" WTF does that mean?
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:24 PM   #23
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Seriously, you lose any argument when you take that path.

Gyldenlove is correct about the Soviet contribution to WW2. It was massive.
The invasions of Sicily and Normandy would not have been possible except for the fact that ~80% of the German war machine was committed to staving off the zergling rush.. errr Soviet advance on the eastern front. Of course, we were fighting on two major fronts as well, which brings up the next point:

If you really want to see the U.S. kicking ass and taking names pretty much all by its lonesome in WWII -- you only have to look to the other side of the globe.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:47 PM   #24
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Wow, so many errors in a single post, did you get this from Fox News?


Odd. I was going to say MSNBC.


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Old 07-04-2011, 01:00 PM   #25
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If you really want to see the U.S. kicking ass and taking names pretty much all by its lonesome in WWII -- you only have to look to the other side of the globe.

Well clearly all that ever matters is what happens in Europe.


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