June 28, 2008

American Power and Compassion

"As former, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld once said , “U.S. service members helping out around the world show America's compassion and the missions also can help to change local attitudes about the United States and its people.”

It is generally agreed that the U.S. is the only nation whose influence is global. When the Soviet Union crumbled in the 1990’s it was left without a military rival and not surprisingly, its international role today is increasingly depicted in terms of empire. I am not suggesting nor implying a rule analogous to past empires such as the British, Ottomans, or Romans where territorial conquest was a core characteristic, however, the term provides a useful premise with which to consider the U.S. and its sundry role in the construct of the contemporary world.

America’s global footprint is unmatched and made possible by its military and economic strength united with the force of its culture and ideas. Of the almost US$1,200 billion in circulation in 2006 over a third were held outside America. Its share of Gross National Income (Global wealth) is above 30 percent whereas the collective GNI of the U.K., China, Germany, and Japan combined is around 27 percent. It has free-trade agreements with many major economies and is a key architect and force of a global free-trade regime. Moreover, a third of all multinationals are based in the U.S. with the proportion rising.

Its military expenditure remains more than the next five largest spenders and gives the U.S. an incomparability in this area alone, that is greater than its domination of world markets and matters economic. It also bestows America a military profile that is qualitatively poles apart from most other states.

However, U.S. power is projected by a range of instruments, militarily on one end and domination of the globes financial institutions on the other though it also partakes in non-economic agencies as in, for example, the United Nations. Another instrument through which the U.S. exercises power albeit soft power, is through the intangible force associated with winning hearts and minds, thus compelling other states and its peoples to share in U.S. values and extend its legitimacy. America’s foreign aid level is without comparison and even as its detractors rush to tell us that, security and economic imperatives drive this, we must not undervalue the humanitarian relief made possible through U.S. compassion, generosity and ultimately power. Besides, make no mistake; America is by far the largest donor of official development assistance of any OECD nation.

However, to often American power is only linked with military might while humanitarian assistance is overlooked. In the image above, you will note the U.S. Navy T-AH 19 Mercy, along with its sister vessel the USNS Comfort they are floating hospitals not least huge soft power assets. On June 19, the Mercy anchored off Vietnam is what was the first military humanitarian mission in that part of the world since 1975. Said Capt. William A. Kearns, Pacific Partnership mission commander, "In the weeks ahead we will host medical and dental clinics in communities. We will refurbish clinics and schools together, but most importantly our people will work side-by-side”. Read more here

Before docking in Nam, it visited the Philippines and is later due to sail to East Timor and Papua New Guinea.

As former, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld once said, “U.S. service members helping out around the world show America's compassion and the missions also can help to change local attitudes about the United States and its people.” He was also referring to improved public views in Pakistan following the Kashmiri earthquake and Indonesia following the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Read more about the USNS MERCY here

See also, Pacific Partnership 2008

Interestingly China is presently building a very similar class of vessels. See images and read more here

Media Bias

It’s worthy of note that world media interests rarely if ever, report on this characteristic of U.S. diplomacy. Moreover media bias seeks to tarnish Americas reputation, recall that following the 2004 Asian tsunami, the “anti-Bush” and “blame America first” machine went into action within barely 24 hours when the Washington Post ran an article, "Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence" citing complaints from anonymous sources "that the vacationing president has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions." There was also media bias coming from the CBS network with some very inaccurate coverage of White House statements following the disaster. To understand the hatred that exists in the Arab and Muslim world, consider that an Egyptian weekly magazine reported that the tsunami was actually caused by a nuclear test involving "Israeli and American nuclear experts”.

Read: Tsunami of Media Bias Hits America

Only America

Now and then U.S. power engenders international resentment but let us not forget, America still embodies the aspirations of much of the world and its people. Only U.S. power can provide rapid, flexible, mobile acute care coupled with surgical facilities in the form of a 1,000 bed, 12 operating theater floating hospital (with its own helicopter and pad in addition to water purification plants), to the shores of nations in need.


MK said...

Good post Otto, i had no idea about those floating hospitals, let alone that they were actually sailing around helping people.

The media will never tell us of this, why i have to wonder. The only explanation i can think of is that they truly hate America, they hate that they help whenever they can and ask for little or nothing in return.

Contemptible i think.

MK said...

Come to think of it Otto, the scumbags who rejoiced when Vietnam finally fell to the Communists and America was humbled probably can't get it through their thick skulls that all these years later, their wretched socialism and communism has only reduced that country to the state of begging and waiting for medical handouts, unable to provide for its own people.

And i'm sure it escapes their tiny brains that the country that can provide that aid is neither socialist nor communist. And socialism is supposed to provide for all the masses and they want to foist this upon America. *spit*

Karen said...

Excellent article, Otto. I love the stories of Mercy. Also, the civilian medical ship, to whom I sent donations as I can, Project Hope. Making a world of difference.

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Thank you Otto for an excellent posta dn evaluation of US power and compassion.

It is also note worthy that those who complain about US power are among the first to seek it when they are in danger and also among the first to seek the , "compassion," when disaster strikes.

In either case whether for protection or compassion in the midst of disaster the US is usually first to make contact with an offer of help even to those who treat us as an enemy or the great satan.

WomanHonorThyself said...

However, to often American power is only linked with military might while humanitarian assistance is overlooked. ..so accurate Otto..try telling this to the media liars!:)

Jeff said...

Excellent post, Otto. You show a picture of 2 U.S. naval vessels. The U.S. navy is really the spear head of our military power projection around the world. Sadly the fleet has fallen below 300 ships and is aging. Many naval commanders have expressed concern and there is no plan to up the numbers. Of course an Obama presidency would most certainly condemn to navy to further cuts. This is a real problem for us and the world, since you show just how beneficial U.S. military is in the global security picture.

David Schantz said...

Thank you for the great post/reminder. I knew about the hospital ships, but it seems like the only time the mainstream media mentions them is after a disaster. I seem to forget that medical care is needed every day.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

heidianne jackson said...

i am not surprised that too few know about these. the media must hide that our non-socialist country does more good than the socialists.

Z said...

Well, to be truthful, Bush SHOULD have known that tsunami was going to hit, right? (Smile)

We are a good people. Please check out a story from the past I just posted, Otto; talk about reassuring, a reminder of the great things Americans can do!

Thanks for honoring our country with these wonderful posts. z