16 January 2007

Well, not everyone hates us

My (internet) acquaintance, Eduardo, of The Grey Shadow, translates an op ed piece written by Army General (Ret.) Juan Antonio Pozzo Moreno of Paraguay (original here, but won’t help you unless you can read Spanish or have a [free] account with ABC) on the subject of the Paraguayan Congress to revoke the immunity of U.S. troops performing humanitarian and technical assistance duties in Paraguay.

General Pozzo is kind enough to recall a few instances in which the United States have come to the aid of his nation. None of this to say that we are, as our good friend Q would say, paragons of virtue or anything.

I mean, I doubt that General Pozzo would assert that the United States are the most virtuous of states on the planet. But, if he’s any kind of general worthy of the rank (which, of course, is not for me to determine) there is something important that he probably does understand. Most humans cannot have all of their actions categorized as either all good or all bad. Some of the things we do are good; some of the things we do are not. Also, human action is motivated by a mixture of motives, some good and some bad. For example, I love my wife. If she were paralyzed tomorrow from the waiste down, I would still love her. But I won’t deny that when I married her I looked very forward to having sexual intercourse with her. Now, does that mean that all of my motives for marrying her were base? I hope no one would say yes. (My step-daughter is marrying in June. If her fiancee denied looking forward to having sex with my little girl I'd bust his chops. Even on a Christian view of love and marriage, one cannot contemplate marriage, especially if one wants children, and not contemplate sexual intercourse.) But to say that sexual desire is there is not to say that the desire is all that is there. So it is with our motives for almost any action.

I don’t think Americans require that the world kiss our foot, as if we have been the entirely selfless defenders of justice and democracy. But I think we do require that the world not pretend that everything we have ever done was done with base motives. I doubt such an assertion would hold true of any nation – or every national leader.

Let’s take that man whose last name is now a curse word; I mean Adolph Hitler, of course. More than likely, had he not launched upon a campaign of conquest and of eliminating Jews, he would have gone down as one of the greatest Chancellors in the history of Germany. Presently, however, one is required to speak of Hitler as if every thing he did was evil and done with the most evil of motives.

Like most people – like most nations – our nation’s history is a mix of actions we are proud of and actions we are ashamed of. Every now and then it’s nice to hear from someone who can see something other than our faults. We get reminded of them daily from most others. This, of course, usually results in our wanting to catalog our good deeds for ourselves, which is never really a good idea: it doesn't look good.

Note: As a ‘Kuyperian’ I acknowledge the right of the Congress of Paraguay to give and with hold immunity as they see fit. This piece by General Pozzo caught my attention only because of the different perspective he gives on the history of our relations with South American states.

H/T: Eduardo


About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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