Foreign policy and cultural influence

I have been thinking of several news stories, which I have read recently. Specifically these two:

Saudi Arabia executes woman convicted of 'sorcery' (http://news.yahoo.com/saudi-arabia-executes-woman-convicted-sorcery-132159048.html)

Obama Elevates Gay Rights as a Foreign Policy Priority (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Obama-Elevates-Gay-Rights-as-a-Foreign-Policy-Priority-135136743.html)

How much of our foreign policy should be aimed at changing those who we deal with?
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leonstrykerAsked:
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Anthony RussoCommented:
Both stories are terrible.

As much as I dislike the first, it should not be our role to go in and force them to change their culture, as barbaric as it might seem to us.

The second is ridiculous. The government has no reason to get involved in this outside of this country at all, and the states should handle it within the country.

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carsRSTCommented:
>>How much of our foreign policy should be aimed at changing those who we deal with?

If we're going to give hard earned tax dollars to support foreign countries, I believe we have a right to dictate the aid only goes to those adhering to policies we advocate.

Can't say I agree with someone with likes of the Obama administration determining that, but that ship has (1) already set sail and (2) is about to have the same ending as the Titanic.


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CCSOFlagCommented:
We have no right to change how another country governs their people or vice versa.  If we choose to not give them aid of any kind do to this then that is acceptable.  Different cultures have different practices.  Our government is not in any place to say our practices are the only right practices.  In fact I'd beg to differ since our society is in such shambles, so obviously we are doing something wrong.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>We have no right to change how another country governs their people or vice versa.

So, we should not have interfered in Bosnia or Kosovo?
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CCSOFlagCommented:
So, we should not have interfered in Bosnia or Kosovo?
Honestly I do not know enough about those conflicts to comment on them.  Ultimately here is my stance on foreign affairs:

If we have an ally (and my definition of ally is different than most) like the British, and they request our aid for something, then I agree that we can look at whether or not to help them out.  If they are not our ally, we should not be getting involved.  We should NEVER be going to war to just because we want a certain country to become a republic like us.  Republic != friendly to us.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>If we have an ally (and my definition of ally is different than most)

Alright then, can we have a list of whom you consider Allies.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>So, we should not have interfered in Bosnia or Kosovo?

Good point. I thought of these instances when I wrote my comment. I myself am unsure as a blanket policy is not going to work every time. Each case has to be looked at individually. These situations needed help and we provided it, as we did in Libya as well. Rwanda is one that we didn't, but perhaps should have as we could have saved many lives.

However how many American lives would have been lost in Rwanda, or lost in others.

I could not say either way whether we should interfere or not. Sometimes the answers aren't always black and white when you want to do what is right.

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CCSOFlagCommented:
Alright then, can we have a list of whom you consider Allies.
I don't know enough about all of our relations with other countries to give an exhaustive list, but there are a few that I can list:
Canada
UK
Australia
New Zealand

To me an ally is a friend.   Someone who you can trust with your back turned.  Someone who you do not feel is a threat in any way thus aren't trying to impose sanctions on them to stop them from producing certain things.  For example the above countries I doubt the US would have a problem if they wanted nuclear power, weapons etc.  But when you start looking at Iran, China, North Korea, etc, we don't want them to.  If we don't trust a country with a nuke, then they are not an ally imo.
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CCSOFlagCommented:
Sometimes the answers aren't always black and white when you want to do what is right.
This goes back to the long debated topic of what is right or wrong?  Just because one country believes something is wrong, doesn't mean it is for another country.  individual cultures define what is right or wrong for their culture, not the outsiders.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>Just because one country believes something is wrong, doesn't mean it is for another country.  individual cultures define what is right or wrong for their culture, not the outsiders.

Agree, but genocide? What if a country thought child molestation was right?

Lots of gray areas.
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CCSOFlagCommented:
Agree, but genocide? What if a country thought child molestation was right?

Lots of gray areas.

Again you and I might think this is bad, but we do not govern their country.  We are not part of their culture.  IMO, they have a right to have whatever culture they choose.  Would I want to live in a Genocidal child-molesting society?  no, I wouldn't.  But I still don't believe OUR society has any right to force THEIR society into changing.  If we want to try to convince them into changing through sanctions or what not, that's up to Congress/President.  On the other hand I completely disagree that it's something the military is responsible for.  Child molestation in one country has nothing to do with the safety of the United States, which I believe is the only right the Constitution gives the military.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
This question is limited to no military interventions such as restricting foreign aid, sanctions, and freezing assets. Should we use those tools to change peoples behavior?
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>This question is limited to no military interventions such as restricting foreign aid, sanctions, and freezing assets. Should we use those tools to change peoples behavior?

Good point. Sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword.
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Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
I agree with Anthony that both stories are terrible but the USA should not get involved with domestic affairs of other countries no matter how terrible they may seem. The best thing to do is have it exposed to world and more likely the people Allied to the West such as Saudi would come under pressure to not do such things, until some sort of internal reforms comes to the country.

As for Bosnia/Kosovo, they were mass killing on the parts of the Serbs against the people who wanted to be a Independent nations. The UN was involved & so was NATO, which of course include the US.

-Muj ;-/
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CCSOFlagCommented:
This question is limited to no military interventions such as restricting foreign aid, sanctions, and freezing assets. Should we use those tools to change peoples behavior?
To "change"? no.  To not support, yes as long as it's approved by Congress.  The problem is it'll never be across the board and it needs to be.  If a region is too important to us (oil, precious metals, afraid of their military, etc), I guarantee you they will not impose the same sanctions, etc as they would a country that has no benefit to us.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>The problem is it'll never be across the board and it needs to be.  If a region is too important to us (oil, precious metals, afraid of their military, etc), I guarantee you they will not impose the same sanctions, etc as they would a country that has no benefit to us.

I am not asking about the reality, but rather the policy. If you say that we should not interfere in other countries then we should not host Dalai Lama?

>As for Bosnia/Kosovo, they were mass killing on the parts of the Serbs against the people who wanted to be a Independent nations. The UN was involved & so was NATO, which of course include the US.

How is this different from the Libya situation? What about Georgia?
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CCSOFlagCommented:
If you say that we should not interfere in other countries then we should not host Dalai Lama?
What does that have anything to do with a country's policies or not?  
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>What does that have anything to do with a country's policies or not?  

By hosting him, we are giving voice to the Tibetian region and attempting to influence Chinese policy in the region.
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CCSOFlagCommented:
By hosting him, we are giving voice to the Tibetian region and attempting to influence Chinese policy in the region.
Oh are you referring to a current event?  I didn't know we were hosting him.  My take on anything like that is, just because we don't support a country because of certain cultural disagreements, it doesn't mean we cannot host the people of the country or leaders of the country.  We should try to be friendly with everyone imo.  You can still be friendly while imposing sanctions or what not.  Who knows they may decide to alter their state of affairs after a visit.  To me sanctions on a country doesn't mean we completely cut every tie off with them.  Kind of like if you had a friend who wanted money for a drug addiction, you probably wouldn't give it to him, but you'd still be his friend I'd hope.  Or maybe if a homeless person asked for money for some alcohol, you'd probably say no, but you'd still be civil to him I'd hope.  
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>By hosting him, we are giving voice to the Tibetian region and attempting to influence Chinese policy in the region.

Everything you do sends a message when you are the leaders of the free world. Meet with anyone official in a country and you are suddenly backing them and shunning their adversaries.

So we should just not talk to anyone?
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>So we should just not talk to anyone?

How much of our foreign policy should be aimed at changing those who we deal with?
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>How much of our foreign policy should be aimed at changing those who we deal with?

Do you not talk to a neighbor on your block because someone else has an issue with him?

Like it or not, we are leaders of the free world and we have influence. If we see injustice, we are expected to act. The question is should we?

I don't have that answer on an overall basis. Each situation individually to me, however that leaves openings for corruption and special interests. There is not easy answer.
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Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
>> How is this different from the Libya situation? What about Georgia? <<

It isnt much but it seems that was were the US interest lies.
They could have left the UN handle it (Bosnia/Kosovo) and included Russia in the process.

-Muj ;-/
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> How much of our foreign policy should be aimed at changing those who we deal with? <<

As absolutely little as possible.  Not our business.


>> What if a country thought child molestation was right? <<

The age of consent is much lower in some countries.  Should we attack Germany because of that (I think it's 16 there(?))?  I think it's even a bit lower is some other countries.


>> So, we should not have interfered in Bosnia or Kosovo? <<

100% No.  We had no strategic interest there.  It's wrong to risk the lives of your soldiers w/o a strategic interest at stake.

Leftists whine about us getting involved in internal fights in Iraq, then claim we should have put ourselves into internal fights in Bosnia/Kosovo.  Well, leftists aren't known for clear nor consistent thinking.


>> They could have left the UN handle it (Bosnia/Kosovo) <<

What a joke.  The UN waited for us.  They knew they couldn't do anything on their own.

This should have been a European issue, having nothing to do with us.  But they've cut their defense budgets to almost nothing and sponge off the U.S. for defense.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>The age of consent is much lower in some countries.  Should we attack Germany because of that (I think it's 16 there(?))?  I think it's even a bit lower is some other countries.

So it's based on the number? What if somewhere thought 5 was consent? Just let them children be violated?

>>100% No.  We had no strategic interest there.

So only defend people that cannot defend themselves if there is something in it for us. Good thing the police don't work that way. "I'm not going to save that old lady from the mugger because nothing is in it for me."

>>Leftists whine about us getting involved in internal fights in Iraq, then claim we should have put ourselves into internal fights in Bosnia/Kosovo.

Agree 100%. People want to help but don't want to risk us to do it. Like they think there is another way. Ridiculous.


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Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
>> 100% No.  We had no strategic interest there. <<

Yes you did. It was the same interest the US had in Ukraine & Geogria. After the break of the Soviet Union, they didn't want those countries to fall back into Russia.

>> What a joke.  The UN waited for us.  They knew they couldn't do anything on their own. <<

I agree. The UN is a joke & can't do anything without anyone else but you got involved and no one asked you too. You can blame Clinton for that. However NATO wanted to get involve & they can't do anything without the US.

-Muj ;-/
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> So only defend people that cannot defend themselves if there is something in it for us. <<

YES, OF COURSE.  That's why we have a military, to protect OUR country.  Our military shouldn't risk its lives to help every country that has internal problems.


>> Good thing the police don't work that way. <<

That's just silly.  The miliary is NOT the police.  And a foreign military is especially not the local police.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> no one asked you too. <<

Factually 100% false.  Several European countries urged us to get involved, thru NATO (not the UN).


>> You can blame Clinton for that. <<

Absolutely.  He loathed the U.S. military, so he wanted to use it ONLY if it did not help America in any way.  Same as in Haiti.  As long as he could risk American lives for no good reason for America, he was happy.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>YES, OF COURSE.  That's why we have a military, to protect OUR country.  Our military shouldn't risk its lives to help every country that has internal problems.

So, you are a believer in that our national interests end at our border?
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
No, and I didn't say that.

I clearly said we had no national intests in Kosovo or Bosnia [or Haiti].  Clinton loved to risk soldiers' lives in all sorts of unproductive things.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>I clearly said we had no national intests in Kosovo or Bosnia [or Haiti].

In that case, please define which areas of the world, in your opinion, we have national interests  in?

If China was helping Haiti and then decided to open a naval base there, would you have been ok with that? Or is that still outside of our national interests?
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
China was not helping Haiti.

I don't have a problem with China having a base in Haiti, as long as they don't put missiles there.

JFKs stupendous ineptitude [what an awful president!!] gave us Castro for all these years and we've survived that fine.


You think we did have a national interest in Kosovo or Bosnia?  What on earth was it?  Looks like Clinton did it to get invited to all the parties by all the feel-good leftists.  Unlike Dems, I don't consider every one of C's personal interests a national interest.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>I don't have a problem with China having a base in Haiti, as long as they don't put missiles there.

If they have a base there, its their decision to put missle there or not. How is that all of the sudden becomes our concern?
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
? Are you serious ??

Missiles from there can easily hit us with no chance to intercept, or perhaps even to fire back.

Same reason even Kennedy opposed Soviet missiles in Cuba.

China is the Soviet Union but with more people ... and even more harshness.

Mao starved tens of millions of his own people to death just to avoid admitting he got something wrong.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>? Are you serious ??

Heck yes, I am serious. Your definition of what is in our national interest is laughable. it is like saying that a man with a bomb is not dangerous until he lights the fuse. China starved tens of millions of his own people to death and they are dangerous, but Bosnia executing thousands of their people is none of our concern.

What you are professing is a policy of isolationism, a philosophy which is an equivalent of sticking your head in the sand. No matter if you like it or not, we are living on one planet. Events in one part of the world will affect us on the other side of the globe. I am not saying we have to intervene, and we are not the global policeman, but an argument that it is none of our concern until they point weapons at us is just stupid.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
Sorry, will keep things simpler for you, multiple things at once seems to confuse you.

China's not dangerous because of the starvation.  That just proved how ruthless they were, even more than the Soviets.

They're dangerous because they're marxist, have a huge army, a big ecomony (now that they've dropped some failed parts of marxism ... too bad Obama won't!).


>> Bosnia executing thousands of their people is none of our concern. <<

No, it wouldn't be.  Why would it be.

I thought that was proven false anyway, that the real numbers were much, much lower.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
So since Bosnia most likely will never have the capability to harm the US mainland, we should not be concerned with them. Is that your reasoning?

I fully understand it and it is valid as a concept to me. I do not agree with it though.

We are the leaders of the free world and with that comes a responsibility to protect freedom throughout the world. If the freedom of a nation's people are under threat, and we have the means to preserve that freedom, then it is something that we should consider doing.

Should we always get involved? Should we never get involved?

As most answers, it depends on a number of factors. Each situation needs it's own criteria. Should we have in Bosnia? I honestly am not familiar enough with the facts to make an answer on that.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> We are the leaders of the free world and with that comes a responsibility to protect freedom throughout the world. <<

Bull.  We couldn't do that even if we wanted too.  And we certainly can't even afford to try anymore.

We need to wean NATO off the U.S. teat.  And Japan.  And South Korea.  And and and.

Let these other countries that whine about "American militarism" pay fully for their own defenses for a decade or two.  Then we can talk again.


>> So since Bosnia most likely will never have the capability to harm the US mainland, <<

To strategically affect the U.S. in any way, yes.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
Well, any significant way.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
> Sorry, will keep things simpler for you, multiple things at once seems to confuse you.

No, Scott the only difference is you are setting an arbitrary line similar to the Monroe Doctrine as to where you want US to intervene, and where not to intervene.  An action is right or wrong, not based on the number of people killed, or the location, but on the very fact that our morals define it as such. As a defender of Christianity, I expected more of you.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
?  So we should invade every country whose decisions we don't like?

Invade every country that, say, allows 14 year olds to wed (to stop underage "rape')?

Invade every country that allows bigamy?

Invade every country that does not allow abortions?

Morality cannot be the cornerstone of foreign policy ... unless you're Jimmy Carter.  We see how horribly that worked out.

No system of morality would have allowed us to ally with Stalin in WWII.  At that time, Stalin was the worst mass murdered in history.  Sure, FDR called him "good ole Uncle Joe", which was naive and ridiculous, but nobody wanted to un-ally with them.

Britain actually came close in '40 however,  It thought seriously about intervening in Finland ... mainly for moral reasons (Churchill was generally in favor of it).  After all, the Soviets were indeed attacking an innocent, neutral country.  Luckily for them, they were so indecisive and slow that Finland was forced to surrender before England really moved in that direction.


To me the most frightening prospect in '30s Germany was not Hilter, as bad as that turned out to be, but a communist takeover.  Imagine Germany and the Soviets [and maybe Japan (almost meaningless compared to the other two)] combined to attack the West.  Hard to believe we would have survived that.
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>I don't have a problem with China having a base in Haiti, as long as they don't put missiles there.
>>China is the Soviet Union but with more people ... and even more harshness.

You don't think a foreign power, China, as strong as the Soviet Union, having a military base in the Gulf of Mexico is a problem?  I am glad you do not run our military.  I would find that to be a huge problem.

>>They're dangerous because they're marxist, have a huge army, a big ecomony (now that they've dropped some failed parts of marxism

Yet you would let them have a base right off our border.

>>No matter if you like it or not, we are living on one planet. Events in one part of the world will affect us on the other side of the globe.

Agreed.
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leonstrykerAuthor Commented:
>?  So we should invade every country whose decisions we don't like?

On the flip side, is to wait for the 'gun to the head' before taking action philisophy.

Do we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons? Wait until they use them?

Where is the line?
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> Do we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons? <<

Of course not.  We have a strategic interest in seeing that they don't.  Don't see that we have a morals-related reason for not wanting them to have it.


>> Where is the line? <<

Case by case, of course.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>Of course not.  We have a strategic interest in seeing that they don't.  Don't see that we have a morals-related reason for not wanting them to have it.

They cannot reach their missiles to our mainland from there.

Is the interest oil in the region?

So for money we get involved. For human rights we don't.

Is that right?
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CCSOFlagCommented:
Just an FYI, I agree with most of what you're saying Scott.  I just see the arguments going in circles.  It's essentially an example of people forcing their morals on others and even willing to use military action to do it.  I don't care how good your intentions are, I disagree with foreign affairs being run by morals.  As you said, if there was a country that allowed 14 year olds to wed, who cares?  According to the US it's illegal, but who are we to say other countries can't?  To me it's just plain being a world bully and I disagree completely with it.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> So for money we get involved. For human rights we don't. <<

Again, so you want to intervene everywhere?

There's human rights violations going on all over the globe.  Castro in Cuba; Chavez in Venezuela; China; North Korea; Syria; and on and on.
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Mujtaba_Alam_KhanCommented:
>> I clearly said we had no national intests in Kosovo or Bosnia [or Haiti]. <<

That can be said about many places like Iraq ( The first Gulf War, the second Gulf War,) North Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somlia, indirect getting involved in the Afganistan War, Ukraine, Georgia & now in Poland & Czech Republic with the defence shield (and many more)

Also why does the US needs to be involved with Iran or even Israel. If Israel has a problem with Iran, let them sort it out. If the IAEA says Iran is building Nuclear Bombs, why should you get involved. Your thousands of Miles away. You have more chances of Russia, China and North Korea hitting you with nuclear bombs than anyone. One or two nuclear bombs from the US towards Iran and its game over for them.

-Muj ;-/
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CCSOFlagCommented:
If Israel has a problem with Iran, let them sort it out.
The big reason most people want the US to get involved is because Israel is supposedly a close Ally of ours.  Not sure how they are really an ally, but then again I haven't researched too much into it.  Because of that we are responsible for taking care of Israel to the best of our abilities.
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
Isreal is an ally because they are a democracy/republic.

In general we try to help every truly democratic country, especially those that have been previous abused and oppressed (Poland, South Korea, Czech Republic, all former forced Soviet satellites, etc.).

To me we owe Poland more than the rest, because we promised during WWII to make sure it was free at the end, then abandoned them and proved FDR a liar (Churchill tried very hard to get FDR, and then Truman, to honor our promise, but in vain).
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CCSOFlagCommented:
Yea kinda my point.  I don't agree with being an ally of a country JUST because of their political views or government system.  I think being an ally should entail a lot more than that.  As far as promises I agree.  We should be keeping our promises.
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sbdt8631Commented:
>>Yea kinda my point.  I don't agree with being an ally of a country JUST because of their political views or government system.  I think being an ally should entail a lot more than that.

What criteria should be important?  I am just curious.
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>In general we try to help every truly democratic country,

Well Scott that contradicts most of the reasons you stated not to help other countries. We have no money or strategic interests, or whatever reasons you gave.

So just to make sure I get this right:

We help countries that have democracy or are our friends or if we promised to help them.

We don't help countries where their people are suffering or we disagree with their political structure.

The whole thing about us having the money to help or not goes out the window if they are in the first group though?
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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
It's a mix of the two.

C'mon, you really expect some kindergarden-simple rule to be able to apply to all countries in the world?
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CCSOFlagCommented:
What criteria should be important?  I am just curious.
I previously already explained it, not sure if it was this thread or another.  An ally should be someone who actually sticks with you.  Someone who trades, helps in time of need, someone you can TRUST, etc.  I'd say a quick litmus test would be if you can trust the country with a nuke, then they could possibly be an ally.
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sbdt8631Commented:
>> I'd say a quick litmus test would be if you can trust the country with a nuke, then they could possibly be an ally.
I would just as soon not trust anyone with a nuke, United States included.  Unfortunately, since that is not possible, I guess the best policy is to limit it to those who already have.
I will agree that trading partners whom we trust is a good beginning for criteria to help.
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CCSOFlagCommented:
Oh I agree, which is why I kinda use that.  Nukes are serious business, so if you CAN trust a country completely with a nuke, I'd say you have quite good relations with that country.  Know what I mean?
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Anthony RussoCommented:
>>C'mon, you really expect some kindergarden-simple rule to be able to apply to all countries in the world?

You mean like a rule to not help Muslim countries?

Or maybe Muslims to be searched at the airport?

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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>> Or maybe Muslims to be searched at the airport? <<

Even Homer Simpson knows that all muslims at airports don't belong to one country .
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