Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Sam Harris On Progressivism, Torture, Religion & Foreign Policy

I listened to this last night.  You have to be a bit of a nerd for these issues to stay through the two hours, though it does repay attention.
I wrote to Sam as follows:
Hi Sam, I enjoyed the above talk.  
Right at the end, Kyle [Kulinski] said something like US world wide actions since WW2 were "beyond disastrous".  You seemed to agree. (Though perhaps it was too late in the day to take him on)
In my view, Kulinski is plain wrong in that judgement. 
After WW2 (into which America was dragged), there was the Marshall Plan, extraordinary generous and beneficial to the rebuilding of Europe.  Then came GATT (later WTO), which hugely increased world wealth.  To protect this growth, the US became world policeman, something most countries welcomed.  When the Soviet Union allied with China and  Kruschev said "we will bury you" (the west), the US countered the growth of communism (surely a correct instinct), which led to Vietnam, sad and disastrous, to be sure, but not motivated by "colonialism" or "imperialism".
After Kissinger and Nixon opened up relations with China, that led to Deng Xiaoping and the subsequent extraordinary, unprecedented growth in wealth (or, if you will, reduction in poverty), which continues to this day. 
And throughout this time post-war, the US has been far and away the largest donor of aid to the world (remember, just one example, the Tsunami floods of Dec 2004.  The first and largest aid and assistance came from the US).
I'm guessing you were a bit tired by the end, otherwise you may have taken on Kulinski's views, which on this issue seemed to be Chomsky redux.
The counter, in sum, is: Marshall Plan, GATT/WTO, Aid, World Police.  (and haven't even mentioned the UN, which the US initiated and to which it remains the largest donor).