Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Alex Lo: Trump and the folly of empire (My Take, 25 July)

LETTER TO SCMP (269 words)
Like all good lefties Alex Lo loves to hate America (Trump understands the folly of 'empire' , 25 July).
This time Lo picks up on yet another unhinged riff by wannabe president Donald Trump to criticize America's "imperialism, hegemony and interventionism".  
Cue the usual litany of "imperialist interventions" from Vietnam to Iraq, via Palestine and South America. 
But America is neither imperialist nor hegemon. 
Lo must recall that America had to be dragged into both world wars. In both, its contribution was critical to our victory against fascism. The world would be a worse place had America not "intervened" on our side. 
Then there's American interventions since that have been successful and life-saving: from Laos to Kosovo, to ending the Cold War and beyond. Not forgetting the post war Marshall Plan, the WTO, and America's charity: it's always the major donor in global disasters, like the Boxing Day Asian tsunami of 2004. (Help that was never acknowledged by Indonesia, by the way). 
And that still leaves aside the myriad other US contributions to humankind: from first air flights to first moon landings. From television,  computers, Internet, GPS and smartphones to Google and genomes.   Without the country that Lo & co view as so horrid we would have none of these. And be immeasurably poorer for it. 
America can be summarized in one word: Freedom. What would be the one word to summarize Russia or China?
America may never have perfected the practice of its principles, but at least they can be freely questioned, most severely perhaps by Americans themselves. Not something one could say of the other would-be Superpowers.