Wednesday, October 02, 2013

If a lady's reputation is her most valuable asset, then Lady Liberty has cause for concern...

Lady Liberty is no longer protected by the shield of her good reputation

The U.S. has long seen itself as the embodiment of righteous, virtuous liberty. We are the good guys who charge in to rescue the oppressed then welcome them into our open arms where they may hope to live out the American Dream of a good life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are the answer to the rigid and vicious oppression inflicted by brutish nations like Russia and China. We are the voice of reason preventing aggression against defenseless...wait. This battle cry lacks something...thunder? Ferocity? Ah - credibility. Yes, credibility. Lady Liberty has lost - no, adamantly cast aside - her most valuable asset, her good reputation, her credibility.

The U.S. has earned a reputation for being hotheaded and eager for a good fight

It is no secret that the U.S. has earned a reputation for being hotheaded and eager for a good fight. Perhaps formerly perceived as the hard-working, clean-cut, do-gooder boy scout sitting earnestly in the front of the class, the U.S. has sullied its own good reputation and now more closely resembles the ignorant, sarcastic, steroid-inflated bully in the back of the classroom, hungrily anticipating an opportunity to flex our testosterone-infused muscles. Israel, perhaps formerly perceived as the bullied kid who finally got a seat at the lunch table, has joined the U.S. at the back of the classroom. If one is judged based on their associations, then the U.S. and Israel are not reflecting well on one another.

In what has been, not unreasonably, described as an inflammatory speech to the United Nations earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put forth his best sarcastic effort at sabotaging the tentative diplomatic overtures between the U.S. and Iran regarding the nuclear issue. He attacked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, seeking to discredit him even as Rouhani pursued appropriate, perhaps even laudable, measures to establish a productive diplomatic dialogue with President Obama. While Netanyahu as well as the international community at large certainly have good reason to receive Rouhani's efforts with skepticism, brutishly going on the attack at such a time just looks like tantrum throwing.

In the same vein of unrefined and "unladylike" behavior, the U.S. seems to have established a default setting to "attack" any time we're confronted with a plausible pretext to flex our military muscles. We have become the "roided up" meatheads of the international community, jumpy in our paranoia that anything that happens anywhere is targeted at us and requires a violent response. 

The U.S. seems to have established a default setting to "attack"

This posture isn't entirely unwarranted, but it seems hasty and reactionary. Furthermore, it makes us predictable - we are too easily prodded. This is the reputation we have established for ourselves, and our close association with Israel, which has established itself as a hothead in its own right, only serves to reinforce that image.

We are too easily predictable

Is the U.S. - or Israel for that matter - unjustified in taking a tightly coiled posture, ready to pounce at the slightest provocation? I propose that we are not unjustified. Rather, we are wearing our emotions on our sleeves and exposing all of our buttons. When we are perceived as so jumpy and peckish that Russian President Vladimir Putin may chime in as a voice of reason, we may easily assess that a re-evaluation of our posture and demeanor toward the international community is in order. What the U.S. perceives as the strength of flexing our awe-inspiring military arm appears more aptly to be a case of the U.S. rising to the bait. 

The U.S. has arrived at a refined black tie event wearing a tracksuit

We are dealing with nations with centuries, if not millennia, of experience in fine-tuning the subtleties of their political tactics. We have arrived at a refined black tie event wearing a tracksuit, flexing each time we're poked. We are exhibiting very unladylike behavior, and our reputation is tanking as a result. I think we're still the good guys, and Israel's not so bad either, but we need to remember that there is an etiquette to international relations, and that if we want to stay on top without having to engage in constant military campaigns, we need to conduct ourselves in a more ladylike manner. Lady Liberty must be...well...a lady.

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