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Should the U.S. only do business with free countries?

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Stevicus, Sep 20, 2021.

?
  1. Yes, we should only do business with the free countries (shown as green on map)

    4 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. We should do business with the green and yellow (Partly Free) countries, but not the purple (Not Fre

    1 vote(s)
    6.3%
  3. We should not impose sanctions on any country for any reason

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. US foreign policy should be based solely on America's practical national interests

    2 vote(s)
    12.5%
  5. US foreign policy should be based on moral principles and how other govts. treat their people

    4 vote(s)
    25.0%
  6. The (green) free countries should all unify and shut out the partly free and not free countries

    1 vote(s)
    6.3%
  7. Other

    5 vote(s)
    31.3%
  8. Don't know/undecided

    3 vote(s)
    18.8%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    While reading through another thread on the topic of the declining freedom index (Freedom index 2021. | Religious Forums), I got to thinking about the relative freedom in the world as indicated in Freedom House's annual survey and ranking. Here is a link to Freedom House's map for 2021: Explore the Map | Freedom House

    [​IMG]

    The countries in green are designated "Free," the countries in yellow are designated "Partly Free," and the countries in purple are designated "Not Free."

    Given that our government and media often tout the U.S. as the "leader of the free world" and that our national existence is dedicated to "making the world safe for democracy," we ostensibly have established a global alliance system based on that principle. Or at least, that's what one might assume listening to the politicians, pundits, and other propagandists who spout off about America's obligation to defend freedom no matter what.

    Likewise, we have made it a general practice to impose sanctions upon regimes which, in our government's view, have "poor human rights records": United States sanctions - Wikipedia

    Some propagandists speak of the U.S. as some kind of global crusader for freedom and democracy, a position which seems rife with sanctimony, sentiment, and American exceptionalism. From this standpoint, we impose sanctions on other countries because it's seen as "the right thing to do," purely out of a noble dedication to world freedom and human rights. It's problematic for those who try to oppose such policies, as it makes it appear that they're against freedom, which somehow seems "un-American" in many people's eyes.

    Others who are more skeptical and cynical regarding U.S. policy might point to numerous exceptions to the rule. They might point out the numerous countries which we still do business with, even though multiple objective sources would put their governments in the category of "Not Free" or "authoritarian." For example, we impose sanctions on Iran because they're not free, yet we seem to give a great deal of accommodation to Saudi Arabia, which is comparatively worse than Iran in terms of freedom.

    Can anyone identify any consistent standard that the U.S. policymakers might derive in explaining such discrepancies, or is it simply a matter of frivolous whimsy on the part of our leadership? Do they even know what they're doing? Is our foreign policy wrecked due to decades of incompetence and ignorance on the part of our media and political leaders? I mean, these are people who apparently believed that the Shah of Iran, Pinochet of Chile, Somoza of Nicaragua, Marcos of the Philippines, and various tyrants in charge of South Vietnam were part of the so-called "free world." And these are just a few examples.

    In my opinion, we would be far better off if we would pick a consistent set of principles to go by and stick with them.

    If we're going to say that America's foreign policy will be based solely on America's practical national, economic, and strategic interests, then we should just say that and live by it. If we choose to impose sanctions or oppose another government, it should be based on reasons which only have a direct tangible impact on America.

    On the other hand, if we claim to be the "defenders of freedom," as a way to justify sanctions and other punitive measures against other countries because of human rights abuses and authoritarian practices, then we should say that and be consistent about it across the board.

    I wasn't quite sure how to word the poll choices, so if the wording looks a bit stilted, that's why.

    I also realize that not everyone here is from America, and they might look at U.S. foreign policy from a different angle. For those outside the U.S., do you believe that U.S. foreign policy should serve some kind of higher moral purpose (i.e. "leader of the free world") as opposed to pursuing our own practical, tangible national interests (as any ordinary nation might do)?

    Is America "exceptional"?
     
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  2. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Veteran Member
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    I live in a purple country per that map. If Western countries stopped doing business with my country, I highly suspect the main harm and negative effects of that would be on the average citizen more than anyone else. We rely on a lot of Western medicines and medical equipment, electronics, cars, and a plethora of other goods. If these stopped reaching my country, that would greatly affect many ordinary people and make their lives much harder.

    I don't view things as so cut and dry; a country like China is extremely oppressive, but green countries can't stop doing business with it, due to its sheer influence and economic and industrial reach. I believe sanctions sometimes have their place, but those are highly dependent on the specific situation rather than a blanket rule applying to all purple and yellow countries.
     
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  3. Left Coast

    Left Coast Purveyor of Pumpkin Spice
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    If we stop engaging in any kind of economic activity with China and all of SE Asia, it would be a painfully bad idea. So many products we buy on a daily basis are from that part of the world.
     
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  4. exchemist

    exchemist Veteran Member

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    Also, one of the main routes by which free countries create demand for freedom in those that are not is by engaging with their citizens.

    Trade sanctions should be used as targeted weapons, to create specific pressures on regimes, not as a blanket cutting off of all commercial contact with the population.
     
  5. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I voted for the "moral principles" choice. That to me involves not allowing products of slave labor into the country and gets more nuanced from there.
     
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  6. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    I tend to agree, although I think this would call into question whether sanctions against a country are really in anyone's practical national interests, or whether it actually promotes freedom in the world. If we decide we want to impose sanctions on Iran because they're "Not Free," why wouldn't we impose sanctions on countries which are also "Not Free" or even less free than Iran?

    Is it because of principles, or due to some other reason? And if it is due to some other reason, what would that reason be? That's what we need to ask.
     
  7. Debater Slayer

    Debater Slayer Veteran Member
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    Not to mention the self-aggrandizement inherent in doing something like that despite starting two of the biggest wars in the 21st century (in Afghanistan and Iraq). It's more than a little ironic for the country that killed hundreds of thousands in those two countries and ran Abu Ghraib and Gitmo to pretend it's any sort of authority on what "freedom" is.
     
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  8. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    This.
    I voted "other" because I missed the option "no matter what the principle, just have one".
     
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  9. Wandering Monk

    Wandering Monk Well-Known Member

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    An interesting question. The UN is feckless. I have wondered over the past few years if it would be better to create an alternative to the UN. Something like a Federation of Democratic States in which only nations who had free and fair elections and election monitoring would be allowed to join.
     
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  10. The Kilted Heathen

    The Kilted Heathen Torolf Brucesson

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    America isn't a free country, so that would be highly hypocritical.
     
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  11. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    Consider that terrorism & other violence appear to be linked
    to economic woe. Trading with a poor country might lift them
    out of that situation.
     
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  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    Freedom is a relative thing.
    We're free here....free enuf.
    At the other end of the spectrum
    are places like N Korea.
     
  13. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    This map is by American's definition of 'free'. I'm not sure if that's the best way to look at it. I voted 'undecided', mainly because it's complicated. There are two sides to all coins. Some countries might choose to stop doing business with America, for the same purposes. I'm very hesitant to travel to America these days.
     
  14. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    There's certainly something to be said for that, although I also look back on how the West's relationship with numerous countries deteriorated and went sour because they felt exploited or that the trade relationship was uneven. That appears to be the cause of numerous anti-Western rebellions and revolts all across the world.
     
  15. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
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    Examples?
     
  16. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    The US should withdraw all the troops from those countries and embrace dialogue. Which include trade, of course.
     
  17. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    It's certainly exceptional in terms of how much of its population is incarcerated. The idea that the US is some sort of beacon of "freedom" is pretty ridiculous.

    And I had a look at the Cato Institute's criteria for their "freedom index"; many of the factors in their index don't have much bearing on actual freedom (e.g. highest tax rate), while many that are very relevant to freedom don't seem to be factors (e.g. operating prisons where the right to habeas corpus doesn't apply).
     
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  18. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Who is "we"? None of us are capitalists engaged in international trade relations, as far as I can tell.

    Oh, and Freedom House is a think tank that is heavily funded by the US government, with the rest of its funds made of grants from right-wing and liberal billionaires. While it claims impartiality, it in fact is on the record specifically avoiding human rights abuses in countries whose support is crucial for US military operations, and at times even explicitly endorsed US-backed authoritarian regimes such as the military regime of El Salvador or Ian Smith's Rhodesia.

    Freedom House - Wikipedia
     
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  19. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    Boxer Rebellion, Cuban Revolution, the entire resistance and revolt movement against Western colonialism and imperialism which occurred throughout Latin America, Africa, and South Asia. There's a whole plethora of examples one can cite. How many do you need?
     
  20. Stevicus

    Stevicus Veteran Member
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    The link in the OP is to the Freedom House survey, which is different than the Cato Institute's survey. Different standards, apparently.
     
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