Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Patters, Mar 15, 2011.
it would be interesting to see a comparison that takes into account differences in income. (I realize that's a different comparison, just occurred to me that it might be interesting to see differences in states / regions when income is removed as a variable)
This graph is confusing. I thought red America were the experts on foreign policy?
Seriously though, the animosity towards the U.N. from red country makes a lot more sense now.
The rebels in Libya might have similar animosity now that their dithering has given Gaddafi time to crush them.
Actually, I don't think anyone is sure the rebels were better than Qadaffi. That's the problem.
Chico makes an important point. I think income is a big part of the picture here. However, while we can say that people in Mississippi don't travel because they lack the disposable income, and not out of lack of desire, the end result is still a lack of traveling on their part.
Here's where I am drawing the line on this thread.
Who is more worldly? The people who travel to Canada, Mexican resorts, Rome, Paris, and Switzerland, or the people who served in Afghanistan and Iraq? I'm sure people will have their own answers according to their world view.
It's worth noting that "Red staters" make up a a highly disproportionate number of those serving in the military, particularly in regard to infantry duty (I'll try and dig up the Army numbers). They may not have experienced what it is like to drink fine wine in a French bistro, but they know a thing or two about what goes on in America's many wars.
Also, I am going to laugh heartily at the notion that traveling to a country makes someone more of an expert than someone who spent six hours researching the country on Wikipedia and Google. Most of these passport people are not really "seeing the world", but either going to Canada or Mexico (look at the passport numbers in the border states, esp. Alaska and California) or are going to an insulated resort.
Living in a foreign country is what really counts. Patters, as someone who lived in Sweden, you of all people should know that.
That didn't stop the DNI from being murdered in the press for daring to suggest that Qaddhafi would prevail.
Are we sure that the people of Libya feel that way?
I'm sure there are some troops who get to do some real sightseeing and visits museums and cultural institutions and hang out with the people, but they are more often in places like Germany, not Afghanistan and Iraq.
Yes, soldiers know a lot about war.
Living in a foreign country is what really counts. Patters, as someone who lived in Sweden, you of all people should know that.[/QUOTE]
I think anyone who spends time sightseeing in another country tends to develop greater respect and less fear of foreigners. While visiting exotic places is important, even if one only goes to Mexican resorts and Montreal, they will grow more comfortable with the world. I would not be surprised if a lot of those Americans without passports are not only afraid of foreigners, but are afraid to visit the big American cities.
It's all very vague, but there's concern that some of the rebels were Al Qaeda types. I personally think anyone is better than Qadaffi, so am rooting for the rebels. At the same time, I recognize the possibility that there are people worse than Qadaffi, just as there were people worse than Mussolini and Stalin in WWII.
I think you're right about living abroad, and the value of seeing different parts of the world in the armed forces, though I'm not sure simply being in a war necessarily gives you a great perspective, either. My guess is there is huge variation, but the soldiers who are in a warzone must often be getting a singular view.
(I still am amazed by the member of US Navy in Stockholm, when some ships were in port there and one was open to the public, who thought it was a good idea to start describing exactly how much damage the ship could do to various cities in Europe. The Swedes loved hearing that. otoh, we had a good time hanging out with some of the officers that night, all of us pretty amazed by the talent pool there... and having a mix of guys in uniform and out turned out to be a very good approach, we learned... )
Additionally, a lot can be gained from travel IF it's not just a day sprinting through a museum or list of sightseeing spots or, as you point out, going to a resort. You can immerse yourself to varying degrees while traveling and gain valuable perspective on things, if you choose.
It's all a matter of degree, isn't it? Yes, simply visiting a large city or Cancun or Montreal at least shows a little something different to a person who's never done anything like that.
And sightseeing can do a little, too.
But to nikolai's point, I think it's interaction with the local people that provides the true perspective. When I've traveled abroad, I've been baffled by friends who chose to eat at McDonald's when we were in major European cities, and the desire to go to tourist bars and hang out with Americans. I think a lot of people do that, and they miss out on a lot.
(Granted, I'm not as adventurous as some. I have a friend who usually sleeps in locals' homes or police stations (pretty interesting idea he came up with or came across) when traveling. That's not for me, though he has had amazing experiences that way.)
How does visiting a museum translate to better foreign policy sense? Also, troops on the ground (those who go outside the wire) in Iraq and Afghanistan do actually interact with the people quite a bit, and not just from behind a rifle. I think we're worlds apart on this one, so I'm not going to continue this line of discussion here. No point.
Comfortable? Maybe. Insightful? Not necessarily.
It is a unique view, and one that differs from, say, a tourist in Europe, but it is still one that is very valuable to our foreign policy discussions and decisions, since I think that is the point that is being made here with this thread (though I can't tell, because no commentary was provided).
I'm sure they did. The Canadian Navy guys I hung out with last summer talked mostly about how many girls they could bed in a given city. There's some cultural insight for ya.
Getting a commission as an officer in the US military can be pretty tough these days. It's a pretty competitive game, and, with the possible exception of the ROTC, only the best will get through. I don't doubt you ran into a wide gamut of talent. I can't confirm it, but I understand the Navy generally will commission about 1 out of 100 OCS applicants they receive.
A good point that I didn't really hit on.
Interesting idea. In some countries, granting a favor ($) or two for the police can really open doors for you.
I don't have a passport ...
I sometimes leave Rhode Island to go buy lottery tickets in nearby Mass.
Is that another country or is it just Cambridge?
OT: The Navy guys I went to business school were clearly the brightest out of a decent number of ex-military. Really without exception they were extremely smart. Also tools for the most part, it turned out, really the only branch who weren't much fun to hang out with -- except a couple Seals, who were smart, good guys and, frankly, kind of frightening.
When traveling I generally tried to avoid anybody with guns, but he didn't seem at all concerned. In South America the police/ military with automatic weapons were strange to see, but never frightening.
In the middle of Africa, they were very worrisome. At one point we did bribe some guys (Zimbabwe, I think?), but we weren't sure if that was going to make things worse or make the problem go away. Thankfully it was the latter.
I think your comment is right on the money chico! As in...
BINGO!! We have a winner!
The distribution of wealth in America...or "where the wealthiest Americans live".....That is exactly what Patters chart reflects.
So what's the point of this thread? Should we be more "worldly" as a nation?
If you compared Americans to other nations, of course we have fewer passports than Europeans or Asians. But that's not because we're more ignorant (as Patters probably believes), it's a matter of GEOGRAPHY.
Our nation isn't surrounded by other nations like European, Asian and African countries. Travelling "abroad" in Europe is like going from Massachusetts to New York for them. It's easy Italians to say, "hey honey, lets check out France, Spain and Greece next month!"
But for Americans (especially those in the heartland) to even say, "honey, let's check out Canada and Mexico next month!" it's a lot more expensive...and not too interesting either!
WE are blessed to live in this beautiful geographic wonderland where we have tropical beaches, majestic mountains, historic areas and rolling plains" across thousands of miles of our huge nation.
We also have a much more diverse society than any other nation to sample and visit.
I often wonder why Americans travel abroad before they visit our own vast treasure chest of wonders...that makes no sense to me. I've been to the rockies, Florida, the West Coast (north to south), our vast desert areas, NY city, Chicago...and I still haven't been to Texas or New Orleans.
To me, that's pretty cool stuff. Besides, I have a distinct distaste for those who consider themselves to be "Worldly" people just as I have a distaste for people who believe in "the finer things in life" as personal objectives.
But that's just me I guess....
While it's true that states with lower per capita incomes tend to be more conservative in terms of worldliness (let alone politics), I would attribute it more to educational levels. This was the only chart I could find that sums up education levels; if you find a less political one, I'll replace this.
I think people who have traveled often gain increased respect and feel less threatened by foreigners. I think people who travel learn that the average Joe in most countries is not violent or rabidly anti-American, that European socialist countries are prosperous and their people are happy, that that average person in South America is a decent human being who poses no threat, that the typical Muslim has more in common with the typical American than they have with Al Qaeda.
And yes, you're right, you can travel in the US, but from conservatives I've known (and frankly, when I worked in technology and before that management consulting, most of the people I worked with conservative) are not the ones to even visit Boston, let alone visit any ethnic area outside of the North End.
I would guess that in general, those Americans who integrate with Americans from all walks of life, regardless of race, nationality, religion, etc., are more open to visiting foreign countries. The passport map makes a generalization about the worldliness, but of course there are many exceptions.
Certainly true about things to see in the US and having a relatively diverse society already (though I don't know how diverse we are when compared to other nations of similar size -- not disagreeing, I just don't know).
(Your point is especially on target re foreign language capabilities and some knowledge of history and politics. It is easy for people, especially Europeans, to criticize Americans for weakness in these areas, but it is MUCh easier to speak a foreign language whe you have the opportunity to use that language with some frequency, which is much easier to do in Europe. It's also natural to know more about history and politics of other nations when they're so close to you and so close in size and you're that much more intertwined in each other's affairs.)
As for traveling in the US, to me the answer is simple -- it shouldn't be either/or. I traveled through Europe before doing the same in the US because (i) there were places I wanted to see and (ii) friends wanted to do the same. So it was an easy choice. And, frankly, while there is a lot to see and learn within the US, the bottom line is that there is a greater breadth of experience to be had traveling abroad. Even seeing random towns in Germany is going to be more of an eye opener than driving from Boston to Philly in terms of seeing something different for an American.
btw, re your comment about "worldly" people -- I hope you're talking about people who proclaim themselves worldly, or something like that, rather than people who have traveled a lot or just think there is something to be gained from having a greater worldview.
(OT: You mentioned never having been to New orleans. All I can say is go there. Soon. Not for mardi gras or anything (not there's anything wrong with that), but take a long weekend and go there just to walk around and see the city, the history, eat the food, hear the music. It is a truly unusual American city. It's got its flaws, certainly, but if you're open to just taking in a place unlike any you've probably been to, you may love it.
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