Cats, Mice, and Rats

The Disenchanted American

A friend of mine has asked me on numerous occasions “But what about how the rest of the world hates us now?” when I reaffirm my support for the US military action in various places around the globe.

My response is always:

  1. It isn’t now that “the rest of the world” hates us. It’s always. Sure, the invasion of Iraq brought all the voices of anti-Americanism together for a short while, but this attitude is nothing new. It’s not since the invasion of Iraq. It’s not since the invasion of Afghanistan. It’s not since 9/11. It’s not since the election of George W. Bush. It’s always been there.
  2. I don’t care much what they think.

Now, my friend doesn’t really seem to believe me on either point. And that’s fine. I don’t much care about that, either.

The Victor Davis Hanson article I link to at the top of this post neatly sums up most of my opinion on this matter. He takes it a bit farther than I would in a couple areas, and he’s taking a simple approach to what’s obviously a complex situation, but, all in all, it’s right on target.

It begins with this:

[T]here is a new sort of resignation rising in the country, as the United States sheds its naiveté that grew up in the aftermath of the Cold War. Clintonism may have assumed that terrorism was but a police matter, that the military could be slashed and used for domestic social reform by fiat, that our de facto neutrals were truly our friends, and that the end of the old smash-mouth history was at hand. The chaotic events following the demise of the Soviet Union, the mass murder on September 11, and the new strain of deductive anti-Americanism abroad cured most of all that.

This “resignation” is what I feel. I felt it far earlier than 9/11. In fact, I think I first became aware of it the day I watched dead US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and Somalis dancing on the rotors of shot-down US helicopters. It wasn’t the actions of the Somalis that made me aware of this resignation so much as it was the reaction of many others. Both outside this nation and within. And this awareness, this feeling of “I don’t really care”, has grown steadily over the years.

More from the article:

Imagine a world in which there was no United States during the last 15 years. Iraq, Iran, and Libya would now have nukes. Afghanistan would remain a seventh-century Islamic terrorist haven sending out the minions of Zarqawi and Bin Laden worldwide. The lieutenants of Noriega, Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam, and Moammar Khaddafi would no doubt be adjudicating human rights at the United Nations. The Ortega Brothers and Fidel Castro, not democracy, would be the exemplars of Latin America. Bosnia and Kosovo would be national graveyards like Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Add in Kurdistan as well — the periodic laboratory for Saddam’s latest varieties of gas. Saddam himself, of course, would have statues throughout the Gulf attesting to his control of half the world’s oil reservoirs. Europeans would be in two-day mourning that their arms sales to Arab monstrocracies ensured a second holocaust. North Korea would be shooting missiles over Tokyo from its new bases around Seoul and Pusan. For their own survival, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan would all now be nuclear. Americans know all that — and yet they grasp that their own vigilance and military sacrifices have earned them spite rather than gratitude. And they are ever so slowly learning not much to care anymore.

Now, the wags will immediately point out that individuals like Saddam and nations like North Korea would not be doing bad things without the US around to put them in power or challenge them. There’s more than a kernel of truth to that idea, but not much more. Like the commenter on some of my other posts who seems to think that Hitler wasn’t really all that bad, some folks just don’t seem to get it. There are bad people in the world, and they do bad things. If not Saddam in Iraq, someone else somewhere else. If not machinations over oil flow, machinations over something else. Remember that it isn’t the United States that created the cultural mishmash of nations in the Middle East that is a big part of today’s problem. It was the Europeans. In the early 20th century. During and after that one war. You know, the one to end all wars.

The specific examples cited by Hanson might not have occurred exactly as he outlined them. But they might have. And even if they didn’t, other things (possibly even worse) would have. Bad things have a way of just happening when the cat’s away.

Right now, the United States is the de facto cat. I wish it weren’t so, but it’s better than no cat at all. And if the rest of the world elects to be mice and is unhappy with the current living arrangements, so be it. Because there will always be mice who want to be rats.

The cat doesn’t care what the mice think.

As for the mice:

The U.N., NATO, or the EU: These are now the town criers of the civilized world who preach about “the law” and then seek asylum in their closed shops and barred stores when the nuclear Daltons or terrorist Clantons run roughshod over the town. In our own contemporary ongoing drama, China, Russia, and India watch bemused as the United States tries to hunt down the psychopathic killers while Western elites ankle-bite and hector its efforts. I suppose the Russians, Chinese, and Indians know that Islamists understand all too well that blowing up two skyscrapers in Moscow, Shanghai, or Delhi would guarantee that their Middle Eastern patrons might end up in cinders.

In and of themselves, not all that bad as mice go. But mice nonetheless and probably more than a little happy (despite their protestations) that there’s a cat to keep the rats occupied. After all, once there’s no cat left, who do the rats turn to for fun?

There are several other potential cats around, of course. And some of them are actually quite close to attaining “cat status”. I welcome them with open arms.

(For a hint of who I think might be on this list, simply look at the list of those who led the way with aid to the tsunami victims. Not kind words, mind you. Not the wringing of hand. Actual aid. Not coincidentally, I think, most of the nations on my “cat list” were also forerunners on the “aid list”.)

I wish our problem was the “herding of cats”. I wish we had so many people trying to do the right thing that we tripped over each other like too many cooks in a kitchen. But that’s not the case.

The “rest of the world” may hate us. Or not. I don’t much care. It’s too bad, but that’s where we live and I’d rather be hated for doing to right thing than liked for doing the wrong thing. And look at all those who do the wrong things so often. How liked are they, really? With friends like those, who needs enemas?

There is a growing feeling of apathy toward world opinion among Americans, I think. Many, of course, don’t have it yet and truly, honestly believe that our “alliances” and the United Nations should have an inordinate amount of control over US policy. But unless those “alliances” and the United Nations begins acting in a more-responsible manner, I’m perfectly willing to dismiss most of what they have to say.

If it takes a cat, a cat is what you need. And the cat has a mind of its own. I’d welcome more cats, but I look around and (with a few notable exceptions) I don’t really see any.


  1. Great post. Regarding your first two points. 1. Agree completely. 2. Disagree completely. I think we seriously need to care what the rest of the world thinks of us. In fact, lots of our problems exist because of what some outside the US think of us. Notice I am not saying we need to let popular opinion dictate our actions, via the UN. That’s stupid, though there are quite a few US citizens that advocate that point of view, even if they aren’t bright enough to grasp it. When making decisions regarding the future of our nation, we need to take *all* relevant information into account, and that unarguably includes things like what the rest of the world thinks of our actions. If parts of the world don’t agree, fine, they don’t agree, but we disregard world opinion at our peril. In case my point isn’t clear, let me stress again that we don’t have to *do* what those outside the US want us to do, but we need to take the situation of the world (including sentiment toward the US) into account when determining what the best course of action is for our country.

  2. Imagine a world in which there was no United States during the last 15 years. Iraq, Iran, and Libya would now have nukes >>>Hansen left out North Korea which has them inspite of the US. Iran is well on their also in defiance of the US . Afghanistan would remain a seventh-century Islamic terrorist haven sending out the minions of Zarqawi and Bin Laden worldwide. >>>>With the help of our ally Pakistan The lieutenants of Noriega, Milosevic, Mullah Omar, Saddam, and Moammar Khaddafi would no doubt be adjudicating human rights at the United Nations. The Ortega Brothers and Fidel Castro, not democracy, would be the exemplars of Latin America. >>>>Noriiega was our dictator and he left out Salvador Allende and Augutus Pinochet bloody rulers that the US supported. Castro only came to power because the US backed a corrupt Basita Bosnia and Kosovo would be national graveyards like Pol Pot’s Cambodia. >>>He left out the genocides of Rwanda and Sudan which the US did nothing about Add in Kurdistan as well

  3. No-one in reality wishes that the US disappeared. The people who speak out against it, would hate it if they were in a society where they would get killed if they did so. Majority of these people depend on the US in a way, whether it be in new advances in technology, or even the pickups they seem to love so much! I wonder what they would say, if we made an Iron curtain around the Middle East, and let them do whatever the hell they want, within their little world. That way they could wind back a couple of centuries on their clocks, and live in their happy world -and if we, in the western world, after long sattelite and UAV observation actually found their lifestyle good, we could join them, and destroy all our technology. Hey, all we would really need is a big wall with several observation posts with NV goggle men armed with a couple of machine guns and Mk19 GL’s. These people would be so angered, at us restricting them.. but from what????!!! the goods from the US?? and Europe?? Very extreme idea, and I do not actually think it should ever be put into place! But.. I am just highlighting the fact that the Middle East depends on the rest of the world aswell, and yes the west could do without its oil.. our technology has advanced far enough for that. NOTE: if the rest of the world was not there, the Middle East would indeed be even poorer, as noone would be there to buy the oil, to give money to those great Allah chosen Sheiks running the countries.

  4. KTLA: I’m not suggesting we completely discount world opinion. It’s an important factor that must be included in our equations. That being said, I believe it should be treated as nothing more than that. Don’t IGNORE world opinion? Fair enough. Expect reaction (much of it hostile) to our actions? Of course, and we must be prepared for it. Part of the equations. But *caring* what anyone else thinks is something different. And I think it’s more than semantics. It’s an attitude of doing what we should do WHATEVER anyone else thinks. Invading Iraq was one of those things. There are sure to be others on the horizon. The French deploy troops to resist our military? Better factor that in. The French are mad? So what? This isn’t a popularity contest.

  5. torcik: All of your additional examples help prove my point, not contradict it. For example, you note that the US did nothing about Rwanda and Sudan. Correct you are. Which cat was it that DID oppose the rats in those places, again? Are you suggesting that since the US didn’t fix every problem everywhere every time that it shouldn’t ever fix any problems anywhere? The US isn’t the cat for the good of the world. The US is the cat for the good of the US. 8 or 9 times out of 10, the good of the US will also be the good of the world, so the side effect of our unilateral cat patrol is a net benefit for the ‘rest of the world’. And, no, I haven’t forgotten about North Africa. I’ll get to it…

  6. The US isn’t the cat for the good of the world. The US is the cat for the good of the US. 8 or 9 times out of 10, the good of the US will also be the good of the world, so the side effect of our unilateral cat patrol is a net benefit for the ‘rest of the world’. Truer words have never been spoken Murdoc! CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR AWESOME POST!

  7. murdoc wrote: ‘KTLA: I’m not suggesting we completely discount world opinion. It’s an important factor that must be included in our equations. That being said, I believe it should be treated as nothing more than that.’ That’s an odd way of saying it, but I guess we agree: World opinion should be treated as nothing more than an important factor in our foreign policies. With that, I can agree, I just wouldn’t have used the phrases ‘don’t care’ and ‘nothing more’ in relation to something that I think should be an important factor in some of our decisions. We need to do what’s best for our country, and in general, I think that what’s best for our country (in the long run) is what’s best for the world, and vice versa. And yes, I hadn’t thought of it, but this is a muchy cleaner version of the big Team America speech!

  8. Thank you! I’m going to print this all out, and show it to a couple of my friends. Finally, someone made the point. I’ve been trying to make them understand, and I think this is about as eloquently done as any I can find, or better than my iwb bumbling efforts. Oh, and torcik, will you get off it. Yes, we help the Saudi’s, and the Pakistani’s. The reason we help them is because they are better than the current alternatives. We are constantly pressing for more democratic rule in the whole world, but if we are going to change every one of these countries forms of government, we’re going to need a hell of a lot bigger Army. You’re talking about worldwide conquest if you want us to make all these places democracies. That’s the only way it’s going to happen. We try through diplomatic means to promote democracy in many of the places you list, but if we forced ‘democracy’ on all of them wouldn’t we just be a bigger dictatorship? You can say all you want about our countries mistakes and shortcomings, but I’d rather do the wrong thing by accident, than just watch it all crumble while I do nothing. Oh, and Murdoc, can we circulate a petition to get out of the U.N. and kick them out of New York?

  9. Chad: While I do truly believe that there’s a place (and a need) for a United Nations, I fully support the idea of relocating them elsewhere. Not that I think the UN is worth a whole lot right now. But, being the bubbly optimist that I am, I keep holding out hope that it might someday fulfill its potential.

  10. And though I try to keep up with things, I must admit that though I had heard of the Team America speech, I hadn’t known what it was. Definitely not MO-suitable material. Think of the kids…

  11. Relocate the UN? how about downtown Bagdad? :D They won’t need coffee (nor Kofi) to stay alert that’s for sure.

  12. Sam, are you nuts? If you put them there they’ll ruin everything good we’ve done. I say put them in Paris. They can hang that nice blue (sorry, not quite white) flag from the awful tower. Hey, that’s a good idea. Let’s offer the insurgents an amnesty if they’ll move to France. The first five should be able to take over the country, and then we’ll have most of our enemies in one place. All we have to do is relocate the U.N. to Paris and my diabolical plan for world domination will be complete……Sorry, couldn’t help it.

  13. Oh, and Murdoc: What potential? The potential to feed off of America until it’s a bloated blood-sucking tick on society’s hairy @$$? The U.N. and any other ‘World Government’ is a farce. Get rid of the U.N. and save everyone the trouble. What good has the U.N. ever done America? Someone please tell me? All the U.N. is good for is lending legitimacy to renegade nations, and sucking America for all it’s worth. GET RID OF THE U.N.! Does anyone else out there care that the U.N. is trying to pressure the U.S. into passing laws that will basically destroy the 2nd ammendment? What’s one of the first thing any dictatorship does in it’s early stages? Gets rid of private ownership of weapons. Do you think the U.N. has designs or dreams of taking over the world? I look at that, and I wonder. If it weren’t for their own ineptitude, they might have tried already. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m just worried when I hear people talking about things like this and blowing it off.

  14. Chad: The potential I mean is that a common, supposedly-neutral meeting place can be an invaluable thing to have. And the relief agencies of the UN seem more inept and mismanaged than they do plain evil. I DO NOT support the UN as any form of ‘World Government’ at all, and I think that the people who see it as such are doing it a disservice. Unfortunately, many of those people seem to be UN officials. I wrote an article about a year ago on exactly this issue called ‘Role of the UN vs Role of the US’. You can reach it at My opinion hasn’t changed much since then. If at all.

  15. Ok, Ok, Maybe I was a little over the top. But not by much. The U.N. sees itself as a world government. That’s a part of the problem. The second part of the problem is that some parts of the world WANT it to be a world government. Not only is the U.N. on my list for trying to be something they’re not, they made ‘the list’ for arrogance (Aw Kofi, the rest of the world is too stupid to figure out we’re stealing from the Iraqi people), but also for their gross inefficiency. The MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) is a privately run aid organization. It is funded entirely with donations. MCC’s operational costs are less than 1% of their budget. All other monies collected go to actual aid, on the ground. Not salaries, not your brother, not 5 star hotels, and catered meals. If they can do it with less than 1% on a much smaller budget, why can’t the U.N.? Waste and graft. It’s the two things U.N. aid is good for. I still say the actual assembly of the U.N. is only good for lending legitimacy to rogue nations. The security council could get some things accomplished if it weren’t mostly full of whiny little bitches that are only there to look after their own interests (with a few notable exceptions). I say we throw France and Russia off the council, and give their seats to Poland and Australia. Move the general assembly to Geneva (which is neutral), and just let them do their thing. Do you realize that the U.N. is pushing for much stricter gun control laws in the U.S.? I don’t like the idea that the U.N. is trying to dictate U.S. laws. I just think we’d be better off without.

  16. Chad: For the record, I do not disagree with anything you wrote in your most recent comment. Really. In fact, I strongly agree with almost all of it. My point is that unless a better alternative is put together, the UN serves as the only real meeting place and forum for discussion. There are tons of very serious, world-threatening problems with the UN. They need to be addressed. I don’t see it happening. That’s not good. But, since there’s no real alternative at this point, I think we need to play along (at least to a limited extent) with the UN song and dance routine. Geneva is where I think it should be HQed, though.

  17. Murdoc: Do you think we really need the U.N.? Or could there be a large building in Geneva with an ambassadorial office for each country? What gets me is the U.N. trying to dictate legality for the world. Problems should be handled by the country with the most ability to handle the problem, and they should be given the funds, responsibility, and legal authority to fix the problem. If a country is responsible for the arbitration of a dispute, it must be given the funds, troops (borrowed from a neutral country if necessary), and rewards/sanctions to uphold it’s rulings. If one of the parties can show that the arbitrator settled for their advantage, a tribunal of nuetral countries can be called upon to settle the affair. We do not need a ‘world governing body’, or a ‘world court’ (kill all the lawyers). Kofi Annan calling our 35 country coalition’s war ‘unilateral’ and ‘illegal’ makes me sick. We don’t need his unilateral, inneffective comments on an action he was too cowardly to take, on an issue that was in his ‘court’. Kofi is a joke, the U.N. is an outmoded Joke, and it’s a joke at our expense. We are the biggest single financer of ‘the biggest Joke’ in history.

  18. The kill all the lawyers thing is not serious people, it’s just an attempt at low-brow humor. Don’t freak out!