The USA
An Outsider's View

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Introduction

The USA is one of the world's 200 countries.

The USA is an influential country that is loved by most of its population and many around the world. It is also a country that is loathed and hated by large sections of the planet. As one of the world's 200 countries the USA has its great points, its good points, its bad points and its terrible points. It is a typical country, in that respect. Let us examine these points closely.

This is a personal view from outside the USA.

Great Things About the USA

Science and Technology are superb in the USA, probably better than anywhere else in the world and on a par with Europe at its best. The freedom that allows information to pass unhindered is the main reason for this. Another is the huge amounts of money put into laboratories and into education. Most of the world's great living scientists are in the USA. Of course, the USA has been known to assimilate people so that great German, Czech or Russian scientists are given USA citizenship and the credit for any discoveries they make then goes to the USA.

The USA and its scientists has made great contributions to astronomy, chemistry, physics and biolotechnology. Not all of this is used for the good of humanity in general but the contribution can only be praised.

The right to Freedom of Information in the USA is one of its great strengths - and it works. In this, the USA is better than most places in Europe or elsewhere. Even the highest levels of government can be brought to account. This is true in theory but, in practice, some miscreants have been pardoned by incoming presidents and escaped punishment.

The Freedom of Speech is a right that is ingrained in the country. Generally you are allowed to say what you like in the USA. On a practical level, not everybody owns media outlets, so the views of a rich and powerful elite predominate. Also there are periods in USA history (the McCarthy era and post September 11th) where speaking out against the establishment leads to a loss of job or worse.

The presence of a Constitution in the USA and the Supreme Court to ensure that laws are not passed that violate this constitution is a great political idea. This generally works well except that Supreme Court judges can be appointed by the ruling party.

Good Things About the USA

Here we have much to chose from. The USA Film Industry has produced some of the world's classic movies. USA Music is played and loved around the world (especially rock, jazz, blues, soul, and rap).

Food is good value (but not as varied as in Europe or Asia and there is too much reliance on junk food). The USA habit of coffee top-ups in restaurants is unique and an excellent concept.

People in the USA are generally very hard working - they certainly take fewer vacations than their European counterparts. This certainly contributes to their High Standard of Living. The high standard of living in the USA is one of the major reasons why people want to come and live in the country. Two points about this standard of living need to be made:

Bad Things About the USA

Public Transport is not as good as in other parts of the world (espacially Europe). You really need a car in most places. Petrol is cheap, however, which makes cars affordable to run but is ecologically unsound.

Health Care, while generally excellent, is not freely available to all. Europeans find the idea of a hospital refusing to treat a person because they are uninsured, a primitive and uncivilised one.

Uniformity and Conformity. USA culture tends to be very uniform. Wherever you go, food is similar, facilities are similar. While this makes some aspects of life easier it takes away the variety that makes the world interesting. Travelling in Europe and Asia is more interesting because of the diversity and regionality of food, language, culture, architecture. There are exceptions, of course (New York, Cajun culture in Louisiana, indigenous culture).

This uniformity / conformity can be seen in several places:

USA Television and Radio is not intelectually challenging or informative. Even with numerous stations the variety is limited.

One of the biggest complaints that visitors to the USA make is that the media essentially ignores the rest of the world or views it as a theme park for American amusement. The USA Media is one of the main reasons why people in the USA know so little about what is happening in the world and the role their government plays in events abroad.

Terrible Things About the USA

The Gun Culture and Violence. The USA is one of the most violent societies in the developed world. Gun crime is a big problem and large areas of cities are dangerous. This is very different from nearby Canada, Europe (although US-style gun crime is increasing in the UK) and most of Asia. In this, the country is more similar to Latin America and parts of Africa.

The USA is one of only two developed countries that still uses the Death Penalty (the other is Japan). It executes minors and the mentally ill in huge numbers. In this it is on a par with China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The USA has a terrible record of Human Rights around the world. This is covered in detail in numerous tables on this web site. The USA ignores the world community, demonising or economically punishing countries that disagree with it.

In needs to be added that the vast majority of USA citizens are totally unaware of their country's real record around the world. A few know but are lone voices, often accused of being unpatriotic. One of the positive aspects of the dreadful crimes aginst humanity of 11 September 2001, is that more citizens of the USA are beginning to look at alternative media sources to find out more about their country's role and actions in the world.

The USA Lectures the World

The USA likes to lecture the rest of the world without getting their own house in order first:

For many people in the world, USA actions appear to embody the principle of one law for the USA, another law for the rest of the world. This can be rephrased as "do as we say not as we do".


KryssTal Related Pages

Military or political interventions, invasions, bombings, military aid, sanctions, and terrorist activity by the USA against countries and popular movements. The reasons given for the interventions are usually very different from the actual reasons. Many of these actions remain secret for many years and may be mis-reported in the Western media.

How world trade really works and an explanation of tariffs, subsidies, debt and aid. There are numerous tables with links to further details.

Military coups and changes of government, planned, organised or backed by the USA. The reasons given (Communism, terrorism, drugs, fundamentalism) are compared with the actual reasons (oil, minerals, political influence, business interests, military bases).


External Links

These links will open in a separate window

Why Do People Hate America
This is an excellent alternative view which shows that the USA is not unique in many of the criticisms aimed at it and also counteracts some of the arguments on this page.

The USA: Why Do They Hate Us?
An Australian site that lists 83 reasons why the USA is disliked around the world.


Quotes

Richard Perle, USA Pentagon advisor:

"I do not believe that the United States should be bound by the same rules as the smallest African nation. Life isn't like that."

George Kennan, Cold War Planner for the USA in 1948:

"We have 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality...we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation."

Madeleine Albright, former USA Secretary of State to the United Nations:

"[The USA will] behave, with others, multilaterally when we can and unilaterally as we must."

© 2004 KryssTal