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Blame or Blowback?

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It’s one of my maxims that “the people” is not “the government”. When we talk about America, the nation, the country, the idea, I say that’s something quite different from the electeds and bureaucratic structure which seeks to administer law and uphold social order.

Righty hawks fairly accuse the current President as “blaming America first”. Obama has stated the country is flawed. He sees racism and victimization that government power must rectify. He wants a Constitution that includes positive rights, obligating each of us to a collective goal. Barry blames the American people and the American culture.

The concept of blowback,

the espionage term for unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government. To the civilians suffering the blowback of covert operations, the effect typically manifests itself as “random” acts of political violence without a discernible, direct cause; because the public—in whose name the intelligence agency acted—are ignorant of the effected secret attacks that provoked revenge (counter-attack) against them.

when properly applied can make it sound like one is blaming America, blaming the victim. The American people have certainly been suffering violent attacks.

First, an honest assessment of complex international socio-political relations has to include some faults or flaws on all sides. No person or group is pure and infallible. Holding that America and Americans must be held entirely blameless is willful ignorance.

More importantly, in context of foreign policy and global interventions, those who properly apply blowback and assign responsibility to America are not blaming the people or our abstract identity. They’re not “blaming America”, they’re blaming the American government.

Everyone who has matured past grade-school patriotism recognizes that government makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes lead to revenge attacks.

Not all attacks are revenge attacks. But better foreign policy can reduce the number of attacks which are inspired as revenge. Instead of shouting down the notion of blowback as unpatriotic, it makes more sense to fairly assign responsibility and stop making mistakes that kill people.


I agree.

Outside the US, nations don't differentiate the people from the government in less industrial/developed nations.

As a result, a realistic foreign policy would seek to project US strength not as military or corporate might, but rather as the ability to generate results that are meaningful for all involved - and THEN lean on military or corporate strength.

It's odd that to be a "hawk" you have to need military credentials.

I see a "hawk" as someone who is willing to project the very best image of America and its people.  Someone who isn't afraid of strength, if necessary, but isn't willing to use it blindly.

Clintonites would proclaim him that kind of man.  If so, then they have much explaining to do for the missile launches into Iraq, while not supporting the Bush II invasion.  Clinton used military might as a political tool to prop himself up when things got tough.  He also used it to promote "human rights" in the Balkans.

The military can support "human rights", but not the way he used it.