How grateful are nations that get U.S. military assistance?
American financial, humanitarian and military help began in the second half of the 20th century. Throughout America’s generosity in helping other countries, there has been an underlying, unspoken assumption that there would be gratitude on the part of the recipients. And we do, indeed, see gratitude being expressed -- only to vanish in a very short period of time afterwards, sometimes to the point of hostility replacing the gratitude (this phenomenon is not limited to the United States; we see this occurring time and again between countries).
Let us look at several instances.
The atrocities in the Balkans in the 1990s centered in Bosnia, a Muslim country inside Europe, and they were principally carried out by Croatian and Serbian forces (some of them being paramilitary criminal gangsters). The United States finally intervened with NATO forces and the carnage ended. Now, at this point, one would expect that the Muslims, worldwide, would show an expression of gratitude and thanksgiving towards the United States. It was not forthcoming.
Switch to Iraq, and George W. Bush, who invades that country and deposes the dictator who had oppressed his people and who had poison-gassed many of his citizens; by doing so, he deposed the Sunni regime and liberated the oppressed Shiite population, who then became the rulers of the country, much to the dismay of Sunni Saudi Arabia, our ally in the region. Now, at this point, one would expect gratitude from the population of Iraq, certainly from the Shiite rulers in Iran, who could now go to Iraq on a pilgrimage where they could flog themselves in public. Not so. They continued with “America is the Great Satan” and “Death to America!”
Half a century earlier, the Nazis overran France whose soldiers had barely fired a shot (but who would later form a myth of a grandiose French Resistance -- much to the snickering of every other combatant country), but had been liberated by American, and British forces. They had even gone through the farce of having Charles de Gaulle’s miniscule Free French forces enter Paris as the liberator. After the war, the French, and de Gaulle in particular, were consistently hostile to both Britain and America, with that hostility expressed on numerous occasions (and earning the enduring contempt of both the British and Americans) during the second half of the 20th century.
The moral of these stories is that long-term damage to the United States is not balanced by a very brief, ephemeral, expression of gratitude. Expected gratitude should not enter into the equation when considering international matters by the United States (unfortunately, part of the problem is that Americans have an infantile craving to be liked by foreigners). The throwing away of billions of taxpayer dollars and the spilling of American blood for the sake of other countries should end once and for all.
Armando Simón is a retired college professor and is the author of A Cuban from Kansas, The U, and The Only Red Star I Liked Was a Starfish. They can be obtained at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.