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Admittedly a sensitive topic....

Adrian wrote:

> I think there are some differences in usage. I remember a few years
> ago (no prizes for guessing which year) there was an argument on a
> newsgroup when someone made a claim about the total amount of
> terrorism (e.g. IRA) that is funded by America.

I don't know the context (newsgroup) in which the statement was made, but
certainly wrt to IRA, one must say that it was a few _Irish-American_ groups
that were doing the funding.  (Whether there were "Ulster-American" groups
funding the other side, I don't know, and don't recall hearing about them.)
I think that particular fight was one that the US Govt, and the vast
majority of non-Irish Americans, quite happily, and wisely, stayed out of.

I suppose from an IRA POV, our official support of whatever regime was in
Westminster could be viewed as supporting the British response = "terrorism"
against them, but as I say, that depends on your POV.

By the same token, much of the Arab world holds that our official support of
Israel fosters Israeli "terrorism"; but OTOH I believe there is also
support, both official and corporate, going to the Palestinians-- ostensibly
for development, though some of it is surely siphoned off into terroristic
activities. At the same time, the Jewish-American community has always given
financial support to the State of Israel, mostly I'm sure from idealistic
motives; while some Arab-Americans, and many Arab/Islamic governments, give
financial support to the Palestinians with (at least from an American and
certainly Israeli POV) less than altruistic motives.

If the newsgroup discussion was also referring to the more recent terrorist
developments, that's another matter. Our long-standing support of the Saudis
(never mind what they do domestically, just keep that oil coming) turns out
to have been less than well-thought-out... Our support of the mujahhedin
during the Afghan war (what fun to cock a snook at the Soviets!!) turns out
to have been equally ill-considered. Likewise our support of Saddam Hussein,
up till '91 when he misbehaved... And our installation/support for years of
the Shah of Iran (like the Saudis: just keep that oil flowing).  In these
cases, the results of our policies, while disastrous, were unexpected, and
contemporary critics of them were usually dismissed as alarmists or
ivory-tower intellectuals. (aargh, what else is new??)

The only deliberate Govt-sponsored terroristic activities (that I can think
of in recent years) would be Guatemala, and our Contra affair in Nicaragua.
Of the former, most Americans have been and remain blissfully unaware; the
latter was so hopelessly mis-managed and corrupt (not to say wrong) that the
people and even Congress eventually rose up in revulsion.

If a nation is going to aspire in any way to some kind of imperial hegemony,
stupid mistakes are going to occur, even with the most benign of motives.
Deliberate evil is somewhat rarer, isn't it?
The British Empire, the Russian, the French, the Spanish, the Ottoman...the
Roman...have I left anyone out?


>The word "America", in
> this context, was almost universally taken by Americans to mean "the
> American government", whereas it was almost universally taken by
> non-Americans to mean "the American populace".
>
Well, as you see, I fall into the first category; I'm truly surprised at the
second-- everything one hears, even from the Arab world nowadays, certainly
suggests to me that non-Americans are quite capable of distinguishing the
two, indeed eager to do so.

In general (and unfortunately) many Americans are ignorant of, and could
care less about, the outside world. At times that enables our leaders to
mis-lead and inflame us about this-or-that situation in the world; but
whatever popular support there may be tends to be short-lived.

To revert-- just with respect to the IRA thing, it should be mentioned that
non-Irish Americans (though we are all immigrants) seem historically to have
had a special animus toward those of Irish origin (and lots of others, too).
One still finds it in certain circles.  The general attitude re the Northern
Ireland troubles-- and many similar internecine quarrels-- was, like it or
not, "a pox on both your houses".

That's enough; flame me off-list.  I thought of sending this directly to
Adrian, but it's nothing to do with anything _he_ said.