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LostInParadise's avatar

Does the U.S. need an enemy?

Asked by LostInParadise (28947points) 1 month ago

Mikhail Gorbachev said that by dissolving the USSR, he was going to do a terrible thing to the U.S. in depriving us of an enemy. Is there any truth to this? I grew up during the Cold War, and there was a sense of comfort in knowing who the enemy was.

There is something not quite right about all the partisan bickering and the rise of Donald Trump. I did a Web search and found this article. It is kind of long but worth skimming. I find of interest the role that Carthage played for the Roman Republic. What are your thoughts?

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16 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

That’s an old paradigm, and one that serves to do more harm than good.

No one “needs” an enemy. It detracts from focusing on more important matters. We have never really enjoyed a Pax Americana, and part of the reason for that is the continual focus on building a huge military to the detriment of improving the standard of living for all Americans.

JLeslie's avatar

I think most Americans don’t even understand the difference between the USSR and Russia and we worry plenty about China’s economic power. China is perceived more as competition I guess than an enemy.

I do think there is a segment of our country that is better preoccupied with war against an outside enemy to avoid their focus on creating war within the country, but I don’t believe they are anywhere close to being a significant number. There is a problem is when that group has political power. There also is a problem now with social media and cable networks promoting civil unrest.

I grew up and old enough to have awareness in the relatively calm late 70’s and 80’s, my generation barely knew from war and that part of my generation was great.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Deep gnome vs Drow. The drow avoided destroying the Deep Gnomes because they were the glue that kept Menzoberranzan together. They both lived in the Underdark.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes. It’s not unique to America, of course. I think human societies need a “big bad” and even individuals need an enemy to focus their aggressive thoughts and put blame on.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes That’s depressing. I really think that is mostly a cultural thing. More nurture vs nature.

Zaku's avatar

Trump did recently say, “The radical left Democrat communist party rigged and stole the election.”

Sounds like some Americans are deluded that they are still in the Cold War.

stanleybmanly's avatar

This is more than simply a trope employed by peaceniks in describing the United States. Any glance at our history since the Second World War must arouse suspicions regarding the allocation of so much of our treasure toward military adventurism and the staggeringly expensive weaponry facilitating the effort. In a supposedly democratic society, those suspicions grow increasingly urgent with the growing realization that all that money disappears into holes of destruction in foreign lands supposedly to defend those sleeping on the streets here at home.

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie ”...my generation barely knew from war and that part of my generation was great.”

So many people forget the waste and stupidity of the Vietnam War. Those of us that came of age in the late 60s and early 70s, threatened by a draft to fight in an unwinnable war were well aware and knew of war.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” – Hermann Goering

janbb's avatar

@zenvelo @JLeslie is younger than us.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo Yes, you’re making my point, I assume you are agreeing with me. The Vietnam era seemed to produce people who never wanted to be involved in a war like that again, some would say never involved in an unwinnable war, or never involved in someone else’s war.

Some from that generation I guess need to feel like what happened then was ok and they support any war we walk into and take great pride in our military and their children serving the military. I support our military, but not to the point of going along with any and every war considered or engaged in.

The young men from my year, and slightly younger, their hands shook a little signing their selective service cards, but most had not lived through a time of watching people actually being drafted, unless they had older brothers or had lost a parent then the effect was very present I would guess.The war ended when I was 5 I think.

raum's avatar

Sadly, I might have to agree.

I think it’s easier to unite a people against a Greater Enemy. Than to unite for a Greater Good.

Maslow’s hierarchy. Most people are still functioning at a level where they are on the perceived defense of their basic needs.

Striving for greater good usually happens after we have met our basic needs.

We’re just not there yet. :/

KRD's avatar

The US doesn’t need a enemy but sadly there is a enemy no matter what.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The US has plenty of enemies both foreign and domestic.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

More domestic these days, than foreign.

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