I know that most atheists tend to be liberals and most liberals who tend to be to the extreme left tend to view U.S. foreign policy as a source of malevolence rather than benevolence in the world. Now that we have approached the election season, we have even seen some atheists who are so warped into the foreign policy components of Ron Paul's isolationism, ignore everything else about Ron Paul (including the fact that he denies human evolution and has called global warming "one of the greatest hoaxes of mankind") and jump into his camp. One common feature is shared among people with these types of mindsets: "we still live in a period of colonialism (albeit a "different" kind) and that the U.S. and the west is a source of evil rather than good for the welfare of humanity and mankind". Some of these people go so far as to support dictators and oppressors or at the very least, offer justifications for their actions in trying to paint them as "rational" actors against "U.S. and western aggression" (i.e. a rogue apocalyptic and messianic regime like the Islamic Republic should be able to acquire nuclear weapons) and completely ignoring the human rights records of such regimes and madmen.
I hold an alternative view to this. I find such a view to be completely naive, idealistic, masochistic, and frankly dangerous. To briefly touch on some of the Ron Paul positions of libertarianism and "non-interventionism" (which is really isolationism) I will cite a couple of examples. First, Ron Paul was the only congressperson (the only one!) that during the height of the Green Revolution, voted against a resolution "expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law." In addition, the fact is that Ron Paul was one of two congresspersons to vote against funding for malaria immunization and prevention in Africa which saves millions of lives a year.
On the latter example that was cited, Ron Paul supporters will say that it is "none of our business" to help other nations while "Americans are suffering back at home". Away from the vital humanitarian concerns (as we are a hope and beacon for liberty, freedom, and human rights) imagine the void that this would create in which Islamicists would quickly fill without blinking. Islamicists would control and run a new terror haven called AFRICA.
In regards to the amounts of foreign aid we provide, this was from a 2005 study (still relevant to the merits of our discussion): "Today, Americans think about 20 percent of the federal budget goes toward foreign aid. When told the actual figure for U.S. foreign aid giving (about 1.6 percent of the discretionary budget), most respondents said they did not believe the number was the full amount (Program on International Policy Attitudes, 3/7/05)." (http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2676)
Now on my attitude on the issue of whether "America is a source of good for the world" (or not). It is true that every nation has a dark past and America is surely not exempt from this. This can be extrapolated from the history of any nation on the entire planet. When discussing the illegal immigration issue, some extreme leftists are quick to make the argument that "we stole this land from the Native Americans" or "from the Mexicans" while ignoring the fact that the Mexicans (or Spaniards) were MUCH MORE BRUTAL towards the Native Americans than we were. Therefore, the world view that is taken is that America is at the root of all world problems. Some Atheists even go so far as to provide excuses for Islamic radicals; making the claim that the root problem of Islamic radicalism and terrorism is not Islamic ideology or culture itself, but American hegemony!
To continue... surely America has dark moments in its history. I consider one of these darker moments what took place at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. BUT, then we have those who provide excuses for rogue regimes trying to acquire nuclear weapons such as the Islamic Republic by stating "it was the U.S. that was the only nation to use nuclear weapons". While true, the reality of the world is that we are facing an enemy, a religious enemy, that wants to not only kill as many Jews and Americans as possible, but to actively bring an end to human civilization as we know it. Some people cannot imagine that such people exist with such a mentality and mindset that run governments and are simultaneously trying to acquire apocalyptic weapons simply because that is not how our minds operate (us normal people) but we must surely not become appeasers to evil before it is too late. Look what happened when we tried to appease evil (i.e. Hitler) by not taking his threats and core ideology seriously: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE DIED and neighboring nations were occupied.
Then we have those leftists making the claims that "George W. Bush is a murderer" and "should be tried for war crimes" (and for the extremer leftists) that "Obama is following down the path of Bush by now using drones for the actions of murder" and look at everything we do as evil.
While things are imperfect in Afghanistan and Iraq (and as Iranians always say, "President Bush liberated the wrong country") I am proud of the fact that 40% of Afghan girls now receive an education compared to 0 under the brutal Taliban. I am proud of the fact that Afghan women are now allowed to work instead of being stuck in burkas and not being considered human beings. I am proud of the fact that the areas that are under control of the Afghan government, women are not being stoned to death. Again, things are not perfect, but it was our moral imperative to remove such evil from the leadership and control of Afghanistan.
In regards to Iraq, the merits of the war certainly can be debated and questioned; but I for one am happy for the great Kurdish people of Iraq. I for one am happy that the sanctions have been lifted and that Saddam Hussein is no longer able to curtail the oil-for-food program for his greedy and ego-maniacal selfishness; and now the Iraqi people can decide their own future.
Sure, the U.S. supported questionable dictators in the past. Sure, the U.S. partook in questionable operations and committed acts which are indeed shameful. But what nation hasn't? If we were to judge a nation solely on its past history, Iran indeed would be known as benevolent as it was Cyrus The Great who 2500+ years ago laid down the foundations for the first human rights declaration in human history and helped save the Jews from slavery in Babylon. But that is not the reality of the situation.
BUT DESPITE THE BLEMISHES WE MAY HAVE, it was also the United States who helped end WWII and who helped bring an end to Hitler's evil reign. If it wasn't for the United States, the real possibility in history remains whether Hitler would have been victorious. IT was the United States who has stood on the side of democracy and freedom in such human rights imperatives such as the interventions in Serbia-Kosovo. It has been the United States who is called upon and responds immediately after natural disasters take place throughout the world. It is the United States who has helped people who have been oppressed to have a voice and is the symbol of hope and freedom that the world's oppressed see in the values of the United States (and I speak as an Iranian-American and an Iranian who has spent considerable amounts of time in Iran - even as of last year).
To close: what I don't think most people understand is that the United States is largely responsible for keeping the world peace that exists throughout the world.
Sure, all we hear on television is about violence and chaos throughout the world but the renowned evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker recently wrote a book entitled "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined". In it, he demonstrates that the world has never been more peaceful with less deaths including deaths from conflict, violence, and famine.
Here is a short clip of him discussing this:
Just think about it! Why hasn't South Korea and North Korea gone to war with each other? Why hasn't India and Pakistan obliterated each other? IT is largely due to our presence in the world which creates this balance of power which has largely kept the world at bay and peace. Without our presence throughout the world, the balance of powers would shift and shady characters such as rogue elements of Islamic fanaticism and other rogue characters throughout the world would quickly fill in the vacuum that would result. Fortunately, Ron Paul has no chance; but this is exactly the threat Ron Paul would pose to the stability of the world and to world peace. In addition, mass genocides would take place throughout the world (as regimes would no longer fear retaliation and intervention) and a nuclear arms race among unstable Islamic nations would result (as Ron Paul himself has stated that it is "natural" for the Islamic Republic to want nuclear weapons and that he would "lift" the sanctions on Iran). And to those leftists who see America as the "great evil" in the world: Ask yourselves, what would happen without the stabilizing influence America has on the world in helping to ensure world stability and relative world peace? And I urge you to watch the Steven Pinker video above.
To close: no nation is perfect; but I see America and the west as a source of good for the world. And most importantly, we must stop offering excuses to Islamic fanatics. We face a time in our species in which true threats exist. Most notably, Islamic regimes with nuclear weapons whose end goals are to bring an end to human civilization as we know it.
A quote that I truly believe holds merit by Teddy Roosevelt: "The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer."
Interesting that it takes four paragraphs for you to finally address the subject of your own thread. Your point would have been just as well-made without going out of your way to bash "leftists" and Ron Paul.
It is important for the merit of the argument in laying down the opposing viewpoints in detail.
You do realize that less than 10% of your post expresses your view of the U.S. as source of good and you also 'closed' twice. The U.S. has more often toppled democracies than stood up for them, and the deciding factor seems to have been financial interests. Suspending habeas corpus for abductees and failing to uphold laws against torture voids any stance the U.S. takes on human rights. It's a failed empire with a hollow shell of an economy that will never recover. Just like Rome, however, it will likely take a few generations for this fact to sink in. Regardless, I am glad this monster has finally been destroyed.