Is it acceptable for the u.s to do anything , even something illegal or immoral, as long as it makes the u.s strong and rich?Is it acceptable for the u.s to do anything , even something illegal or...

Is it acceptable for the u.s to do anything , even something illegal or immoral, as long as it makes the u.s strong and rich?

Is it acceptable for the u.s to do anything , even something illegal or immoral, as long as it makes the u.s strong and rich?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

History has shown that the United States has used unethical actions to get the country into war on a number of occasions. William Randolph Hearst, for instance, printed several articles blaming the Spanish for the sinking of the battleship Maine.  There is little doubt in many historians' minds that Hearst's yellow journalism was cause for the Spanish-American War.

There is also documentation that FDR knew that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, an action that would bring the U.S. into World War II. If this is truly the case, then there is, indeed, immorality involved in the president's  lack of action before the attack.

President Abraham Lincoln did several things that were morally questionable in his "efforts" to preserve the Union. These actions,too, are documented, such as arresting congressmen from Maryland to keep them from voting to secede.  Before the Civil War, secession was considered a right--Thomas Jefferson wrote about this idea.  However, after the Civil War, secession was declared illegal.  Many historians believe Lincoln strove to preserve the Union so that America could be strong enough to obtain an empire since after the war the Carribean, much of Latin America, the Phillipines, and Hawaii belonged to the U.S.

A few years ago, there were no weapons of mass destruction, no proof, yet the U.S. marched into Iraq. Right now the Federal Government is prosecuting Arizona for following what is a federal law for what appears to be political reasons.

Is it acceptable for the U.S. to act immorally?  It seems American history has already answered this question, has it not? 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like the previous thoughts.  If you are interested, might I suggest a film to view.  There are many that deal with this subject, but the film, "Syriana" is a great one about how the pragmatic view towards the world has both overextended America and challenged it as a moral or idealistic leader of the world.  I think that the statement reveals the fundamental difference between what is and what should be in the presence of U.S. affairs.  On one hand, I think that there is a sense in the statement that the way matters are constructed, the U.S. will do what it can to "protect its interests," to quote from "Syriana."  On the other hand, the implication of the second half of the statement is that this comes at the cost of other nations.  Given our own preoccupation and fears of terrorism, the second half of the statement brings into light the questioning of the first.  It seems a logical contradiction to emphasize communality and collectivity on the world stage against terrorism, but then act in a unilateral and self interested manner.  This is probably where the statement forces one to question whether or not a conscious choice must be made in guiding the paradigms that help to frame U.S. policy abroad.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The last post mentions the movie Syriana which I also enjoyed.  Its premise may be a bit too obvious, but it does do a pretty good job of raising some questions about the consequences of acting according to real-politik if you will or just following your own country's interest.

One of the dangers that hasn't been brough up is the idea that once you start acting in your own best interests as a country, how do you expect the people in your country to do any different?  Is it then acceptable to do whatever you want in order to make yourself richer or more powerful regardless of how it affects your fellow citizens?  I would guess the argument is different then, but even if it might be on a larger scale, I would suggest that international relations are similar in the way certain decisions have circumstances.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is what a group of international relations theorists called "realists" would say.  They would say that there is no such thing as moral or immoral in international relations.  They say that countries must do whatever makes them stronger -- that this is their main duty.

I would argue that this is true.  I would argue that countries must try to become as strong as possible because they cannot rely on anything other than strength to prevent other countries from abusing them.  If there were some sort of world government that would guarantee countries' safety, then there would be no need to get strong.  But as long as there is no such government, countries have a duty to strengthen themselves.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, I'm not an imperialist or a nationalist, so I would have to say no, it is not.  Strength is not wisdom, wealth is not humanity. I would much rather have policies based on wisdom and humanity than on strength and wealth, wouldn't you?

The action you describe in this question is that of an empire.  All empires act this way, and most dictatorships too.  The purpose of an empire is to maintain strength and access to wealth and resources, but the human cost, to me, far outweighs any short term creature comforts and standard of living we may gain from it.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
No, it is not. One component of the Industrial Revolution was utilitarianism, which is the idea that the ends justify the means. Anything you do is moral, as long as you get what you want out of this. Unfortunately, there is still much of this mindset in America today. Capitalism means free markets. It does not mean unchecked greed. It's an economic philosophy, not a moral one.
frizzyperm | Student

No of course it isn't. It is totally unacceptable. The fact that this question is even considered in extremely worrying and the fact that some Americans think the answer is 'yes' is troubling.

In the long term it is not in the US interest to behave illegally or immorally (especially not merely to get rich). It will make enemies and perpetuate threats, undermine American self-belief and moral strength and only serve to confirm other countries suspicions that America is a lying bully with no interest in peace or freedom.

Rephrase the question as Is it acceptable for China to do anything , even something illegal or immoral, as long as it makes China strong and rich?

We have duties and responsibilities as humans to other humans in the world.

drshpurohit | Student

is it correct if there is no danger for other nation but overall its not the way to become rich and strong.if they want to become stronger than either doing a illegal thing they just do the close relationship with others and try to find out their way to become rich....

krishna-agrawala | Student

Something immoral is, by definition, something that is wrong and in appropriate. And any wrong act cannot be in the interest of the one who performs that act. An immoral action may give a person or a country some short term benefit or advantage, but in the wrong term it is likely to result in more harm than good. Therefore an immoral action in never acceptable.

The question of being illegal is somewhat different. Laws are restriction imposed by a society or a country imposed upon itself for the benefit of the whole society or the country. However, the needs of society change, and along with there may be need to change the laws also. Also laws enacted may be inappropriate or faulty. In such cases there may be a need to deliberately violate the law. However, even in such cases a better approach is to act to change the law, rather than just violate the law for personal short-term benefits.