Whether you are from this country or live elsewhere, sometimes you just have to wonder what in the hell makes them/us do some of the things they/we do? I mean, seriously!
We involve ourselves in all areas of the world, as if we are the actual owners and "you-all" are just the tenants (and are probably late on the rent, at that!), We automatically assume that our wealth and power gives us the right to dictate to others, force our way into leadership roles on the world stage, and try to force our notions of right and wrong on the rest of the world. And believe us, it is always done with the best intentions. Maybe not yours, but hey, you can't always win, right? Well, unless you are us, of course.
We have the most litigation per capita of any country in the world, and we put more people in prison or under some form of supervision than the next five biggest countries combined. Well, unless you count the so-called "third world countries" like Mexico and Columbia, then it is only the next three biggest. But we are free! And we want to make you that way too.
It is not all bad though. There are several things we do, and do very well. Better than anyone else in the world, for that matter! For instance, we as a nation give more in charity than anyone else. Ever. And we give it to everyone! Not government loans and grants to other countries, but charity. Me, and you, and hundreds of thousands of others like us, who reach into our pockets and part with our hard-earned dollars, to help others. We do that pretty good. And acceptance. We don't really care where you come from or what color your skin is, all we care about is if you work and make money. Oh, in some places, the color of your skin is still a barrier, but those places and fewer and fewer all the time. We don't really care about your religion or your beliefs, nor do we really care about your politics. If you are a radical anything, we will bust a cap in your ass, but for the most part, we accept commies, pinkos, and fags (it's a reference to an old song, so don't get all butt-hurt!) now. I guess we still do acceptance pretty good. They say our kids are getting dumber than in other countries because of the school system, but everyone still wants to come here and go to school. They still steal our shit, like scientific and technological beasties that it seems only we can come up with.
But I digress. The question is why? Why do we act the way we do? Some have called it a "cowboy culture" and say that we base our outlook on a limited and wrongly-perceived time period which has been romanticized out of all recognition. Others think that it is because we are, as a nation, "up-starts" on the world stage because we have not been around for hundreds or thousands of years, yet wield power and influence which is totally at odds with nations that have been around much longer. Manifest Destiny, in which we can take it, because we can and because God said so.
All of these are no doubt correct, but I would like to add another possible answer to the list.
It is because of the men who led our country during its formative and expansionist periods. Let me introduce you to just some of the men who led this nation, and what made them noteworthy as (then) current or future leaders of our nation.
Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, declaring that no citizen could say anything negative about the government or its officials, spitting in the face of the recently-drafted First Amendment. Obviously, us natives all had a good laugh at that one, but you foreigners were a bit worried. Especially when it was discovered that the driving reason behind Adams act was because of his intense dislike of the French, and this would allow him to deport those individuals!
Upon learning the location of Osama bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad Pakistan, Obama approved a potentially perilous military raid on the compound without bothering to inform the Pakistani government. On May 1, 2011, Seal Team Six was given the go-ahead and raided the location of America's #1 enemy of state, snuffing out the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in less than an hour. And to think, he insisted that all of his friends call him "Barry" in college!
John F. Kennedy
After his patrol boat was split in half bu a Japanese destroyer in WWII, JFK swam for four hours while towing a wounded crewmate, his lifejacket strap clenched between his teeth. Oh yeah, to make it even more interesting, he did this after re-injuring a pre-existing chronic back injury, which deemed him medically unfit for military service. Must not have bothered him all that bad, because he went on to seduce several world-class beauties, including Marilyn Monroe and Audry Hepburn.
Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson
My personal favorite for sheer audacity! Jackson loved a good duel and is estimated to have participated in 13 of them, showing at all times a complete and utter disregard for his own life. Jackson once allowed his adversary, Charles Dickinson, to take the first shot-taking a bullet in the chest, Jackson used one hand to stem the bleeding while he used the other to raise his pistol and shoot Dickinson dead. Years later, while miraculously surviving the first assassination attempt in the history of the U.S., a 67-year old Jackson had to be pulled off of his attacker after pummeling him to within an inch of his life with his hickory cane.
As commander of an elite U.S. cavalry unit-the Rough Riders-in the Mexican-American War, Roosevelt led a daring heroic charge up San Juan Hill on foot. Decades later, while campaigning for a third term, he was shot in the chest during an assassination attempt and, recognizing that the wound was not fatal, delivered a 90 minute speech while bleeding from the chest before receiving medical attention. Some of his pets would eventually include a lion, a bear, and a badger.
Harry S. Truman
Months after succeeding FDR in the midst of WWII, Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan forced that island nations unconditional surrender, in theory averting the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American lives. And you just HAD to fuck around with the sleeping giant!
America's first president is seen as not only a great general, but quite possibly a demigod as well! While leading battles from the frontline, he usually returned from the carnage, his uniform peppered with bullet holes and often in need of a new horse, but always completely unharmed. While undoubtedly brave, his street rep is due more to being in the right place at the right time and having an excellent PR department than it is to his generalship!
John Quincy Adams
Late into his old age and as part of his daily fitness regimen, Adams would swim across the Potomac River and back, completely naked, even during winter. It may have been said that his presidency lacked balls, but that was only after his swim!
While serving as the third president, the official author of the Declaration of Independence jumped at the opportunity to purchase the Louisiana Territory-without waiting for congressional approval or authority-from financially desperate, war-torn France, in essence doubling the size of the U.S. for less than five cents an acre. After sending Lewis and Clarke out to explore the new frontier, the explorers brought back two grizzly bear cubs that he kept as pets. Just overlook the whole flip-flop he did on the issue of slavery!
Ambidextrous and fluent in seven languages, Garfield could write in Latin with one hand and in Greek with the other-simultaneously! James who?