My Reality Check on American Politics

Unbelievable! Only a couple more days together as this crazy adventure will soon come to a close and new chapter will begin. Our time in Europe is ending soon, but thankfully, Rome has distracted me from the reality of this being the last city on CR.

Last Tuesday was one of the most meaningful days for me from a historical perspective. We had an exceptional tour guide named Olga who led us through the Coliseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon. She had a very interesting story as she had fled her native country of the former Yugoslavia in the 90s because of the civil war occurring within the country. She came to Rome in search of a better life which led her to becoming a tour guide.

I asked her many questions about a variety of topics, but the most interesting response I received from her was in the answer to my question, “In light of what is going on politically within the United States, have the views of Italians changed towards America and Americans.” Her response was fascinating to me, and one that I was not expecting.

She responded by saying that Europeans have always disliked American politics. In her eyes, the U.S. unnecessarily intervenes and is too present in other countries’ politics which ultimately makes the problems worse. What hit home was when she said something along the lines of “Clinton bombed my city in Yugoslavia and killed several innocent lives. Who said he could bomb my city?” That was very much a wake up call for me. We would like to believe that America can just go in and wave a magic wand across any problem, but history has proven this to be incorrect. Whether it is President Obama in Libya or President Bush going into Iraq, American intervention has tended to go poorly.

Reflecting upon my time hearing Olga talk yesterday, I think America should reconsider how we approach foreign policy in some instances. There is a strong tendency to fix problems across foreign countries by intervening in them. While intervention should be on the list of possible solutions, I think it needs to be considered as more of a last resort.

I think we want to assume that democratic ideals are the right ideals for everybody, but sometimes that is just not the case. While we were at a monument in Berlin a while back, I thought how would I react today if a fascist country came to the United States and started trying to implement their fascist lifestyle. I would be mad and frustrated. Now imagine what it must be like for those in other countries to have American soldiers come onto their country and try to implement our principles. It is easy to see how we could very much upset people.

I want to make it known that I am all for the United States intervening in situations that are of a high level of danger to the U.S., other countries, and even people living within the respective country. What is tough for me to see is the United States then forcing a political agenda on countries thinking that just because it works for us then it will work for them.

I think it would be best to take an approach that emphasizes a focus on healthy international relationships rather than trying to align our principles with those of others or being overly present in other countries. I think that is why I was so frustrated about President Trump not signing the Paris Climate Agreement because it was an easy opportunity to foster international relations in order to create a more stable global community. America can not be successful alone. No country can sustain that. I do not understand why we currently have 40,000 troops in Germany or many in other countries that we have alliances with. Olga allowed me to see this new perspective, and it is something I will always remember when it comes to U.S. involvement