WORLDPOST

The Ugly American

07/07/2010 01:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

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Harrison Carter McWhite seemed the perfect choice for ambassador to the fictitious country of Sarkan (Vietnam) during the Cold War.

A journalist, his plane was shot down over Sarkan by the Japanese during War War II and he befriended the insurgents who were fighting Tokyo. One of them, Deong, became a leading opposition figure after the war.

When Deong refused to disavow communism and said he didn't trust the United States, McWhite branded him a communist. The ambassador, played by Marlon Brando, decided to confront the enemies of the U.S.-backed regime head on.

Deong was tricked into helping the communists invade, and was immediately killed by them.

Brando is confronted by reporters when he returns to the embassy after unsuccessfully trying to warn his friend.

The first question was: "We going to lose this country sir?" Brando replied: "Well, we never had this country." An acknowledgment made much too late.

He then told the reporters: "I've learned that the only time we are hated is when we stop trying to be what we started out to be 200 years ago." He said principles must never be sacrificed for expediency.

"I'm not blaming my country. I'm blaming the indifference that some of us show to some of its promises," he said. The movie The Ugly American was made in 1963, based on a book written in 1958.

A more updated view comes from comedian Lewis Black after a trip abroad. "I was amazed to realize that we are the only country that tells the rest of the world, on a nearly constant basis, that we are the great country on earth." He noted many of these chauvinists have never left the country.

Mark Twain warned that great republics never last.

Going against the advice of the late President Eisenhower we became deeply involved in Vietnam. Disaster is the only word for it. More than 58,000 American troops known dead. The Iraq and Afghan wars have claimed less than 5,500 U.S. soldiers and Marines. The draft is gone.

Initially, the Vietnam war spurred the economy. But even though the government wasn't giving out tax breaks while fighting a war, it was pushing strong social problems. A budget deficit quickly developed.

It was nothing compared to the current deficit of $13.2 trillion. One trillion of that, if not more, is going to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The biggest boost that President Obama could give our economy would be to bring the soldiers home.

Fast action is needed before the country becomes the dustbowl of this century. Illegal immigrants won't be problem because Americans will be fighting to get those $12,000 a year agricultural jobs.