THE FALTERING EAGLE
WHY FOREIGNERS OPPOSE
AMERICA AND AMERICANS
Former Georgia State Senator
JAMES P. WESBERRY, JR.
DECATUR, GEORGIA, LIONS CLUB
MARCH 10, 1970
(Senator Wesberry resigned from the State Senate to go to Peru with the Alliance for Progress in May, 1967. He returned
to Atlanta in June 1969 for one year, then returned to work in Peru. This speech was made during his time back in Atlanta)
The question I have been asked the most since returning from Peru is "WHY DON'T THOSE PEOPLE DOWN THERE LIKE US -
AFTER ALL WE'VE DONE FOR THEM?" Why do they hate America - demonstrate against visiting politicians - write "Yankee
go home" on the walls - confiscate U.S. owned businesses and property?
First I would like to draw a distinction between the words "LIKE" and "RESPECT". Many Americans are
liked by foreigners as individuals. Almost all Americans who live abroad make friends among local people. Many limit themselves
too much to the "INTERNATIONAL SET" but on the whole there are no barriers to individual friendship. On the national
level the word "LIKE" is not really appropriate. It would be better to rephrase the opening question to "WHY
DON'T FOREIGNERS RESPECT THE U.S.?" The situation we are in with respect to the rest of the world is roughly
that of the richest man in a small town. He may be the town's leading citizen, donating much of his wealth to local
charities, leading in government and business - but he will have few, if any real friends in town. His wealth bars close
friendship. The wealth of the United States today is so great in comparison to that of other nations that real friendship
It should be obvious to anyone that friendship cannot be bought - either by the wealthy man's donations to charity
- or by a government's foreign aid program. On the other hand respect can be achieved by the wealthy man who is a good
citizen and likewise by the wealthy nation.
The United States for a number of years subsequent to World War II enjoyed worldwide respect among nations. In recent
years that respect has been declining rapidly. It is declining very rapidly in South America and throughout the world.
Here are what I believe to be the reasons for the growing lack of respect for our country:
The average foreigner has concluded that:
1. The U.S. has abandoned its role of world leadership.
2. The U.S. is on the verge of a complete collapse of
its moral and religious values.
3. The system of government in the U.S. is failing.
4. The educational system of the U.S. is nearing
As we discuss these points I would like to ask you to
think about whether the foreigners who have reached these conclusions might be right. Is the United States of America
- having achieved the greatest successes in the history of mankind in the shortest period of time - about to collapse?
Will our country survive this new decade? Will democracy survive? Will civilization survive? Will the United States •
in 1980, if it exists as a nation, resemble the U.S. of 1970?
For if the foreigners are right, these questions will soon be answered.
After World War II the U.S. assumed the mantle of leadership of the Western World from a rapidly declining Britain. While
many people may not have agreed with all its policies, our nation was widely respected for this role.
The unsuccessful conclusion of the Korean War and the adoption of the concept of limited warfare led inevitably
to the present situation in South Viet Nam where the U.S. is now backing down and backing out.
Few foreigners support our presence in South Viet Nam and few nations have supported our actions there. However, the
obvious lack of support of our commitment to South Viet Nam by the
U.S. tells the world one-thing in unmistakeable terms - the word of the United States of America is worthless.
We pledged to support South Viet Nam against Communism. There were no conditions to that pledge which were not fulfilled
- yet we are not supporting South Viet Nam, we are abandoning it.Even though the rest of the world does not support South
Viet Nam either, it is clear that no country can expect the United States to commit men or weapons to defend it against
Communism. In the present political atmosphere any U.S. President who sent troops to aid any of our "Allies"
would commend himself to political oblivion.
This is the way foreigners now see it. This is the reason there is a new Russian Embassy in Lima, Peru - why numerous
trade pacts with Eastern Nations are being signed throughout South America.
Regardless of their own opposition to our involvement in South Viet Nam I am convinced that foreigners consider
the backing down of the U.S. there a real sign of weakness and inability to continue our role of world leadership.
Perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps we can continue to be the major western leader, but this is one reason for
a growing lack of respect for our country throughout the world. It is especially aided when U.S. Senators and other prominent
Americans not only oppose their country's policy, but make statements and condone acts which would be treasonous if
war were actually declared. Foreigners do not understand it when a public official attacks his own country. They see this
as a sign of decay.
In my opinion, the only way the U.S. could possibly restore itself to the position of respect it once held among nations
would be to unconditionally win the war in South Viet Nam as soon as possible. This certainly does not appear likely.
A few years ago the foreigner’s image of an America was that of a man on a horse wearing a white hat and two
guns - the cowboy. Today the foreigner views the average American as a sex maniac, a sex deviate or both. The image is
conveyed by Hollywood. The closest contact a foreigner has with the U.S. is our movies. First run U.S. movies are shown
in Lima, Peru, as soon as they are shown in Atlanta.
In my opinion the movie industry is doing almost as much to destroy respect for our country abroad as the Communist Party.
The rotten, filthy, disgusting, degrading products of our film industry are a real source of embarrassment to Americans abroad.
It is bad enough that the movie industry is corrupting our country. Many foreigners deeply resent it when American pornography
also corrupts their
country. The "God is dead" philosophy has horrified and amazed many foreigners. They would have expected this
from Russia, not the U.S.
The flood of American pornography flowing into other countries, the well publicized drug problems among U.S. youth and
the general abandonment of religion by many Americans - magnified out of proportion by the passion of our press for
publicizing these trends as progressive and inevitable - has convinced many foreigners that the United States is
on the verge of a complete moral and spiritual collapse.
It is no wonder they don't respect us.
Our country has spent untold billions of dollars attempting to sell other nations on our system of government
- Democracy - as the best system. We continually insist that our "friends" hold "free elections"
(even to the point of the election in South Viet Nam in the midst of the war and the utterly ridiculous suggestions
that there should be another one).
Yet many foreigners feel they see signs that Democracy is collapsing in the U.S.
The currently popular protests against any and everything one doesn’t like are contrary to everything Democracy
stands for. The philosophy that some laws may be ignored because they are unjust or wrong or outmoded betrays and destroys
The tendency toward idealistic but impractical or impossible legislation which has long characterized South American
Parliamentary Bodies is now prevailing in our Congress and our State Legislatures.
The violence surrounding recent U.S. political campaigns and conventions which was highly publicized throughout the world
acts to destroy foreigners hopes that Democracy might work.
In short the U.S. political scene more and more resembles the political scene of our Latin neighbors. Instead of selling
foreigners our form of government we are more and more adopting theirs - and getting further and further away from
In October, 1968, as I walked the streets of Lima, Peru, amidst the tanks and soldiers armed with sub-machine
guns who had just taken over there sending the President into exile and abolishing the Congress, I wondered if such a
thing could happen in my own country. Then I told myself no, it couldn’t. Now, after being back in the U.S. for
six months I am not so sure that an authoritarian Government may not be inevitable here. The people will demand it to preserve
order - if there is no other way.
Many foreigners see the hope for Democracy we have tried to exemplify vastly dimmed by our present failure to
control protest and violence within the Democratic framework of the citizen's right to vote as he sees fit. If
our citizens are not patient enough to accept the slow change of Democracy -
no other country's citizens can be expected to accept our form of government.
Perhaps the timeliest topic of all is education. Many South Americans see the U.S. system of higher education passing
through a period which their universities passed through twenty or thirty years ago. Students and professors demanded and
got from most South American Governments a policy of "Autonomy of the University". Students were given a major voice
in control, curricula and other matters. The result was the complete destruction of the system of higher education in South
America. I talked to many heartbroken U.S. students who had come to Lima on scholarships only to find that regular classes
were rarely held, professors were irresponsible and learning was practically non-existent.
The present trend in U.S. coleges indicates that we will soon catch up to South America by destroying our system of higher
education the same way they did. It is interesting to note that having learned their lesson the hard way, most Latin
Governments now are steering as far away from University Autonomy as possible.
Recent developments indicate that we will soon catch up with other countries in elementary and secondary education as
In South America in general only the poorest of the poor families send their children to the public schools. All wealthy
and middle class people send their children to privately operated schools. Many poor people make fantastic sacrifices to
get their children out of the public schools. The reason for this is that the public school system is no more than a political
patronage vehicle. All good teachers teach in private schools where they are better paid and can better practice their profession.
It would appear that the same type system may be imminent in our country where we have apparently become so infatuated
with the objective of integration that we have apparently lost sight of the more important objective of education in the
To summarize the average foreigner's view of the United States, I would say that he sees this once strong nation
as a nation growing weaker and weaker every day -- a nation which will soon be too weak to be a world leader.
Even in this age of advanced technology and supposedly advanced civilization, it is strength that counts in foreign
affairs -- as well as in domestic affairs.
Our country needs a strong foreign policy -- a firm
unyielding position which will be backed up by our Government. We must also be firm at home proving that our democracy
does work and stamping out those who would destroy it from within.
If we can do this, then foreigners will respect our nation and we can resume our rightful role of world leadership.
In order to be strong a nation must produce strong leaders. No strong leader has come forth in American Government since
Franklin Roosevelt. Our leaders have been weak, flexible and compromising in recent years. No wonder foreigners lose respect
Charles DeGaulle, a strong man leading a weak nation, won more world respect than any leader the United States produced
while he ruled France.
We need a strong leader now in the United States more urgently than ever before.
It is too early to say for certain, but one strong leader appears to be emerging. As a Democrat I am sad to
say that he is in the other party.
..........(reference to 1970 politics omitted)
As a Democrat I hang my head in shame that the Democratic Party is letting itself be taken over by extremists,
anarchists and traitors - and not one - no not one single voice is being raised by prominent national Democrats to
The Democratic Party needs a strong man - a leader who will not compromise with those who threaten the basic values
of our nation. Surely some prominent northern or western Democrat must be so disgusted with violence, with confrontation,
with conflagration, with the sickening weakness of his party in failing to stand up against those who tried to destroy
Democracy at the Chicago convention. Surely someone in the Democratic Party will have the courage to speak out for his country.
.......... (reference to 1970 politics omitted)
Surely unless the responsible people in the Democratic Party regain control there will ultimately be a mass exodus of
Democrats. Many will become independents, perhaps many will even become Republicans. The Democratic Party will be left in
the hands of radicals, anarchists and traitors and it will dwindle and disappear. For given an ultimate choice between
responsibility and anarchy, this nation will choose responsibility.
Many people have asked why I am now saying the things I am saying tonight; the fact is that my experience in
South America opened my eyes so that I could see America and what is happening to it and to realize that many Americans
are not yet aware of the serious danger this country faces.
Today the future is clouded, but it is not too late.
The Eagle is faltering, but it is not beyond hope. We can reverse the tide which is not only destroying respect for our
country among foreigners, but is destroying our own self respect.
WHAT CAN WE DO ?
*** We can win the war in South Viet Nam.
*** We can eradicate pornography, even if it takes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
*** We can stamp out drugs and their glorification.
*** We can end once and for all protests, demonstrations and harassments. A ten year moratorium on all forms of physical
protest including strikes would be a start.
*** We can stop glorifying the “Right to Dissent".
*** We can save our educational system - by making education, not integration, its objective, and by solidly administering
*** We can stop putting the rights of suspected criminals ahead of the right of all citizens to be free from
violence and the fear of it; and we can stop releasing convicted criminals on technicalities unrelated to their
*** We can give strong support to those public officials who speak out for decency, for loyalty, for honor, for law, for
*** And, if we really get desperate, we might even consider turning to God and observing His Laws.