Great thoughts all.
A point I would like to make is that I have also been to a lot of "hostile" countries during my time and most of the time, the general population is welcome, friendly, and open. I am talking about the people of a country, not its leadership or government.
Most of everyone on earth loves Americans because all in all, we are a generous people and since we have accepted many different social, political, ethnic, ect groups over the life of this country, we are generally willing to help everyone because in the end, it helps us. Although when people mix politics into that picture, they believe that America hasn't done much of anything to assist anyone else in any time of crisis. I believe this to be totally untrue. I think we help the world more then we help ourselves.
I don't also want to slight the trials that the former Soviet Union (Russia) went through during any of its revolutions or WWII. A lot of people paid the price for their beliefs and it shouldn't be forgotten. Although we had 2 of them, I am sure one of these days we'll have another. That is an interesting point though Dadicool, I didn't know that the USSR during the time though of Germany as the "West" but also during that time they still were a up an coming union as well with a new belief in communism. I don't have to remind everyone here though of the capability of its politburo.
I cannot speak for my government but I don't think the average citizen (in any country) doesn't want to rule the world. Hell, we can diverge into many conspiracy theories here.
As for former Yugoslavia, we were asked to join a piece keeping force (NATO) to keep genocide at bay. I think that is a good thing. Same thing for Somalia. NATO needed a force to get food to the general population in that war torn and ravaged land. So being part of NATO we assisted where we needed to. I can't tell you how many tons of aid supplies and food during a year in and out of Africa that I flew into Somalia. I didn't even take in one bullet on our cargo jet. And Iraq, well, there is a lot of history there that I won't go into.
I think I see your point also EasyMan. However, i think you should say that they should thank both our governments for that mess, not just the US. We both had arsenals of significant size. Thank god for treaties like the SALT agreements and nuclear de-proliferation. Also, look at the "mad men" running those countries. In North Korea, you have a shut out world where they would rather starve their people to build up their armed services or take to give to the people in power. As for Iran, well they continue to preach the annihilation of a certain country and people. If the U.S. was this way and we already have nuclear weapons, why aren't we using them against our enemies? Nuclear war is a failed solution so why are other countries building up their "defenses"? I don't think they are intended for defensive purposes. Who knows those leaders intentions but I don't think they are defensive.
Also, not to spark a gun debate either, the official reason why we have weapons in the general population of America is because of the Second Amendment to the US Bill of Rights as part of our Constitution, which states, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Now, there have been a lot of legal battles about what this means but the founding Fathers IMO meant that the government should be afraid of the people, not the other way around. In essence, it allows us to protect ourselves from the tyranny of government. Other than that, there are a lot of people out there that shouldn't have weapons because they haven't been trained on them properly and we really don't need them from a survival perspective (hunting for meat). But there are other reasons from a survivability standpoint as well. If we live in a perfect world all I would need is a baseball bat to protect myself and my wife from a home intruder or someone bent on making me a victim. I really don't want to stand for that and I can't put my life on the line waiting for a police person to show up. It's about self reliance IMO.
Anyway, thanks for the discussion. I don't have a lot of people that I can talk with about this where I am living so it's great to have a "World view". I don’t' think the U.S. is perfect. As a matter of fact as a citizen I think we went sideways starting with Bush's second time in the White House and the current president, cabinet, and congress we have in there now isn't doing much if any better than their predecessor. Oh wait, they want to start calling it the "People's House" now. Hummm....