Talking to some lads from Belfast I heard more about the troubles and the way that the Irish (especially the northern Irish) saw the way Americans viewed the troubles. Many Americans have Irish heritage making them sympathetic to the IRA cause. So they supported them with guns and money. Most Americans don’t have a clue what the troubles were actually like. It was a terrorist war that the whole country paid for in blood and tears. Car bombings, kidnapping, executions, and shootings were common. Yet that isn’t how we saw it. We saw the scrappy underdog IRA fighting imperialist brits and we supported them. But neither side was right or wrong and there was blood on the hands of both sides, innocent blood. The point is that what we Americans saw as true is in no way true and we stuck our noses, our money, and our guns where they didn’t belong and people died because of it. But we are so far away that we could not see.
Americans simultaneously isolate themselves from the world and dominate it. Only about a third of Americans have passports. When we do go overseas we go on Disneyland-eque tours that are heavy on cliche, simplifying a country into a few stops at often irrelevant cultural sites. Countries are the people and we need to talk to them and learn from them before we act as we have in the past.