My broad statement was something like "For the past 50 years the US has been singlemindedly stealing from and wreaking destruction on the rest of the world."
So he points out that this is a simple-minded Howard Zinn-esque critique. Fair enough.
So lets for a minute assume that the real agenda of the United States has been to protect its interest, as best it can for the past 50 years. The goals have been, roughly:
1. Preventing the spread of Communism
2. Protecting US economic interests at home and abroad.
2. Promoting Peace and Prosperity around the world, so long as it doesn't conflict with goals 1 and 2.
Again fair enough read on the American Project since WWII. But the devil is in the details. Along the way, the US has done a number of things to pursue these goals that I think have been morally objectionable, wantonly destructive, and ultimately counterproductive, right up until the present day.
Things like: Covertly supporting the overthrow of democratic regimes in places like Chile and Iran, and most recently Bolivia. Starting wars on bogus grounds, like Vietnam and Iraq. Supporting corrupt oligarchies because they paid lip service to anti-communism, and supporting anti-democratic, repressive regimes, to preserve our access to their natural resources on the cheap. Waging a 'war on terror' which comprises mainly chasing down a bunch of really bad people that we used to support economically and militarily.
This hasn't been a Democratic or Republican thing, it's been a constant going back to the end of the second world war. Along the way, the US has become the biggest consumer of non-renewable resources in the world, dragged our feet on every environmental protection issue up to and including global warming.
Not to mention a whole laundry list of other actions from dubious to awful.
The question is not whether the people in charge over the last 60+ years have been sincere in their actions to protect and defend the US. I'm sure they mostly were, but you know wht they say about best intentions.
The real question is this: If there isn't some shadowy plutocracy accelerating us toward doomsday for their own selfish reasons, but the results are the same as if there was, where does that leave us? The rest of the world, if you bother to listen to them has one of two impressions of the US -- either it's the real evil empire, or it's a bumbling and destructive behemoth who breaks all the nice things and leaves the seat up on the toilet. Geopolitically speaking.
Sure we've done some Good Things along the way. We should keep doing them, and do a lot more of them. Compared to the negative consequences of US actions in the world, they're pretty small beer so far.
Wouldn't a little informed idealism, some fair play give and take, some real transparency be a good thing for a change? Maybe we should actually try to live up to our ideals, and see how that goes?