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imperialism & war

Even America's Worst Enemies Are Striving To Attain The American Way

Being disliked is an America thing.
A number of advisory groups are now working to improve the image of the United States abroad, in particular to "get the word out" to the Arab world that America is not really the Great Satan of censored Middle Eastern media. These are important tasks and all Americans should hope that our best and brightest can be enlisted in the effort in "global communications" to provide balanced reporting about the United States. Yet I do not think in the end even the most comprehensive and best-intended media campaign will have much effect in making such peoples fond of us at least publicly.

The problem is not that we are imperialistic, ruthless, murderous, and oppressive toward allies and neutrals, but, in fact, mostly the opposite. We welcome rather than suppress criticism. Despite our enormous military advantages we do listen to and, as disinterested brokers, try to mediate a variety of complaints Indians versus Pakistanis, Greeks against Turks, Spanish and Moroccans. Foreign critics realize that their grumbles are heard and so often publish in American journals and newspapers.

Our recent interventions abroad are rarely to gain territory or lucre, but rather, as we saw from Panama to the Gulf, to put down dictators who are robbing and killing their own people and threatening neighbors to the extent that the entire stability of a region is threatened. It is hard to see how the much criticized operations in Grenada, Haiti, Somalia, or Kosovo gained the United States much profit or valuable territory.

Coupled with these high-profile and often caricatured efforts to mediate, adjudicate, and intervene are the unique position of the American economy and the ubiquitous culture of the United States. Both are as preponderant on the world scene as are our military forces. You see today small children high-fiving each other in rural Greek villages and University of Texas sweatshirts in the Amazon basin. Crass TV reruns of Gilligan's Island and Love Boat, bad 1970s movies, near-pornographic fashion magazines, and the Internet all of that and more smother indigenous culture worldwide. And this domination is not accomplished by some sinister corporate conspiracy. But much worse, it is a natural result of the very egalitarian and democratic logic of American popular culture an insidious addiction that is designed to appeal to the widest popular audience without prerequisite education, training, or knowledge.

Our own elites whine that we have dumbed everything down to the lowest common denominator Maybe, but the world's billions have responded by voting with their feet, pocketbook, and remote control for almost everything American. It is precisely this media and consumer tidal wave, when coupled with the omnipotence of the American military, that has an ambivalent effect on most in the world one that plays out on the personal level absurdly as a mixture of desire for all things American and yet shame for that very craving.

Martina Navratilova slurs her adopted America by suggesting it is not unlike former Communist Eastern Europe. Yet she apparently has no desire to return to even her freed country over a decade after it was liberated largely through a half-century of dogged American opposition to murderous Communism.

Thousands of Palestinians are desperately trying to immigrate to the United States, and finding it difficult since their usual route of transit the hated Tel Aviv airport is now closed to them. Such would-be refugees may voice overwhelming support for Saddam Hussein, celebrate the news of September 11, and in polls attest their dislike of America. Yet, given the chance, thousands would gladly move to the country they profess to despise. And why not? Where else would they have freedom to say what they please, pursue their dreams of economic security and protest that their newly adopted country is both amoral and shortsighted in its Middle Eastern policy.

The current Journal of Palestine Studies has a splashy ad for a new sympathetic history of Hamas an official terrorist organization according to our own State Department. Before we get too worked up over this and its other nonsense, we should remember that the entire journal is published only through the auspices of the state-subsidized University of California Press. Critics may praise our enemies and rail against our government but they still don't turn down help from our state-funded universities. Again Palestinians profess Arab solidarity and voice anti-Americanism; yet they are not emigrating to Kuwait which once ethnically cleansed 300,000 of them after the Gulf War, but instead seeking to open businesses in the Bronx.

I recently perused the catalogue of a University of California, Santa Barbara campus and discovered 62 classes in Chicano Studies with titles like "Methodology of the Oppressed"; "Racism in American History"; "Popular Barrio Culture"; "Chicano Spanish"; "Chicana Feminisms"; "Body, Culture, and Power" and so on. Thematic in these classes is that America is a rather hateful place that has made life horrific for Hispanic emigrants. But I also live in a state where millions of undocumented aliens from Mexico reside, and millions more want in despite the purported sins so amply documented by tenured professors. A few of our elites say America is a rather bad place; millions of poor abroad disagree and apparently instead think Mexico is.

A Greek member of parliament from the socialist and often strident-anti-American PASOK party recently retired. The news accounts noted that she was a former Harvard professor. Such a contradiction between the life one actually lives and professes is not an anomaly when we realize that the first family of Greek anti-Americanism, the Papandreous, have a long and close relationship with the United States one manifested over generations by them working, living, teaching, and going to school in America.

But then apparently Mr. Musharraf's own son also likes us. Until September 11, Mr. Musharraf had pretty much let Pakistan be overrun be murderous fundamentalists who professed undying hatred for America. One wonders if that included the city of Boston, where the younger Musharraf is employed. Even Saddam Hussein's stepson was found in the United States, and unofficial reports circulated that a few offspring of both the Taliban and the mullahs in Iran were living in America. We, of course, also remember that dozens of close family members of our archenemy Osama bin Laden lived in the northeast. Their renegade brother pledged to kill every American on sight; did his threats apply only to passport holders or random resident strollers in Boston like his own kin?

Anti-Americanism is as deeply psychologically as it is politically motivated. Many observers of the phenomenon have commented that such hostility, especially in Europe, arises out of envy and jealousy. Of course it does, but the animus is still deeper and all the more virulent because it is a war of the heart versus the head.

Professed hatred toward America for millions too often cloaks an inner desire for the very culture of freedom, material security, and comfort of the United States like Saudis smirking over bin Laden as they push their carts in faux-American supermarkets among Pepsis and Sugar Smacks. In that regard, it all reminds me of tenured academics, who send their kids to private schools, vacation in Europe, and live in tasteful tree-lined suburbs and then in the lounge damn the very institutions that have provided their universities with such bountiful capital to make their lives so comfortable. They are perennially unhappy because what they castigate has given them everything they treasure, and they are either too weak or too human to confess it.

What can we do to rectify this illogical dislike of the United States? If the history of the Athenian, Roman, and British empires all of them far more aggressive, imperialistic, and uncompromising than us offer guidance, not that much. If we can believe Thucydides, Tacitus, and Churchill, earlier powers accepted human nature for what it was mercurial, emotional, contradictory, self-centered, and deeply paradoxical then shrugged, and went on with their business.

Rather than creating new programs to teach others about America, I would prefer that our government instruct Americans about the exceptional history of America, reinaugurate civic education in the schools, explain that racism, sexism, and prejudice are endemic in the human species but under the American system of government can be identified, discussed, and then ameliorated. If we could instill in our citizens a tragic rather than therapeutic sense of the world, they would understand that utopia is not possible on this earth, but that the Constitution and institutions of the United States are man's best hope for eradicating the evil and ignorance that plague us all. If we could do all that, then Americans might project a sense of self-confidence in their history and values that would admonish others that we are proud of rather than ashamed of being different and that we care far more about the principles for which we fight than the applause of the day from the fickle, insecure, and mixed-up.

So yes, we must remind the Arabs that we saved Muslims from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Somalia and Kuwait. Yes, we must reiterate that we are at odds with dictatorial Mr. Arafat and Mr. Hussein, not with the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples, that we want democracies for them, not their land or money. And yes, we should explain to the world why U.N. resolutions do not represent collective wisdom, but often the reinforced biases and private agendas of dozens of autocratic, theocratic, and tribal regimes who vote only in New York, never at home. And if we are more imaginative still we can point out that the American fleet keeps the peace cheaply for others in the Pacific and Mediterranean, that American companies and universities provide the world with life-saving medicine, medical treatments, and critical technology. And so on.

But ultimately we must expect that the anger of many millions will remain, because the pathology lies unresolved and deep within them, not us.
better yet... 06.Oct.2002 09:10

this thing here

i love apologists trying so hard to put a good face on things that have no excuse. it's entertaining.

>We welcome rather than suppress criticism.<

>Crass TV reruns of Gilligan's Island and Love Boat, bad 1970s movies, near-pornographic fashion magazines, and the Internet all of that and more smother indigenous culture worldwide.<

keyword: smother.

>What can we do to rectify this illogical dislike of the United States?<

>Crass TV reruns of Gilligan's Island and Love Boat, bad 1970s movies, near-pornographic fashion magazines, and the Internet all of that and more smother indigenous culture worldwide.<

keyword: smother.

>What can we do to rectify this illogical dislike of the United States? If the history of the Athenian, Roman, and British empires all of them far more aggressive, imperialistic, and uncompromising than us offer guidance, not that much. If we can believe Thucydides, Tacitus, and Churchill, earlier powers accepted human nature for what it was mercurial, emotional, contradictory, self-centered, and deeply paradoxical then shrugged, and went on with their business.<

boy. "good" point. india surely just shrugged about the british and went on their way...

>But ultimately we must expect that the anger of many millions will remain, because the pathology lies unresolved and deep within them, not us.<

>Crass TV reruns of Gilligan's Island and Love Boat, bad 1970s movies, near-pornographic fashion magazines, and the Internet all of that and more smother indigenous culture worldwide.<

keyword: smother.

>Crass TV reruns of Gilligan's Island and Love Boat, bad 1970s movies, near-pornographic fashion magazines, and the Internet all of that and more smother indigenous culture worldwide.<

keyword: smother.

"hey? what the hell kinda music you listenin' too? arabic music? what the fuck man. you're not allowed to listen to that kind of music. you can only listen to american music. hell, that's all you can find to buy anymore. you can only read american books. you can only watch american movies. you can only take american drugs. you can only like american art. you can only buy american products. we're the best right? your culture doesn't exist anymore. it doesn't mean anything. america is all that matters. we're the best. we welcome criticism, but only regarding customer complaints about products, not about political, cultural or moral questions regarding cultures being smothered. that's too abstract for The Holy Marketplace. sorry. here's the 800 #. you can talk about how american music is offensive to your culture with them. don't be angry. be happy. take your medicine."

keyword: smother.

one more thing... 06.Oct.2002 09:59

this thing here

... here's the point that many of the "it's o.k. to be an empire" folks fail to realize.

remember, dudes, 400 years ago, how big and bad the british were. how the colonies didn't like being told what to do and bossed around by the crown. remember that, dudes on the "right"? and how the resentment led to an uprising? and what nation was born in those flames? hmmm, could it be america?

so, on one side, there was the "empire". and on the other side, there was the "free thinking colonies who were tired of being bossed around".

skip ahead 400 years. who do you think america represents today? the small colonies who resent a lack of freedom? or the empire who bosses others around and looks out for it's own ass before it gives a shit about anyone else's? which does america represent in 2002?

what has happened to every empire so far? what has happened to any empire so far? hmmm, there's kinda a pattern forming...

why do you think america's is any different?

and it's not that "the others" don't want to be free. they most certainly do. they most certainly want a bill of rights, just like ours. but they want to free of US too. they want to listen to their own music, and spend their own own money, and speak their own mind in their own language. self determination, remember? didn't that come up 400 years ago?

so do you really think that america wants every nation on earth to be as free as it is? what if china was free to do whatever the hell it wanted, just like america? free to make trillions of dollars, free to bomb, free to say, "we're number 1. you do as we say..."

america doesn't want freedom for all. it wants to control everyone. it wants a world "safe for america. made in america's image". it wants to look out for its own ass first, and then worry about how "free" everyone else is. control. control. control. not free. free. free. free to be different. free to speak your mind. free to be capitalist. or free to be communist. or socialist. or any flavor of the month. free to be christain, or islamic, or buddhist. no, not that kind of freedom. free to wear robes. or free to wear banana republic. not that kind of freedom.

it's called a paradox. it's called a hypocrisy. if every country on earth were just like america, america would be in big trouble. not politically, but economically. so america wants to be sure that every nation on earth is "sorta free" and "kinda free", but not "as free as" we are. cause they might "get uppity" on us...

america doesn't want the kind of freedom where there's a bill of rights and a capitalist market economy. it wants the kind of freedom where there's just a capitalist market economy, and a half assed puppet version of our government. america's new empire is fundamentally economic, not political.

that's the paradox. we can have our economic empire, but if we also offer poltical freedom, just like in america, our economic empire might crumble, because a free people, a sovreign people full of self determination, might decide to go their own way, especialy when all they can buy on their supermarket shelves and listen to on their head phones, is american products.

if we really cared, and really put our money where our mouth is, we would be writing bills of rights in every nation on earth, that's it, and letting the economic cookie crumble however it may.

Good Points 06.Oct.2002 18:34

ranger

It's a simple as gang mentality or kids in a playgroud. It's all about America controlling the playground, being the only kid on the block, not willing to share. Other nations play the same game. In all cases, they're all a big bunch of fucking babies. It's all about power, all about insecure dickheads, period, all at the expense of all of us!