The World Asks, What Have You Done For Me Lately?
by James Glaser
By anyone standards I am getting old. It is hard to admit that I am in the second half of my life, but what is important is that even I was born after the Second World War. In most of the world, especially in third world countries with a lower life expectancy, most of those people living during the "Big One" (WW II) are dead now.
Here in the United States we are immersed in that war. Our parents and grandparents who fought and lived through it are dying by the thousands every day. We constantly have movies like Saving Private Ryan and books like The Greatest Generation telling us how our nation saved the rest of the world.
The rest of the world does not remember that war, heck right here at home millions of American voters were not even alive when the Vietnam War was going on. But yet, we want to rest on the laurels of that war, which at least Washington feels gives us some sort of moral superiority.
Simon Jenkins writing for The Sunday Times states, "Last year's BBC poll of 21 countries gave a majority that declared George Bush "a threat to world peace.""
He goes on with "America asks the world to believe itself so threatened as to require the kidnapping of foreign citizens in foreign parts, detention without process, the curbing of free speech and derogation from international law. It asks the world to believe that it must disregard the Geneva conventions and employ foreign dictators to help it to torture at random. It uses the same justification for occupying Iraq and Afghanistan."
America (or if you are an American you know it's Washington) wants the world to believe that our moral standards are so high, (and remember we saved the world) that we can handle these dictatorial powers and pass on freedom to the world.
Somehow we are convinced that the rest of the world sees us the same way we see ourselves, but they don't.
George Bush and those who back his foreign policies believe that only America can bring peace and freedom to the world. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has been watching (since 1945) as the United States fights one war after another. The rest of the world knows that the United States has been at war almost continuously for the last 60 years. They know, even if the American people don't know, the United States has a "war economy" and we haven't figured how to change that without having a real down-turn in our economy while we make that change. The rest of the world knows that the United States will somehow figure out how to attack another country, any country, just to keep its military industrial economic base working.
Sorry to say, the rest of the world does not even remember World War Two. To them that war is something from the history books. They look at America and our attitude and ask, but what have you done for the world lately? They can remember Vietnam, Haiti, Panama, Grenada, they can look at the destruction of Iraq, and none of these wars from their perspective seem like a positive step. If fact every one of them looks like a super power attacking another pitiful third world nation.
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