Monday, October 02, 2006

State of Affairs


One might wonder how any particular nation manages to remain in one piece, perhaps not prospering, perhaps not holding the title of "Superpower", yet not declining or in danger of fragmentation or utter ruin. France, England, Germany, Italy, all these nations have had their share of glory, have suffered their share of dark days, yet slipped relatively below the radar and sit within their respective borders, happy as clams to remain basically intact and in no real danger of imploding from within or becoming overwhelmed by barbarian hordes. Yet here we are, PAX Americana, barely over 2OO measly years old, and a sad state of schizophrenia has overtaken us, totally losing our identify as a nation, unable to articulate who we are and what we stand for. We have one big target painted on our flag, and the arrows are coming not only from our stated enemies, but even from our supposed friends and allies. All that remains is that we enter a state of civil war or that the nations of the world somehow decide we need to be reigned in and push back at us. They say the best way to deal with a bully is to ignore them, and I say whoever came up with that idea is a blooming idiot. Imagine the power of every ambassador to the United Nations standing, then turning their backs when the representative from the United States comes to the podium. How humiliating that would be........but I think it's high time we got shown a little tough love.

I think I am not exaggerating too much when I say that once, everyone in the world had fond daydreams of becoming an American. Well, not everyone, for this country has stepped on enough toes being all high and mighty that we have always had someone wishing to cut us down a notch or two, and I'm not speaking strictly of communists and military dictators. Imagine being a simple peasant in a simple little village, minding your simple little life, and here comes a government sponsored death squad to make an example of you and your friends and family, even though you probably didn't even know exactly what point they were trying to make. Let's say you are a lone survivor of such an educational experience, and eventually you find out that the death squad that destroyed your life was funded in part by the CIA. The AMERICAN CIA. You see, you had the misfortune of having some rebels camped out nearby who had been making life miserable for El Presidente', who was trying to insure that the Dole Pineapple plantations were not hassled by bothersome communist insurgents. Proximity sucks. So, of course, you are not exactly enamored with the idea of anything American.

The point here is that all these other long lived nations have gone through their own periods of colonial exploitation, influencing the affairs of other smaller, less powerful countries, and all around bad behaviors, and while not all of them can be accused of totally upright behavior, they generally have gotten with the program and rarely get the attention of people out looking for some national entity to hurt. This is the 21st century, for Bob's sake, and here we are, the shining city on the hill, already tarnished and losing much of it's well-earned luster. More and more people all over the world downright despise us, pity us, or are embarrassed to be associated with us. You can say all you want about Canada, making jokes about how meek and mild they are, but the first lie many Americans caught in a bad situation overseas will try and tell is that they are Canadians. I mean, when is the last time Canadians invaded anyone? Tried to assassinate a foreign leader? Pissed ANYBODY off? Or how about Italy? Hell, they can't keep a government in place for more than 6 months, yet Italy goes about it's business, minding it's own crazy affairs, not bothering anyone else. Then there's Cuba, that thorn in our side, that has remained under the iron grip of Castro, simply to piss us off. No other real reason. Isn't it a pity that a whole culture would rather go without then overthrow the last example of a failed social experiment rather than bring back "freedom and democracy"? What does that say about us?

So, here we are thinking we are the last remaining superpower on the planet, and warlords in Somalia laugh at us, the refugees in Darfor wonder where we are, and the people of Rwanda payed the price for thinking "It would never happen again." No one is afraid that we might do the right thing, but they certainly expect us to perform a few "surgical strikes" and think that's going to solve our problems. And lo and behold, the very architects of the Geneva Conventions now want to change the rules because following them might be a mite bit inconvenient.

I have been perusing a few Australian and British blogs and am amazed how similar the outrage is amongst so many of their citizens against their own governments, who, coincidentally, have fallen in lockstep behind the will of the Whitehouse. It seems that for the first time since the end of WWII, devout loyalty to a steadfast ally has devolved into guilt by association. With friends like us, it's no wonder our allies seem to have fewer enemies.

There is no excuse in these modern, supposedly more rational times, for states like North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and many other basket cases to even exist. Certainly enough people have witnessed the examples of peoples struggling under the yokes of totalitarianism of all strokes to ever want to live such a life. Yet, when we have the opportunity to demonstrate the shining example of what living in a free, open, and democratic society can be like, what do we do? We violate every tenet we ever preached to the world, and embarrass those who once held us in such high esteem. We rabidly hold dear our hard earned rights, and squake like chickens every time they are threatened, yet we turn a blind eye whenever our elected officials violate those very same principles in regards to foreigners in the name of state security. It's no wonder that the adjective first thought of these days when referring to America is "hypocrite".

Pride in being American has always been the truest and most rock solid attribute we as a people could celebrate. That pride is now being tested like never before, as our enemies within betray us and what we stand for, in attempts to focus our attention purely on enemies without. If we truly wish to pass on the standard of pride to our progeny, we seriously have to get off our collective asses and start doing the work required of a proud and free people, or we will sooner than later face the same rot, decay, and collapse that befell every great civilization before us, instead of joining the family of nations that have endured the ages and maintained their own proud identities.

10 comments:

Buffalo said...

Can't say that I disagree with you.

I think we started slipping as a country when we began to rely on "Big Brother" instead of ourselves. You broker in professional politicians, men and women that have groomed themselves since infancy to be a politician, who have no real desire to serve anyone other than themself; add in a lust for more and more power and then toss in a dash of "you have to live the way I do because I am so damned much smarter than you," and there is your recipe for disaster.

America can not, will not, be destroyed from without. Destroyed from withing - that is a horse of a different color; one that I sure as the hell don't want to ride.

jules said...

"If we truly wish to pass on the standard of pride to our progeny, we seriously have to get off our collective asses and start doing the work required of a proud and free people..."
My question is still: What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to change this?

The Michael said...

My first suggestion would be to boycott both the Republican and Democratic tickets, and elect as many third party candidates as possible. Then, no matter how this crew performs, if Dems or Pubs want back in the house, they are just going to damn well EARN it. No more bullshit promises, no more polarizing mudslinging, no more special interest whoring at our expense.

I_Wonder said...

Michael, you wrote "...There is no excuse in these modern, supposedly more rational times, for ..."

I found the following interesting:

"A compilation of deaths in wars and conflicts between 1945 and 1990, published in 1992, showed approximately 40 million deaths. These data included non-combat civilian mortality whose cause could be directly attributed to war or conflict. The data have now been updated to cover 1945 to 2000, and the total mortality has increased to 50-51 million people."

"An estimate of 20th century mortality using Eric Hobsbawn's (1995) concept of deaths caused by national political decision ( people killed or allowed to die by human decision ), which includes the wars and conflicts sum and which results in a mortality estimate of between 214 and 226 million for the 20th century."

(http://www.pcr.uu.se/conferenses/Euroconference/Leitenberg_paper.pdf)

I'm beginning to think civilization is a myth, progress is a fairy tale and people are not rational. Perhaps evolution has made a mistake.

The Michael said...

Paul, I probably have fifteen odd posts dealing with that subject alone (evolution committing one big boo-boo). The sad fact of the matter is that we are truly nothing more than beasts with more brains than is good for us. As we can see, brain size does not relate to rationality. Look at some of the charactors who have been caught performing totally irrational acts, people that have been chosen to serve in positions of power and responsibility. It's frightening, isn't it?

Homo Escapeons said...

Bucking Frilliant!

Except for
"when was the last time a Canadian pissed anybody off"
um..guilty

Fantastic essay...my heart goes out to you buddy. We know that there are millions more like you than the numbskulls calling the shots. Get rid of them ASAP.

btw. You have to meet
laura elizabeth and jerseymcjones

Buffalo said...

Any one that thinks we are anything more than animals with opposing thumbs is sadly mistaken.

gautami tripathy said...

Still a great nation but for a few people. It will all change, don't you worry.

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Another well-written piece of political commentary ... and it speaks to many of the feelings and frustrations that I share. I recently heard of a book you may be interested in, The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise & Fall, by Ian Bremmer

The Michael said...

It's not change I'm worried about, it's the dunning down and rush to mediocrity that's ruining it. One corporation finds a novel way to put Americans out of work, every other one rushes to copy it, rather than thinking outside the box and making the others look pathetic. I don't know why we even bother to call these companies "American" if their intentions are anything but honorable.