This is (hopfully) a comic and serious veiw of the US from an Englishman.
|It aint easy being green - unenviable America?
I've been reading a huge book recently called 'Modern Times Modern Places: Life and art in the 20th century'. I'm usually quite a proficient reader, but this book has for the most part been either over my head, or delves in to far too much detail in regard to subject matters that I have little or no interest. (I was hoping for a book more along the lines of Bill Brison's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything', which was obviously pitched at more my brow-level).
However I have persevered with this book for nearly 6 months now, I've learnt (and forgotten) many new words, and when this book does grab my interest and I can make out what the overly wordy Peter Conrad is on about it can set me off thinking about many things that never normally would find much space in my thoughts alongside football (soccer), football manager, work, my life, my wife and family, money, and a plethora of fantasies (playing for Liverpool, painting the Queen in the nude (her not me) and all the other leftover day-dreams of my adolescent self).
A few weeks ago I came across a section about the unenviable position that the United States has found its self in since the Second World War/ end of the cold war, the position of global policeman. Admittedly it is a self appointed position, no person, or persons has elected the US into this role, but since the decline of Russia the role has been taken up by US as the most powerful and militarily capable nation in the world. I can't find the passage again in my book, otherwise I'd transcribe some of it here. However there wasn't much more in the passage other than the word 'unenviable' that set off my own thought processes.
I like many other find it very easy to laugh at and deride America, American's, and American politicians. However I don't think I'd ever really thought of their position as unenviable – I'd never thought too much about their situation as the most powerful nation on the globe. With power, along with greed, corruption and all the other hateable qualities that power brings with it, is a tremendous amount of responsibility. Sure that power can and has been misused many times by the United States, but are some of the anti-American attitudes displayed by so many non-Americans (in part myself included) a little childish and undeserved? As the global Police force is American open to us all making piggy noises behind its back, but still relying on them when the serious shit hits the serious fan?
America has had many corrupt, and self-serving politicians/presidents/ and figures of power; many corrupt individuals. But what of the general American populace? What of those in power not out to benefit just themselves, or just their city, or country? Has America ever committed a truly altruistic action?
If you saw a group of people being held against their will, being attacked and having their property stolen, and if you had the resources and capabilities to intervene and to restore liberties and properties to the victims it would be generally accepted that the right thing to do is to intervene. You'd be held up as a hero and as an example to be followed, and you would be chastised if you allowed the events to continue despite having the resources to stop what is in our society viewed as a serious crime.
In the example above there is a clear cut right and wrong when viewed through the eyes of our laws – when you upscale the example to an international level allsorts of other factors come into play for example, religious and cultural differences between the assumed victims/antagonists and our own society, friendships and alliances with other countries, countries which many provide the oil/grain/metal needed for your own core industries to function. There is then also a multitude of different ways to intervene if intervention is the course of action decided on; provide means/arms to the 'victims'? The cessation of trade with the antagonist? Military action??
The USA is in a position where by it will never be liked, like Man Utd in the 90's, or Chelsea today they are at the top of their field and people will dislike and envy them for it. Like Chelsea they are at the top of their pile through not exactly 'fair' means (they're all flashy suits, doggy business deals and money; though how much the US benefits form rich Russians oligarches I'm unsure). It is the global police force and authority figure, it's generally viewed as loud, brash, insensitive, ignorant, selfish, greedy, and arrogant – but why not, no one was going to like them anyway.
It reminds me of that quote about money; 'Money is the root of all evil'. The phrase is actually a bastardization of the original quote from the Bible:
'For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.' Timothy 6:10
Money its self is not evil or good, the want of money however can lead to evil deeds. Money is an object no more evil or good than a sock (though admittedly mine can be pretty evil). Power (so often linked to money) can be good (such as the power to heal, or the powerful right peg of Steven Gerrard), or bad (such as the power to maim or kill). Again power its self is not evil or good the US has power to do good and evil – and depending on your own subjective interpretations probably does both on a daily basis. America is not good or evil, it is a place, a name under who a collective of individuals commit acts of despicable and unimaginable cruelty and selfishness, and it is a name under who a collective of individuals commit acts of unimaginable kindness, and altruism.
I've never hated America, but I am going to try to stop making those piggy noises whenever they fill their role of policing. I hate and strongly disagree with many of the actions carried out it America's name, and will voice disapproval when necessary, but I'm willing to give it a bit more of a break in the future.