03 July 2006

Winning the hearts and minds

The USA doesn't seem to be able to win the hearts and minds of its staunchest allies, never mind those it has conquered by force of arms.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, a pro-US paper,
Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.

And perhaps the reason for the low opinion is not far to seek, for the report goes on to say
A spokesman for the American embassy said that the poll's findings were contradicted by its own surveys.
"We question the judgment of anyone who asserts the world would be a better place with Saddam still terrorizing his own nation and threatening people well beyond Iraq's borders."

Are they still so blind that they can't see that most people think that the world would be a better place without George Bush still terrorizing his own nation and threatening people well beyond the USA's borders? Either this spokesman is ignorant, stupid or lying, or any two or all three. And making such statements reinforces the bad opinion that other people have of the USA. Any fool can see that George Bush is a far bigger threat to peace than Saddam Hussein ever was. So the spokesman for the US embassy must be worse than a fool. The world was a safer place with Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq than with George Bush II and his lackey Tony Blair in charge of the USA and UK. Perhaps regime change in those countries might make the world a safer place, perhaps not.

People who criticise US foreign policy tend to be labelled, especially by people like this spokesman for the US Embassy in Britain, as "anti-American". But I find it difficult to be anti-American. Most Americans I have met in the flesh have been decent people, and good people, and people that have been good to know. They have been kind, generous, open and friendly, and have often been embarrassed at the blunders made by their government.

I was once staying with an American family who lived in Durban, and some relatives of theirs came from the USA to visit for a few weeks. The relatives admitted, rather ashamed, that they had voted for Richard Nixon for president. How, their Durban relations asked, could they do that, in the light of Watergate? Oh, they had read about Watergate, but hadn't believed it.

And now it is even worse. Since the end of the Cold War, the iron curtain has shifted. It no longer surrounds the second world, keeping out news of the outside world. It surrounds the USA, keeping the American people largely ignorant of the world outside. The country is controlled by the media, who keep the people ignorant, and by a few people who have grabbed the levers of power, as in a coup.

In surfing the blogosphere, I've come across some strange Americans who descirbe themselves as "moderates". As far as I have been able to ascertain, these are people who believe the lies of both sides of the American political divide, without discrimination. American society seems to be structured in such a way that regime change will not help. Though "moderates" may speak of the "political divide", it makes no difference in practical policies. It's just jumping from the frying pan into the fire and back again. The Democrats must be better than the Republicans, because they didn't bomb Baghdad. But the Democrats bombed Belgrade, and it was Madeleine Albright, not George Bush, who said that the price of the lives of half a million Iraqi children to maintain American hegemony in the Middle East was "worth it". Was Saddam Hussein really worse than that? The spokesman of the American Embassy has a long row to hoe.


Matt Stone said...

"The USA doesn't seem to be able to win the hearts and minds of its staunchest allies, never mind those it has conquered by force of arms."

So true.

Whilst I wouldn't go so far as to prefer Saddam over Bush (I see Bush as a dangerous idiot whereas Saddam is a genuine saddist) I agree that the American elite live largely in a world of their own creation, to the creation's detriment.

Steve Hayes said...

The difference between Saddam and Bush that counts, though, is not so much their personalities, but their deeds.

Saddam invaded one small country, was chased out, contained, and no longer a threat to his neighbours, though his own people continued to suffer.

Bush invaded two bigger countries, theatens to invade more, and is a greater threat to world peace. And I dbout that the life of the average Iraqi is better under bush than it was under Saddam. I suspect it's a great deal worse.


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