Better Late Than Never
This went around the Blogosphere already last week, but it's still worth commenting on. "It" is the Open Letter From a Canadian
, which begins thusly:
Dark, evil operations run rampant in the secret corners of your government institutions. A dubiously constituted government pursues war at will anywhere on earth, discussing nuclear options that become points for cheerful chatter over lunch. Your military and intelligence agencies employ terrorist tactics around the globe even as they insist that such tactics are necessary in the fight against terrorism.
You have become a nation of monsters, America. Hypocrites. Murderers. Fools.
It goes on like that, combining specific charges with generalized attacks on America, encapsulating pretty much every criticism that we've heard from abroad - and from some here at home - in one big, angry screed.
I'm not going to pick it apart, because there isn't any point. Some of the charges (the Bush administration may have carried out the 9/11 attacks itself; the FBI murdered JFK, etc) aren't worth answering, and some of them are articles of twisted and paranoid faith that there's no point in answering (the old "a cabal of international bankers secretly rule the world" thing, again).
Some of the lefty blogs
out there, while dismissing the more paranoid elements of the letter, have latched on to it as a "wake-up call" that we should take seriously; that even if not everything in the letter is accurate, some of the things there are valid complaints (if stated somewhat hysterically) that Europeans and others have been making for a while now, and we really ought to listen to them already.
Obviously, I don't agree with that.
Are there things to criticize the U.S. for? Sure. Are we hypocritical in our international relations at times? Sure. Has our government done truly horrendous things, both abroad and at home, both in the past and right up to the present day? Sure.
Because our givernment is run by human beings (well, kind of, anyway). Who are flawed, and imperfect, and sometimes venal and corrupt, and sometimes err with the best intentions, and sometimes find themselves in dilemmas where there are no good answers, only degrees of bad. As with every single other nation in the history of the planet.
But is the U.S. less bad than most other governments? I think so. Have we done less bad things, and more good things, than most other governments? I think so.
That doesn't justify the bad, or explain it away, or obviate the need for criticism. But the fact is, for all our supposed arrogance, we are nowhere near the unilateralist monster that some critics would like to believe us to be. We've been discussing an attack on Iraq for several months already; they've been a thorn in our side for a decade, deliberately provoking us - and other than occasional strikes against anti-aircraft defenses, we've held our hand. Hardly the behavior of the out of control rogue colossus.
And while we do have troops in several countries as part of the war on terror, we've shown more restraint, and more concern for civillian casualties, than perhaps any other military force in history.
The problem is that many of our critics begin from a place of opposition; they don't like the fact that we are very powerful, and they are not. Everything we do is viewed in the worst possible light; there's little if anything we could do, short of disbanding our military entirely, that would improve the opinions of our critics.
Similarly, if you believe that, essentially, banks and corporations ae evil, and that Big Oil is more or less all-powerful, then you accept as a matter of faith that:
earth-friendly technology already exists to once and for all end dependence on oil, coal and nuclear energy from huge, out-of-control utilities and corporations.
And there's no argument that can really dissuade folks who believe that from their view that there's a 100 MPG carburetor, or a car that runs on water, or some other magical solution that would render the oil companies impotent if only the good people could wrench it away from their vile clutches.
That's the problem with this whole letter, as well as the idea that it's really the words of a friend who's saddened and angry at how we've changed. I don't believe it is. I think it's the words of someone who hates us, and who has done so for a long time, and whose view of everything we are and all we do is colored by that hatred.
But check it out and decide for yourself...