Thursday, December 09, 2004

In God's Country

Instapundit links to Mark Steyn's new book on Amazon, which isn't being released until next April. Steyn is familiar to a lot of Irish people as he has a column in The Irish Times (Ireland's "Paper of Record", so to speak). Editorially the Times would resemble The Guardian but Steyn is published in an effort to give a right-wing American's point of view to try to balance the paper's own Social Democratic-International Co-Operation-Humanitarian/anti-American (depending on who you listen to) editorial standpoint. He's chosen to take a bit of a hiatus recently, but I'm sure he'll be back.

Americans would probably be surprised to hear this but many Irish people (and British as well - he writes for the Telegraph and New Statesman, I think) believe he's a deliberate wind-up merchant and don't take him seriously. Indeed he was the subject of some ridicule for repeatedly insisting that Osama bin Laden had been vaporised (or whatever term he used) before the infamous video published before the recent US election. That's a mistake on our part, as the title of his book shows - America Alone (where Steyn "...takes on the great poison of the twenty-first century: the anti-Americanism that fuels both Old Europe and radical Islam, America, Steyn argues, will have to stand alone. The world will be divided between America and the rest; and for our sake America had better win.") .

That this "us and them" attitude is how Americans in positions of influence think is truly scary, given its status as the only Global Superpower (the book is number 627 on the best sellers list and, as I said, it won't be published for months). It's quite clear, with George W. Bush in power, and as a result of September 11th, that it really is a case of "America, right or wrong" (except America can't be "wrong" if it's acting in its own interest, and that's the problem). Americans might talk about the "coalition of the willing" but we all know that the Bush administration would have gone into Iraq alone if it had to. September 11th has infected right wing America with a reactionary zeal (in terms of its attitude to the rest of the world) quite possibly unseen in history. If right-wing America couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks of its decisions and actions then why should any other nation assist it in any way?

The section "people also bought..." shows book titles like Our Oldest Enemy : A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France, If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It and The Connection : How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America. Un-fecking-believable! Why do people believe everything they read? So many Americans still believe Saddam had a part to play in September 11th. I would laugh if it wasn't so dangerous and so tragic. There is a body of opinion in America that firmly believes that it has no need for international co-operation, that other nation states act only out of total self-interest and therefore cannot be relied upon as Allies and friends and that America should use its might wherever necessary to preserve, not only its own safety, but a complete global hegemony.

I still believe, despite the constant cock-ups and (I find this hard to say) the rising death toll, that removing Saddam was the right thing to do for the sake of the Iraqi people and that they will be better off in the long term. However I don't mind admitting that America needs a good bloody nose as well. That's not support for attacks like September 11th in any way. I don't want to see America suffer any terrorism of any description or scale and I don't want to see its soldiers killed anywhere in the world by anyone. It's not their fault that they are being sunk in a quagmire not of their own making.

But America, the nation, needs to realise that having friends, partners and allies benefits both themselves and the rest of the world and that their "ourselves alone" attitude breeds xenophobia in their own country and leads to disenchantment, misery and hatred of America for millions across the globe. It seems, in this post 9/11 world, that if America were to realise the damage it does and the great things it could do then the world would be a safer place for all of us. 9/11 was an atrocity but did it benefit those whose hatred caused them to do such a thing? Of course it didn't. In reality, as traumatic as September 11th was, it was like agitating a hornet's nest and the last three years has shown the affect of American fury. But pain for America seems just around the corner - economic collapse and social upheavel in the wake of the Bush administration's ridiculous fiscal policy. Then, when having a social conscience and barely-liberal ideals, is no longer a sin America will wake up and say "NO" to those who have dragged them into this world of eternal conflict.
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