The title of this piece is an age old adage, which has come to reflect in many ways, the supremacy that the United States of America has gained in world affairs, particularly since the end of the second world war. How else does one explain the keen interest in the 2008 US national election that people around the world show, a sign that the next person who occupies the White House, does indeed have significant influence over what happens in the rest of the world, and this political reality makes citizens in other parts of the globe, extremely nervous and wanting assurances that their world will not be reduced to ever growing war zones and imperialist havens for the rich and powerful.
The question however is, should this be the state of affairs? Some political theorists such as Hedley Bull have argued that the existence of a balance of power on the world stage is extremely important to stop political power being accumulated in any one region. In other words, power should never be concentrated in any one state or region, but rather distributed equitably amongst nations. Ironically however, the United States, a nation which participated in the Second World War to stop Germany from accumulating power and becoming the regional hegemon in Europe, through its Third Reich, has indeed become a modern day hegemon itself, and one may argue, with devastating consequences.
The litany of the United State’s excesses and violations of international law over the last 50 years have become legendary. It is tragic that successive governments of a country which represents freedom and liberty to many immigrants from around the world, have often sought to become involved in matters globally that have left them being resented by many around the globe. Hence the necessity arises to vaccinate oneself (collectively) against these excesses and their resultant consequences.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that when one is coming down with a cold, one should ideally visit the doctor, take an anti-biotic, or have some ginger tea. If only such remedies would suffice against the virulent strain of viruses that American foreign policy around the world spreads through its “interventions”. From military invasions and occupations to the execution of financial practices that create panic in the global economy, the US influence in world affairs is often fatal, and continues to create the conditions where many people become extremely vulnerable to circumstances that have been created by these policies. In addition to the visible actions that lead to war and economic vulnerability, there is the level of covert actions which the US government and its various agencies have been engaging in, ostensibly to protect their citizens from security threats, however these invidious actions often lead to greater dangers for American citizens, because of accumulating resentment and hatred of such actions. In fact, the practice of extra-ordinary renditions, extraction of forced confessions through torture, violations of human rights within occupied territories, and other similar practices by agents of the United States have led to the growth of many more insurgent and terrorist elements globally, leading to greater insecurity.
The question is, what is to be done to vaccinate the world against the dangerous machinations of the US government, and its ability to convince other governments to collude with it and follow in its footsteps. Of course the US government would not be able to carry out many of its unethical activities without support from puppet regimes and other forms of structural support from other state forces, which have formed patron-client relationships with the US and benefit in a variety of ways from such relationships.
It would seem that citizens and citizen’s groupings have to take on the mantle of defending the world from the illness inducing actions of the US government, as they have indeed been doing for many decades now. A country renowned for its friendly people, popular culture, intellectual wealth, scenic beauty and historical treasures is becoming severely denuded and despised because of the actions of its government. It has become a land that turns away citizens from other countries, wanting to visit and work in the US, because it is constantly suspicious of everyone that holds a different opinion to the American government’s status quo, and even rejects those that have no opinion at all, because of the way they dress, the name they have or the colour of their skin. Such a situation is untenable and serves only to exacerbate tensions and escalate conflicts. If the tide is not reversed soon, the United States may end up becoming the world’s pariah nation, and will sadly find itself in the position of those countries it once admonished for their lack of good governance or political accountability.
An anti-dote to the current situation must be found soon, not because it is good for America, but because this is what is needed to stop the rest of the world from becoming ill, and protecting the well-being of the global community. While all of the world’s ailments cannot be laid at the door of the United States, it is nevertheless a key protagonist in creating these ailments and proliferating political chaos, and it must be stopped from spreading any more of its germs. While the new occupant of the White House in 2008, may be considered as an agent of change (the most popular slogan of this year’s campaign), such change is pointless if it doesn’t help to heal the world. Panado’s anyone ?
This piece has previously appeared in Al-Qalam Newspaper