Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

The planet keeps turning and America’s imprint upon it grows ever larger. The world’s business has never been so completely our concern, especially our business concern. Because that concern is paramount to all others we must defend those interests worldwide. America’s competitive drive wants to dominate world markets, and to do that we must be the dominant force in the world. All other nations are free to do as they wish unless their actions threaten our freedom to act as we will.

We don’t like to think of it that bluntly, but we have grown comfortable with that world view. We are the good guys. What’s good for General Motors is good for the U.S.A., and what’s good for America is good for mankind. What’s not to like about that?

So it goes, though the going is becoming increasing bumpy as the world’s policeman faces the same troublesome problems confronting its “homeland” policing. Ferguson is now only a stone’s throw from the Mideast. Here and abroad, excessive force too readily used, too often, is beginning to upset even those to whom it isn’t directly aimed. What was occasional questionable conduct in misuse of deadly intervention now has its own dedicated soundbite on the evening news. “Legal justification” isn’t playing well in Ferguson or the court of world opinion, especially absent a clear moral imperative.

Like our close ally Israel, America has come to resemble an oppressor, rather than the purveyor of freedom and democracy. No wonder Netanyahu got such a rousing reception throughout his controversial address to America’s congressional leadership.

That more and more Americans are conflicted by all this is what citizenship, and true patriotism, is all about. Positive redirection of our internal strife remains possible despite national denial and collective fatigue in facing our repeated shortcomings. The American dream remains plagued by insufficiently confronted nightmares. The dichotomy of the haves and havenots remains a profound dilemma. For some to have what they consider enough, others must have proportionately less. Both at home and abroad, redistribution is necessary to avert outright sharing.

At home we struggle with a partisan divide, but those difficulties are no match for the reactionary single mindedness of nationalistic politics. “Divided we stand,” more and more confused as to whom we stand against and whether we were told the truth about why we are making the stand in the first place.

Whatever benefits remain possible from the nearsightedness of a two party system, America’s vision is even less acute when we blindly comes together as one nation pitted against another without question. Patriotism may not be the last refuge of scoundrels, but it has been a convenient ostrich hole for ignoring our self-interest’s impact on world destabilization.

We used to be consumed by the Domino Theory. Now we seem unaware that we are perceived as causing the same effect. Our once revolutionary ideology, Good. Opposing ideologies, Bad, and must be toppled.

Purportedly, our number one enemy is China. Its being Red is no longer the justification. It is Chinese capitalism’s runaway success that is the issue. Their Alibaba challenges our Amazon. Ironically, their emulation of our economic way of life is deemed more threatening than when we were ideological opposites.

Trying to grasp the concepts of politics and economics, I once asked my middle school social studies teacher if such a thing as Communist capitalism might be possible. He laughed so loud that the entire class rejoiced in my amazing stupidity. Now, amazingly, Walmart sells Chinese goods both here and in mainland China.

Formerly number one, our number two enemy is Russia. The Cold War over, victorious Western capitalism now wants someone more accommodating to a global bottom line than an old school Russia-first Putin. Opportunely accused of wantonly assassinating an essentially powerless opponent on the steps of the Kremlin, his opposition to the West must end before his 85 percent approval rating goes even higher.

Our number three enemy is IS, the Islamic State. Which is fine because we think we hate Islam. Number four is Iran, which confounds us all the more by now assisting in the fight against IS.

We don’t think of ourselves as imperialistic, because that is what our American revolution rebelled against. Imperialism is just plain un-American, yet militarily extending America’s influence to serve its business interests has become what America is all about.

China is our great economic rival, but also an attractively cheap labor source. We could come to the aid of Tibet, but we don’t. Most Americans don’t even know where Ukraine is, just as Vietnam’s civil war had nothing to do with U.S. sovereignty or everyday existence. If stopping communism was so crucial, why is it no longer of concern now? How many Americans, or those that represent them in Congress, can easily define Sunni and Shiite differences and why we should sort out their conflict rather than they themselves?

Wouldn’t it be more prudent for us to make the West, and America’s leadership of it, less self-servingly offensive and threatening to others? We used to have a Good Neighbor policy, not a We First one.


Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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