I often fail to understand why people think that America is so great. What is wonderful about a country that has gone from having a surplus of funds to being billions of dollars in debt in less than a decade? A country that’s the richest on earth, but has to have their president step in so that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people don’t lose their homes due to the poor economy doesn’t sound so great to me. A country that is so great that a large number of it’s population can’t afford routine health care? Sounds wonderful to me! Personally, I have been born and raised in Canada and based on experiences that I have heard or or seen in the US, I would much rather live here. Certainly it’s colder than some of the southern US states, but that’s what parkas, scarves, toques and gloves were invented for right?
Now please don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate America, or Americans. I dealt with them for six years at my previous job, and think that as a general rule they are a touch too arrogant, but that can be lived with.
My biggest problem is the whole American political agenda. Most particularly the current administration and their foreign affairs ideologies. Let me take a step back and say that the general foreign affairs rhetoric that is propagated by the US is a little over the top. I am referring most particularly to the idea that their way is the best way, in fact the only way.
Let’s take an example from popular culture. Anyone who has seen the show Stargate SG-1 will have a general idea what I am talking about. The idea of the show is they find a portal that will allow them to travel through this gate to other worlds. The gate that is found on earth turns out to be one of two, and the second winds up in the hands of the Russians. Russia, after running into issues with their own gate, wants to take part in the American Stargate program, which the US refuses to allow because they don’t trust the Russians, yet they expect the other countries of the world to trust them.
This show, or storyline, is symptomatic of a highly pervasive sense of political snobbery that the US seems to exude. For lack of a better term, they tend to be the political control freaks of the world. A real life example is the nuclear power issues in North Korea or the Atomic Bombs that were recently created and tested by Pakistan and India. The US was incensed at the idea that these countries had this type of power. To be fair, I can somewhat see the point, especially in countries like North Korea that may not have a stable base of political power. (Dear God, did I just allude to the fact that America is stable? What is going on with me?)
In any case, the US seems hell-bent on forcing their political doctrine on the rest of the world. Take Iraq as a perfect and current example. Back in 1991 the first Gulf war was fought over a legitimate issue, Iraq invading Kuwait. It was many years ago and I was rather young, but I believe there was fairly widespread support for that mission because Saddam Hussein was doing something legitimately wrong. Today, however the Americans are fighting what seems to be a losing war in the same country; a war that was started based on suspect information that turned out to be false, and all we get from the Bush administration is “Ooops, sorry!”
I have long believed that when George W. Bush was elected back in 2000 that the Americans were going to be back in Iraq before he left office. I certainly believed that before September 11, and expounded upon this after the attack. I had a feeling that he was going to use the atrocity of that day to further his political agenda to be in a country he had no business being in to begin with.
The mantra of the US to bring democracy to every corner of the world seems highly one-sided and is definitely anti-diversity. I am certainly a pro-democracy leaning individual, however am also of the belief that people should not have it shoved down their throats. Was Saddam Hussein a good man and leader? Based on the information we have, no! Does that give the Americans the right to invade and force their own political agendas down the throats of the Iraqi citizens? Absolutely not. Forgive the extreme examples here, but it seems like a more PR friendly version of the British slave trading ideals, or the current conflicts in Darfur.
Let us hope that the next president, whomever they may be, is a little more Clinton-esque and less Bush-esque. It can hardly get worse, I hope!