Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why doesn't everyone else understand how wonderful we are?

David Bromwich in the New York Review of Books:

Nothing can excuse acts of terrorism, which are aimed at civilians, or those acts of state terror in which planned civilian deaths are advertised as "collateral damage." Yet the uniformity of the presentation by the mass media after 2001, to the effect that the United States now faced threats arising from a fanaticism with religious roots unconnected to anything America had done or could do, betrayed a stupefying abdication of judgment. The protective silence regarding the 725 American bases worldwide, and the emotions with which these are regarded by the people who live in their shadow, cover up a clue in the fact that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on September 11 were Saudis. The presence of thousands of American troops on Arabian soil was hotly resented. To gloss over or ignore such facts only obstructs an intelligent discussion of the reaction likely to follow from any extended American occupation of the Middle East.


This inability to see ourselves as others see us is hardly new, but it can't be good news.

4 comments:

mike vw said...

Of course, the question is: why do we have those bases? For instance, some resent our base in South Korea, but others see it as a protection again a North Korean invasion.

Just because some of the people resent our presence doesn't mean they all do. The challenge is knowing which people to listen to.

Paul Botts said...

"the uniformity of the presentation by the mass media after 2001, to the effect that the United States now faced threats arising from a fanaticism with religious roots unconnected to anything America had done or could do" -- what a bizarre straw man to set up. (Unsupported, naturally, by anything so mundane as factual evidence.) On what plane of reality did that "presentation" dominate the U.S. media even in 2002, never mind more recently? Certainly not the one I've been living in.

Harold said...

Or, Mike, the challenge is to rethink the whole idea of empire, which has no place in libertarian ideas of politics AFAIK.

mike vw said...

Agreed Harold. Empire does not belong in libertarian politics. But libertarianism is itself problematic on foreign policy because it can't grasp the intricate problems associated with the imperial state and its removal. Taking a position against empire (a position we share) doesn't answer the question about what we do about the fact that we are an empire (in a soft sense) already. And simply pulling it back would have all sorts of unintended consequences: war, political instability, genocide. It's not to say we shouldn't pull back, but that the how is VERY VERY complicated.