I have met Americans on holidays here many times over the years and have visited the States a few times as well. What has always struck me on meeting them though was how different our world view was.
More than most Europeans, the Irish and the British are the most tuned into Americana for social and historical reasons. Almost sixty-million Americans claim Irish heritage and I would guess that a goodly proportion of Paddies have visited the States at one time or other. There is also an Anglo-American understanding that does not exist between Americans and anybody else anywhere.
And yet when world events are the topic of the conversation, I find myself at odds with the Yanks. Having given it much thought over time, I have some observations to make on this. Firstly, there is a huge difference between the American Government and the American people. If viewed in isolation since 2001, the American Government can be seen as an aggressive colonial power invading other countries because it can. To European eyes they went from World Policeman to Global Terrorist in only a few short years.
Say that to a visiting Yank though and they will growl at you. For the last twenty years it seems that I have been seeing American military power exercised all over the world and the average American appears to see nothing odd or wrong about that. Asking for a good or logical reason why they support intervening anywhere, Americans will always cite “Terrorism,” as the excuse. But Americans you meet here or over there are very nice welcoming people and this does not equate easily with their support for subjugating other Nations. So I can only conclude that they are repeatedly mis-informed at home.
I met a very well off chap on a visit from an American multi-national and he was keen to test the waters here on attitudes towards, what he referred to as, American Global Supremacy. So I started with Iraq, Saddam and weapons of mass illusion. He understood the long American tradition of false-flag operations and even had his own doubts whether 911 was an inside job by his own Government. But he still could not see how it was wrong to invade Iraq, hang their leader and then leave the whole place in shit afterwards. After much hot debate he retreated to the stance that there was just nobody about who could stop them doing it and all they were doing was fighting terrorism.
I remember once with time on my hands in L.A. I decided to get a decent paper and find a cosy boozer to sit and read. And boy, did I have to look everywhere for any kind of a newspaper. In the end I got ‘USA Today,’ a sort of a comic with small words for those with a tiny concentration span. Finding a boozer was even harder but when I did settle down in a pretty hostile quasi strip-bar, I learned that USA Today was America’s most popular paper and you are considered armed and dangerous if you read it in a strip-bar too.
In that issue, USA Today placed New Delhi in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Arabian Gulf, no kidding! Joe’s Deli merited more verbiage than any world-changing events. Bill’s secondhand car lot took up the whole back page. And television over there is even worse. I get the impression that programme content interrupts the ads and not the other way around. Fox twenty-four hour news, as seen from here, could be viewed as some kind of comedy hoax if the stakes weren’t so high. Is it any wonder then that if the average American is getting their information from sources like that, they just don’t know what is really happening.
Like I said, the average American you will meet is really very nice and I can understand then why they express confusion as to why so many countries are hostile to them. I have a certain sympathy with that in fact. But I think I know what’s wrong here. There is an underlining culture all over America that I call, “The kick-ass culture.”
It springs from Hollywood through the Western, the WWII G.I.’s and the modern supermen of film. It glorifies violence, the more gory the better, but when the film ends, everyone just goes home to their comfortable beds. Fantasy and reality have blended in the American psyche where violence is desirable as an ideal but the individual is completely detached from it and takes no part other than to lend their quiet support for it. Film footage of a drone strike on a Middle-Eastern school becomes Hollywood where the hero ‘kicks-ass’ but no innocent school-kids are killed. Everyone just goes home and gets into their comfortable beds too.
But they don’t all go home. Foreign kids are killed and maimed and their folks are rendered numb. The kick-ass drone spreads hatred and a deep will to hurt right back whenever possible. The CIA might seem to get away with overthrowing a democratically Government in any country it wishes and install its own puppets in their place but in the long run, they don’t get away with it at all. Indeed, because of the Patriot Acts I & II, it is questionable whether America itself is a democracy anymore.
This is not to suggest that Europe is the answer. But I do have an uneasy feeling that the States is getting seriously strange and I worry that if a Third World War were to happen, it would probably be the Americans who will start it somehow. Because you see, nobody else on Earth has an appetite for that except the Yanks. And if that does ever happen, the worst part of it will be that Americans will still not understand that a wrong was committed on their behalf.