There is at least one area where I wholeheartedly agree with the global super powers and this isn’t something that happens very often — because in reality it’s not very often that a group that the United States (or any other global super power) labels “terrorists” is actually anything close to being terrorists. Most of the time they’re anything but. More often they’re noble freedom fighters akin to the early American settlers during the American Revolutionary War (people who by all accounts were surely being labeled “terrorists” at the time, but who are now looked at as “heroes”); or they’re the last of the brave holdouts attempting to defend the truth versus the corporate bs propaganda that is so regularly being fed to the masses.
This is a sad and frustrating phenomenon that has made it nearly impossible for the average person to discern who is the hero versus who is the villain in the world of today. The majority of the people choose, whether they do so deliberately or not is up for debate, to just believe (or at least claim to) that whoever is in control, i.e. their government of the moment, is the hero, and whoever THEY brand a terrorist is the villain. Even though we have thousands of years of history that clearly disproves this.
Examples that come to mind are the Chechens, the Iraqi freedom fighters, the Ukrainians of today caught in the middle of a tense battle for control over their land between the United States and Russia, the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, the Iranians throughout the 20th century, Palestinians over the last 100 or so years, anti-Pinochet Chileans, etc etc. All labeled “terrorists” by the powers that be when in reality they were simply “those most brave and committed to truth among the throngs of masses who were willing to do whatever they were told by those with the biggest guns”.
But in the case of ISIS… they are not defending any truth, nor fighting for anyone’s freedom. Instead they are a plain and ordinary band of unscrupulous thugs and gangsters using religion as an excuse to murder and terrorize. And in these cases i personally believe it is very important that we bring the hammer down fast and furiously upon them, lest anyone forget how committed we are to the progress we’ve made as a species thus far and how adamant we are to never going back to a world that resembles anything remotely like an Islamic Caliphate or any other dictatorship. Islam is a religion. But it is not a valid excuse to terrorize.
There are very few cases I can feasibly imagine where I would condone the killing of another human being. And if the allied forces of the West, along with the Kurds of Iraq and free Syrian people, can round up and arrest every last one of these so called ISIS members, then so be it. But if that proves to be impossible due to the nature of the conflict then by all means we will be better off in the short term and the long run doing whatever is necessary to rid the world of these madmen as quickly as possible.
The same operating principle should apply to any groups of mindless murderous thugs who happen to spring up out of the vacuum of chaos and pandemonium created by the so-called Arab Spring, or anywhere else on plate earth at this time. This does not imply that the powers that be in the West, nor America, nor democracies or Christians even, are somehow the new world arbiters of what’s “good” “right” “just” or noble. Surely they’ve proved again and again that they are anything but. In fact it is this idea — the so called “Exceptionalism of America” — that is responsible for much of the trouble and heartache all over the world today. But at the very least they attempt to represent and defend the basic ideals that the majority of people around the world today deem the most preferable, freedom of the individual and not the state, personal liberty, a fair and just justice system, separation of religion and state and a relatively capitalist free enterprise system.
These ideas may be still more ideals than common practice in many parts of the world — including America at times, but they are certainly more preferable than anything put forth by the more radical Islamic groups that have sprung up over the last ten to twenty years in resistance to the admittedly imperialistic forces of the United States. Just because the United States and their overtly bullying and imperialist methods seem nefarious and repugnant to us does not necessarily imply that the forces who have cropped up to resist them are any better. In fact most of the time, if anything, they are worse.
Therefore if we have a mission in these various battles or even a say, it is to continue to attempt to improve on this most delicate democratic republic we have created in the United States and in many other countries around the world, rather than try to bring them down or radically change them in any major way. This is our noble goal.
Just read a disturbing comment publicly made about the United States, not by someone from some crazy rogue nation, but by Poland, a relatively peaceful sane and rational country usually considered an ally. The discussion at hand — for the purposes of historicism many years from now — is the ever diminishing reputation of the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world. While clearly still the “leader of the free world” both economically and militarily, it has long been known that the US is in reality hanging on by a thread economically, with only the unfair advantage of the petro dollar (oil traded in US dollars only) and the unethical threat of military action propping the country up still. China and Russia have been blatantly bold and brash in their standing up to the United States since the advent of the Obama years in a variety of arenas. Long gone is that fear disguised as respect for the United States that once permeated the globe. One can almost taste the coming decline of the once proud nation that invented such outlandishly false and wicked ideas such as American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny to describe and justify their atrocious behavior as they ascended to world domination.
But times are changing. The quote:
“The Polish-American alliance isn’t worth anything. It’s detrimental because it creates a false sense of security for Poland.”
— Radoslav Sikorski, Polish Foreign Minister, June 24
I posted it to Facebook to see if others were equally disturbed by it. Many were. As occasionally happens the post spawned a heated debate and far too many comments to repost here — nearly one-hundred — and the conversation is still going as I type here.
There is also this disturbing article in the London Review by Seymour M. Hersh that discusses this issue and again gives pause about Obama’s seemingly faulty foreign policy: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line
Filmmaker50 who we’ve been friends with for over a decade commented and we shall use his comment and question as a launching pad to explore the issue in more depth.
Filmmaker50: Did you read the TIME article from where that quote is taken from? I did. He’s upset because the USA has not given him more military aid since Putin invaded Ukraine. Do you expect the American government to jump and do what every country says just because the ambassador says something insulting? There’s a context to everything.
Hi Filmmaker50. I saw it discussed on The McClaughlin Group as reprinted from the WSJ. Not in TIME. I both agree and disagree with you: but it all depends on what one’s goal is regarding the American empire… Our reputation in the world is important. And It’s diminishing. Regardless of what we do, it will continue to diminish, either we lose more and more respect due to more military invasions, or we lose that fear of us militarily in the hearts of other nations due to not taking enough actions. It’s a perplexing position to be in for sure. I do not pretend to know the answer my friend.
My thoughts on the matter off the top of my head though…
I found it shocking at first, obviously, as everyone else surely did — the stark contrast between this America and the one we grew up in. 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago nobody would dare utter those words…one, because they wouldn’t want anyone to know they said it and two because there would be no truth to it. An alliance with the US was at one time considered extremely valuable, both in reality and practice AND in perception. This is a real change in perception. They claim it’s because of recent poor decisions re Syria and Ukraine. Perception has changed. That’s for sure.
This statement above, and the fact it was printed publicly says a lot about where we are right now as a country on the global stage. As an American I find it a little frightening. And sad. As a human I get it. It’s life. It’s the cycle. It couldn’t last forever. It never does. The empire is in decline.
We have to remember that we grew up in a very privileged place and time. Like Rome in 100 AD or Greece circa 100 BC. It was a magical time. But it’s fading now. As it always does for any earthly empire.
I don’t have a specific view or conclusion regarding your question… Just many different thoughts. I guess it all depends on what ones goal or mission is. If I were more hawkish more patriotically selfish and greedy I guess I’d be very pissed at president Obama for his making the US appear so weak globally and for not taking full advantage of other countries problems for our own gain.
If I were more of the starry eyed hippie peacenik that some assume me to be then I’d probably be pleased with his decisions not to go into these other countries militarily — despite the potential for great harm to us both economically and perhaps militarily or domestically.
ISIS scares the the crap out of me and I believe they need to be dealt with sooner than later. Think about that for a moment… The Ambassador, a lover of all cultures including Islam and a hard working activist for peace and diplomacy — who is way more humanist than American-minded and who gives everyone more than a fair shot just stated “ISIS scares the crap out of me…”. That says something. I’m one of the few people we know who does NOT fear Iran and who sees all that nuclear fear talk as total bs by an imperialist bully brigade made up of the US Israel and the UK, yet I am honestly seriously and sincerely concerned about our safety and security if we do not act swiftly and strongly against this strange new breed of terrorists.
I do not believe that Obama style diplomacy is going to help us with them. It only buys them more time to collect more troops, more alliances and more money. If they are permitted to continue to take over all of our oil wells in Iraq, WHAT are WE going to do? After all, that’s why we went to Iraq. It may have been evil, sure. But we did it. Accepted. And lest we forget we invested a ton of money and human lives to achieve that goal and secure those resources for the 21st century, the supposed New American Century. We need that oil. And we need that land strategically. It was militarily a brilliant strategy — to take Iraq, considering where it is geographically etc. (I am not speaking of ethics here. Just black and white “empire versus no more empire”…) We just cannot allow them to continue. For MANY reasons, not the least of which is what happens if they gain strongholds in Syria or start threatening Israel or are successful in instituting Sharia Law there or anywhere…
All of our hard work and money….down the drain. Obama is afraid of the political costs…afraid of what the American people will say… And it’s clear that the disaster of the Iraq invasion — certainly not is doing — is influencing his decisions re Syria and Crimea / Ukraine… Which is too bad.
Instead he should be more concerned with improving our economy (the oil there), our security and the security of our allies there, and our future (how “large” is “too large” to the Obama admin?) ISIS has no intention of negotiating some mutually beneficial treaty with the US like the Saudi family did. These are hardcore anti-Western anti-American anti-Christian ideologues who have no problem killing anyone and everyone who get in their way. We should be sending 150,000 troops to that region NOW, making a huge stand and statement, showing these men that we mean business and that we will not back down so easily from something that we worked so hard to secure. This is, if, as we claim, we want to continue to benefit from all the glory that comes from being “the best country in the world”.
What exactly is the current admin thinking? I assume we are waiting for actual working oil wells to be threatened…. But I think we should go on the offensive. Not wait. Screw the whining of the so called far left liberals. They don’t understand what’s at stake here in the bigger picture. Do they really believe that ISIS is going to stop? Or make nice with us one day? Do they believe that if we ignore ISIS that they will go away? Or leave us alone? They need to do more research into the matter. They’re blind to the harsh realities of a people they simply have no reference points with which to understand.
Done get me wrong. I understand that the president knows a lot more than we do about what is really happening there… And I trust that he has the same desire for our security and economic welfare that we do… So I trust he’s doing what is best. Hoping so at least.
But I understand the frustration of others more to the right. I can only imagine how more hawkish people or more “American patriotic” people must feel about all this. They must be beyond pissed. Beyond frustrated. Beyond worried. I get that. And for good reason.
Of course I also see the potential benefits of the devil finally getting his due. The United States has been a thorn in the side of global peace for almost 60 years, sticking it’s nose in the business of other countries for as long as we can remember. Never thinking about right versus wrong but rather always just acting out of what they seem best for themselves. Baring that in mind, there is a beautiful irony to how things are currently playing out.
And wouldn’t it be grand if for once the United States just stepped back and allowed world affairs to play out as they will without stepping in to force their own desires on everyone involved? Certainly this would create a huge sigh of relief in the hearts of many.
But at what cost to those of us who live here now and in the near term future? What cost might we pay down the line for not taking action now “when we still could”? How soon will this insane group known as ISIS and their twisted view of the world land on our doorstep? Are we truly preventing a major tragedy in our own backyard by participating in these minor skirmishes around the world? That’s the question. That’s always been the question.
Did our intervention in Vietnam help us in any way? Korea? Nicaragua? Colombia? Iraq or Afghanistan even? This we will never know. One thing we do know is that Ameican Exceptionalism, always a myth perpetrated by amoral chest pounding knuckle dragging bullies to justify selfish greedy acts of terror around the world, is seeming to come to an end.
Regardless of where one happens to land on that virtual left versus right line in the sand, we have all benefitted over the last sixty years from America’s domination of planet earth, whether we deserved it such as after World War II, or not. A future where the United States is NOT the dominant force in the world is a frightening proposal if one lives here. So frightening in fact that one can easily see how certain individuals might be tempted to think more ethically questionable and hegemonic — out of pure fear or selfishness.
The whole thing is just a real shame. We obviously never should have gone to Iraq in the first place. Which I believe is the main issue at the crux of this whole quagmire presently. It’s the elephant in the room. But with that said, does it forever doom us to a tormented future of more war and the constant threat of terror? Or is there a way out of it? Can we envision a world where by our own ingenuity and freedom we come out not necessarily ahead but just “doing well”? Safe secure and prosperous? Isn’t that cause enough to strive towards as a nation? Is it even possible? Can we as Americans be okay with just being healthy and wealthy without dominating the entire globe? I for one can adamantly answer without pause or doubt yes yes and yes.
In fact imagine a world where one day the United States actually really does stand for and contribute to more peace and sanity and prosperity in the world for all nations and peoples through the enormous blessings and gifts we’ve been given. Now that’s a vision worth fighting for. Perhaps just not militarily though. Perhaps there is another way… A giant shift in mass consciousness brought about by a people who are tired of war and lies and deceptions and corruption and hungry for true peace justice freedom and prosperity for all.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone 8s Custom
Mormon business mogul turned wanton political hopeful Mitt Romney used Tuesday night’s attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Libya as a political tool to try to gin up hard right extremists in the middle-states netherworld known as “the bible belt”. Before he knew what was actually happening overseas he held a mock press conference and commented around midnight that the United States should not apologize to Muslim people for an insulting low budget movie that made fun of the prophet Mohammed and sparked protests in several Middle Eastern countries. The next morning the world would learn that more than just protests took place and that four American diplomacy officials had been killed, including the Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. But when Romney made his comments, there was no knowledge of such an attack. He was simply speaking about the Obama White House’s apologizing about the offensive film. It was strikingly similar to George W. Bush’s public apology in 2006 to people of the Islamic faith regarding a Danish cartoon that sparked the same kind of anger in the Muslim world.
Not only was Romney’s middle of the night statement to the media a blatant political low blow not unlike how he’s handled his entire race for the presidency, more seriously it showed a genuine lack of diplomacy and leadership skills, for in reality he had no idea what was really transpiring in that area of the world, nor how serious the situation could and would get. Most disturbing it also showed a sincere lack of understanding and compassion for people who hold different values than his own, something that one would hope that anyone with a chair in the Oval Office would have mastered before being allowed to enter the room. So yesterday from early morning till late at night, the entire country was talking about politics — Mitt Romney and yet another one of his gaffes rather than the fallen hero that few among us knew very well named Ambassador Christopher Stevens. This distraction of the real news story may be the worst fall out of Romney’s desperate attention grab.
To be sure, no one with a conscience and a love for humanity, no matter how conservative or radical (they seem the same now in America and across the world don’t they?), be they Christian, Jew or Muslim, Democrat, Republican or Independent, would condone the kind of violence that was responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens or his coworkers. But one gets the impression that we are dealing with two separate issues here. One seems to be a well thought out and planned attack on a vulnerable American Embassy filled with trusting people in Libya on the anniversary of 9/11. One could call it terrorism. One could call it an attack of retaliation for a devastating ten years of American imperialism and bullying. But no one in their right mind would condone or approve of it. The other issue was the video that upset people in the Middle East so much that they took to the streets to protest.
One would do well to not jump to conclusions and tie these two separate events together as if they were one and the same. Although the most uneducated on Facebook and other social networks are already doing so, and going even further. One would think that they’d be happy to see the United States enter yet another war and this time take on the entire Muslim world. Last night I read one such unwashed plebeian comment that “it is inevitable that there will be another war between religions. USA!” As if he were talking about a video game marathon in his friend’s basement.
One gets the feeling that the Hollywood film that deliberately insulted the Prophet Mohammed was merely the spark that lit the flame of these new protests and not the sole reason for them. The sulfur on the match-head had been building up and sticking for years, some would say decades. American invasion and occupation of the Middle East has been the most publicly witnessed and talked about event in human history over the last ten years. Nothing has occupied the attention of the world more. One can only imagine what the people in this region feel after years of if. The death toll of Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Palestinians, and even whole neighborhoods of people in Yemen and public assassinations of Iranian scientists is so high that it is impossible to quantify by any estimates. As the United States government continues its mission of it’s “new American Century”, the people of the Middle East watch helplessly in horror as their friends, family and neighbors die all around them.
To address Mr. Romney’s misguided quote in the photo above, one would be justified in responding “On the contrary. If what you mean by “America’s values” is invading and occupying other sovereign nations around the world, blackmail in the form of economic terrorism to bring them to their knees, assassinating their government officials or drone strikes in the dead of night on their people… then there’s no better course for America to at least start with than apologies.” One day perhaps the citizens of the United States will elect a president who understands this. If this person utters those dreaded words “American exceptionalism” then the people will know they haven’t found that man or woman yet. The world is waiting for a leader who recognizes and acknowledges “human exceptionalism” and stops the xenophobic jingoistic blind patriotism that started American down this slippery slope many years ago. The term “American exceptionalism” wreaks of ignorance and arrogance, and worse it displays someone who has not traveled extensively or lived abroad very much and therefore really doesn’t yet get that we are all the same at heart. It is at best a disrespectful and ignorant phrase; at worst it is downright offensive to people of every other country on planet earth.
The real issue is at hand is not if the U.S. government should be apologizing, but rather what ELSE can they do to begin to make amends for a shameful foreign policy that has been condemned by every civilized country in the world over the last sixty years. In regards to today’s new outbreaks of anti-American sentiment and protests in Yemen, Iran, Egypt and Libya, one might argue that it’s about time these countries started sticking up for themselves in the face of such rampant disregard, disrespect and abuse by American forces. The Information and the Personal Expression Ages are finally flattening the global playing field and enabling other countries to mobilize and voice their opposition to tyranny the same way they have enabled American citizens to in recent years. What we are witnessing is the effect of this new found power.
This is not to say that the United States should not legally track down the killers of Ambassador Stevens and his coworkers and bring them to justice. Terrorism of any kind by any country — including the United States ironically — should not be tolerated by the world’s governments nor its people. But there are millions of people in these countries where these protests are happening, the majority of whom are innocent. The last thing in the world they need is yet another American invasion or war beset upon them to upend their already fragile lives. There is a difference between hunting down a few militant extremists and starting a full out war with an entire country. Let us hope that the United States government understands the difference this time.
One day the United States government will realize that it cannot go around the world doing whatever it wants to just because it wants to or has the capabilities to do so. One day the American people will wake up enough to demand it. Until then there will always be anti-American protests in Middle Eastern countries. The real fear that regular American citizens should be feeling now is that these sentiments do not begin to trickle over into other countries of the world again as they had after the ignoble and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. America has made good progress over the last three years to repair its tattered image on the world stage. Though it has a long way to go before the average citizen of the world doesn’t view the American government with more than a bit of resentment and cynicism. The next few days and weeks to come will be crucial in determining how the United States is viewed by its neighbors in the coming years. Let us hope for all of our sakes that the powers that be in Washington are more focused on the long game, on our economic stability in a global economy, on compassion, cooperation and diplomacy rather than on vengeance, greed, oil, power or global dominance.