The Sun Never Sets on the American Dollar

Stephanie Fail

In a rebuttal to a piece I wrote, Dillon Zhou remarked that he feels the War on Terror is beneficial to American security [“The Counterculture Watch: Rebutting Naiveté In a Dangerous World”, 9/22/08]. I strongly disagree. Of course, the United States of America, as a capitalist nation, has many interests within foreign nations. It is logical for our government, in the name of economic prosperity, to offer financial and military support to our businesses when the politics of the host government interrupt those businesses’ will to profit. Over its history, and especially in the latter half of the 20th century, America’s foreign relations have been a quite loaded game of “Do as we say or we will hijack your government.”

The CIA arranged dozens of coups, wherein American tax dollars supported terrorism and the violent overthrow of other nations’ leaders in order to install one sympathetic to our interests, often at the cost of the democratic and civil rights of those people. We have supported Pinochet in Chile, Gen. Videla of Argentina, Suharto of Indonesia, Armas, Fuentes, and Montt in Guatemala, the Shah of Iran, the Somozas of Nicaragua, Banzer of Bolivia, Mobatu of Zaire, Noriega of Panama, Papa and Baby Doc of Haiti, Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Kamirov of Uzbekistan, and Batista of Cuba. All of these rulers used bloody oppression to crush leftist and often majority-supported movements within their country.

According to Zhou, I am an example of the disillusioned because I disagree with this approach. An illusion is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. If I do not believe in the false reality “sold”, as he put it, to the American public via the media, am I too a potential terrorist?

Zhou also claims that I’m suggesting that the US government is trying to convert our “newly acquired constituents” to Christianity, a double misstatement. First, my discussion upon that point was analyzing Palin’s prophet-like wording of her support for the war, which I don’t think we should trust. Secondly, I didn’t know Iraqis or Afghanis are now American “constituents”. He claims that it is wrong to criticize the Bush Administration for its “few areas of marginal progress and the multitude of disturbing failures in the War on Terror” because it has weakened public support of the government and its aims. What? So we’re supposed to just accept that we were lied to about there being ties between Iraq and 9/11? Or that Iraq had WMD, or that this $730 million dollar-a-day War on Terror, which has set even more of the world against us, is a good thing for the American people? Doesn’t a democracy thrive on the free exchange of ideas, or did I miss the memo saying America is now fascist?

Are we supposed to follow Zhou’s advice to leave all policy revision to the next President, without seeking the truth ourselves? I hope everyone who reads this article looks up at least one of the dictators I have accused the US of supporting, to find out for themselves the reality of modern American foreign policy. Enough puppetry.

Zhou says that our leaders are justified in using Christian rhetoric to maintain public support because “most Americans are […] willing to subject themselves to a Christian agenda: promoting human dignity, political freedom and other universal examples of brotherly love”. Is that what we have been doing in Iraq or Afghanistan? Is that even what Christianity has been doing throughout history? The idea that it is okay to force a violent interpretation of Christian values upon Americans with the clause that it is excusable so long as we aren’t doing it to foreigners contradicts the First Amendment of the Constitution in which our government is not allowed to pass laws that respect a certain religion.

Truth may be bitter without sugar coating. In exchange for the illusion of optimism, the American people are being bombarded with religious cheerleading from a supposedly neutral government. This is not limited to religious, but ideological manipulation as well. The New York Times has sued the Pentagon for over 8,000 pages of communications between political media pundits and the Pentagon. CNN, MSN, NBC, ABC, and FOX news were illegally given talking points intended for public consumption from the desks of the Pentagon.

Now the same pattern is being used for Iran as the US claims that they are attempting to develop nuclear weapons. The UN through its studies has continually found that Iran is enriching uranium at a normal level for nuclear power: 3.5%. It would take over 5 years for Iran’s centrifuges to reach the 90% enrichment required for a nuclear weapon. Should we be sending our warships to their waters this soon? We should demand that our government offer a fair deal to Iran in which they are allowed to continue exploring alternative energy like the rest of the world, instead of a “do as I say, not as I do” unilateral and arguably fascist mentality. Considering that we hold the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world, I think the odds of Iran committing what would be virtual suicide by surprising us with a nuclear “present” is not a true threat.

For economic security, we should be investing in industries that will bring jobs here, not help the rich get richer as they rely on US military support to exploit other nations and avoid this one’s taxes. For national security we need to take a preventive approach to terrorism and extremism by ceasing the use of those tactics ourselves. The US supported the Iranian Shah when he had his police shoot down dozens of women protesting for the right to wear a hijab, the Taliban when the U.S. quietly funneled them money and arms through Pakistan to be a covert Cold War front, and collaborated with Saddam Hussein for over 20 years in spite of his repeated violations of international law by using chemical weapons on dissidents.

Saddam’s Baath party was an ally only ten years ago, and once we set them up to assault Iran and then abandoned them financially they were not only disillusioned, but felt used. People don’t hate us because of our lifestyle, they hate us because we have proved to them we are hypocrites to our own ideals in the pursuit of power and money. Anti-Americanism has deep roots because we have planted the seeds.

Neocolonialism has learned its lesson from the failures of the past, and has taken a more subtle approach to domination. “Nation building through military might” is colonialism, with indigenous rulers and a new vocabulary to justify exploitation. By continuing to interrupt the will of other nations for personal gain we will continue to lose allies and national safety.

The blood shed in the name of America can never be washed from our hands, but the tsunami of blood we risk from moving forward into this century with a polarized mindset can be prevented only through diverse and fearless communication. The only way to end this War on Terror is to not give the terrorists or our government the power to bully us into being afraid. “Convenient Liberalism” (a blogger term long before Zhou took creative credit in his editorial) is nothing but a generalization. Instead of attempting to critique U.S. foreign policy, he has erected walls to listening by stereotyping.

If we the people allow self-criticism to scare us then we will never have the courage it takes to reach the full potential of the American Experiment. A nation that could be example of truly citizen-centered democracy to the rest of the world. This nation will never evolve if it cannot handle the truth.