All Our Friends Offshore
May 2, 2003
Lately, the United States seems to have developed a case
of the bitter uglies. It seems to hate almost everyone except
Great Britain, Australia, and a host of states hopeful for
a handout, such as Eritrea. Our country, at the moment, seems
to be in the grip of a profound national silliness. The cafeteria
(part of the word for which is French) in Congress no longer
sells French fries (which, if culinary history is correct,
should have been called Belgian fries all along). Instead,
it sells exactly the same food, but having now renamed them
as "Freedom fries," many people in Congress, and elsewhere,
somehow feel more like eating them, even though they are exactly
the same thing.
Merchants pour French wine into the gutter, and miss an opportunity
to bring culture and society to an army of drunks which has
previously had to subsist on those utterly American but thoroughly
unwholesome American brands, Thunderbird and Ripple. A certain
right-wing anti-tax group known as the Club for Growth (truthful
mention of the growth of what or whom is assiduously avoided)
has taken to manipulating photographs so that attack ads on
three members of the US Senate show these recalcitrant Republicans
in the proximity of the French tricolor. In right-wing strategy
sessions, this is thought to be subtle suggestion.
Most recently, the Snippy President tactic has been employed.
Mr. Chretien of Canada is being denied the presence of Mr.
Bush, because Bush aides have cancelled a proposed meeting
between the two. Mr. Bush observes to Tom Brokaw of NBC News
that, "Mr. Chirac won't be coming to the ranch anytime soon."
Mr. Bush may be very fond of his former hog farm, but that
does not mean that the rest of world nor its leaders are similarly
awed by it (or Mr. Bush, for that matter), nor that any sentient
person over the age of, say, nine does not see this particular
petulance for what it is - the whining of a sore winner.
So, I shall attempt to explain what is going on in our country
for the benefit of all our erstwhile and future friends beyond
our borders. For over twenty years, a small group of men whom
we now know as "neo-conservatives" have finally reached power
in the US government. They are, for the most part, rabid ideologues
who, had they been on the side of the Germans during WWII,
probably would have been lower-level functionaries among the
last of those convicted and hung by the Nuremberg courts.
But, today, by virtue of a massive input of cash from a few
wealthy industrialists, these quite insane men have come to
control our government. Their mission is for our army and
their multinational corporations to run the world. No, I do
not exaggerate. Because I do not exaggerate, you are free
to think that I am crazy, or alternatively, that they are.
They write a lot more about what they want than I do, so it's
easier to judge than one might think. They write a lot at
think tanks named "The Project for the New American Century,"
"The Heritage Foundation," "The American Enterprise Institute,"
"The Progressive Policy Institute" and a quite silly place
subversively named "The Club for Growth," and then have their
views plastered on the eyeballs of editors everywhere by PR
firms such as Benador & Associates. All very statuesque, positive
names, and all devoted to one thing - ridding the United States
of its social government, replacing its Department of State
with its so-called Department of Defense, and returning our
country to a time when most of its citizens were wage-slaves,
and its fortunate few grew extraordinarily wealthy by using
the Federal government and its army to their own ends. They
also want to run the world, or did I already mention that?
These guys are - to use a favorite word from fifty years
ago, understood by most everyone - nuts. But, they're nuts
who are now in control of the government. They have told their
friends in Congress to attack anyone who questions their judgment.
They've left a few hints with their corporate friends in the
media to have their correspondents and reporters and talk-show
hosts froth at the mouth at any suggestion that, perhaps -
just perhaps - the people at the top are nuts. Those mouth-frothing
hosts then exhort their listeners and viewers to froth at
the mouth at any similar suggestion, too.
Lot of people in the United States frothing at the mouth
these days. To our friends offshore, we look a lot like Orwell's
Animal Farm invaded by rabid dogs. Lots of frothing
about the chops. One on the outside looking in could be forgiven
for thinking that the entire country is certifiable.
And, yet, our country, despite being run by Flatlanders,
hasn't yet fallen off the edge of the earth. In a strictly
democratic sense, about half the people in this country who
bother to vote are feeling more empathy with those beyond
our borders than sympathy for our leaders and their shills.
We don't hate France for disagreeing with our leaders (even
if there was a certain amount of self-interest involved),
nor Germany for doing the same. We're a little perplexed,
however, by the Netherlands, which ought to know better than
to trust such people as our leaders, but we don't hold it
against them. We're certainly not attacking the British people,
who dissented from their own leaders in numbers proportionally
exceeding our own protests of the policies of ours.
The ordinary people in the United States who are still capable
of thinking for themselves, capable of dissent, capable of
seeing a pig in a poke of a war for what it is, want and need
the support of the people of the rest of the world, but not
for obvious reasons. We don't want it, as the Bush administration
implies, for its version of democracy - we're having a tough
enough time with that within our own borders, what with suppression
of dissent and suspicious elections and some truly idiotic
and ideological national representatives.
We need that support for the rest of us, not the current
administration. We need that moral support to carry us through
these times of internal trouble, these times of insanity which
our current leaders have foisted upon us, first by praising
moderation during the 2000 campaign, then stealing an election,
then installing an accelerated right-wing program of world
domination and the mechanism of an internal police state which
would in its linguistic obfuscation have confounded even George
Orwell. We're hoping that democracy, real democracy according
to the best ideals of our Constitution, prevails and that
we can overcome this hopefully temporary embarrassment.
The rest of the world needs to know that there are many Americans
who think the Kyoto Protocols are a good thing, as are environmental
and health protections for all, that clean water and food
and education are inalienable human rights, that many Americans
are worried about international trade agreements which favor
corporations over sovereign rights, that the United States
has the responsibility, the technical ability and the resources
to make the world a better place for all, that there are organizations
inside our borders wanting to do good outside our borders,
that the failure of our enemies to uphold the Geneva conventions
does not excuse our own failures in that regard, that we,
like other sensible people in the world, know that war for
exploitive purposes is never the solution to the desperation
which breeds terrorism, that other peoples have the democratic
right to decide what they conceive of as their best governance,
that diplomacy is not a matter of petty threats, but rather,
is the course of wise men in their own communal best interest.
As one of our citizens said recently, we're having a few
technical difficulties with our democracy. To all our friends
offshore, bear with us while we fix this problem.