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America Is A Bully. OK. There, I Said It!

By Tom Feeley

First published December 24, 2002

America is a bully, or so it appears to those who live beyond our shores.

Nobody likes a bully, whether he operates in the schoolyard or in the international arena. Those who support a bully do so out of fear. Hence, bullies never have any real friends. They have followers who are intimidated by the arrogance and power of the tormenter. There are many nations, which appear to be friendly to America, yet they wait patiently with hope in their hearts that one-day the bully will meet his match. Meanwhile, they pay homage to the bully in order that they may avoid his wrath.

To the world outside America's borders it appears that Bin Laden strides into the schoolyard, confronts the bully and slaps his face before his tormented schoolmates. Around the globe, good people who have watched the bully in his conceit, speak of justice and democracy as if he was their inventor and the only person worthy of their benefits, are appalled to find that their horror of the event is accompanied with an inward sense of satisfaction. At last, "the bully got what was coming to him".

In the aftermath of 9/11, America’s citizens are scared. Awakened from a dream of rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs, we find ourselves confused and uncertain. How could such a thing have happened? It happened because America's democracy has been subverted, not by communists or terrorists, but by our choices. The great majority of America's people choose to close our eyes or look away when the bully treated the people of other nations in a manner which would sicken them, had it occurred to one of their own family.

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Franklin D Roosevelt said " Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small." If this were ever true, it certainly has not been reflected in recent U.S. foreign policy. We are pleased to bathe in the waters of prosperity and do not find it deplorable that we expect others to cleanse themselves in our dirty water.

It is deplorable that a mind set exists which allows us to think, that simply because we were born within these borders, we are somehow entitled to a enjoy a greater degree of respect and dignity than we are prepared to acknowledge are the birthright of all the world's people. Were we to reflect a "decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small" we would demanded that our government mirror in its foreign policy those things, which we most value in our own personal and political lives.

The issue is not terrorism. It is injustice! America has been unjust and dishonest in its dealings with other nations. John F Kennedy said "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable".

What is it, about the American psyche that leads us to believe that we have the right to install and support unjust, puppet governments throughout the world? Why do we think that we can impose our economic interests, over those of the populations of these countries? We are insane to think that we can engage in the support and sponsorship of these regimes without expecting that they would wish to retaliate.

I am not aware of one instance where "terrorism" has ever been defeated at the barrel of a gun. Northern Ireland, Israel and a host of other conflicts throughout the last century have demonstrated that these conflicts will only be resolved when each party acknowledges that the other party's position has some validity. Discussion and compromise are the only weapons that have the capacity to defeat terrorism.

A recent Gallop poll indicated that a large portion of the people of the world perceive America as being arrogant and a bully. Yet, rather than providing insight as the possible causes of "terrorism" this poll has been used exclusively to portray its participants as unbalanced and deranged. Rather than looking at the information, it provides and reflecting on the mere possibility that it may contain some nugget of truth, it is cast aside.

Our inability to look at ourselves and to contemplate that our foreign policy may be part of the problem is beyond the grasp of many of us, and those who would dare to suggest such action are immediately deemed to be subversive or supporters of "terrorism"

The inevitable consequence of our choices will be airlifted to grieving families, who will not dare to pull the zipper on the body bag which houses their loved one. Their grief will demand vengeance. Further orders will be placed with America’s industrial war machine to better equip our poor, uneducated citizens who have been duped into believing that they are about to die for our freedoms. Our President will raise his fist and talk about how "They hate our Democracy" and "This is a war against evil" a "Just cause" as he prepares the soil to grow another generation of "terrorists".

Peace is not just the absence of conflict but also the presence of justice, for in our world's history, peace has never prevailed where justice was absent.

Injustice is the garden that nourishes terrorism.

A great many of us choose to engage ourselves in rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs. After all, who cares what is happening "over there"?

9/11 has taught us nothing. We have become narcissistic and self centered; like the drug addict who refuses to look at himself, we rage on about how everyone is against us, and use our denial to continue our self destructive behavior. In search of another fix we roar across the world dropping bombs on anyone who may try to point out that our sickness is self-imposed.

If America is addicted to power, who then are its friends ? The pushers who feed the habit or those who call to its attention the destruction it brings on its own family?

Tom Feeley is editor of 

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