America Is A Bully. OK. There, I
By Tom Feeley
First published December 24, 2002
America is a bully, or so it appears to those who live beyond
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.
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
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
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
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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