USA: A Mighty Eagle Without A Conscience?

by Banjo Odutola

I spent the last Christmas vacation in the United States because of a family engagement; aside from the happiness of meeting my brother’s new wife and her wonderful family, the trip provides two spectacular opportunities to reconcile myself to a country I love so much. Now, I notice that since the atrocities of September 11, 2001, the government of this great country is crippling her quiddity as a nation and her peoples are confused by the actions and utterances of their representatives in their Congress and the White House.

I love the USA. I adopted the country as a second home even though I cannot reside in it on a permanent basis. As a lost cat finds comfort in a home that provides it comfort; once, as a foreigner, I considered the US as a symbol of freedom and the rule of Law; but no more. I have visited the country on several occasions, so much so that its Immigration Service wonders why I am always there. My penultimate trip to the country could have cost greater than I anticipated. I arrived back at my workstation to the news that Logan Airport from which I departed barely twenty four hours earlier had taken on a new significance which was not betrayed when I boarded the aircraft for my return trip back home; little did I realise that Hilton Hotel at the complex of the Airport where I had been a guest was to become the nerve centre for passengers whose flights were delayed. If I had extended my stay by another day, as I am wont to do, the comfort of the bedchamber would have been traded for the discomfort of the foyer. My strides were divinely ordered; I admit that much.

Since the tragedy of 9/11, I have followed the analyses provided by both experts and quacks. The tragedy that humiliated the American eagle has precipitated an incomprehensible and equally tragic response from the US administration. Does the present American government understand that it is destroying the world? Is it any wonder that foreigners, regardless of financial aids provided to their countries by the United States hate the country? The Pew Global Attitude Project survey report released earlier this week provided an example of how the US is considered “a bully”, “a terrorist”, “a hypocrite who bombs the people it feeds” amongst many other vituperation. Does it mean the US administration care less about the views of foreigners who are partners in the comity of nations? It should be understood that with the types of Ms Charlotte Beer, the former New York Advertising guru at the Department of State, who has a perverted interpretation of the Pew Project, America would continue to project International Relations from a commercial prism as a danger to peaceful world order. You need to watch that woman’s interview on BBC and conclude that she is a square peg in a round hole. She should return to selling cosmetics on billboards rather than working in the State House.

I took the opportunity of my last trip to visit Ground Zero in New York where once stood the twin towers. The magnitude of the malapropism of the tragedy was palpable; the extent of the evil was harrowing; the tears on the faces and the sorrow registered in the spirits of visitors can only be summed up in the words of an elderly American woman whom I approached to solicit the reason for her visit. I wanted to know, if she had lost a relative or a friend in the still picture of infamy before us; the elderly woman said she had come like my family to pay her respects because she did not think that man had a right to perpetrate the evil before us.

I could have reminded her of these words: “In truth, I do not recollect in all the animal kingdom a single species but man which is eternally and systematically engaged in the destruction of its own species. What is called civilization seems to have no other effect on him than to teach him to pursue the principle of bellum omnium in omnia [war of all against all] on a larger scale, and in place of the little contests of tribe against tribe, to engage all the quarters of the earth in the same work of destruction. (Thomas Jefferson to James Madison (1797)). Also, I could have requested her to implore her government to study Jefferson’s position on moral degeneracy. But, I agreed with her not because I could not enquire about the evil perpetrated in her name; I agreed because to do less was to disrespect the souls of the dead whose names are emblazoned in the six black plaques under the title ‘The Heroes of September 2001’; I agreed because to the left and right of the mangled metals of the edifice of one of the twin towers two seraphs made of flowers animating celestial trumpeters stand beside a Christmas tree against the back drop of a message that the present American administration ought not ignore. The following words are resplendent on a nearby building: The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act, but by the size of the heart. These words, to me, speak not of a glib forgiveness but a response that takes account of the views of other peoples, cultures and religions of the world. After all, the Heroes of September 2001 are denizens of other nations and observers of other cultures and religions.

As the American administration continues its stupid war on an abstract enemy and thereby wasting its tax payers’ money; inflicting fear on immigrant communities in its nation and others; arming government officials with excuses to disrespect the rule of law; promulgating laws that incubate hatred in foreigners; overlooking the terrorism of American Citizens, justifying Timothy McVeigh over Oklahoma bombing by utilising the due process of the law and promulgating stringent laws against foreign students; discriminating against people of colour in the name of homeland security; ignoring the terrorism of Columbine High School because the culprits are White Americans; explaining White American terrorism as deprivation. Yet, this US president pursues his “war” against unmarked territory and concepts of the mind as if the country he leads has no conscience.

Is it any surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency admits that it has made no impact against the perceived threat of Al-Quaeda? The response of this US administration to the tragedy of 9/11 is not only poorly; it is rebarbative and ulcerated. So far, it is grossing personal evil with a state sponsored one. The pity is that immigrants like me that live outside his country are recipients of his State sponsored terrorism.

It is time for this US administration to take a cue from the words of Jimmy Carter whose humanity and wisdom deterred him from taking a bellicose stance against Iran. Carter was proud in telling the World that at the end of the Iranian hostage crises, not an Iranian died and neither was a single American life lost even though he had the power to evade Iran just like this administration intends on invading Iraq. The Carter’s statesmanship is different from the belligerent George W. Bush. The Bush School of International policy is to beat dead weaker nations, flatten Afghanistan, kill as many innocent people in a hurry, unleash the superior military power of the United States against a poor and weaker nation because the US president is fighting a stupid war.

At the end of his stupid war, Afghanistan is not any safer, warlords are entrenching their positions and the Afghan president is metaphorically a cripple. This US president promised the capture of Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants but what do we have? An illusive Osama, a destroyed nation and a mindless “war on terrorism” that means absolutely nothing. But, is it too late for this US president that was elected by the Supreme Court to serve the world by concentrating on the problems at home and not divert issues just like Adolf Hitler once did?

I am uncertain if Mr. Bush can reverse his careless policies that are copied by other developed nations to intimidate immigrants like me; I am uncertain that the peaceful world order that this president desires can ever be achieved by the manner he has plunged the world into a fearful disorder; I am uncertain that the voice of reason in his country would be respected.

But, two certainties that I cherish are wiz: (1) Mr. Donald H. Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of State for Defense may be remembered the worst US Defense Secretary of State; his antecedents will include his misuse of American Superior military power and previous encouragement of Sadam Hussein to escalate a war against his Muslim brothers in Iran (The Sadam in Rumfeld’s Closet by Jeremy Scahill); gloating that the US can fight simultaneously against North Korea and Iraqi, when what the world requires is peace in a world that he and Mr. Bush have plunged into darkness (2) after two terms at the White House and critical analysis of his terms as president, George W Bush will be remembered as an American president that plunged the world into an abyss of fear and intimidation. Perhaps, this is the legacy that he desires. If not, he can be assured that when the United States of America becomes mindful that the requisite of its superpower status is less bullying tactics, there is only one man that would carry the condemnation of posterity. That man is the present president of the United States of America: Mr. George W. Bush.

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