Search This Blog

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

To be or not to be (an American…?)

Is it me, or has anyone else noticed the state of the USA today? There used to be a time when America led the world both politically and morally. She set the standards. She was looked up to. She was called ‘The world’s policeman’ for the way she held the moral as well as political clout to intervene in conflicts around the world, and had the ability to solve them. It was said too that ‘when America gets a cold, everyone else sneezes’. Now it seems that it’s America herself who’s got the cold.

Having just watched Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’, I now see another side of this supposedly great nation; a nation clearly in decline both morally and politically. In one scene, an American woman living in Paris says that one of the reasons why America is such a bad place to live is because Americans are afraid of their government. This is a sad indictment of the realities of living in the richest country in the world; a country that is held by others as a paradigm for how to live; where people from the poorest countries of the world want to get to, to experience the ‘American dream’.

Healthcare is the main theme this time around for Michael Moore, and he makes a strong case for the way huge American drug and insurance companies are run for profit, who then pay off the politicians with cash donations, and where doctors and medical executives are given huge bonuses when they deny sick people the opportunity of a life-saving operation and who subsequently die. Even firefighters from 9/11 and volunteers to Ground Zero who all gave up their time to dig out bodies have been forced to go to Cuba for free medical care because their own government turned their back on them when they needed medical care as a direct result of their involvement in the clean up after 9/11. What kind of society is it that has bred a ‘me’ philosophy instead of a ‘we’ he asks?

America’s relationship with the rest of the world has never been worse with Americans and American interests despised globally. Undoubtedly, George Bush’s ‘You’re with us or against us’ philosophy has done a lot to divide America from many of its former allies, but there are a number of other factors that have contributed to this too. The refusal to formally sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change (when the USA is the biggest polluter and consumes two-thirds of the world’s energy), it’s invasion of Iraq (without full international approval or the ‘smoking gun’ to give it an air of legitimacy), it’s gung ho attitude to other nations that don’t follow the American political line: North Korea, Iran and the so-called aspects of the ‘Axis of Evil’, and it’s unstated insistence that militaristic solutions are not always to be kept as a last resort. The list is endless and only goes to serve further notice that America now is in a very dark place; a place from which it’s unlikely to ever recover.

When you look at the economic perspective, it doesn’t add much needed light. America has just finally accepted that it’s in a recession. What that means is that the incumbent president, whether he be the first black man, Barak Obama, or the first woman, Hilary Clinton, will inherit a nation in complete meltdown. This is like a businessman buying a new company only to find that it’s teetering on bankruptcy. And when you remember that when Bush came to power almost 8 years ago, he inherited the biggest budget surplus in American history – some three trillion dollars of tax payer’s money which he went on to spend mostly on exporting war around the world.

It is this greed and general disregard for others that so characterizes modern liberal democracies like America and is something we should all take notice of. One has only to look at other successful societies of the past: the Greeks and subsequent demise as the premier state of its day to see a common parallel; add too the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, to see that ‘what goes around, comes around.’ In other words, America is now on her way out as a major superpower. No longer can she keep on sucking other countries dry. Recently, the billionaire financier George Soros was asked the question as to why America is now in recession, to which he replied - ‘America consumes 6% more than it produces, sucking up all the savings of the world.’ I can't help but be reminded of the comment by Will Durant, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

So the question worth asking is how is America going to solve this problem? What will the first woman or the first black man do to heal the damage done by the Bush years? To put America back at the forefront of political leadership that it has come to accept as its rightful place in the world? It’s interesting to note too whether it would have even been possible for these two firsts (black, female president) ever having any real chance of coming about had it not been for the disaster that has resulted politically because of Bush and his Neo–Conservative policies which have so disenfranchised others around the world?

The only thing I can say with any real certainty is that I’m glad I’m not an American for the road ahead is a long, economically uncertain one, full of surprises!

1 comment:

Ros Hore said...

Michael Moore is entertaining but his work needs to be treated with caution. Is he not selling a somewhat distorted view of America to get his message across. He needs to be treated with the same consideration as the general media. Be careful that you are not falling into the very trap that you warn us about.