Friday, December 31, 2004

What did I say? Sad New Year?

Well, I've actually had a busy day, I still have to call home and wish my family in Scotland (five hours ahead) a Happy New Year. Meanwhile the BBC notes in a headline that "New Year begins as world mourns" - referring of course to the disaster in Asia. I really miss the Year in Review specials the BBC put out. Can't get them in the US. Hmmmm, I got nothing else - except to reiterate a sentiment I expressed in a Tuesday blog, by the Boston Globe's James Carroll. Yes I'm repeating myself, but it bears repeating, even though it's overly sentimental (the sentiment is optimistic even for five years ago); but oh well, it's New Year and I don't care:
    Only five years ago, the uncharted future was spread before us. We were an optimistic and confident people. Our firm membership in the global community was as clear as the televised sequence of midnight celebrations - Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Delhi, Johannesburg, Paris - that circled the earth at the glorious millennium. Watching that rotation on an axis of joy, the only "homeland" we wanted was the very planet, and our "security" was everyone's. The human family was never more aware of itself than that night, and we Americans were never more a part of it.

    But this year, what a lonely nation we have become. And to how many fewer peoples are we the tribune of hope. How like exile is our "homeland," and what is "security" if it depends on suspicion of those who are unlike us?

OK, that's about it. Oh yes, btw, check out Project Censored to find out about the stories you didn't find out about in 2004 (more on this later).

Right. Happy New Year, anyone who's still reading. I won't cry over 2004's passing. I just hope 2005 is better. OK, I said that about 2004, but ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In deciding which anti-United States policy post to respond to, I came across this one, simply because it seems to me to have the most legitimate argument: that the United States has grown apart from the rest of the world.

This is without a doubt: true. For whatever reason, one can't possibly say we are projeting a better image of ourselves than we were five years ago. To me it seems pointless to debate the never ending debate going on in this country regarding the War on Terror, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Since first attending college, I have been blown away not only by the amount of people and sentiment in this region of the country against the Bush Administration's policies, but also by how they are impacting my view of the world.

I right now am quite confused, torn between opposite positions. The first: terrorism needs to be defeated, whatever the costs. It represents a direct threat to our national security and that of our allies. It represents a threat to Americans in many different areas: politics, economics and defense. The threat of terrorism needs to be halted directly. It needs to be taken at the throat and destroyed, fought endlessly and without fear. And the world? They are with us, or with the terrorists. Democracy is the key to the end of this battle: the more democracies there are, the safer we will be. Democracies, simply put (and academically proven) do not fight OTHER democracies. So why not make more?

And the other hand? This is an endless battle, fought for ideological reasons. War will not destroy the hatred felt for America in other parts of the world. War has destroyed our most precious asset: our allies. Without our friends, we can never hope to fight or win this war. While we are pumping money into a country half a world away, we are ignoring the problems here at home: social inequality, poor education, rising energy and healthcare prices, the loss of jobs. By fighting in the Middle East, we are dividing the world into camps: making it easier by the day for the terrorists to destroy us. We can't cut and run from Iraq, but this policy of nation building as a way to make the country safer, may not be the best option in the future, and has significantly taken options off of the table when it comes to Iran and North Korea.

So obviously, I am torn apart on American Foreign Policy, along with the Bush Doctrine. I do not know if fighting terrorists and building democracies by force is the best idea. It certainly is destroying the relationship we have with our allies. But I do know this: Bush is undeniably right on one front: and that is freedom.

We as Americans have come down a very troubled path. We are by far NOT the perfect country, and we owe countless groups of people an endless amount of apologies. But we have always stood for the ideal of freedom. People should not live in oppression or fear. People should be free to make their own choices and lead their own lives. This country has stood for freedom throughout its history, and it is important it stands for it today. Regardless of a person's stance on our wars, one can not deny the importance of freedom for all people throughout the world. It is surely the goal of all people to eventually become free. No one seeks to live under tyranny except those who feel they have no other option. And as Americans, as the members of the most powerful country in the world, we have the obligation to spread that idea of freedom to those who don't know it yet.

I am not sure the best way of doing that. Maybe invading countries and setting up governments is the best way to do it. Maybe pressuring governments one by one by economic or political means is the way to go. Maybe fighting an aggressive P.R. campaign and helping those who seek to have freedom in their countries revolt. But one thing is for sure: we need to do it.

With great power comes great responsibility: Freedom is unvariably the better choice. Maybe not the American view of it, but freedom is something desired by all, whether they know it or not, and hopefully, America is able to find the best way to share that message with the world soon.

That is my stance on the war. I don't know where I stand. But freedom? We all as Americans must stand United on that. And quite frankly, I'm happy Bush doesn't care what other countries think of the importance of freedom, because I sure don't either.

Joe Mignano

2/01/2006 7:23 PM  

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