|Tarnishing of America's moral superiority
The once popular United States is not so popular anymore these days
-- not even in Europe
September 9, 2002
September 12, 2001
Yesterday I was paralyzed viewing the horrors of another "day of infamy".
September 11, 2001, will be etched in my mind, as did the great tragedy of some 38
years ago, November 22, 1963. Events of great personal difficulties have not been
uncommon in my life. I have had more than my share, and yet none can be recalled
in the same vivid way.
I am not sure about the exact time nor what it was that I was doing when things happened
to me, even though they were profound. After all, I had endured the horrors of a
very bloody revolution, had lost contact with my family outside Iran, had spent months
in detention camps and witnessed numerous executions for lesser charges. And yet,
none is etched in my mind. Perhaps "shock" is what does it.
However, I know that on November 22, 1963, I was in The Hague, Holland at 8:33 P.M.
on a second floor apartment, having just finished helping my wife put our two infant
children to bed for the night. We were relaxing to the Beatles' "I want to hold
your hand" on an old radio on the floor. Suddenly the music stopped. In a typically
unaffected tone, the BBC announced that President Kennedy had been shot.
Yesterday, my third son, who is working in Washington D.C., having been evacuated
from the building where he works, at 7: 23 a.m. telephoned to say that he is okay.
He was surprised that we didn't know why they had evacuated the building. We had
not yet turned on the television. We immediately did and spent the rest of the day
glued to the TV, stunned. What barbaric, subhuman people would do this?
I have thought a great deal about this. Why is it that the most popular democracy
that I knew during my formative years in Iran has become the target of so much hate?
In the Middle East an area that had greatly suffered under the intrigues of imperialist
Russia as well as Britaish and French colonialists, the arrival of a perceived fair
and powerful new player in the region was a welcome event.
The popularity of the U.S. was truly legendary. After World War II, this popularity
was at its zenith, particularly in Iran and Afghanistan. In the Arab world, the popularity
reached a new height when in 1956 the U.S., under the Eisenhower Administration,
forced the three colluding countries, Britain, France and Israel, to pull out from
Egypt's Suez Canal, which they had just invaded.
Now one has to ask what happened to this enormous popularity? It is certainly not
the result of another power replacing the American influence. It is not because that
those people dislike freedom, democracy or the way of life that Americans enjoy and
which they all love to emulate.
It is a disservice to all those innocent people who lost their lives and livelihoods
yesterday and all other days if we simply discard this tragic event as a something
caused by "cowards" or "fanatics". These are very unfortunate
adjectives, for both terms hint to a minority. We expect to find a dozen fanatics
or a hundred cowards and so we are conditioned to think that the problem is easily
resolved. All we have to do is go and eliminate the dozen or the hundred.
No, we have to honestly debate and evaluate and know that it is not a dozen nor a
hundred. It is millions and millions. It is in fact the billions of Moslems and billions
more sympathizers in the rest of the Third World.
Is it an accident that wherever or whenever these people have an equal chance in
expressing themselves, it results in the condemnation of America or its expulsion
of some world bodies? No, it is not an accident. It is the result of an un-American
foreign policy that we ordinary Americans can and should do something about. We should
resolve the problem for good and forever.
Let us first state what America truly is and then what it can and should do to reflect
America is "the land of the free". As a result, America has become the
most powerful nation in the history of this planet. It has dedicated people, it has
wealth, it has technology and it has military might.
Never in the history of the world has any nation had so much going for it. Think
of the greatest powers in the past. None has had their people enjoy this true equality,
freedom, wealth based on internal resources or unchallenged position.
Britain's and France's, despite the latter's revolution, was based on its aristocracy
and colonial exploitation. Spain's and Portugal's were based on dictatorship, piracy
and theft. The relatively short-lived Soviet Union was based on the most disgusting
form of coercion, including pure mental manipulation.
It is only the United States of America, that after defeating truly questionable
enemies, turns around and installs not only concrete democratic societies but also
help them out to be a financial marvel. None of the countries I have in mind ever
had a democratic tradition, but the weight of American moral superiority and the
fairness of its people could overcome all the obstacles.
The same fair and high ideals can solve the present problems that America has found
itself with the Moslem world.
Although I did not vote for President Bush, I wholeheartedly support his very statesmanlike
propositions. To wit: That he will not only be after the individuals but the country(ies)
that "harbor" them. Although the Taliban and Osma Ben Laden claim that
they were not involved, they are happy that it took place. We Americans know slightly
better, and when we take care of them and him, the fact will be announced that indeed
IT WAS US WHO DID IT and are sorry, NOT GLAD, if there are innocent collateral damage.
The country(ies) should be blockaded: naval, aerial and terrestrial. How can we do
it? This is WAR. Navy, air force, army and marines know very well how to do these
things. In recent years the nation has not asked them to do it. It did once and the
result was Desert Storm. And what a storm!) Too bad the military for the shortsightedness
of the politicians and the vested interests of corrupt and dictatorial governments
(Turkey and Saudi Arabia) were not allowed to finish the job.
During this blockade, I am talking about, every military installation and those supporting
the military will have to be taken out routinely. When the situation, (acceptable
casualty level) permits, we should go in and replace the government, install a democratic
government, help them out to take care of themselves and leave. America will be the
champion as it is today in Germany and Japan.
Concurrently we should have a national open debate to establish why the great post
war love for America in the Middle East has changed into such hatred. If we find
that the lopsided and unfair treatment of one party against the other is the cause,
then through the help of the most powerful lobby of Israel, change the policy for
good, and establish a Palestinian state that is acceptable to all Palestinians.
If we are sincere about this debate and the implementation of its finding, I have
absolutely no doubt that we will win the hearts of all the Arab people. Oil is much
safer through friendly nations than through friendly governments. Friendly democratic
nations never do horrid things to friendly democratic people. Friendly dictators
change sides too frequently.
Nearly a year has passed since I wrote the above. I am so disappointed that it frightens
me. At my age, there are very limited options. You can not easily develop another
belief system as you did when you were young. So what hope am I going to cling on
to carry me through the rest of the not-so-long time left to me? And if there is
only minimal hope or ideals, how does one continue? Without hope or belief one is
When I wrote the above letter to my friend, I was full of hope and convictions. For
a while things were moving along the general lines of my dream. The world united
behind the United States in its fight against terorrism and soon the Taliban regime
was no longer.
However, since that initial optimism things have changed dramatically for the worse:
We have an Israeli government that does horrid things in the name of security and
we have an administration here at home that for reasons unknown to the rest of us,
has managed to keep a blind eye to the atrocities.
And we are now embarking on a course of war against Iraq. Vice President Cheney put
it this way on Meet the Press: "The European are against" attacking
Iraq "because they did not lose 3,000 people of their citizens, they are not
vulnerable because they are not threatened and, most importantly, they do not have
the military might." Translation: Because we can, we will.
Cheney did not bother to explain, because obviously he can't. Why is it that the
United States is "vulnerable" and "threatened", but not Europeans?
The once popular United States is not so popular anymore -- not even in Europe (take
or leave a few ex-communist countries). A European with whom I correspond regularly,
is shocked by the state of European opinion of the United States.
The entire world seems to be on one side, America and Israel on the other. British
Prime Minister Tony Blair -- though not the majority of the British public -- characteristically
oscillates and makes statement that under more scrutiny can mean different things
to different people.
As to the rest of the world, well, everybody knows better.
I sincerely hope if and when we do attack Iraq and get rid of the tyrant, that the
innocent Iraqi people are spared. But I dread the precedence and the tarnishing of
America's historic moral superiority.