July 20, 2004

The American Arrogance
(and the European Weakness)

This essay was born to accomplish an English class assignment. Inasmuch - as many of my writings - it will be published on my website, I chose a topic as broad as possible, so that it might be useful to the largest slice of population. And in class having been explained to us how to write, this essay will be in the mid way between an Argument of Value and an Argument of Policy. The only constrains is to keep it within the 3-5 pages, so it will be short under duress, therefore I cant touch all the viewpoints I wished.

Considered my deep religious background, its several years I am seriously worried about the lots of the mankind, even more after September 11. So I chose such title being the USA society representative enough of the world; and also because lately the US became kind of planet police anyhow veiled behind the UN shield, till the shameless invasion of Iraq.

So in my humble opinion the main point is: had the USA the right to invade another country, although if with a very light excuse of supposed terrorism, or are there other motivations beyond such choice? What means human rights for the average American tax-payer? As stated by the very accredited [1] professor Douglass Cassel in his article [2] about the UN Human Rights Commission vote: Why did we lose? The short answer is arrogance both small and large . So it doesnt look a good time for both the American Government and the so called American Way of Life.

Later Ill talk more about how are spent the American tax revenue. But Cassel goes further in his analysis: What really hurts us with the Europeans, however, is what they perceive as a larger American arrogance of both style and substance in world affairs ; and Europeans perceive this same, arrogant unilateralism on key human rights issues such as the International Criminal Court, the Land Mines Treaty and the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- all supported by Europe but opposed by the US. And they are bewildered by our love affair with the death penalty.

Two things: now it happens I am not American, I am Italian, or European as nowadays it is the fashion to say in the old Europe; so when I came here in Utah I can truly pretend I had virgin eyes, with no prejudgment at all. I mean that maybe some Europeans could believe in a thing called American Arrogance, but before believing third sources, Ive to check with my own eyes. And here I cannot avoid to mention at least a dozen of episodes in which I have been personally involved with either American companies, firms or office employees, and in all twelve and more, I lost some money. Now Ive been explicitly told to tale not my personal history in these columns, so you have to believe me. On the other hand I didnt fly 10,000 km. to whine or weep about few hundreds bucks. So I received strongly this feeling that Americans are all about money, and power. And, as matter of fact, if you try to talk about truth, many of them become mean if not threatening. I am sure you understand by yourselves that if an episode happens once or twice, it may be a coincidence; if it happens more than a dozen times it is a pattern. Numbers speak.

Says Cassell: No one of these issues, by itself, would be decisive. But in combination, they leave Europeans shaking their heads. And together they convey a message -- confirmed explicitly by George Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice -- to the effect that the US will pursue its own interests and, in effect, multilateralism be damned.

Lets talk now of the results. Just two months ago the accredited [4] Dr. Geoff Numberg wrote in [5]: There's no question that Iraq recalls Vietnam in many ways, of course, but as people with longer memories have pointed out, it can also be likened to the Suez Invasion of 1956, the Boer War and Gladstone's intervention in Egypt in 1882. Furthermore he clearly pinpoints that But as the heated reactions to Kennedy's charge made clear, calling Iraq 'another Vietnam' isn't an idle exercise in comparative history. It implies that the war is a colossal mistake brought about by American arrogance and hubris. So the one who doesnt let be deceived by the propaganda, the situation is clear enough.

Now lets give a look to what says the book, the book that should be the unique reference point for the mankind but too often forgotten: the Bible. Which is the most inherent verse about the wound of September 11 if not: And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder -- Rev. 13:1-3

So if the Europeans should think that America is arrogant, if Europe cant bear with USA, how to explain all the propaganda help received? As usual the Scriptures help us: Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed -- Rev. 13:10-13.

And who was the first country to support USA? Check out in a library or on the Internet the PBS TV video: Citizen Berlusconi and you will have a clear idea of whats going on in Italy. But the reality unfortunately is even worse: the Government is ruled by the mafia. After Berlusconi, immediately followed England (with Premier Blair) and Spain (with Premier Aznar).

Now Ive few questions for the cleverest among my readers. War as business? War as electoral campaign? Which are the vested interests behind these wars and rumors of war (Matt. 24:6, Mark 13:7) ? All this stuff doesnt recall one of the Orwell 1984 [3] slogan: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength? Ancient Latin said: Cui prodest?, that means about Who gains (in this matter)?.

Lets talk now about the price. Today July 2004 these wars and rumors of wars cost over one thousand lives, the sons of my neighbors. Only on the American side, plus Britons, Italians, Spaniards, and so on. Are few liters of gas worth such sorrow and mourning?

Less important of the human lives are the $ 140 billions spent till now. And here also Ive few questions. Lets say that a small clinic with 4-5 rooms, just to give a first aid, lets exceeding say it costs $ 5 millions. With $140 billions you can build 28,000 of these clinics. Maybe in rural America, grassroots or other poor places. Or to build schools and pay teachers. Or to finance research for alternative energy. Now that Iraq oil will be over, where will go to whine Mr. Bush? And what about to finance NASA, and maybe to find alternative resources?

Is there any better way to address all that money? In the words of Chancellor William E. Kirwan [6] we read in [7]: "This problem of American "arrogance" is manifesting itself in other international arenas as well. For example, our nations unwillingness to "stay the course" and find meaningful common ground on the Kyoto environmental protocols is in my view a national disgrace. Again, it was New York Times columnist Tom Freidman who did a wonderful job crystallizing this issue. In a recent column, he laments our nations failure to exert global leadership on environmental matters. He writes, and I quote, "I want to wake up one morning and read that President Bush has decided to offer a real alternative to the stalled Kyoto Protocol to reduce global warming. I want to wake up and read that General Motors has decided it will no longer make gas-guzzling Hummers and President Bush has decided to replace his limousine with an armor-plated Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that gets over 40 miles to the gallon. I want to wake up and read that Mr. Bush has announced a Manhattan Project to develop renewable energies that will end America's addiction to crude oil by 2010." From my perspective, Mr. Freidman is "dead on." In our dealings with other nations on issues like the environment, we need corporate and political leadership schooled in the complexities of environmental and policy matters issues from a global perspective.

So I hope to have convinced you to do the good; isnt maybe written that the Lord gave us the free will so that we can choose between the good and the evil? Why Americans dont quit to chase money and power, and live a normal, regular life, perhaps worshipping the Lord with facts and not only with words? After all two realities cannot exist at the same time: if you worship the Lord, you follow the Truth. If you worship the Beast, you will not believe in this writing. Of course not all of the Nation is rotten, there are several good people that really put Religion in front.

Moreover I mean, dont we have enough troubles with all the evilness and witchness of this world? What can I do to help? What about to preach the Gospel? What about to spread the Word? Which kind of world are we leaving to our sons and grandsons?

Vincenzo Maggio

  1. Douglass Cassel: Director, Center for International Human Rights - Clinical Professor of Law - Douglass Cassel is an attorney, journalist and scholar specializing in international human rights, international humanitarian and international criminal law, including terrorism. He is member and former President of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, to which he was elected by the Organization of American States, and President of the Due Process of Law Foundation, which promotes justice reform in the hemisphere. He has served as consultant on human rights to the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the United States Department of State and the Ford Foundation. He has lectured in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, and his articles have been published nationally and internationally in English and Spanish. His commentaries on human rights are published in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and broadcast on Chicago Public Radio - EDUCATION: BA cum laude, Yale University; JD cum laude, Harvard University
  2. Cassel, Douglass The United States: Why We Lost the UN Human Rights Commission Vote World View Commentary No. 102, May 17, 2001 - Center for International Human Rights: Commentaries
  3. Orwell, George 1984 - (Here I cannot cite the chapter because I read it on one of those anthologies circulating in the colleges)
  4. Geoffrey Nunberg (BA, Columbia; MA, Penn; PhD, CUNY) is a senior researcher at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University and a Consulting Full Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University. Until 2001, he was a principal scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, working on the development of linguistic technologies. He has also taught at UCLA, the University of Rome, and the University of Naples - http://www-csli.stanford.edu/~nunberg/bio.html
  5. Numberg, Geoff. Iraq-Vietnam Fresh Air Commentary, May 18, 2004
  6. On August 1, 2002, William English Kirwan became the third chancellor of the University System of Maryland. A widely respected academic leader, Dr. Kirwan served as president of Ohio State University for four years, and as president of the University of Maryland, College Park for nine years. Prior to his presidency, he was a member of the University of Maryland faculty for 34 years. Dr. Kirwan received his bachelor's degree in mathematics ... http://www.usmd.edu/Leadership/Chancellor/bio.html
  7. Speech: Remarks by William E. Kirwan - Chancellor, University System of Maryland - Tuesday, May 25, 2004