June 2, 2004 United Press International
Outside View: Assent or oblivion?
By John Renesch
A UPI Outside View commentary
Published 6/2/2004 4:04 AM
SAN FRANCISCO, June 2 (UPI) — I was having lunch last year with a friend when the subject of the pending war in Iraq and our nation’s foreign policy found its way into the conversation. After a few exchanges about the then-pending U.S. invasion she said something that has stuck with me ever since. With much anguish she said, “This is not my America!”
My friend had just verbalized what had been nagging away at my conscience for weeks.
Most of our citizenry has been completely ignorant of State Department policies and how they’ve changed from one administration to another. Few of us knew the distinctions in foreign policy under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. Some of us had become more aware over the past couple of years as news of the new “Bush Doctrine” leaked out in the alternative media.
This new imperative was designed by a group of neoconservatives in September 2000, months before the current administration took office. This group, which includes many of the people presently in the White House, published this new imperative under their foundation, Project for the New American Century.
When I read its Key Findings I became far more aware of the direction this Bush administration wants to take the United States and I was terribly bothered. Then I read the entire report and I became even more troubled about what’s going on with “my America.” In their “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” the authors write “the United States has an unprecedented strategic opportunity … to transform U.S. forces [in order] to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs’.”
It goes on to cite nine key sub-imperatives, two of which bother me considerably.
One calls for “controlling the new ‘international commons’ of space and ‘cyberspace’ and the creation of ‘U.S. Space Forces’.” Another is to ‘reposition U.S. forces to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting permanently-based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia’.”
This new U.S. imperative was based on four assumptions, three of which are highly questionable: the United States is “blessed with wealthy, powerful and democratic allies in every part of the world; the United States “is in the midst of the longest economic expansion in its history;” and, U.S. political and economic principles are almost universally embraced.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, we have squandered the first one, had a severe setback in the second, and, in my opinion, the report’s authors were seriously in error about the third.
This doctrine to have “my America” rule the world offends my sensibilities as a fourth generation citizen who was raised believing that all people are created equal, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness as they define it, not as it might be prescribed by those in power.
Besides being blessed as a fourth-generation American, I’m also fortunate to be old enough to remember some bitter lessons learned about people in the world who had their own ideas about what was good for the many, who insisted on foisting their values on the rest of society. The United States used to fight those movements not lead them. The United States used to be the world’s “good guy,” not the biggest bully on the planet.
Defending the “American Way” is one thing. Prescribing it to the rest of the world, whether they like it or not, and enforcing it through coercion or muscle is another. The latter smells of totalitarianism or autocracy, hardly the founding ideals for the “world’s most successful democracy.”
The aforementioned doctrines outlined in the report scare me; but not nearly as much as they idea they are being implemented with the rest of the world thinking that all Americans are behind it.
(John Renesch is a business futurist and social commentator based in San Francisco. His latest book is “Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing.”)
(United Press International’s “Outside View” commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)
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