Published on Friday, May 9, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times/Coastline Pilot
New World Order: Bullying
by Catharine Cooper
Stand with me for a few moments on the bright side of the moon, and look back at earth.
From a great enough distance, the borders between countries cannot be seen, and politics, war and disease do not exist. From a great enough distance, we are simply passengers on a beautiful blue planet, spinning in orbit around a glowing sun. From a distance, we are all the same, Homo sapiens inhabiting the planet earth.
I'm romantic enough to believe that each of us should spend more time appreciating our humanity "from that distance," and rational enough to know that as we move closer to the surface, we've created quite a murky mess. Hunger sprouts in all corners, in all countries. Disease does not know barbed-wire borders, and the politics of territory have once again, reached epidemic proportions.
As a species, we have populated the bulk of easily arable land, and established outposts on all outlying shores. We continue to expand in numbers, broadening our presence and our physiological needs: i.e., water, energy, fuel and food. In the course of our increasing scramble for resources, we have fought war after war, exchanged borders for behaviors carved out by treaties, broken those treaties, and fought yet more battles.
History has awarded the spoils of war to whomsoever was able to reign victorious. In human beings, the victor has been the country with the biggest arsenal of weapons and the skills to deploy and utilize them. Enter the United States of America, 2003.
If anyone has any doubts as to which is the "baddest" kid on the block, you've been asleep for the past six months. The United States has bullied, threatened and disenfran- chised our allies. We have dismissed the pleas of the global citizenry for peaceful resolutions in Middle East as childish, uninformed and uneducated. We have taken unilateral action, invaded a sovereign country and now threaten an entire region with our might. I say we, because as a citizen of the United States, I am not without participation, which greatly saddens me.
I wonder what our founding fathers would think of their "grand experiment?"
The surprise of the Iraqi war was the speed with which the President pressed forward, using justifications which most of the world considered flimsy. Evidence to support his invasion have not been forthcoming, and, as it turns out, the war was not so much about Iraq, as it was to gain a military and economic foothold within the region. As it turns out, the administration has long had a plan for the expansion of American presence, and finally seized upon an opportunity to begin implementation. This plan is broadly outlined in "Rebuilding America's Defenses," as published by the Project for the New American Century in September 2000. The plan calls for the United States to assume the role of global peacekeeper, ignoring allies if necessary, to achieve the goal of an American style of democracy across the globe. With an increased arsenal to support our goals, including new and improved nuclear weapons, who is there to challenge us? Except, ultimately, everyone.
As a child, I remember fearing the Soviet Union and her nuclear bombs. Now, if I were a child in an outlying country, I suppose I would begin to fear America.
Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stated on his recent appearance on Meet the Press, "Democracy is not an easy system." What he didn't say is that democracy, as a military function, is difficult to control, because as a concept, it is defined as the will of the people. Military incursions are not democratic. Generals command downward and the agenda of the day is obedience to orders. Democracies include the brightest and the least bright, with ostensibly, an equal voice. The two concepts are quite diametrically opposed.
We are no longer exporting goods and services. We are placing ourselves in the position to force feed our ideology upon a world held hostage by our arms. As President Bush said before his invasion, "If you're not with us, you're against us." I may be alone in thinking we are in a more dangerous position than when we confronted the Soviets, but I don't think the outcome will be as forgiving. The short-term goal of negotiations at gun-point will yield short term results, but how many cultures can we successfully bully? And what really, is the ultimate cost?
Catharine Cooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org