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thoughts & musings :: CCC

Wednesday, 4 July 2001

Hey Mickey, You're so fine

On Independence Day, George Bush managed to read the following, out loud, and on his own:

"The world still echoes with the ideals of America's Declaration. Our ideals have been accepted in many countries, and bitterly opposed by tyrants. They are the mighty rock on which we have built our nation. They are the hope of all who are oppressed. They are the standard to which we hold others, and the standard by which we measure ourselves."

Well read, but hold up George. Does he really comprehend what he has read? Has America really shaped the globe to the extent he's suggesting... wouldn't the Greeks, Chinese or Romans, or dare I say, us Brits have a few things to say on that?

Fair enough they may have planted McDonalds logos all across the globe, but in terms of the civilisations longevity, the US is only just out of it's historical nappies... they are the international version of a .com start-up. So is America's global status just over-inflated marketing hype before the inevitable crash?

This is the nation that still possesses an electoral system that is based upon the premise that the ordinary people aren't intelligent enough to choose a leader and so must elect a small group of qualified electors who will do the job for them.

But at least the Americans can still fall back upon the reassurance of the constitution, the fundamental rights that ensure that the government is never more powerful than the people (no sniggering please.) One of the underlying parts of this is the basic right of the individual to possess firearms; the idea being not only for personal protection but also to maintain a situation where the American public could oust the government, should they choose to. This, of course, relies on the US public reacting as one man in complete unison without any factions and divisions. Though this should render the whole thing as a complete utopian fantasy, we have to face facts that the Florida re-count was so close that the president probably was chosen by just one man.

But with this kind of 'ethic' permeating the American social fabric, could we not argue that Lee Harvey Oswald* was merely exercising his constitutional rights when he un-elected JFK in Dallas all those years ago? Is it any wonder that marginalised school kids who don't fit into the acceptable jock/cheerleader mould see the gun as their only 'level of service' feedback form?

But whilst the internal happenings of the US make up the biggest sitcom going, their international role is critical to world peace and harmony...

This is not to say that it is effective in the goals it sets out to achieve in any way, but in it's sheer ineffectiveness, it brings a stability that is worth hanging onto.

The United States is the world's self-appointed police force. Now before we think about how effective they are in this role, let's not start getting all pernickity and spiteful about it... there's no need to mention V*etnam, the B*y of P*gs etc. It would be completely unnecessary to dwell on the war on drugs for any length of time. There is no need to begin congratulating the US military on their overthrow of Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein.

It was the Yugoslav people that removed Milosevic, there were no historic first amendment rights to quote to radio DJs during a phone in - the people rose up and removed the problem. A Yugoslavian problem needed a Yugoslavian answer.

Up to then the US 'police force' had relentlessly carpet-bombed the deserted Kosovo whilst the atrocities and refugee floods carried on regardless. The top brass standing proud like cardboard weathermen pointing at the grainy videos of yet another bridge blowing up.

"Look, here's a bridge.. and now it blows up. That's a good thing. "
"Wasn't that a civilian bus in that scene?"
"Erm? Moving on quickly to this touching photo of a soldier hugging an orphan..."

Yes, we need international security but international situations require international answers, with all responsible countries giving whatever support they can. All the jobs that actually need doing are currently handled by competent organisations (UN, amnesty etc).

But the US in position as world police force is actually a positive thing, if a job exists that shouldn't be done then far better that someone who can't do it gets the job than someone who might achieve it. Policing the world is not a job that really needs doing by anyone, but as long as the US are accepted in this self-appointed role it dissuades anyone else from coming along and actually doing it.

The trouble is that the US is growing weary and not getting any job satisfaction playing the international clown and so they are no longer portraying the part so convincingly. It's becoming embarrassingly obvious to the point where someone might actually do the stupid thing and point out that the king has no clothes.

Once the myth is destroyed it will be irretrievable.

It's a bit like Mickey Mouse. We opt to accept that the bloke in the suit at Disneyland is Mickey Mouse as it's easy. But If the bloke pulled the head off and started shouting, "look at me, I'm bleeding Mickey Mouse don't you know," then it would only be a matter of time before someone said something.

It's not that before we were fooled into believing there was an actual 7ft smarmy rodent hanging around the gaff but it was far more convenient just to go with the idea. With the non-mouse reality shoved in your face you're forced to acknowledge the underlying truth and alter your behaviour.

And so it is with Bush in the US. Everyone knows that the president is just the puppet that mouths the words of the 'powers that be' behind the scenes but we need to have a credible pretence in order to believe it. It was bad enough when America used a blatant retired actor to play the part of president but with bush as chief of world police, the sham becomes too obvious; a man who has hardly stepped outside of Crawford (and is threatening to run back there if he doesn't get his way), let alone the US. A man whose international diplomacy leads to Greeks being called 'Grecians' -- a blunder that even Prince Philip would be unlikely to blunder into. It gets to the point where someone has to say something out of sheer embarrassment.

The new US administration have already shown their inability at dealing with genuine global threats with their attitude to the Kyoto agreement. It is good to see EU showing some backbone for once going ahead with it alone.

The world police force is a completely invented, self-appointed, unnecessary role but one that is here to stay. Despite their odd tantrums, we should give the US all the space and encouragement it needs to continue to 'police' the world, or else we run the risk or someone new applying for the job, someone over qualified.

[*Regarding Lee Harvey Oswald shooting JFK -- yes I know there was the world and his dog on the grassy knoll with rocket launchers and that Oswald was seen by 6,000 people skiing in Tibet on that day, but there wasn't the room to elaborate.]


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