>Everybody Loves Us, Nobody Hates Us

>As Bill Maher pointed out Friday night, nothing displays the hypocrisy of the Tea Party movement more than their disconnect on defense spending. I think this is as much about ego as anything else. Most conservatives seem to feel like Merka is so crucial to global stability that without us, the planet would stop in its orbit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discounting our importance to global stability and all, but I think for a lot of conservatives such feelings are rooted in fantasies going back to World War II: you know, the whole “we bailed your asses out” thing. We love to think that the world loves us–nay, owes us–don’t we?

It’s sorta like how Florida’s Teanuts rallied to keep the government’s hands off their NASA jobs. I love the idea of NASA and space exploration, but let’s remember that for much of Baby Boom America, it was our space program which brought us a collective ego boost back when we were battling the Russkies for global domination bragging rights. A lot of these folks don’t care about science or space, they care that we have these gazillion-billion dollar phallic symbols telling the world to suck on this.

So little wonder news like this rarely gets prominent play in the U.S. media:

Mass rally in Japan against US base on Okinawa

Nearly 100,000 people have attended a rally in Japan’s southern island of Okinawa demanding that a US military base be moved off the island.

Under a 2006 agreement with the US, the US Marines’ Futenma base was to be moved from the centre to the coast.

But demonstrators want Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to stick to an election pledge to remove it completely.

The row over the base has undermined relations between his centre-left Government and the US.

[…]

Japanese have long been resentful of the massive US base on the island, which is home to most of the 47,000 American troops based in Japan.

I’m sorry but why is it necessary for us to have 47,000 troops in Japan? Anyway, the Japanese government wants to move the base to the island of Tokunoshima, a place we don’t want to go. And they apparently don’t want us there, either. From April 19:

Tokunoshima residents rally against hosting Futenma

By ERIC JOHNSTON

At least 11,000 people gathered Sunday on Tokunoshima to protest a plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Okinawa to the island.

The rally, which had been planned for weeks and was expected to draw about 10,000 people, took place only a few days after it was reported that the U.S. had rejected Tokunoshima Island as a Futenma relocation site.

U.S. officials say moving Futenma’s air operations to Tokunoshima, which is hundreds of kilometers away, would make it impossible to effectively conduct joint air, land and sea training with other marine units in Okinawa.

It’s important for Americans to remember that we are not beloved around the world, much as we wish it were true. So many were puzzled by the 9/11 attacks, and “why do they hate us” became a national mourning cry. We heard that tired Bush line about being hated “for our freedoms,” which is asinine, simplistic, even jingoistic.

We are not hated for our freedoms. We are hated for our power, for our dominance, for the way we muscle our way around the world. Japan was once our foe, now our ally, but even here 100,000 citizens have rallied to get our troops off their soil. And our news media, if they cover the event at all, will relegate the story to the small print and back pages. It certainly won’t dominate our national conversation, where we talk about Tea Parties and Sarah Palin’s e-mail and the White House’s Wall Street reform plan.

Why do we have 47,000 troops in Iraq Japan? Because we won a war 65 years ago.

I am reminded of this excellent column by author Mohsin Hamid from 2007. Do read the whole thing, but I wanted to call attention to this part:

Americans need to educate themselves, from elementary school onward, about what their country has done abroad. And they need to play a more active role in ensuring that what the United States does abroad is not merely in keeping with a foreign policy elite’s sense of realpolitik but also with the American public’s own sense of American values.

Right now we have troops in Afghanistan, still mopping up “the final campaign of the Cold War” which Americans only know about thanks to a Hollywood movie starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

In Baghdad we have built an embassy-slash-military-base the size of Vatican City. In 65 years, will we still be in Afghanistan? Will we still be in Iraq? Will Americans wonder why we have thousands of troops in these foreign lands, will the Iraqis be rallying in the streets in numbers as high as 100,000 to get us to leave?

Or will the American empire have crumbled under its own weight by then?

7 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan War, Iraq War, U.S. military

7 responses to “>Everybody Loves Us, Nobody Hates Us

  1. Jim

    >I agree with you 100%. American armed forces should be put to use in America to protect our borders. Cut out all of the international facilities. We do not need to be the world's police force and the world does not want us to be there anyway. Shrink the budget so that the armed forces are a defensive force only. We do not need the ability to capture land in a foreign country.

  2. >Jim –Coca Cola, ExxonMobil, Monsanto and other multinationals want our troops in these foreign places to protect their interests, which are viewed as the same as the country's. If it's good for Coca Cola, then it's good for America.Coca Cola and Chiquita are responsible for acts of terrorism in Central America, murdering labor leaders and arming militant anti-labor groups. But let's ask why they hate us some more.

  3. >you know, my grandfather never, ever talked about the War. he got four, count em, four bronze stars in WWII. he fought on just about every major front in the euro war. but he didn't brag about it. or even mention it. he wasn't even a member of the VFW. or rather, i think he was, but he never went there. the war was a Closed Door, as far as he was concerned. all this fetishizing of it today is sort of sickening, to me. my granddad was a tough guy, and if he didn't think it was worth glorifying, well. i'll take him at his word, you know?

  4. >WW II Vet silence was the norm. I think it was just too painful. That was my father's generation, and most of my work colleagues when I joined the real world in 1968. They were all a bunch of drunks, too. Self-medication for PTSD is my assessment.They all wanted to be all John Wayne all the time, but nobody can do that.American foreign policy since WW II has been an endless series of disasters. We overthrew a democratic Govt in Iran, and installed the goddamned Shah. That's why THEY hate us. Churchill's idea. Truman wouldn't hear of it. Ike and Harriman lapped it up like German Shepherds. We installed and/or propped up all those tin horn right wing dictators because they claimed to be anti-Communist – Marcos, Noriega, Batista, etc. Even Saddam was our buddy back in the Reagan/Contra years.For an expose on war, read Col. Smedly Butler's War is a Racket. http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htmSame as it ever was.JzB

  5. >Never did I think a guy named Shelley would foretell our nation's fate:"I met a traveller from an antique landWho said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert. Near them on the sand,Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frownAnd wrinkled lip and sneer of cold commandTell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.And on the pedestal these words appear:“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”Nothing beside remains: round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,The lone and level sands stretch far away."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QROKUSBVTQ

  6. >You said…"Why do we have 47,000 troops in Iraq? Because we won a war 65 years ago."was the "Iraq" reference (instead of Japan" intentional? Or just a Freudian slip?Because in 2062…that statement will likely be true.

  7. >Oops, Will Robinson caught me in a typo that, let's hope, is not prescient.I can't believe someone quoted Percy Bysshe Shelley on my blog. I'm so proud!:-)