What’s the matter with us Americans?

Europeans think Americans have gone crazy.  Ann Jones, who has lived in Europe for decades, said her European friends once respected the United States, but no longer.  Here are questions she gets from her European friends.

  • Why would anybody oppose national health care?
  • How could you set up that concentration camp in Cuba and why can’t you shut it down?
  • How can  you pretend to be a Christian country and still carry out the death penalty?
  • Why can’t you Americans stop interfering with women’s health care?
  • cia-loves-u-760208Why can’t you understand science?
  • How can you still be so blind to the reality of climate change?
  • How can you speak of the rule of law when your presidents break international laws to make war whenever they want?
  • How can you hand over the power to blow up the planet to one lone, ordinary man?
  • How can you throw away the Geneva Conventions and your principles to advocate torture?
  • Why do you Americans like guns so much? Why do you kill each other at such a rate?
  • Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for the rest of us?

She added:

authoritarianism9fd18cThat last question is particularly pressing because countries historically friendly to the United States, from Australia to Finland, are struggling to keep up with an influx of refugees from America’s wars and interventions.

Throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, right-wing parties that have scarcely or never played a role in government are now rising rapidly on a wave of opposition to long-established immigration policies.

Only last month, such a party almost toppled the sitting social democratic government of Sweden, a generous country that has absorbed more than its fair share of asylum seekers fleeing the shock waves of “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known.”

I think the questions about Guantanamo, the rule of law and the Geneva convention are especially shaming, because there was a time when I believed that the bright-line distinction between the United States and our totalitarian enemies was that we did not engage in torture, operate concentration cams and wage aggressive war.

I was particularly proud of the fact that while all the Communist countries had to build walls around their borders to keep the people from getting out, the United States was the country to which the world’s people most wanted to come.

Ann Jones thinks that the turning point came with the George W. Bush administration.  I thought so, too, but the continuation of the Bush administration’s policies by the Obama administration made me realize that the things for which I blamed Bush had been building up for a long time.

The Central Intelligence Agency had been complicit in torture in Latin American regimes since the 1970s and the dictatorships who came to power with U.S. help in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and other countries were at least as brutal as the Communist regimes in Poland, Hungary and Rumania.

I should have understood this, I had left-wing friends who pointed it out, but I was slow to grasp what was happening.

Nor do I think that the people of western Europe have grounds for complacency.   Most of the western European governments are dismantling their welfare states and adopting “austerity” policies that primarily benefit their financial elites.  And most of those governments are helping Washington in its neverending wars.


“Has America gone crazy?” by Ann Jones for TomDispatch via Salon. (Hat tip to Jack)  Well worth reading in its entirety.

Letter to a young Army Ranger from an old one by Rory Fanning for TomDispatch.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)  Excellent.

A Self-Perpetuating Machine for American Insecurity by Tom Englehardt for TomDispatch.

Why America Keeps Losing Its Wars by Major General Walter Stewart (ret) for The Contrary Perspective.

How Good is the CIA? by Michael Brenner for Huffington Post.



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