A week or so ago, I took part in a history class that annoyed me incredibly. Speaking about the Cold War and Vietnam, we received an article on the Irak War and its similarities to our past, and lost, war. This is far from what annoyed me, as I am extremely set on the obvious similarities between the two wars. In both, the reigning government completely disregarded or at least underestimated the importance of reaching to hearts of the civilians, the obvious denial of the fighting nature of the combatants, and the utter disillusion that superior force can defeat a guerrilla that blends into the population. The same mistakes, 30 years later. Unbelievable.
But this does not deal with that discussion. No, this deals with a more worrying state of ignorance about the way this world works.
The article mentioned that 30% of Europeans interviewed for this particular poll estimated that the USA represented the biggest threat to world stability, far ahead of Iran and North Korea.
This figure is utterly appalling, and I will explain why.
Since 9/11, the USA has tried to become more isolated form the world. The problem about this state of affairs is that the USA CANNOT, in the world today, do this. Due to our way of life and the current state of the world, the USA cannot be isolationist.
It is the world's police (not even by choice, by necessity), as the world's only (until China gets there) superpower. The USA must intervene in the world as the largest and richest nation. It is a moral, practical and economical obligation. However, because the US is trying to remain somewhat isolated, it is not intervening in the world on anyone else's terms than their own.
This attitude makes the USA look like an Evil Empire, a selfish, brutish nation. Because they are acting out of their own interests, and because of their size these interests involve the rest of the world, it looks like an immoral expansionist regime has been set upon the world.
But this is simply an illusion.
Our history class has been focusing on war of late. The World Wars, the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, to name the main ones. As I have gone over these wars, it is all too apparent that, though the means of warfare may change, their reasons never have, and never will, change.
A war will always be wrapped up in ideology, in justification for the effort and sacrifice needed. But if you really understand war and its consequences, you will realize that the reason for any war lies in personal gain, be it that of a nation, or that of a single ruler.
Wars are fought for personal interest first, ideology second.
This is why the idea of an evil expansionist empire is an illusion. It is merely more
obvious to people that the war was fought out of personal interest. What? Fighting war for the interest of a country? What a completely unheard of concept!
The ideology behind this present war, this whole "fight against terrorism", didn't fly well with the Irak situation because, since the change in the world on 9/11 and how the USA chose to go about protecting itself, everyone realized that the USA was fighting for its own interests. For some reason, everyone decided that this was inherently wrong, that this was not justified, that this was bad. Regardless of motivation, regardless of experience, regardless of knowledge about war.
The fact that people were shocked when they discovered that the USA was fighting a war for oil worries me. It shows that they have absolutely no conception about what war is about.
That people are shocked about the war in and of itself, I FULLY understand. It is simply those who are shocked about the premise behind it that I aim at.
The French, in the weeks leading up to the war, prided themselves on their completely anti-war stance. They called the war unjustified and wrong.
The latter, it most certainly is. The former, it hardly is. Saddam was in a situation to harm US interest in oil, and also in a position to cause harm to other nations in the region if push came to shove. In this sense, the war is absolutely justified. If the interests of a country are at stake, it is only normal to fight for them. All wars have followed this same exact premise. The fact that the government lied made the war immoral, but no less justified.
What is most ironic about the French involvement in the conflict, is that it was later discovered that the French and GINORMOUS amounts of interests in Irak, from oil infrastructure to weapons. The French opposed US intervention in Irak because it would harm THEIR interests.
This only goes to show: nobility, morality and honor in terms of political agenda are very often little more than a sad utopian disillusion.
The French, and the vast majority of Euros I have met, feel that the USA is not justified in its policing of the war. This is rather hypocritical, given their extreme criticism of the USA when they do not live up to their expectations.
"Hey, that is so wrong for you to invade Irak! What do you think you're doing? Oh hey, we have a situation in Darfur, why aren't you doing anything?"
Tell me, really, how is it that the USA is the biggest threat to world stability and security? Wait, don't answer that until you realize this simple, yet important fact: world stability DEPENDS on the stability of the USA. If the USA is unstable, if the USA is not ensured its needed resources, world stability is compromised.
Oh, but then you're right: the USA IS a threat to world security, because if it falls, then we all do. But that wasn't really what you were thinking, was it?
The USA acted out of self interest in Irak, and you all act shocked. That is how war works, that is hwo the world works. The USA, in going to war in Irak, was aiming to control and secure the resources it needs to stay stable, so that, in effect, the world may remain stable.
The USA is the single greatest reason for world stability. Get used to it.
So tell me, really, how is the USA more of a threat to world security than Iran? Their whole POINT in their nuclear aspirations is to obliterate Israel. If that isn't a threat to world security... What about North Korea? The UN has done such a bang up job in economic sanctions that everyone is dying, and Kim is unaffected. In fact, he could sell some nukes to people for the right price... That isn't a threat to world security...
Really, the only way that the statement that the USA is the leading threat to world security is that, so far, it has been a threat to itself, and hence the world.
Sorry, the fact that the USA is such an important part of the world makes it so that if there is a threat tot he USA, there is a threat to the world... Not exactly what you wanted to hear....
When people realized that the USA was acting out of self interest, they all seemed shocked.
How, I still wonder...
More thoughts here