Monday, July 28, 2008

It's Always All About America

President Bush is upset that Asian and Latin American nations are subsidizing gas prices, thus protecting their citizens from the price spikes that have hurt Americans this year. These nations are doing so for a good reason--rising gas prices threatens their power. But more fundamentally, it's hard to feel bad for Americans. Although these subsidies are unsustainable at their current levels and ultimately are bad for the environment since they spur continued growth in oil consumption, they are also choices made by governments to support their poor and new middle class in their attempt to have a better standard of living.

But then Americans don't really care about that. We only care about maintaining our own outrageous use of resources at cheap prices. When this is threatened, it's someone else's fault, not ours. Our lack of consideration for other nations doesn't stop at gas prices though. Dave Noon quotes Kay Kagan's insistence that the only nation which counts in the Iraq war is the United States.

At the end of the day, the United States is not in Iraq for the benefit of the
Iraqis. American forces are not fighting to allow Iraqi leaders to make hard
choices. The U.S. is engaged in Iraq in pursuit of its own interests in fighting
terrorism and resisting Iranian destabilization and hegemony. Reconciliation
agreements within the Iraqi parliament are part of what is required to secure
those interests over the long term, but they are not now and never have been the
reason for the presence of American combat forces in Iraq.

This is how most Americans think about. Iraqis were never real people, either for the war supporters at home or for the government. Dave is outraged by Kagan's statements (as I am, for they are truly disturbing). But she's really only expressing how many Americans have always felt about this war. The fact that Iraqis may have thoughts of their own and are acting upon those feelings by pressing the U.S. to get the hell out of their country is very difficult for Kagan, the administration, and the Neocons to deal with. After all, weren't the Iraqis supposed to welcome us with open arms?

More broadly, this insular way of thinking typlifies Americans interactions with the world. The world exists to serve U.S. interests, feed us resources, and accept our power without questioning. When those nations do something really outrageous to defy the United States, we want to bomb them. But when they do small things, like subsidize their drivers or ask the U.S. to create a timetable for withdrawing from their nation, we are confused, not knowing how to respond and whining like babies without a bottle.