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spikegifted - Random thoughts

 

An open letter

September 11, 2003

As I mentioned in the Iraq thread: I like many aspects of America, the 'American way of life' (if it can be described in a such a simple term), American ideals and I have a good number of American friends, many of them live outside the US or spend a great deal of time outside it. However, there are times when I do not appreciate the stance it takes on certain matters. The current wave of wide spread dissatisfaction towards the US is primarily due to its action towards the Iraq. And the way the US went ahead, pretty much on its own but, with limited support from the UK and other countries. But now that the costs of maintaining policing and rebuilding are mounting, turning around and asking other countries to contribute.

In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, many of my American friends, through conversations, have expressed their doubts, fears and anger about their home country's attitudes and actions regarding other countries. These US citizens can express themselves because they're not situated in US soil and therefore not under the pressure of 'being patriotic'. They also expressed the doubts about the US's ability to keep a post-Saddam Iraq under control. I'm just curious how come these American are able to express these thoughts only because they're outside the US? My suspicion is that under the banner of 'being patriotic', criticism towards the administration is 'not a done thing' and freedom of thoughts and freedom of speech were compromised - some of the founding principles of the USA. I'm not trying to question the genuine patriotic feeling American have towards their country, but I'm question whether 'being patriotic' has blinded many Americans' ability to be rational and be critical of their government and their elected/appointed officials.

One of the things that I'm particularly uncomfortable with is the US administration's comments and attitude towards 'Old Europe'; the kind of comments and attitudes, either expressed or implied, towards France in particular. Sure, there are many great places to live in the US, but you're not comparing dumps of the Earth or oppressive regimes here - you're talking about the likes of France, Germany, Italy, etc. These countries, in many aspects, are just as good as the US or even better. The attitudes express in the Iraq thread toward France and the French and American public display of contempt or near hatred toward France are both deplorable and unacceptable. No-one in the world has the right to make such outrageous comment towards what is considered an ally. The fact that the US can display such ungainly emotions toward another democratic society speaks volumes of its ability to tolerate and understand other cultures and societies.

In terms of support for the US on war with Iraq, throughout the build up to conflict, I've express my doubts about the 'evidence' of WMD in Iraq. Why am I so concentrated on WMD? I happen to hold a British passport and I happen to pay my taxes in the UK. War means spending my tax contribution. Going into a unnecessary war means spending my tax contribution on unnecessary expenditures. And the British PM 'sold' the war to the British parliament solely on the Iraq having WMD and these weapons presents a present and immediate threat to the UK. As the Hutton Inquiry in the UK has demonstrated so far, the 'evidence' was at best questionable.

If you half think the US administration's reason for going to with Iraq, liberating the Iraqis, was the right-thing-to-do, I'd serious urge you to reconsider this train of thought. You can't export democracy. Democracy is derived from cultural, social and historical bases. Simply going in with guns blazing and 'give' another country democracy will not work. The best you can achieve is a system that looks like democracy, but actually not. The troops in Iraq are being slowly wasted. The conditions of the Iraqis are no better now than they were prior to 'liberation' and they are unlikely to improve for years to come as the social dislocation created by the act of invasion has upset the balance and the infrastructure to such an extent that it will take years to return to the level of operation efficiency seen prior to the war.

To justify this war based on humanitarian grounds is just naive. As we can see, winning the war may be relatively easy, but keeping the peace is difficult. Can you seriously suggest that the humanitarian situation in Iraq is better now than it was before the war?

This is according to the CIA World Fact Book, which was updated on August 1, 2003:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Government type:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Constitution:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Legal system:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Suffrage:
formerly 18 years of age; universal; note - in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Executive branch:
chief of state: in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Legislative branch:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Judicial branch:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Political parties and leaders:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Political pressure groups and leaders:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of Saddam Hussein regime by US-led coalition

Economy - overview:
The military victory of the US-led coalition in March-April 2003 resulted in the shutdown of much of the central economic administrative structure and the loss of a comparatively small amount of capital plant.

Exchange rates:
Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 0.3109 (2002), 0.3109 (2001), 0.3109 (2000), 0.3109 (1999), 0.3109 (1998), note: fixed official rate since 1982; market rate subject to wide fluctuations

Telephone system:
general assessment: an unknown number of telecommunication facilities were damaged during the March-April 2003 war
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How can anyone suggest that the live of the Iraqis have improved? Yes, they may now be freed from Saddam's secret police and other state monitoring apparatus. But instead, they're living under the fear of armed gangs, looters, suicide bombers, security raids by foreign speaking armed personnel, hunger, disease, lack of water, lack of fuel, lack of electricity...

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September 11, 2003

As an outsider, not being an American, I cannot ask American people to be self-critical. For me, I consider that to be inappropriate, improper and, of course, contradictory. The very act of asking someone to be self-critical implies criticism.

However, it is vitally important for countries and peoples to be self-critical. The world is a highly complex place and for a brief moment in time, a country or a people may be the master of the realm. But never forget the phrase: "How far the mighty has fallen." Powers, come and go and so do attitudes. Don't ever let yourself into the illusion that you're invincible - no-one is. It is only through looking into yourselves or your own country or culture to realize where are weaknesses are and how to improve you and your nation.

---

September 11, 2003

Being the best at what you do can be a lonely thing. As the great tennis player, commentator and art dealer/collector John McEnroe says: "When you're #2, you can always look up to the guy who's #1; but when you're #1, whichever direction you look, it's down...". Guess what, he lost motivation and started sliding even when he was still in his prime.

However, there is a very different type of attitude in people or organizations who look at themselves and say: "Ok, we're #1, but what can we do to improve ourselves and stay #1?" Look at General Electric... GE used to be strictly a electrical and electronic engineering company up until the late 1970s and 1980s. They were #1 in everything they did, but couldn't achieve anymore growth due to competition laws and the sheer size of their market. Then the culture changed... They started to look external to their original fields and gained the expertise in other areas of potential growth. Look where they're now...


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