The Ugly American

The problem I have is that we as a collective in the modern world (including me personally and especially the United States collectively) have been doing horrible, unjust, unwarranted violence to the Third World while their reactions and responses to that violence are used to justify more violence and their lack of response touted as “success.” I feel a great deal of shame and remorse for the damage my country has done to Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq with millions murdered, dislocated, and brutalized into THEIR reactionary and brutal responses. We have a system that promotes war and achieves all of our society’s metrics of “success” from doing so. It generates wealth for the wealthy and powerful. It generates loyalty from the patriotic masses. It generates high approval ratings for mediocre politicians. And it generates more excuses for more war!!

Of course, since it is so successful and so rewarding to our leaders and their powerful and wealthy sponsors, this has been going on since the idea started back with the Hyksos invading Egypt and probably long before that. The problem is that these invasions and occupations have become increasingly expensive and decreasingly effective. The United States budget for maintaining our “superpower” status keeps growing. It is now not only the largest “defense” budget on the planet, it is more money than the next ten countries combined! And our shores were attacked for a single weekend back before I was born. Oh — 9/11/01?? — where a few individuals NOT from Iraq NOT religious fanatics and NOT associated with any foreign government aired their displeasure at over a century of colonialism in the Middle East by NATO and led by the United States? We can keep lying to ourselves, but we’re not the “good guys” fighting “evil.” We’re the selfish and narcissistic guys bullying other societies who don’t have a significant retaliatory military or political response. We don’t “pick on guys our own size” anymore. We let those with the ability to completely annihilate us do all kinds of things while we dig up phony excuses for brutalizing or boycotting those lesser powers that displease us in some way — and sometimes (as in Iraq and Vietnam) — for being labeled (rightly or wrongly) as doing or being something “evil.”

It seems that our society decries bullying in the schools and on social media but condones it when done wearing a uniform and pretending to serve “truth, justice, and the American way.”

It’s clear that almost half of America (from either “Red” or “Blue” viewpoint) isn’t interested in facts at all unless they support a preconceived point of view. We are proudly ignorant; steadfastly loyal; and totally unapologetic for doing irreparable damage to people half way around the world from us. We think it makes us “Great” and “Greatest.” We think it makes us powerful and safe. But it doesn’t. It shows us to be shallow and selfish, to be mean-spirited and unkind, to be foolish, spiteful, and ignorant.

Back when I was young, there was a book going around entitled The Ugly American. What we have today is much worse and, to me anyway, far uglier.

©David Ney Dodson, May, 2021, Phoenix, AZ

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