can a whole superpower shoot itself in its own foot?

the united states has fucked itself. well, the u.s. government has, and there seems to be no recovery in sight.

on terror: the u.s. government chose to take up a policy of pre-emptive strikes against terrorist organizations or countries/governments that chose to harbour or aid said terrorists. this was part of their reasoning for going into iraq. (the other being weapons of mass destruction, and later on, they resorted to the news-friendly humanitarian rights issues once weapons were never found). now that israel seems to have adopted the same policy against hezbollah, all calls for a ceasefire by the united states seem pretty hollow.

on embryonic stem-cell research: mr. bush, the texas ranger himself, decided to veto a bill that would lift current restrictions on stem cell research. research that may one day help millions of people with various diseases; research on embryos that were never going to become children in the first place because they were being thrown out. in five years time, the u.s. medical community will find itself far behind foreign competitors, and the american people will suffer for the short-sightedness of the bush administration, if they haven't already.

on iraq: the iraq war is officially a quagmire to the u.s. government, and a horror to the people of iraq. the u.s. government screwed up here in many ways. 1) they said they were in iraq on humanitarian issues, to save the iraqi people from saddam. this rationale, of course, was coughed up after the whole al-qaeda link/weapons of mass destruction stuff didn't pan out. then the u.s. government indluges in torture (abu ghraib) and holds prisoners as "unlawful combatants" instead of prisoners of war, thus bypassing the geneva conventions, at guantanamo bay. those that have been tried, have been so through military tribunals, something that the u.s. supreme court has said was illegal. the supreme court also said that the geneva conventions applied to those being held in guantanamo bay, which prompted the bush administration to conceed that they were now prisoners of war. now, after all that's gone on with issues of torture and humiliation, the u.s. government has drafted amendments to the war crimes act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees. this is basically like protecting yourself from something you did wrong, without admitting you did anything wrong. the u.s. has officially lost the right to call into question anybody else's human rights records. i bet the chinese government is just loving this.

2) the u.s. government made it seem like the united nations was useless and unnecessary when trying to get authorization to go to war with iraq. when the united nations wouldn't go their way, they basically went ahead and did their thing anyway. now that north korea is making tonnes of noise about nuclear weapons, and firing off their own missiles, all that the u.s. government can do is to turn to the united nations and the international community to get help on this. why don't they just invade north korea? oh, right... even though north korea is basically saying they have weapons of mass destruction, the u.s. can't invade north korea because of the following reasons: a) north korea has a 1 million strong standing army. what the iraq war has shown is that you need troops on the ground to win a war. it doesn't matter how much hardware and fancy technology you have: without troops on the ground, you won't win. north korea would crush american troops without aid from other countries over the long haul and the bush administration knows it, which is why they haven't gone in guns-a-blazin'. b) the u.s. is currently fighting the war on terror in iraq and afghanistan, both of which there are good chances they will lose at. they can't even properly fight the wars they are currently in, let alone afford another one with a country with ten times the soldiers. in the end, the u.s. can talk all it wants, but unless they get agreement from other countries on some sort of embargo, the north koreans will continue to make noise until they actually prove they have the atom bomb. by then, it will be too late. the u.s. government handcuffed themselves on this issue by going to war in iraq, which was the wrong country to go to war with in the first place.

3) u.s. soldiers, in future conflicts, will be in dire straights. with all that has gone on with the treatment of p.o.w's by the u.s. government, and their refusal to sign onto the international criminal court, the u.s. government has just ensured that any u.s. soldier caught in any sort of battle in the future may face problems getting the proper treatment they are legally entitled to. the u.s. had initially dictated who falls under the geneva conventions and who doesn't. what's stopping another country from doing the exact same thing?

on 9/11: after 9/11, the united states had somethng that was unprecedented in the world: world-wide sympathy and support for a superpower. the only superpower. the u.s. was in a unique position to change the whole goddamned world. on issues of international law, on war, on international communication and information sharing, on a whole variety of issues, the u.s. had clout to make something happen. but they didn't. the bush administration chose to follow greed and self interest instead. years from now, historians will write that george w. bush ushered in the beginning of the end of the american empire. no longer an honest voice for democracy or for human rights, the u.s. has begun its steady downfall. how do you know that a superpower is about to collapse? it's when that said power resorts to force to change the world instead of the power of its beliefs and culture.

can things be changed? maybe. can things be fixed? maybe. maybe with the right leader, the right circumstances, the right olive branch... but that's a lot of maybe's. what the u.s. government has done with its foreign and domestic policies, is to ensure that those that hated the u.s., hate the u.s. even more, and those that were on the fence, now hate the u.s. they have also ensured that the american people live in a society that is afraid to progress beyond its stifled religious beliefs. all this just makes you wish for the days of bill clinton, where he would lie about getting a blow job instead of lying about why he started a war.

at any rate, what i am saying is that 9/11 was a test, for the strongest nation in the world, to make a real difference, and all of that seems a bit lost right now. that tremendous grief and desire to do good could have been turned into some real change, some real strength. instead, mistakes ensued, with a selfish, greedy government and an american people too captured by fear to know any better. here is a video of jon stewart and his first show post 9/11. it is a classy, incredibly intelligent and heart-felt speach that emotes all that could have been possible in the wake of 9/11. the fear is there, but so is the hope and the belief that things will be well. well, things aren't terribly well right now. but we can still hope. hope that things won't get worse, and that the american people will chose better next time around. obviously they didn't know the first time around, but by now, i believe there is a chance to redeem themselves and hold their leaders accountable for their actions. sometimes i think that the whole world should be allowed to vote for the president of the united states of america. there is just too much riding on it. i really hope every american understands the power of their vote, this birth-given right that is a luxury to a lot of people in the world. other people's lives depend on it; not just american ones.

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