White America unfit for global role
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2003
Blind, deaf, dumb and deluded
An exhaustive international survey shows conclusively that the planet has a great deal to fear from the people of the United States. By this we mean the majority of the white people of America, a group so alienated from the rest of humanity that they represent a collective threat to the survival of the species.
Earthlings are awakening to the danger. In nearly every corner of the globe, perched or crouched in niches high and low, humanity hears the hounds barking and the master's voice in the distance, shouting to the horizon, "This is all mine, and everybody in it!" It would be comforting to believe that Massa Bush's men are tearing around the planet on a private spree, without the blessing of the good folks back home. But such is not the case. Between 70 and 80 percent of Americans heartily applaud the general military role played by the U.S. in the world. They are the living, breathing, popular mandate for, not just George Bush's adventures, but also those of other Presidents who follow.
Last week the BBC unveiled the results of "What the World Thinks of America," a survey of 11,000 people in eleven countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. The survey, conducted in May and June, provides both useful and ambiguous data on attitudes toward U.S. cultural, economic, political and military influence. At times maddeningly murky, involving questions and answers that require the reader to have some knowledge of conditions in the various nations, the survey does succeed in revealing the vast chasm that separates American public opinion from every other nation polled – with the dramatic exception of Israel.
On key questions relating to world security, only Israel and three other nations can be considered part of the American political conversation: Britain, Canada, and Australia. One is the "mother country," the other three began as European settler states. And, leaving aside the Israeli "special relationship," even the English-speaking nations only barely agree with much of what they hear from the Americans.
On the question of whether the U.S. is a "force for good in the world," positive responses were: U.S. 79 percent, Israel 44 percent, Canada 34 percent, and Australia and Britain, 20 percent. Public opinion in the other nations surveyed was negative.
Is the U.S. a "beacon for hope for the world?" Positive answers: U.S. 85 percent, Israel 51 percent, Canada 46 percent, Britain 20 percent, Australia 14. Every other country registered negatively.
Is the U.S. "reaping the thorns planted by its rulers in the world?" (A question Americans must have found unfamiliar and disturbing.) Every country tallied majorities in agreement – except the U.S.
Seventy percent of Americans think that other countries do not appreciate how much America does to avoid civilian casualties in Iraq. In no other nation does a majority feel that way. Thirty eight percent of Israelis agreed with the American supermajority, 37 percent of Australians, 36 percent of Canadians, followed by France and Britain at 22 percent each. In the rest of the surveyed countries, only percentages in the teens and single digits thought the U.S. did enough to avoid hurting civilians.
Eighty percent of Americans agree that the "U.S. military presence around the world helps bring international peace and stability." Fifty-one percent think people living in countries where the U.S. military are based support that presence. Except for the English-speaking club and Israel, only South Korean majorities agree. (South Korea also thinks the U.S. is a bigger danger than North Korea – evidence of the South's schizophrenia.)
To the question, was the U.S. right to invade Iraq, 74 percent of American respondents answered, yes. Bare majorities in Australia and Britain agreed (54 percent each), only 44 percent of Canadians approved the invasion – but Israel is more pro-invasion than the U.S., at 79 percent. In keeping with the clear pattern, the rest of the survey is opposed.
Jordan stood in for the Arab world. Only 7 percent of Jordanians supported the invasion. Interestingly, Jordanians also dearly wished that their nation could emulate the U.S. in military power – 68 percent. If sarcasm can be found in a survey, this is it.
Perhaps the strangest American response involved multiple choices of "dangerous" states. Americans believe that Syria is more dangerous than the U.S. (73 percent), as are Iran (78 percent) France (57 percent), Al Qaeda (83 percent), Russia (66 percent), China (78 percent), and North Korea (83 percent). However, it then dawns on the reader that Americans would consider Switzerland and Swaziland to be more "dangerous" than the U.S., because they believe that the U.S. presents no danger to anyone.
It requires only a few minutes of reading the non-security-military responses to the survey to conclude that supermajorities of Americans believe the U.S. is superior in all aspects of material, cultural and spiritual life.
At the other end of the American spectrum is the lonely 15 percent or so of Americans who refuse to join in the national boosterism. No racial breakdown is available, but experience teaches us that at least half of these Americans are Black.
The crisis of disintegrating order that is gripping the globe, although initiated by the Bush Pirates and materially rooted in the contradictions of multinational capital, is made grotesquely more complicated by a cruel trick of history. The population of the superpower that seeks to subdue and reorder the world is cognitively damaged. Americans appear to be incapable of perceiving the social realities of other peoples and nations. It is a brain-lock so profound, so nearly perfect in its insulating mechanisms, as to be described as a society floating in a bubble.
To those on the outside, the bubble is transparent. From the Himalayan peaks of Bhutan to the jungles of Indonesia, humanity stares into a corporate television presentation of American life. It is much the same version as Americans watch. However, viewed from inside the bubble, the surrounding world is distorted, disconnected, chaotic, menacing and – most importantly – an inferior place.
Yet this is the world that the Bush men wish to conquer, sanctioned and empowered by a population of blind, deaf, dumb and deluded enablers.
African American opposition to the Iraq war and U.S. military adventures of the last 40 years is well documented. The American "bubble" is a mostly white place, where fantasies of supremacy are passed around to justify privilege and aggression. Many, if not most, of the denizens of the bubble do not need to be tricked or manipulated by corporate or government propagandists. A survey taken in May by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (ZPIPA) revealed that 34 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. had already found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – a lie that the Bush men haven't even told. Another 7 percent were "unsure" about the discovery of WMDs.
White social scientists have always jumped through hoops to depict white supremacists as less malevolent than they are. Here's a diagnosis of the WMD poll data from Steven Kull, director of PIPA:
For some Americans, their desire to support the war may be leading them to screen out information that weapons of mass destruction have not been found. Given the intensive news coverage and high levels of public attention to the topic, this level of misinformation suggests that some Americans may be avoiding having an experience of cognitive dissonance.
We offer a related, but somewhat different interpretation: The desire to support the war is a desire to kill Arabs, which requires the justification of WMDs. In the same manner, white American failure to recognize the humanity of Blacks and Indians was a convenient psychological device to make their extermination and enslavement less troubling to the mind.
This is quite obvious – unless you're in the bubble.