The world is lectured frequently by the United States of America — the One Indispensable Nation — about how to behave, on the grounds that, as President Obama declared, «from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta… there is a new confidence in our leadership».
He didn’t mention Amman, Baghdad, Beijing, Beirut, Caracas or the capitals of so many other countries in which the majority of citizens, according to the Pew Research Centre and other pollsters such as Marketwatch, regard the United States as an aggressive and malign manipulator of world affairs.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton went further than President Obama in glorifying her country, saying that she can’t «understand people who trash talk about America, who talk about us as being in decline, who act as though we are not yet the greatest country that has ever been created on the face of the earth for all of history».
It is difficult to imagine how anyone can have confidence in an Administration that encompassed the destruction of Libya and staggers along under the load of an ever-growing insurgency in Iraq, a nation the United States invaded and reduced to utter chaos. The fifteen-year US-led NATO war in Afghanistan has been a barbaric calamity, with the Taliban and other bands of nationalist, criminal, religiously fanatical or otherwise off-planet savages having been made even more determined to overthrow a monstrously corrupt government that has benefited from the billions of US dollars that have been poured into its slimy coffers by ingenuous incompetent simpletons in Washington.
Even President Obama was forced to admit that the terrorist organisation Islamic State «is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion, which is an example of unintended consequences». But one might ask why «the greatest country ever created» should make such colossal errors of judgement. The fact that hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have died and millions have become refugees because of Washington’s insane foray does not disturb President Obama, his probable successor, or the entire Washington Establishment — the Military Industrial Complex.
It isn’t just by its foreign disasters that we might question the world-wide example set by the self-declared Indispensable Nation. The Presidency and Congress that lecture the world on how to behave can barely govern their own country which experiences more and more riots against militaristic police forces which continue to kill people. In one recent incident, as the BBC reported on September 23, «This time, Charlotte in North Carolina is a focal point of unrest, after a black man was killed by police this week… over 100 unarmed black people were killed by the police in 2015 and riots have occurred following similar shootings in 2016».
The Washington Post notes that 991 people were killed by US police in 2015, and that so far in 2016 a further 715 have died. A typical incident took place on September 27, when, according to CNN, an unarmed black man who the police said «not acting like himself» was tasered and shot by two policemen.
The 100 unarmed black people killed by US police shooters in 2015 are a tiny proportion of those who died by gunshots in the United States that year. The BBC recorded that «13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured». The Archive further notes that up to September 28 this year there had been 10,757 deaths and 22,372 injuries by gunshots.
The world at large refrains from comment on US internal affairs, and it is not often that the US mainstream media deviates from the theme of the «greatest country that has ever been created on the face of the earth for all of history», but it is interesting to reflect on some facts presented by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times when he recorded that, amongst other ghastly revelations, that «more Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined».
The likely next President of the United States, the compassionate Hillary Clinton, acknowledged that «It’s a stark fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we have almost 25 percent of the world’s total prison population. The numbers today are much higher than they were 30, 40 years ago despite the fact that crime is at historic lows». The prison population rate of the US is 716 per 100,000 people. More than half the 222 countries and territories in the World Prison List, compiled by the International Centre for Prison Studies, had rates below 150 per 100,000.
It has to be asked if it is fitting for a country with such monumental domestic problems to lecture the world on how to behave. It is hardly acceptable that a nation that has imposed its massive military machine with such catastrophic results in so many regions of the world should criticise any country for its behaviour, domestically or outside its borders.
The self-deception goes deep, and plumbs its depths in the mind of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter who declared in June last year that the Pentagon had a «dynamic role in stabilizing global security while implementing US national strategy». Not only that, but «it is the United States that has helped maintain stability, and the resulting prosperity, in the Asia-Pacific, uninterruptedly, for seven decades».
The man is a fool. He ignores the historical fact that within the last seventy years the United States waged a war in Vietnam in which 50,000 American service members died and millions of Asians were killed, maimed, or made refugees — just as has taken place in all the other countries in which US has dabbled so disastrously.
Obama and Clinton and Trump — and many others in power and seeking power in Washington — really believe that the US is «the greatest country that has ever been created on the face of the earth for all of history». But they not only lack humility and objectivity, they are devoid of reason.
It was the great President Dwight D Eisenhower who coined the description «the Military Industrial Complex» to describe the most evil affliction in normal, decent American society. This man, arguably the most honourable President in living memory, ended his final address to the American people by saying that
«We pray that… in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love… As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight».
But under its next president «the greatest country that has ever been created» will continue to wage war and kill its own citizens and lecture other nations on how to behave. The future is bleak.
By Brian Cloughley
British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan