Some years ago, David Ignatius wrote
an article in the Washington Post titled, ‘Replant the American Dream’ (1), in
which he told of travelling the world as a foreign correspondent some 35 years
ago, and how he believed that as an American he carried a kind of white flag,
presumably of purity and moral superiority, signifying that he – being an
American – was ‘different’, and that “the world knew it”.
He then noted dejectedly that the US was slowly
“shredding the fabric that defines what it means to be an American”, that Americans
are now seen as “hypocrites who boast of our democratic values but who behave
lawlessly and with contempt for others”. His basic premise was that the US, and
Americans generally, had “used up all their seed corn” and needed now to reach
out to the world and ‘share America’s values’ once again.
He then ended with a statement of hope about the
celebration of American Thanksgiving Day. Reading from his mythological
American history book, he recounted the Pilgrims’ desolate fears as they
departed the Old World for America, and “the measureless bounty they found in
the new land”, which they shared with the local natives. You have already read
an accurate account of the first Thanksgiving, which was a bit short on sharing
measureless bounty. Ignatius ended with the words: “We need to put America’s
riches back on the table and share them with the world, humbly and gratefully.”
I wrote a reply to Mr. Ignatius that said in part:
You said that when you travelled the world as a
correspondent carrying your American flag, you believed and felt you were
different from all the others, a perception all foreigners shared. But that
isn’t exactly how it was. What you really meant to say was “I was better than
them, and they knew it”. Your despair is not from having shredded your fabric,
but a nostalgic regret that those people have finally realised you are
not better than them, but are worse, and that they no longer respect you but
despise you. You don’t want to reach out and ‘share America’s riches’.
What you want is to replant the false utopian values of American superiority in
the minds of all those people so you can once again travel the world and tell
yourself you are better than everyone else – and to once again see that
delusion in their eyes.
You said you must stop behaving as if you were in a
permanent state of war, but your America has always been in a permanent state
of war. That’s what you do.
Wars of aggression are what define you as a nation.
You don’t want the world to think badly of you about
your culture of torture, massacres and war, but you have no intention of
You continue to destroy nations, topple governments,
foster regional wars and revolutions, reduce small countries to poverty and
misery, but you want to be judged only by the utopian values you preach but
You say that Americans “travelling and sharing” will
make everything okay again, that you would no longer be misunderstood.
But why do you think your US today is the world’s most
hated nation? It isn’t
because the world doesn’t understand you, but because it does understand you.
You are reviled as a nation and as a people, for your values that produce only
instability, terror, misery, poverty and death.
You say you want to “give something back to the
world”. Well, maybe you could begin by giving back the country you live in, to
those from whom you stole it. Maybe you could give Panama back to Columbia and
Hawaii back to the Hawaiian people. And maybe Puerto Rico back to the Puerto
Ricans. Maybe you could give Korea back to the Koreans and stop preventing the
unification they have wanted for the past 60 years. Maybe you could get out of
Taiwan and Hong Kong. Maybe you would like to give back the wealth you forcibly
plundered from about 100 nations with the strength of your military.
Perhaps you would like to give back to Chile the
hundreds of billions worth of copper you stole. Maybe you would like to return all the gold you
plundered from all of Central and South America and the Caribbean, when you
repeatedly invaded those countries, forced open – and then emptied – the vaults
in their central banks. Maybe you would like to convince Citibank to give back
the billions in gold it stole from the Chinese citizens who trusted it. Maybe
you would like to give back to the Philippines and Nicaragua and Haiti the
peace and happiness they had before you colonised and destroyed them.
Maybe you would like to give back to mothers in Iraq
the 500,000 babies that Madeline Albright killed.
You said you wanted to share America’s riches with the
world, but the time for that is long past. You no longer have any riches to
share with anyone, and you never shared them even when you did have. Instead,
you shared your depleted uranium artillery with the people of Iraq and Libya,
who today have fetuses born that are described as ‘unidentifiable lumps of
flesh’. For a decade, you shared napalm and Agent Orange with the people of
Vietnam who today, fifty years later, still have tens of thousands of
hideously-deformed babies being born.
Your CIA shared its 1,000-page torture manual and its
Death Squad training with dozens of your dictators in Latin America. You shared
your brand of democracy with Yugoslavia, converting it from a peaceful
federation to a broken and pathetic mess of despair, and you then shared that
same template with a dozen other nations, priding yourself on your “color
revolutions”, leaving nothing but death and misery in each of them.
If you don’t mind, we don’t want you to share anything
more with us.
We have had enough exposure to American-style freedom,
democracy and human rights, to last us for generations.
tell you the truth, we in the world have lost our stomach for your worldwide
carpet of atrocities, brutality, death and misery, as well as our tolerance for
want is for you to just go home, mind your own goddamned business, and get your
dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of most of the world’s nations you are
exploiting. The seed corn that you refer to, is gone, but it was not eaten. It
Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and
businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting
firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a
visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in
international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai
and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and
the West. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Notes