Sunday, December 04, 2011

What's Wrong with Aloof and Leading from Behind?


The calm before the storm

World News
By Dallas Darling
12/02/2011

    When Adolf Hitler wrote in "Mein Kamp" that, "Germany will be a world power or she will be nothing," he was referring to how Germany needed to unite and militarily mobilize to prove it was superior to surrounding nations. Inspired by past empires, like Greece and Rome, German philosophers saw the "Volk," or German people, as an ideal, a transcendent and immutable reality. This reality not only entitled Germany and its people to lead and rule the world, but it was the final phase in the historical development of the world. Hitler, Nazi officials, and leading thinkers, then, came to believe that in this new world order, Germany's role would be a civilizing force and one of leadership.

To its demise, America has always selectively chosen and embraced only certain narratives regarding World War Two.
Much like Germany, which saw itself as a victim of French and Russian and English aggression, America too has pursued a policy of victimization, mainly due to Japan's attacks on Pear Harbor and other colonial outposts. Like Germany, the United States has been fearful of humiliating defeats and wartime losses. This kind of destructive national spirit has often provoked an intensely nationalist reaction: an attempt to show that, like all of history's best victims, that America and Americans were really superior to their conquerors.(1)

     Recent reports that President Barack Obama and his administration claimed they were "largely aloof from the process" in negotiating whether U.S. forces could or would remain in Iraq past the December deadline withdrawal, has brought enormous criticism. This was followed by a strong condemnation from several sources when the Obama administration, regarding Iran's civilian and peaceful nuclear program, said it would carefully consult with Russia and China over the next several weeks to look at what other options are available. While detractors are labeling negotiations with Iraq and a small troop presence as an utter failure, they are declaring that consulting Russia and China is a major mistake.

Obama's resopnsibility:  Remains of U.S. soldier
But such elitist and unilateral policies mirror the rise of Nazism, and how it viewed the German people as ideals for the world, as transcendent and unchallengeable realities. It also contradicts the purpose and role of the United Nations, in which all nations of the world would lead, not just one. Those detractors that believe the U.S. should not consult Russia or China over Iran's nuclear enrichment, and that think the Obama administration should impose colonial rule onto Iraq, are similar to German leaders in the 1930's that believed they were morally superior to those of other states. The "spirit of America" is not the "spirit of the world." Neither is the "history of America" the "history of the world."

     In the last several decades, and according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, U.S. involvement in world affairs has meant a tripling of income for the richest 1% of Americans. It has meant 50 million Americans living in poverty with almost 10 million experiencing food scarcity. Leading in front has produced 60 million uninsured citizens, many of whom die each year due to a lack of medicines and preventive care. It has also meant spending more on militarism than the next 45 highest spending nations in the world combined. Leading in front has also caused a sharp increase in terrorist attacks, bombings, kidnappings, executions, and torture.

California, USA tent city
Interventionist ideologies have caused many sovereign nations to be militarily occupied and human rights violations to soar. Genocidal sanctions against countries like Somalia, Iraq and Cuba have caused 700,000 infants under the age of 5 to die, along with several million innocent civilians. The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with past military invasions and occupations, have led to millions of deaths.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to have the highest incarceration rate in the world and leads the world in violent crimes. With its own electoral processes and democratic institutions in doubt, even needing U.N. monitors, does the world really want the U.S. as a leader?

     For America, leading from behind would have prevented a genocidal war against Vietnam, followed by a humiliating defeat. Being aloof would have disallowed deadly and costly military coups and armed interventions in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador, Panama, Indonesia, Cambodia and dozens of other places around the world. As the U.S. continues to try and maintain its leadership roles in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific-mostly by establishing larger military contingents in Australia and Kuwait and exerting its control over Russia and China and the entire region-she may want to recall how Germany became a world power too, and how she then became nothing.

Dallas Darling (darling@wn.com)

Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com

(1) Armesto, Felipe Fernandez. Ideas That Changed The World. New York, New York: Fall River Press, 2003., p. 328.


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