Ben Franklin & James Madison Would Have Praised This Book,
Here are a few points made by this book that every American needs to understand if we are to restore true democracy, true freedom of the press, and true American values to our foreign policy, which has been hijacked by neo-conservative corporate interests:
1) “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Dr. Samuel Johnson said this in 1775, on the eve of US revolution from British tyranny. When patriotism is used to suppress dissent, to demand blind obedience, and to commit war crimes “in our name,” then patriotism has lost its meaning.
2) According to the authors, Robert Kaplan and Thomas Friedman are flat out *wrong* when they suggest that “they” hate us for our freedoms, the success of our economy, for our rich cultural heritage. Most good-hearted Americans simply have no idea how big the gap is between our perception of our goodness and the rest of the world’s perception of our badness (in terms set forth below).
3) According to the authors, a language dies every two weeks. Although there are differing figures on how many languages are still active today (between 3,000 and 5,500), the point is vital. If language is the ultimate representation of a distinct and unique culture that is ideally suited to the environment in which it has flourished over the past millenium, then the triple strikes of English displacing the language, the American “hamburger virus” and city planning displacing all else, and American policy instruments–inclusive of the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund–eliminating any choices before the Third World or even the European policy makers, then America can be said to have been invasive, predatory, and repressive. At multiple levels, from “hate” by Islamic fundamentalists, to “fear and disdain” by French purists, to “annoyance” by Asians to “infatuation” by teenagers, the Americans are seen as way too big for their britches–Americans are the proverbial bull in the china shop, and their leaders lack morals–the failure of America to ratify treaties that honor the right of children to food and health, the failure of America to respect international conventions-the average of two military interventions a year since the Cold War (not to mention two countries invaded but not rescued), all add up to “blowback.”
4) According to the authors, America is “out of control” largely because the people who vote and pay taxes are uninformed. The authors of this book are most articulate. Consider the following quote: “And the power of the American media, as we repeatedly argue, works to keep American people closed to experience and ideas from the rest of the world and thereby increases the insularity, self-absorption, and ignorance that is the overriding problem the rest of the world has with American.”
5) According to the authors, the impact of America overseas can be best summed up as a “hamburger virus” that comes as a complete package, and is especially pathological. McDonalds “serves” rather than “feeds”. The “hamburger culture” is eradicating indigenous cultures everywhere, and often this is leading, decades later, to the realization that those cultures had thrived because they were well suited to the environment–the “hamburger culture” assumes that electricity will provide for air conditioning, that everyone can afford a car once the cities have been paved over, etcetera. When this turns out to not be the case, the losses that have occurred over decades cannot be turned back, and poverty, as well as ethnic strife, are the result.
6) Finally–and the authors have many other points to make in this excellent book, but this is the last one for this “summative” evaluation of their work–according to the authors the USA is what could be considered the ultimate manifestation of the “eighth crusade”, with Christopher Columbus and the destruction of the native American Indians (both North and South) having been the seventh crusade. The authors are most interesting as they define the predominantly Catholic edicts from the Pope and from Kings and Queens, that declared that anyone not speaking their language (and therefore not able to understand their edicts) was a savage, an animal, and therefore suitable for enslavement. In the eyes of much of the world, America is a culturally-oppressive force that is enslaving local governments and local economies for the benefit of a select wealthy elite that live in gated compounds, while demeaning, demoting, and destroying the balance of power and the balance with nature and the balance among tribes, that existed prior to the arrival of American “gunboat diplomacy” and “banana capitalism.”
There you have it. According to the authors:
1) Americans are uninformed about the real world
2) Americans are not in charge of their own foreign policy
3) What is done in the name of all Americans is severely detrimental to the rest of the world, and Americans will pay a heavy price if they allow this “hamburger/gunboat imperialism” to continue.
May God have mercy on our souls, for we know not what we do.