Are Americans Innocents Abroad?
By Jerome Grossman
In The New Yorker Magazine of May 7, 2007, Senator Barack Obama is quoted on the U.S. invasion of Iraq that we knew it would be a terrible mistake, that this was American innocence at its most destructive, freedom at its most deceptive, universalism at its most naïve. “There was a dangerous innocence to thinking that we would be greeted as liberators, or that with a little bit of economic assistance and democratic training you’d have a Jeffersonian democracy blooming in the desert. There is a running thread in American history of idealism that can express itself powerfully and appropriately….”
Repeatedly television replays Secretary of State Colin Powell addressing the United Nations, making the Weapons of Mass Destruction case against Iraq with CIA Director George Tenet sitting behind him nodding in agreement when both knew the statements were fraudulent. U.S. intelligence spent $44 billion per year, had satellites in the sky photographing every inch of Iraq, had agents in Iraq, had information from the Chalabi expatriates, obtained information from Pentagon Special Forces dropped on Iraq – and then said we made an innocent mistake?
How innocent can America be when it has fought nine wars in the last seventeen years, when it has more than 725 military bases in 38 countries? Most Americans do not know that the U.S. dominates the world through its military power, with garrisons across the globe on every continent, and has done so since 1945, not only in vanquished Germany, Japan and South Korea but even in the new countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union.
The reality is that the U.S. is an imperial power with interests all over the Earth. We are not innocent, nor should we be. We did not attain this awesome power by practicing idealism. Occasionally the U.S. overreaches or encounters serious resistance as in Vietnam and Iraq. But its motives are similar to previous empires: to eliminate potential competition and to extend its preeminence.
To Senator Obama: realism is a better guide than sentimentality.