"I'm an American"

On almost-the-eve of the big anniversary, I wanted to post the text of a letter written to the BBC by an activist friend of ours, an appreciative response to the broadcast company's inclusion of an American ex-marine's criticism of our impending war on Iraq.

Dear BBC folks,

I'm an American. There is much I love about this country and the ideas that underpin its existence. Freedoms of speech and the press are notable. Freedom FROM religion as much as OF religion is another.

We often don't live up to those ideals and indeed those fundamental ideals are being threatened.

[The American BBC listener] has articulated one of the biggest threats to the ideas of freedom we hold dear.

That threat in my view is the appointed President of the United States and his dangerous cabinet. Indeed, often times when I can stand to listen to this clumsy fellow speak, I am filled with a deep abiding horror that every time he worries about Iraq's ability to blackmail other nations,threaten them with weapons of mass destruction and force their will upon their neighbors, he should not say 'Iraq" but rather "the United States."

Indeed, with no evidence but an apparent desire to one-up his father in the urge to not be identified as a "wimp," this dubious president is about to plunge America into a horrible, costly and bloody conflict. Yet AIDS, the biggest pandemic in world human history is ignored and the World Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria is severely underfunded in terms of GDP spending. The environment is not only not protected but actively destroyed to sate the insatiable greed of some industries (often ones in which Bush finds personal profit). That insatiable greed of American corporations is upheld with tariffs that block access to our markets in ways that impede the development of resource-poor nations (e.g., agricultural subsidies that do not help our local farmers). The scandals that rocked corporate boards are slowly dissolving into the forgotten past while no real change is effected. The real criminals remain free while 2 million Americans are incarcerated, often for "victimless" crimes of a failed war against "some" drugs.

No one questions that Hussein is a bad man. But there are plenty of bad men and corrupt governments causing suffering and death to their own people.

In my view, left unchecked, Bush is one of them. And indeed, the pernicious policies of my country are often a source of great anguish and pain around the world; it is little wonder that so many hate this country.

By contrast, there is SO much that can be done for relatively small
investments. Means can be developed to improve health care infrastructures, provide clean water, help with family planning and stabilizing or reducing population growth, shifting to sustainable fuels, improving the environment and providing economic opportunities to the poorest in ways that can offset poverty.

The failure of the United States to do little more than pay a passing nod to these approaches while perpetuating gung-ho, kill-kill policies of Bush and his ARC of Evil (Ashcroft, Rumsfeld and Cheney) give me such a deep pause for concern for my country that I worry about how much longer we can exist. The shifting landscape of hypocrisies and corruption that seem to more often characterize US government activities in the world is a direct assault on the principles upon which the US was founded. And it is a betrayal of the compassion I know exists in the hearts of most of my fellow citizens.

George M. Carter
Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Published on September 8, 2002 5:59 PM.

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