Uncle Sam's Watching
By Chhandita Chakravarty, TheWorldJournal.com
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Arrogant, Overbearing, Selfish... These are few of the adjectives used by the general population of India to describe The United States of America. It must be difficult for a US citizen to understand these sentiments. And maybe most of them just 'couldn't care less'. So this article is an honest endeavor to put forward the other side of the story.It is a unipolar world today. There is only one superpower, economically, militarily or culturally, and that is The USA. The American leadership is hardly apologetic about it and there is hardly any reason for them to be. But to really understand the American psyche, it is imperative that we try to understand their past and present.
A Brief History
The history of United States of America is a paradox. It can be considered both new and old. If we consider the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 12th October 1492, as the beginning of the country's history, then its history is very new. But if we travel back in time we'll discover that humans inhabited America as early as 10,000 BC!But the history of America before the arrival of the Europeans is rarely acknowledged or known. Native American's (or Red Indian's as they are popularly known) lived on the land of opportunities for centuries. They had a simple existence based on the principle of 'respect for nature'. But Europeans soon made their way into these virgin lands and became the residents of this place. The early 1600s saw the surge of emigration from Europe to North America. More often than not, emigration from England was not directly sponsored by the government but by private groups of individuals whose chief motive was profit. Political oppression was one of the primary causes for many of the emigrants to seek an escape route to this new land. Many of them left their homelands to seek the freedom to practice their religion, or for adventure and opportunities denied them at home. People from England formed the largest chunk of emigration population. But there were people from other European countries as well, like the Dutch, Swedes, Germans, a few French Huguenots and a scattering of Spaniards, Italians and Portuguese.Since then millions of people from diverse countries have made the country their new home.America TodayAfter the American Revolution, the USA took giant strides and became one of the leading world powers at par with the French and Germans. This fact was reconfirmed after the 1st world war and became crystal clear after 2nd world war.Now, after the fall of the Soviet Union, America has become the sole world power. Other countries too have their own place but when compared to the USA, appear to be, well to put it mildly, inadequate.So why do most of the people of many of the countries outside the western block have this negative image about the world power?Lets face it, the primary reason for this mentality is a sense of our own failures when seen in comparison with America. Let's take the example of my own country-India. India's history is ancient. It dates back to an era before 2600 BC! But today we stand nowhere economically, militarily or politically on the world map. However much we might deny this fact, in our heart of hearts we know its true. This knowledge of what we have not achieved and what 'they' have achieved has created a deep-seated resentment in our minds. More so when we think of the fact England ruled over our country for almost 200 years and a lot of their wealth was derived from colonies like India.Having accepted our part of the blame, its time to understand some other major reasons for this resentment.The US foreign policy should take the blame for the increasing worldwide resentment against it.From the very beginning America's foreign policy has been inward looking. Undoubtedly, the ideals of 'democracy and liberty are noble and should be propagated, but isn't the American leadership assuming a bit too much when they decide that their way is the only 'good' way for all of humanity? What is ok with you need not be ok with others. Maybe people do not want American style liberty!And over that the hypocrisy of various US foreign policies can inflame anybody.America decides to attack a country because it poses a threat to their interests. Perfectly understandable. But why arm them in the first place? The case of the Taliban is there for everybody to see. Over that they expect restrain from every other country but can never be advised to exercise restrain. So what is the message they are sending out? That the life of an American citizen is costlier than human life in other countries? At least that's the message people are getting.Now an American might suggest that the other countries do they please, why do they have to listen to US and crib about it? Well, countries have to listen to USA because it is the most powerful country in the world and nobody in their right mind would want be in US's bad book! This fact notwithstanding, people don't like US attitude, their cultural invasion.Nothings going to change. People will keep hating US for its lopsided policies; give birth to a few fanatics and US will attack in order to rid the world of these anti-humanity people, which in turn will give birth to a few more fanatics. It's vicious circle really.I am sure India would have done the same thing if it were in the same position as the United State of America.
© February 1, 2004