Does Your Government Really Want To Protect You?

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: George W. Bush, Greece Views: 3121

American athletes at the heavily fortified Olympic games in Athens have been assigned bodyguards by the U.S. State Department and have practically had to assume secret identities in an attempt to remain safe. Fearful of a terrorist attack, American spectators have stayed away from the games in droves. Both the Republicans and the Democrats seem to be throwing up their hands and capitulating to the notion that the world has simply become more dangerous. But this more dangerous world is very much one of the U.S. government's making.

At an international event where pride of origin is usually encouraged, U.S. athletes are apparently being told not to wear t-shirts that would identify them as Americans. In a great understatement, one Olympic coach was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying, "How the world is now, America isn't the favorite country." One might ask how the "Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave" a model of political and economic freedom geographically removed from most centers of conflict-has put its citizens in mortal danger by becoming so generally despised.

The answer is simple. Although the U.S. government repeatedly warns its citizens of imminent terrorist attacks and takes draconian measures-both at home and abroad-in the name of "national security," it really does not have many incentives to actually make those citizens safer. According to an anonymous active intelligence official, who has almost two decades of experience in the fields of terrorism, militant Islam, and South Asia and who is the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, "One of the greatest dangers for Americans in deciding how to confront the Islamist threat lies in continuing to believe-at the urging of senior U.S. leaders-that Muslims hate and attack us for what we are and think, rather than for what we do." Yet President Bush continues to tell the American public that the terrorists "hate us for our freedoms." The president's statements fly in the face of the opinions of experts on Osama bin Laden's motivations-such as the aforementioned author and Peter Bergen, one of the few Western reporters who have interviewed the head of al Qaeda. President Bush's rhetoric also contradicts poll after poll in Islamic countries (and much of the world), which indicate that those populations don't hate U.S. culture, freedoms, wealth, or technology, but U.S. foreign policy. So why does the president keep making such statements?

Like the Bush administration's misleading statements concerning a collaborative relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, such deception hides what really drives U.S. government policy. But no wacky conspiracy theories need be conjured up. Research by political scientists and public choice economists indicate that in the absence of adequate public scrutiny, highly organized and well-connected vested interests-both inside and outside of the government-drive government policies. Because such policies concentrate their benefits on those interests, the pressure groups care greatly about them and lobby the U.S. government for their implementation. Unfortunately, the policies' costs are less noticeable because they are distributed widely among taxpayers and the general public. Also, the smokescreen thrown up by politicians masks what is really going on. So even though the U.S. government is more often concerned with defending vested interests than with protecting the bulk of its citizenry, only rarely is there a public uproar.

For example, in the case of the invasion of Iraq, vested interests benefited from destroying an enemy of Israel and getting new U.S. military bases on the oil-rich Persian Gulf to replace those being lost in Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration rhetorically exaggerated the threat from Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" and implied a false connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein to hide the real reasons for the invasion. Unfortunately, the common citizen is left with the bill: $200 billion and counting, the unnecessary deaths of many U.S. servicemen and Iraqis, and inflamed world opinion against the United States that will very likely lead to more-not less-terrorism against American citizens at home and abroad.

More generally, special interests, such as the oil companies, lobby the U.S. government for intervention overseas to serve their interests. When this results in blowback terrorism against American citizens-for example, the September 11 attacks-something has to be done to hide the government's own generation of demand for its provision of "security." The intense anti-U.S. hatred of al Qaeda has to be ascribed to American freedom, culture, wealth, or technology, all of which cannot be changed desirably or easily. By contrast, American citizens-including U.S. athletes and spectators at future Olympics-could be made much safer by rapidly making a meddling U.S. foreign policy overseas more humble. But then the latter change would be a new form of terror-striking fear into the hearts of the U.S. foreign policy elite and the interests they represent.

 

Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.


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  10 Comments   Comment

  1. T.J from USA

    I am no longer proud to be American. The ideals and values that this country once stood for are all lies. DEMOCRACY IS A LIE. Most people don't even care about voting in this country because they know there is not much difference bewteen the parties.

  2. Sirius from Finland

    America,americans: I really would sometimes like to forget about you. But...you, as the military,(economical) power of the present world I simply can't!

    My opinon, maybe that of many's. If you are looking for reasons why you are not liked in present day life, you got to take a deep, I mean DEEP, look at yourselves. Who voted Bush Jr. and his monkeys to the top of "this mighty power?" You did!

    The widht of the Atlantic has really increased. There was a time when I thought America (with it all pecualirities) was quite allright. But today, the hard fact is that I don't find ANY support to America, not even within hardboiled rightwing politicians in Finland (I guess this should be noticed even among hard boiled islamists)

    How do you possibly explain these empirical facts? We, among the rest of the world, are insane??? No. America has no moral ground(replay-no moral ground) to play the head of the world.

    I am well aware of the fact that there are reasonable, humble people in America (I've been there). I wouldn't resist seeing them united and steering American politics to more reasonable, worldwise politics. And, to resist Bush Jr. to humiliate christianity.

  3. Layla ahmed from egypt

    This article its based on nothing but the truth.

  4. Lars Holome from Norway

    It is as clear as the sun that the policies of US administrations of the past and present, overwhelmingly and without any doubt favour the political designs of Israel. Israeli ambitions in the Middle East colour US policy towards not just Iraq, but Syria, Sudan, Lebanon, Iran - indeed the entire Muslim world. Only those countries that toe the line willingly give up the idea of an Islamic state and succumb to US military and economic pressures and threats, such as Pakistan and Libya will be allowed to survive, by this joint behemoth of a US/Israeli coalition. The only reason that Saudi Arabia is allowed to remain is that as it serves as the capital of Islam, providing a pivotal role of caretaker of Islam's holiest center of worship, it is too hot and the consequences of attacking this country undoubtedly would cause a conflagration the world has not seen -which would probably wipe out Israel, as not a few but millions upon millions of Muslims would attack Israel defying their own governments, without any regard to personal safety - somewhat like a suicide bomber except with a religious fervour and intent which will overwhelm all caution or reason. Indeed given the global threat of a very powerful and belligerent USA the Muslim world must now set first set aside differences amongst themselves and then establish an economic and political alliance with Europe, Africa, Asia and countries of South America. No country of this alliance should then negotiate on any issue or matter with the US until and unless the US seriously and honestly abandons its policy of intimidation, bullying and threats of annihilation to achieve its ends and backs of its shameful, disgraceful and immoral support of Israel. But given the financial and political clout of Israel and mindless Christian extremism, I don't think the US will ever find the courage.

  5. joe from USA

    This is not an issue of the current administration it is an issue of long term continuing US policy.

    True, this administration isn't making the overtures necessary to resolve the problem, but the "head" is too often mistaken for the "body" in american politics and the fault of this policy needs to be laid at the feet of those who continue to make it popular...those media outlets which provide a consistently negative image of Islam which is then converted into popular opinion which skews poll results away from reality. When poll numbers are presented to politicains, they see what the mdeia has programmed for the public response... and they vote accordingly. Again, this is a matter of trying to educate the public concerning the truth not a matter of condemning a figure-head and his appointed aides for following the wishes of the mis-guided citizenry.

  6. Steve Kellogg from USA

    While I would tend to agree with some of your points about the current administration's suspected bending or fabrication of facts regarding why the U.S. is disliked in many parts of the world, you failed to address what is arguably the most important reason of all, religion. More directly, the Islamic religion.

    The terrorists I've heard about, so far all of whom are of the Islamic faith, manage to include some reference to "Jihad", "Islam", "Infidels", "Zionists", or other religious-based words in every one of their statements. I never hear much of anything about the terrorists' frustration with our less-than-humble foreign policy. It seems to be more about an unimaginable deep hatred toward those who do not follow the laws of Islam and do not subscribe to the same religious beliefs as them. Granted we're talking about Islamic fundamentalists, certainly a minority in the Islamic community. Still, you can't have a reasonable discussion about terrorism, fears of attacks on U.S. citizens abroad and those who would attack them and, for that matter those who would murder every single man, woman and child in the U.S. if they could, without mentioning how Islam figures into the equation.

    To bash President Bush, the U.S. media and anyone else who tries to deliver their brand of "facts" to the American public while ignoring the role Islam is playing in today's politics is a bit hypocritical for a journalist, don't you think?

  7. Dino Demars from Iran

    Unfortunately, this article is blatantly obvious to everybody in the world who *isn't* an American.

    There was a poll among Canadia University students recently in which a large number agreed that the USA is currently the largest threat to world peace. In most ways, Canada is only slightly removed from being part of the US, and yet, they are worlds apart where it really matters.

  8. Fatima from Denmark

    Assalam Alaikum to all the sisters and brothers reading my comments. First of all I would say that its no longer a secret that the world is facing the most tragic thing: clash between civilizations which is really scarry since nobody cares about anybody. Its no logner a secret that US policy has only one goal to reach which is: to destroy anything leading to the re-establishment of an islamic state. Im not talking about Iraq and Afghanistan. Im saying that the the west leaded by the US are terrified and scared that they might one day become responsible for theire actings in the Muslim world. And trust me there will come a time sooner or later when they will be responsible for the very miserable acts going on around the world specially in the muslim world. We witness that the security is very bad and the worst is the goverments abusing and misleading those innocent citizens of theire own.

  9. Israfil from United sttes

    I didn't really read much of the article as I knew

    somewhat of the nature and where this article

    was going. True to an extent are the

    assertions made by the author when he

    makes the mention of how U.S athletes are

    cautious about how the wearing of shirts may

    endanger an athelete or an individual.

    Perhaps this is true to a certain extent...