More of the Same


If you believe anybody’s figures, 200,000 people have been killed in the Sudan. Four million have died in the Congo. Yet Washington and Hollywood are fixated on the Sudan and silent about the Congo.

Why? Well, keep in mind that the United States always practices selective outrage. U.S. foreign policy is institutionalized hypocrisy. Another point to keep in mind is that U.S. foreign policy is largely driven by domestic lobbies and domestic politics.

Yes, it is an insane and immoral way to run a country, but what can we say? It is so, and American voters, at least those of the flock who bother to vote, have been unable to change it, at least in my lifetime. The ancient philosophers would say that we lack leaders who are intelligent, moral and pious. I’ll buy that.

If you take notes, you will find that American government officials are almost incessantly talking about foreign countries. They criticize the countries. They give them advice. They threaten them, most often with sanctions. The point is that the rest of the world is none of our business.

What goes on in the Sudan and the Congo is the business of the people in the Sudan and the Congo. Ditto every other country in the world. This American Empire, created just as my Confederate ancestors predicted, sucks. Our stumpy little emperor, who might as well be drunk for all the use he gets out of his brain, would rate low even among the Romans, who rather excelled in bad emperors.

The bad thing about history is that it is depressingly repetitious. We cannot see the future, so we look to the past in hopes of finding humane and rational leaders. We look in vain. We see an unbroken record of savage selfishness, a willingness to use force, and uncounted millions killed in wars of various kinds and for various reasons.

The United States, in case you haven’t matured enough to figure it out, is not a special country. It is one of the most warlike on the face of the Earth. Our ancestors were greedy and ruthless enough to grab the best slice of the North American continent. Protected by two oceans, we ruthlessly exploited the land and its resources. We didn’t become prosperous because we were free. We became prosperous because the land contained so much wealth — vast forests, fertile soil, amenable climate, oil, iron ore and coal. Canada got stuck with mostly tundra; Mexico got mostly desert.

After grabbing the Southwest from Mexico, conquering the South and virtually exterminating the Plains Indians, the U.S. took its first step toward an international empire. The Spanish-American War was typical. It was based on lies. We attacked Spain because it was the weakest of the European powers.

As soon as we defeated Spain in the Philippines, rather than hand it over to the Filipinos, we bought the islands from Spain and launched a war against the Filipinos. We didn’t give them independence until after World War II, and it’s only been in recent years that they finally kicked us out of the military bases we had planted on their soil. We are still occupying parts of Japan and Germany, and if you think that crowd in Rome on the Potomac intends to get out of Iraq, you have another think coming.

Don’t look for peace and prosperity in the future. It will be just more of the same — war, taxes, debt and human misery. But don’t worry. You’ll be kept fully informed about Lindsay Lohan and other celebrities.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.