Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Arrogance Of America

It occurs to me, that perhaps one of the reasons why we are despised by many of the peoples in second and third world countries is that we are pushing our version of democracy down their throats.

A long while back, I volunteered for a UN Conference in Istanbul. I was responsible for getting youth involved in the happenings surrounding their conference on "sustainable" habitats. The conference itself was like watching paint dry. The general sessions revolved around dignitaries, staying in five star accommodations, arguing over one word in one sentence of a 150 page document. Truthfully, it was a snoozer.

All the real action happened in the NGO component of the conference. During the second or third day of the conference, a group of third and second world country peoples gathered together in protest. Their main point was that first world peoples were constantly jamming their values and ways of operating down their throats to such a degree that they felt disenfranchised from the meetings, and their ways and culture were being asphyxiated. That is, it didn't matter that their cultures were hundreds, if not thousands of years old. The very nature of the conference was all about building a "better" way of life for them, but it didn't consider one iota about their preferred ways of being.

In essence, this is a fundamental flaw in the foreign policy propagated by current administrations, and most aggressively by the W, Rove and Co. When one sets about to "liberate" a country and "spread freedom" to parts abroad, doing it by means of violence and aggression is the wrong way. You cannot impose culture upon a people, and our democracy is a part of our culture. You should not fault others for not holding a piece of our culture dear. In fact, it is rather arrogant of Americans to presume that others want what we have, that our way is a better way for them. In fact, it may very well be that the violence perpetrated against us is a natural reaction to us trying to shove our values down other people's throats.

Case and point is the situation with Cuba. Did you know that people here in the USA have been furiously planning the next steps for the Cuban people post Castro, for at least the past ten years?
For more than a decade, the U.S. government has been planning what to do after Cuba's iron-fisted leader leaves power, however that may occur.

Millions of dollars have been spent, and a whole think-tank built, to assemble a comprehensive nation-rebuilding blueprint for U.S. assistance in transforming the rundown communist island into an economically and politically free domain after Fidel Castro's run as Cuban president -now standing at 47 years - ultimately ends.

More than 100 officials from 17 U.S. government agencies have compiled a detailed set of recommendations covering everything from sanitation to education, election procedures to property rights to be addressed once Castro passes from power.
Really, how can we pretend to know what is good for Cubans and suggest by pure arrogance, that what we plan for them will be better than what they plan for themselves? Indeed!
But some critics say the United States risks provoking a backlash in Cuba and around the world for what some could see as heavy-handed meddling.

"Some observers ... have questioned the (Bush) administration's planning because they believe it attempts to micro-manage the transition by providing the minutiae of what the United States would like to see in a new post-Fidel Cuba," said an analysis by Congressional Research Service specialist Mark Sullivan.

"For some, this feeds the Cuban government's rhetoric that the United States wants to take over Cuba, and runs the risk of stirring Cuban nationalism and alienating the Cuban population," Sullivan wrote.
Well, if we can use Iraq as any kind of foreshadowing of what it will look like should the US intervene post Castro, should we be advocating a US solution to a Cuban problem? The last thing we would wish upon the Cuban people would be life driven by the style of liberty we have delivered to Iraq, no?

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