A friend recently asked me my opinion of the
It's too easy to point to the mess in
Afghanistanand Iraqfor all the wrongs that the has done. I, and many in Europe, do not for one minute believe that the US is in for the sake of spreading freedom and democracy, despite its own claim (so-called Operations "Enduring Freedom" and "Iraqi Freedom"). One was about revenge (face and honour after attacks of 911), the other about oil (and power to control the world's most valuable resource). US
I guess the question is what (super)power-dom does to a country. Like the saying, power corrupts, and certainly as the only superpower after the the Cold War, the
has been able to project its power (economic, military, soft pwer ('culture', media, entertainment) unchallenged. And that ability comes with responsibility but also arrogance. The US UScan do whatever it wants, trample over interantional agreements ( Kyoto, international criminal court, Iraq, and perhaps soon ). It conducts politics in its own way, governed by its own interests. If it wanted, the Iran UShas/had the ability and resources to stop famine in Africa, prevent human rights abuses in the Sudan, Rwanda, , the Balkans immediately etc. But it doesn't/didn't want to, because those places are of little interest and value to the Cambodia . All these places, and more, experience terrible human rights abuses and oppression, probably far worse than than anything Saddam attempted, but the US sits and does nothing (to be fair so does the rest of the interantional community). Instead the US USseems to pick on the small fish (Axis of Evil), those countries that are either international outcasts already or pose no real challange to the US' power, but leave the real abusers ( Saudi Arabia, China, ) well alone. End of the day it comes down to money and balancing your interets against those of others. And often freedom and happiness of others loses. Israel
Just read something which sort of backs up my arguments about how power corrupts. Some self-proclaimed neo-conservatives, who were adament that the Iraqi campaign was necessary and good are now changing their opinions. Even
Part of that is a structural problem in the world right now where
is so powerful that it creates a huge amount of resentment. There's a very high background level of anti-Americanism no matter what. The Bush people made it worse by the way they proceeded [ in Iraq], but it would have been difficult even in the absence of that. (Fukuyama) America
Somewhere else (uni essay 2003) I once wrote that the heigtening of tensions in the current international climate can be partly attributed to the US' own perceived insecurities:
The new world order with fragmented and weak entities under the auspice of a single superpower, the U.S., unrestrained in its capacity to project its power anywhere, anytime in the name of catch-all justifications of 'humanitarianism' or 'pre-emptive strikes', has perhaps also contributed to the increasing mutual suspicion leading to a more unpredictable environment.
Opposition exists in all sorts of relationships that are unequal, and the categorisation of people, whether as mad, terrorists, queer or rogues only heightens anxieties. The United States after 9-11 is traumatised. Yet the state is able to use the state of emergency as a pretext to modify its course in foreign affairs and at home, mould the hearts and minds of people and states, and pre-emptivism and the instilment of fear to determine the life or death, inclusion or exclusion of states and peoples everywhere. This ability to determine others, to label others and subject others to one's perception of the 'Other' is "the characteristic (privilege) of sovereign power…to seize hold of life in order to suppress it" . The Liberal ideology functions best gripped in a (false?) sense of fear, in order to construct the "regulated formation of the social body ", through which it can further delimit and 'hierarchise' unbalanced relations of domination and assert domination.
 Edward Said used this word, when he describes how the Orient is perceived by the West as everything that it is not, "living tableau of queerness", whereby feelings of suspicion and curiosity are aroused; Said, 1995, pg 103. The word today also has connotations to 'homosexuality', which Foucault has discussed in depth in The History of Sexuality, as a construct of the modern era.
 Michael Foucault, The History of Sexuality-Volume I: Introduction, Penguin Books, London, 1976, pp135-136
 Ibid. pp140-141. A 'social body' in this sense is very much reminiscent of the construction of the Kantian 'federation of free states', possessing the characteristics of Republicanism, submitting to the common 'pact of peace' and common goals of 'universal hospitality': See Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, Hackett, Indianapolis, 1983
At the end of the day, it's a battle of 'hearts and minds' (thank you for the admission, Pentagon), not freedom and happiness. It's about trumpeting 'our' values and lives and blackening those of others that are seem as different or incompatible. No wonder the 'democracy project' that the US claims to be supporting and spreading around the world is not selling well.