Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Prophet Glenda

No, I don't mean prophet in the Biblical/Quranic sense, I mean in the "telling the future" sense.

I knew they were not going to find any WMD in Iraq. (Of course, I might have had a head start there. My husband used to work for IAEA, and we knew all the experts. And we happened to believe them too. )

I knew - the moment I saw the US army ignoring the looters at the beginning of the occupation - that we were in for one helluva mess.

I knew there would be massive civil disturbance in Iraq in the years after the invasion. That's what happens when you get rid of a military dictator who has been keeping diverse groups from strangling one another. (Yugoslavia anyone?)

I knew the coalition troops would find it hard to leave with dignity and without leaving a mess behind. (Vietnam anyone?)

I knew that the invasion/occupation would result in increased terrorists and terrorism, not less. (Geez, did they have no idea of how extremists think and how they manipulate the frustrations of the young or poor or ignorant or religiously naive? Where have our Western pro-US leaders been living for the past 20 years or so???)

I thought all these things were so self-evident, that it seemed both extraordinary and scary to me that other people - like the Bush administration and my own dear PM in Oz, and that strange Mr Blair over in UK - couldn't see it too.

What makes me so perspicacious and them so downright DUMB?

Is it because I have lived for long periods of time in other cultures besides my own (3 to date - European, Asian and African, including 2 Islamic ones)?
Is it because I have mixed with international communities over such a long period, counting my friends from places as diverse as the USA, Tunisia, Yugoslavia - and yes, Iraq and Iran?
Is it because I am more intelligent that the President of the USA? (Don't answer that.)
Is it because I have travelled widely? ( - and not cooped up in a tourist bus, either.)
Is it because I speak several languages?
Is it because I read widely?
Is it because I listen to people who know things instead of dismissing them because they don't have the same opinion as me?

I am truly puzzled because things which seem so self-evident to me are seen so differently by others, and I don't really think I am particularly brilliant.
Sometimes (mostly?) I wish I were wrong.

Oh, yes, there are some things I didn't predict.

I never dreamed that the USA would endorse kidnapping.
I never dreamed that the USA would think torture is ok.
I never dreamed that the USA would think torture is a reliable source of information.
I never dreamed that the USA would endorse imprisonment without trial and access to the law.
I never dreamed that the people of the USA would tolerate any of the above done in their name.
America, we used to look up to you as the champion of human rights; with an imperfect record, perhaps, but still a country to be proud of because you always strove to be better. I never dreamed there would come a time when I am proud to say, so heartfeltly, that I am not American.

Hmm, so maybe I am a lousy prophet after all.

5 comments:

Andrew Macrae said...

Thanks for this post.

I really dislike the fundamentalism of the arrogance of might. And you know, it's just never enough, and it never ends.

I really dislike the double-speak of the so-called 'war on terror'. War is terror. Torture is torture, no matter how you define it.

I really dislike the way the cynical men in power manipulate mass sentiment with fear. Oops, there goes the freedom we say we're fighting for, right in front of our eyes.

E Remington & Sons made typewriters and sewing machines as well. Such a shame the arms business is so good.

Glenda Larke said...

Yo9u know what REALLY scares me, Andrew? That sometimes I seem to understand more than the President of the USA. That terrifies me.

chocolatetrudi said...

When I read your list of the things you never dreamed of... I wonder if I'm a better prophet than you! Or maybe just a cynic.

I suspect the impression we get that the US is always the Good Guy comes from films. They've got one heck of a self-generating propaganda machine there. There's so much history to the contrary, yet we choose to believe the films.

And the other is wishful thinking. We (Australians) don't want people who look a lot like ourselves (and who are bigger than us) to turn out to be Bad Guys.

But then again, when you compare the US to other countries... it could be worse.

Random Walk Writer said...

Speaking as someone in the US -- I didn't vote for Bush either time. I openly decry his policies. I have tried to vote every Senator and Representative who supports his policies out of office.

I do not endorse torture or kidnapping or imprisonment without trial.

Just because the jackass in charge does does not mean that our country as a whole does. Hell, right now only about a third of the country agrees with him. However, while he still has enough backers in Congress, we cannot legally get him out of office before the next election. I'd apologize to the world, but this mess isn't my fault.

Glenda Larke said...

Hi Random walk writer - you don't have to apologize...I know how hard it must be for people like yourself. I don't agree with my Australian PM, either! And I have an American son-in-law who is in the same boat as you are...frustrating, isn't it?

I am surprised, though, that there is not more of an outcry over the things that are happening that seem to me to be so, well, fundamentally unAmerican.