Failing global citizenship
A few weeks ago, Simona Torretta, an Italian aid worker held hostage by Iraqi insurgents, said the guerrillas were right to fight the U.S.-led forces and their Iraqi “puppet government.”Torretta, who was released from captivity, explained: “I said it before the kidnapping and I repeat it today. You have to distinguish between terrorism and resistance. The guerrilla war is justified.”If someone said that in America today, they would be labeled a traitor. Still, the point needs addressing because it lies at the heart of America’s current perception of itself as a global citizen.The Bush campaign has maintained that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. Simplistically, that sounds true. Bearing in mind the costs of deposing Saddam, however, the claim rings hollow.Consider the enormous civilian and military dead on both sides (upwards of 30,000) and a much higher number of injured (more than 8,000 U.S. injured alone). Consider the hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent, the destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure, the long-term damage to global alliances, and the repositioning of Iraq as a terrorist magnet and training ground.The costs of removing Saddam Hussein grow daily with reports of U.S. prisoner abuse, military incompetence and our disregard of the Geneva Conventions. We are witness to America’s disastrous fall from grace as a global citizen under the current administration.A vote for Bush becomes a vote for American hegemony, superiority and aggression. A vote for Bush becomes a vote for war and global insecurity. A vote for Bush becomes a vote against international goodwill and multilateral alliances.”I am the war president!” thundered Bush following his dubious “Mission Accomplished” photo op on the carrier flight deck. That has proven true and will remain the dire legacy of the last four years.Iraq and the seething Middle East are not the only theaters in which America’s global citizenship is on the line. The U.S. role in exploiting the world’s natural resources is heavy-handed and based on a gross imbalance of world economic power.The natural resources that fuel the American economic engine are labeled “American interests.” No matter where they are found, and regardless of ethnic or ideological conflicts, those interests will be secured.According to a recent report by the Geneva-based Worldwide Fund for Nature, America is second only to the United Arab Emirates in per-capita consumption of natural resources. America routinely treads on sensitive natural habitats and ethnic autonomy to take what it wants of the world’s bounty.”We are spending nature’s capital faster than it can regenerate,” according to the WWF. “We are running up an ecological debt which we won’t be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the earth’s ability to renew them.”The Bush administration has routinely scoffed at America’s global environmental responsibilities. America is first at the banquet and our plate is limitless.A vote for Bush becomes a vote for global imbalance and gross inequities, the costs of which are measured in widespread resentment and hostility. A vote for Bush becomes a vote for America the colonial power, the robber baron, the imperialist.The United States is failing as a global citizen, and our short-term material gains will pay ugly dividends for generations. America’s insular superiority is contrary to the greatest need of all – fraternity and trust within the brotherhood of man.Paul Andersen thinks there’s a choice. His column appears on Mondays.