14 June 2007

The Mad Math of American Foreign Policy - or, Why "They" Hate Us

The advertisement said, "Save $2,000 on Mediterranean Cruises." Given my savings goal for the year was $10,000, I bought five.

Tom Peters writes
"Haven't gotten anything but grief - vitriol overseas as an American of late. In the past, overseas, I've observed dismay at the resident of 1600 PA Ave. But this time it's inclusive — we are all getting grief."

American has been infected by a virus of mad calculation, a virus that seems to transcend the Bush's administration's transient hold on the White House. It's a madness that goes some distance towards explaining why "they" hate us.

On 9-11, terrorists killed more than 3,000 Americans. By contrast, more than 65,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a consequence of our military intervention. The vast majority of the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, none from Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was not an act of revenge or retaliation. We invaded Iraq because we couldn't let 9-11 happen again. The invasion of Iraq was an act of prevention. (Itself a non sequitur I haven't the inclination to delve into right now.)

So here we have the math madness that has come to define American foreign policy. We will kill 20 foreign civilians in order to prevent the killing of one American. (65,000 Iraqi civilians / 3,000 American civilians) We will kill 60,000 foreigners to save the lives of 3,000 Americans. Or, by extension, we will kill 600,000 foreigners to save the lives of 30,000 Americans, or kill 60,000,000 to save the lives of 300,000 or - and this is the kicker - 6,000,000,000 (6 billion!) foreigners in order to save the lives of all 300,000,000 (300 million) Americans. Using the logic of post 9-11 foreign policy, American policy makers are basically saying that to make lives of us 300 million Americans more secure, they are willing to kill everyone else on the planet. I doubt that Randy Newman could have ever guessed that any administration would take his satire so seriously.

This is madness. Sadly, George is not the only one infected with this disease. Can we truly wonder why the world's estimation of our country has plunged so precipitously? Is it any wonder, Tom, that we are all getting grief?


David said...

My friend Jay Bennett just returned from a trip to the Greek Isles and commented that among those traveling we seemed so despised. As you know Ron this is of no consequence to me because the "world" is normally wrong about everything including their lack of support for solving African problems. It's so easy to focus all the blame on the US because we actually do something. "Reject the grief, be a man" I'd say to Tom. And to you I'll ask, "who else is infected? And are they as hated as George." Probably not. It truly is madness.

Anonymous said...

So which category do you fit into? Sometimes, I think I'm a little piece of everything.

Some people get confused I guess, because they feel left out. me- if I feel confused or betrayed, I look for that feeling of belonging in my personal life- my immediate surroundings. It's where I make my investments, and loyal friends help keep that magic alive.

Life Hiker said...

Right. We have an insane government, we're going broke at a rapid rate, we're fat as hell on calories and energy usage, too many of our citizens are uneducated and vulgar, and we have a huge military and lots of nukes. No wonder people in other countries have little respect for us.

Ron Davison said...

It's one thing to go it alone - it is another to so heavily discount the lives of others simply because they have a different citizenship.

But in their defense, some of my best friends are Americans. I'm inexplicably fond of them for all our - I mean their - flaws.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the 65,000 admitted civilian deaths- independent sources move the decimal point, and put the number at 654,000- there were an additional 35,000 Iraqi troops killed defending their country. For some reason, they never get counted.

Wearing a hat seems to make an insane amount of difference in these things.

Ron Davison said...

I haven't seen the 650,000 estimates, but I have seen estimates that bring the number up to 150,000 to 200,000.
"Wearing a hat seems to make an insane amount of difference in these things." What a lot of absurdity and wisdom is packed into that quip.