I found myself at turns cheering and booing while reading your piece “The Ticking Bomb.” I agree with the underlying premise of the article that the United States is guilty of habitually evaluating all events, people, and circumstances “through American eyes”; however, parts of your rhetoric imply that it is the United States alone whose perception is self-centered and/or culturally influenced. This is simply not the case, and at times the logic you use to support the idea of American-centrism is blatantly flawed.
I do agree that the events of September 11, 2001 represent “the most successful act of asymmetrical warfare since the Trojan horse”; further, I believe the United States should evaluate with great care the degree to which we presume or power and level of safety. We have made this mistake before. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was due, in part, to the United States’ failing to consider two important things: its actions (or lack thereof) as they might be viewed by outside sources, and what might occur based on the impressions those outside sources had of the U.S.
Unfortunately, your following up the Trojan horse analysis by implying that individuals who do not posses a passport are somehow less capable of understanding the world is ludicrous. Plenty of “worldly” people lack any sense about cultures that are not their own—travel does not ensure sensitivity and/or good judgment.
Wealth may blind people, but again, to act as if having money equates to a lack of understanding of the plight of others any more than lacking money leads to deep-driven desires of altruism simply isn’t rational. Wealth is as great a power of good as it is of evil, and while I agree that far too many wealthy people fail to understand the plight of the poor, America cannot be held responsible for the ills of the less-fortunate throughout the world. The money that America possesses is often the very money that is sent to aid those who despise the United States, but in most cases, even those who denigrate America for its wealth are happy to accept a small portion of it.
The issue of lack of community in the United States is a powerful one, and America could certainly stand to comprehend that the destiny of “the individual remains inextricably linked to the fate of the collective”; however, this is another point that is not solely attributable to the United States. Other nations are certainly placing a great emphasis on individual success at the detriment of the collective. China is presently building the kind of nation many of its citizens have dreamed of; although, the cost in natural resources, air quality, and cultural degradation is astronomical. North Korea is determined to produce, test, and possess nuclear arms, and it seems that no matter the danger and no matter the feelings of the United Nations, the North Korean government is unwavering in its plans to proceed.
The United States is not the only prosperous country in the world, and frankly, as the youngest nation on the planet, it seems odd that we are so often asked to play the parent. Nationally, there is confusion over whether or not we are a country to be held up to emulate; at times—like professional athletes who are also good people—we are worthy of role-model status. But we are a nation made up of human beings, so we are often—like those professional athletes who are not very good people—not capable of the pressure of the spotlight, and during those times, it’s reasonable to wonder if the responsibility is ours alone to bear.
When President Bush (and America) asked why Mr. bin Laden and al-Qaeda hated the nation so deeply, there is no doubt that the confusion stemmed from a lack of greater understanding of the impression the United States leaves on the outside world. The United States is quick to make demands and to impose its morality on other nations, but it is loathe to accept diversity among others (whether in or out of its national boundaries). But we are also perceived as a prize, and like the Boxers, al-Qaeda needed a target whose head would look menacing on a post, and the United States’ prosperity is easy to both covet and condemn. The United States has made a lot of mistakes, and we need to grow in many ways, but we are a force in the world—not just in military terms—and as one of the more visible nations, we pay the price by having a constant target painted all around us.
Davis, Wade. “The Ticking Bomb.” The Globe and Mail. 06 July 2002. ProQuest, Sacramento City Coll. Lib., Sacramento, CA. 07 Oct. 2006. <http://0-proquest.umi.com.lasiii.losrios.edu:80/