America. Land of the Free. The land where the disadvantaged and dispossessed are able to take refuge. The land that welcomes all new comers with warmth and grace. A land of opportunity.
How many times have you heard these statements. Where did they come from? They might have been uttered by a politician at a rally; a person in the street, or a television commentator. All well and good, but how much truth is there in these statements and the ones who utter them the most?
The warm of an American welcome is something memorable. The ranges of goods on the shelves of stores is fantastic and the travel and ability to do things that cannot be in other countries is unique. The majority of Americans are warm, generous and thoroughly likable people.
It is therefore quite the contrast then to see how the United States Government treats people and cultures; ethnicities and social/sexual/political/religious orientations. Scared of a free world with minimal conflict, where the environment is healthy and the only things to fear are a few random idiots, acts of nature and poisonous animals, American politicians are the masters of deception. United States politics when it comes to international diplomacy is fraught with deception. What are the deceptions and why do they exist.
One of the deceptions is the idea that there is this continuous national security threat to the western world. It is true that there is a threat, but how it formed and is maintained is perhaps as big a threat to Americans and non-Americans alike. The thinking among U.S. politicians is Si vis pacem, para bellum — If you want peace, prepare for war. But has the threat always existed without ? Not necessarily, but nor would more than 3 million American jobs (2 million in the U.S. Army, Navy, Airforce, National Guard, and Marines; one million in armaments or other military hardware manufacture). No President could ever survive having managed to lose 3 million jobs, or even half of them, and the sale of military grade armaments to other nations is a significant contributor to the well being of the military industrial complex. This brings me rather neatly to the next part of the deception.
How does a threat exist that justifies the massive United States military budget, entangling alliances and proxy allies who do the fighting on behalf of the super powers – lest there be World War 3? Afghanistan, in the 1950’s for example was actually peaceful nation where girls went to school, international students were welcome and the dress code was western. When the Union of Soviet Socialist invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, the C.I.A. funded and armed Mujahideen to take on the Soviets. C.I.A. funding continued following the Soviet departure in 1989, despite knowledge that the Mujahideen were using U.S. weapons to commit crimes against various ethnic groups. It was out of the disorder that prevailed that the Taliban took shape, culminating in a U.S. led invasion. A decade later, with the U.S. no closer than the U.S.S.R. got to turning the country into a place that mirrored their vision, Afghanistan is once again fractured; militant groups are funded by a roaring trade in narcotics.
Another problem is the alternative facts, denying what are now believed nearly everywhere else in the world to be common knowledge/common facts. Whilst the most heatedly debated example of this is without doubt climate change, there appears to be a movement to discredit science that does not fit the view of the far right. This seems to have escalated with the appointment of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education in the Presidency of Donald Trump. Ms DeVos is a believer of creationism, rather than evolution. The idea that the planet and the life forms on it evolved the entire foundation of science being organized on testable ideas and their revision if found to not withstand scrutiny based on accepted knowledge, has been brought into question in America.
The idea that Donald Trump will make America Great Again is perhaps the biggest deception of them all. A country cannot be governed by Executive Orders alone. A country that makes immigrants fear for their future, systemically degrades an entire religion and is not a country that has the long term well being of its citizens in mind. A country that silences Government agencies so that they are effectively non-contactable by the citizenry, that freezes all up dates on their work, and makes employees want to secure data sets for future use before their source is frozen is not a country that has its people, economy or environment at heart. The Environmental Protection Agency is a good case in point.
America is supposed to be our friend. Yet, the behaviour of its Government raises long term trust issues that New Zealand politicians need to acknowledge and hold their American counterparts to account on. Thus the concern about Bill English being weak in his reaction to the ban on Muslims from seven countries entering the United States, is justified.