I was listening to a lecture by Noam Chomsky, and he mentioned how curious it was that American presidents like to say things like, “Iran is the greatest threat to world peace.” The US media repeat such claims as though there were obviously true, although depending upon the time and ideological need, the “greatest threat” can be China or Russia or Venezuela, for that matter. But the real irony about it is that if you ask the people of the world, by a large margin, they think that the United States is the greatest threat to world peace.
Let’s think about Iran for a moment, because it is such a bizarre claim. I could be the most evil and violent person in the world, yet I wouldn’t be high up on the list of the greatest dangers to world peace because I have almost no power. The claim that Iran (or Iraq before it) is the greatest threat to world peace is ridiculous because regardless of how awful you think Iran is, it doesn’t have much power. Even a war involving only Iran and Israel would almost certainly lead to a major Israeli victory. About the only advantage that Iran would have would be its larger population.
On the other hand, the United States spends roughly 48% of all the money spent in the world on making war. So there is the US on one side and everyone else on the other side. The United States is a huge potential threat to world peace just on the basis of that. But of much bigger concern to me is what it says about a country that hasn’t been attacked by another country in almost 75 years, but still feels it must spend roughly half of all the world’s spending on military. That is a dangerous country — very much akin to the freaks who stockpile guns for the coming race war.
I read an old article by Eric Brown in the International Business Times, In Gallup Poll, the Biggest Threat to World Peace Is… America? You can tell from the headline that the writer doesn’t think much of that stat. He’s particularly surprised that “13 percent of American respondents rated their own nation the biggest threat to world peace as well.” But why is that surprising? I would certainly be part of that 13%. Who else is powerful enough to be the biggest threat? Really, this is part of what makes America so bizarre: we gloat about how powerful we are at the same time we tremble because we are so afraid of all the threats around us.
There’s also this idea that America is fundamentally a good country. We wouldn’t intentionally do anything wrong. I was amazed this last week that the US military came out with their findings that the Kunduz hospital bombing was an unfortunate mistake. And the media just bought it. The fact that the military tried to cover up the My Lai massacre doesn’t matter at all. We can always trust the US government, because America would never do anything intentionally bad!
Among these 13% like me who think that the US is the biggest threat to peace in the world, I’m sure there are very few who thought that Jade Helm was a secret government plot against its own citizens. Again: more American cognitive dissonance. Such people think that our government would kill its own citizens, but would never knowingly bomb a hospital that treated wounded soldiers regardless of who they fought for. And, for such people, it goes without saying, that our foreign policy is all about spreading democracy and helping the world.
One of the most dangerous things about America is just how ignorant we are about the way the world looks from outside our borders. And that’s the way the power elite of this country want things. This is why we have so many classified documents. This is why Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are considered such villains. They do represent great threats to the military, because if the American people knew what our government was doing all around the world, they would be far less likely to fund it. Our documents are kept classified so we can keep our people infantilized so they believe the lies that we teach grammar school students: the US is just trying to make the world a better place.
I’m not suggesting that the US is a terrible country. But as the most powerful, it is the most dangerous. And the fact that it doesn’t what its own people to know what it is doing shows that it is up to a whole lot of no good.