World Thinks US Biggest Threat to World Peace

Noam ChomskyI 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.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

26 thoughts on “World Thinks US Biggest Threat to World Peace

  1. That hospital bombing was insane. I guess charities are meant to learn they support our war aims or risk being targeted. Unbelievable.

  2. Oh there is a lot more to why we have the military spending that we do beyond it being we are supposedly scared of tiny threats. It makes a huge heap of money for people who turn around and use a minor portion of that to keep the money flowing. And it is a huge return on a minor investment indeed:
    http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/01/06/144737864/forget-stocks-or-bonds-invest-in-a-lobbyist

    As for far less likely to fund it…not been my experience campaigning but then, this is a seriously red state so YMMV.

    • I think you’re right; many who know about US atrocities simply don’t care. It’s a very violent nation. I do think if people knew how much money the Pentagon and “intelligence agencies” put in piles and burned they’d be astonished. The numbers are so enormous they almost defy comprehension.

      • The sad thing is that you cannot simply shut them down. It is the same thing with going full single payer. A massive number of people will be thrown out of work almost instantly if Congress simply said tomorrow “we are going to reduce the military to 100 million in spending a year.”

        I am too lazy at the moment to do the connect the dots required to figure out how many people exactly but for instance: the Lima Army Tank Plant (otherwise known as General Dynamics Land Systems) got $272 million in 2011 to build a bunch of new tanks along with upgrading the other ones already in use despite the military saying “yeah we don’t need them.”
        And it would be 200 businesses according to this article:
        http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20110715/FREE/110719927
        in an already economically depressed area that would be hit. That is a lot of people to consider when you shut something down, a lot of soon to be homeless folks.

        For some reason, and I have never understood the economics behind it, it puts more money into the economy to build a tank then it does to build, I don’t know, an ice cream factory . So just saying “switch to making something else” does not help. :/ Add in all of the other emotionally laden nonsense that pops up with government spending like how since it is in the Constitution, it gets a pass unlike the less clearly defined “give people money directly to make their lives better” general welfare section and we have a perfect storm of a mess that only needs Putin and Trump to get pissed off at each other at the wrong time and WWIII is here and we are all dead.

        • Maybe because tanks require lots of afterwork? Parts, upgrades and such? I dunno.

          I imagine part of why everyone loves military spending are the vast possibilities for corruption. If your company makes wind turbines and you double-bill or sink money on designs you know to be flawed someone will get busted for this. But military contractors get away with it all the time.

    • But the same pressures exist everywhere. Of course, I’ve come to see that our political system is more messed up than most.

      • Yet the pressures that the military spending has is not just the lobbying. It is the factories that would close, the people thrown out of work, the fact that it has “permission” from the Constitution, etc.

        • I don’t think any of that (including lobbying) is the problem. The big problem is that the US has been a dying empire since about WWII. And this is what dying empires do.

          • Blow enormous amounts of money on the one thing that always seems to cost a lot of money? I suppose if you compare it to the British Empire yes.

            • Yeah. The whole thing is that countries invest while they are building empires. But once it is built, it is all about spending money on the military to maintain it.

              • Which brings up the question I have-what do we do to replace the jobs that will be lost as we downsize (and we should be downsizing.) This is the sort of thing that requires careful execution and not the usual “oh well we just will stop funding it.”

                • I think the solution is obvious. The only thing that gets in the way is people are determined to look at work as something that must be unpleasant. When the TV was first invented, it was speculated that it would be used by banks to identify people across long distances. Obviously, that was wrong. The whole history of humanity has been about increasing leisure. Now people make videos for fun. The problem is that we still have a system that pays people in an unjust way. This not only leads to inequality; it leads to environmental degradation. Increasingly, I see the problem being capitalism itself. The issue isn’t replacing jobs but replacing funding.

                  • The last time we got people to stop being short sighted we had to have a massive global depression with 29% unemployment (most likely higher) in the US alone. Then we were, for a brief time, willing to try something new. Add in the fact that we were victorious in the second world war so government looked competent for once…

                    I agree with you on needing a change-where I am at is “okay, now how do we do this?”

                    • Another factor was a very real threat of revolution felt by the power elite. Although even then, the rich were mostly too shortsighted to be open to doing anything. Thankfully for them, we had FDR.

                    • Realistically, how do we do this? It’s impossible.

                      In fantasy land, we could provide new jobs like windmills and solar panels and trains. Maybe not the after-work repair/upgrade benefits from building tanks but overall better economic benefits from reducing the harm/stress (over the long term) which unregulated greed does to people.

                      For those who couldn’t adapt to those jobs, we could do training, pay for adult education, lots of options you’re very familiar with and have no doubt tried to explain to voters with confused expressions (perfectly bright people who just can’t understand how, um, societal policies determined by majority choice might be possible? Isn’t that what companies selling things decide for us?)

                      Realistically? Impossible. In theoretical “democracy land?” Yeah, difficult, but not un-do-able.

                    • Nothing is impossible except bending your knees forward without breaking them James.

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