I’ve been watching some of the Iran coverage, and hand-wringing, and grandstanding, and lying.
Among other things, I see a severe lack of “history” reporting and discussion, in my own very ahistorical United States society. It’s not as if we can’t learn something from past mistakes (politicians, newsmedia, and private citizen alike). It’s more like we dig in our heels and won’t look back, in order to understand some of the roots of these present problems. I actually found myself explaining some of the 1979 Iranian/Khomeini revolution to a young (Christian) Iranian woman here in Skokie a few months back!
It’s a little sick, actually, the way families and schools and churches and television don’t ground our young people in a fuller understanding of what happened before they were born, and how it affects the here-and-now.
It’s not just the teachers, politicians or news gathering agencies that are to blame, though. We Americans been in a collective state of holier-than-thou denial for generations. At least since the Eisenhower era. And after all, didn’t we have alot of pain to forget? WWII and the Great Depression, post-WWI disillusionment, the slow rise of existentialist or “every-man-for-himself” thinking… it’s all part of a pattern. But since the wars themselves were not actually fought on U.S. soil, and the majority of the depressive philosophers were German or French, it became that much easier for Americans to sweep history under the rug and keep looking smilingly forward.
Foreigners mostly like Americans for our optimism, from what I’ve heard. But they also are frustrated by our collective ignorance of their cultures, and of their own even more painful history. So Iran is just the latest example of messes that the Americans, Brits, and a handful of others helped create, then left the locals to try cleaning up.
In my opinion, the Reagan era was the apex of that self-involved attitude. There was the concern with image, and politics as marketing, talking about how things LOOK instead of how they are. Plus the “screw you” message of a pro-dictator, anti-democratic foreign policy in relation to the developing world (though to be fair, Ike, Kennedy and others had this attitude also). The rise of “debtor nations” can be traced in many cases to actions in that decade by the International Monetary Fund (a puppet organization essentially controlled by the U.S., as evidenced by their ability to get that turd Paul Wolfowitz appointed to head it up).
Yet now our “we’re the neighborhood bully, get used to it” chickens are coming home to roost. Afghanis know we’re just the latest “empire” messing with their country, that we formerly SUPPORTED the Taliban when they were fighting the Soviets, and that Karzai is just the latest Western puppet. Meanwhile –just a few years after being granted the right to vote — Iraqis have already seemingly given up on the power of the vote, sensing the system is rigged and biased from the outset, or that their bumbling Parliament can barely agree on a lunch order, let alone an effective reconstruction plan.
Back here in the Land of the Free to Be Ignorant, we find we have very few true “friends” left. And bad national and international monetary policy –which has quietly been a huge problem all along — is now the house of cards finally falling down, taking the world with it (except maybe China, which will make a killing –both literally and figuratively — by the end of the current recession).
But in the middle of all that past struggle and present confusion in the Middle East, nobel laureate Jimmy Carter has had the guts for years to continue playing Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet, unafraid to state the hard but hopeful truth. He made lasting peace between Egypt and Israel, and continues with warnings of the coming storm in his books (if we don’t change our ways). To me, it’s no wonder Smilin’ Ron got elected over Carter. Americans prefer the shiny optimistic lie to the realistic truth about how hard it is to establish and maintain a fair and lasting democracy (even in our own country).
And sloppy policy, poor accountability, and shortsighted thinking have ruled ever since… Clinton included. No surprise we’ve reached this point.
In Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and right here at home, the “house built on sand” analogy is a good one. What’s worse: it’s a cheap, pre-fab house, built with half the manpower and brainpower it used to take.
Is any “kingdom of this world” really built to last? I’m beginning to doubt it. But I will pray for peace and justice in Iran, nevertheless.