The Dilemma

Environmental Issues Emerging Democracies Hot Spots Poorest Nations Suppressed People The Dilemma

The Dilemma

Peace Process President Carter New Pentagon Papers

Click to read the article from Salon in which:

A high-ranking military officer reveals how Defense Department extremists suppressed information and twisted the truth to drive the country to war.



One Answer from an American:

Scott Sutton
Zayed University
P.O. Box 19282, Dubai, UAE
Phone: (971) 4 2082379 or e-mail:



A lot of you will watch the news this week and be gripped with anger at those old-fashioned Europeans. Crowds by the hundreds of thousands are demonstrating against the war, anti-American rhetoric is growing by unprecedented leaps and bounds, and you feel betrayed. Why is the world against America, when all we want is to be secure? You’ll say that it’s not crucial that we’re appreciated and loved, but please don’t vilify us.

Like you, I’m an American who loves his country. Unlike you, I’m watching the world go a little berserk from the scene of the crime: the Middle East, the area probably least understood by Americans. I have daily interaction with Arab students—those women garbed in black and sometimes veiled. I teach English with fifty other instructors from North America and Britain, and my close friends are Iranian, Syrian, and other assorted evil characters. As for my politics, I’m slightly left of center, but not as liberal as a guy in a plaid shirt might think.

A lot of your attitudes—which I receive via CNN and BBC polls as well as personal e-mails and phone calls—perplex, and to a degree, frighten me. Not just me, but virtually every last American and Brit whom I know. Why is there such a divide amongst Americans living here, and those of you?

Maybe I can get you to see what we over here see. Let’s start at the beginning of all this: 9/11. The silver lining was an outpouring of grief from the global community. In Dubai, complete strangers, knowing I am American, offered genuine condolences. My students even apologized since the animals that perpetrated the deed were Muslim.

We had the world’s sympathy and promise of help, the latter being crucial if we are to succeed in our war on terrorism. But within one year, George W. Bush—whom most of you seem to like—had squandered the accumulation stored in the good will bank through the arrogance of his administration. A growing number of citizens everywhere now despise the Bush administration, and we are losing traditional allies. What on Earth has happened?

I’ve heard a lot of theories, mostly preposterous. They range from “They are all envious of us” to “they don’t know what we know.” In actuality, people outside the United States usually have a much firmer grasp of geo-political realities. While a number of Americans do take the time to read alternative press and be informed, I guarantee you that most of the people with whom I have correspond admit to being close to clueless about the Middle East. I don’t offer that as an insult. Think about it. What do you know about the United Arab Emirates, for example? Most Americans have never heard of it. How in depth do you go when trying to understand what it’s really like in the Middle East? Living here doesn’t make me an expert, but offers me a unique point of view.

Again, I don’t point the finger. Americans have always been insular. We’re a big and busy nation, and there’s probably no reason, ordinarily, why you should understand how people in, say, Bulgaria or Nepal feel.

A serious problem, in my view, is the mainstream media, which is extraordinarily biased in the USA. Most of you may dismiss my claim, but ask any American here, and they will point out that BBC, Britain’s Skynews, and even AL Jazeera offer points of view—and hard news—that you never, ever see. It’s not shown. I could ruminate as to the reasons, but that’s for another discussion. Believe me, unless you search for information, you’re not getting it all.

Here, we constantly see images of children being murdered, houses bulldozed, and a people with a legitimate claim to a homeland humiliated and threatened. The place: Palestine. You know it from ABC World News Tonight as the place where the young mean-looking boys throw rocks at Israelis. During the occupation of Jenin, I talked to some friends in Nebraska who didn’t even know what was happening. The rest of the world did know; the BBC sent in a single reporter who showed some pretty grisly stuff. It infuriated most of us over here. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is something I urge all Americans to learn more about. It’s rather important.

Some of you will point out how biased the Middle East press is, and yes, you are correct to a large degree. However, people here watch CNN and BBC and are thus exposed to ‘our’ views; Americans, on the other hand, do not get the ‘Arab’ (or the European) view.

My friends and I are also very miffed about the lack of credible evidence the Bush administration has supplied over Iraq. When Colin Powell cannot offer a shred of real evidence of the existence of WMD, we begin to question what the real motives are. Over here, we say: Our enemy is Al Qaeda. Iraq has nothing to do with Al Qaeda, and even if there were a link, isn’t it far more crucial in our battle against terrorism that we have world opinion (which translates into ‘help’), especially our allies, with us?

A friend in Nebraska told me, “I trust my government.”

I don’t. In the past, we heard “trust us”, and we were lied to. Our own revered forefathers, consistently quoted by those on the Right, warned us to never stop questioning our leaders or their motives. I think it’s time my fellow Nebraskans asked harder questions, got better informed, and realized that even a superpower needs to cooperate as a team player in what looks to be the beginning of an unsettled century.

From an American, Scott Sutton, Living in the Arab World:

Hey! Is Anyone Asking US for Our Views?

The war is nearly over, Saddam has struck out big time, and here we are. Wherever that is. As a Nebraskan living in Dubai, I thought I’d outline how most folks here feel.

It’s true that most Americans here in the turbulent Middle East stood opposed to the war; most of the world did. But now the United States has a lot of big pieces to pick up, and a lot of friends to win back. Here, what bothered so many people wasn’t simply the fact of the war. Even many of my Arab friends are gloating that Saddam has cashed in his chips. Good riddance to rubbish, most say. What is feared is the direction in which Americans under this administration is heading.

At the end of the twentieth century, it was pretty much assumed that we now lived in a global economy with global thinking. ‘Interdependence’ had become the key word, the concept leading to success for the inhabitants of Earth. There had come to be a realization that we are all in this together.

Then America did an about face. Of course 9/11 stunned Americans, but what has led to the rather complete dissing of the international community by Americans, and where might this lead?

There were good arguments on both the pro-war and anti-war teams, but regardless of what you believe, the reality is that America could have waited just a little bit longer to wage their war—on the off chance that maybe the UN inspectors (or others) might have made discoveries, or at the very least, because a broader coalition may have been formed eventually to support a war. As it is, the perception is that the bully on the block can wave off international law and hit whatever weaker punk it wants to. You may argue that there is nothing wrong with hitting a punk. Pusillanimous leaders were born to be slapped down, particularly when they appear dangerous.

However, you want the other law-abiding kids on the block, in front of whom you claim certain values, to be with you, not against you. Otherwise they may start fearing that you’ll turn on them.

I can hear the ultra conservatives now: “Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat.” Fair enough. Like most Americans in the Middle East, I believe that rogue nations with serious weapons do need to be relieved of them. No one actually ever suggested that Saddam shouldn’t have his weapons taken away—if he had them. The problem is that the administration, in a rather arrogant way, refused to provide anyone with any evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Our closest friends—and let me remind you that we do need friends in this world—were snubbed and ridiculed, and any Americans who chose the path of dissent was subtly (or not so subtly) accused of being unpatriotic.

A quite impressive array of semi-dissenters tried to convince the administration to be a little more patient. Whose voices appealed for reason, for team playing in this era of globalization? The most apparent were the French, the Germans, the Russians, and, well, too many more to name here. And those were governments. The citizens of most of the civilized world took to the streets in angry protest, not against America but against its leaders. I mention the other nations because, remember, ‘global’ is the key word. What is much more telling, I believe, are the voices within our nation.

We can start with the men who spent years inside Iraq disarming them. Scott Ritter is just one of many former inspectors who offer excellent evidence that it’s impossible for Saddam to possess chemical or biological weapons. This from a man who is a staunch Republican who voted for George W. Bush. Additionally, a letter signed by a thousand war veterans asked Bush to restrain himself. Members of our own intelligence community made it clear to the White House that there were no weapons.

Then there was the plea by seventy former United States Republican members of Congress. Additionally voices included a few brave current members of the House and Senate, men like Senator Robert Byrd with his “I Weep for My Nation” speech. Even former presidents have spoken out, urging caution, and last but not least, near half of the citizens of the United States of America.

So who did push the administration into war? The answer: the hawks, those neo-conservatives, who by their own admission, have made great inroads into American politics and the media. I think here is where most ordinary, conservative folks run into trouble. There seems to be little realization that there is an ultra-conservative wing, for the most part the Religious Right, and that their goals and objectives differ greatly from those of more thoughtful conservatives. Quite a few good old staunch Republican leaders have been looking with disdain at the ultra-right faction since the 80’s. Remember Jerry Falwell?

From our perspective in the Middle East, we see the ultra-right as dangerous, and so does the rest of the world. I believe that the average Joe on the street in Nebraska isn’t way out in left field. Make that right field. The guy pumping gas and the downtown businessman want to be secure in their own nation, streets, and to enjoy the gifts of a strong economy. Period. Well, people here want the same things, including we Americans in Dubai. We’re not all liberal over here. We just want our fellow Americans—and particularly the conservatives—to ask themselves if the whole world—including huge numbers of Americans—can be so wrong. This isn’t about good versus evil or right versus left. It’s about the ultra, far-out right opposing the will of the majority.

Peace Process President Carter New Pentagon Papers

Environmental Issues Emerging Democracies Hot Spots Poorest Nations Suppressed People The Dilemma

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