Dear Uncle Sam,
Within my lifetime, you said communists were a problem and gassed Vietnam and Cambodia. You said Castro was a problem, and, when CIA tried to murder him at least a dozen times and failed, you instead starved Cuba slowly and systematically. You thought Chile’s elected president, Salvador Allende, was left wing and got CIA to organise a coup against him: he died on the first day of the coup.
In general, you claimed socialists were a problem and orchestrated coups all over South America and Africa. You encouraged dictatorial regimes to hide behind the veneer of Islam and destroy socialist parties (problems!) in the Middle East, thus providing a base for the gradual rise of Islamism in the region. You thought the Soviets were a problem and armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Later, you said the Mujahideen-turned-Taliban were a problem and invaded Afghanistan.
You said Iran was a problem and backed Saddam’s war against it. You said Ghaddafi was a problem and bombed Libya. You said Saddam was a problem and devastated Iraq. You said Ghaddafi was still a problem and invaded Libya.
The list is long. I have left out a lot. To be honest, I did not always pay attention because I believed, like so many others, that you were mostly on the side of freedom and democracy. Yes, I believed you mostly, but the problems got worse when you went in. So now I wonder: maybe there is only one problem, and it is you, dear USA.
You have to realise that it was difficult for me to reach this conclusion. I still want to doubt it. As I said, I believed – I still believe – in democracy, and you always claimed to be the global champion of democracy. More than that, like so many educated women and men of my generation, I was born in an American era. The 1960s was a decade when the struggles for civil rights and gender equality were on, and partly succeeding. There was much to admire about you. It was a decade in which the American dream was still a reality: through much of the 20th century, every American generation had stood a good chance of becoming more affluent than its parents’ generation.
This dream started fading in the 1970s, and now we know that the new generations are getting poorer than their parents’ generation – but I still grew up in the glow of that dream. It softened my view of you. It made me willing to explain away your regular crimes as occasional failures.
Moreover, I was partly American in my learning. I had read about your struggle for independence and had great admiration – I still do – for many of the founding fathers of your free nation, visionaries who believed in equality, democracy and, most distinctively, the need to impose constitutional and legal limitations on power. How could I not admire them? What would I be without your authors – ranging from Mark Twain and William Faulkner to Toni Morrison – and your thinkers, entrepreneurs, films, TV, even, in my weaker moments, fashion fads, colas and burgers?
I am complicit in your great and continuous fraud for over half a century now, your confidence trick of conning us with the claim that you were championing democracy. But even those who opposed you were and are complicit in it: the communists, the Soviets, the nationalists, the Islamists, all of them. They got taken in as much as people like me!
Like me, they believed that you were fighting for democracy, and hence (unlike me) they dismissed the idea of democracy. I ignored your increasingly dirty bathwater because I cared for the baby; they noticed the bathwater, but then threw out the baby with the bathwater. You won both ways. We lost both ways.
Now, I look back and ask myself: how could I have believed that you were fighting to protect democracy? After all, you are founded on the biggest physical and cultural genocide ever witnessed in history – and you have still not really apologised to the remnants of those American Indian nations. You are structured by institutionalised racism and, to a large extent, engrained sexism. You still blithely explain away the multiple deaths of African Americans at the hands of your police force, and want to take away the right of women over their bodies by banning abortion (instead of leaving it to individual choice).
Once again, the list is long, though you are too complacent to notice it. Add to it your political structure, where elections are contested and won on the basis of money, sole and simple, and your current President, straddling the globe like a dictator, did not even win the majority of your votes. How could I have believed that you would protect democracy?
No, it is clear to me now, dear USA: you cannot protect democracy. Democracy needs to be protected from you. I, once your admirer, have realised this late in the day. I wish your opponents will realise it too: dear USA, you, like your current President, are a fraud, and your opponents need to fight for democracy, not just against you.