It is hard to be an American citizen, because our government -- massive, rich and powerful -- acts remote from its democratic base.
So people give up and become apathetic, and our government encourages it. It is much easier to have a citizenry that is numbed by luxuries and the overwhelming prospect of truly informing themselves.
But we have a responsibility to be leaders in responsibility. This is so for at least two serious reasons:
(1) Our country manipulates and controls much of the world. This is not justified according to the ideal of a just, democratic international order of equal rights for all people, but since it is a reality, we have all the more responsibility to hold our government to standards of human decency and world democracy.
(2) Our country is among the very richest and "developed" (materially, not morally and emotionally!) in the world. That means we are the haves. The haves have a responsibility of common humanity to the have-nots. This is a huge responsibility. But once again, our government and the corporate interests that corrupt it do not want us to become fully human. They want us to be big stomachs that gobble up resources and luxuries as less-than-human beings.
The current attempt to have a never-ending "war" against terrorism, and against "the axis of evil," is an attempt once again to dumb the American people with fear into sitting idly by, while American geopolitical control can do its dirty work and promote globalized corporate interests.
There is no doubt that terrorism is a real threat. However, the "war" against it is part of its very dynamic, and terrorism has roots due to our continuing manipulation of much of the world. This is the major reason why it is stupid and immoral to pursue an all-out war against terrorism; that is not the way to defeat it.
Even more, the American people are not aware of how much the corporate interests corrupting our government profit from this war, so that our government is in a sick co-dependency with the violence it seeks to oppose.
Consider industries serving the military. The Gulf War served as the "opportunity" to dump outdated bombs, so that new ones could be made, and to test out weapons for the global weapons market. This includes the use of depleted uranium shells that not only poisoned Iraqi children and the land in the region for all future human time, but also poisoned our own servicemen.
The current "war on terrorism" is a large-scale version of this military clearinghouse and "laboratory."
Current plans for war also serve corporate oil interests. This is consistent with past policy. Our government -- including Bill Clinton and his "Democrats" -- has not supported democracy and the people in Iraq or the Middle East. They support autocrats who make sure we have oil.
Even though there's been a pro-democracy movement in Iraq, "we" supported Hussein when he helped us, and even flew cover fire for him while he suppressed a rebellion in 1991, after the Gulf War!
Our government didn't have a new pro-American oil leader lined up and so it helped Hussein. Today, George Bush and Dick Cheney want the Iraqi oil fields and a foothold to control the region. They don't care about the Iraqi people and they don't care about democracy.
There is no good evidence that Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. Even if he had them, he would not use them, because it would mean his destruction. And the one thing he cares about is himself.
Add to this the fact that our sanctions against the Iraqi people right now are inhuman warfare, so that we Americans have the deaths of children, teen-agers, newlyweds, decent businessmen, wives, artists, scholars and old people on our hands every single day.
People who talk about how good America is internationally are in denial of the facts. Our record is often miserable, because we sow misery. When will the American people wake up and be who we truly should be?
Jeremy Bendik Keymer is an assistant professor of philosophy at The Colorado College.