America: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t



Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

Published — Saturday 26 January 2013

Last update 26 January 2013 1:17 am

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A few days ago, the world watched the second inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama in the American capital, Washington D.C. The event lasted 3 days from Jan. 19 to Jan. 21, 2013. The inauguration included concerts, private swearing and many social activities. It is always cold in the American capital in January, but it is worth being there during the inauguration. People around the world admire America and the American way of life. The 44th American president great grandfathers were not even allowed to get education.
Many people around the world want the American president to solve the problems of the world as if he has a magic wand. We see many countries don’t like American politics, but the biggest nightmare for any country is to see America pulling out its diplomatic staff from that country. The reason for this is that American diplomats are the most targeted in the world. But, countries like the comfort of having American politicians and diplomats on their side.
I was one of the spectators during two inaugurations. One was the first for President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and the other was the second inauguration for President George W. Bush in 2005. During the inaugurations, you see America at its best. You will see people from around the world getting free lessons of how strong America is.
President Obama spoke about serious global issues and also told the whole world how much he loved his wife and talked about her hair. It shows how simple the Americans are.
In the week of the inauguration, we saw many political crises brewing in the world: The Arab world was still not sure when the Arab Spring would end, how the Israeli elections would shape the country’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Arab world, a major war against terrorists in northern Africa was under way, the World Economic Forum at Davos was trying to fix the European economy and the European Union was seeing London drifting away from Brussels. And now everyone is asking where is America?
In another word, the world is asking America to be a policeman, a financial provider and a problem solver. But, did we really give America the appreciation it deserves?
For a long time America saved the world from extended tragic events. The WWI, WWII and the liberation of Kuwait are few examples of what America can do. America is the only country in the world that can fight a war ten thousand miles away from its shores, but also it is the only country that can provide needed aid to disaster-stricken countries half way round the world. The world talks about casualties because of American wars, but the world doesn’t talk about many lives saved by American interventions.
It is true many American wars were not necessary like the one in Vietnam and in Iraq. But, it is the world that wants America to be a policeman. And yes, America has interests around the world, but why can’t countries resolve their differences without the Americans? I think the reason for this is that many countries around the world simply can’t do it alone. These days there is a major campaign against terrorism in northern Africa, but just days after the campaign, it is the American US Air Force C-5 and C-17 cargo planes which will provide the needed support to the battlefield.
In fact this American airlift operation involves an unknown country to the Americans — Mali. America has nothing to do with this country. As a matter of fact, even American top politicians think it is a Middle Eastern country. They speak French in Mali, and Americans don’t speak French. So why France can’t do a military airlift in a country closer to France than America? At the end of the day, it is business as usual regarding any conflict around the world. If you don’t see the American flag, then the conflict can’t be resolved.
In the near future, we will hear many voices around the world objecting to the American intervention. And some columnists will write about the reason why America intervened in Mali. They might say that huge stockpiles of uranium have been discovered in Mali, and this is why Americans are there. We heard the same thing about Somalia. Many said the reason for the American intervention in Somalia was for the uranium. Not, one single analyst thought maybe America intervened in Somalia to save the hungry, sick women and children. Americans will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
People look at the US Navy Ships missiles, but they don’t see the American ships with hundreds of hospital beds that could save many lives around the world irrespective of the nationality or religion of the people in need. Hungry people in disaster zones are always relieved to see the USAID packages. And people who are safe and sound would like to see their children attending American schools and becoming US citizens.
America is the country that gave the world better living. American inventions and discoveries changed the world for the better and made the world a small village. It gave everyone in the world a voice through the Internet and made it possible to have even young children speak to the world. We see American multibillionaires like Bill Gates sharing their wealth with the rest of the world and America made unknown intelligent foreign scientists become Nobel Prize winners. Egypt’s Ahmed Zuwail is an example.
During my 28 years as a naval officer, I have heard many mariners from all over the world telling me that when they are in the middle of an ocean and they are in distress, the first thing they look for in the far horizon is a US Navy ship with the American flag at its mast. They know it will render assistance because if they don’t, the ship’s captain name will be there on the 6 O’clock news.
America can’t solve the conflict in a country if the people of the country are not willing to solve their problem. As for this part of the world, it is the Egyptians, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Algerians and Libyans are the ones who can make their countries stable and prosperous. America has the know-how, but it can’t force the people to learn it.

This article is exclusive to Arab News.

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