For a nation that claims to be the global peacekeeper, this is a pretty damning statistic. Talk about a reputation. But how did we get it? What have we done to make the rest of the world afraid? Here are my thoughts on the subject.
The US is far from hesitant to throw its military and political power around.
American history is soaked in the blood of innocents, and nearly every region of the world has seen the deployment of American troops. A few examples of countries that the US purposefully destabilized are Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Laos, the Philippines, Chile, and Colombia. There are many, many, more. Whether it be assasination, funding rebels or dictators, or outright invasion, we are not afraid to make sure that everyone across the world is ‘free.’ Free to buy and sell us cheap goods, that is. Our interventions have certainly not always worked out in the end (one quick example: we backed Saddam Hussein for a significant amount of time), but for some reason we continue to think that violence will solve all our problems and that the world is ours to dominate. And since the fall of the Soviet Union, we have dominated the world unopposed; however, this is changing and will continue to change as more and more countries see the US for what it is: and Empire seeking to expand its borders.
Many would say “Well, we need to stop the terrorists somewhere.” And I don’t disagree. But imagine this scenario with me for a second: You are from family similar to mine. You grew up in a medium sized town with religious parents and prize your family above everything else. Now, a few people from a different denomination than you from the country next door attack a far-off nation. You see no need to be worried, but, in the next few years, the nation that got attacked invades the country next door and then your homeland. They attack your religion and make blanket criticisms about your way of life, calling you backwards, racist, sexist, and less than human. Your father is forced to fight for the the invaders, and is then killed by his countrymen. Your brother speaks out against the unfairness of the situation and is killed for his opinions.
News flash: The US isn’t getting invaded here. It’s Iraq. The US is the one doing the invading.
My point in this story is this: War creates terrorists, it doesn’t get rid of them. Killing fathers and brothers (let alone the killings of sisters, mothers, sons, and daughters that are inevitable when you carpet bomb populated areas) does not make friends. It makes incredibly desperate enemies bent on your destruction.
2) Our retaliations are far from an eye for an eye.
For those of you who think our current involvement in the Middle East is justified, let’s take a look at some numbers. In the September 11, 2001 attacks, which over and over have been cited as the reason we invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq, a gut-wrenching 2,977 (2,996 if you include the hijackers) people died. I cried for those deaths and couldn’t sleep because I was so afraid. A large part of me wanted revenge. And Uncle Sam went out to get some.
We invaded Afghanistan less than a month after 9/11, and the ensuing war is still going on. That’s 13 years, 348 days and counting. We have recorded the deaths of more than 26,000 Afghan civilians, and an additional 360,000 have died due to food shortages and other problems caused by the war. So, we killed 130 Afghans civilians per American death in the 9/11 attacks.
On to the next country. We invaded Iraq in 2003, and officially left in 2011, though we are already sending troops back to fight ISIS. Unfortunately, the exact number of civilians killed in this war is not known because there are many different ways of counting and there are ulterior motives at work. If we use the numbers released by the Iraq Body Count Project, which have estimated 111,000 Iraqi civilians died directly from US attacks and an additional 540,000 or so died from war related causes, than 220 Iraqi civilians were killed per American death in the 9/11 attacks.
That means we have killed 314 civilian foreigners per American killed. This, of course, does not include all of the people displaced, injured, maimed and orphaned. It is impossible to count all the physical injuries, let alone the psychological ones. So, if you knew a country out there would attack with 300 times the amount of force used against them, would you be afraid? It would be illogical to not be.
3) We don’t hold ourselves to the standard we hold others.
It is basically universally recognized that landmines are a bad deal. Hardly ever do they all get set off in the conflict they are intended to be used for, and they end up killing and dismembering civilians long after war ends.
So, in 1997, the world leaders came together to ban these weapons that cause so much harm to civilians. The meeting was a wild success and over 160 countries quickly signed a treaty banning landmines.
Guess who wasn’t even in the talks? The good old USA.
True, China and Russia also didn’t sign, but what does it say about our nation that we applaud when other countries get rid of their weapons but we cringe at the thought of getting rid of them ourselves?
The same pattern is true for nukes. We freak out over the possibility of Iran getting a nuke (while they are still quite far away from production), yet we continue building our own with no regard for the danger these weapons pose to the rest of the world.
In addition, we are behind the world on other humanitarian issues as well. Only 20 countries still use the death penalty, and we are among them. In fact, some states still execute minors. This is a travesty that is often forgotten. When it comes to killing, we refuse to look at our own policies, and it is time to begin catching up to the rest of the world.
In conclusion, the US has done some pretty messed up things and it is incredibly easy to see why the rest of the world is cowering in terror. Yes, terror.
We are the world’s wealthiest and best funded terrorists.
It is time to change this. It is time to stand up for what we know is right, and we can. We are citizens of the world’s largest empire, like it or not. We can speak out for peace. We have the ability to protest, to make a difference, and to spread the word about the mistakes our government has made. We have the ability to vote for politicians that will bring real change and will downsize the military. We can and must speak out against needless violence, fear, and oppression. And above all, we must do so peacefully, lest we become what we are fighting.
In the meantime, we must all remember that to to the world, the American song is not one of freedom, but one of oppression. Caleb Schrock-Hurst is a Sophomore at Hesston College where he works as a Writing Assistant, Ministry Assistant, and Horizon contributor. He would like to study everything, but when forced to choose selected English, History, and Music. Outside of academics his main interests are tennis, Bernie Sanders’ political campaign, the global church, and Arsenal Football Club. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com or find him on campus if you wish to exchange verbal or physical blows. (Editor’s note: Caleb Schrock-Hurst’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Horizon staff or Hesston College.)