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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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We are not bullies

The hatred that many countries harbor toward America has been fermenting for some time. Around the world, supposed antiwar protests broadcast by major news agencies are, in reality, anti-American rallies.
Reuters reports that in countries from Mexico to Morocco and from Turkey to Argentina, citizens are burning the American flag and shouting anti-U.S. rhetoric. In “The Arrogant Empire,” Newsweek’s March 24 cover story, writer Fareed Zakaria says that America’s intimidating tactics and self-righteous attitude have ostracized it from the world’s favor. However, just as Zakaria’s analysis proves superficial, these anti-American protesters prove misinformed.
According to Zakaria, America is a bully. He uses Pakistan and Turkey as recent examples of America’s domineering tactics. Even though many countries have faced terrorism, writes Zakaria, “after 9/11, suddenly terrorism was the world’s chief priority. Every country had to reorient its policy accordingly.
Pakistan had supported the Taliban for years, and within months, it became the regime’s sworn enemy.” One should note that Zakaria fails to condemn Pakistan’s support of the murderous Taliban regime. Instead, he portrays America as some leviathan, forcing any and all to bend to its will. However, the only countries that changed their foreign policies were those, like Pakistan, that were not supporting Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity or Doctors Without Borders, but instead were supporting a regime that oppressed women, destroyed 1,500-year-old religious sites and murdered thousands. That America’s intervention should be seen as “bullying” is outrageous.
Turkey, according to Zakaria, was able to parry the assault of America, while Pakistan was not. “The Turkish people were deeply opposed to a war in Iraq. Yet the administration assumed that it could bully or bribe Turkey into giving it basing rights.” Again, there was no bullying. The United States did not threaten force against a peaceful country. America offered Turkey money to the tune of $15 billion, according to Fox News.
What was the harm in this? Turkey is a fledgling democratic state. Billions in exchange for the use of land should have been a bargain. As a sovereign state, Turkey had every right to refuse the money–and it did.
The deep-seeded hatred of America is caused by nothing more than the fact that the United States has the power and resources to effectively secure its own safety, whereas many other nations do not. That the United States can topple a tyrannical regime 10,000 miles from its own borders solicits envy from the world. Zakaria points out that Bush asked for a defense budget increase of $50 billion, which is larger than the entire defense budgets of Germany or Britain. The United States offered Turkey $15 billion for the use of bases; that amount, according to the World Bank, is larger than the GDP of more than 100 countries.
Contrary to what the anti-U.S. crowd would like to believe, America does not intimidate nations. Whereas America donates lunch money, a bully would simply take it without asking. According to the Peace Corps, since 1961, 168,000 men and women have served in 136 countries. Turks and Argentines, the same people Reuters’ photographers captured burning the American flag, would do well to remember that Peace Corps members helped build their countries, and that it is an American organization of American men and women willing to donate two years of service to developing nations.
The billions in aid not given directly to countries is compensated by the fact that the United States’ economy, according to Newsweek, is larger than the next three. Forty-three percent of the world’s economic production, 50 percent of the world’s science, and 40 percent of the world’s high-tech production comes from the United States. The fact that protesters can coordinate simultaneous anti-American rallies around the world via cell phones and e-mail is the direct result of American efforts and American progress. That they can afford to spend the day shouting trite anti-American slogans instead of working like millions of Americans do is due in large part to the United States. Yet, these efforts are rarely recognized.
What is recognized and perpetuated is this foolish argument that America is an arrogant, imperialist state. As Dr. Victor Hanson, classicist and visiting military historian at the U.S. Naval Academy points out, ancient empires such as Rome demanded tribute from states to feed its legions and build its palaces. American military bases around the world, the only real connection between Rome and Washington, are as expensive for Washington to maintain as they are profitable for the host country. And whereas Rome would have immediately marked out airfields in southern Turkey, Washington offered $15 billion, was turned down, and left–hardly an imperialist strategy.
It is unfortunate that Zakaria’s Newsweek piece, baseless as it is, will help fuel much of the world’s hatred. Simply put, America gives back to the world far more than it takes. Perhaps the world will take note of this when both American and Iraqi flags will triumphantly wave together on the streets of Baghdad in weeks to come.

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