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President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, recently condemned the recent demonstrations and protests against the US in the Middle East and elsewhere. It seems that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton still don’t get it.
Yes, there are extremists in this world. But it takes more than extremists to hold such large scale demonstrations and protests against the US presence in the Middle East. US leaders are blinded by their own arrogance. And as result, they can’t see the connections between these demonstrations and its foreign policies toward third world countries and their involvement in other countries’ internal affairs.
During his speech at the UN General Assembly, Obama also defended freedom of speech to justify his government’s refusal to ban the internet movie The Innocence of the Muslim. Yes, freedom of speech is a fundamental right that the American Constitution endows in its citizens. But freedom of speech is not limitless. One needs to exercise one’s freedom of speech wisely and prudently.
To defend the American freedom of speech amid wide spread demonstrations and protests by the Muslim population in the world is sheer American arrogance.
President Obama, in his speech to the UN, also vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
This is yet another example of American arrogance. The US was the first to develop nuclear weapons, and was the only country to use nuclear weapons against another country.
The US developed ten plans to attack the former Soviet Union between 1945 and 1949.
The US only gave up its plans after the USSR acquired its own nuclear bombs in 1949.
Before China developed its nuclear bombs in 1964, the US threatened to use nuclear weapons against China eight times. Many countries have found it necessary to develop nuclear weapons solely because if they do not have them, they would forever have to face threats by those countries that do have them. Today, there are close to twenty countries that officially and unofficially have nuclear weapons.
The US needs to explain to the world why some countries can have nuclear weapons, and why other countries cannot have them.
Why it is reasonable for the US and its allies to have them, while at the same time, it is unacceptable for other countries to have them? How can the US and the UN preach the ideals of fairness for all countries, while still advocating this exclusionary measure? Does the moral principle of fairness to all mean anything in the UN General Assembly?
The devastating destruction caused by the US Invasion of Iraq, by its fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, by the American involvement in Libya and Syria is the real reason behind the mass protests that are occurring around the world, and not the existence of extremists.
The people in the Muslim world have felt and seen the impact of US foreign policy and military action.
It can be argued that it is exactly US foreign policy and military action in the Muslim world that has generated the phenomenon of so called extremists. It is time for US leaders to pause and reflect.
Why do Muslims hold such strong anti-US sentiments? Who are these extremists?
And why do they feel so strongly about this issue that many are willing to sacrifice their lives for its cause? The US has military bases in more than 120 countries, and stations over four hundred thousand troops on foreign soil.
The US does this in the name of national security. Apparently, these military bases and large scale military spending have not made Americans any more secure. Since Sept 11, 2001, Americans have constantly been under the threat of terrorist attacks overseas and at home.
Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister was quoted as saying that he was surprised to see the scale of CIA operations in Libya when he saw the large number of Americans that had to be evacuated at the airport when Ambassador Stevens and his bodyguards were killed.
The huge amounts of money that the US has spent on its military in the past 60 years has not necessarily equated to a level of security you might otherwise expect from such a large military budget. On the contrary the biggest effect of such a large military budget has been its negative effects on the US domestic infrastructure and the well-being of its own people.
One former Chinese leader said before that every time the American government builds an overseas military base, it ties a knot around its own neck, and in the end, it would strangle itself.
It is really tragic that the US government cannot see this for themselves, and continue to involve itself with other countries’ internal affairs, and continues to build more military bases overseas.
These overseas military bases and CIA operations messing with other countries’ internal affairs are not only a big burden for the US government and the American people, but it also generates anti-American sentiment around the world as demonstrated by the recent demonstrations and protests.
The US should not forget that Iran has become one of the deadly enemies of the US exactly because of the CIA’s involvement in Iran’s internal affairs and its support for the Shah of Iran at the expense of its people.
It is time for the US to have a general discussion about why there has been such anti-US sentiment around the world. It is time for the American people to see that military muscle does not necessarily generate security for the US. But goodwill toward other people can.
The author is a Professor of Warren Wilson College in the US.
The opinions expressed here do not represent the views of the China Daily website.