03 November 2008

Open Letter to America

For many years one of my joys was the weekly 'Letter from America', written by the great Anglo-American journalist Alistair Cooke and broadcast by the BBC for more than 58 years (until his death in March 2004). Today I am taking the liberty of sending a letter of my own in the opposite direction, and I hope you will read it with some interest.


Open Letter to the People

of the United States of America



Greetings!

Tomorrow you are called to elect a new President, as well as a new House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. This is a very important day for all of you, but this time it is even more important than many similar election days in the past.

Tomorrow you will have an exceptional choice which goes far beyond the people you will elect. In the elections tomorrow you will stand at the crossroads of history and have the unique chance to choose the future for your country, yourself, your children and even the yet unborn.

Let me explain what I mean. For most of my lifetime (I am 51) the USA were the shining beacon for most of the world. Almost everyone looked at you with a mix of admiration and envy, and most people considered themselves as friends of America. The USA were seen as the natural friend of the free and democratic countries around the globe, and we embraced your music, culture, films, fashion and food.
We welcomed you as tourists to our countries, and many millions of us became tourists in the USA. There were - and still are - in fact many more Europeans visiting the USA than Americans visit Europe and the rest of the world. We also supported you politically, and many countries - especially those in NATO - added their military support as well. This even went on without great problems when you made the wrong choices and embarked on political and military adventures - like the Vietnam War - that we did not see as wise and did not support directly. But even then you remained our friends, and we had a lot of time and admiration for you and your achievements.

Personally I remember to be glued to my little transistor radio in 1969 (then aged 12) when the first US astronauts landed on the Moon. Six years later I joined the Navy and for the next two decades I served not only my own country, but also NATO and the common defence of the free world, led by the USA.
During those years I met many Americans and served along them in integrated multi-national commands. I visited many of your naval bases and cities, gave guest lectures in some of your universities (including Princeton), and had even lunch once with the then President Ronald Reagan.
Later I also met his predecessor Jimmy Carter, a former naval officer like myself and a most charming, decent and kind man for whom I have great admiration.
And in all those years I would never have thought that the USA could become a country of evil, which I despise and turn against.

But everything changed eight years ago, when Al Gore won the presidential election, but was ousted in a bloodless coup d'etat by the Bush family, supported by the Republican Party, a large conglomerate of oil barons, energy companies and arms manufacturers, and - eventually - the US Supreme Court, most of whose members had been appointed by Ronald Reagan or George W. H. Bush, the father of George W. Bush.

During the past 7 3/4 years - under the administration headed by George W. Bush - the USA have lost most of its international friends and almost all of its credibility. Under Bush and Cheney you invaded two foreign countries - Afghanistan and Iraq - which had never committed a single hostile act against the USA. Your soldiers are still occupying these countries and have committed countless war crimes and acts of cruelty against their civilian populations.
This alone has cost you much of the friendship you once enjoyed around the globe, and many people who were strong supporters of the USA - myself included - turned away from you in anger and disgust. We had no other choice, as George W. Bush said: "You are either with us, or against us." And in these illegal and immoral wars no decent person could be with you.

This also goes for your systematic and deliberate breach of human rights and international law. In your camp at Guantanamo Bay and at many other secret locations Americans imprisoned and tortured hundreds of foreign nationals, on the explicit orders of the White House. This still goes on every day, and it has made Americans the worst criminals and war criminals since the Nazis and the Japanese Kempetai in World War II.

If you like it or not, and regardless who will be the next President, you will have to live with this terrible legacy of the Bush administration. It will not be forgotten, and like Germany and Japan you will have to make massive retributions before anyone will ever see you again as a lawful and decent country. You should also bring those responsible to Justice in your own country and thus show to the world that you still have laws and order. For now the world sees you as a criminal and lawless country, with the biggest criminals of all in charge of the government.

Many of you seem to be ignorant of this change in world opinion, as you show little interest in the rest of the planet and your media are even more ignorant than you are yourself.
But make no mistake: the world has turned its back on you and sees you more and more as the real 'evil empire' that has nothing to offer now but wars, violence, brutality and crime.

All this comes on top of what the current administration has done to you in your own country. You will know that a lot better than I do, but even here - from a distance - I am well aware of the shortfalls in all areas of normal life, from education over health care to social welfare and services. What I hear from my American friends is an ever growing list of complaints about the terrible conditions under which most of the American people live now. Unless you are one of the rich or super-rich, you struggle every day to make ends meet.
To give you just one example: A friend of mine, a fellow psychologist, works for a health service organisation and earns a reasonable salary. Nevertheless this friend, who lives in a large city, has still no access to broadband service, complains constantly about crime, violence and lack of public security, and cannot afford a holiday in Europe.
This is the legacy of nearly eight years of Republican administration under George W. Bush and Richard 'Dick' Cheney.
Add to this the 'credit crunch', the 'sub-prime' mortgage scandal and the massive white-collar crimes committed by bankers and speculators on Wall Street, and you will realise that the USA are close to become a very unstable and dangerous country, drifting slowly but steadily to the edge and coming close to collapse.

Tomorrow you are asked to vote, and thus you have the choice between four years of the same, or four years that could turn around your ailing and failing country. If you vote for John McCain, an old man of 72 with a notoriously bad temper and - despite a 'war hero' status - the nickname "McNasty" in the Navy, you will see the USA deteriorating ever more - and faster - into a political and economical abyss, worse than you have experienced so far, and worse also than most of you can imagine.

Add to that the possibility that McCain - given his age and medical history - might not last the full four years. Then you would be ruled by a President Sarah Palin, a woman of no experience, very extremist political and social opinions, and even less intelligence than the already very low level George W. Bush. If that is what you want, then you have to vote Republican. But if you do, and McCain should win, do not claim afterwards that you didn't know what you did. You have been warned many times, by many people, including myself.

Instead of voting Republican, you can vote for the Democrats, and I hope you will. If you do, there is a good chance that the next President of the USA will be Barack Obama.
In many years as a political analyst and consultant I have rarely seen a politician of such great sincerity, compassion, eloquence and true natural leadership than Senator Obama.
He is certainly the most charismatic US politician since John F. Kennedy, and like JFK he has the vision and determination to make the USA a better country and the whole world a better planet.

If he is elected President, he will have a hard task, since the Bush administration leaves the USA as a wrecked, divided and almost bankrupt country, with trillions of Dollars in debt, two badly conducted, unfinished and unwinnable wars, and the lowest international credibility in all its history. Even a strong, good-willed and determined man like Barack Obama will not be able to turn the clock back before 2000 and erase the legacy of the incompetent and criminal Bush administration. It will take time and great efforts to turn the USA around, and even a lot longer to win back the support and friendship of the rest of the world.

However, one thing is certain: If anyone can do it, and restore the USA to a status of stability, decency and trust, it is Barack Obama. I wish him all the best and hope he will win tomorrow, but I do not envy him if he does. He will have the hardest job on the planet. But - like John F. Kennedy - he has the kind of personality and vision that can shift mountains and make real changes.

No such traits are visible in John McCain. The 72-year-old Arizona Senator often calls himself a 'maverick' and runs his campaign under the banner of 'change'. What kind of change? And why now? He has voted in over 90% of all legislation with the current administration, has been endorsed by both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and chosen as vice-presidential 'running mate' a woman who is a female version of George W. Bush, only worse and even less intelligent.

No, even if he wanted to change things, he has neither the ideas and vision, nor the power to do it. Just look at his campaign team, which is lead and managed by Steve Schmidt, an extremely right-wing Republican 'spin doctor' from the evil school of Bush's spin master Karl Rove, who still calls the shots on the Republican side from the background.
To expect change from this team would be like expecting Easter eggs from Santa Claus.

It is up to you now, voters of America. You have the choice and can make all the difference, for the USA and - indirectly - the whole world.
Yes, you have to begin to look a little more beyond your own borders, as anything that happens in the USA also affects the rest of us, regardless where we live.

Some might wonder why a man like me, who is European, lives in Ireland, is not an American, never was one, never lived in the USA and never will, is getting involved in an election that is - in a narrow perspective - none of his business and should not concern him.
Well, there are two reasons: First of all I care, for the whole of the human race, including the people in the USA, and would like to see the world in a better state than it is at present. This can only happen if there is a decent President in the White House, supported by a competent administration.
And secondly - as I already mentioned above - whatever happens in the USA has a direct affect also on every country and every person outside the USA.
Such is the modern world of globalisation and international economy, the 'global village' where we are connected over the internet and have so much more in common than our ancestors had.

I have no affiliation to any of your parties or politicians, and am a truly independent political analyst and consultant. Whatever the outcome of your elections will be, I will not have any personal benefits from it now, nor in future. But - like the rest of the world - I will be affected by it nevertheless.

So I urge you once more to be aware of the historical magnitude of tomorrow's elections, especially the presidential election, and hope you will make the right decision - in your own interest, and in the interest of a better, more peaceful and more prosperous world. As President John F. Kennedy put it so clearly: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Tomorrow you have more than ever the chance to do a lot for your country. Please do!

With thanks for your time and attention, I close this letter, wish you luck and wisdom, and remain

With kind regards

The Emerald Islander

3 comments:

jean said...

Thank you for sharing this open letter.. Though I am not an american but I really appreciate this..

Love Collections said...

Great post..

Hoping that all american citizen will read this open letter,,**wink

Anonymous said...

all or nothing thinking can usually be questionable. Would it not be the same thing that people have said about the Germans due to World War II. Now anyone with any common sense would realize that there are good people even among evil ones. Perhaps you could open your heart and mind a bit and look into the shades of gray, which by the way can be quite lovely.

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