On July 25, American Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona, war hero and POW, delivered a moving speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate that said, among other things:
"We are the servants of a great nation, 'a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.' More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles.
America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny andpoverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren't afraid. We don't covet other people's land and wealth. We don't hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity."
His eloquence, his nobility, his patriotism, are truly impressive. To Americans.
To the rest of the world -- not so much.
On the matter of equality and living free and prosperous lives, this does rather overlook:
Race riots, as recently as the riot in Charlottesville at the weekend.
The fact that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with the incarceration rate for African-Americans being six times that of the national average.
The fact that the child poverty rate in the US ranks 34 out 35 developed countries, and U.S. income inequality is the highest it's been since 1928. The top 1 percent of the population own 40 percent of the nation's wealth, and the bottom 80 percent own 7 percent between them.
There is no doubt that the U.S. has indeed acquired unprecedented wealth and power, but what its governing principles have to do with that escapes me entirely. They have the power because they have the wealth, and only the hopelessly naïve could possibly believe that the principles involved in acquiring that wealth were unfailingly pure, given the number of times America has interfered in the elections of other nations for commercial reasons.
As for making "a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history..."
It may come as a surprise to many Americans, but America did not alone and single-handedly liberate Europe from the Nazis, and their assumption that they did is either funny or infuriating depending on the day.
It is also deeply insulting to the other 55 million allied troops whose courage and endurance for six long years. For example, despite the bloodshed at Omaha -- despite 'Band of Brothers' and 'Saving Private Ryan' --the plan for the D-Day landings was devised by British General Montgomery, and the majority of those involved were British, not American.
And the truth is that, since then, U.S. military involvement in other countries has left disaster rather than order in its wake.
The Korean war, in which America dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on North Korea including 32,500 tons of Napalm, ended in a ceasefire. Nearly 5 million people died, more than half of them civilians. Sixty-four years later, designated bomb squads in North Korea are still dealing with thousands of unexploded bombs, mortars and live ammunition in predominantly civilian areas, while North Korea's ongoing hostility to the U.S. and Trump's Presidential blundering have combined to threaten the world with nuclear war.
The Vietnam war divided America, and achieved nothing except bloodshed, death, and damage to the U.S. reputation for its use of agent orange and the clandestine carpet-bombing of eastern Cambodia. The decision to withdraw U.S. troops left South Vietnam, by now reliant on U.S. aid and the spending power of U.S. servicemen, in financial chaos. The 'enemy' won.
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The American incursion into Afghanistan appeared initially to achieve its objective: toppling the Taliban, despite the U.S. having supported the Taliban against Russia in previous years. Unfortunately American interest in Afghanistan waned once the invasion of Iraq became a higher priority, the Taliban rose from the ashes and the mess is ongoing.
The invasion of Iraq resulted in chaos and ISIS, and no amount of senatorial rhetoric will change that.
America has indeed set an example for the rest of the world, but perhaps not the one the senator had in mind. They have shown the world what happens when greed rules and big corporations call the shots: When guns are freely available; when universal healthcare is not available; when pharmaceutical companies are permitted to inflate the price of medication beyond the reach of poorer citizens; when education becomes an exercise in elitism.
But, whatever my reservations regarding the validity of McCain's claims for America, I might have shrugged, kept my mouth shut and moved on were it not for this piece of staggeringly outrageous and egregious arrogance:
"We are a blessing to humanity."
If America is God's gift to the world, may the devil help the rest of us.