As a French national, making fun of Americans is as much a hobby as defending the constitution's second amendment is for them. America is a paradox. A nation of contradictions more so than any other country, equally capable of the greatest deeds such as sending a man to the moon and the worst such as sending children to detention camps. I have lived in Australia for almost a decade. To me, Australia is what the United States should have been: the land of opportunities.
Throughout the course of the 20th century, the United states became the first economic, military and cultural power in the world. They were the first nation with nuclear power and Hollywood became the cultural centre of the world. They were decisive in the two world wars and helped rebuild Europe afterwards. The Marshall Plan, though, was as much about rebuilding Europe as it was about exporting American culture and boosting their own economy.
I feel a great disturbance in the Force
Many tensions in the world today are the results of American politics. US politicians have more influence on international politics than any other countries’. Yet their deep misunderstanding of the world history has led to a succession of political blunders, particularly in the second half of the 20th century. The arbitrary decision by the United States and the Soviet Union to divide Korea in half-without consulting the Koreans-led to the Korean war (1950) and the situation we experience today. Their involvement in the Vietnam civil war-which they had no business in-led to the Vietnam war (1965).
In 1991, the United States rejected Mikhaïl Gorbachev’s plea for help at the London G7 summit, only seeing in Russia the loser of the Cold War. This was the closest America and Russia had ever been to reconciliation. The military interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s have left the two countries in a state of limbo since then. The invasions of Iraq (1993, 2003) or Afghanistan (2001) and the interventions in Libya (2011) and Syria (2014) have shattered the stability in the Middle-East region. The Iranian nuclear deal is the latest example to date. After breaking the Iranian nuclear deal, the American president now threatens to sanction the countries that continue to commerce with Iran.
There's nothing more expensive for an arms dealer than peace
European countries are constantly submitted to America’s blackmail. Defense budgets are a striking example. US politicians keep pushing European countries to increase their defense budgets, using the Russian 'threat' and the ‘war on terrorism’ as excuses. To put things into perspective, Russia’s military budget is equivalent to the budget of France alone and air pollution kills two hundred times more people than terrorism every year, making it a much more serious threat. Who does the ‘war on terror’ or the threat of future conflicts benefit but the world’s largest arms dealer, the United States?
Increasing military exports is one of the American president's pillars for economic growth. Where do half of the weapons the United States export go to? The Middle-East. Bingo. The United States are a mission to defend, or impose-depending on which side of the bomb a population finds itself-their values to the rest of the world. This dates back to the 19th century and the philosophy of the manifest destiny-or American imperialism-and has intensified since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Alice in Blunderland
At home, the United States are a mess: according to the latest census and OECD figures, half a million Americans are homeless and more than 13% live in relative poverty. No universal healthcare system, mass shootings, a 2008 financial crisis they are responsible for and the second largest polluting country in the world. The United States are in no position to give any lessons in foreign or domestic politics.
In 2014, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser raised the alarm in his book Dangerous Allies. Blindly following the United States has cost Australia hundreds of lives in the Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan wars. The Australian governments that agreed to take part in the conflicts at the time bear the entire responsibility of these deaths. 'Political outcomes can rarely be achieved by military means.'
A bull in a china shop
The 21st century will be China's, for better or worse. Xi Jinping doesn't hide his ambitions. America no longer is the great benevolent power it once was. Its influence has become toxic and threatens global peace and diplomacy. The trade war underway between the United States and China might trigger a new economic crisis. Australia could find itself caught in the middle unless the question of its strategic independence is put back on the agenda. I will conclude with a quote from American stand up comedian Rich Hall: ‘Never underestimate America’s ability to make the wrong choice at the right time.’