Afghanistan. Vietnam. Middle East. Somalia. Bosnia. What do these share in common? US great crusades to uphold justice and protect the innocent. Uphold justice? Protect the innocent? Yeah, right ... and Israelis and Palestinians have smiled and shaken hands with each other. That's just a whole lot of US propaganda. Just look at the mess the Americans left behind after each diplomatic and military intervention and you'll see what the great American "savior" has really done.
Every time the United States gets involved with foreign affairs, it's usually disaster for the other countries involved, no matter how well-intentioned America is. They end up with an even bigger mess than before US stepped in. Look at Afghanistan and you'll see what I mean.
The United States has been a miserable failure in foreign relations and policies. Its often one-sided view of the world and issues have always been the reason. It has been very much an isolationist to the rest of the world all throughout much of its history. Examples: World War II and Middle East affairs. It will only get involved whenever its interests are involved or if it stands to profit from intervention.
Even the majority of people in the US know nothing more than what's happening in their own backyard - understandably so, since their country spans almost a whole continent and comprises of so many states. Local news covers almost every time slot of the news and current affairs programs and talk shows. Seldom is anything being reported or talked about that is beyond their own shores. Even if there is, it's only in news flashes and that's all.
A friend who has just completed her studies in the US and came back to Singapore, commented to me once that the people there are absolutely ignorant and know nothing at all about the world outside the US. There were many instances when she was asked where she was from and when she told the people about Singapore, they would ask, "Singapore? Which part of China is that?" And she had to go through the frustrating process of explaining where Singapore is and that it's not related to China at all.
US unilateralism is not something new in this present age. In fact, it runs throughout the history of the US. History itself serves only to justify American views and policies. From the early days of the American Revolution in the 18th century to World War II. From Vietnam to Iraq. American policies have been based the idea of exceptionism and this myth of its Manifest Destiny. From the early settlers to present day citizens, Americans have often viewed themselves as God's chosen people, an identity which they seem to have imposed on themselves from biblical Old Testament Israel. Therefore, they saw it as their right to inherit their Promised Land, the United States and the responsibility to lead the world to "democratic freedom and liberty". This necessarily gives the United States that sense of mission (and of course, the excuse) to intervene in the affairs of other nations. All in the name of so-called justice and freedom. However, remember this! US never fights battles that are not its own unless it concerns their own interests and their image of "the Chosen Nation".
Having said all that, it is understandable why Islamic rage, especially in the Middle East, burns so fiercely against Americans. The lack of understanding and sensitivity of US policies have led many people (especially Muslims) to view the United States as a global bully rather than a trusted ally. Its support of seemingly corrupt regimes has sparked outrage in the peoples of the Middle East countries.
They blame the Americans for their poverty and devastated homelands resulting from the tough and insensitive military interventions to their countries. They watched with anger how Americans live such comfortable lives in their own country while their own homes and way of life were destroyed. Thanks to the superior technology of the US Army.
In fact, when I reflected on all these issues, it came as no surprise to me that September 11 happened at all. What surprises me is that a year after 9/11, Americans still can't understand why all these things are happening to them. They still can't fathom why they - after all their efforts trying to help other people - are victims of vengeful attacks. They never realized that they have been helping people their own arrogant way, imposing their own standards and culture on other people.
In cross-cultural issues and relations, it's been a disaster for the US. Americans will have to learn to open up and accept other cultures. They will need to learn more about the huge world outside their country if they want to really understand why America has become public enemy number one.
If the United States learns to see the whole of planet Earth as comprising of many other countries and peoples - not just itself only - it will sure realize the wisdom of listening to others and learn to be a global player in diplomacy and foreign affairs - to act with others, not alone.
Perhaps, if it realizes this, Iraq may cease to be a personal vendetta for America. And it just might prevent that second 9/11 around the corner.