Let?s talk about this war thing for a moment. I think we?re all agreed that S. Hussein esq. is one of the least attractive world leaders around at the moment and I suspect that when we have to vote people off the island Mr. H. is going to find himself in select company with other not very nice men with names like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Amin, Mugabe etc.
And yet it seems that we are all in agreement that sending the lads in to put Sadaam in his place is not something we feel at all happy about. (Sorry, George, but this is the word on the street). And so, once again, I?m concerned about the way the great American public are being kept abreast of foreign viewpoints in this case with regards to our determined war-like stance.
This is something that concerns me greatly as I have recently chosen to become an American citizen and have been duly accepted by the USA as a permanent resident, taxpayer and voter. (Thank-you by the way). In the hours after the 9-11 attacks I was bemused by the number of people I spoke to who said to me, ?Do people in the rest of the world really hate America that much?? And I laughed rather tragically and replied in a duh!-like tone of voice, ?Yes!? It was just another reminder how isolated the USA is from the way the rest of the world works and thinks and to be fair the problem is understandable in a country that is larger than some continents and essentially isolated geographically by two large oceans from direct contact with any other cultures.
Yes there?s Canada and Mexico but the former feels American in many ways and the latter does pretty much what we ask it to. In California alone Los Angeles is about the same distance from San Francisco that Paris is from London. Israel is narrower than Los Angeles. Vietnam is about the same size or slightly smaller than New Mexico. When most of the time we?re consumed by talk of how different LA is from New York or how weird people from the South sound if we live in Chicago how are we expected to understand what is happening half a world away? After all we?re talking about the most powerful country in the world – one which has THREE time zones!
How vast is America? Get out your Atlas and a ruler and try this on for size. America is so vast that if you took the 2,500 mile flight eastwards from LA to NYC and then travelled the same distance eastwards from London?s Heathrow airport you?d find yourself about fifty miles short of Bagdad and (in a straight line) you?d have flown across parts or all of France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria! Just think of the range of languages, cultures, creeds and attitudes that encompasses. Oh, yeah and the captain would have interrupted your in-flight entertainment to tell you you could see parts of Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Romania, Cyprus and the Lebanon on your way. If the Captain had messed up his flight plan a journey of the same distance would have taken you deep in to Greenland, 1,000 miles beyond Moscow, 250 miles short of Tehran, 120 miles beyond Jerusalem, deep into Nigeria or most of the way across Mauritania towards Senegal!
At the beginning and end of our US coast to coast trip we would be able to watch the same TV shows, order the same food and dial the same phone numbers. On our trans-Europe/Asian schlep I think we all agree that (CNN, McDonald?s and your cell phone notwithstanding) things would be very different. However in both journeys one factor would be similar: the daily paper in Greenland, Iraq or Mauritania would all have editorials skewed towards their own perspectives and would be strangely intriguing and yet somehow alien to us. The same I think is true of America – on some days NYC and LA seem as different as Greenland and Mauritania politically and climatically so its no wonder that the rest of the world seems like an annoying diversion.
Well, with CNN, McDonald?s and cell phones the world is getting much smaller very fast. We need to get a feel and an understanding of the way the rest of the world is thinking AND take notice of it. Did it have to take the Twin Towers for us to notice this? My fear is that it will take more than that. The isolationist policy that brought a President to power as Europe went to war in the late 30?s will no longer serve us and on this issue alone George W. has a point.
Why do we need to wise up? At the very least so the rest of the world will take us (Americans) seriously. Last year in Toronto I overheard two Canadian crew members swapping a tale of a head-in-the-sand American producer who had journeyed the vast distance between the two countries from Chicago to Toronto! The American lady just loved it in Toronto and remarked: ?This place is so neat now, and so up to date with the USA – they even have Roots stores everywhere!? In case you?re still not getting the joke Roots is a long established, much-loved Canadian company (though the founder, I think, was an American).
Which brings me back to the war (upcoming). Does anybody in the US have any idea how much some people in Europe are infuriated by the sabre rattling going on here? Joschka Fischer, Germany?s Foreign Minister, last week glared across a table at Donald Rumsfeld at a conference in Europe and told him: ?My generation learnt you must make a case and excuse me, I am not convinced.? Am I reading too much in to what he says if I feel that almost translates as: ?My parents were Nazis and you need to take a look in the mirror??
I?m just a bloke who makes videos and I don?t know what the answer is but how?s this for a solution? Here?s a quote from an English lady?s letter which recently appeared in my weekly English newspaper. Her name is Lesley Illingworth and here?s what she has to say: ?It would appear that UN weapons inspectors have not found any weapons of mass destruction. I note that nearly all of the inspectors are men. It recently struck me that, if my husband is anything to go by, they stand little chance of finding anything.?
I?m willing to try anything to get out of a war. So, ladies…any volunteers?
P.S. Yes I know that if I?m now a Yank I shouldn?t spell ?colour? like that but that?s kind of my point isn?t it?