The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Realizing the 'Big Picture:' America is Short-Sighted

3 min read


The following letter was written in response to “Remembering 911: Why We’re Winning the War on Terror” (Sept. 20, 2007 The Bullet).

Dear Editor:

In last week’s Bullet, Leah Kieff wrote, “We need to look at the larger picture….,” referring to the national response to the war in Iraq.
It is our American myopia that allows us to fail to grasp the consequences of our actions beyond our borders, and to fail to see the true cause of modern conflict itself.

As we maintain an excessive lifestyle, we fail to see that we do so by denying the rights and decencies of others. Our myopia threatens our security and drives our irrational push for world political, economic, and cultural hegemony in the force of unilateral, pre-emptive, illegal police actions.

It is my hope in this letter to truly examine the larger picture, by taking not a short-sighted, ethnocentric perspective but instead adopting a consideration for the root causes of international conflict and then offering an alternative view of the failures of American foreign policy over the last six years.

We must no longer be short-sighted, and we must recognize the reality of worldwide inequality.

We have to realize by looking at the whole picture—that is, to consider the entire human condition. We are engaged in resource war. War and conflict are rooted ultimately in resource competition, and subsequently all war is resource war.

When I look at the reality of American involvement in the world today, I see as our motive for world involvement the perpetuation of our capitalist system for disproportionate access to resources.
Our culture is one of extreme excess. It is the capitalist world economic order that grants us this gratuity; exploitative foreign policy including preventive war and unilateral action help us maintain our political economic hegemony in the world. Our continued dominance ensures our continued exploitation of developing nations, which in turns helps us uphold this both excessive and exploitative way of life.

We maintain hegemony behind the veil of free trade and capitalist market expansion. In a full-on exploitative manner, American-based business squeezes the resources from developing nations. Multi-national corporations outsource jobs to these countries in order to cut labor costs, and establish polluting factories there in order to lower their costs of operation.

This free-market system is one-sided and is particularly exploitative; the profit is absorbed by the CEOs, and the workers fight flooded labor markets to keep their pitifully waged jobs. In the big, world view, wealth is concentrated further in the hands of a few at the expense of many.

We must look at this bigger picture, and recognize that the economic order we maintain for our own gain has grave consequences. We have to see that our capitalist order is promulgating the plague of hunger, poverty, and desperation around the world. This ultimately is an unsustainable world system. We have to see that our system of maintained world economic and political inequality does not facilitate a stable democratic world.

The single most unfortunate failure of our American myopia is our continued failure to recognize that terrorism is a desperate tactic of the politically marginalized members of our unequal world. We are formulating a world order that has at its core the ethic of capitalist exploitation, and capitalist exploitation is the cause of worldwide political inequality. When we fail to understand our hegemonic contribution to world instability, we are failing to understand that terrorism is a product of political and economic exclusion.

From this understanding of the bigger picture, we can recognize the fault and not the success (by any measure) of the policies of the past six years.

The policy prescriptions of neo-conservative politicians are rooted in the American fascistic prioritization of the American nation over the rest of the world, a stance contributing to greater instability.

The vast economic and political inequalities, the war-torn landscapes, and the resulting rise of desperation politics are the inevitable result of unilateral, self-interested, world policing.

In conclusion, we Americans now stand poised, by virtue of the liberty of dissent, to make important decisions about the future of American foreign policy. We must reconcile our foreign policy with the goals of political inclusion, equitable distribution of resources, peace and self-determination.

Examine the big picture, and understand our position as one member of the whole world community. This is the only way to achieve long-term peace, security, and stability in the world.

Brian Ogle is a senior.