Friday, October 16, 2015

Cameroon: The latest attempt to educate Americans about the world

Remember that old Mark Twain quote about the geographic illiteracy of Americans?  What?  You don't?
God created war so that Americans would learn geography.
Are you not impressed that he said that a long time ago?  And, therefore, are you not mighty relieved that our collective ignorance about the rest of the world, and the apathy, is not anything new?  I suppose if there is one thing that we can hold on to as a truly American trait, it is that we don't know much about geography and we don't care either.  After all, that ill-informed view was what led to the formation of these United States, thanks to Christopher Columbus stumbling upon "India"!

But then, we try our best to learn about the countries and people in different parts of the world by bombing the shit out of them.  In the past seventy years, since the ending of the world war that followed the world war that was supposed to end all wars, the US has bombed an impressive list of countries:

Awesome, right?

How many Americans will be able to accurately identify all those countries on a world map, and say something substantive about those countries and the people?  We try our best but Americans still don't care.  (BTW, a special note on Syria: for the first time since the end of WW II, the US and Russia will be bombing the same country!)

In this important task of continuing education, we are dispatching the next set of teaching assistants--armed with the latest gadgets, of course--to Cameroon.  Hey little boys and girls, do you know Cameroon?
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the mission would be "part of a broader regional effort to stop the spread of Boko Haram and other violent extremist organisations in West Africa".
More details, please?
The force, which will be 300 strong, will conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.
Cameroon and Chad have been targeted by the Islamist militants from northern Nigeria.
Mr Obama said the forces would remain in Cameroon until "no longer needed".
I am sure "until "no longer needed" means that the US forces will be there only for a couple of months,  Like how our forces came back from Japan after the war ended and how we no longer have military bases there. Yeah, right!

Sometime soon we will have to start educating Americans about the planetary system and outer space, given our scientific illiteracy.  Maybe we should think in terms of bombing those Martians?


Anne in Salem said...

From your source: "This list makes it seem clear that the United States has been as bellicose as any other country in the history of the world." A minor detail - he listed Korea twice. A more major detail - in a good portion of these countries, the US were acting in unison with the UN or NATO, not bombing willy-nilly wherever the military/CIA/president decided a threat existed. I am not making excuses, rather trying to diminish the inflammatory tone of Mr Maurer's column.

What do you propose as an alternative to sending advisors (not bombs) to Cameroon? The Nigerians haven't been able to contain, let alone defeat, Boko Haram. Should we do nothing? Won't we be blamed for our inaction?

Sriram Khé said...

Well ... as one who is deeply committed to peace and pacifism, as one who is very happy that I have not even touched a gun in my life, the way I connect the dots to reveal the story might not be the same as how others connect the dots ...

I was reminded of something that former president Carter said. A Google search and I pulled it up:
“more than any nation in the world, the U.S. has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as means of resolving disputes …” ...
and he adds "The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger. That we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat — and quite often it’s not only desired by the leaders of our country, but it’s also supported by the people of America."


Ramesh said...

The US position is a study in contrasts. As the "defender of the free world", the US has done a lot of good - erstwhile Yugoslavia and decades ago, Korea, not to speak of World War II. But all too often, the US has been involved in unnecessary wars and is now largely perceived in the world as a trigger happy warmonger. Obama's strategy of not getting involved in many of the conflicts that the hawks egged him on to intervene has been a messy, but probably best for the US policy. There is some merit in leading from the rear :)

Sriram Khé said...

BTW, that was a list of countries where the US has directly bombed. And then there is the rest of the world where the US bombs have been indirectly used--either in the proxy wars that the US has fought (and fights) or via the gazillion billions of dollars of the various kinds of killing machines that the US has sold around the world.

To some extent, Obama's approach is more worrisome to me than that of the hawks. On the one hand, he has amped up killings via drones, which happen completely behind the scenes, so to speak. On the other hand, his approach to the two major issues that came up during his presidency have been muddled--in Libya and in Syria. While the Iraq and Afghanistan issues were what he inherited from the Bush/Cheney years, with Libya and Syria it was never clear what message he was getting across right from the time the events started unfolding. If he were for peace and against war, then he should/would have been pushing for the day-after scenarios from day one, but it does not seem like he was. If he were a warmonger like Cheney/Bush then he would have bombed the shit out of them--instead he bombed the pee out of them?