I truly believe that we Americans and Mid-Eastern citizens have more in common than we have differences. As humans, we have the same basic needs and desires.
I have been speaking on an Iranian blog with citizens of several Mid-Eastern nations and it interests me in many ways how they view the U.S. and its citizens.
Take the view of one woman who responded to an article I had written that the U.S. is "friendless" in the Middle East. The woman calls herself Raelynn and states:
"My problem with your article, and many other articles I read that are similar to yours, is that you claim that the Middle East are not friends to the United States, when what you should be saying is that the government of these Middle Eastern countries are not friends to the United States. Most, not all, of the civilians in these Middle Eastern countries love the United States and it's people. They consistently praise the United States. Almost all of the people living in the Middle Eastern countries hate what their government does more than the United States, because they are the ones having to live with it. So please, you and any other journalist who may read this, start saying the government and not the people, are the United States' enemies."
Raelynn makes a good point with a slight oversimplification. Americans observe the actions of the governments of Middle East nations and automatically assume that the same hostile actions and intent also is held by the people who live there. Americans have no way to consider how citizens in the ME feel about us and most U.S. citizens are unaware of what ME people go through on a daily basis. Most of us really don't even care to know. We are safe within our assumptions and perhaps our justification for what the U.S. is doing overseas. However, I don't know how much this Raelynn can speak for all people living in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc.
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Some on www.Iranian.com believe that the average American citizen has control over his/her government and foreign policy. WRONG!!! We are as much at the mercy of our leadership as are the average citizens of the Middle East.
In truth, Americans are governed by the Corporate/Military Machine that controls our daily lives and future direction. The President is little more than a figure-head, whose powers have been offset by the powerful and wealthy elite.
Many Americans do NOT buy into the U.S. mainstream media as many ME people believe we do; however, even those of us who read our news from outside sources can do little to redirect our nation's present and future policy and direction and certainly we cannot undo the ongoing damage caused by those in power.
ME people need to recognize that nothing short of a revolution will change the current status quo in the U.S. and the common citizens cannot win such a fight. We citizens are overmatched and are as doomed as are the citizens of the ME with their government control issues. We all need to wake-up and recognize that our "government" does NOT work re: the will of the American people and it does not really care about ME people either.
We U.S. citizens tried to change it all by voting-in Obama, but we can see that it doesn't matter who the President is because he does NOT dictate the policy and direction for our nation. He and our Congress are controlled by the powerful and wealthy, just as the rest of us are.
We all need to recognize that the U.S. is not so much a representative Democracy as it is a Corporate/Military OLIGARCHY.
Several ME people on the blog think that Americans believe the billions we send to overseas nations are being used to improve the lives of the people there, but why would Mid-Eastern people think Americans believe that? It is very silly and/or naive.
After all, if we are not served well by our own government, why would they suppose that we think ME citizens are being helped with our tax dollars?
Regarding being "friends" with Iran and other nations, the U.S. has done and does little to encourage real friendship throughout the world, but the governments of the ME also do not want our friendship, nor do they show the U.S. any in return. It is a two-way street.
While our arrogance, wealth, power and imperialism throughout the world enables the ME governments to dislike us more intensely, the U.S. cannot live in isolation completely, believing that we would be safe in these trying times. There are many governments, regimes and hostile organizations that would like to obliterate us from the face of the Earth.
Some of the ME people I have spoken with seem naive even though they believe they are so knowledgeable. I do however agree with them that most Americans know little about ME culture, history, government and the U.S. role there and throughout the world. No doubt, but they are wrong to label it as all Americans. Many of us know better. We are simply powerless to make a significant way in the way our government, corporate and military leaders act on our behalf.
Peter Stern, a former director of information services, university professor and public school administrator, is a disabled Vietnam veteran who lives in Driftwood, Texas.
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