Regarding: “America Isn’t So Great” by Alawi Abdulla Abu Bakir”We hate it that we are there. But we will finish the job there” [Archives:2005/823/Opinion]

March 10 2005

By James A. Shockley Sr.
[email protected]
For the Yemen Times

Thank you for responding to my letter, which was printed in the Yemen Times as a guest article, last month. Your sarcastic, and historically slanted responses, however, rely much on supposition, and opinion. Please allow me to comment on several key points.

“Shove my blind patriotism down your throat,” you say? In as much as I said what I did in that letter, these are MY opinions, stated freely, on your site, and open for criticism. I have not shoved them down your throat, but placed them in the public forum for open discussion, rather than an angry rant bent on showing all what a ridiculous thing it is to have an opinion other than yours.

That I am patriotic is my right, and prerogative. Are you any less so as a citizen of Yemen? It is your right as well, but if my patriotism offends you, too bad, that's not going to change.

As I stated, you claim to have some historical expertise, as well as your own spin on CNN and other American News coverage. In addition to CNN, I watch CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, NPR, and a host of smaller, local stations. You imply that CNN, which is regarded as a liberal or progressive network by the right, and a conservative mouthpiece by the left, deliberately misrepresents Muslims. In what way? It seems they often go well out of their way to be “politically correct,” in order to not offend anyone, or cause such charges to be made. What proof or examples do you have?

Of course we are critics. Everyone is a critic, with a different bone to chew, depending on your politics or religion. In the US, particularly in New York many of us lost friends on 9/11. Others were badly scarred. If you want me to recognize Muslim complaints and wrongs, can you not recognize ours ? It does not appear that you can.

I will always enjoy debate, or I would not write, would not go out of my way to find the Yemen Times, and in so doing engage YOU.

Regarding Hiroshima, and also Nagasaki, you conveniently leave out the many years of war that led up to these events. You seem to know little of the attack on China in 1936 by the Japanese Empire, the subsequent roll up of South East Asian countries, and attacks on Pearl Harbor and Singapore. The US was very much an isolationist country at that time. My country, Mr Bakir, was attacked. It responded by putting its massive industries on a war footing, and mobilizing an army, and Navy. At the time it was attacked, it was around the fifteenth largest armed force in the world. Japan and Germany, combined with Italy, had millions of veteran soldiers in the field, and they were NOT in retreat. It took four and a half years of combat to win that war. Did the US not become the arsenal of democracy? If you are a student of history, you know the US was just that.

The fighting against Japan that was fought across numerous outlying islands, including the Philippines, cost many thousands of lives. My own father fought with the US Marines on Saipan and Iwo Jima, the latter costing 7,000 American lives. It was thought, an assault on the home islands would cost a million casulties. The Japanese are courageous, fierce soldiers. No one wanted to invade. The bombs were dropped to win and finish the war. It worked. Probably millions lived who would not otherwise of survived. For those who say you cannot impose a democracy at the point of a bayonet, Japan should be looked at. They are still a democratic country, are they not?

In what way are these nations “trapped” today? Are you claiming that we somehow blackmail them, and have been receiving war reparations for 60 years? An amazing untruth. The obligations of the Europeans are to NATO, and the alliances they gladly joined, in order to avoid being run over by the Russians. Are you aware of the Cold War?

Which countries did the US “Carve Up”? The Philippines was given independence after it was liberated, as were numerous, formerly occupied Island nations. If the US was the Empire builder you imply, we would have colonies all over the world. Or is it just the corporations that move into small, developing countries for cheaper labor that you object to?

Europe is NOT free? What have I missed? Where is this repression coming from? I doubt highly the Europeans live in terror of us. Read the newspapers. The European newspapers will tell you what one of their biggest fears is, and it is not George Bush. (though he does trouble them).

The very weapons you claim the US supplied that killed Muslim minorities in Yugoslavia, were not US weapons. The Yugoslavians, particularly under Marshall Tito, were always independent. Their equipment was strictly Warsaw Pace, made in the Soviet Union. But Soviet Troops did not occupy their country, as they did other Eastern European nations. Take a look at any of the pictures. We do not make AK-47's here. Those were Russian made tanks, not English, French or American tanks rumbling through Kosovo, killing civilians.

So now, please explain to me here, because you seem to mix motive with fact. You say “Kuwait is still paying the billions for this (being freed from Iraq) but that the US “does not give a damn for Muslims, only their oil.” Let's not get into a pathetic debate that the USA cared a damn for Muslims. Sorry to disappoint you, but many did, and still do. Americans, by nature, hate tyranny, and tyrants. We also hate to see minorities abused by people in power. There is no question, of the strategic importance of oil on the US, indeed world economy. Is there some other product the Middle Eastern nations have that is so important? There is not. So spill out your contempt. Obviously, perception is reality.

You act as though Western historians are a group of hooligans, sitting in a room making up historical facts as they go? “Who writes these books?” You demand. I can name many accurate and respected authors, why do you question them, or their credentials? Are you that overwhelmed with facts that you cannot accept anything?

That you reach back 160 years and grumble about the black man in America is interesting, considering the large and flourishing slave market still functioning in the Middle East today. Or is the UN yet another source of information to be scorned, because you don't like their conclusions either? Slavery is no doubt a sad time in my country's history. It took a massive Civil War, and 600,000 dead to resolve the question. I never said we were perfect, but I am proud of the way it turned out.

You act as if the US just squeaked into World War II at the final act. In fact, the tide began to turn with the entrance of the US into the war, in 1941. Japan suffered her first major setback early in 1942 at the Battle of Midway, six months after the US entered the war. None of these battles were bloodless. The US did win the war, as did the UK, The Soviet Union, and all the other allied powers. I doubt you will find many historians in any country to say it could have been done without the US. Likewise it could not of been done without the Russians. I am proud of my country's contributions, because you denigrate them does not change the facts.

Yes the USA supports Israel, our one ally in the Middle East for many years. Or did you forget about all those rather loose alliances with the Soviet Union that the Arab countries made? Once again, it all comes back to Palestine. I hope we are on the verge of great things there. I hope your cynicism is proved wrong, and things get markedly better.

About the Tsunami victims, how many millions did Yemen give in aid? How many aircraft couriers, hospital ships, helicopters or other forms of aid were dispatched to help? Your reasoning is selective beyond logic. Outside of India, the Western countries led the way in relief aid . There were troops diverted from service in Iraq to help. At last count the US and Australia, pledged over 500 million dollars each in aid, as did Japan. Weighted down in reparations payments to the US? Hardly.

Ref Ariel Sharon, the same people who say he is a murderer, also say Arafat was a man of peace. Can you not see how easy it is to say the opposite? More uncomfortable facts.

To sum up, your letter is contemptuous of American involvement both in history and the world today. How heartening it is to know then that the US aid grants that I read about, in the Yemen Times , for schools and medical clinics, in Yemen are so well appreciated. And our motives so clearly understood. Or was the US somehow doing that even though it does not want to? Truly, that could be, and is said of our involvement in Iraq. We hate it that we are there. But we will finish the job there. We are reconciled to it.