Public Comment

Commentary: The Anschluss

By Alan Feng
Friday February 29, 2008

The United States can be compared to a powerful, but immature and egotistic child, imposing its will without discretion on the world. Consider what lengths the child may go to in order to obtain a delicious cookie: case one, if the cookie was rightfully earned, then he shall taut the “fairness” and “justice” of obtaining the cookie. Otherwise, seeing that there is no logical explanation for legal acquisition of said cookie, he may throw a tantrum, saying things like “but I want it!” Finally, when it is agreed that someone else should get the cookie, the child may just walk in and take it anyways. In the end, the child gets the cookie whether or not it was due. 

Although this seems like a rather ludicrous comparison, think, if you will, of one single conflict in the world that the United States has not imposed its will on, and resolved in any way except by military might or threat of such a strike. The United States reaching each of its goals reminds me so much of the tantrumatic toddler; in cases of supposed liberty and justice, we march in, horns blazing, to places such as Korea, Kuwait, Taiwan and Israel. In other cases, we go uninvited and pretend to be right, to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. 

What this all leads up to is the signing of some papers two midnights ago in Pristina, which led to some happy men drinking and dancing in the streets, and some very angry hoary old men in Moscow and Belgrade. Serbia has publicly announced that it is very displeased with the separation and it will seek every method to nullify the declaration. However, their cries fall on deaf ears because the only face anyone sees any more is the smiling, nodding, and agreeing face of the world answering to the United States. 

If the United States and the U.N. (same thing, really) had not “sanctioned” the separation, and given the history of bloodshed in the area, I have no doubt that Serbia would have marched its divisions right into Pristina and had themselves an emergency national vote, at which time, miraculously, the legislature would vote to give up autonomy to Serbia. However, all that Belgrade can do now is pout as the lonely child who got pushed off the swing set at school. Mommy Russia might be on their side, but the bully has the principle of the school in his pocket. 

I wonder if the ruling people high in the government, no not Bush and Cheney, but the people above them, the ones pulling the strings, I wonder if they ever consider the consequences of their actions, or if they simply just recount their money and discover that their taut wallets have just become tighter. Why bother in Kuwait instead of Sudan? Why put up such a fight for Taiwan and only a peep for Tibet? To me, the answer is glaring at me from the gas we pump, the electronics we use, and the cheap toys we buy. But for every Made in China Barbie we buy, Madison rots a little more in his grave; I doubt the Monroe doctrine covers monks, but it sure covers cheap electronics. 

Am I saying stopping the genocide of ethnic Albanians is wrong? Am I saying that we should have let Vietcong march into Hanoi? ... I am at a loss for words. Such are questions that keep me up at night. On the one hand, wielding an iron fist over the entire world is not our place. But stopping the deaths of an innocent people seems pretty high on my list of priorities too. Can the right actions for the wrong reasons be good in the end? This bothers me as to whether or not to effect the United States’ influence over any particular part of the world; if there is no oil, do we save the threated village? 

So the world keeps turning into Austrias. Of course the United States doesn’t dictate the every move of the “liberated” countries (how else could they be called liberated?), but somehow, as in the case of so many countries we’ve dealt with, I get the sense that we always make them offers they can’t refuse. 

I thus leave my paper hanging; do we involve ourselves in foreign conflicts or not? I don’t pretend to know; the world is too complicated for that. But perhaps, just perhaps, the world can solve its problems without our blood-stained and oily fingers digging someone’s grave. 

Alan Feng is an Oakland resident.