The State of the Union is Good, We are Number One


The U.S. has long thought itself to be the world’s moral compass and “peace” keeper.  U.S. foreign policy, from the Monroe Doctrine to the Bush “New World Order,” reveals a messianic mission to impose it’s version of democracy worldwide.  Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proclaimed the U.S. to be the “indispensable country.”   Yet abroad or at home, the reality is different.       

    The recent death of General Pinochet in Chile reminds us that since WW2 the U.S. has supported, sustained or housed more questionable figures or dictators than any other country. From Abacha in Nigeria to Zia Ul-Hag in Pakistan, there have been approximately 84 dictators or fascist leaders supported by the United States. 

The  recent air assaults against Somalia are hardly unique.   Between 1945 – 2002, there have been at least 31 U.S. air warfare campaigns. From 1945 to 2001 the Federation of American Scientists reported that the United States has been engaged in 201 extra territorial or military interventions worldwide.   Not one of these actions produced a democratic government.  From 1893 in Hawaii to 2002 in Iraq, the U.S. has pursued an aggressive course of “regime change” in at least 153 instances.  The U.S. is responsible for half of the worlds military spending and  rents or owns approximately 702 overseas bases in 144 countries with an additional 6,000 bases within the U.S. and its territories.   The dollar value of these military holdings exceeds the GDP of all but a few countries of the world.  The constant use of U.S. overt and covert force, what Woodrow Wilson called “Making the world safe for democracy,”  has made the world  more unsafe.

    The U.S., with less than 5% of the world’s population, produces 25% of the green house gases.  It leads the world in per capita consumption of the five basic food, energy, and industrial commodities: grain, meat, oil,  coal and steel.  The U.S. is arguably the primary source of creating and sustaining inequality worldwide.


    President George W. Bush, and most Americans, believe the U.S. to be the “greatest nation on earth,” or “Number One.”  But with no President has the actual status of Americans deteriorated more.  The World Economic Forum recently concluded that in the last few years the U.S. has dropped from the most competitive country to sixth in competitiveness worldwide.  We are 54th in the fairness of health care, 49th in world literacy, 41st in infant mortality, 37th in health care performance, 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy, and 22nd in childhood poverty among 23 industrial countries.  In 2005 the Economist quality-of-life index ranked the U.S. 13th.  Americans do excel in material accumulation or varieties of violence,  but trail far behind in indicators of collective well being.  The greater the decline of American well-being and international authority, the more insistent is American leadership that this country is Number One and that Americans are “one American family.”

This national disaster has been made possible by the loyal American tax payer and an impotent Congress.  As Iraq demonstrated, the Congress rarely questions or is concerned with the human or environmental costs of American empire, abroad or at home.   The chauvinist insistence that America is “number one” masks a profound compassion deficit by most Americans.      

Yes, my fellow Americans, “the State of the Union is Good. We are Good.   America is the greatest!”  The louder it is proclaimed the further from reality we depart.