Collective ignorance of US elite


Mahrukh A Mughal

FOR years, the political elites have governed America for their own benefit and to the detriment of the American people. The national mythology insists there is no ruling class in the United States, and that a democratic majority of the people is in charge of the society and state. However, if we look at the history of election results and the subsequent foreign policies of the ruling classes there emerges a frightening picture. Political scientists have been studying what voters know and how they think for well over 65 years.
The results are astonishing. Voters generally know who the president is but not much else. They don’t know which party controls Congress, what Congress has done recently, whether the economy is getting better or worse (or by how much). In the 2000 US Presidential election, most voters knew Al Gore was more liberal than George W Bush, but significantly less than half knew that Gore was more supportive of abortion rights, more supportive of welfare state programs, favoured a high degree of aid to blacks, or was more supportive of environmental regulation. Why voters know so little is a serious question in terms of ignorance and may be what democracy creates bad incentives. The majority of the people of this country have been conditioned to believe whatever their government tells them. That is why, the most one hears as American in times of crisis is, ‘I am raising the flag to give support to the cause. What cause? The cause of murdering others. Tragically, when a terrorist attack of same sort occurs, the same people cry out loud, we are civilians, and we had nothing to do with in foreign policy of the United States.
American people never ask their leaders: That what was the real conflict with the former Soviet Union during cold war era? Why 3 million Vietnamese were killed by America? Who pushed inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into extinction? Who has killed over 1 million Iraqi babies from food and medicines deprivation? Which country has turned Afghanistan into Uranium wasteland and thus uninhabitable? Which country has also turned areas of Iraq, Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia uninhabitable? Why Palestinians and Kashmiris are being suppressed? Whether the American public is unaware of the world affairs or there is a political apathy or alienation in general is a serious problem that need to be understood and resolved by the American political leadership.
Whether motivated by exceptionalism, isolationism, triumphalism or sheer indifference, the United States has somehow failed to equip a significance percentage of its citizenry with the basic information necessary to follow international events, let alone participate in formulating and executing the foreign policy that is an essential component of self-government in a healthy modern democracy. This may be the failure of educational system at every level, when it comes to understanding the world we live in. It is no wonder, then, that Americans find themselves easily and frequently bewildered by phenomena that spin quickly out of control – the various ongoing crises in the Middle East; The conflict between Russia and Ukraine; The spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa; the catastrophic symptoms of climate change to name a few. A basic lack of awareness and understanding among the public makes it even harder for policy makers to formulate positions that will attract widespread public support and perhaps influence the outcomes.
The staying of the 2016 election might have appeared to some people to be absolute chaos, but it was perfectly scripted. Conservative movements were set up as a scapegoats for a crash that globalists had created. Trump evinced marked hostility to U.S. alliances, free trade agreements, support for human rights and democracy overseas and other long standing features of American internationalism. Trumps decision to strike Syria displayed arrogance, not toughness. It was the most irresponsible act of Trump circus presidency. Trump is doing what Obama refused to do-bombing a sovereign nation. The bombing strike was simply punishment. It achieved nothing. It was an act of war on a Sovereign nation-triggered without congressional authorization.
Trump’s populist promises are being abandoned. The foreign policy elites and corrupted politicians are regaining control. Trump has handed his foreign policy over to the generals, his economic policy to Goldman Sachs alums, his domestic policies to Paul Ryan and the republican right. Trump’s early election campaign arrogance regarding illegal immigrants was clearly manifested, however, he was defeated by the courts and a little softened his policies. There was a huge pressure from a large number of companies which were challenging his stance. The world is rapidly changing and the US ruling elite cannot move forward with their idea of arrogance.
— The author, based in Lahore, writes on International Affairs and Politics.

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