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A transatlantic view

Posted by David J. on 9/11/03 at 16:41 (129632)

I am not sure what the 'etiquette' is at this website concerning cutting and pasting, but I have seen some of you do it recently and I thought that you might be interested in the leader (Brit English for editorial) from today's Guardian (formerly known as the Manchester Guardian). It is one of our better broadsheet newspapers.

Two lost years

Leader
Thursday September 11, 2003
The Guardian

Wounds heal, anger abates, memories fade. As time passes, the human impact of even the most gruesome and shocking tragedies gradually lessens. Two years on, the survivors of September 11, and the relatives and friends of those who died, still suffer. Two years on, their pain and loss is not forgotten, and will be recalled again today in countless public and private memorials. But for most ordinary people, in the US and beyond, those dreadful events in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania are now beginning to slip into history. It happened; it was truly awful. But life must go on.

Yet when viewed in political, economic and geo-strategic rather than purely human terms, September 11 is proving to be unique. Far from diminishing as time goes by, its impact is ever more far-reaching - and ever more damaging. It is as if Osama bin Laden had exploded, figuratively speaking, a thermonuclear bomb at the heart of the global order. Two years on, its shockwaves still radiate outwards. Two years on, the fallout still causes daily death and injury, bringing in their wake fresh tears, new horrors and more cries for justice and vengeance. On September 11 2001, the Bush administration was confronted by the greatest, existential challenge to its power and authority that any US government has faced since Pearl Harbor or, perhaps, in the entire post-civil war history of the republic. The nature and manner of its response, as we said at the time, would be critical. Two years on, it must be judged, regrettably, to have failed that test. There have been successes. But overall, George Bush has made a bad situation worse.

How is such a verdict reached? Opinion polls are one guide. Surveys suggest that two-thirds of New Yorkers, for example, feel less secure today than a year ago. All polls agree that Americans' confidence in Mr Bush's 'war on terror' is falling steadily. In western Europe, it is all but non-existent. Mr Bush told the nation last Sunday that 'great progress' has been made, with over half of al-Qaida's 'known leaders' captured or killed. But he could not disguise the fact that in Afghanistan, where the US fightback began, the Taliban and the terrorists are now resurgent. He could not hide the uncomfortable truth that Bin Laden remains at large or that, according to security expert Professor Paul Rogers among others, al-Qaida has demonstrated by numerous post-9/11 outrages an increased rather than a diminished capacity for mayhem. Mr Bush could not ignore the fact that even as he spoke, al-Qaida was issuing its own anniversary pledge to launch more attacks on the US.

If al-Qaida's claim that its ranks have doubled in number is credible (and it probably is), Mr Bush's mishandled, violent interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, his disastrously unbalanced approach to the Palestinian question, and his suborning or bullying of states like Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey are largely to blame. From Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and north Africa to Britain and the US, Muslims everywhere have grown increasingly convinced of America's hostility. Just as there is a terrorist threat in Iraq where none previously existed, so the clash of civilisations predicted two years ago is more nearly a reality than it was then. Just as Mr Bush's cynical exaggeration of Iraq's WMD threat and 9/11 links has eroded trust in him at home, so has it shattered European and Arab confidence that the US can be a dependable friend, not a reckless juggernaut.

Mr Bush has broken alliances with the same abandon that he has broken lives, causing permanent damage. Nor is there an end in sight. As pressing global issues of fair trade, poverty reduction and the environment languish unresolved or largely neglected, and as the 'war on terror' transmutes into a loose, catch-all justification for all the US does or does not want to do, Mr Bush's divisive policies presage new, avoidable physical confrontations with Iran and North Korea, especially if he is re-elected next year.

And therein lies the rub. Two years on, by these and many other measures too numerous to mention here, Mr Bush and his top officials are woefully failing the American people and America's allies. America can do better than this. But it needs more able, less ideologically-warped people in charge. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice, whose judgments have repeatedly proved unsound, should be dismissed. And if matters have not greatly improved by this day next year, Mr Bush should decline to seek a second term. As a more eminent republican, Cicero, might have told this discredited, distrusted crew: 'Among us you can dwell no longer.'

Re: A transatlantic view

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/11/03 at 18:01 (129638)

Of course they do not list all of the successes of the war on terror, only pointing out what has not been accomplished. They also fail to point out how so many of the nations we helped in WW2 abandoned the US in its war on terror making us fight it alone with some help from the coalition of the willing. Broken alliances? Are those who oppose our fight against terror to be considered allies? Are those European countries that continue to inflame the middle east conflict by supporting Arafat to be considered allies? They also fail to point out that Bush inherited an emasculated intelligence apparatus and weakened military from the Clinton administration which it has had to gradually reconstitute in order to fight this war. They also fail to point out the fact that Bush has plenty of domestic opposition to overcome in fighting the war on terror.
Ed

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/11/03 at 18:07 (129641)

Thank you David,

We use to have a poster here that lives in England. She occasionally shared stories from the Guardian. I appreciate getting views from other countries about ours. I may not always like or agree with what I read. Before 9/11 I was blissfully ignorant about what other countries or peoples thought about us. It didn't really matter to me because 'those people' were on the other side of the Atlantic or Pacific. 'Out of sight out of mind.'

Today I feel differently I have learned to 'suck it up'. 9/11 taught me a lesson. I read and talk to as many folks from other countries that I possibly can. I want their views and I want to know what I can do as an individual American to improve communication and understanding. We certainly live in one of the most diverse countries in the world. Our ancestors came from here every country with the desire to have a better life. They risked and gave their lives for freedom. Perhaps our success has imbittered the countries our forefathers came from. Jealousy is a terrible thing. But now I wonder if it's just jealousy...perhaps we over did our boasting. Perhaps we took and forgot to say thank you, perhaps we gave and forgot to do it humbly, perhaps we weren't always right and forgot to say 'my mistake'. I have no control over our elected officials and I have no right to control the thoughts and feelings of each person who visits heelspurs daily. I do have control over my decisions, reactions, responsibilities, and choices. I hope as an individual I will take the time to be thoughtful and open to communication with our neighbors across the ocean.

best wishes, marie

Re: A transatlantic view

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/11/03 at 18:13 (129643)

marie:
My parents are from Europe. They came here to find a better life. They lived to see a better life because they survived WW2 only through the actions of the US. Both of my parents were alarmed and disgusted with the jealously for the US that they saw emanating from Europe.
Ed

Re: A transatlantic view

Bonnie D on 9/11/03 at 18:22 (129645)

Folks, you can find editorials from the guardian on the Web everyday. It is a far-Left anti-American rag.

Re: A transatlantic view

Sharon W on 9/11/03 at 18:35 (129647)

That was extremely well said, Marie!!

Sharon
.

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/11/03 at 20:25 (129651)

We know, Bonnie.

Re: Bonnie

marie on 9/11/03 at 20:43 (129658)

Ewww...that didn't sound very nice. My bad, (that's the new slang term I have learned from my students this year some how it doesn't sound as cool coming from my mouth). I just wanted to let you know we have been around the political block here a few times. So at this point it's all been discussed, including the media. This is the internet so we do get visitors from foreign countries who are in just as much despair from their darn feet. You may have already told us this but what is wrong with your feet? Did you say PF?

best wishes marie

Re: A transatlantic view

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/11/03 at 22:52 (129684)

Bonnie:

You are correct about the Guardian. Britain, unfortunately does not have a flourishing press as does the US with diversity of views -- even the 'official' organ, the BBC has some real bias issues. See http://www.bbcwatch.com
Ed

Re: A transatlantic view

David J. on 9/12/03 at 01:48 (129690)

Oh, no, Marie - you say 'we know', but Bonnie is very much mistaken. The Guardian is by no means a left wing newspaper. It is a LIBERAL paper, a very good and intelligent one, with an excellent group of columnists who express diverse views. It certainly isn't anti-American, either. It disagrees with the Bush government's post-9/11 policy, but that is not the same thing as being 'anti-American', any more than its disagreement with the Blair government's post 9/11 policy makes it 'anti-British'. I have never read a statement by any writer in the Guardian that was disrespectful towards the American PEOPLE.

You said the other day that you love your country. So do I. I love BOTH my countries. As an American abroad I am very upset to see the growing antagonism of some Americans towards Europe. Marie, your response to the Guardian leader was what I hoped for - I copied the leader to try to open minds a little to views that I realize are different from those of most of the people here at heelspurs.com. Your mind really does seem to be open, and I thank you for your response. The rest of the responses make me sad, for they show that their writers have not stopped to think, as you obviosuly have, about the terribly serious issues that are involved. They just repeat things that have been said on this message board over and over again.

I am not sure what Dr Davis means by the 'successes' of the war on terrorism. As I see it, the capture of some of Saddam Hussein's henchmen, while definitely a success, is just not in the same league of importance as the fact that because of the US government's action in Iraq, we are now all - on both sides of the Atlantic - in more danger of terrorist attack than we were two years ago. The 'war on terrorism' can't be won, because the more enemies the US makes (and it has been making them right and left recently) the more terrorists there will be.

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 05:48 (129695)

Thanks for clearing that up. I responded to quickly to Bonnie's response. I should have taken the time to ask. For some the word liberal is a dirty word. I am a moderate liberal who loves her country and is greatly saddened by those who wish to shut every one up. Your posts are thoughtful and I very much appreciate it. And by no means do I think the reports in the Guardian are way out. What I read is being reported daily in both conservative and liberal medias in our country. So please tell our friends in the UK that there are Americans who are taking a closer look at who we are and what we must do to make amends with our European countries as well as the rest of the world. We are listening.

best wishes marie

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 06:08 (129697)

I would dare say that just about everyone in this country came here for a better life. My European ancestors came here to escape war and the tyrants who waged it. This is what all Americans, no matter what their ethnicity is, share. It crosses and encompasses every political boundry.

best wishes marie

Re: A transatlantic view

Sharon W on 9/12/03 at 11:35 (129713)

David J,

I usually try to keep out of these things because I don't have Marie's way with people. You describe the Guardian as 'a LIBERAL paper...' and I would certainly agree with that after reading some of the things Julie posted from it before the Iraq war actually began. No doubt you are also correct that by English standards it isn't left wing; I won't dispute that statement so long as it is taken within context.

However, I would never look to a liberal newspaper to find 'diverse' views. I would look to a liberal newspaper to find liberal views, to a conservative newspaper to find conservative views, to a business oriented newspaper to find business oriented views, to an environmental newsletter to find environmental oriented views, to a health newsletter or journal to find health-oriented views, to a technology oriented newspaper to find technology news, etc.

What we have NEVER seen here, are any articles or quotes from newspapers that in England are considered 'conservative'.

...Do such newspapers EXIST?? I seems odd that we never seem to hear about them, here.

Sharon
.

Re: A transatlantic view

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/12/03 at 14:55 (129730)

marie:

I hate to sound jingoistic but the American way -- freedom of religion, freedom of economic opportunity, freedom of speech ... most would say is the better way, something worth defending. It is something that makes our country a better place than most other countries. This is one reason why so many have wanted to emigrate to America and have done so. We are not selfish with these ideals and concepts and have been willing to spread those ideas and have urged other countries to adopt them. We have sacrificed lives of our citizens to help other countries achieve these goals.
Ed

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 15:27 (129734)

Are you trying to argue some point I am failing to see? I can't tell by your comment. I made a statement but I'm not sure there is an argument.

marie

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 15:51 (129738)

Sharon,

I think we have alot of very right wing out there posts pasted here on the board. I'm wondering the same thing you are except opposite. ;) So a liberal post to me diverse to this board. I also wonder if anything positive is written about the US abroad at all. Maybe that's the problem and we have to try our best to make changes within ourselves to improve communication. I suppose anyone one of us can search for that information with the assistance of a good search engine.

I would enjoy seeing some moderate points of views here both conservative and liberal from anyone who wishes to participate.

best wishes marie

Re: A transatlantic view

Bonnie D on 9/12/03 at 15:57 (129740)

Marie, The great divide! You see alot of right wing co0mments, and I see alot of left! LOL

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 16:04 (129743)

Isn't that funny. I think we see what we are looking for...in our case we're looking for something to disagree with. :)) For a long time I was just about the only liberal who would dare to enter a conversation with these guys so it's nice to see some new liberals and conservatives, (such as you) willing to share ideas and discuss. Some feelings were hurt in the past so I hope that we can keep it civil. This is a good group so I'm sure we can all be a little patient with each other.

best wishes to you, marie

Re: A transatlantic view

David J. on 9/12/03 at 16:06 (129745)

Thank you, Marie. I appreciate your response. And please don't worry. We here are very aware that there are Americans who are as concerned about the future as we are, and who are approaching the problems we are facing thoughtfully and with appreciation of other countries and other ways.

In view of some of the comments made about the Guardian, I'd better say that I am not being facetious when I tell you that the columnists who write for that newspaper usually make a point of this, and make the distinction between the policies of the present US government and the hopes and wishes of many of the American people.

Re: A transatlantic view

Sharon W on 9/12/03 at 16:17 (129746)

Marie,

I agree with you on both accounts. There is no doubt that your comments had been the most 'liberal' ones expressed on this board for quite a while, until very recently -- so I can hardly deny that a liberal post showing up from The Guardian represents diversity! And if you read my other post, I think you will realize that I didn't (and do not) object to the Guardian article being posted. But the same reasoning (that diversity is a good thing) does apply in reverse with respect to the views I have seen and heard from across the ocean. Even on the evening news here, The Guardian's editorials are occasionally mentioned -- but I've never, ever heard any mention of a comment from an English newspaper identified as 'conservative'. Which is why that remark about The Guardian's editorials providing 'diversity of opinion' got me wondering -- could that be what most people do over there, read liberal newspapers and trust that they will accurately fill them in on the 'conservative' point of view??

As for your comment that you would enjoy seeing some 'moderate' points of view here: I don't think we could ever agree on what 'moderate' MEANS!! (I think you and I are BOTH moderate, BTW, just so you know where I am coming from...)

Sharon
:)

Re: A transatlantic view

David J. on 9/12/03 at 16:17 (129747)

Oh yes, Sharon - we certainly have conservative newspapers here in Britain. The Times, which in the olden days was considered 'the paper of record', is conservative, and so is the Daily Telegraph, whose editorial policy is rather to the right of that of the Times. The Guardian is really what I would call a social democratic paper (I used the word 'liberal' because I knew that most readers here would know what it means, and it is pretty close - in fact it has supported the Liberal Party in many elections in the near-half-century I have lived here. The Financial Times has of course a business slant, and is on the whole right-of-centre: it's an excellent paper with better coverage of the arts than any of the others (odd but true). The Independent, like the Guardian, is 'liberal' with an admirably fierce commitment to social justice throughout the world.

Those are the broadsheets. Then we have the tabloids: the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, both conservative and appealing to a less intellectual but still reasonably educated readership, and finally the Sun and the Mirror, both very downmarket, very reactionary, and politically very influential because of their enormous readerships (about 4,000,000 read the Sun, 400,000 the Guardian).

That's just the national papers. Every major city has at least two papers of its own. I don't know them as well so can't say anything about them. I've gone on at some length to let you know that there is plenty of diversity and plenty of conservatism.

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 16:24 (129749)

GOTCHA! :)

Re: A transatlantic view

Sharon W on 9/12/03 at 17:19 (129761)

David J,

OK, yes, I am aware of The Times -- mostly in terms of financial news though, not their editorials. I didn't know they were conservative but I suppose that makes sense.

...Then why, I wonder, is it The Guardian editorials that we hear of? Perhaps because it is that sort of commentary that gets Americans to stand up and take notice.

I actually used to read a fair amount of commentary from Europe BEFORE the Iraq war (sent to me by my recently-deceased sister, who was very liberal) -- mostly from Finland, where she had lived for a number of years. It was even more hostile to the US than that. There was a lot of, 'Of course, what support for Bin Laden. And I lived outside the US myself for 15 years as an expatriate (in South America) so I got yet another viewpoint on things.

When Europeans say that hatred for the US is growing outside our borders, I am aware that what you are saying is true. I am aware that there IS a difference, too, between hatred for the US administration and hatred for AMERICANS. All of us should have realized, after 9/11, what hatred of AMERICANS can lead to -- and both kinds of hatred are growing throughout the world.

It makes me sad. I'm not saying that I agree with the arguments against our administration; some of them have do have merit but I think Bush has been very harshly and in some cases unfairly judged. He was faced with a situation that was completely unprecedented, one that represented for us an invasion, a destruction of our sense of security within our own borders, very much an attack on AMERICANS, not just on our government as a symbol. He had a nation of people who were grieving and very, very ANGRY. A nation that wanted him to DO something about it, immediately.

That's a pretty tough job, for ANYBODY. It's easy to look back with 20/20 hindsight and criticize, saying 'I told you so, I knew he would mess it up!' It's a lot harder to make monumentous decisions every day for two years, without ever making a single mistake.

Sharon
.

Re: A transatlantic view

Ed Davis, DPM on 9/12/03 at 19:42 (129787)

marie:

You probably see the point of this already but the statement that I am making is that the 'American way' is something to be proud of and trying to promote that is not a symbol of American arrogance or a insult to other countries. It is a set of values and a way of life we would like to share with other countries. Our country is not perfect and we don't practice those values to the letter but we are and have been the primary promoter of those values (ie freedom) in the world.
Ed

Re: A transatlantic view

marie on 9/12/03 at 20:44 (129795)

I know were you are coming from and I do very much feel just as you described. But I think we have developed a culture that does apear arrogant. I had just a snipit of realization when I traveled to Japan. Toyota made sure we met every top ranking official possible. I was able listen to one of the writers/scientists of the Kyoto Protacol speak and lunched with him. Like anything, we have become accustomed to our practices so to us it doesn't seem like a big deal but I really think we need too take a closer look at our behavior...as I said earlier for myself I have 'to suck it up.' I am an artist so I've adjusted to taking criticism and must take it to make my work better and I have become accustomed to doing that. I am guessing that most doctors don't get much criticism and aren't accustomed to it. It may seem more insulting to you rather than helpful. Once you learn to digest criticism and look for ways that it can improve yourself it's not so bad. I'm not a wimpy American. I'm a tough hardened soul who is willing to make changes to make us a stronger nation. It starts with each of us.

marie