Inheriting Hell on Earth: How America is Viewed Down Under (Op-Ed)

With all the negative presidential election coverage and the worldwide financial melt-down, as well as two disastrous wars, crumbling infrastructure, global warming and an energy crisis, how are citizens in other countries viewing America’s daily dramas, multiple conflicts, and inept upheavals broadcast for all the world to see in the mainstream media’s 24/7 news cycle?  On the Australian today there is a thoughtful op-ed by Sue Arnold, considering what challenges lie ahead for whomever ‘wins’ the presidential election on November 4th.

America. Sigh. Who could predict or believe it possible for the world’s only superpower to go down the gurgler. On my watch. Almost every time I’ve been in the USA, something major has happened. The Kennedy plane crash, John Kerry’s spectacular defeat, the amazing protest marches against the Iraq war,  but never anything like this.

TV networks are obsessed with the economic crash which gets worse each passing day. Shops are closing, space for rent notices are going up everywhere. A visible tightening of the belt is in the ether, even the very wealthy are looking fearful. And then there’s the Presidential debates and the analyses by hordes of ‘experts’ which go on day after day pulling apart what he said, she said, what they didn’t say. Murdoch-owned channels are going for broke in their attacks on Senator Obama, nothing is too low for the Fox news commentators.

No Debate

Polar bear habitat effected by global warming

Polar bear habitat affected by global warming

The media has the gall to call the TV presidential circus ‘debates’. There’s no debate, every question is carefully orchestrated, the voting citizen has no chance of asking either presidential candidate anything of substance much less a question. Environmental issues are ignored, global warming usually rating one question. Both Obama and McCain favour nuclear energy and clean coal. The alternative energy interests have been ignored in spite of the fact that the quickest and most economical solution to the US energy crisis lies in solar and wind energy. And there’s no suggestion that maybe it would be a good idea if Americans cut down on their power use, like turn off the lights and buy less.

Each day the index on Wall Street crashes down further and no-one can predict where it will all end. Casual conversation in the cafés, train stations, in the street are all about how to survive when there’s no credit and jobs are gone. People are really afraid although there’s a sense that the US needs to hit rock bottom before it can recover any semblance of a future.  Pres Bush dashed off to his Texas hideout as soon as he signed the bail-out bill. A short address on TV to assure Americans that the economy was fine was soon followed by a disastrous crash on Wall Street.

No Leadership
Since then, the President has remained invisible. So there’s no reassuring leadership and in the vacuum, there’s panic.  Meantime, McCain’s attack dog Sarah Palin is doing nothing for the cause of feminism. Her rabid attacks on Senator Obama make many Americans cringe. But she has a huge audience in the Christian right who love her accusations that Obama had a friend who was a domestic terrorist way back in the 60s (when Obama must have been a kid, if you do the maths). The McCain campaign is now focused on trying to persuade the voting public that Sen Obama is a ‘mystery man’ and Americans need to vote for someone they can trust like the reptilian, ancient McCain and his awful running mate. It’s hard to work out what Christian values dominate Governor Palin’s thinking as her actions and words have nothing to do with ‘love thy neighbour’.


US presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain

United States presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain

As one commentator said this week, the kinds of accusations Palin is making about Sen Obama are raising the temperatures of nuts in the US and laying the ground for any kind of fruitcake to come out with a gun.

In this climate, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. The only real news is in the sidebars down the bottom of mainstream TV channels which must be read quickly before they disappear. No-one discusses the real causes of the collapse of the US economy although Congressional hearings which have brought the CEOs of AIG and Lehmann Brothers to the table are enlightening.

The CEO of Lehmann Brothers (who also looks like a reptile) admitted giving three retiring directors $60 million before the crash. He looked sheepish when asked about his $250 million of shares which apparently were offloaded just before the crash. Goldman Sachs former executives appear to dominate key positions not only in the Bush Administration but in European banks and governments as well.  No-one discusses the herd of elephants in the room. The slavish promotion of free trade and the World Trade Organisation by Pres Bush has destroyed national economies, manufacturing and agricultural industries, jobs, the environment and millions of lives for the benefit of a few. The cost of the Iraq war is still running at $10 billion a month.

Raging Torrent
The ramifications of the US economic collapse are mind-boggling. One hundred thousand jobs have been lost on Wall Street alone and the trickle down (more like a raging torrent) will impact the world. Environmental and social justice groups will suffer with massive loss of funding. Grants to third world countries will disappear and the number of people without jobs and homes will skyrocket.

On Democracy Now this week, Amy Goodman talked to a US military officer about the deployment of NorthCom, as it is known, a battalion recently returned from Iraq which now has responsibility for keeping domestic ‘order’ in the event of martial law being declared. Others are predicting food and energy riots within two years.

 Iraq war military casualties returning home to America

Australia is looking better every day. So too is the importance of community sustainability. But one thing is certain. Whoever wins the US election will inherit hell on earth and we can but hope it will not be a reptile. 

Inheriting Hell on Earth


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