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9/11: Does America really remember?

Kimberley  Lau is a student in the University of Sydney's Masters Degree in Publishing. Along with her classmates, she is participating in the Webdiary community as a component of the final semester of the course. This is Kimberly's first piece for Webdiary.

9/11: Does America really remember?

by Kimberley Lau
Daily activities in New York came to a screeching halt as Americans, and those who lost loved ones on Sept 11, paused to remember the day Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked airliners and crashed them into the towers of the World Trade Centre.

At the New York Stock Exchange, traders bowed their heads in silence while at Ground Zero, names of the 2,974 citizens who died seven years ago were read. Even presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama put their politicking aside to pay respects to the victims.

A solemn day for most, however, terrorist attacks are no longer the nightmare that plague Americans' dreams, and are no more than a page in their history books and an annual mourning ceremony.

According to US-based pollsters Gallup, terrorism is not something that a majority of Americans worry about anymore.

A poll conducted with 1,022 adults in the country showed that only 38% of those interviewed were very or somewhat worried they will be affected by a terrorist attack.

“This is down from 47% last July, and from a high of 59% in October 2001, but is still short of a post-9/11 low of 28% in January 2004,” Gallup stated on its website.

Terrorism also does not appear to be a major factor when it comes to who they vote for as president in the upcoming elections. Only 12% of Americans consider it an important factor when casting their vote.

When quizzed on what they thought was the most important problem in the country in a separate survey, only 2% mentioned terrorism – down from 46% in October 2001, a month after the incident happened.

They felt that the most pressing issue was the dwindling economy, as many of them have been affected by rising gas prices.

More than 50% of those polled said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who would be able to handle the economy, as opposed to one who could protect them from terrorism.

With terrorism seemingly no longer on their radars and economy a priority, one has to wonder if the candidates’ campaign pitch on terrorism is still valid.

McCain, in this instance, would appear to have more to lose as 52% of Americans polled believe he will be able to tackle terrorism more efficiently than Obama, who is ahead of him in all the other policies including economy, healthcare, energy and taxes.

Has McCain wasted his time preaching to a choir that no longer cares?


Majority of Americans Not Fearful of Terrorist Attack

Americans Prioritize the Economy Over Terrorism

Obama Has Edge on Key Election Issues

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The world will never forget

On recently spending two weeks in NYC and a further four weeks meeting up with friends across the States terrorism is still very much talked about, without me even prompting. US citizens have a certain trust now in Homeland Security and for the most part they now feel safe. After all there hasn't been any further catastrophies the last seven years, only on troops in Iraq.

Therefore the main focus can be on other issues which are not covert with the current election looming. Why not focus on issues that are very tangible?

Not a single person I met said they were going to vote for McCain (if they they were telling the truth). Friends thought that he is too old and being an ex military man they were concerned the Iraq war might continue rather than wind down.

People will never forget 9/11 and never forget the Bush bungle on weapons of mass destruction...and his eight year reign. 

In God we trust, it will never happen again.

9/11: The modern version of Pearl Harbor?

As for many people around the world, it has been inevitably, for me, not to watch the news, interviews or special reports related to this disastrous day, every 9/11 for the past 7 years.

As a matter of fact, I was one of those people who were trapped by this year’s History channel special. Through it we could definitely see that this day still remains in various citizens’ lives that witnessed it, specially the victim’s families.

Most of us can say that they do because they lost their relatives. Yes, of course it is comprehensible..

Those Americans who really suffered the consequences, in any way, will certainly never forget about 9/11. However, those others who receive a slap each time this date is remembered will try to care about any other national issue, as their primary concern.

Richard:  Apologies, Sandra, but I've had to edit a bit here.  If you recheck our guidelines you'll notice that we don't discuss 9/11 as a conspiracy on this website.  We've tried many times before, and it always leads to tears before bedtime.


on your settings, Kath Farrelly:  whether your chosen settings are "oldest" or "newest" first.

If you hate to nitpick, Kath, why do it?

Good point

 Good point F Kendall. Guess the concept of "the above" as opposed to "the below" just tickles  me.

Ah... Forget it.. Dang!  I knew I shoudn't have had that extra glass of pinot noir chardonnay.

Richard:  Why not, Kathy, it's not illegal and it's Sunday.  Enjoy!

A (proper) ganda here and a (proper) goose there

The Simpsons - now there's propergoose - nope just a cartoon - but fun at various levels. Just like Alice in Wonderland.

Superman standing in his undies in front of the Stars & Stripes may or may not be properganda (what, me worry?) but to me he looked a propergoose - that said, I didn't miss an episode of the George Reeves series and the repeats and repeats (we all had our favourite episodes and it had nothing to do with anything but fun and imagination).

Then George committed suicide, Christopher passed away but Superman lives on just like our dreams and imagination. Just the way it should be.

Examples, please Eliot

The above is not true. However, it does show the power of an authoritative statement. 

Yours truly

Hate to nitpick F Kendall. But, shouldn't  that read: "The below is not true"?

Just sayin'.

Richard: Well, if you have your thread set to"oldest post first" it would be the "above".   As you say, Kath, just sayin'.

The view from Sunset Boulevard

Paul: "Great day's work - they love him there. Obviously you support Obama."

A terrific little book about the political outlook of Hollywood televsion script writers and filmakers is The view from Sunset Boulevard : America as brought to you by the people who make television, by Benjamin Stein.

In it, he outlines the reasons why certain totally predictable outcomes feature in just about every single US made televsion series, including:

...in any Hollywood whodunit, the whitest, richest and most respectable character usually turns out to be the bad guy.

The specific example he gives is the crime show Columbo.

The Lebanese French writer Amin Malouf in his book On identity makes the related point that in any American crime show, the rapist is always not merely white, but also more likely to be blonde and blue-eyed, too. Just to be sure.

In English television thrillers, the rapist is always a Tory. Always.

I know what I accept

Ernest William: "Doesn't the present system make the - "hands on hips Superman", with the American flag, and the doctrine of "justice and the American way" - a very modest propaganda in its day? Or aren't you old enough."

"I don't think anyone other than Paul would accept your take on that matter".

I am not patriotic. I can't even define who is patriotic and who isn't.

My opinion is that you'd find propaganda in anything that wasn't directly scathing of your beliefs. Simply making a film, for example, that wasn't attacking the complete bankrapcy of American life would be enough for you. Scooby Do an American propaganda arm? Dude, no, never mind.

Interestingly, on the day of the "end of time as we know it" crash, Obama went to Hollywood, and chalked up 9 mil. Great day's work - they love him there. Obviously you support Obama. Obviously the "media propaganda" has got to you.

Big Jeff iced

At least the Russian authorities can not be accused of being entirely anti-American in their partisanship.

They also banned The Adventures of Big Jeff.


If you think South Park is crude ...

Government bans 'South Park' as 'extremist'

"Moscow prosecutors began legal proceedings aimed at the cartoon series South Park today in a bid to kill Kenny in Russia.

Prosecutors took action against the 2x2 television channel for broadcasting an episode of the animated comedy show that featured Christmas songs including a medley duet performed by Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.

The Basmanny regional prosecutors office in Moscow has announced that the programme "bore signs of extremist activity".

Too right, Natasha. Subversive American junk undermining our way of life...

Lucy takes a job at a chocolate factory. (repeat). G 1957

Alan Curran: "Geoff, funny, he doesn't look Jewish."

That's when they're at their most cunning.

Now, moving on the I Love Lucy and The Brady Bunch.

Essentially those two series were revolutionary, feminist tracts, the latter also exploring the rights of children.

Lucy struggles against Desi week after week to self-actualise creatively in the world of work, whether as an entertainer in her own right or as a member of the industrial working class in the company of other women. But Desi and his male pals continually strive to thwart Lucy in her legitimate social, cultural and political aspirations....

Watch out Marilyn Shepherd and Ernest Wiliam ...

Didn't you know Superman was Jewish?

Hence the socialistic, charitably minded Citizen’s Advice Bureau Superman of the early episodes, wedded to good causes, pursuing husbands who beat their wives, or punishing unscrupulous mine-owners who refused to pay compensation to injured miners. But hence, too — for being at the bottom also meant being an immigrant — the secrecy to which Superman was doomed, living in isolation, with a changed name, and experiencing embarrassment with his wardrobe.

If the above is not in itself conclusive proof that Superman, conceived by Jews, was also Jewish in his circumstances and in the complexion of his sympathies, consider what we know of his antecedents. He is born Kal-El, son of Jor-El. In Hebrew, El — originally meaning “might, strength, power” — is the name for God, appearing in such composite forms as El Emet, the God of Truth, and El Olam, God Everlasting. Students of the Kabbalah will further notice the rhythmic resemblance of Kal-El and Jor El to Ein-Sof, the term coined by the early Kabbalists for “The Infinite”. This is not to say, of course, that Siegel and Shuster were consciously creating a Kabbalic Godhead, or were even readers of the Kabbalah, only that they heard the ancient Jewish music of their own history when they came to invent Superman’s. And went on hearing it through every detail of their hero’s hastily arranged dispatch from Kypton to his arrival, as an illegal immigrant, sans papers and sans passport, on Earth.

Threatened with the destruction of their planet, Kal-El’s parents pack him — “the last survivor of a great civilisation” — into a tiny spacecraft. After hurtling through interstellar space, the rocket, barely bigger than a crib, lands in a field of corn in Smallville, Texas, where it is discovered by Jonathon and Martha Kent, who happen to be out driving. “Why,” says Mr Kent, “there’s a baby inside.” “From the way it’s crying,” says Mrs Kent, “the little darling must be frightened.” Compassion has its way with them, and very soon they have called the child Clark Kent and are raising him as their own.

Ring any bells? Threatened with the destruction of their people, the Pharaoh having ordered all Hebrew man-children to be killed at birth, the parents of a new-born boy pack him — perhaps the last survivor of a great civilisation — into a little ark made of bullrushes and slime and lay it by the river where it is discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, come down to wash herself. “And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold the babe wept.” Compassion has its way with her, and very soon she has called the child Moses and is raising it as her own.

Read it all.


Geoff, funny, he doesn't look Jewish.

Read it all Geoff?

G'day Geoff,

Fantastic mate. "Didn't you know Superman was Jewish?"

You have won two supporters, my wife and myself, at least with this post.

Whatever we may disagree with Geoff, you have lightened up our inquisitive attitude and we appreciate that.

Well done. And please keep it up.

Cheers Ern G.

In my day....

Malcolm B Duncan: "Try sticking to the truth for a change lad."

Awww, thanks Mr White. I'll remember that. Now, if you don't mind, Clark and Lois kinda need me down at the waterfront...

Superman - republican, feminist, worker, democrat

Ernest William: "Doesn't  the present system make the - "hands on hips Superman", with the American flag, and the doctrine of "justice and the American way" - a very modest propaganda in its day? Or aren't you old enough."

I think that Superman was the 1950s.

But let's take a look at that series. There's a Superman who strives to uphold justice, often in defiance of official authority. He crusades on behalf of small town moms and pops and their kids. And he grew up the adopted son of a sharecropper. His mom's now a widow. he put himself through college.

His boss, Mr White, is a blithering curmudgeon who hardly ever has a clue what's going on. Even Jimmy Olsen, the copy clerk, has a better idea.

'Clark' and Jimmy continually take unauthorised initiatives behind White's back, to his fury.

The bad guys Superman contests with are either corporate crooks, gangsters praying on the weak and innocent; or else Communist and Nazi agents.

Moreover, what does Clark Kent represent?

Bespectacled, equivocating, helpless, frail and faltering. The very antithesis of he, his alter-ego Superman of Planet Krypton.

Why does Superman disguise himself this way? Why as the bumbling, helpless Clark Kent?

Well, to fit in with the common man.

Because Clark Kent is how Superman sees the human race, frail, timid and vulnerable.

Clark Kent is Superman's critique of Humankind, flawed and a little pathetic really. But basically good and fair and decent.

But humans are fallible, and dangerous. So, who in Superman's adopted world can he trust?

On whom can he depend?

He depends on women only.

His mother, steadfast and loving, the very incarnation of authentic, rural republican values. A freeholder and sharecropper who clings to her Iowan wheat farm, despite all. The house falling around her ears, the tractor busted, and the pickup barely making it to market.

But she hangs on.

And Lois Lane, the only other capable individual in Superman's world, who not only loves him but shares in his values of truth, justice and democracy...

Superman stands up for the little guy. For women. For young people. For society's victims. The small shopkeeper. The working stiff. The office clerk.

He believes in the values of the frontier. he loves his country. But struggles against the metropolis, a loner. A permanent outsider.

He is you and me in many ways - without the frailities and ironies and humdrum shortcomings of being mortal.

He is a regular guy. But a hero to those who love him.


Tum tum.

Ta tum tum, ta tum tum, da da da da daaaaaa......Da da da da daaaaaa......

Richard:  In case anyone was wondering, the last bit appears to be a transcription of humming the theme tune out of time.

I got rhythm...

Richard: In case anyone was wondering, the last bit appears to be a transcription of humming the theme tune out of time.

Well, I'm not Superman am I? I'm more your Clark Kent.

Fawning Guardian blather reveals double standard on USA

Malcolm B Duncan: "I say not A (Italy does) "

The last time Italy was Europe was in 410AD when Alaric and the Visigoths sacked Rome, so unless France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Germany, etc, etc, etc have the same voting system as Italy, who gives a toss.

Bill Avent: "And voting is not compulsory in Australia."


Anyway, talking of the ludicrously exaggerated moral (and every other) standard by which the USA is expected to be judged, by pesky contrast, check out this fawning Sinophile blather spewed up on the ABC last night...

But I think the big question for the internal future for China leaving aside whether it's going to conquer the world or not - is that the bureaucracy is well on the way of becoming a benevolent bureaucracy once again.

And they are weeding out corruption, I mean in a very cruel way. They're shooting the people that are corrupt.

- Simon Winchester, Guardian foreign correspondent.

China? On the way to being "a benevolent bureaucracy once again"?

Imagine if some freaking nutter said that about the USA?

When Michael de Angelos gets back from holidays, I must also ask him about the percentage of Australians who can speak Indonesian versus the percentage of Americans who can speak Spanish.

What would it be? Zero-point-zero-one percent here versus, I dunno, thirty percent over there or something?

Is Goebbels back?

Your original statement was:

Eliot Ramsay: "No country in Europe has compulsory voting."

It now transmogrifies into " The last time Italy was Europe was in 410AD..."

It is a technique used successfully by Molly Missen (one of Australia's greatest debaters) for decades. Take an argument, change it, pretend it was always the same and misrepresent it.

It is basic intellectual dishonesty but I guess that wouldn't worry an economist for a moment.

Try sticking to the truth for a change lad. There is no harm in admitting you were wrong but there is great harm in the big lie. The greatest of that harm is that done to the propagator of the lie himself.

Michael Moore as a typical Hollywood propagandist

Ernest William, it's patently non-sensical to speak of the American movie industry and or television as "a perfect propaganda tool" for the US government or economic establishment.

How would the award winning Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11 rate as "American propaganda"? How would a popular film like, say, American Beauty work as American propaganda"?

How would a television series like MASH work as propaganda for the US military? Or a film like Full Metal Jacket?

By what incredible stretch of the imagination could American Dreamz or Home of the Brave qualify as "American propaganda" in support of George Bush or the war in Iraq?

Or Bowling for Columbine? Another slice of American Apple Pie from hollywood, hey?

I find it just laughable that anyone would consider such Hollywood productions as being pro-Government propaganda.

Yet these are major, mainstream, award winning films lauded as exemplary by such institutions as the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences?

Even American television invariably portrays the American corporate sector in a negative light, whether it is the character Carlos or the town mayor in Desparate Housewives or JR in Dallas or virtually the entire cast of Ugly Betty other than Betty herself.

Even in cartoons like Scooby Do the baddy always turns out to be the local business type or politician trying to hoodwink his victims by faking some kind of supernatural phenomenon.

One of the major contributing factors to the growth of the anti-war movement in the '60s and '70s was purportedly network television news broadcasts of the war in Vietnam.

In fact, the media commentator and philosopher Joshua Meyrowitz in his book No Sense of Place,  argues that television has been responsible for a significant cultural shift towards new and egalitarian social interactions.

He demonstrates, based around the sociology of Erving Goffman,  that television is an "exposing" machine which allows individuals to watch others in an unpreceded fashion, breaking down the barriers between children and adults, men and women and even humanising and demystifying the powerful.

Also, as for American "flag waving" being akin to "the Hitler regime with his massive flag-waving political demonstrations", would that include Barack Obama's nomination acceptance at Denver?

Or how about those Labor Party rallies they have in Australia?

Or Australia Day?

Michael de Angelos: "I'd guarantee Cubans are far more knowledgable about the outside world than the majority of Americans. Same goes for Iranians."

What gurantees are you offering?

Like, do you have any research or other evidence in support of such a claim?

I'm sorry if my comparison between the narrow, insular world of Americans and the wide open, liberal societies of Communist China, Cuba, North Korea and Islamist Iran was "pesky".  But you started making the comparisons first.

And at least I offered evidence in support of my statement about the poor level of education in China, for example.

So, that guarantee you are offering. Could we see it please? Or is it just a stereotype?

Malcolm B Duncan: "The curious, and typically Italian, way they deal with it, however, tickles my fancy. If an elector fails to vote, the penalty is to be removed from the roll."

That's not compulsory voting. That's compulsory non-voting.

As for why the rest of Europe, without compulsory voting of any sort, is not a "problem" in the way the USA is, you'd have to ask Michael. It was his "pesky" comparison, after all.

Are you kidding me Eliot?

G'day Eliot,

You don't see anything political in Scooby Do (who wins?) Michael Moore's brilliant exposures?

Perhaps you don't think that political statements are also propaganda - as indeed are most business advertisements - and deceptive as well.

You don't notice the American flag in every single propaganda series in every possible corner, on every desk, on every wall? Usually also at the start.

What would you call that, Eliot? Patriotism?  The desperate claim of a scoundrel?

Doesn't  the present system make the - "hands on hips Superman", with the American flag, and the doctrine of "justice and the American way" - a very modest propaganda in its day? Or aren't you old enough.

I don't think anyone other than Paul would accept your take on that matter.

Cheers Ern G.

Oh dear, Eliot rationalism strikes again

Eliot Ramsay, you little rascal you. Let's try a little logic (I wouldn't want to try you on big logic).

You say A (no European Country has compulsory voting).

I say not A (Italy does)

You say That's not compulsory voting [undistributed middle].

Your assertion is not only a non-sequitur but false because the compulsion in both cases is enforced by a sanction: if you do not do X [vote], Y [removal from the roll] follows. Logically, that is no different to our system: if you do not do X [vote], Y [a fine] follows [unless you can establish an exemption or excuse lawfully excusing you from the fine]. All that differs is the consequence. I find the Italian consequence rather beguiling.

Now, if you could come and debate in the adult world, we'd love to have you.

Economists at dawn lad? Name your second, he can call on Alphonse to discuss length of weapons.

A very little logic indeed

Saying "That's not compulsory voting", be it correct or incorrect, has nothing to do with the undistributed middle. No middle term has even been mentioned.

And voting is not compulsory in Australia. Enrolling to vote, and turning up at a polling booth to have your name crossed off, are what are compulsory. How could it be otherwise? It's supposed to be a secret ballot, for Chrissake.

Now there's a bit of simple logic for you.

Oh Eliot, Eliot!

Those pesky comparisons again! I'm not sure what China or Cuba has to do with  Kimberley  Lau's question.

I'd query some of your statements,  though. I'd guarantee Cubans are far more knowledgable about the outside world than the majority of Americans. Same goes for Iranians.

The majority of Chinese are peasants and know little or even care what is happening outside their own village - despite a middle-class of over 60 million. But what does it matter? There is no choice - like Henry Ford's "you can have any colour as long as it's black" - same same Chinese government.

Yes, voting is not compulsorary in European countries and more's the pity although in general, the majority of people are far politically connected than Americans.  It brings its own problems, though, as in the UK's Nu Labour - a Thatcherite and Howard style government that wins with 34% of the vote. We  in Australia, with our system of preferences despite all the whinging about it, broadly get a government that reflects what the vast majority wants, apart from the occasional hitch where a nong like Steve Fielding gets up.

One of the most costly problems for both the Democratic and Republican Parties in the US that have made the elections there obscene battles involving a billion dollars every four years is the inevitable drive to sign up voters. And this year the Democrats have signed up to 11 million more members than the Republicans.

But the fix is in - McCain will win because of those computer voting machines. Anyone who doesn't believe a vote by computer cannot be rigged is in dreamtime. This November, however, I believe there be blood in the streets in the US.

Marylin Shepherd raises some serious questions, however, that demonstrate the falsity of your statement : "In fact, conservatives in the US are usually quick to decry the overtly liberal tendencies apparent in American media." Overtly? Apparent? Give me a break. The US media has ramped all the way to the right and that includes the evil NYTimes.

This is partly due due to Michael Powell's (son of Colin) changing media ownership laws that have concentrated power into the hands of conservative owners.

And the result - huge swathes of Yanks still believe that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks, and when Sarah Palin gives her first interview on a major TV show and implies the same the interviewer doesn't bat an eyelid or question her about it. Oh for a Kerry O'Brien on US TV - for a country that once had the best media in the world it's been reduced to "Newspeak".

(Arnie in NSW ? - oh puhlease. We are still recovering from Bob Carr and he got a majority vote!)

My apologies, Malcolm

The correction was made at the request of the author. As Kimberley put it, the "four" was staring her in the face every time she looked at the piece.  Given precedents, I saw no harm in obliging.

Pehaps I should've posted a note to that effect.  Sorry if I've erred.

Great stuff, Kacie

A person after my own heart, prepared to go to bat. The problem though is that there is almost no commentary in the US about the dead Iraqis, only the Americans.

Which is OK as far as it goes but over 1.2 million Iraqis are dead, 5 million are homeless and the rest live in abject poverty while Petraeus continues to spin.

As for Afghanistan - they had nothing to do with anything at all. Just because the US said Bin Laden might be there doesn't mean he was and the Taliban offered him to the UN on a plate if they had any evidence of him being responsible for the September 11 attacks. He is not wanted for that.

McCain is still being treated like a hero though, when all he did was lose his plane, collaborate with the VC and spend a few years as a POW. That does not make the man a hero.


Eds - No, we can't have articles revised simply because they are criticised after publication.

We can have the original version followed by the revised version perhaps - although I doubt that.

You write it - it gets posted. All hell breaks loose.

Kacie - what fascinting names you Rebel Colonists sport.

With your comments about the sole capacity of Congress being able to declare war (and I wonder what you understand those Constitutional implications to be) you caused me to revisit the basis of the diplomatc status of the Continental Congress and the Treaty of Paris 1793.

Clearly, by Article 10 of that Treaty, the declaration of War in 1812 by the Rebel Colonies was a repudiation of the Treaty.

If Congress is the only body that can declare war, and you argue that Bush's declaration of hostilities in Iraq is, in your view, beyond his power, why is it that Congress has not impeached him? Similarly, assuming that poitics in that regard ought to be bi-partisan, why was not Clinton impeached for ordering the launch of the Tomahawks? Good old Puritan Goose for the Gander.

You come from a nation of insular hypocrites (with no reflexion on yourself). I see no good you do yourself in your special pleading.

Certainly troops do what they are ordered to do, but, as far as I can see, yours are terribly good at obeying orders, not obeying lawful commands: typical of your foreign policy since inception. You are rebels, you are warmongers, you are warmongering imperialists. We don't much like that here in a multi-cultural State with a real Constitution and Courts that protect real Common Law Rights. I shall content myself with being a soldier.

Yes indeed

Polls show support. But the dead don't vote now, do they?

A little knowledge goes a long way

What the people of the USA remember is one thing.  What they know is another.

Here is a link to the (pretty accurate) Wiki description of of US relations with General Noriega:


The most surprising thing about the 9/11 attack is that it did not happen sooner because US foreign policy has created whole classes of people who have a grievance with the US.  Note, for example, that the 9/11 death toll is roughly similar to the civilian death toll among Panamanians when US forces attempted to capture their once good friend Noriega.

My memory includes vivid recollections of the breaking of the My Lai massacre linked here:


Thank you Charlie company.  I remember that too, as well as 9/11.

By far the biggest lighthouse

Anthony Nolan, from your Panamanian link:

The Panamanian people overwhelmingly supported the action... According to one poll, 92% of Panamanian adults supported the U.S. incursion, and 76% wished that U.S. forces had invaded in October during the coup... 74% of Americans polled approved the action...

Noriega was not a very nice man. What he lacked in popularity he made up for with brute force, corruption and repression.

The institution of representative government cannot guarantee that the democratically elected politicians will themselves be democrats. Sad, but true. The reforms of the British Parliament of the 19th Century which made Britain more democratic than it had been before, and one of the most democratic and liberal states of Europe, were carried out as Britain's empire reached the height of its expansion and power. The British Empire was not exactly an exercise in spreading democracy.

Moreover, the empire brought only measured direct benefit to the British people, whose living standards and prosperity were for a good deal of that time lower than standards in non-imperial Scandinavia, Switzerland and Iceland. The latter has easily the oldest democracy in the world.

All the countries of Latin America were set up as outposts of sixteenth century feudal society as found in Spain and Portugal. They were unable to compete with the United States, largely because of this weakness in their foundations, and the democratic US rapidly came to dominate them, and still does. Witness the Monroe Doctrine, by which the 5th President (1817-25) James Monroe declared Latin America off limits to intervention by the European powers.

That simplified business and politics considerably.

However, had the US lost the War of 1812 to the British, it would have been a major setback for democracy, the crushing of which being largely what the British campaign against the US was all about. Hence the power of that great line from the patriotic US song (written in 1814 and which only became the US national anthem in 1931), which asks if that star spangled banner yet waves over the Land of the Free and the home of the brave. In 1814, the US was by far the biggest lighthouse of democracy in the world.

The world tendency is for governments increasingly to have to submit themselves periodically to the people for re-endorsement. Autocracy and unrepresentative government is slowly and steadily giving way to democracy, not the other way around.

There has been a hell of a lot wrong with America, from black slavery to Vietnam. But it is best not to lose sight of what has been right with it, as some around this site find it all too easy to do.

For your consideration, Kimberley

G'day Kimberley. Your statistics seem to indicate that the American people are not overly concerned with the "terrorist" threat at this time.

I would suggest that the majority "vacuum" which seems to be demonstrated by those polls may well indicate a doubt in the minds of Americans as to the possibility that their massive advantage in nuclear and biological weapons may not be enough to protect them from the hatred of billions of people.

The very excuse for their interventions in the lives and varied customs / cultures of the people of the world would not have been tolerated if there was an equal and as predatory a nation as theirs.

Perhaps, the greed and power of an equally nuclear nation was a neutraliser during the Cold War, but now, I believe, the unilateral decisions of the US powers that be are not in favour of a peaceful world.

These are only perceptions and in this world today, without massive American dollars as support, contrary opinions are unacceptable.

Power corrupts, Kimberley, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Why, in this enlightened 21st century, do we still have the tribal attitude of hating a particular group that doesn't behave as we do?

George W. Bush - "They hate us for our freedoms".

Cheers Ern G.

History confirms your statement, Kacie

G'day Kacie. American history seems to give the impression that, when anyone does anything considered nasty by the US, it responds with acts of war, so with this opinion, I am always suspicious when the US "sues for peace".

At the moment I am relying on memory and at my age that is a little risky.

The Movie/TV industry was, and still is, a perfect propaganda tool in that it uses entertainment as a method of reminding the countries who buy its products what the American Flag is and what, they say, it stands for. This seems to me to be a copy of the Hitler regime with his massive flag-waving political demonstrations.

However, back to the subject - will America remember? Absolutely. The powers that be will make sure that they will never forget - especially the unprovoked attack by primarily Saudi Arabians!!!

"Remember Pearl Harbour"? The entry into WW 2.

"Remember Lexington" (American rebellion), "Remember the Alamo" leading to the eventual "liberation" of Texas; California; and New Mexico, "Remember the USS Maine" which led to the Spanish/American war and the "liberation" of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam and the Caroline Islands. (I did check on that one, Kacie).

Then when the American people refused to be involved in WW 1, the German sinking of the Lusitania killed many Americans and eventually brought them into the war against Germany.

But I belabour my opinion on these issues. Simply put, I wonder how many wars or conflicts that America has been involved in were provoked, orchestrated, or even organised by the US itself - for increasing its world power and wealth while at the same time reducing the powers of all other nations of note.

All this while at the same time convincing the American people that it was necessary to protect their sovereignty "and the way we live".

If we can discuss this issue without unnecessary offence, Kacie, I would like to read the views of this forum of independent views.

If you agree, one thing you can be sure of is that I will honestly give my opinions with as much degree of reasoning I can muster.

I believe, Kacie, that the American people will not be allowed to forget; nor will the rest of the democratic world.

Cheers Ern G.

Ask an Aussie who the Prime Minister of Canada is

Kacie Bluhm: "They own the media, and they get to choose how they want America to appear."

Except the media is nowhere in the West uniform in its content, political or philosophical orientation, including in America.

And you don't have to be Silvio Berlusconi, Lord Northcliffe or Rupert Murdoch to appreciate that wealthy, conservative media owners are not an inherently American phenomenon.

And  it doesn't look to me like Hollywood, for example, is hard-core Republican. In fact, conservatives in the US are usually quick to decry the overtly liberal tendencies apparent in American media.

Also, it's not unproblematic that even conservative media has uniformly or predictably conservative effects on its audiences.

Nor is it demonstrable that audiences don't negotiate their own readings of media.

Otherwise, how do you explain that " the states are not all crazy right-wingers", that "Most lie somewhere in the middle" and that "as of the last few years many have been pulled to the left."

So, either they have been "pulled to the left" by the media - or the media has not prevented them from lying "somewhere in the middle" and moving left.

As for American conservative politicians being "to the right", I warrant there'd be a lot of Labor Party politicians in Australia today who would give their eye-teeth to have a "conservative" like Arnie Schwarzenegger in charge of either the NSW or Victorian Labor Government or West Australian Labor Party right now.

Kacie Bluhm: "In complete embarrassment I will admit I didn't even know who the Australian prime minister was when I moved here."

Next time it comes up, ask an Aussie who the Prime Minister of Canada is.

Travel broadens the mind

Michael de Angelos: "The real problem with the US ? Its vast insulated population."

As opposed to the Chinese, Iranians and Cubans, I suppose. 

For most Chinese, 1.3 billion population; more than 70 per cent of them have never been educated more than five years. And most of them will never, ever leave China. Ever.

Michael de Angelos: "They want the things we have - socialised medicine, strong unions, protection from exploitive bosses, welfare benefits and aged pensions - the sort of things that the citizens of most European countries take for granted."

So, despite not being as insular as Chinese and Cubans, for example, they're just like us.

"And the real problem ? Non compulsory voting. No wonder the conservative parties here are itching to bring that in."

No country in Europe has compulsory voting.


Eliot Ramsay: "No country in Europe has compulsory voting."

Italy does.

The curious, and typically Italian, way they deal with it, however, tickles my fancy. If an elector fails to vote, the penalty is to be removed from the roll.

When you think about it, could be quite effective here.

Democracy has obligations

G'day Malcolm. I am a believer in true democracy which seems to be dying the death of a thousand cuts in the world today.

I stood for the Board of my local Club on two occasions and was soundly beaten in both, but I now believe that I have put my money where my mouth is and can, in good conscience, criticise the behaviour of the chosen ones.

Nothing annoys me more in any form of politics when people claim that the obligation to vote is undemocratic. For goodness sake - it IS democracy.

Was it Voltaire that said something like: "the government of a people is what they deserve"?

I take that to mean, whether it is a democracy, Communist, dictatorship or whatever - if you allow that to happen, it is what you deserve!

If we want the values of democracy - which in itself is the right to vote by choice - then we should insist that the people of our nation, who will enjoy or suffer the effects of government, do equally share the decision they have had the privilege to make.

Cheers Ern G.

I'd have to say I disagree

I'd have to say I disagree with the notion of compulsory voting. If someone is not interested in politics or the government, I don't feel like they should be forced to vote. In fact, I'd rather they not vote at all then go and check some name they know nothing about.

While I couldn't imagine not getting my vote in, everyone has different priorities in life.


The real problem with the US? Its vast insulated population. With only 8% having passports and travelled abroad (and even then it's to non comparable countries like Mexico), a current president who had never travelled abroad before he went to the White House ,and a potential VP who has never left US shores but believes because she can "see Russia" she is an expert on foreign policy, it's not too difficult to understand that most Americans are insulated from the rest of the world.

This is different to the old Iron Curtain countries - they were shielded but wanted to know what was happening elsewhere. Americans simply aren't interested.

And given what a fascinating place it is if you travel across that vast country, it's easy to forget the rest of the world exists.

Our perceptions of Americans can also be skewed by what is now a vast corporatised media in the hands of a powerful few that dominate and dictate what Americans believe, or should believe.

But when someone like Noam Chomsky does real research that involves hundreds of university students conducting massive polls over months- polls that are better researched than professional polls, he has found that 60% (and over) are not the raging right wingers we begin to believe.

They want the things we have - socialised medicine, strong unions, protection from exploitive bosses, welfare benefits and aged pensions - the sort of things that the citizens of most European countries take for granted. The great Silent Majority has always been claimed by the Right and it's a sham.

And the real problem ? Non compulsory voting. No wonder the conservative parties here are itching to bring that in.

Couldn't agree more!!

That was very well said!

 It's incredibly true. It wasn't until I moved out of the US that I realized how the states really only looks at themselves. In complete embarrassment I will admit I didn't even know who the Australian prime minister was when I moved here. I bet maybe 2% of Americans do.

And no, the states are not all crazy right-wingers. Most lie somewhere in the middle, but as of the last few years many have been pulled to the left.

The major problem is that it is the far right who are usually the richest and the most powerful with the ability to portray that image of America across the world. They own the media, and they get to choose how they want America to appear.


Marilyn, if I ask you any questions please feel free not to answer them; fortunately I'm neither a man or a dog.  Most of my questions never get answered by anyone anyway. Maybe they were just stupid questions.


It seems like my answering these questions has sparked an argument on this page! Too late - I already spent the last hour writing a massive response.

But in terms of all your comments - thanks for your support, I most likely would've just ignored the questions if I wasn't interested/too lazy to respond.

I enjoy answering questions about this subject as I'm a bit of a politics nerd.  As much as I am dissatisfied with our current administration, I still do love America so I'd like to set the record straight when I can.

Hope you take interest in my answers. 

Top cop dressed up as Osama bin Laden.

A senior British police officer who dressed up as Osama bin Laden to attend a village fair has been dismissed from his job helping to build Afghanistan's security forces.

Chief Superintendent Colin Terry of the Devon and Cornwall police dressed up as the architect of the September 11 attacks, complete with turban, Arab robes and a bin Laden face mask, to attend the local charity fete last week.

He was spotted by a photographer and reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by his own force.

Now he has also been dismissed by the Foreign Office, which oversaw his policing contract in Afghanistan.

One of the things we lost on 11th of September 2001 was our sense of humour. Don't joke about having a bomb in your bag while boarding an aircraft you could end up in jail. Don't dress up as Osama bin Laden, you could lose your job. Osama is the only one laughing these days.

Wow, what hypocrites

All the men and their dogs on this forum always insist that I answer questions.    How dare you suggest that people then don't have to answer any I might ask.

As time goes by

I guess as time goes by and nothing happens, people automatically start to relax and be less fearful. I guess that would turn around again very quickly if there was another major incident. One assumes that the threat still exists, but that the security measures have made it more difficult. Only time will tell.

It seems to me the terrorist threat has moved more to places like India and Pakistan of late, with even rumblings in distant provinces of China.

Welcome from me too Kacie, and I look forward to other pieces by students, on everything and anything.  The people who will never be able to forget 9/11 will be those who were there that day, or who lost family and friends.

The Godfather meets the Matrix

“Wars are seldom caused by spontaneous hatreds between people, for peoples in general are too ignorant of one another to have grievances and too indifferent to what goes on beyond their borders to plan conquests. They must be urged to the slaughter by politicians who know how to alarm them.” Mencken.

The US today is less of a democracy and more an oligarchy. The ruling elite and the rest. The punters can see this and demand change as they did in the mid term elections. The dems won the mid term elections promising to deal with corruption etc. They have done nothing. They also promised to end the Iraq war. They have done nothing. Pissweak.

To become one of the ruling elite one must dance to the music of their corporate backers at the expense of the punter. We have already seen Obama modify his rhetoric to accommodate the powerful.

It's all very simple really. Just keep the punters frightened and promise to protect them; of course they will pay with their taxes - and their life and limbs. It's a protection racket that makes the Mafia look like amateurs; and very much supported and sold by a willing media. Fear and war sell - Randolph and Rupert will attest to that.

The Godfather meets The Matrix, sort of.

Seems to me the present bunch of US pollies are not going to change much at all. The punters will have to do that; and to succeed the punters will have to be a little bit fearless and less influenced by fairy floss and lipstick.

Maybe it's time for the red pill, though I expect it will be the blue for most.

Kacie, some questions

Kacie, nice to see you. Here is a question or two for you.

1. Why do Americans mostly ignore the horror story that is Iraq, the 1.2 million dead, the 5 million homeless and the trillions taxpayers have paid to create this lovely mess?

2. Why are Americans totally silent about the hell that is Afghanistan, a nation that had nothing to do with anything at all except in the Bin Laden CIA agent role to kick out the Russians?

3. Why is John McCain considered to be a war hero when he was dropping bombs on civilians from 30,000 feet and was a collaborator with the VC? We even know now that the story of being tortured so badly he couldn't raise his arms or walk before they released him was bollocks - so why does he get kid gloves?

Ian M (Ed): Kacie, you don't have to answer any of these questions if you don't want to.

I'll try my best

While I am by no means a foreign policy expert, I'll try my best to fend these questions.

1. Americans aren't ignoring Iraq. In fact, it's been a topic of huge political debate and social unrest in the country ever since Bush shunned congress and declared the war himself. Note to Australians who may not know how the American governance system works-- only congress can declare war. The president alone cannot. Back in 2003 congress opposed the war and yet Bush took it upon himself to go in anyway. Most likely to finish what Daddy (George Sr.) couldn't do in terms of Saddam Hussein while giving his friends (not to mention his VP) at Halliburton some great financial support.

Despite the aftermath of 9/11 and the huge upswing of patriotism and support for Bush, the first three years of the war drove his approval ratings into the toilet. Most Americans were extremely unhappy with the corrupt nature of the war and the lies that took troops out of Afghanistan where Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden had base camps.

The proof that Americans were unhappy and did care about the mess Bush & friends created in Iraq is that in the midterm elections in 2006, Americans basically fired the Republicans who had been controlling the war up until that point and put Democrats back in control of the senate and house (thank God). Midterm Elections

Since this change in congress and the firing of Donald Rumsfled and the new approach to how the war itself is run, it has been recognized that a withdrawl strategy is essential. Even Republicans recognized it... if you can imagine.

I could really go on for hours about how terribly mis-managed this war has been, but to get to the root of your question, the war is hardly ignored by Americans. During the primary elections (before the economy went entirely down the drain) it was the number one issue to voters. How we are getting ourselves out of this mess is still a huge issue to all Americans.

My guess is that this sentiment isn't being portrayed internationally. Most likely because of mass media organizations that are owned by political parties. In case you haven't noticed, certain news platforms that claim to be "fair and balanced" (Cough cough Fox News AHEM) are actually owned by the Republican party, and it has been their job for the last seven years to make Americans believe that whatever Bush and the Republican party does is patriotic, promoting freedom, and against terrorism. (You'll note an excessive use of these buzzwords).

A lot of this has been about hiding the truth and lying to the American public.

If you'd like to get an idea of what real Americans think of the war, take a look at these American Political Blogs.

Daily Kos

The Caucus

2. In complete honesty I am not too knowledgable about Afghanistan except for the fact that it is the only country we actually had reason to occupy militarily after 9/11. Right now it's believed that Osama Bin Laden (if he's even alive anymore) and the Taliban occupy the caves in Afghanistan.

Again, this is not an issue that is being ignored by America. If you look at the election coverage that is happening right now, Barack Obama actually sees it as a major issue.

Here's some speech coverage as well that discusses Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Basically, our next president is going to have to multitask to clean up Bush's messes as well as take care of issues like this. However, the important thing to remember is the difference in the way politicians like Obama and politicians like Bush operate in terms of dealing with Afghanistan-- this being DIPLOMACY. Bush's lack of it and Obama's stressing its importance.

(can you tell which candidate I'm voting for??)

3. Okay let me open this question with the following statement- I do not like John McCain. I will not be voting for John McCain. His views on women's rights are absolutely terrifying, he thinks our economy is doing just swell and I think voting with Bush 90% of the time and then campaigning for "change" is more than a little hypocritical. And don't even GET me started on Sarah Palin. But- despite this, I have to defend him in terms of this question (as much as it pains me).

He is a war hero. He was not the one making the orders to drop the bombs in VC, he was simply taking orders. Imagine making that sort of accusation about all the soilders in Iraq who are there on order from someone else. This includes Aussies. They are just doing their jobs. While I do not support the war, I do support the troops.

I lost a very close friend of mine in Iraq. He was incredibly smart and loved his country. This is something he had to say that may make the troops perspective a little easier to grasp:

"i really do care deeply about my country. am i embarrassed by our commander-in-chief and his cronies? yes. am i sickened by the disgusting amount of greed and focus on money in our country? yes. am i angry about how we have lost our place in the world as a symbol of good? very much so. but do i still believe in america and what we are founded on and meant to stand for? absolutely. i just want our country to be the best it can be, and our people to be the best we can be. right now, we are not meeting that standard, and i believe that we have let our selves slip, just like the romans did before their empire crumbled. bottom line, i love my country, i'm proud of where i'm from, but i hate where we are as a nation at the moment. i don't know how, but i want to help forment change.” 2nd Lt. Peter Burks [October 22, 2007]

It's about caring about your work and your country. That's why these people join the military. It's not to drop bombs. John McCain was in North Vietnam on a bombing mission because he was on a mission passed down to him by superiors under the pretense to help his country.

And he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, while not as intensive a prisoner a war as some, he did spend two years in solitary confinement and was given minimum medical care for injuries as a result of a plane crash.

As far as "kid gloves", I think those days are over. John McCain is a politician, and he knows what gets voters. He's smart. So he pulls the prisoner-of-war card a lot to emphasize his strength and his love for his country. I think he's correct in doing it. But it's election season, and the gloves are off. He has been getting devoured by the media just as much as the next guy. He may have been given "kid gloves" by Republican media, as they want to give him easy questions so he looks good.

If you're up to watch him squirm a little though, check him out on the American talk show, "The View".

Or how about in the New York Times, where he is blasted for his new campaign ads that outright lie about his competitor Barack Obama.

Maybe pre-election season he was given "kid gloves" but not anymore.

PHEW okay does that cover everything?

Bravo Kacie

Bravo, Kacie.

You are a breath of fresh air.

Your honesty and even-handed commentary were most appreciated.

Answering those questions as you did, in such a gracious and humble manner, is something that we should all aspire to.

I shall be looking forward to reading more from you, Kacie.

Thank you :)

Thank you :)

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