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Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

While that is the name of a country song (that people seem to either really like or really loathe), it seems to also be the sad theme of the latest news here in India. This week, I’ve seen US Says It Has Right To ‘Kidnap’ Foreign Citizens, US Intel Nails Bush Lie on Iran Nukes, US Poll Finds More Believe in Devil than Darwin, Dumbed Down FDA Puts US Consumers At Risk, as well as economic concerns about the imploding housing market and opinion pieces ridiculing the US’s support of Pakistan’s Musharref, as headlines in the local papers. Sigh.

It is difficult to really explain the sense of ambivalence that people here have for the USA. They see India itself flexing its muscles, China rising, Europe rebounding, and don’t get them started on the moves Iran is making to fill the vacuum of leadership in the Persian Gulf region. While America is still respected as a great place to live, work, and make money, the general opinion is that as a whole, the country is going down the tubes.

Looking from the outside in, it is hard to find good arguments to counter such sentiments. The insane war in Iraq (hear the great sucking sound of lives, money, world goodwill, and the ability to project power or influence disappearing into that abyss?), our intransigence on climate issues, the rejection of rationality, logic, and science as a basis for decision making, the utter hubris in judging our viewing of moral and cultural issues as the only correct way of doing so, the fascination with vapid, useless celebrity trivia (and ignorance of everything other than who the American Idol finalists are), the collapsing dollar – all these add up to a very depressing view of the direction my country is taking.

What a downer to come in to a day with. I’d better go grade some papers to cheer myself up.

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