Blowback, And American Foreign Policy Essay, Research Paper
BLOWBACK, AND AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
America prides itself on being the world’s largest superpower, and the American public rarely hears about wrongdoings made by the American government. On the occasional occurrence when the media has delivered such controversial news, it is gone before the public really has a chance to absorb all the information. American foreign policy is often times possibly doing more harm than good to foreign nations and the way in which certain matters are handled reflects on the American nation as a whole. In Chalmers Johnson’s book, BLOWBACK, he criticizes the American government for not taking full responsibility for its actions, and ignoring major problems that we create.
One major criticism of American foreign policy is the way we handle certain events that affect our relations with foreign nations. A fairly recent occurrence at Okinawa, an island located at the southernmost tip of Japan, reflects a bad example of American military personnel. In September of 1995, two marines, Pfc. Rodrico Harp and Pfc. Kendric Ledet, along with Seamen Marcus Gill, raped a twelve-year-old girl at random. Apparently this is not uncommon, and the punishments for crimes like these are often delayed and lenient. High-ranking military officials seem to downplay the effects and seriousness of these crimes if not condone them. Another major concern regarding this incident is the amount of military bases in Japan, and their purpose. At the time of the rape, there were 42 American military bases on Okinawa. The cold war had been over for nearly ten years, and relations were assumed peaceful. Are all of these bases necessary? The United States government believes that American military presence in Okinawa is benefiting the Japanese more than Americans. Other incidents involving military personnel and Japanese civilians include, many auto accidents, drunk driving, hit and runs, and the use of chemical weapons testing on neighboring islands. “Each mini-crisis like this is in itself a mini-example of blowback.”(BLOWBACK, p50) The way in which these events are handled reflects upon the American Government and it’s policies. This also affects the attitude of the Japanese towards Americans.
In recognition to the previous arguments that America needs to “shape up” its foreign policies, I somewhat agree with Chalmers Johnson. I believe that we do not necessarily need as many military bases on foreign soil, and I believe that we should take more responsibility for our actions when negligence is to blame. Johnson persuaded me to agree with him, when he discusses crimes such as rape, and hit and run accidents due to drunkenness. I believe that our government should punish anyone who is convicted of rape, military personnel or civilian, accordingly. I feel that the military should take more action in policing its own people, and regulate substance induced criminal behavior. I believe that it is in our nations best interest to secure peace with friendly countries and gain respect from them not based on fear, but based on the fact that we are just and dependable, as well as sensible. Our military should punish those responsible for crimes on and off the bases, and we should stand behind our word. When a marine killed three women who were walking on the sidewalk, with her car, the United States agreed to pay a solatium to the family for their loss. The military paid a total of forty percent of what they said they would, and made the grieving family sign a document giving up all claims against the United States. This affects our relation with Japan since paying a solatium is a Japanese custom and the government of Japan ended up paying the difference to the family. This is not good foreign policy. (BLOWBACK, p45)
On the other hand, I agree with the current situation where neither Japanese courts nor police have jurisdiction over our bases on their soil. I do feel that we are helping to keep the Japanese safe with our presence in Okinawa and other areas. I have never enlisted in the military so I do not feel that I can cast judgment towards military bases and their procedures. I feel that we should govern our bases, while still upholding American values and laws, however I do not feel that other governments should be excluded from gaining information about particular procedures, since they should be carried out justly.
Our country is at risk of losing foreign peaceful relations with certain nations if we do not change some of our procedures. We are at a time of need when allies are looked upon for support against terrorism. We need to remain on good terms with our allies to prevent these acts from happening again and to make sure that we are given support to punish responsible parties. However I think that we have enough financial means to handle things on our own, but having support from our allies only helps. This world revolves around money. That’s the bottom line. In the past, America has made some poor decisions regarding foreign relations, but most of the time it is protecting our financial securities. Certain things should be changed to upgrade our popularity status with foreign nations, and to ensure that good moral values are incorporated with our policies.