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:: Saturday, April 12, 2003 ::

Syria


Well, yesterday President Bush mentioned that Syria may be the next country that the US deals with. Donald Rumsfeld and Cheney have also recently mentioned military action into Syria as well. It fits their Project for a New American Century blueprint, so it should come as no surprise. Iran and Saudia Arabi are also possible targets of military action according to what the blueprint advises.

However, seeing the looting and chaos in Iraq, it makes my stomach turn to think that the US would do the same to another country. It seems they have no plan for restoring order in Iraq. There may be civil war in this country such as in Colombia or Afghanistan for years and years to come, yet they float the idea of invading Syria.

Joseph Nye, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, has recently written The Paradox of American Power which argues why the US should take a multilateral position rather than a unilateral one. Basically, his arguement center around the desirable use of "soft power" (cultural imperialism) over "hard power" (military imperialism). In both cases, this former deputy of defense is still talking about imperialism which is rather repugnant to my circle of friends. What a choice!

I think what I could have been perceived to have been practising in Taiwan when I was teaching English was "silly soft power." That is, I had no intention of converting anyone from Taiwanese culture to Western culture. In fact, I made a point to describe the failures of American culture and Canadian culture (i.e., the history of treatment of aboriginal people to this day is appalling).

Silly soft power has no plans to convert people to a new way of thinking. It is not a tool of any empire or hegemon. It is a non-aligned approach to dealing with foreigners. It arises from multicultural curiosity that comes from multicultural societies like Canada, New Zealand and Australia; respect that all cultures have value. Hopefully, people will discover this for themselves and see the value in it itself.


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