When I wrote this column in October of 1998, Americans were riding high on moral superiority, after several military actions across the globe. Now, three and a half years later, the irony is hard to miss. It almost frightens me.

Originally published in the Diamondback, the University of Maryland, College Park's daily newspaper, I came across it again when doing a random search for my name on Google.

Disclaimer: Before you pass judgement on the content, please make sure you read through the entire thing and remember that I am proud to be an American. Also note that I'm not the right-wing zealot this column makes me sound like. Some of it I agree with, some I don't. That and watch out for some explanatory pipelinks. I urge you to /msg me with comments, thoughts and even hate mail.

Over the past few years, Americans have become increasingly conscious of a threat from the unseen. Terrorism has become a a constant fear for many citizens, both at home and abroad. Americans scream about needing to protect ourselves from the "evil" terrorists across the world. However, ultimately, this makes us a country of hypocrites.

I have news for you all: The United States is perhaps the greatest perpetrator of terrorist, and terrorism-related, activities this century. What? You're shocked? Do you think I'm a factless idiot, a long-haired, peace lovin' hippie boy? Well, think again.

Not only has our government run terrorist operations, coups, etc., but we have funded them, overlooked them and generally just killed a large amount of people in other nations for our own benefit. However, I honestly don't have a problem with it, as long as we are aware of what our nation does on our behalf.

The United States is the most powerful nation in the world and we should reserve the right to push our best interests in any other nation, even if it means we have to step on a couple toes. But we, the citizens, also need to know that we do commit the same kind of crimes that terrorists do. Otherwise, someday, we'll all be caught off-guard by an accuser.

So you are wondering where I get the idea that our nation has committed "evil" acts?

Well, let me give you some good examples.

First, let's talk about Indonesia. The recently deposed Suharto and his government came to power by killing 500,000 "leftists" in Indonesia and between 100,000 and 250,000 more "leftists" in East Timor (out of 600,000). At least that's what Suharto and his cronies said they were. They were actually a bunch of poor people who were in the way of Suharto's goal.

Where do you think he got the weapons? Yup, the good ole U.S. of A. And we looked the other way when all of this was happening. But, it seemed that a Suharto-led regime would benefit our concerns, or at least our leaders' political concerns, in Asia, so we looked the other way.

Why? Because we want to be able to park our subs in the waters off the East Timor coast. Strategically, this is great. The best subs in the world, all with long-range missile capabilities, noticeably close to Russia, China and North Korea. National defense at its best.

Ever wonder why the Iranians hate us so much? Maybe it is because we helped to depose their government and placed a puppet-like shah in his place. Yes, in case you didn't know, we forcefully overthrew another government and put someone in charge who would benefit us. Great for us, because we had someone in Central Asia we could manipulate during the Cold War, but once they got rid of the shah, and the Ayatollah came to power, it's no wonder the Iranians might be a little bit vindictive.

Oh, and speaking of coups, have you ever heard of the School of the Americas, housed at Fort Benning in Georgia? This is where we teach Latin American terrorists, police and military officers how to do all sorts of heinous things in order to maintain American influence in these nations.

Sounds eerily similar to that school in Afghanistan we blew up, doesn't it? We helped overthrow governments and massacre hundreds. It wasn't even secret. If you need more information about it, www.soaw.org will answer most of your questions.

However, by doing so, we did maintain our power in this hemisphere. We still maintain a dominant influence in Latin and South America, one that benefits us daily.

One specific example of our meddling in the domestic affairs of a Latin American nation is in Nicaragua. We paid for a terrorist guerrilla group, the Contras, to go in and overthrow the legally elected Sandinistas. Why? Because the Sandinistas wanted to instate some communist policies. With all the talk about the Domino Theory and the terrible fear of Communism, these actions were the perfect example of the Monroe Doctrine at work. Manifest Destiny, baby!

Eventually, our terrorist buddies won out, and the Sandinista government crumbled. One less group of communists our government wouldn't have to worry about. The result is that we have had another puppet government in an important region of the world. Ultimately, this benefits our nation and its citizens, whether they like it or not.

Around the turn of the century, we killed hundreds of thousands of people, all for the sake of trade. Where? The Phillippines, of course. As we expanded and spread our ever growing arms throughout our sphere of influence, we eventually realized how great a base for trade the Phillippines would be.

So, instead of making treaties with their government, we simply over-ran it and colonized. I mean, with the French in Vietnam and the British everywhere, we had to get our hands into Southeast Asia somehow. Killing all those people seemed to our government to be the best option. Money talks, and at the end of the last sources, it talked in the form of trade and resources.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that no nation is blame-free for terrorists. We hate the Iranians because of what they did to us, and they hate us for the same reason. We are NOT any better than them. But, we have the right, because we can succeed in our actions. If anyone else could do it, they would.

The realm of international relations is very similar to that of a fourth-grade playground. Whoever is bigger and can beat up the other kids gets their lunch money, if they want it. It just so happens that while all the other countries are normal and four feet tall, we're the seven foot tall, 250-pound mutant of a kid who no one can touch, except by hitting him in the back with rocks.

We just have our nation's best interests in mind. At least what we think our best interests are. Just like the Taliban. Just like the Palestinians. Just like the Libyans. So don't act so high and mighty, thinking we are a moral actor.

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