[OPE-L] Fooled again: the ignorance of the empire

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 13:44:53 EDT

I was reading an interview with Prof. Andrew Bacevich (Boston Uni)
http://www.bu.edu/ir/faculty/bacevich.html where he says:

(...) people like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz saw 9/11 as a great
opportunity. Yes, it was a disaster. Yes, it was terrible. But by God, this
was a disaster that could be turned to enormous advantage. Here lay the
chance to remove constraints on the exercise of American military power,
enabling the Bush administration to shore up, expand, and perpetuate U.S.
global hegemony. Toward that end, senior officials concocted this notion of
a Global War on Terror, really a cover story for an effort to pacify and
transform the broader Middle East, a gargantuan project which is doomed to
fail. Committing the United States to that project presumed a radical
redistribution of power within Washington. The hawks had to cut off at the
knees institutions or people uncomfortable with the unconstrained exercise
of American power. (...) it's not because Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz
are diabolical creatures intent on doing evil. They genuinely believe it's
in the interests of the United States, and the world, that unconstrained
American power should determine the shape of the international order. I
think they vastly overstate our capabilities. For all of their supposed
worldliness and sophistication, I don't think they understand the world.
(...) http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=85723

But who really knows what about the world? If the NG-Roper survey is
anything to go by, most Americans don't know much at all about their own
"empire", if there is one. It seems to be more an elite preoccupation.

National Geographic says "Americans are far from alone in the world, but
from the perspective of many young Americans, they might as well be. Most
young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 demonstrate a limited
understanding of the world, and they place insufficient importance on the
basic geographic skills that might enhance their knowledge."

The findings of the 2006 National Geographic-Roper Sample Survey of
Geographic Literacy among 510 persons aged 18-24 years are available here:
The error margin for the total sample is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points
at the 95% confidence interval. The segment of people aged 18-24 years is
about 10% of the total US population (my own estimate).

"Young Americans answer about half (54 percent) of all the survey questions
correctly. But by and large, majorities of young adults fail at a range of
questions testing their basic geographic literacy."

  a.. Only 37% of young Americans can find Iraq on a map - though U.S.
have been there since 2003 (the 2002 figure was 13%). Only 17%
can now find Afghanistan on a map.
  b.. 6 in 10 young Americans don't speak a foreign language fluently, and
only half think it is important.
  c.. 20% of young Americans think Sudan is in Asia. (It's the largest
country in Africa.)
  d.. 75% cannot find Indonesia on a map, and do not know the majority of
population is Muslim.
  e.. 74% believe English is the most commonly spoken native language on
  f.. 48% of young Americans believe the majority population in India is
Muslim. (It's Hindu - by a landslide.)
  g.. Half of young Americans can't find New York or Ohio on a map.
  h.. 30% think that the USA has a population of 1 to 2 billion.
  i.. Although 64% can find Italy on a map of Europe, only 37% can
find Britain. On average they can locate only three European countries.

National Geographic concludes: "These results suggest that young people in
the United States - the most recent graduates of our educational system -
are unprepared for an increasingly global future. Far too many lack even
the most basic skills for navigating the international economy or
understanding the relationships among people and places that provide
critical context for world events."


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