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America: Navigating the Gulf Between Founding Aspirations and Contemporary Realities

 The good big  brother it should have been.  

By: Colonel Azam Qadri

Post World War II Global Scenario. The evolution of America, from its lofty founding ideals of freedom and equality to its present reality, is a multifaceted journey. While positive transformations have occurred, challenges persist, shaping the nation's current state. To understand the nuanced narrative of what America could have been and what  it is today, it is imperative to delve into key aspects of its complex history. 

In the aftermath of World War II, a staggering sixty million lives were lost, predominantly  civilian, leaving scars on families worldwide. Post-war displacement created millions of "displaced persons," refugees who  

struggled to find homes, even in immigrant societies like the United States.  

European Jews, survivors of the  Holocaust, faced exile and rebuilt their  lives in various countries. Life after the  war was exceptionally challenging, marked by widespread undernourishment, lack of necessities, and the arduous task of rebuilding. Devastation hit major cities, leaving places like Berlin, Prague, Dresden, and Tokyo in ruins. The economic difficulties of the Great Depression and the wartime appeal  of violent dictatorships fuelled concerns among the generation that lived through both,  known as "the greatest generation." 

The Soviet Union's increased dominance in Eastern Europe raised fears, as former ally  Joseph Stalin seemed poised to exploit postwar turmoil. The division of Germany and Austria into Soviet and allied sectors symbolised new conflicts, leading to Winston  Churchill's stark depiction of an "Iron Curtain" in 1946. The emerging Cold War saw the  United States and the Soviet Union struggling for influence in the war-ravaged world. The Cold War era necessitated a sustained military presence and intelligence services, a  departure from the historical emphasis on economic rather than military power. Peace was elusive as power vacuums and the desire to control postwar destinies fueled tensions between superpowers. The world got divided and the world order changed as  it does to this moment as you read this discourse. I will delve into history keeping in  mind my firsthand experience as I grew older.  

My childhood realities and what was tangibly visible? Maturing alongside Pakistan's  shifting political terrain, I observed the rhythmic changes in my homeland's journey. In  the aftermath of gaining independence, Pakistan grappled with economic and military  challenges. Recollecting my childhood in the 1950s, America was portrayed as a messiah  nation in my memories—populated by saintly figures, seemingly the  saviours of humanity. The relationship cemented and expression took  practical transformation through the introduction of the Military Aid  Package into Pakistan, gradually eroding the remnants of British  influence and replacing the union jack with the stars and stripes.

The indelible imprint of affluent American donors began to reshape   Pakistan's landscape, with the US Aid logo acting as a conspicuous symbol of what felt  like a deliberate campaign of slow influence and indoctrination on a nation burdened  with a myriad of issues post-independence from British rule and Hindu domination in  India. 

American financial assistance poured into both the governance and armed forces sectors,  manifesting in the acquisition of state-of-the-art resources such as cutting-edge ships,  supersonic fighter jets like the F-104 Starfighters and Sabre F-86s, as well as formidable  tanks such as the Patton and Chaffee. The fleet of vehicles including the M34, M-37, and  M-38, along with a diverse array of equipment, became strategically distributed  throughout the nation. 

In response to this substantial support, the nation began to regard the Americans as their benefactors and saviours, further strengthening the bond between the two nations. 

Amidst this apparent symbiosis, the nation remained oblivious to the hidden dynamics of the alliance. The Americans, adopting a metaphorical “Cowboy” stance, ensured  Pakistan's allegiance while strategically keeping it disconnected from its northern  neighbors, both Russians and the Chinese, something that has remained unabated. 

The indebtedness and payback to the Americans was in the shape of using Pakistani bases  against the Russians. On May 1, 1960, a U-2 aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down by the Soviet Air Défense Forces during a photographic aerial reconnaissance  mission deep within Soviet territory. The incident, taking place during the presidencies  of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, occurred just before a  scheduled east–west summit in Paris, France.


The U-2, which had taken off from Peshawar in Pakistan, crashed near Sverdlovsk  (present-day Yekaterinburg) after being hit by a surface-to-air missile. Powers  parachuted to the ground and was subsequently captured. The event shattered the positive atmosphere established during the "Spirit of Camp  David," a seeming thaw in U.S.-Soviet relations that  had raised hopes for a peaceful resolution to the Cold War.

Consequently, the incident led to the  cancellation of the Paris summit, embarrassing the  U.S. on the international stage. Furthermore, th mission not only strained the relationship between Pakistan and the Communists but also  resulted in serious criticism and a formal apology to the Soviet Union for its role in the  reconnaissance mission. A few years down the lane, Pakistan was used as a conduit for breaking the ice in the  Sino-American relationships spurred into newer horizons, “Viva La Kessinger Shuttle  Diplomacy”. 

In the late '70s and throughout the '80s, amidst the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the  U.S. engaged indirectly in a proxy war with the Russians, using Pakistan as an instrument. Despite eventual success, the process was time-consuming, the Great Bear  finally had to make an exit. The emergence of the Mujahideen, the former allies of the US,  took over a larger chunk of Afghanistan, while the northern part aptly coined as “Northern Alliance”, remained elusive. With passage of time the Taliban, drew  international criticism, particularly from the West due to their own form of governance.  The American disapproval of the Afghan government under Mulla Omar led to  persistent intervention attempts, which were thwarted. 

The Al Qaeda narrative, seemingly fashioned as a diversion, laid the groundwork for the  pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and the initiation of the war in Afghanistan. Ironically, in more prosperous times, Bin Laden had been considered an ally of America. The events of 9/11, shrouded in uncertainty, still do not convincingly rationalize the U.S. intervention aimed at quelling the Taliban. What remains disconcerting is the United  Nations' role in legitimizing the U.S. and NATO intervention, leaving a lasting blemish on its history. 

The malevolent invasion exacerbated the already-devastated nation, reeling from  prolonged Russian incursions. Over two decades of entanglement led to an American dilemma, culminating in an inglorious exit from Afghanistan, characterized by profound  humiliation. 

The recent Israeli actions against Palestinians, staunchly supported by the Americans and  their allies, have cornered them into a difficult position, cementing them further into a  villainous light and challenging their credibility as champions of the free world. Equally  troubling is the role of the United Nations Security Council in the ongoing crisis,  prompting questions about the eligibility and this organization's impartiality and  effectiveness on the international stage. To observers, historians, and analysts, the United  Nations Security Council appears to have lost its teeth and autonomy, being bullied and  dictated by those vested with veto power. 

Founding Principles and what America could have been? America's founders  envisioned a nation built on the principles of liberty, justice, and equality for all. The  Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, aimed to establish a government that protected  individual freedoms. 

What it is today: While America undeniably plays a substantial role in global affairs, its  approach to international relations has been met with scrutiny, proving to be both  dubious and intriguing. What elicits a sense of pathos and concern is the vast financial  resources expended on engaging in wars, orchestrating regime changes, and instigating  man-made disasters. Alternatively, these funds could have been allocated towards  enhancing the well-being of Americans, addressing critical domestic needs such as  healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development as well carrying  out welfare work globally. This stark contrast emphasizes the missed opportunity to  prioritize welfare measures at home rather than perpetuating conflicts abroad. In essence,  there is a need for a nuanced balance between addressing domestic priorities and  conscientiously undertaking global responsibilities. 

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden,  meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty”. 

John F. Kennedy Inspirational, Memorial Day, Freedom, Inaugural Address, 20 Jan. 1961

What it could have been: Once a beacon of diplomacy, cooperation, and international  collaboration, the United States had assumed the role through its formidable presence,  often referred to as a "Big Brother" or “Uncle Sam”. Originally envisioned as a mediator  capable of resolving conflicts, it has, unfortunately, become associated with sparking or  exacerbating numerous global flashpoints and controversies itself. 

What is it doing now? American leadership, particularly in countries that do not align  with their perspectives or show deference, has been a source of international intrigue.  This approach is undemocratic, where regrettably, the United States has been referred to  and often portrayed as the villain while orchestrating the downfall of regimes in Iraq,  Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, mirroring a pattern reminiscent of their disheartening exit  from Vietnam. They are currently locked-on in doing the same in Iran, North Korea, and  Yemen. The narrative underscores a shift from its intended role as a global force for  cooperation and diplomacy to one that elicits scepticism and criticism on the international  stage. 

Exerting influence over both their own governance and allies, they manipulate the United  Nations and the Security Council to advance their agenda. The strategic use of their  "Veto" power not only obstructs much-needed interventions but also allows  wrongdoings to persist unchecked by shielding the perpetrators. 

Environmental Stewardship: The world grapples with environmental challenges, and  despite being a leader in sustainable practices, Americans are significant contributors to  the issues facing "Mother Earth." While strides have been made in environmental  awareness, debates persist about the commitment to address climate change and the  delicate balance between economic interests and ecological responsibility. 

A pressing need exists for a system prioritizing the common good over partisan interests,  fostering unity and collaboration in environmental conservation. However, the political  landscape is marked by polarization, with ideological divisions often impeding bipartisan efforts. Calls for unity and effective governance persist in the face of a dynamic  and ever-changing political climate. 

What is expected of the “Big Brother”? Understanding the complexities of America's  past and present allows for a more informed perspective on its potential trajectory.  Embracing a collective commitment to positive change can contribute to shaping a future  that aligns more closely with the nation's founding ideals. In closing, let us reflect on the  words of the revered Martin Luther King Jr.: 

“I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each  other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they  don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other  because they are separated from each other”


The United States and its allies must transcend the "Gung Ho" or "Cowboy and Indians"  mindset and confront the actual realities of our world. It's time to champion a war for  peace, rejecting the divisive politics of hatred that saturates the global landscape, impeding coexistence. A new era beckons—one of peaceful coexistence and cooperation. 

Together, let's address pressing issues such as global warming, provide clothing for the  underprivileged, feed the impoverished, and ensure that every human has the necessities of life. The call is for Americans to play a leading role in these endeavours, recalling the  positive impact they've had in uplifting and building nations. Let's strive to recreate those moments when America was a force for good, fostering universal harmony instead of being universally resented. I believe the average American, like every human being,  aspires to witness and contribute to this positive transformation. 

God Bless humanity.  

Azam Qadri 



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