U.S. hubris avoids asking the right questions

In the investigation of the death of Italian security agent Nicolas Calipari, the American military determined that existing procedures were followed, and thus no punishment should be enacted for the shooting of Mr. Calipari. Each and every time the U.S. investigates itself, a similar conclusion is reached, up and down the chain of command and over and across the broad spectrum of activities engaged in by the U.S. military in Iraq. America never does wrong, except by a few renegades occasionally, and all of the suffering of friends and enemies is tolerable as a result.

The wrong questions are being asked. Never has the correctness of the procedures America claims to be following ascertained. Is it correct and honorable and just for heavily armed soldiers to kill the occupants of vehicles deemed as threatening? Isn’t there a better way of dealing with questionable, "threatening" situations and vehicles? How many people must die before procedures are reconsidered? How many innocent people must die? How many panicked people must die? If Americans were in those cars that are being fired on, would the America troops be so quick with lethal fire, to "light up" those vehicles?

American hubris is roughly proportional to American military advantage. If America’s economy goes south in the years ahead and other nations begin to rival America’s economic and military powers, will America continue to operate with such violent hubris? When other nations exert their own militarism in a situation with a more level playing field, will America lives be the only ones that count to the American leadership? Or will the lives of citizens of powerful rival nations become more significant?

Right now America toys with the world like a big cat with a small, toy mouse. America as a military state has no rivals and American power is unquestioned, along with it the will and desire to project and to display that power. But America is not using that power in a manner consistent with its long-term interests. Just survey the conflict zones of the world. Peoples’ memories are long and the lives of empires tend to be short. Americans are making memories for themselves and for their victims. Our victims today may be our victimizers tomorrow. American hubris will lead to big problems when the cycles of history slowly turn and yin becomes yang and the weak become powerful and the powerful weak.

We had better start asking the right questions and showing a little humility. We had better start coming up with the right answers, too. We are making memories that one day we may hope others forget.