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Blog to America


Content for Blog to America is completely generated by the readers. This site brings together individuals from around the world to post their opinions on the United States in the form of letters and comments. Our site aims to encourage global communication and create an international dialogue between America and the world. The most interesting of these letters and comments will be included in a future publication.


Letters from Americans are kept on the American Perspectives page.


Laial from Iran -The Murder of Benazir Bhutto & Charlie Wilson's War

Dear America,

I had written an angry satirical article about the new film Charlie Wilson's War, which I have not seen yet, except for extensive excerpts on a History Channel documentary. It purported to be the real story of the late Rep. Charlie Wilson, and had him chortling, I love it as the right-wing Muslim guerrillas whom he and the Reagan administration massively funded through Pakistan and hailed as freedom fighters were about to triumph over the evil Soviet empire.

I was advised to keep my review on tap until I had seen the film, which is reasonable advice.

Yet, Benazir Bhutto was murdered in Pakistan yesterday and the murder, as I see it, has a direct relationship to the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the subject of Charlie Wilson's War.

Afghanistan's history from the late 1970s to the present is very complicated. The country itself was one of the poorest in the world, divided along ethnic tribal lines and long a battleground among great powers, for example, in the 19th century between the British and czarist Russian empires.

Afghanistan bordered the Soviet Union, and ethnic groups who also were part of the Soviet Union were minority populations in Afghanistan. The Soviets had helped to educate a significant number of Afghanis and an influential Communist Party existed in the city of Kabul. Feudal and prefeudal nomadic elites were predominant in much of the country and the
Muslim religion was the primary unifying force.

Afghani Communists took power in Kabul in 1978, faced with threats from the newly established brutal military dictatorship in Pakistan, and also hoping to advance a social revolution, bringing mass education, land reform and other vital social reforms to the people.

The Pakistani military dictator General Zia had publicly executed Muhammad Ali Bhutto, the civilian prime minister whom he overthrew (father of Benazir Bhutto). Zia wasnt the first Pakistani military dictator but he was the worst. His regime turned more and more to rightist
clerical elements as a base of support and also worked with Saudis to establish right-wing religious primary schools in a country where large sections of the population, including a large majority of the female population, were totally illiterate.

Afghani Communists, tragically, were unable to achieve the unity that is a prerequisite for all communist parties everywhere to keep a coalition together and make pro-people gains. They were divided into rival factions which fought each other fiercely over policy. Despite all the
gains made, there were disastrous errors in seeking to advance the revolution into the countryside, great ineptitude in the land reform policy among cadre with a limited understanding of agriculture, and an aggressive self-defeating anti-clericalism in response to the clerical opposition to the revolution.

With the Pakistani military dictatorship under Zia aiding right-wing Muslim guerrillas, President Jimmy Carters National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski defeated Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and gained Carters support to use the CIA to provide aid to the guerrillas.
Brzezinski saw this aid as creating an Afghan trap for the Soviets, manipulating them into a military intervention which, he hoped, would be their Vietnam.

The Soviets did intervene at the end of 1979 to both save the Kabul government, an ally, and advance a social revolution against fiercely reactionary clerically based forces. For the Soviets, the intervention was both a protection of their own borders and also a reassertion of
proletarian internationalist aid for people seeking to make a social revolution against the forces of internal reaction and foreign imperialism.

CIA aid to the Afghan freedom fighters was picking up under the Reagan administration, which used the advertising term Evil Empire, before the real Charlie Wilson got into the act, although Wilson did play the role of a political fixer, using his position on the House
Intelligence Committee to get more and more money and military aid to the freedom fighters while he ran around Afghanistan for many colorful photo ops.

Large numbers of refugees were created by the Afghan war and great atrocities, as there are in all modern wars. In the U.S. and capitalist media, the Soviets were blamed for these atrocities and large sections of the Euro-American left pretty much went along with the view that this
was a battle between David and Goliath in which the social issues were unimportant compared to the Soviet bad guys and the Afghani anti-imperialist good guys.

However, Indian media particularly, along with other non-Soviet sources, emphasized the fanaticism and crimes committed by the guerillas, including the atrocities that they committed against Soviet military personnel, their families, and those Afghani people whom they saw as
collaborators women seeking to go to schools that the Communist government had established, people seeking to free themselves from the domination of CIA-supported gunmen who might beat them brutally if their beards weren't long enough.

While the real Charlie Wilson was running around with U.S. congressmen,General Zia and Afghan mujahedeen, the CIA was recruiting tens of thousands of foreign fighters from Muslim countries and training them in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas to attack Afghanistan. Money for this war was not only raised from the U.S. appropriations but from
heroin traffic that led Pakistan in the 1990s to have the highest per capita number of heroin addicts in the world.

Benazir Bhutto became prime minister briefly after General Zias death and the restoration of civilian rule. She returned as prime minister in the mid 1990s. The people of Pakistan, less directly than the people of Afghanistan but more so than any other people, suffered from the
counter-revolutionary guerrilla war that Reagan and Zia carried forward against Afghanistan.

As Mikhail Gorbachev began a policy of Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in the late 1980s, Al Qaeda, or the Base, was founded in 1988 under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, leader of the Saudi Arabian contingent of anti-Communist fighters in Afghanistan, scion of one of the
wealthiest capitalist families in the region, and both fundraiser and major logistical man for the guerrillas, much admired at the time by the CIA with whom he had worked for many years.

The Communist-led government in Kabul was eventually destroyed. In Afghanistan, a warlord terror regime was followed by the ultra-right clerical Taliban regime, whose attempts to terrorize its own people into accepting universal female illiteracy, the primacy of a literalist
interpretation of religious law and misery and poverty in this life as a necessity for the next shocked the people throughout the world.

With the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, Osama bin Laden, who, regardless of his CIA friends, had long seen the U.S. and the West as both a sink of sin and a legion of Christian Crusaders and Jewish Zionists seeking to conquer Islam, substituted the U.S. for the Soviet Union as his main enemy, and, setting himself up in Afghanistan with the wholehearted support of the Taliban government that he and the CIA had largely created, began to launch the attacks that led eventually to the destruction of the World Trade Center.

By then, the CIA was much more interested in covering up its long-term relationship with bin Laden than really doing much about him. Its Pakistani intelligence allies were heavily compromised and infiltrated with Al Qaeda and Taliban supporters, and bin Laden family money was around. So U.S. authorities werent that keen on investigating the activities of the bin Laden black sheep Osama.

Today, Al Qaeda and Taliban forces attack the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan from the base areas that the CIA and the Pakistani ISI used to attack the Soviet-supported Communist government over 20 years ago.

Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, has been murdered under the regime of the present military dictator, who imprisoned and held her husband in jail for years without formal charges, along with many other opponents of the dictatorship, just as her father was in effect murdered by the previous military dictator.

And of course, Pakistan does have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, which it has developed as part of its ongoing conflict with India.

I said at the beginning that I wasn't going to write a review of Charlie Wilsons War until I see the film, but I think this final comment on its advertising is merited. In the commercials for the film, a narrator says with a straight face that without Charlie Wilson history would have been sadly different. Different perhaps, but unless one is a sadist, a masochist, or a reactionary who loves war and destruction for the hell of it, whether it is the destruction of the World Trade Center or the invasion of Iraq happily, not sadly, different.



By: Norman N

C/o: Laila-Shansi


About the Author:

Name: Laila-Shansi
Age: 55
Country: Iran
City: Tehran
Gender: Female
Income: Low
Occupation: FIRED!
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States

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Laila from Iran - Catch Them If You Can!

Dear America,

I hope you reach to the positive signals of 'Change We Believe In'.

Iranians can't differentiate between Democrats and Republicans. Though their promises and programs have "interior consumption" but the two party's foreign policy is almost the same. Imagine the absence of Persians' burning desires for solution of human rights demands amid Democrat's diplomacy on open and unconditional talks on oil, nuclear weapon.. and promises of "rose garden" to our governors!

On the other hand, your foreign policy is under control of behind scene lobbyists and the CIA's actions. The U.S. nightmare is middle-east nations' awareness, a risky factor for immunize and assurance of America's benefits.

The solution : putting these areas in crisis in which CIA experts know how to do that perfectly!.

Unfortunately, the ancient civilized non-Arab PERSIA, a place for westerners gambling and competition, locates in this hell. Persians and world historical memory never forget American COUP against our Beloved, Nationalist Prime Minister Mr. Mosaddegh, the leader of independence movement for freedom in the 50's. For that coup, marked protesters and opponents were imprisoned, tortured and killed. CIA destroyed Persians' any signs of hope to manage better life forever.

Current unacceptable frustrating situation of Iran is the results of untold solidarity among Britain, the Soviet Union, and America's past wrongful interfere to our country's interior affairs.

We also observe rapid growth of fanatic ideology of extremism inside and outside our borders, thanks to CIA's previous financially supports and training of Islamic extremists to combat against USSR's trace in Afghanistan and now a huge threat to World Peace.

Catch your smart trainees, so called freedom-fighters and now Islamic extremist enemy, if you can !! and keep them from charging innocent people.

-Laila


About the Author:

Name: Laila - Shansi
Age: 55
Country: Iran
City: Tehran
State: Tehran
Gender: Female
Income: Medium
Occupation: FIRED!
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States
Website: http://www.myspace.com/shansi

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Yfi from Iran on Freedom and World War II

Dear America,

I have never been to your shores, but I feel that I need to share with you the important role which your country (and all it stands for) has played in my life. I was born in Germany in 1969. My parents were both War children. They were 5 when the Allies marched into what was left of the Reich. Mum grew up in the British sector and has many heart-breaking memories, not only of being bombed out twice, of a brother in a concentration camp due to political activity and of seeing her father killed, but also of the occupation time, when British soldiers were none too kind to little German urchins. My father however, lived in the American Sector. His war time experiences were just as horrific, but the evil was over (according to him) when the 'Amis' rolled into the little town. Initially immensely fearful, the American soldiers won him over with smiles, chocolate and rides on tanks. He describes how he realized (even as a little boy) that his family had been lied to about the Americans - that they were fair and kind, not imperialistic and cruel. He learned elementary English hanging around America soldiers. His family began to receive CARE parcels packed in the US and sent to starving families in occupied Germany. For the first time in all of his life (born in 1939), my dad and his siblings had enough to eat and even some small luxuries. My dad's impressions and recollections have had a profound effect on my own opinion- not so much of America (as a political idea...too much abject nonsense has happened recently), but of the basis of American democracy and human rights. I know from Dad that military intervention is possible for all the right reasons. It does not have to do with oil, etc. My German family never saw the Americans as anything other than liberators and enablers. I still believe in you and I will teach my children to do so also. God bless America.


About the Author:

Name: Yfi
Age: 38
Country: Australia
Gender: Female
Occupation: Teacher
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States

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Jacquie from Canada - Why are U.S. women deprived of help?

Dear America,

I'll limit my letter to you to one tiny topic - the availability of nitrous oxide gas to labouring women in the U.S. You might think this is an odd topic on which to focus...but it's indicative of the insanity of the U.S. health care system.

From up here in Canada, it is shocking to discover that hardly any U.S. women have access to something that we take for granted. It's simple, cost-effective, and makes sense.

So, here's the stats:

In 2004, there were 4,115,590 births in the U.S.

The epidural rate in most U.S. hospitals range between 60 and 90%.

Each epidural, including the anethesiologist, costs between $700 and $1200.

If you calculate the cost, using the lowest rate and cost...that’s $1,728,547,800 spent on epidurals in the U.S.

Why? Because certain people (doctors, insurance companies, hospital administrators - take your pick...) made sure there was no alternative.

In Canada, and many other countries, nitrous oxide gas is available for pain relief in labour. No doctors orders are required for its use. No anesthesiologist is required for its use. There is no waiting period necessary. Its effects start immediately. It is cheap and simple.

With a portable system, a woman can remain mobile, even in the shower, and use the nitrous oxide gas, thus making her labour faster and easier.

In Canada, 70% of my own clients use nitrous oxide gas in labour and require no other pain relief. We save the medical system a lot of money this way. It just makes sense.

Now, tell me...why does the United States only have nitrous oxide available to labouring women in ONLY 2 birthing centres? That's maybe a few hundred, or even a few thousand women, who are given this alternative.

Why do the women in the U.S. get epidurals...or nothing? I think that's easy to answer.

It’s just one tiny example of a health system gone wrong.

Sorry, I can’t admire a country that places greed before logic.


Name: Jacquie
Age: 47
Country: Canada
Gender: Female
Income: Medium
Occupation: Birth Consultant
Experience With US: Visited the United States

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Leza from South Africa on Religion

Dear America,

We all want to be heard. Please bear with my ramblings, you'll be able to see my point in amongst the waffle.
Ah yes, about being heard.
Whether on a personal scale with the people around us or for the
rest of us with bigger mouths, in our community or dare I say it globally!
We now have many vehicles in which to explore and expand our level of communication
with one another and as this happens we all come to the realization that;
1. We are all the same.
2. We are all suffering.
As bleak as that sounds!
Some of us are suffering on a level that the rest of us would only experience in our darkest dreaming.
Some of us suffer physically, some mentally, some emotionally. But the bottom line is, we all suffer.
Some of our suffering seems so lubricious and trivial to others that had we the momentary ability to see ourselves from their eyes we would cease our histrionics immediately and feeling slightly silly, get our heads out of our arses. Or other peoples arses for that matter.
The Dalai Lama has the opinion that we all wish to be happy. When asked the question.
What is the purpose of life? He answers.
"I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering"
Now do we believe that Georgey Junior wants to suffer?
Is he maybe a bit of a masochist?
What makes him happy?
Did his childhood conditioning somehow warp his mind into believing that his past and current courses of action are morally sound?
Maybe being the worlds biggest wanker makes him happy?
Or maybe it is the unsettling fact that he is a born again christian which keeps his happiness topped up and buoyant.
Safe in the knowledge that which ever atrocities he commits, it will all be just hunky doray because he has god on his side!
The horror, the mind numbing, desperate horror of it all.
Now.
I believe religion is the cause of ALL OUR PROBLEMS.
It may seem like a sweeping statement but look around and you can see the evidence piling up.
I am reading Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and having had that sneaking suspicion that arrogant,
religious bigotry is the fundamental cause of war and strife on our planet,
I am glad that such a brilliant mind has actually compiled such book to get the truth out there.
And because I am not a good debater and my points tend to get side tracked too much anyway, I have personally willed
Richard Dawkins into my reality. Clever hey? And as a by-product he is now in other peoples realities too.
So hopefully we can all do what Rage against the machine suggested a few years back and WAKE UP!
All we have to do is speak up when challenged, change our own minds and wait for Rupert Sheldrake's Morphic resonance to do the rest.

But from my own very limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility
comes from the development of love and compassion for all sentient beings. As hard as that can be sometimes.
Now America, I know how it feels to feel fear. It has been part of my experience and still can be.
But I choose, remember that word? I choose not to indulge fear anymore. There is a higher path
available to all of us at all times. A history and culture of fear is undoubtedly hard to change, but not impossible.

Apparently Atheists are the least trusted people in America. My word. What does that mean?
Would someone who had formed that opinion, be chatting away to me quite happily about the business I run and pay taxes for,
the yoga classes I teach to bring a calmness into my part of the world, my family who I love and respect, the charity that I support ....., you get the picture.
Would they upon hearing that I do not believe in their god or any god for that matter, take a little step backwards? Their little shaking hands pressed
to their lips. Would they immediately gather up their children and leave my company?
Muttering as they fled that they felt something funny when they saw my three tattoos anyway.
I wonder which group of people Atheists would deem the least trustworthy? I'm not sure about anyone else but I try not
to put people into groups, it seems a recipe for disaster and quite stunningly lazy.

But clearly we need a new paradigm. and lets be fast about it please.
Religion is obviously not working. And luckily having free will, we can we look for a philosophy that is better suited.
I believe that philosophy could be Buddhism. Remembering that we all possess the Buddha nature, yes even George,
and at anytime we can tap into that nature and attain a higher level of understanding regarding the other people we share our planet with.
If you have never read anything about Buddhism please I encourage you to.
Be open minded, think beyond your conditioning, you're family history, your country's majority view point, your fears and hopefully your prejudices.
I've enclosed a prayer written by His Holiness in 1960.
I hope that this prayer can be read by those who dearly need to read it and that it is indeed quickly fulfilled.


Respect.
Leza McLeod
Yoga teacher + designer.
Johannesburg
South Africa.


About the Author:

Name: Leza McLeod
Age: 35
Country: South Africa
City: Johannesburg
State: Gauteng
Gender: Female
Income: Medium
Occupation: Goldsmith and Yoga Teacher
Experience With US: Visited the United States
Website: www.elementalstudio.co.za

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Carmen from New Zealand on Democracy

Dear America,

Thank you for this opportunity to "voice my thoughts" as a non-American on this site....

I've become brave enough now to venture over to the American Perspectives window and check out letters submitted there....wow, I guess my initial reaction to some views were, how shall we say unlady-like ( haha..)....then as I took the time to mull over some comments I relised as much as we identify as being either American, New Zealander, Australian, Iranian, British, somehow that quiet (and sometimes loud) Patriotic streak overshadows that for the main part we are all like sheep subtley controlled by a much stronger body called "Government".....I don't always understand my own countries Political System and much less the U.S.A's.....my question is "Does Anybody'?...really.......My best friend happens to be an American or should I say A citizen of the U.S.A...(see I'm learning to be Politically correct)...hehe....and he has some very strong Political views and opinions etc...I suppose to remain positive after some discussions my perspective has broadened somewhat, not because of enlightenment but more from the point of view of just how
unstable Governments are...and that emotionally/mentally it is not wise to swallow information just because .......we heard it on C.N.N.....or "they said this".....or my daddy believed that...or our forefathers believed this...or in my case pilgrims fought for this n that.....yes to all those wonderful heroes who sacrificed much for my freedom....I will always strive to educate my sons intellectually and spiritually ,that is how I can be accountable and honor men and women who sacrificed for me.... It's not the fact that men and women disagree( tween cultures particularly), that bothers me its the often angry responses ,ya know the attitude "if you dont agree with me ya can't be on my side, therefore you're an enemy, so I must shut you down, or screw you up......isnt that how power games first begin then develop nationally????.....now my American friend says...I don't understand...I gotta be American to understand....next he will be telling me
I gotta be a man too???....ok I wont go there..hahaha...Take Care All.......

P.S...Appreciate the reply comments to a previous post, made me smile.....


About the Author

Name: Carmen
Age: 51
Country: New Zealand
City: Christchurch
State: N.Z
Gender: Female
Experience With US: Visited the United States

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Carmen from New Zealand - America Is Hey.....America..

Dear America,

Well this is a cool site. Good morning America How are Ya...say don't ya know me I'm ya neighbors son...I'm the train they call...love that song ,thought Id introduce myself that way....
I was made in New Zealand , been to the States once and loved my time there....of course being in love with a certain American kinda helped....actually I met some very cool hardworking down to earth "real people"...not the silly plastic variety we often see portrayed from "Hollywood".....My Daddy used to say 'People are people" whatever they eat for breakfast" and when they get up in the morning they put their pants on the same way as we do...."one foot at a time".... America and/or Americans are just like me......They want freedom ,I want freedom ,they want their children to be safe ,so do I , they want a decent wage for a hard days work ,so do I....

Of course from the moment we are born we are all influenced by infinite details and influences throughout the years imprinted on our minds via our parents ,our environment , our culture, then comes the 'educators'...the media....and although many think noooo... we are not influenced by media ,its effects are often subtle but sure....personally I like the choices it offers or challenges......

So just to end I want to encourage fellow kiwis to open their minds and don't be afraid of "differences"....of course I don't like the "materialism" that America can take full credit for...but then I don't like the greed of the New Zealand Government either.....America cut the chord to Britain years ago....( over taxes..)...yet we still pay the Crown taxes as well as to our own government...hmmm...that sucks....when I voice that to fellow kiwis they become defences and proclaim how being a Commonwealth Country we are protected by Britian etc , um well they didn't do that to well in the last two wars....(.U.S.A) bailed us out.....cuz most NZ males were serving the British Army overseas fighting Britains war....thats Historical Facts...not just opinion either...

So for the criticism pointed at America I think we should clean up our own back-yard can ask no demand our Government quit sucking up and sending our hard earned taxes back to England!......Perhaps then our gas wont just be for the wealthy and our taxes will be lower......I'm so disheartened that New Zealand is no longer affordable to its own people but has been priced for the greedy and wealthy of this world.....

I look forward to experiencing and contributing to the American way of life again in the future., so fatten that turkey....Stay Safe America...and God bless Us All....


About the Author:

Name: Carmen
Age: 51
Country: New Zealand
City: Christchurch
Gender: Female
Income: Medium
Occupation: Barista
Experience With US: Visited the United States

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Tu from Vietnam

Dear America,

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070417/ap_on_re_us/virginia_tech_shooting

That's it! I wasn't sure what exactly I should write on this blog until now, after reading the article about the "shooting in Virginia Tech". 33 death, with 27-29 wounded. How do you explain that?

Somebody have told me that Gun control is not the ultimate solution for this school/random shooting in America, but education does. Haven't American been educating their people to love, to respect nature, that war is negative, and that shooting people is bad and illegal? And yet these kind of issues still continue to happen, and they get worse and worse by time.

"Until Monday [prior to the Virginia Tech school shooting], the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard plowed his pickup truck into a Luby's Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, then himself.

Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage that took place in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire with a rifle from the 28th-floor observation deck. He killed 16 people before he was shot to death by police."

These are fact! And I say that even though gun control might not be the ultimate solution, but I believe it is our temporary solution that need to be implemented to solve this problem, to reduce the risk for innocent people, and to give American more feeling of safety.

Anybody oppose?


About the Author:

Name: Tu
Age: 24
Country: Vietnam
City: Ho Chi Minh
Gender: Female
Occupation: Accountant/Finance
Experience With US: Have lived in the United States

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Kiwi Girl from New Zealand - What the Media Has Shown Me

Dear America,

Hailing from a small country called New Zealand, I am a kiwi who doesn't really know that much about the USA. So when I was asked to write a letter to voice my opinion my first thought was what I hear most people around me saying - Terrorism, Bush, the most wealthy, powerful country in the world. All these opinions I have gained from the media.

The USA appears in our news just about every day here, whether it be to do with the war in Iraq, some scientific development, NASA or some other current event. It may be that I am just growing more aware of the world in my 20's but it seems the entire world is obsessed with what's going on in the US. Is it maybe, we admire you? I really don't know...

As someone who has only travelled as far as Australia I don't know what it is like to be/live in the US right now or any other country for that matter. I know only what I build up a picture of from the snapshots I see in the media. As I have grown older I have come to realise that the picture the media portrays is not always correct, so the picture us kiwi's have of the average "American" may not necessarily be true.

All my life I have heard the saying "Only in America". This lends itself to the fact that the US houses an extremely diverse range of people and almost anything can happen there; another opinion I have gained from statistics and the media.

When I was younger I wanted to either be or marry an American. Growing older has changed my mind. This was probably influenced by the fact that at this time well over half of our television programming was from the US. As I have grown older I realise that I am very fortunate to live in my little corner of the world where I am safe. I am proud to be who I am.

I think the biggest message I could give to America is - Be proud of who you are and try to ensure that the picture the media is painting of you is one you can be proud of.

Best wishes for the future America.


About the Author:

Name: Kiwi Girl
Age: 20
Country: New Zealand
Gender: Female
Occupation: University Student
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States

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Belinda from New Zealand

Dear America,

I've chatted to a lot of Americans in chat rooms etc and they all seem to thing the rest of the world hate America. I can see where they're coming from but I just want to say that I don't hate America or Americans, but like a lot of people. I just don't like George W Bush. Ever since I was little I have always dreamed about going to America, maybe even living there. I think America is a great country, unfortunately your president is not someone I like and agree with. I feel for all the soldiers that are in Iraq and all of their families. Hopefully sometime soon they can go home and be with their families where they belong. It always saddens me when I watch the news and its reported an American soldier or any soldier thats just trying to help or a soldier that doesn't wanna be there in the first place dies. I hope after bush ends his term as president that your troops can go home. I will never hate America or Americans I think its a great country full of great people. And I would still love to visit or move to your country someday.


About the Author:

Name: Belinda
Age: 20
Country: New Zealand
City: Napier
State: Hawkes Bay
Gender: Female
Income: Low
Occupation: Student
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States
Website: www.myspace.com/belinda_rose20

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Kristen from Mauritania - Revelations from the Western Sahara Desert

Dear America,

How many times have you walked down the street and noticed the color of someone’s shirt, the way they walk, how much weight they carry, or their gender? How many times have you judged what you saw? It’s universal that no matter where you go, we all see with our eyes. No one wants to be enlightened by the image, to hear the story behind it. People want to adhere to the assumption they’ve made of the image.

We’re taught all along not to judge a book by it’s cover, but in a world that judges everything else who are we to deny that we don’t make assumptions on first glance. If we are so adamant about accepting differences why are we even more adamant about changing our differences to be accepted? When do we know when we have fit in? We’re taught not to care what other people think or say. If you’re human you care. My theory has always been, if you affect my life then I care, but if you don’t then I’m not going to stress over it. Growing up I was never picked on for having green eyes, crooked teeth, hair that seemed to change base on mood, neither was I picked on for being white. Was I lucky or just part of the mold? I grew up surrounded by all sorts of friends who were all different sizes, colors, genders, religions, etc. I was never pinned as anything in particular. Neither were my peculiarities pinned as substandard.

I’m a typical white girl from suburbia that is intelligent enough to know physical differences don’t mean anything. However, I’m naïve enough not to know that, to someone who has no control of those differences, scrutiny can mean everything. I never grasped that until I came to a place where my differences would be picked apart and my image the determining factor of assumption. Where I am classified as an American mold and grouped with a country instead of that of a person.

I follow no religion so I’m going to hell. I’m going to hell because I’m white. I’m white so I must be French. I speak English so I’m American. I’m American so I’m rich. I’m rich so I can be taken advantage of. I’m female so I’m fair game to local men. I’m fair game so I’m harassed. I didn’t think someone could accumulate so many strikes against them, but there you go.

Is this all my assumption too? It may seem an unfair depiction, but I have dealt with all of it since moving to Mauritania. Of course not every part of Mauritania is the same. Views change just like the scenery here, gradually and sporadically, but you are aware of the difference. My experiences come mostly from the northern part of the country where I live amongst conservative Muslim White Moors. This is an area that is used to seeing a white face, considering the north is a great deal tourist orientated. You would think they would be more open to differences, but that isn’t necessarily true. In my experience here, they seem to enjoy scrutinizing them more.

I’m not Muslim so I must be Christian or Catholic. I’ll still burn in hell either way since I’m not Muslim. I’m white so I must be French. Mauritania had once been a French colony and now is filled with French tourists so sure, maybe. I speak English, however, so I’m American. I’m American so I must be a spy, come to get information. Information on what, who knows? I highly doubt much of America would be interested on how many goats I have to dodge just to walk across town, or how many days I can go without getting sick from something I ate. I’m fairly certain that Bush, my best friend and family relation according to Mauritanians, wouldn’t be especially interested. I must be rich, too, so they’d be happy to sell me something with a mark up price of triple the normal price. I’m a female so I must be looking for a husband. My pretend husband isn’t here so that means I’d love to sleep around with everyone.

It doesn’t matter that all of their assumptions are false. I follow no religion, but don’t ever tell them that or else they might burn you themselves. I’m not French. I’m not a spy here to get information; I’m a health educator trying to relay information. I’m not rich. I’m living off the same food, housing, transportation, and a smaller income that they are. I’m not here looking for a husband, I’m here to work. And it doesn’t matter how many stories you make up of pretend husbands or kids you might have. When you are female you seem to have a GPS tracker which reads, Female who would absolutely enjoy your advances! Since being here I have been told to dislike people based on their religion, their dress, their ethnic background, their color, their actions, their political views, and so on. All the while, though, I’ve been disliked for my supposed religion, my dress, my background, my whiteness, and my assumed political views.

I am constantly referred to as the white person. It’s true I am white, why should an apparent fact bother me? Because when that is all you are to someone you realize you aren’t being accepted as your whole self. I find myself thanking people for their clarity on my whiteness. Call it a sick humor. That seems to be my defense. If you don’t have humor then what is the point. My site mate and I joke about these things in order to get passed them. A psychologist would probably say we were repressing our frustration through bad humor. I’ll blame it on parasites, seems a lot easier and cheaper. Psychologically though, how would you respond? If you went on a massacre people would think you were psychotic. If you became a recluse holed up under a rock you’d be peculiar. Repression through bad humor makes you nutty too, but at least it keeps you laughing.

Is this true for everyone I live amongst, of course not. Is it the general vibe; yes. Scrutiny is attached to you at customs and follows you throughout your journey through this country, which makes it like any other place you enter, where you are the outsider coming in for a peek. The only difference being that most people only peruse for a few days or weeks, not years. You don’t see the real issues because the traveler is mainly focused on what makes up the surroundings not on what’s behind the surroundings. For those who live here for an extended period of time we are still considered outsiders no matter how much we integrate into the culture and community. The basic fact is that our lives aren’t here. We can live and work here, but have another life waiting for us back in the states.

Prejudices exist all over the states, but it is fairly accurate in saying that it is universal and comes in all types of shapes and forms. We are a very visual world and a world that will base its decisions solely on assumption instead of investigation. I’ve learned a lot so far about being an outsider living in a society where I am the target of assumption. There are people all over dealing with being ostracized for their differences. There is only one thing that separates all of us though and it isn’t our physical diversities, it is our minds. There is a quote I live by, Assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups. It holds true for anything. When you assume you distort fact with fiction. What is so hard with making ourselves see past what our eyes see? American and the world should know that the outsider will only vanish once we start seeing with our minds instead of our eyes no matter who you are looking at or what spot you are in.


About the Author:

Name: Kristen
Age: 24
Country: Mauritania
City: Chinguitti
State: Adrar
Gender: Female
Income: Low
Occupation: Peace Corps Volunteer
Experience With US: Have lived in the United States
Website: http://www.myspace.com/joyriderevolution

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Noelle from Philippines

Dear America,

This is my first time to "blog" I really don't know how this is done,I don't have a title just a topic because I don't know what to put on, anyway I choose education because it's were I can relate . By the way I'm from the Philippines, it's my DREAM that someday I can go To U.S. and teach there and experience how your education system really runs. I had a chance to do that when I was still teaching in the refugee camp in Morong, Bataan and we were ask to teach in one of the class there it is in the Subic Bay Camp, when the U.S. base was still there. But it's a very short experience, 14 years ago I can still remember that inside the classroom, it's carpeted, air-conditioned, each student has his own cabinet or box for his things with his name on it, the interaction between the students were short because they have this movie time, then they went to the canteen for their snacks after that we went back to the camp. I think our supervisor, Jamie Bidwell (I hope the spelling is correct) was exposing us to "American way of handling students in the classroom because we were teaching Vietnamese refugees then.

I really love that experience, where we Filipino teachers taught the refugees, with the help of our American supervisors and I know it is impossible that there will be another refugee camp here in the Phils. I was an ESL teacher in P.R.P.C. (World Relief Corporation) and I want to take this opportunity to thank the following Jaime Bidwell, Gordon Sphar, Debbie Gassaway, to those who I forgot the names, sorry, but Thanks anyway, I really treasured the times I was in the camp doing all the things you taught us. I know that it was supported by DND if I,m not mistaken so all the teaching materials are available, just plan your lesson well and do your best always. Lastly, I wish that someday there's another company or another WRC would plan to have a refugee camp or school for street children here in the Philippines, so that it can help our children giving them the best education just like the refugees before. Thank You and GODSPEED....

NOELLE HL


About the Author:

Name: Noelle
Age: 42
Country: Philippines
City: Muntiblupa
State: Bataan
Gender: Female
Income: Low
Occupation: Teacher
Experience With US: Never Visited the United States

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Samantha from Singapore - The American Dream

Dear America,

How did you rise to become a power nation so influential on almost everything from politics to entertainment? Take a look at Hollywood for example. Why is it so famous that everyone from everywhere knows the actors and actresses, the movies and shows? Why are they getting paid so much to act? Are they really worth that much? Wouldn't it benefit more people if the money went into providing for the people suffering from poverty in America itself?

America has become so influential that its movies, TV serials commercials etc. are being aired to other countries and people are becoming so addicted to those drama serials and movies that cable TV has become a normality in all households. Kids grow up watching 'American' TV, listening to 'American' music, following 'American' fashion trends etc. Kids from all over end up wanting to be like the idols they see on TV and magazines. But that becomes so impossible when you're living in the other end of the world. So kids like me tend to dream of such big dreams yet knowing that chances of it ever realizing it are little to zero, but yet every time we watch shows like America's next top model, American Idol, TV shows like One Tree Hill, The OC etc, we get that inspiration once again to want to be a famous actress or singer because with it comes so much fame, fortune and ultimately leading to 'happiness'.

So how America, how did you manage to influence the world? Start a war between Iraq, change the economy, change history, create new science etc. How will we, living in small countries that some people don't even know exist, ever rise up to become just as successful as Hillary Clinton, Kelly Clarkson, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Tyra Banks, Opera Winfrey & Steven Spielberg?


About the Author:

Name: Samantha Aloysius
Age: 18
Country: Singapore
City: Singapore
Gender: Female
Occupation: Student
Experience With US: Visited the United States
Website: http://www.myspace.com/sam_nutts

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The Eagle Spirit from Vietnam

Dear America,
Many people are angry with you for instigating war in the Middle East and for acting like the world's police. I see your arrogance, but let's take a few seconds to reflect at what you've done for the world. I gather three major contributions: 1) Your charitable act toward third world countries, 2) Your initiation in reserving this planet, 3) Your effort in preventing another holocaust.

Before I proceed, I must clarify that when referring to America, I am talking about the people and not just the government itself. It is evident that America has by far poured more money in assisting world's disasters than any other countries. For example, America had assisted victims of the Indonesian Tsunami in 2004 but what have America received from the world when the Hurricane Katrina struck? During the Hurricane Katrina and the September 11 event, America united and assisted each other. There are those who contributed money and those who contributed man power. Such events are self-evident that America is generous by heart. I must admit that there are con artists who swindle citizens during bad times but there will always be a bad apple in the basket.

By far, I've seen more American environmental activists than any other countries. Look at the policies and guidelines that the government has imposed upon companies. It is harder to establish a manufacturing company in America than elsewhere because of the rules and policies. I am not speaking about how effective these policies are; I am just merely pointing out that America has made environmental factor awareness.

Many people are calling America arrogant because she is aggressive in her own ways. I remember NATO was formed to prevent another holocaust but I see that NATO hasn't met up with its initial goals. Members of the NATO wait for America to act as the world police while they sit back and watch. I remember reading a book about Italy selling weapons to Iraq and terrorists while America is at war.

I can see that the world looks at America through the immaculate lens. Let's face it, America can strive to be perfect but perfection can never be achieved. In conclusion, I think America is still the best country to live in. America is more charitable, environmentally friendly and self-righteous than any other countries that I've lived in.


About the Author:

Name: The Eagle Spirit
Age: 24
Country: Vietnam
City: Peoria
State: AZ
Gender: Female
Experience With US: Currently Live in the United States

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Alba from Mexico

Dear America,

When I am asked about what I don’t like about you, I could recite a litany of attitudes, people and things that I do not like. But when faced with a white piece of paper and a blank cheque (yes, with a que) to write about this topic, it becomes much harder to do it because the answer cannot come from a moment of irrationality; it has to be thought out.

A few months ago a teacher asked us during a class what we thought of you. Some said they admired your power, your will, your way of life, some others said they didn’t like you, largely for the same reasons. I was the only one who actually said I couldn’t understand you, and I still think, after almost two semesters of teachers trying to explain to me what you are, and how you behave, that you have this aura of mystery that will never be broken.

I will not say that I hate your policies, even though I am Mexican and thus on the losing side of a wall that your leaders have decided to set up, but the truth is, sometimes my country has taken advantage of your weakness. I will not say that I admire you in absolute terms because I believe that some things can never be absolute. But I will say that I think you must have something other than a special permission from God to become what you are. You have people that take the world situation, analyze it, and work to your advantage (at least most of the time). You are a country where the majority of people wouldn’t be able to pin point Montana, let alone Iraq, on a map. And yet, in spite of what a lot of countries say about your people, you still manage to be on the winning side of most battles. That says a lot about you and the people me and my classmates make fun of.

So if it is a special deal you have with God, enjoy it. If it is a cultural thing we could all learn a bit from you. I am not saying you haven’t made any mistakes, or that we should learn everything from you. Nobody is perfect, but while the rest of the world laughs about the stereotype of the big-blond-burger eating American, you are still racing far ahead of us. I still don’t agree with the way you have treated my country, and a lot of others, for that matter. And I do believe that your biggest mistakes in foreign policy have come back at you, a boomerang with a vengeance. But through it all, you have found strength, and your people are slowly realizing that mistakes can be corrected, that leaders aren’t always right.

So your society shouldn’t be despised, since we could learn quite a few things from it. Being your neighbour by a long border makes everything that happens to you important to me, at a very personal level. And while I cannot say that I admire you in your true glory, I can say that if we only stopped to think about why you are “so great”, we would find many, many reasons to either prove or disprove your greatness. I am sitting on the fence for this discussion, but not before I say that perhaps we always make fun of the stereotype I mentioned above because that is exactly what we are becoming ourselves.

Alba


About the Author

Name: Alba
Country: Mexico
Gender: Female
Occupation International Relations Student

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Anja from America

Dear America,
I have your answers : why Americans do nothing about their government:

The reasons why Americans are not doing anything is because they are complacent. They need a real tragedy to directly create change in their lives. They need to be physically hurt or their families before any action will be taken.

To be in-convenienced for a long period of time.

Things first need to become inconvenient, Americans thrive on convenience. If for a longer period of time their personal lives, daily commute to work, gas prices, prices of beef go up and become problematic then they will start being inquisitive and seek guidance.

Until then Americans will do nothing. There is no real risk for them, their lives won't change dramatically, the corporations protect their gas prices making sure that they remain complacent about global warming by making their beloved SUV's still affordable enough to drive around in. SUV's make Americans feel big protected and important and powerful. Also buying American trucks makes them feel patriotic.

Also as long as the oil and corn industry in the US remains strong so will factory farming remain strong and global warming will become worse. Factory farming is subsidized by corn, corn in return is subsidized by the government which in turn is run by the oil corporations of the world.
As long as beef and meat products full of hormones are cheap, Americans have nothing to complain about, and you bet the US government will make sure that their complacent citizens will not know or hear or really care about what is going on in the rest of the world as long as:

Gas prices don't go up too high, beef and meat remains cheap, Walmart remains cheap (Americans don't care that stuff is made in china) as long that it remains affordable and convenient.

Also young people just want to go about their lives, if you want to make Americans care you have to re-instate a draft (not going to happen because the US does not want people to wake up).

That is why nothing is ever going to change this government, because it will make sure that the people of the US can keep living their convenient lives without much change.

People do care but it takes time and effort something most people don't want to invest their spare time into and until their lives are totally impacted and given a detour they will not make an effort, it has to impact them directly.

Generally people who have family members who die of strange diseases eventually set up charities or start creating organizations to help others suffering from what their loved one died from, the same goes for people who start animal shelters and rehab facilities for drug addicts, in one way or another they were personally affected.

We Americans do care but your life is not our life, yes some of us have relatives over there in the military, but they are only over there because they hope to come back alive and get $40,000 in US government grants to maybe be able to go to college and forget about their wasted time in Iraq or where ever they are sent to. Most of the men/woman in the military are just 18, are too lazy to really get a decent job, going to the military forces them to just follow orders and not be in control of their lives, it's again finding a convenient escape to the harder life of writing resumes back home to work at McDonald's or Pizza Hut.

By joining they feel they are doing something patriotic and that they won't be made fun of by their friends and family, because if they do join; their families and friends can't really make fun of them because then they in turn would be unpatriotic. So it's a temporary escape for most of them, it's not serious for them it's a short stop in life for them being in a foreign place. As long as they have a base nearby that are ok.

WE care but we're too lazy to do anything about it, except better our own lives, like the rest of the people in the world.

About the Author

Name: Anja
Age: 34
Country: USA
Gender: Female
Income: High
Occupation: Graduate
Experience With America: Currently Live in the United States

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Lucy from Japan

Dear America,
America…it is hard to think of what to say to you as I see the world is in a constant debate to try to define you and find your proper role. To me, strangely enough, America has become my home and a very strong part of my identity that I cannot refute. I have spent most of my life in the U.S. and obtained my permanent residency at a young age. Having had the freedom to choose to live in the united states, I should be in great awe at the vast opportunities America has to offer…and it has….I am one of the lucky immigrants that has been able to take advantage of what the American Dream has to offer…great education system, good wages, internationalization, vast mixing of cultures, etc. etc. Yet, I am still uncertain weather I can fully accept America for what it is. How can you embrace America as your home if America does not listen to us, us as the many multi-cultural residents in the U.S. that has often found that the world is screaming messages to America that she doesn’t seems to hear.

Do you know how it feels to be told by a relative, “Why are you doing this? Why are you sending troops into Iraq?” Apparently “you” (me) is equated with America, and I am lost as to how to explain to my cousin, that yes although I live in the states I and many others around me were not the ones who sent the troops marching. That democracy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are heard.

You think it is right to play the world’s police, and yet what is it telling the world if you decide not to listen even to the UN? We didn’t care, and we didn’t know, but we will get what we want…ignorance and arrogance as one of my friends put it. We need to learn to fully evaluate every situation by looking into more than the intent the government has. Every country has its history, politics, government, etc…and we need to know the other before deciding what to do. It is too late to find out the very complex history and sects of Iraq that could have warned us of the civil war that erupted. America is a powerful giant, there is no refuting that, but as such a powerful country, it must learn to take responsibility for its actions. It is no longer about what Americas wants, or even about saving Bush’s face, we must begin to re-evaluate our prior actions and begin to have a different mind set in evaluating such foreign policies.

About the author:

Name: Lucy
Age: 22
Country: Japan
Gender: Female
Experience with America: Currently Living in the US

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Isabella from Italy

Dear America,


Hi, I’m Isabella and I write from Italy.

I don’t’ think to really have an opinion about American people, ‘cause I’ve never been to America.

I think you can really see how a person really is when he’s in his country, but after more than a month spent together with some of you, I’ll try to say something.

About American foreign politic and behaviour of your government I need only a word: horrible.

It’s horrible how many young people are dying in stupid wars they don’t even understand, and observing the situation in Italy I think that like here the poorest and most ignorant people do this work to earn money, a lot of money, risking their life, and the government need poor, scared and stupid people to go on like this and to be able to control the resources of the world.

It is really strange how many people really hate your country and I notice the different behaviour when someone thought I was American: after knowing I am Italian they get more kind and confident. But at the same time all the world want to live like you, to be rich and to be able to buy, buy, buy….

Personally the thing I like most is American music!! I think your richness is to have many people coming from different cultures and that’s a cultural richness.

I notice there are not many differences between American, Italian, French people, when they are all together, many of them pretend to be particular because of their provenience, but I think they try to be and they only seem stupid.

In a group of people, if you pretend to be something different from your own personality sooner or later you’ll be discovered, and seem fake. I noticed some American people want the other people think they are hard worker, more that the other, they are the best because American usually are, and so they are allowed to judge the others, especially if they are Italian, because usually people have the image of Italians that don’t like to work hard, and always play mandolin in the sun.

I was so surprise that such stupid stereotypes are still alive in the mind of young people, and that could bring someone to judge an other before knowing him… so I suppose there are young people that think that Americans all live like we see on MTV’s videos!!

But I think that after spending some times together it’s impossible to follow like this, you’ll find the more similar to you and dislike some others like in everyday life.

When you use to meet a lot of people, you’ll see every time someone between them who’s feeling better than you, maybe because he’s taller, or richer, or faster, …..even if he is not American, and wants to let you know you are worse than him.

And at the same time there are some special people, kind and intelligent, that you are always lucky to meet, who can make you forget the other ones and feel happy about meeting them, and have fun together. So my experience with American is not so different from the one with every other people, maybe sometimes the problems seems bigger, but everything is bigger in America, true?

I met some great American guys and girls, now they have a place in my heart and I’ll never forget them, and after that I’m really curious to visit your country and to meet many other nice people.

And to forget all the stupid things I saw on TV. To know a country is necessary to go there.

After my first trip to America I’ll send you my impressions again.

Isabella


About the author:

Name: Isabella
Country: Italy
Gender: Female
Occupation: Paleobotanist

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