Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why are Americans the Exception? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Is it the Americans right to consider themselves out of the ordinary and privileged from the rest of God’s creatures? Before answering, let us remember that the pirates kidnap sailors of different nationalities every week, and the world condemns and curses the pirates, before countries finally give in, and pay the ransom to secure the release of their sailors and ships. But the capture of a single American, Richard Phillips, Captain of the Maersk Alabama freighter, awakened the Americans, who could not allow this, and so aircrafts and warships began hunting down the pirates in their own waters, until the Captain was finally liberated in an operation that resulted in the death of three pirates and the arrest of a fourth. This could not have happened without the belief in the value of an American life, and the recognition of his rights, that is seen in the US. And so the kidnapping of one US sailor became a public opinion issue that all Americans were concerned with, from President Obama and his White House administration, to the ordinary American citizen.

America is not the only power that has naval warships and military aircraft that can secure the release of their citizens from the clutches of piracy; there are a number of Western and Eastern countries that are able to this who are no less powerful than the Americans. What is different is the value placed on [the life] of the citizen in different societies and cultures. America – whether its enemies like it or not- proves every day that its citizens, at least in its own eyes, are the most important thing, and that the world should guarantee their freedom, safety and security. At the same time citizens of other countries are not given this same treatment when they are kidnapped, and instead their countries express anger and condemnation [but not action].

Even if a country had the ability to do what America did when its citizen’s are kidnapped or abducted by pirates, the difference lies in the valuation of human life which varies between different cultures and countries. And so the question that I posed at the beginning of this article can be answered by saying; yes, the American citizen can consider themselves to be out of the ordinary and privileged in contrast to citizens of other major countries such as Russia, China, Britain, Japan, and others.

For have any of these countries done what America has done [when its citizens were kidnapped by pirates]?