America is stuck in the mindset the world revolves around us. With our strong presence in world affairs, we’ve unknowingly developed a severe case of American tunnel vision.
While the American public fixated on the U.S. election, South Korea impeached president Park Geun Hye after a scandal. For months, South Koreans flocked the streets to protest and eventually forced her resignation, but Americans haven’t batted an eye. South Korea, one of the world’s richest countries and a U.S. ally, overthrew its president, yet only 13 out of 100 Troy High students polled had seen news coverage on it.
Maybe it’s because I’m Korean-American that I care, but if Americans impeached the president, the whole world would flip chairs.
In fact, the whole world was and is watching us. Countries like Mexico, Canada, England, Venezuela and France closely followed our election, remarking on American politics. France is in the middle of their own election cycle right now; however, it’s hardly made headlines here. Only 21 percent of students had seen media coverage of it. Can you recall when another country’s election made headlines here? We’ve been trained to focus only on domestic issues or international issues that directly affect us.
Everyone, even American politicians, suffer from tunnel vision. Gary Johnson, for example, infamously asked “What’s Aleppo?” during a debate. The consequences of tunnel vision are severe. 400,000 people died in the Battle of Aleppo, which lasted a staggering four years before ending in rebel withdrawal.
I’m not going to act like I know if we could have prevented it or stopped it altogether, but I do know that we could have done more. 14.9 million people are still in need of humanitarian aid in Syria, according to the Assessment Capacities Project. With all of the wealth in which we bask in, we could have found something to give to aid the innocent civilians caught in the turmoil. We’ve done it before. After World War II, the U.S. and their allies sent supplies to West Berlin because they were in desperate need. Perhaps if we were properly informed on Aleppo we could have done something sooner, but it’s far too late now.
There are politics behind all the decisions that the government would have to make before intervening, but innocent people were dying. I can’t see how that in itself isn’t a good enough reason to intervene.
Innocent people are still suffering in South Sudan. Famine has plagued the country due to persisting drought and war. According to CNN, 100,000 people are on the brink of starvation and 4.9 million people need help due to the effects of the famine. These people lack water and food, yet Famiglia, a New York City pizza chain, is opening a branch in Ghana where they will ship their own water across the Atlantic ocean. Sending water is a feasible course of action to help, but it will only be done for profit.
So what will we do? Will we ignore cries for help, or will we actually take ownership of the power that we were lucky enough to have and help a dying cause. The world is watching. Are we?