What will it take for society to acknowledge the evident crisis’, wars and struggles plaguing certain areas of the world? As industrialized countries thrive and prosper, citizens enter a bubble in which they only become aware of self-interests; a lack of empathy. The troubles, and concerns of others only become relevant if a weakness is acknowledged that can exploit benefits; oil for example. There are extreme acts of violence occurring in the middle east and other parts of the world today, that are so far away that North America people become quite apathetic in the sense that we just shut it off, as we don’t feel a relation to it, perhaps even feeling helpless at times. In the novel American War, by Omar El Akkad, he uses a direct anthesis to create a potentially realistic, devastating America in which present and historical events a re-visited or displayed, examining the possibility a colossal collapse of the super-power nation. In Sarat’s journey, the main character of the novel, as a refugee, she experiences situations that are of close relation to the past, and present of American history. A consistent cycle of the similar events and mistakes on American soil, or foreign soil, are continued even in the near future of 2074.
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As America has broken historical non-intervention policies, it has since played a role in international conflict making them wars of their own. Joe Chestnut, the brother of main character in the novel Sarat Chestnut explains the internationality of an American War. The novel exemplifies American significance through the quotation, “Everyone fights an American War” (Chapter 15). With America in shambles, Joe explains how foreign nations of China and the Bouazizi empire intervene to apparently assist, though have other selfish intentions of stealing resources, and ensuring the complete collapse of the once dominant America. The Bouazizi is an alliance of rich middle eastern countries who united following years of war. To reflect on history, after the first American Civil War, the separate states united to prosper as a glorious nation. It can be implied that the Bouazizi finds an opportunity to retaliate on America for the impact that today’s middle eastern conflict has had. Ironically, with American intervention and presence in the middle east starting in the 1990’s, they added fuel to the fire, causing further hatred. “Your side fought the war, but the war never happened to you. In the Red country the war happened” (Chapter 4). Americans may never understand the complexity and devastation of war until it is experienced with red blood all over the nation. The most powerful of countries grow through the exploitation of others. Joe’s quote can relate to the effect an American War would have on Canada, as any threat of America’s would immediately become a concern of our own.
Battle is the result of a climate a climate change disagreement, with rising sea levels whipping out the east coast, Florida submerged under water and millions of Americans flocking inward to safety. The federal government decides to impose legislation prohibiting fossil fuels to control the situation, though several southern states decide they would rather secede accept the proposal dividing the country. The connection to fossil fuels mocks current middle eastern conflicts in which America intervened sparking devasting events, including 9/11. As the second civil war is caused by environmental political differences and controversy, it reminds citizens of the potential consequence of continuous arguments. Since the election of Donald Trump, America has been as divisive as ever, with congress failing to use bipartisan leadership. In a recent environmental conflict, on a lesser scale, the President has refused to see truth in climate change, as well as withdrawing from environment preservation acts including the Paris accord.
There has become a hatred between democrats and republicans, and indeed, a distinctive geographical difference in the support between the two. It is in the best interests of America to not re-enact the deadly first civil war, dividing the north and south. Racism, a cause of the first civil war, continues to divide Americans. Current American leadership refuses the acceptance of refugees even of Sarat’s original sane state as a small girl trying to escape war. “It seemed sensible to crave safety, to crave shelter from the bombs and birds (drones), and daily depravity of war”. For many it is impossible to imagine a situation of an American collapse, losing all power being the location of an active war. Readers are attracted to this intriguing, yet realistic concept, being a book to open one’s eyes, the theme of the Canada Reads Awards.
Current problems destroying the Middle East such as the refugee crisis, chemical attacks, and radicalization continue to be issues in the 2070’s, though this time in close proximity to readers; America. Through the brilliance of reversing today’s situations, it is learned there is a great threat, even in our backyard. With roles now being reversed, Sarat, an American citizen who reluctantly applies to be refugee in South Carolina as witness the trauma of being in the setting of an active war. Luckily surviving an attack, she feels that Camp Patience, the refugee camp, is her only option. Conditions of the camp are brutal, with diseases, and storms destroying tents in repercussions to climate change. As a southerner, she is taught from her family, and others in the camp, to turn against the North and their radical beliefs. From a young age, just like refugees today in the middle east, she is taught how to fight, shoot and pursue retaliation, a reoccurring theme of the novel.
As she grows older, she enrolls herself for the southern cause, using violence to pursue secular visions. Sarat’s loss of innocence is explained by the narrator, as “She knew from experience that there existed no soldier as efficient, as coldly unburdened by fear, as a child broken early” (Chapter 9). Innocents are killed, as well as top military generals as a result of Sarat’s southern radicalization. Sarat feels a need to retaliate after her return from prison and use a chemical attack to plague to north of the country, which ultimately leaks to the neighbors to the south, the southerners as well. Sarat reaches a point where she is uncontrollable, causing a devasting end to the novel, in which the reader can no longer feel sorry for her troubles. Sarat finds enough closure to use violence against herself after others have also been affected. There’s a cycle of mistakes in which are constantly repeated, needing action to move forward from past issues, and end current issues, with inaction and not hearing the stories of hard truths formulating such repetition. North American’s fail to recognize the situation and struggles of those in other parts of the world and even in homeland. In a recent trend of school shootings, those guilty have been the ones of a troubled past, not receiving the help needed to overcome trauma. As a result, the most precious, vulnerable, and innocent of society fall victim to overall ignorance.
The title says it all, a war in America, simply in context with nuclear significance. The world has the potential to have as much darkness as in American War. History is real, the refugee crisis is real, climate change is real, racism is real, and mental illnesses are real. American war opens the eyes of readers to each issue experienced today, and events of the past. Omar El Akkad has done a service to voice conflicts, and violence and struggles of these people, to a backyard of those who are ignorant of the hard truth. Knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of others regardless of their struggles will result in a resolution of conflict. If America collapses in chaos, Canada will not be able to escape it, therefor must be not be ignorant of others. In a strategic resolution, citizens must understand, revise and heal, to avoid an American War.
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