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‘I can’t breathe,’ cry US protesters. So does entire global neighborhood fed up with American knee on its neck

Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter

is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

‘I can’t breathe,’ cry US protesters. So does entire global neighborhood fed up with American knee on its neck
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police has forced the American people to take a long, hard look at their country and what it stands for. The rest of the world is looking too. It is not a pretty picture.

The image of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, prompting a plaintive cry for help (“I can’t breathe”) before dying, has captured the attention of the entire world. 

For more than a week now, Americans of all creeds, races, and socio-economic status have joined to confront the ugly reality of systemic police brutality. Many have labeled the resulting acts of demonstration, civil disobedience, and destructive rioting as an insurrection worthy of suppression. Indeed, most civic leaders have yielded to the pressures brought by an entrenched American establishment that personifies the culture of police brutality and its antecedent, endemic racism, by unleashing their respective police forces on a dissenting population.

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The end result has been a seemingly endless stream of acts of criminal violence inflicted on the people by police officers indifferent to the reality that their actions only further corroborate the case against their continued existence, and ignorant of the fact that what is transpiring in America today is not an insurrection carried out by seditionists, but a revolution implemented by patriots. “I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry for these patriots who, through their actions, seek to remove the knee of systemic police brutality from the neck of an American citizenry fed up with their Constitution being little more than a wall decoration for politicians and police alike.

While still incomplete, the revolution is seeing results — police terminated from their employment, arrested and prosecuted, while society collectively rethinks its relationship with policing powers as they are currently established. In what could become a model going forward for other American municipalities, the City of Minneapolis — where George Floyd was murdered — is actively considering disbanding its police department and replacing it with a new public safety organization that reflects the needs and wants of the citizenry.

America’s growing rejection of excessive and increasingly brutal policing has forced constituencies which previously placed its police on a cultural pedestal reserved for heroes while turning a blind eye to the increasingly militarization of American law enforcement to reexamine this relationship. 

When Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the use of federal troops to quell the rampant civil unrest that welled up across the United States in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the American people were compelled not only to consider the consequences of such an action, but also the fact that their own police departments more often than not acted like an occupying power than public service agency.

Patrick Skinner, a former CIA operations officer-turned-local cop who has emerged as a rare voice of reason when it comes to American policing, responded to Cotton’s call to arms. “I’m a local cop,” Skinner tweeted. “Not a soldier. This senator was a soldier. Not a local cop. I’m not afraid of my neighbors. This senator is scared to death of his neighbors. Reject his calls for war.” 

Mr. Skinner, in another tweet, further elaborated on the incongruity of a nation at war with itself. “When I see alleged leaders relishing the notion of our armed forces battling our neighbors,” Skinner, a veteran of the global war on terror, tweeted, “drooling to ‘dominate’ the ‘battle space’, it makes me even more dedicated to this: as a cop I am not a warrior because I am not at war with my neighbors. We all matter or none of us do.”

Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has served as a self-appointed global police force, fighting against threats derived from a unilateralist point of view imbued with the notion of American exceptionalism. 

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The United Nations was created at the end of that conflict, founded in the precept that war was not the answer, and that the collective of nations who called Earth their home — neighbors, for a better choice of words — would seek solutions other than armed conflict as the means of resolving disputes. The “neighbor” mentality, however, did not sit well with post-war American leadership. Through a never-ending series of wars, cold and hot, the United States defined its relationship with the rest of the world from a warrior’s standpoint, where every nation was a potential enemy to be confronted with the brutality of armed conflict.

The list of victims of this “world policeman” approach, both direct and indirect, is long, and the human costs inflicted horrific. For too long, the American people have been indifferent to the suffering of those who ran afoul of the world’s policeman. The rest of the world, however, knows the truth. 

This is why George Floyd’s death has resonated so deeply around the world — especially among those nations whom America views as allies — with massive demonstrations transpiring in France, Germany, England, New Zealand and elsewhere. “I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry that transcends America’s racial inequities with its African American community, and now incorporates a global neighborhood fed up with the American knee on its collective neck.

The “shining mansion on a hill” that President Reagan once spoke of in defining America’s relationship with the world is no more. The murder of George Floyd has exposed the fundamental flaws of America’s relationship with its global neighbors, who are collectively exhausted by the brutality of the American global cop. The United States, in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder, has no credibility. This reality was driven home in a comment made by Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, when responding to US State Department criticism of China’s Hong Kong policies: “I can’t breathe.

As the American people reconsider their approach toward the policing of their own neighborhoods, they should also re-examine their relationship with the rest of the world. It is time for America to reconsider its militarized approach toward international relations. It is time for America to become a good neighbor.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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