honorary Hose Monster:
I can hear jets flying cover over the city as I type this. I can tell by the speed and the length of their banks that they’re military flying cover. But none of the news channels are making any reports or even recognizing that it’s happening. But it’s pretty apparent. I’m wondering what’s going on…
I read Newsweek with a pretty steady regularity. For the most part they do a decent job of covering the important news and staying up to date with the world. Obviously I’m an opinionated person and as such I have my disagreements with their writing. It’s much better than any of the newspapers in this city or other major printed news sources.
George Will has a pretty solid column this week about evil in the human nature and how we must cultivate it, how it does not simply happen but is produced. He draws some interesting connections between Nazism and the current racial hate ripping the Middle East apart. It’s worth a read.
However, this little story really pissed me off, not because of the writing but rather the subject matter. The story talks about Washington’s ongoing discussions to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq and how the Bush administration might be considering plans to drive the overthrow of other regimes and administrations.
First regarding Iraq and the possible overthrow of Hussein: I have no definitive opinion on the matter. In general, I think the administration would need to make a pretty strong argument that the regime or man or whatever under discussion must present a very clear and present threat to the safety of not only the US but other nations as well. Whether Hussein presents this threat is not something I would consider myself an expert on, but 11 years after the Gulf War and all the subsequent actions and whatnot that has taken place in the region, I have some trust that if the government says Iraq in particular must be changed for the safety of our citizens, I will cautiously believe them.
But if some in the administration are truly talking about the ouster of Khatami in Iran, Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, Jong in North Korea or even the leaders of Syria and Egypt, then I am officially appalled.
It is this kind of self-assertion that our way of life is not only the best in the world, but also the proper form of life and government that we should impress on the other nations of the world that causes so many in other parts of the world to hate our nation with such a fervor.
I believe in democracy. I believe that our republican form of government, though flawed and still essentially an experiment, is indeed the best way for our nation. And I believe in the basic rights of every man and woman, and it appalls me to see governments sponsor the oppression perpetrated by ideologues and their followers who would not think for themselves. From this limited point of view, I might conceiveably agree with the ideas expressed in the Newsweek story.
But I do not agree, and I strongly voice this opinion here. We do not as a nation have the right to determine the way other societies live their lives. While we might talk about supporting democratic freedom fighters in other nations, I question if it is our place to do any more than vocally support their efforts. A bit cruel perhaps, but take a look back a few hundred years.
British citizens established their democracy over a period of many years internally because they were serious enough about it. Then they become an extremely imperialistic nation (and spurned others to take up a democratic cause). And within our own history, we fought to establish our way of life. We looked to France for help, which never ultimately came. It was a bloody process, but great and terrible moments in history are often marked with extreme bloodshed.
Okay, so I have succumbed to hyperbole again. Let me get to my point. I don’t care if the Bush Administration is unhappy with the way foreign governments work or are run. We’re outsiders, and we do not have the right to even think that we can determine the way the world runs. It’s a different kind of jingoism, but it’s almost embarrassing that this even makes it way to my attention. Even if these nations are immediate threats to the security of our people, then we’re in a different situation.
I’m not a pacifist. I believe than violence is necessary in certain situations. And if we consider a nation to be a threat, I have no problem with our president making strong assertions of defense and maybe even aggressive action. But overthrow of a political regime is a different matter. It’s frankly cowardly in some ways. And I really don’t believe that our elected leaders and their bureaucrats are dumb enough to actually think this is a viable foreign policy. At least I can hope.
W and company: I’ll give you a lot of leeway on Iraq. But please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can dictate the way the world is run. If you push it, I can promise you that your war on terror will become an impossible quest, because you will alienate more people than you can possibly imagine. And god knows no one wants to see that.