By Jay Holmes
Hi, Samuel. Thank you for your thoughtful response. You covered many topics. Let me start with your two questions:
- What kind of situation is the world in for in the immediate future?
- What changes can be made to our foreign policy to assure peaceful and democratic rule?
The future is not clear, but I will give you my personal guess. I think the White House will take a reactive approach to the current crisis and will simply try to negotiate with whatever power takes over in any of the countries in question. In the meantime the president will spend more time on the phone then he would care to.
The junta in Tehran is terrified that the USA will act forcefully in the Mediterranean and in Arabia. While I enjoy their grief, I think they are wrong. Remember, Obama ran on an “anti-interventionist” platform. Like any president seeking re-election, he must not lose his voter base. If he intervenes forcefully, his liberal democrat base abandons him, and nothing he does will gain him many votes from the pro-military option crowd.
If an Islam-fascist junta does not come to power in Egypt, then one is not likely in Libya. Libya has the oil and the cash, but Egypt has the military might to topple any Libyan junta if they should decide to. The Egyptians will be less conservative in their response to what happens to Libya.
In Iran, I think the majority of Iranians will remain outside looking in at power for the immediate future. The Iranian junta has a more fanatically loyal military than either Libya or Egypt. The junta has the guns and is always ready, and actually ecstatic, to use them. Killing dissidents represents nothing more than the ongoing daily entertainment for the barbaric and ruthless Iranian junta.
I say “junta” because President “Imadinnerjacket” is no more in charge of Iran than I am. He is the junta’s best attempt at a charismatic mouth-piece that looks good in a suit. They missed on both counts. He looks like he visits the same tailor that Uncle Momo does. I think his speech writer must be Charles Manson. I hope that I am wrong about Iran. The Iranian people deserve a better government and a better life.
As to your second question, the short answer is that there is no magic bullet for ensuring democracy in other nations. We are still struggling to ensure it in our own nation.
The question has been prominent in the minds of every US administration since Woodrow Wilson. I am sure that the French Socialists would remind us that France invented the practice of exporting democracy (no doubt in a conference room at Diem Bien Phu) along with inventing oxygen, sunlight, and fashion. The French don’t actually do any of it. They simply like to tell the rest of us how we should be doing it. The British would point to the Magna Carta, but the British are a bit more realistic about the realities of the democracy export industry. All of the Western world’s great political minds have thus far not come up with a surefire plan for guarantees of freedom and democracy. Nonetheless, I am glad that most of us support the notion that we should.
On the economic side of things, expect higher gasoline prices. BP never gives up easily, but they might pull out of Libya in the next few days. If oil production decreases by as much as a drop, the oil companies will, with a well practiced straight face, announce that they have to increase prices. They will cry all the way to the bank, and like the gasoline addicts that we are, we will grumble as we fork over the cash.
I am curious about your “cohort.” If he/she knows about nonpublic information concerning both the State Department and the CIA your cohort would have to be well placed. Are they a member of the National Security Council or a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee or similarly placed? If so, they should not be sharing classified information. I think that you and I share a respect for, and a hope for, democracy. Based on that common value, I encourage you to report anyone releasing classified information to the FBI. Regardless how any of us may have voted, most of us do not want to make the administration’s job harder by violating secrecy in the middle of a crisis.
If they are not so well placed, you might ask them what they mean by “completely blown it again.” Both of those government entities make mistakes frequently, but both of them have publicly been warning us about unrest in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Yemen for several years. In my opinion the State Department has acted unwisely by waiting so long to issue travel warnings for Libya. The catch is that we do not get to know what the State Department advised the White House, or when they advised the White House (at least not for a while). The warnings are routinely approved by the president before they are issued. I am curious about who made the decision to issue that warning so late in the day. Although I am always up for a bit of good old fashioned State Department bashing, I have to admit that this might not have been their fault.
You raise some concerns that are on the minds of many Westerners tonight. I share your enthusiasm for spreading democracy, and, more specifically, freedom and justice. From my personal experiences, I will say that it is easier said than done, and successes are never obvious, but failure always is. Much blood suffering and treasure was expended in Central America trying to convince despots to become less despotic while trying to keep worse despots from taking over. We succeeded more than we failed, but at a high price. The highest price was paid by civilians.
Not everyone in the USA feels that we should be using our resources to influence events in other nations. The USA has always had a strong instinct for isolationism. We do not ignore that instinct easily.
To what extent the USA attempts to influence political events will remain a contentious debate in congress forever, as it should. Personally, I am not an isolationist because I want to survive, and I want my grandchildren (and yours) to have a free and decent country to live in. I want that for every child in the world. I believe that most Westerners would want that as I well. Unfortunately, most of the world’s new children will not be born into freedom or justice tomorrow morning. I hope that, when the dust settles a bit over the next few months, despotism and cruelty toward innocents will have been reduced.
Let me share a fond memory with you in the hopes of providing a laugh. Upon returning to the USA from a trip to Bosnia, someone in the White House said to me, “If we can bring a little law and order there, it will really be a great achievement.”
I responded enthusiastically with, “Yea, when we’re done there, can we send a few troops to Los Angeles or Detroit to establish a little law and order there? A little law and order here in the district would be nice too.” I laughed, then he relaxed and laughed. Then I got a few hours of sleep and went back to work.