Our Role

February 23, 2011

It’s been a few days since Hosni Mubarak stepped down as “president” of Egypt, and the country rejoices, even as it remains unclear exactly what its future will be. Meanwhile, several other Middle Eastern nations are in various states of unrest, and you have to wonder which is going to be the next to host a major uprising. Libya seems to be at the top of that list, but it just as easily could be Bahrain, Cameroon, Yemen, or a host of others. It makes you think, doesn’t it, how much of a domino effect Egypt’s happy day is going to have on a region that, from a historical standpoint, never has been “stable,” but rather, has had relatively short periods of nonviolence before the latest flair-up. The reasons for Middle Eastern violence are usually the same. Religious tensions, and the fact that several of these nations are still essentially monarchies with a disturbing disproportion of wealth and resources among the population, are the most likely culprits. So it has always been, and possibly always will be. What I have to wonder, though, is whether the example set by Egypt will encourage the lower classes to make a stand against oppressive governance, regardless of the cost of life and stability. If every country in the Middle East erupts into civil war, what is the role of the Unites States?

As the country who, up until recently, has been the undisputed economic power, we’re pretty quick to go sticking our nose into the business of just about everyone else in the world. Since we’ve managed to reach record amounts of debt, and we don’t show any signs of curbing government spending, you have to assume that sometime not far down the line, another nation will step up to claim big kahuna status, and that’s likely China. It might not be the worst thing in the world not to be the most wealthy, because frankly, then we won’t have to be expected to step in whenever some country blows up from within and the U.N. starts screaming for us to do something. We’ve become the nanny state, and it’s our first inclination to charge in, guns blazing, or at the very least, finger wagging, saying, “no, no, bad, bad, stop with the human rights violations!” I’d like to say that something needs to be done every time there’s flagrant evidence that people are being abused, but sometimes I think, when and where does it end? The fact is, there are a lot, a whole hell of a lot, of human rights violations in the world. There’s a lot more places around the globe that are getting it wrong than those that are getting it right, and if the U.S. sent troops everywhere there wasn’t full-fledged equality, religious tolerance, and good distribution of wealth, we’d be spread so thin that we wouldn’t have the resources to defend ourselves from attack! There are those that feel we’re already spread too thin, pumping seemingly endless money and manpower into the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. There isn’t even any way of knowing when those wars have been definitively won or lost. They just keep going. We could pull out at any time, and simply cut our losses, and in my opinion, that’s exactly what we should do. Unless we find those weapons of mass destruction pretty soon!

The fact is, the only nations that we’re quick to rally behind are the ones that are of strategic importance to us, in terms of our position on the world stage, i.e. the ones with oil. That might change at some point, and God willing it will, with the advent of renewable resources. Can you imagine it, no longer having to rely on foreign oil? Hallelujah! Now that would be a blessed day! But until then, we can continue to go through the charade, acting like we’re outraged when nations without valuable resources flaunt restrictive and violent practices toward their citizens, while in reality we’re only giving it lip service. We’re not fooling anyone, not ourselves, not the rest of the world at large. You have to wonder, with some of the popular dates for Armageddon coming up, (there’s one in May of this year, then of course there’s December of 2012) if the Middle East blowing a collective gasket is the harbinger of what’s to come, global panic, World War III, cats and dogs living together as friends. If Egypt proves to be only the first to destabilize so dramatically, then this could only be the beginning of something much larger and far reaching. The United States, Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the leadership of our government needs to consider very carefully what is the best course of action to take, and tread lightly. Transparency in regards to our real motivations is fairly obvious to those of us who are paying attention. What we need to think about, after a certain point, is America’s long-term preservation. I know we want to play the hero, but at some point, we have to grow up and take a good, long, look in the mirror, decide what’s really important, and what isn’t. This isn’t about being in good standing with the U.N. It isn’t a popularity contest. Assuming the world doesn’t blow up next December, we’re going to need to continue making our way, and hopefully turning around the trend that has us dumping endless resources into useless, unattainable endeavors, like a phantom peace in a part of the world that has never known it, and, let’s face it, is never likely to. We need to smarten up. But can we? Government leadership, whether Democrat, Republican, or “other” doesn’t fill me with a whole lot of confidence in that regard.

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