AT THE WATER’S EDGE

There used to be a saying, back in the day, that politics stopped at the water’s edge. What it meant to convey was that although there could be great debates and divisiveness about domestic policy and issues, when it came to foreign affairs, we should always present a united front to the rest of the world. Liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, when it came to foreign policy issues, it was in the best interests of our country that we would all act as one. This thinking stemmed largely from the time shortly before World War II, when our foreign policy was basically isolationism. Although storm clouds indicating mammoth wars were about to begin in Europe and the Pacific, most Republicans and some Democrats too, believed that having vast oceans on our east and west coasts would somehow protect us from becoming involved in those conflicts. The Roosevelt Administration tried desperately to assist England as it fought for its very existence against the maniacal evil of Nazi Germany. But a largely isolationist Congress refused to let Roosevelt engage Hitler militarily.

Of course, the folly of isolationism came abruptly to an end in December 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans would not give us immunity from being involved in the rest of the world’s affairs. Thereafter, a new breed of Republicans, known as internationalists, started getting elected to office, and isolationism was supposedly a discredited and dead issue. As I stated earlier, foreign policy was deemed to be at the water’s edge by this new wave of Republicanism,  where neither party would criticize the other on such matters. That began to unravel around the 1960s when Republicans began using foreign policy as a campaign issue, by stating that the Democrats were “soft on communism” especially when dealing with the old USSR and Red China. Those were the times when the cries from right-wing circles went forth such as: “Better dead than red, or lets kill a Commie for Jesus.” Ronald Reagan especially exploited the soft on communism theme in winning the presidency twice in the 1980s. We probably spend about one or two trillion dollars extra in defending against the “red menace.” In the end, the old USSR collapsed under its own unmanageable weight, and Red China became a market, instead of Marxist economy, and today is one of our largest trading partners, as well as holding about a trillion dollars of our debt. The Viet-Nam war, where we lost about 58,500 men, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese that were killed, was another exercise in the futility of fighting the “red menace.” Today we also have extensive trade agreement with the government of Viet-Nam, the same government we had fought against in vain decades before. Funny how unforgivable irony can be when recounting the foibles of man’s history.

All this came to mind a few days ago when Mitt Romney was fast to assault President Obama with the charge that having a weak foreign policy led to the deaths of 4 US ambassadorial members in Libya. He made this charge, of course, before any facts were known or verified. Once the facts were known, Romney was proven wrong, but apparently little things like facts will not dissuade the Republicans from attacking Obama”s foreign policy initiatives. No more stopping at the water’s edge this time around. Of course, to be fair, the Democrats strongly attacked George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraqi war, so I guess both parties have waded into the water and it’s now up to their necks. But getting back to Libya, as well as other Arab or Islamic nations, it would be useful to understand the rage, turmoil and protests going on against any US presence in that part of the world. To do this, lets look at the facts this time.

Arab or Islamic countries in the Mid-East (Iran is Islamic but not Arab) have some of the most wretched economies in the world. Living conditions are often deplorable, and the the unemployment rates, especially for young men, are through the roof. Thus, you have tons of young men with tons energy, but with no outlets such as job opportunities, to release that energy. For tens if not hundreds of thousands of young men in their late teens, or twenties, or even thirties, their days consist of a dismal process of sitting around with no hopes for decent employment or a satisfying future. They have already given up on any prospects that their lives will, in any way, ever amount to anything. Their futures have already been taken from them. Thus, these young men with no hope or prospects, make fertile breeding grounds for the vile and hate-mongering radical islamists and terrorists, ever eager to wreck vengeance on the US, Israel and the West in general.Those that seek power through hate, as has been shown throughout history, will always look for willing followers among those that believe they have no future. And this is exactly what happened in Libya, Egypt and throughout the Mid-East. Using the slightest pretext, such as the making of a piece of garbage anti-Islamic film, tens of thousands of protesters, almost all young men, took to the streets in rage and anger, burning American and Israeli flags, setting fires to Embassy buildings, and in the worst case scenario, murdering 4 innocent diplomats in Libya. That rage and protest gave young men who had no other prospects, a new purpose for living. If it wasn’t for the pretext of a bad, hate-filled movie, the violent protesters would have come up with some other excuse to wreck their vengeance. And to try to score political points off those events could be considered perhaps a new low in mudslinging in American politics.

Just one more point I want to make about the presidential race. A few weeks back Mitt Romney  made the curious statement before a campaign crowd, that if young people couldn’t find decent jobs, they should borrow money from their parents and go into business for themselves. And I thought, of course, why didn’t I think of that when I was young. All those years I worked for someone as an employee, I could have started my own business and been the boss instead. I could have asked my parents to loan me their entire life savings, all $164.82 worth, and gone into the venture capital business like His Mittness did. Again, why didn’t I think of that?

 

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