Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The US and the Middle East

For those of you living under a rock, revolutionary fervor is sweeping through the Middle East. Those of you living under Iraq probably already know this. First in Tunisia, then in Egypt, and now, perhaps, in Libya, dictatorial regimes are being thrown out of power. I have been silent on this subject thus far because, a) I know little about the region, b) I have quite a few other ideas for things to talk about, and c) I have been seriously busy.

However, on the subject of US policy regarding the revolutions, I have some thoughts to share. My strongest opinion is that we have no business interfering in these revolutions! If we want to swat down planes bombing their own citizens on humanitarian grounds, I have no issue in that, but I do not believe we should play an active role in determining the agendas or policies of the post-revolutionary governments.

Due to our demonstrated interest in the region's oil and our longstanding policy of meddling in the politics of the Middle East, often to the disadvantage of large portions of its citizenry, we have neither the moral authority nor the local trust needed to be good mediators in this conflict. Were we to intervene on the behalf of the revolutionaries, it would probably be in return for "considerations" from the eventual government, and even if it were not, it would likely still appear as though that were our motivation, casting a pall of suspicion onto the new government. So, other than expressing our support for the people and protecting them from the worst atrocities, I feel that we have no direct role in this conflict or the reconstruction that will follow afterward. Too bad, after so many tries, we are probably getting fairly good at installing puppet popular regimes.

Even if we had the moral authority to intervene, it would probably be best that we did not. Freedom, and even more so democracy, require lasting commitment and effort on the part of the people. If the people of the region obtain them on their own, hopefully they shall appreciate the value all the more, and be willing to cultivate them as is necessary.

This is not to say that we cannot support the revolutionaries. Our very mission as a nation requires that we admire their desire to overthrow dictators and, if we wish to remain decent human beings, we must by our nature condemn the human rights abuses occurring in Libya, which, thankfully, were mostly absent in Egypt and Tunisia. If our foreign policy focuses more on extorting human rights and open governments out of repressive regimes, rather than oil rights and open markets, then I believe the US will be a nation which finally represents something worthwhile.


Anonymous said...

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Karen said...

Very nice post!

elfarmy17 said...

I saw an awesome bumper sticker when I was at Barnes and Noble on Saturday:

"US Foreign Policy: We'll bomb that bridge when we come to it."