Monday, October 22, 2012

Perspective on an Advanced Idea: Foreign Policy and Blowback

An often repeated saying on why we're being attacked is: they hate us for our freedom.  Let us look at that, analogously. 

In a neighborhood there are families with different beliefs and cultural norms: some families may deny the women in their households the options of self-determination, while other families allow it; some families state there are topics forbidden to talk about, while others freely talk about anything.  There are of course many other aspects where families may disagree with one another.  Disagreements may emerge, but if those disagreements are only verbal there is not actual violence between the families, regardless of the animosity.

Not all cultures are equal, and the more liberty a culture has, the better it is enabling each individual to pursue the highest human potential and from that individual achievement, benefit the rest as a consequence.  This will be a source for continuing debate amongst the families, but again as long as words are used, there are no acts of violence.

Let's get beyond disagreement in words: say there was a troublesome raccoon in the neighbor's yard and we our sent our 'family pet', a guard dog out from our yard to get the raccoon and in doing so the dog injured the neighbor's children, killed their cat and tore up their yard.  Our neighbors would be upset.  If our response to their being upset was simply dismissing injured child, dead cat and destroyed property as collateral damage since the dog was trying to kill a raccoon that was hiding in a bush on their property - that'd be little comfort to them.  We'll give our neighbors an extreme sense of patience and say though they were angry, they 'understood' our goal and asked us to be more careful and control our dog.  However, after getting the one raccoon we saw another raccoon and we advised the neighbor that we'll keep sending our dog over to try and get the 'new' raccoon - a 'war on raccoons' and in that war our dog hurt more of their children, killed more of their pets and tore up their property.

Let's also add some other 'neighborly' actions such as propping up more distant neighbors around the neighbor with the raccoon; these distant neighbors try and beat the one with the raccoon into submission.  Our last 'neighborly' action is trying to get them to submit to our will directly by sabotaging their property, denying them electricity and water.

We are no longer having a verbal disagreement with our neighbor, but are actually destroying their property and putting their family at risk. 

Let's get out of the analogy and put this into perspective.

Just from drone strikes in Pakistan the civilian death count in the past few years range from near 500 to near 2,000 (US and Pakistani reported stats); injuries of course are much higher; men, women and children are among the victims with civilian deaths accounting from 50-80% (US and Pakistani reported stats).  Other areas being targeted by drone strikes include Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia.

As far as propping up one neighbor to rule over another, there was Mubarak being assisted in his rule in Egypt, as well as the Iranian Shah resulting in the oppression of the people of those respective countries.  Sanctions are cutting off the resources to the family, i.e. country.

If our neighbor was sending their dog into our yard and it killed our pets, harmed our children and tore up our property, would we be upset?  Beyond the analogy, this isn't about pets being killed - it's about men, women and children being killed.  We were appropriately angry with thousands of Americans being killed; is it reasonable to think that those in another country are not angry with hundreds, or even thousands of their people being killed?  Would the killing of those civilians, and especially children, spur the people in those countries to fight back? 

How about if they were propping up someone else who tried to overthrow us, or cutoff our ability to get our resources?-sanctions upon us.  This has been done, or is being done to them - would that spur them to fight back?

If war is needed, we have a process for it and it isn't at the whim of an individual politician who wants to get re-elected, but from the deliberation and vote of the entire Congress to approve war with a specific enemy, plan of action and exit plan - not the amorphous, never-ending 'war on terror'.  Afterward, the war is to be swiftly fought to not keep our soldiers in harm's way, to not continually bolster the resolution against them and not place great war costs on the taxpayers.

This plan of drone strikes (as an extension of the 'war on terror') is unconstitutional and a long-term action.  The Times Square bomber was foiled, as was the 'underwear' bomber in the plane; however, imagine if they succeeded and we had similar attacks periodically for years.  How would we feel and how would we respond?  We'd steel our resolve against, and then want to attack those who were perpetrating those attacks.  It wouldn't be about the beliefs of those attacking us - whether or not they embraced freedom or oppression - it would be about their attacking us, killing our citizens.

Our presence is unneeded all across the planet, does not benefit us and our actions of 'spreading democracy' do not help but actually harm our cause.  If we want to assist in the spread of liberty, it is by example for to force liberty defeats the purpose; liberty cannot be forced, but embraced.  Forced liberty is an oxymoron. 

Through peaceful interactions, our example will spur the people to assert their own self-determination and get rid of the oppression forced upon them.  Malala Yousufzai is an example of the individual standing against oppression as she is an adolescent standing against a theocracy denying her ability to get educated; she was attacked, shot twice for her opposition, but she survived.  The way the people in her country are embracing her and condemning her attackers shows how the people can direct themselves - if they only have the courage and example.  Imagine if Malala was killed by a drone strike; her spark trying to illuminate the darkness of theocratic oppression would be out, while her blood would bolster the people against those controlling the drones that killed her.

If our message of peace and liberty comes repeatedly with a bomb killing civilians, then there is not a message of peace and liberty, but a message of oppression and death.

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