Sunday, September 16, 2012

Energion Roundtable: Libya and the Midde East

Our next question is out for The Great Energion Political Roundtable and has to do with the recent attacks around the world on U.S. embassies and diplomatic personnel, including the barbaric murder of a U.S. ambassador and three other diplomatic personnel. Here is the question.

Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama's and Governor Romney's responses to the violence in Egypt and Libya and now in other countries in the middle east?

My first reaction is "What response?"! On the one hand we have empty platitudes and assurances of "justice" from the White House. On the other we have political point scoring and posturing from the Romney campaign. While Romney was correct in his substance about the initial response from the State Department, the entire thing smacked of political opportunism. I think that Secretary of State Clinton's eulogy was heartfelt and the only decent thing said by anyone in a position of authority during this whole debacle.

The recent events involving U.S. embassies around the world are shocking. Attacking an embassy is something that is just not done. Ambassadors and diplomatic personnel traditionally are off-limits even during times of declared war. It is hard to not be outraged when our civilians are murdered, when civilians trying to help the people of Libya are killed by fanatics. It is hard to not swell up with anger when people burn American flags.

These events are also symptomatic of the problem of diplomacy in a region where the normal rules of civilization don't apply. Likewise we need to recall that not that many years ago Protestants and Catholics were killing one another in Northern Ireland and that much of European history is littered with "Christians" torturing and burning, beheading and drowning Jews and Anabaptists and others and multiple wars in the name of Jesus. Religion has often been used as cover by tyrants and fanatics alike to whip people into a frenzy and this situation is no different. A amateurish, cartoonish video may be the publicly stated reason for these attack but I see the hand of a calculating mind behind them.

So I find both Romney and Obama to be completely off-base here. I would largely echo the words of Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson regarding what he would do about this issue in his essay: Libya,Afghanistan and the Middle East -- Why Obama and Romney are Both Wrong

Foreign policy is supposed to make us safer, not get Americans killed and bankrupt us. Yet, even as we mourn the loss of four Americans in Libya and watch the Middle East ignite with anti-American fervor, our leaders don't get it.
I have a better idea: Stop trying to manipulate and manage history on the other side of the globe and then being shocked when things don't turn out the way we wanted. As far as what we do right now in response to the tragic events of this week, it's actually pretty simple. Get our folks out of places they don't need to be -- and out of harm's way -- and cut off every dime of U.S. tax dollars we are sending to clearly ungrateful regimes.

and most importantly....

Somebody needs to ask, and I will be that somebody: As despicable as he was, would our ambassador and three other dedicated public servants have been killed in a Gaddafi-controlled Libya? Are we safer today after launching all those missiles and killing Gaddafi? Clearly not.

It might just be that not only are large swaths of the world not ready for American style democracy, they also don't want it and resent our efforts to impose it upon them. Our record of meddling in the Middle East is one of stumbling and error that costs lives. We put the Shah in power in Iran and were surprised when that blew up in our face in the 70's. We arm Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran to get back at them and then end up fighting him a few years later. We invade and "liberate" Iraq and then spend the better part of a decade fighting a guerrilla war that has devastated the people of Iraq. We depose the Taliban in Afghanistan and a decade later are quietly negotiating with them to return them to power. We drop bombs on Libya to support the rebels as well as the rest of the "Arab Spring" (except in the politically inconvenient Syria) and then realize that we replaced a dictatorship with mob rule, a mob that doesn't seem to realize it should be grateful for our assistance. How many dead Americans must be dragged by mobs through the streets of Benghazi and Mogadishu?

So what should we do? How should we respond?

So here is my solution.

Get out and cut them off

I am done with bribing those who hate us. I am done with spilling American blood and the blood of innocents trying to manipulate events in the Middle East, Asia and north Africa. Instead of throwing good money after bad in this part of the world because they happen to sit on oil, start to open up more of America for drilling and exploration. Instead of spending money, allow commerce to happen which will create real jobs, good jobs that will lead to spending and consumption and tax revenue. Instead of oil being a net drain on our economy, let it be something that helps. We might never become energy independent but we can certainly reduce the impact of the fanatics that destabilize world oil supplies. With a land as vast as ours and a coast line as long as ours we have ample natural resources. We should not allow ourselves to be held hostage to one commodity. End foreign aid to all nations, and yes that includes Israel. End foreign occupations and endless foreign engagements. Above all quit using this region as a source for political fodder that leads to dead and maimed Americans.
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