The Tao of Politics

One of my main concerns is: how can I make a difference? There are thousands of political blogs out there. It’s easy to get lost in that ocean. So I may blog about politics on occasion, or I may blog about health issues, depending on where my interests lead me, and where I feel I can contribute something of significance.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I watched the President’s speech commemorating 9/11 on Monday night. I was struck by a particular passage:

“We are now in the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom. Amid the violence, some question whether the people of the Middle East want their freedom, and whether the forces of moderation can prevail. For 60 years, these doubts guided our policies in the Middle East. And then, on a bright September morning, it became clear that the calm we saw in the Middle East was only a mirage. Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies, and committed America's influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.”

I found it particularly interesting when he described America’s policies in the Middle East then and now. In some ways I felt that he was rewriting history. He said nothing about the role that oil plays in the equation. The impression I have of the last 60 years is that we wanted Middle Eastern oil, and we were willing to look the other way in many instances in order to ensure a steady, cheap supply. In some ways that is what Bush said, adding that while the surface appeared calm, it was only a mirage. Nice image, and it is true that the calm was only a mirage, because really they hated our guts, to a large extent because of our policies; but did those doubts he spoke of really guide our policies, or did the availability of oil guide our policies? I rather believe it was the latter. In fact I think “pursuing stability to promote peace” could read, “pursuing stability to promote ready access to Middle Eastern oil.”

And he said nothing about three things: our using the Middle East as an object for our own purposes; the creeping Americanization of the Middle East; and our steadfast, often uncritical support for Israel. All of these factors, and many more I am sure, added fuel to the fires that have raged against us in recent years. And while we have now “committed America’s influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy,” (that could read "pre-emptive war") is this really a new policy, or is it just a repackaging of the old policy? I mean, we have always been committed to pursuing our national interests in the Middle East. Now we are pursuing them with 140,000+ troops on the ground, and with blood flowing in the streets of Baghdad.

The president said “we changed our policies.” Have we really changed our policies? Have we stopped “pursuing stability to promote peace” as he said? What about Saudi Arabia? Are we trying to advance “freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism” in Saudi Arabia? Since most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, doesn’t it seem reasonable to think we might have focused some of our attention on that country? Have we? It seems reasonable to think we might have invaded Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq. You could make a good case that Saudi Arabia was a much bigger threat to us than Iraq was, particularly because we had actual evidence that something like twelve Saudis helped blow up the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, whereas I don’t think there was any evidence of Iraqi involvement.

Also, it seems that the spread of freedom in the Middle East has often resulted in democratically elected governments like the one we now have in Gaza. Good job.

When the president talks about the forces of moderation, he’s talking about the United States, right? And when he talks about tyranny, he’s talking about the terrorists, right? Just checking.

And if we have changed policies in the Middle East, ostensibly from seeking peace to seeking war, does that mean the next president to occupy the Oval Office will follow the same policies? I certainly hope not, and I know a Democrat won’t. Don’t you think something as important as a Middle East policy should have broader support than just among a bunch of neocons? Otherwise we have absolutely no continuity in foreign policy.

I really think that when someone tries to rewrite history, he or she should wait until all the people who remember that history are dead. And while they are trying to rewrite that history they should give us something other than the Cliff Notes version of it. Some citizens among us actually do a little thinking sometimes, and we might be offended by a president who offers up such a simplistic, myopic view of the world. I know some of us certainly were offended by a speech that often seemed to politicize an occasion like 9/11 that should have been non-political. Oh, and by the way, do the people in the Middle East want their freedom? I think the answer is yes, they want their freedom from the United States.


Listen to my new song, Get the Hell out of Iraq. (See lyrics here.)

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4 Comments:

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger Raggedy said…

    Have a wonderful day!
    *^_^
    (=':'=) hugs
    (")_ (")Š from da Cool Raggedy one

     
  • At 3:29 PM, Anonymous JollyRoger said…

    I've often thought of the Chimperor as a kind of collection of American prejudices and amnesias.

    He doesn't mention what we don't want to remember.

     
  • At 10:43 PM, Blogger jude cowell said…

    Excellent post, Ed!

    Bush's "simple" explanations are for what he thinks are simple people who are satisfied with surface glances. You've laid it out perfectly--thanks.

    One of my recent favorites is "they Simply don't like us."

    And when Bush today compared/contrasted terroists with "the compassion and decency of the American people" all I could think was, it's not OUR c & d in question--it's yours and your 1% gang's.

    Must be some of that INTEGRITY he promised to bring back. Perhaps he should pretend to look under the sofa for that. (Sheesh, I'm grumpy tonight!)

     
  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger Ed Bremson said…

    You're entitled to be grumpy after 5+ years of this stuff.

     

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