COMMENTARY: International Impotence and the Middle East: How Are We Supposed to Know Whom to Like....Or Dislike

By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

I don’t know about you, but I sure find it confusing that the people we are supposed to like or dislike keep changing, and, worse, keep reversing positions.

Within the lifetimes of many readers, we:

* Liked the Shah of Iran, and then we didn’t and helped get him tossed out only to have our own embassy invaded;

* Thought Saddam Hussein was a victim of the Iranians we helped to unseat the Shah. We liked Saddam then. President Ronald Reagan even dispatched billions in arms, money, intelligence and other stuff to help Hussein stave off the Iranians we did not like, while making nice to Saddam. We even dispatched respected people like Senator Bob Dole and others to keep Saddam happy.

* When Saddam gathered the courage to assault Kuwait despite our warnings not to do so, we stopped liking him and sent our own forces to fight Kuwait’s battles and turned out the Iraqi invaders.

* Even though Muamar Qaddafi pretty much admitted involvement in the PanAm 101 disaster that killed many, we ultimately decided he could be a good guy if only he stopped his nuclear development. He agreed, and, enveloped in the arms of Britain’s Tony Blair and our own President George Bush, the Libyan dictator was warmly welcomed back “to the family of nations” in the UN, with representation even on the Human Relations Council. You may wish to refer to an earlier article titled: “Ransoming Truth and Responsibility.”

* Then we decided not to like him any more and spent a fortune and our reputation to help finance a group called “rebels” to overthrow Qaddafi, with that battle still raging. What we could not foresee was that the so called rebels fighting for democracy would also show their prejudice by imprisoning people with black skins and other ethnicity. Apparently democracy had various meanings to the rebels and to our own government that had financed their efforts.

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These are but a few examples of how government, whether led by Democrats or Republicans, has so confused us Americans. And now we learn that, after a nasty invasion of the Israeli embassy in Cairo by thugs who not only threatened the lives of the people there but also routed the papers, both administrative and sacred, that were housed there. Even that resulted in a raging governmental and media silence!

Will we find out we also helped to finance and arm those rebels as we have elsewhere while ignoring really bad dictators in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where disagreements with the kings and/or dictators carry extreme punishments?

So what are we poor citizens to think? Do we need printed programs or e-mails to know whom to like or dislike? And what does any of this say about the quality of leadership from either political party that seeks to govern our nation?

What is most damaging, difficult as it may seem anything could be, is we have no guidance how to translate this egregious lack of intelligible or intelligent government policies to our children…and those in uniform we keep sending all over the place to destroy people and places, hoping surviving veterans can return home and block out the memories of their missions.

In the end, and that may be closer than expected, it is imperative that those who proclaim themselves as committed to real concerns for American principles start shedding their political partisanship and start acting as if their commitments are honest.

Addendum to the above:

There’s no need to reprint all of the foregoing, but there is darned good reason to ask a lot of questions about the apparent impotence of the international community to deal with the broiling Middle East.

Most of the confusing debates center around two main danger points: what to do with the Syrian slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians…and the potential effects of a possible Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear operations. Note: hardly anyone mentions the possibility of an Iranian strike against Israel! Why is that?

And all of this could not have come at a worse time, if it’s possible there is a good time.

Among other things, nobody seems interested in our opinion on world economic and military issues. Our own competitors for the White House now occupied by Barack Obama seem even to know there is a war going on in Afghanistan and potential wars elsewhere. Is it possible candidates for the most powerful –political post in the world have not addressed such horrendous possibilities at all? It sure looks that way.

Along with out own current political excesses, the so called “United” Nations is frozen in place on the Syrian debacle and having to find voting loopholes just to get some paper policy that says the Syrian dictator is a bad guy, even a criminal, and should stop or else….or else what?

So, you might logically ask, do I have a solution for this madness and political impotence? Yes I do, and my approach is as unrealistic as what’s already in place…or all over the place!

You see my solution requires that our own political leaders, of all parties, call a truce in this maddening presidential campaign and sit down as citizens instead of battlers to develop and present a policy that encourages the world to believe we are truly the “United” United States.

Such an open and well publicized negotiation would not only help the world to see us as truly mature leaders, it would also scare hell out of the Syrians and Iranians.

Time is not merely precious for such historic honesty and national leadership commitment, it is hanging by its figurative finger nails. And if political impotence persists, there is no reason to expect a delivery of peace any time at all.


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Joseph J. Honick is president of GMA International in Bainbridge Island, Washington. He is a contributor


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