OP-ED: America's Most Inconsequential Term: Consequences!

Updated 5 years ago By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

The major headlines assert the alleged gravity with which the Obama administration views potential Russian overstepping with respect to Ukraine.  Pushed to explain what is meant by our gravity, Presidential spokesman Jay Carney used words that sounded as if we could do something.

Breaking: Russia's parliament approves use of military force in Ukraine:  http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/01/world/europe/ukraine-politics/

The reality is our most overused and under-believed work is “consequences”! 

President Obama threatened “consequences” when Syria allegedly used chemical weapons that killed more than a thousand people.  For some reason, there were no threatened “consequences” while Syrian President Assad’s forces committed savagery that killed more than 100,000 men, women and children or drove more than a million folks out of the country to become refugees elsewhere.  Nope!  Suddenly the chemical weapons caused the “consequences”, consequences that have yet to occur.

Many thousands in the Sudan and elsewhere in Africa are suffering and know quite well what their “consequences” of merely living entail, consequences that include murder, r ape, starvation and the rest of the usual “consequences” that go with nasty governments running freely  while they can sell some  oil or other natural resources to corporate operations around the globe. 

I recall the now forgotten  pledges of a former administration that we might get some fiscal return from the Iraqi oil fields that our men died to protect and rehabilitate.  But that was before we stamped the “OK” on the idea Iraqis could auction off the oil fields to the big boys and girls from the oil industry. (Please see WHEN DO WE GET PAYBACK FROM IRAQ 2/04/2009).

We have threatened “consequences” so often those whom we threaten roll their eyes suggesting a kind of “Oy vay!  Not that again!”.

Comes now another of  one of those especially dangerous situations that really need to be resolves without our preaching and foolishly vague threatening and leaving the parties to figure out how to further manipulate what passes for our foreign policy so they both get something from us while debating with each other.  Two good (or dumb) examples:  we first loved Hussein and Iraq when they quibbled with Iran; then we despised Hussein and Iraq…then we decided we could “relate” to Iran on some sort of peace level without ever at least asking their real boss, Ayatollah Khomeini if he would “kindly” retract his scream to “Kill all Jews and Annihilate Israel.”

If our president wants really to reignite respect for our power and leadership, we urge him to avoid warnings and offer alternatives as if we just might actually respect either or both of the countries involved.

One final reference:  “B-A-D:  BIPARTISAN AMATEURISH DIPLOMACY TOWARD CHINA (1/20/2011).

The greatest problem with threatening consequences we cannot really apply is the consequences we might have to contend with coming back at us.

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Honick is president of GMA International Ltd with offices on Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.

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