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June 02, 2002

Non-violence as a resolution to

Non-violence as a resolution to world conflict

I agree re: the Palestinian solution. It seems like they would've, should've, could've taken a note from Gandhi and adopted a policy of passive resistance to achieve Palestinian indepence. It's painfully obvious that Arafat is not a world class leader, and seems more concerned with his own power and image than he is in true Palestinian statehood.

However, I am not sure how much WE as a nation have learned about non-violent resolution and prevention of conflict either. Don't get me wrong, but how much have our international wars really served to improve our national security? I think our intentions are good, but what do we have to show for it? Since World War II, we really haven't been able to wholly solve a problem through military means. Let's scroll through the list:

Korea. Half the nation is still communist and roughly 30,000 American soldiers still man a hostile frontier. North Korea has been branded part of an "Axis of Evil" and has to be bribed to keep from developing nuclear technology. It's citizens are starving and seeking asylum wherever it can be found. Okay, South Korea was never overrun and has been an economic success story. But we still had to fight another war against communism in Southeast Asia. Mission Accomplished? Push.

Vietnam. Militarily, probably a victory for the U.S. Politically and morally, a defeat. 30 years later, we're finally starting to repair national relations with Vietnam and make political and economic in-roads in that corner of Asia. Mission Accomplished? No. (BTW, read We Were Soldiers Once, And Young.)

Panama. Okay, we got our guy. Of course, we put him there in the first place and had to take him down when he became a liability. Look what else American intervention in military affairs in Central America got us: Nicaragua and the Iran-Contra scandal. The scandal has faded into history, but let's face it, the whole thing was a blatant violation of the constitution. Mission Accomplished? Yes (we got Noriega) and No (Central and South America still have tons of problems with Marxist factions).

Grenada. Mismatch from the start. Not big enough to really cause too many political problems. Evidently started because of a pissing match with Fidel Castro. Mission Accomplished? Yes.

Cuba. Fidel Castro has been through how many American Presidents? Mission Accomplished? No. (Yes, we use mostly economic means now, but there was the Bay of Pigs.)

Iraq. Sure, we "liberated Kuwait" and, more importantly, protected our access to petroleum resources , but where are we over a decade later? Saddam Hussein is still there making trouble, and more than likely we'll have to go back in, expend more American lives, kill hundreds of thousands of more Iraqis and upset tons more Muslims. Hell, we're still bombing the tar out of the place. What's been our payoff for the whole Gulf War? Oil is still there, but thanks to Iraqi sanctions and our military support of Israel, 90% of the Muslim world misunderstands American intentions and at least the more militant factions want our destruction. Mission Accomplished? No way.

(BTW, does anyone REALLY believe we couldn't have the technology in place to rid ourselves of our dependence on foreign oil? And I'm not talking about drilling in Alaska, I'm talking about Fuel Cells. I mean, it's been over 10 years since we fought a major war over our need for oil (10 years that brought us the World Wide Web, the longest bull market in history, and countless other technological breakthroughs), and over 30 years since an oil embargo practically brought our economy to it's knees, and we STILL rely on oil to run our economy? If you ask me, and I know you will, I think something smells of rotting fish in the energy business, and it ain't just Enron.)

Somalia. We went in with the best of intentions. We went in peacefully and with an open, giving hand. Somalia welcomed us and were grateful for our help. When we switched from providing famine relief to military policing, we got Black Hawk Down (A book I highly recommend, BTW. It will give not only insight into our fighting soldiers, but into American policy and how our international policies reverberate down through the decades.) And then we pulled out. Somalia is still screwed up. Mission Accomplished? No.

Oh. I almost forgot Bosnia. We bombed a lot of stuff, pissed off the Chinese when we dropped a bomb on their embassy, but we got our man. I've heard rumors that terrorist have a happy home in Serbia because of the whole ordeal, though. Yet another action that continues to color our foreign policy. Mission Accomplished? Yes.

So where does that leave us in Afghanistan? Before everyone thinks that I am some unpatriotic Marxist TerroFacist, let me say that I support the military action we took and are taking in Afghanistan. I support the military actions we took in Grenada and in Kuwait-Iraq. I support the action we took in Bosnia. It needed doing and Europe was too timid to take care of it's own problems. Hell, I even support our support for Israel. (Let's face it, without American support, there would be NO Israel. People seem to forget that the main purpose of Palestinian violence was and is the UTTER DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL. Without American support, Israelis would have been slaughtered and driven into the Mediterranean long ago. Let's NOT forget the sinking of the U.S.S. Liberty, however, and let's face it, Israel has got to stop bulldozing Palestinian homes to put up new Jewish settlements.) HOWEVER, I think that we are only serving part of our purpose in Afghanistan. While we have driven out the Taliban and al Qaeda, we've not done enough to go about preventing their return, and healing the scars of our actions. I think that our limited action and limited deployment is hurting us. If we learned anything in World War II and the following conflicts it should be this: when we commit 100% of our resources, follow through to completion of all of our goals AND follow that up with a helping hand at rebuilding, we win without question. (See WWII and the Marshall Plan) When we commit 100% of our resources, stop short of our ultimate goal, and then keep people economically weak, we win, but ultimately lose. (See WWI and the Gulf War) When we commit partial resources, we lose. (See Vietnam, Somalia).

So, what's my point? I think that we should beef up peace-keeping forces in Afghanistan. Our troops can do and do do (snicker. chortle. snort.) a lot of good on the ground. They can hand out food. They can hand out clothes and shoes. They can help rebuild. They can provide some level of security and stability that is appreciated by most Afghan citizenry, until the Afghan government get on it's feet. Yes, we increase the risk to our men and women on the ground, but isn't the end goal worth the risk? We've become so adverse to risk that we're practically paralyzed on the world stage. We need a new Marshall Plan in place to rebuild Afghanistan and we need it now. I am sure we will put plenty of aid into Afghanistan, but right now, it isn't really high profile. All I read about in the news is about plans to invade Iraq, new attacks being planned by al Qaeda, and U.S. troops continuing to pursue Warlords on the border of Pakistan. (Note to self: Mohammed Farrah Aidid. Warlord in Somalia. Going after him DIDN'T WORK, but humanitarian aid DID.) These kind of actions go a lot further towards increasing the level of goodwill towards America in the Muslim world than just shooting people, and that in the end will increase our national security more than anything.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to go out and create a new Peace Corps. There's impending famine in Southeast Africa. Let's go feed those people. U2's Bono has U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill are out touring Africa trying to convince him that aid money really is put to use, and I for one believe him. Let's take a long hard look at forgiving international debts, raising a hell of a lot of boats in that rising tide and creating a worldwide boom in goodwill towards the U.S. and maybe going a long way towards preventing another 9/11. Let's lift the trade embargo on Cuba. It hasn't worked worth a hill of beans anyway. Let's propose peaceful self-determination for Kashmir and put as much effort into making it happen as we do into the whole Israeli-Palestinian situation. India and Pakistan threaten the world with Nuclear conflict, but what does the average Kashmiri want? Let 'em vote it out in a referendum or something. (Okay, maybe that's naive ,but it seems so freaking OBVIOUS.) It seems sometimes that we focus so much on the use of force to force our foreign policy on the world, that we forget that the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal, and the reason we are the baddest cats on the planet is our gargantuan ECONOMY. Let's use it. And not just to impose sanctions somewhere, but to spread the wealth around a little. Let's practice what we've been preaching in the Middle East. Peaceful, non-violent, long-term solution to conflict. (Interspersed with a some judicious whup ass. Face it. Sometimes it's necessary.)

That's my piece and I'm out.

Posted by Kehaar at June 2, 2002 11:25 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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