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It's Time to Preach What We Practice
October 20, 2001
by Ted Westervelt

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Damn the Torpedoes! Everything has changed since September 11, except Bush's support of failed middle eastern policy.

Okay America, in a clever circus of foreign policy we've tried almost every approach in the middle east over the past fifty years. We've propped up dictators, praised monotheistic kings as "moderates", traded arms for hostages, supported terrorists to drive out foreign invaders, and even fought a war against a man that the first George Bush compared to Adolph Hitler, only to leave him in power instead of risking the "stability" of the region by demanding his unconditional surrender.

We've also listened to a broad range of proponents of our medieval foreign policy in the region - from Henry Kissinger and his "Realpolitik" approaches, to the filtered pleadings for the continuation of these policies (in the name of stability) made by the same oil speculators that many believe served on Cheney's Energy Task Force.

I admit that a case can be made that many of the despots, tyrants and brutal dictators we support performed useful efforts in barricading the region from Soviet domination in the Cold War. However, ten years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union our Kissengeresque foreign policy in the region sits stagnant and this tired old cast of characters in the region remains largely the same.

Meanwhile, at the urging of the United States, democratic institutions have flooded through Eastern Europe, arisen for good in central and South America, and have even been popping up in parts of Africa. Established democratic nations rarely breed terrorists, and rarely produce leaders with psychotic nationalist tendencies who are bent on militarily dominating their neighbors.

Unstifled speech and participation in the political process provides a great format for disagreement. I greatly prefer it to the stifled speech and limited political participation that provide the nutrients of misunderstanding and hate on which terrorism thrives.

It's time to end the circus of errors in our middle east policy. It's time to practice what we preach, and preach what we practice. Why not try supporting democratic structures and demanding their maintenance as a precursor for strong relations with the industrialized world? Why not at least make it a stated goal of our current war to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan?

Democracy is not a cultural phenomenon. Freedom is not unique to the Judeo-Christian belief structure. Self determination is not only valued by white people.

If, despite my arguments and current events, your concerns continue to lay primarily with gasoline prices keep in mind one thing: There is no evidence that the mysterious 50% to 100% price spikes that we experienced last year that had anything whatsoever to do with events in the middle east.

We told ourselves and anyone else on the planet that would listen that the Cold War was about extending the light of freedom into the darkness of tyranny. The Cold War is long over and the Bush Administration continues to support darkness and tyranny in the middle east in my name.

As an American, imbued since grade school with the principles of freedom and democracy above the principles of race, color and creed - I object.

 
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