Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ignoring Only Makes It Fester

In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved covert action against the Castro regime in Cuba, with the stated primary objective to "bring about the replacement of the Castro regime with one more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S. in such a manner to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention." In April 1961, President John F. Kennedy then approved Operation Zapata – more infamously known as the Bay of Pigs invasion plans – in order to carry out that objective. Regrettably, the Kennedy Administration, in a half-hearted attempt to both lead and maintain anonymity in its role, failed to provide adequate – and pledged – support in personnel, supplies and logistics. Accordingly, the invasion failed miserably.

The Bay of Pigs invasion is a lesson of history that has haunted every administration since. It would seem, however, that the current administration is not heeding the lessons of such half-hearted attempts at regime change, particularly as concerns Libya. In fact, vacillating statements concerning the role and objectives of the U.S. in dealing with Libya and the Qaddafi regime makes the U.S. and its president look impotent, and only serves to strengthen a third world dictator. A dictator who has ruled for 42 years, and is a well-documented advocate, harborer and sponsor of terrorists. Administration officials – including the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – have directly called for the removal of Qaddafi, citing it as U.S. policy, and then contradicted, and thus weakened, that position by advocating the limited objectives of the so-called humanitarian-only mission of the international coalition arrayed against Libya. There is no way to reconcile and interpret such dynamically opposed pronouncements, other than to see them as yet another administration beset by a practically non-existent foreign policy rooted in timidity and indecisiveness.

Rather than doing nothing or, worse, leaving it to the international community, i.e. the Useless Nations, to (mis)handle international crises, many are open to the United States being the policeman of the world. Like the motto of the U.S. Navy says, “as a force for good.” Others do not agree, advocating a U.S.-first foreign policy that leaves it to international diplomacy, i.e. the Useless Nations, and that does not embroil the nation in the conflicts of other countries. A Neville “peace in our time” Chamberlain attitude, it was the same before both World Wars, before the first Gulf War and even, by some advocates, as the ashes of the World Trade Center still smoldered. Such opposition to U.S.-led military interventions – unilateral or otherwise – is not a modern phenomenon, going as far back as the Barbary Wars – ironically, a series of conflicts off the coasts of North Africa, involving current embattled states Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Indeed, Mr. Twain, history sure does like to rhyme. As the world has become a global one, opposition has only intensified on an international scale both home and abroad in the wars of modern day.

Yet, if we fail to help those hard-pressed in advancing egalitarianism or do not offer assistance to those who attempt to do so, we are nothing more than accomplices in the global suicide caused by oppression and despotism. It was true for Afghanistan, true for Iraq and it is true for the likes of Libya. And it is true for any future hotspot that becomes a focal point in casting off the yoke suppressing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That much is certain, and indeed – through toil, blood and sacrifice – has always been the destiny of the United States since its inception to aid those seeking similar ideals. As President Kennedy stated in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Fifty years later, are we, as a nation, no longer willing to honor that call? Are we once again going to put on blinders to the threats of the world, just as we did after both World Wars, after the first Gulf War and even as we continue to prosecute the War on Terrorism?

©2011 Steve Sagarra

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