Thursday, July 20, 2006

Liberation Litmus Test: Foreign Policy

The Liberation Institute, an organization so shadowy it does not in fact exist, contacted commentator Jack Random, requesting an interview to determine the author’s qualifications as a liberator. The interview was conducted in two parts: Foreign Affairs and Domestic Policy. The following is a transcript of the foreign policy exchange.

Liberation Institute: Do you favor a timetable of withdrawal from Iraq?

Jack Random: Yes. On this issue, there are no acceptable alternatives. Iraq started a spiral descent from Shock and Awe and has continued its fall to the present day. Anyone who looks at what is happening in Iraq and says, “It’s complicated. The war was wrong. It was founded on lies, yes, but now we’re there and we have to finish the job.” is only fooling themselves.

It’s a form of mass hallucination. If we all pretend this is reality, we can keep on pretending indefinitely. The greater truth is that no one can suspend reality indefinitely without going mad. We either go mad as a nation and take much of the world with us or we give up the fantasy and begin to make amends. The problem is: We don’t know how to say we’re sorry without saying “but.”

The first step in embracing sanity is getting out of Iraq immediately and accepting the debt of a nation torn apart and decimated. It does not matter that Saddam was a brutal tyrant or even that he was our brutal tyrant for decades. We have to understand that people must rid themselves of their own tyrants and they will in time if we refuse to sponsor and assist them in pursuit of our own interests.

The game of geopolitics uses ethics as a pawn, discarded at will until it ceases to have meaning and the players lose all credibility.

LI: Do you oppose the war in Afghanistan?

JR: Yes for the same reasons. We’ve repeated the same pattern that produced the blowback of 9-11. During the Soviet invasion and occupation, we sponsored every radical jihadist on the planet. When the Soviets fell, we ended up supporting the Taliban and the people accepted the tyranny of the Taliban because at least there was some order and security. We turned to the warlords and expected the people to thank us for overthrowing the Taliban to restore anarchy. The Afghan economy may be backward by our standard but the people are not stupid. People everywhere know a liberator when they see one and they know he does not wear an American flag – not in this world.

LI: Should we allow North Korea to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles?

JR: It is like asking if the sun should shine on Tuesdays. We have no choice and very little influence. North Korea is primarily a regional concern. China, Japan and South Korea are our trading partners. It is not in China’s interest to allow North Korea to attack its trading partners. Unless our relations with China dramatically change, there is no threat. North Korea lives under the Chinese thumb. What we should be more concerned with is a president who scores political points by taunting and provoking one of the world’s most dangerous governments.

We should be engaged in diplomacy at all levels but only if the purpose of that diplomacy is diffusing conflict – not enraging it.

LI: Do you support regime change in Iran?

JR: I support the right of the people to freely choose their own government in every nation – including America. I oppose the right of any other power to choose for them. I believe that when an external power attempts to affect regime change, it invariably backfires with unpredictable results.

We have a sordid history in Iran. We gave the Iranian people the tyranny of the Shah. After the Shah, the Iraq-Iran war and the latest war in Iraq, even those who want peace and cooperation with America know we cannot be trusted. If we want to influence Iran or any other nation, we have to regain our credibility.

If there were no oil in the region, would our troops be stationed there? If every American knows the answer to that question, we can be sure the people of Iran know it as well.

LI: What should we do in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

JR: We should cry for all the people caught in the crossfire. We should push our own government to act as an honest broker. It is something we have never in fact done before but at least we have always held up the fa├žade of honest brokerage and that has been enough to subdue each crisis before it exploded into a never-ending, ever-expanding cycle of war. Our current government has dropped the curtain. We are not even pretending neutrality. With both our media and government pounding us day-to-day with the right of Israel to defend herself, without any regard for the people of Gaza or the principle of proportionate retribution, how can we diffuse the crisis?

The real question is: Do we want to diffuse it or has our government decided, with all the wisdom and foresight they have demonstrated in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea and Iran, that ever-expanding war is in the national interest? I fear it is not the law of unintended consequences haunting this administration but a wanton and arrogant philosophy of conquest at any cost. The neocons are not dead; they are only sleeping.

LI: Do you support the Palestinian right of return?

JR: Yes but the qualifier is more important than the answer. I believe that the Palestinians possess the right of return, as any displaced people do, as a matter of principle, but I do not believe that right is paramount. Is it worth more than an independent Palestinian state? Through all the wars and negotiations, the right of return has been employed by both sides as a deal breaker. It is no different today.

Secure in the knowledge that the right of return can no more be denied than freedom of speech or the right to a living wage, let it be settled in the uncertain future. Let today belong to peace and Palestinian sovereignty.

LI: That concludes the foreign policy portion of the interview. Do you have any questions?

JR: Did I pass the test?

LI: The results will be tabulated and the findings released at an appropriate time.

JR: Does anyone pass?

LI: That information is confidential.

JR: Jazz.


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