Monday, February 07, 2005

Rwanda internationalists vs. Vidal's "America First"

Nick Barron, editor-in-chief of UMKC’s U-News, has done his best Woodrow Wilson impression after viewing the critically acclaimed film "Hotel Rwanda." While I do not doubt that good intentions exist behind the piece, Barron’s position on American humanitarian efforts and our country’s place in the world (as a global police force) highlight the opinion held by the MAJORITY of those in power, not the silent minority he depicts within the piece.

"I can blame conservatives for wanting to isolate this country and keep it from stepping in to resolve conflicts in remote parts of the world..."

--No, it's just flat out incorrect to blame conservatives for attempts to direct the country with an agenda that includes a foreign policy of isolationism. The neo-conservatives have picked up President Wilson's torch to begin a new revolution characterized by perpetual war (inevitably, this will include the occasional token effort to find more humanitarian-based wars to become involved with).

--Isolationists have been shunned by politicians and media since the First World War and again in WWII when anti-statists like Gore Vidal argued against the William Buckley-lead groups calling for the escalation of American involvement overseas. The interventionists, or “internationalists” as Wilson supporters described themselves, have had their way for better part of the last century.

--It has never been a matter of liberal or conservative ideology preventing the US from becoming involved in foreign entanglements (i.e. Iraq) that curiously tend to spiral out of our control. Anti-statists have existed (albeit at the unpopular fringes) of both political parties. Vidal came to blows (literally) with Buckley in the 60’s on television at a time when he sensed the interventionist policies of Buckley's backers dominating Washington.

"...what is it about us Americans that makes us so passive about international problems? Why do we feel isolated in this great land of ours? What makes us so selfish with the resources and talents God has given us?"

--The founding fathers…that’s the short answer as to the Who’s and Why’s of what makes us wary toward these foreign adventures. Jefferson and his contemporaries warned against entangling alliances (NATO, UN, etc.) and attempts to extend the republic’s influence (military, cultural, economic, etc.) beyond our borders. They saw that future generations would face backlash (a la 9/11) from the deals brokered by their predecessors. Excursions, whether they are into Iraq or the Sudan, would ultimately bankrupt the country and lead to unnecessary losses of life. They spoke of a direct link that could be drawn between rising involvement in foreign matters and diminishing freedoms and liberties at home.

“…we have the brainpower, the manpower and the wealth to make a difference in our international community.”

--Brainpower? Manpower? Wealth? Where, Nick? Here?

--As to the wealth, I suppose you must be overlooking the federal deficits. Although President Reagan felt otherwise, rest assured that deficits DO matter. If an omniscient force were to wipe those debts away, then I suppose US dollars would resemble more than the monopoly currency they are slowly becoming.

--And, yes, the manpower is there the moment the President calls for the executive order to reinstate the draft. The first reference to ‘brainpower’ puzzles me even more. Is this the same intellectual capacity that justifies Americans dying in a desert while in search of fictitious weapons? I find it hard to believe that this same collection of individuals could muster the ability to solve complexities that actually exist in the world when they are so focused on those which do not.

“It is our job; it is my job and it is your job to pay attention to events in places such as Rwanda, Indonesia and Sudan.”

--While the film does produce a tremendous emotional reaction from the audience, let’s not pretend that US troops (thrown in the middle of this internal strife) would have significantly altered the region’s violent history. If anything, the body counts and the ethnic divisions would only be worse. Has Iraq not shown the concerns of the founding fathers to be valid? We cannot export democracy or racial harmony around the globe. It is as futile as aiming to stop tsunamis and other natural disasters.

--Stepping in and solving problems across the world is not the responsibility of a Republic, but it has certainly been in the interest of Empires. Since those in power have already decided that we are the latter, I expect you will get your wish in the not too distant future. On the horizon are additional opportunities for conflict in which more Americans perish and our system gets pushed to the point of collapse. Continued deficit spending, and spreading our already thin global military even further, will not lead to solutions for the problems that exist in regions like the Sudan or the Middle East. If we want to continue with Empire, then we will not be able to preserve the last remnants of the Republic.

We simply cannot have it both ways.

Other Happenings in Bizarro World

We've made it through the first month of 2005 in what has become Bizarro World. January was packed with plenty of bizarre moments to choose from.
First, Fox News Live Anchorwoman Brigitte Quinn is shocked Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach criticizes the nature of Bush's gazillion dollar inauguration. In Bizarro World, it is inappropriate for people to criticize the sitting President on the largest cable news network.

A University President cannot discuss explanations as to why women are not gaining esteemed positions in the same numbers that their male counterparts are.

Shills for the dominant political party justify their support of state-lead war mongering by spinning their own fictious tales of combat, while others are just flat out paid to stay in line.

Massive Federal Deficits are compounded by wasteful technology programs, and ambiguous firms profit mightily through overseas excursions (regardless of the threat is real or not).

The media is in cahots with the government to deliver the official party line, while slivers of the people's voices find a way to creep into the media consciousness.

Amidst it all, the sanctity of you know what it is threatened....our most noble student publications.


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