Ever since last November’s election, I’ve tried to pay as little attention to politics as possible. Sure, I read the paper every day to keep abreast of what’s going on, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I oppose the view of most people in power and I’ve got to live with that.
But a headline in today’s New York Times drew me out of dormancy: “Rice asks Arab allies to pursue liberty.” The article quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (I’ve never had to spell her name before – are there really two Zs?) saying the following:
“For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.”
I used to think the problem with the Bush administration was its ties to religious fundamentalism or its related strain, Texanism. But now I’ve come to believe the greatest danger is how the president and his minions are drunk on the notion of promoting “liberty” and “freedom”, corrupting both principles as part of a smoke screen for imperialism.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are not the best friends the US has ever had. In particular, Saudi Arabia is responsible for promoting institutionalized Islamic fundamentalism through its mosques and schools to the rest of the Arab world. But make no mistake: we’re very lucky to have these countries as allies. In both cases, those nation’s leaders are going against the overwhelming tide of domestic public opinion to maintain friendly diplomatic relations with America.
The Bush administration seems to be asserting that a more democratic Middle East will give a healthier, less violent outlet for those to express their frustration with the United States or their own countries. That may be true. But threatening or forcing some of our only allies in a hostile region to drastically transform their political systems is a dangerous approach. Bullying our few friends in a hostile area is not the way to make America safer from or less hated by the religious fundamentalists of the Middle East.
If George W. Bush really wants terrorism to go away, the United States ought to concern itself more with its own image in the region. People there overwhelmingly believe that America is an imperialist bully seeking to take over the entire Middle East, if not the world. When we threaten not only our enemies but also our friends with violent reprisal if they don’t kowtow to the political system we see fit for them, it’s only going to fan the already massive flames of hatred.
All throughout history, great empires have invaded and attacked foreign lands under the guise of liberating the people there. And to the overwhelming majority of the world’s people, words like “freedom” and “liberty” that America holds so sacred are really just inflated rhetoric camouflaging the inevitable bombs and rockets and gunfire.
I’m afraid that the Bush administration believes the only way to win the war on terror is to become an even greater threat to the world than the ones we face. And that’s something I want no part of.