Peace in the Middle East
By Todd A. Smith
After Sept. 11 we were terrified of Muslim extremists in the Middle East. Terrorists from the Middle East had just perpetrated the most devastating act of violence against Americans ever. President George W. Bush vowed to bring those who supported terrorists to justice and believed that Middle East democracy would bring about the end of extremist behavior.
Despite our righteous cause, President Bush’s effort to bring about Middle East democracy by military force was misguided and proved that while democracy may be the best policy, it is not democratic to force it on other governments.
The recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia prove that there is a burning desire to bring about Middle East democracy but it must come to fruition from the people of those countries and not outside influence from America, or others.
Before former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated U.S. officials “obviously want to see people who are truly committed to democracy, not to imposing any ideology on Egyptians.”
That policy shift highlights the difference between President Barack Obama’s administration and his predecessor. While no politician can be correct on all issues, President Obama is definitely correct on how he has handled the uprisings in the Middle East, supporting the revolts while not forcing American ideology down the throats of others.
For years, foreigners have complained that Americans come to their country, under the guise of church missionary work, but their true purpose is to “Americanize” foreign countries because it benefits America, not the foreign country.
As much as we believe that America is the best country on the planet, which is very true in my humble opinion, forcing our way of life on other countries is totally wrong, immoral and frankly un-American.
For centuries, people have gone to other countries, taken over the land and oppressed the indigenous people, because they believe their way of doing things was the only way to do things. We saw this when Christopher Columbus stole our very country from Native Americans and we saw this when Europeans took over countries in Africa because of the rich natural resources present in many African nations.
It is that very arrogance that has led many foreigners to lose all respect for Americans and American values and President Obama has done a masterful job in supporting the revolution without becoming too involved, something that President Bush could have learned from.
Nevertheless, though President Bush was wrong for prematurely seeking Middle East democracy, in order for true Middle East democracy to develop we have to help those who are desperately trying to help themselves.
Although many politicians are against enacting a no-fly zone over Libya for various reasons, doing so will limit the bombings by Libyan President Muammar Qadaffi’s regime. And lifting the U.N. embargo of Libya will be a great assistance to the rebels because they are not losing the battle with their ruthless dictator because of a lack of effort, but a lack of firepower and organization, which America could help them with.
Why? Because it is simply the right thing to do if we are truly committed to Middle East democracy as we say we are.
After all, we as Americans know how it feels to live in terror because of what happened in New York and Washington, D.C. approximately 10 years ago. And after surviving the pain that comes from the absence of Middle East democracy we should do everything in our power to help others survive that terror as well.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.
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