Peace through understanding.

Dick Cheney, angry that he is no longer in government, has been lambasting President Obama for being ‘wishy-washy’, and indecisive regarding the war in Afghanistan.  Perhaps this is because Dick Cheney exemplifies the kind of thinking that has gotten us into conflict with the Arab world.  He seems to believe that the United States can be protected from terrorists by sending our military to anywhere that seems opposed to our views of the world to root out the ‘extremists’.

This is the philosophy of ‘peace through strength’, which was the operational mode of the Cold War.  We were so strong that no one dared attack us.  Our huge military protected us from every threat.  Even though this type of thinking was seriously refuted during the Vietnam police action, many people have never given it up, perhaps because they see aircraft carriers as profit centers, not defensive weapons.

But we no longer face military threats, at least of any credibility.  Iran might threaten its neighbors, but it is no where near developing the technology to drop nuclear weapons on the U.S.  But we do face threats, from people who are willing to give their lives so that the American godless horde can be diminished somewhat.  These people can not be stopped by military might, nor are they likely to be stopped by technology.  Because they are a single individual among billions, identifying them is difficult.

But maintaining peace by threatening to blow up anyone who disagrees with us is an unsustainable course.  The more conservative we become, the more people we alienate.  The less willing that we are to change, the more determined people are to make us change.  The more tightly we police our borders, the less secure we are.

Few people seem to be aware of this, but one of the greatest reasons why the U.S. is reviled in the Middle East is because of our support of Israel in oppressing the Palestinians.  In spite of our hosting peace talks, we have never put any serious pressure on Israel to allow the creation of a Palestinian state.  We have not objected forcefully when Israel has allowed its citizens to establish settlements in areas promised to the Palestinians.  Nor have we exerted any effort to prevent the frequent military actions against the Palestinians.

So, we say that we support a Palestinian state, but we do nothing to bring it to pass.  Apparently, we actually do not care about the Palestinians, or any of their fellow Arabs.  All we are interested in is oil, at the lowest possible price.  We toppled a ruthless dictator, not because he was ruthless, or a dictator, but because he was preventing us from having access to his oil.  Before that, we blatantly threw out an honestly elected government, and put our puppet in its place.  When our puppet finally became too old to run the country that we had given him, that country rebelled, and took a bunch of Americans hostage for over a year.

These kinds of actions do not win friends.  They instill fear, anger, determination.  We need instead to be fostering understanding, accepting that we have made poor choices in the past, and expressing willingness to work with Arabs in addressing the Palestinian issue.  This may sound like betrayal to Dick Cheney, but I think that someone whose actions are creating enemies of the United States is betraying that country.

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