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The U.S. cannot be a lender

March 10, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

During the current campaign,

no issue has been too

trivial to discuss. Contraception

debates and murmurings on

food stamps have been mentioned,

it seems, more than the

economy. But the one issue that

has failed to gain hardly a notice

is perhaps the most important,

and that is foreign policy.

R i c h a r d

Nixon and

John Kennedy

both entertained

the theory


domestic policy

could take

care of itself,

but a president's



must be world affairs. For Republicans,

solutions are easy.

Newt Gingrich believes in

bombing, whether directly or

by proxy, Iran. Ron Paul's is to

ignore America's role in the

world and center on bankers

and the Federal Reserve. Rick

Santorum offers few specifics,

but is loaded with bellicose

suggestions, and as usual Mitt

Romney says nothing of substance

and hums patriotic


Indeed the vacuousness of

the discussion hearkens back to

the Ohio Senate race of 1950,

when Robert Taft accused his

opponent of having one foreign

policy, "beat Michigan." Every

notice of diplomacy is to get a

rise out of the electorate rather

than to provide a picture of

what the United States' role

will be in the future. All pander

to pro-Israeli sentiment with

the exception of Paul, but offer

no solution, short of military

action, concerning the Middle


Giving a blank check to any

power - including an ally -

is risky business. President

Dwight D. Eisenhower was

quite right in 1956 to quash a

British-French scheme to siege

the Suez Canal. They left the

United States out of the loop,

used the Israelis, and Ike felt no

compunction in leaving them in

the lurch. That was a responsible

action that averted a wider


Within the Democratic

Party, there are clamorings for

intervention in Syria. Hawks

used that clever device, human

rights, as a foot in the door.

However, President Barack

Obama and Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton have smartly

avoided taking their advice.

The Libyan incursion may have

created a worse situation than

under Muammar Gadhafi.

Egypt is still a big question

mark. Al Qaeda is strong in

Syria and is now backed by

Hamas. Israel, to its credit, has

not gone starry-eyed over the

so-called Arab Spring. By all

appearances, it looks like a radical

Sunni attempt at a comeback.

Domestic demands for intervention,

whether used as a

campaign device or by a media

outlet, CNN, for its own purposes

is not a good approach to

foreign policy. Despite the

facile declaration that the

"camera never blinks," it does

not explain circumstances leading

up to a crisis. Only after the

United States intervenes does it

become clear what the complications

are and, as a result,

Americans pay the price in

blood and treasure. Passion

rarely rules wisely and the offending

power suffers the consequences.

George W. Bush's

intervention settled nothing

and, if anything, left Americans

with a reluctance to engage in


Wolf crying only confuses

the issue, particularly in regards

to Iran. After the

weapons of mass destruction

claim in Iraq, who believes the

United States? Afghanistan, as

well, points to the perils of hyperbole.

Our nation-building

efforts have been so successful

that Americans deal with their

Afghan advisers at their peril.

Perhaps Paul is right on this

front and Obama would be

wise to draw down and leave

the situation to the locals. In the

end, it is their war - if Hamid

Karzai wants it that way and he

says he does, grant him his

wish. Allow nations to conduct

their own ambitious project,

just don't expect Americans to

underwrite the expense.

Dr. David Turner

The U.S.

cannot be

a lender

(Editor's Note: Turner is a

professor of history at Davis &

Elkins College.



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