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From the Left: American foreign policy gone wrong

Columnist

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02


The first years of the United States were remarkably free from governmental involvement; federalism was still in its infancy, and the nation had not grown to the point in which the state-country relationship had evolved so that the former was not consumed by the expanding power of the latter. Individual liberty was at its zenith: judicial precedents, legislation and executive orders had not yet been set down that restricted self-government. The dawn of America could be considered the advent of a libertarian utopia and the “proven” success of classical liberalism. 

Yet the existence of world wars, political conflicts and ideological schisms have all proven to contribute to the perversion of America. We were an embryo for liberty that could have very well have evolved into a glorious, people-driven republic, but we have not followed that path: we’ve entered the era of the corporate police-state, with boundaries set upon our civil rights. Time has not proven the American experiment to be true, but rather has warped it into something that our Founding Fathers would decry. 

Modern America prides itself on being that, though­­ — we pride ourselves on being the paragon of Western democracy, acting as the singular and last night in the darkness of emerging statism and collectivism. We desperately try to ignore the fact that our nation has changed; we hold fast to the concept that we are still the freest country on earth and the only place where freedom and patriotism truly exist. We do not willingly acknowledge the fact that the government’s control is rapidly expanding or that our civil rights are being constricted at an accelerating rate, but rather remind ourselves that we are still the home of the free and land of the brave.

We allow everyone — both ourselves and our self-righteous politicians — to flippantly throw around the words “freedom” and “liberty” without thinking critically of what they mean. We tell ourselves that we are a free and democratic country and that we advocate for democracy abroad, but we shut our eyes to our own government’s foreign policy. We ignore the American-sponsored dictators of Latin America, the generous donations and double-dealings with Middle Eastern radicals, and the intervention into the affairs of governments of other countries. We pray that our “democratic” country will live forever as the bastion of liberty while cringing away from the thought that our nation is involved in some of the most undemocratic actions conceivable.

Newly founded America gave birth to free markets and constitutionalism. The free market gave rise to capitalism and personal profit, and even this mutated into corporatism and outright imperialism. Economic and social intervention is now the lifeblood of our government, and imperialism is the new patriotism that our country espouses.

What of the propaganda that we savagely throw against Hugo Chávez, calling the man a tyrannical leader that has dictatorially nationalized Venezuela’s petroleum industry and erected a statist bureaucracy? Is this propaganda truthful, or is it merely a slander campaign against someone who no longer agrees to run his country based on America’s economic interests in the South? In reality, Chávez has done wonders for the people of Venezuela — he does not flippantly talk about “democracy” as we do, but has rather supported it by helping his citizens create over 100,000 new worker-owned cooperative businesses. Yet because he does not share the same economic interests as the United States, we have launched a full-scale media war against him, the same as we did in the early 1970s with the wildly popular, democratically elected and self-avowed Marxist president of Chile, Salvador Allende.

What is most troubling nowadays, though, is an over-zealous support for Israel. Now, it needs to be said that there is nothing wrong with Israel itself, and the nation has the right to exist and defend itself from any and all threats. We should support and protect our allies, but we should not do so blindly. What’s most disturbing is the way that some support Israel despite the human rights violations that it continuously commits – such support for Israel stems from a need to reaffirm oneself as patriotic, as if an unwavering, absolutist commitment somehow makes one better and more valiant than those that do not. They support Israel simply because it is Israel, not because of any specific or noteworthy thing that the nation has done. 

Israel’s attempt to preserve its purity by disenfranchising Palestinians does not promote democracy or liberty in any way – it exacerbates ethnic tensions and political conflicts. The way that the Israeli state – and the Israeli Defense Forces, in particular – treat Palestinians, Muslims and other non-Israelis does nothing to bring about a peaceful solution to the never-ending conflicts in the Middle East. Yes, there are Palestinians who have engaged in radical policies (indeed, some that may even warrant the over-used title of “terrorist,” but both sides are guilty for past crimes), but that is not justification for the complete marginalization of an entire racial group. If there is anything that history has taught us, it is that the things that Israel is doing will not end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: bombing, slandering, and subjugating a race of people in the hopes that they give up and acknowledge defeat is not wise. It only angers them more, and fuels both of them. Both the Israelis and Palestinians are willing to fight to the death, and one perpetually assaulting the other is not conducive for a productive outcome. 

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6 comments

Jimminy
Thu Nov 29 2012 12:45
Hmmm.........I find myself agreeing with some of what Dan is saying about the erosion of civil rights at home.It can be problematic,for example, for an American to point out-truthfully- that Abraham Lincoln's war killed more Americans than Hitler's war did. I also find myself agreeing with the assertion that " the things Israel is doing will not end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict". The Jewish state seems oddly reluctant to take that last step and turn Gaza -and Iran- into a radioactive desert.Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has no such qualms about Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Anonymous
Tue Nov 27 2012 10:18
While 40,000 (and counting) Syrian women, children, the elderly and others have been killed by Muslims in Syria we focus our anger on Israel for we are intellectual college students who don't know our ass from a hole in the ground.

While Saudis repress all their people (other than the royal family whom have private $500 million dollar private airplanes) we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are really just anti-Semites pretending to be humanitarians.

While Pakistanis ethnically cleanse that once Hindu country of its remaining Hindus we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are really just anti-Semites pretending to be humanitarians.

While Egyptians ethnically cleanse that country of its ancient Coptic community we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are anti-Semites masquerading as humanitarians.

While Mali Islamists turn Mali into the next Sudan we focus our angst on Israel for deep down we are really anti-Semites dressed up in humanitarian's clothes.

While Yemenis turn that bread basket of the Arabian Peninsula into a place of starvation we focus our crocodile tears on Israel for deep down we are really anti-Semites dressed up in fancy humanitarian clothes.

While Islamists in Southern Thailand kill off over 5,000 Buddhists in the span of a few years we ignore their plight and turn our focus on Israel for we are anti-Semites pretending to be concerned humanitarians.

While Hezbollah kills off what remains of the Christian leadership in Lebanon we turn the spotlight on Israel for they are just Jews and we all know nobody has ever defended the Jews. They're easy pickings and we are really just Brown Shirts pretending to be humanitarians.

The Other Woman
Mon Nov 26 2012 09:22
Sorry Dan, you will never be David Jacobsen. You lack the style, wit, and ability to aptly articulate your position. Why not write a column about how difficult your science classes are?
Anonymous
Tue Nov 20 2012 16:44
I'd take the level of government we have now over the near anarchy libertarians want any day. Not that I mind freedom. It's wonderful to live in a country that you can openly hate.
Anonymous
Tue Nov 20 2012 11:17
Very thoughtful article but you forgot to quote 9 paragraphs from Nietzsche.
Shauna Harris
Tue Nov 20 2012 10:35
As soon as I saw your title, I knew exactly what I would find in the content of your editorial. I was not surprised that it was not until near the end that you finally addressed your main contention and your motivations became clear, and I find it necessary to respond to your many incorrect assertions about Israel and the conflict in general. I want to start off by giving you a rundown of my qualifications to speak on the matter; I, a recent graduate from UNH, am also a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, as well as an Israeli citizen. I spent two years serving in the body you have blamed for "marginalizing an entire racial group", and I promise you nothing can be farther from the truth. You speak of over-zealous support, which I agree is true of many pro-Israel Americans, though I know for a fact this is due to the frustration many people feel over the under-researched position you yourself have displayed. I would like to introduce you to the Israeli perspective, which is a simple desire to live in peace. Israelis are much less hawkish as a whole, and believe me I've met and discussed the situation with more than enough individuals to be considered a representative sample. I remember a debate I overheard on a bus travelling to my kibbutz in the North a few years ago- the debate was about taxes and how they were spent, which is a topic we can all relate to, though this debate was about whether it was fair that the insanely high taxes (about 40% across the board if I remember correctly), should be used to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The debate was getting heated and but for the two arguing, everyone was silent yet attentive, until finally the woman exclaimed "I don't care that we paying so much in taxes for them, and in fact I'm happy to pay to support them, as long as I'm not getting bombed at the same time". From your article title I assume you are a Democrat, so I assume you were as dismayed as I was to hear Romney talking about half of our country being victims who only voted for Obama in order to continue receiving free handouts like healthcare. I'm sure you were aggravated like I was at the idea that "free giveaways" now include healthcare, student loans, food stamps, and all the other types of aid so many of us need from our government just to keep afloat so we can be productive members of society. Now think about the Israeli situation, where not one of the millions of citizens paying into the system will ever see a shekel of that money in return, where most of the country is in debt, and where tax rates have almost no bearing on political positions, because the only thing that fuels the almost 100% voter turnout every few years is the strategy employed to produce peace. DId you know that Israel provides Gaza with electricity? Did you know that the IDF, those same soldiers you've just marginalized in your description of them, routinely send in an insane amount of food, supplies, and medicine into Gaza, (which incidentally is being held up at the moment because those trucks cannot enter Gaza while they're actively firing rockets into Israel). I moved to Israel in 2005 as those same soldiers were FORCED to remove Jewish Israeli citizens from the homes they'd lived in for decades in order to turn Gaza entirely over to the Palestinians in an effort to get the ball rolling for them to create their own state. I watched soldiers and citizens holding each other and crying together as the evacuation was carried out because the country as a whole determined it was more important to displace our own citizens if it meant we could achieve peace and live side by side. I was in basic training on a military base right next to Gaza, in an area I was informed was in range of the rockets that started to be fired from Gaza immediately after the evacuation was finished and Gaza was entirely in Palestinian control. I was forced to find another place to live for two months in 2006 when I could not travel up north to my kibbutz because rockets were raining over the entire area during the Second Lebanon War. I watched my friends grow old before my eyes as they returned home from the army after having been deployed throughout the territories and into Lebanon. I watched when the Palestinians, in their first free election ever, elected Hamas, the very same terrorist group that is behind the assault on Israel at this very moment. I do not believe that they all actively support Hamas, the terrorism, or any of the violence that has plagued Israel constantly on their behalf- rather I believe that the vast majority of them have been terrorized into supporting Hamas, because after all, terrorists by definition terrorize, and many of the Palestinians I've met aren't interested in anything but living their lives, just like the Israelis. I sit in my New Hampshire home now, with a long day of cooking ahead of me in preparation for Thanksgiving, where I will sit with my family and reflect on my...




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