US and the Middle East

When I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I was asked to write a paper on the political parties in the United States.  No, that’s not right.  I was probably asked to write a paper about our country and I chose the topic. This may have been an early sign that some day I would major in political science.  This would have been around 1949.  I explained in cryptic details how when the Republican Party was in power, we had depressions; and when the Democratic Party was in power, we had wars.  My conclusion was that in order to decide whether you wanted to be a Republican or a Democrat, you had to decide whether you would prefer a depression or a war.  It’s a good thing I didn’t mention the Communist Party or my teacher might have turned me over to Senator McCarthy.

I thought you needed to know the above before you started reading my thought on the Middle East.  It shouldn’t surprise you that I am confused about the Middle East.  One thing for sure, I quit worrying a long time ago about whether people liked us.  Yep, I’m the ugly American.

One thing I do worry about is our national security and what is in the interest of our nation.  I think our leaders, in developing our foreign policy, should concentrate on what is in the best interest of the United States. Other countries understand that because that is exactly what they are doing.  Charles De Gaulle’s decision for France to have a French nuclear defense against Russia was based upon what he believed was in the best interest of France.  He didn’t care that the United States was unhappy with the decision.

It doesn’t seem to matter who is in power in many Middle Eastern countries when it comes to suppressing the views and right of their opposition.  Some regimes may be harsher that others, but they all treat their opposition harshly and it doesn’t pay to be too vocal.  This doesn’t seem to me to be a critical factor in deciding our country’s national interest.  Gassing the opposition changes the playing field.  But, otherwise, I ask, is it in our national interest to see governments favorable to us overthrown and the installation of a fundamental Islamic government? Then when such a ruling party as the Muslim Brotherhood is overthrown, should we wring our hands?

When is a coup not a coup?  I would say when it is in the national interest of the United States.  OK, I’m not only the ugly American, I’m a hypocrite. But with all my faults, I would not lose sight of our national security.

I also have some thought on free elections in tribal countries like Afghanistan.  But I think I will stop and cut my losses.  Life was a lot simpler when all I had to do was choose between war and depression.

Written by PJ Rice at