Defining the Enemy

The recent state of the Union address has left Americans with plenty to talk about, and even more to worry about.

The annual budget speech mentioned 9/11 multiple times, as usual, and the same old entitlement spin on social security got an honorable mention. But, what I found to be most concerning was the talk about the situation in the Middle East, and foreign policy in general. In particular I am concerned about one statement Bush made: “Our Nation is committed to a historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world.”

This sweeping statement is not specific, not clear and has the ability to open doors to places I don’t think America is ready to go.

It is, however, not very original.

Throughout American history presidents who have held office during times of conflict have often been the men who define U.S. foreign policy for years to come.

From the Monroe doctrine to the Truman doctrine American foreign policy has continued to be influenced by the speeches of Presidents who have long been dead.

Truman’s words led us to a policy of containment in the name of protecting free people around the world. What he meant by free people, was people not under the control of the communists. What he didn’t say was which communists. The Truman doctrine was a broad stroke, and it helped influence the U.S. to do some pretty dumb things.

By dumb things, I mean the invasion of Vietnam and Korea. The Truman speech was one of the policy changes that led to the idea that all communists were unified and they all had one goal, the overthrow of capitalism. Of course, this did not turn out to be true, and a lot of bodies got dropped in the process of finding this out. The U.S. invasion of Vietnam led to a bloody and embarrassing war that is still fresh in the memories of many Americans, and it was the result of some seriously flawed thinking.

President Bush’s latest foreign policy statement seems to have kept the Truman Doctrine in mind, and taken it to an entirely new level. In the shadow of this statement, anyone can be the enemy whenever the U.S. chooses to label them as such.

First, what the hell is tyranny? Is it the wheel tax, four dollar cups of coffee or mass murder? Is it monarchy or fundamental Islamic ideology? Where is tyranny? Are there governments that label themselves as such? Do they have racist policies? Are they nationalist or communist? How do we know who the enemy really is?

There are governments doing nasty things all over the planet, and this broad statement could turn any one of them into the enemy, regardless of their actual threat to security.

So where will America turn next under the Bush Doctrine? It could be Iran, it could be North Korea or maybe the Dutch Virgin Islands. The latter seems doable, but the former has a body count on it I don’t want to think about.

Protecting freedom is necessary, and providing security to our nation is a number one priority. However, when someone is not a real threat to the United States we should not be acting militarily against them. For one, we don’t have the money. Secondly, we don’t have the manpower to be playing Superman around the globe. Iraq is already breaking the bank, and when reconstruction starts there might not even be enough red ink to show how far in debt the U.S. is going to go.

Even more worrisome is that we have a war going on that requires revenue and this guy is talking about tax cuts. Bush, more and more, reminds me of an idealistic teenager with a limitless credit card. The problem with that is, eventually, the well runs dry.

The U.S. has got to start taking a more careful look at its policies toward the world and try to keep its goals within its means.

The president said “Second guessing is not a strategy,” but the word strategy itself implies he and his staff were thinking when they came up with this stuff. Criticism is necessary to any policy, and looking to the mess made by past mistakes and learning from them is the definition of wisdom.

This president doesn’t like to be told he is wrong, he doesn’t want to listen to other elected officials and he wants to creep into any hallway or bedroom he wishes to and covertly gather information.

It is a wonder he wants to spread so much freedom, because he does not seem to promote it very much.



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The Murfreesboro Pulse: Middle Tennessee’s Source for Art, Entertainment and Culture News.

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