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The Next Four Years of Foreign Policy
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Richard Rose/Released)
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States. In spite of much controversy surrounding him, he has hit the ground running with a number of actions in his first week of office. Most of these actions have confirmed the fears conservatives have voiced in the months since Obama's nomination. Most of these fears revolve around the morality of our nation and its standing in the world.
In addition to eliminating the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military and broadening the legality of abortion, he has asked for the trials of suspected terrorists be halted at the extremely controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp on the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. He has stated that it is his desire to close the detention camp in the near future, aka within one year, if not sooner.
The detention camp at Guantanamo Bay has been used to detain enemy combatants suspected of terrorism or terrorist acts against the US around the world. However, the history of Guantanamo Bay has been questionable at the least. Many allegations of torture have been brought against the United States. Many in the US have protested against Guantanamo Bay because of these accusations; however, they have offered no solution to the problem. Is it 'okay' to put detainees into a less than comfortable environment, if we find information that can protect us in the future from terrorists and their organizations? Many military minds from the past, whom we would label "Old School", would advocate using any and all methods, if it would mean protecting our country from future attacks. However, the loud voices of humanitarian groups around the world would quickly contradict this, saying that violence is not the answer to stop violence.
While I do agree that torturing prisoners in an effort to degrade them and make them feel inferior is wrong, I am not sure that closing Gitmo down is right thing to do for our country. My fear is that closing it down will weaken the 'bite' that the US has used to back up its 'bark'. Another obvious problem: If the US closes Guantanamo Bay, where do we take all of the detainees who are there? Do we bring them into the US as prisoners of the war on terror? Do we release them without seeing if they are guilty? Would that reinforce the ranks of terrorists around the world? Public records tell us that almost 70% of those incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay are not guilty and the US has tried to send them back to their own countries. However, their own countries will not take them back! What does that say of those who are being held?
Perhaps the solution is not as cut and dry as President Obama's actions would make it out to be. Sudden actions based on the opinion of the situation from the world's eye are seldom profitable to the US. Perhaps if the world were so concerned about people suffering around the globe, they would find more needy places to involved themselves, like Zimbabwe (inflation is now over 250 million percent) or Somalia or the Congo. Perhaps the world is more concerned about keeping everyone happy instead of keeping everyone safe. The opinions in the US - at least the loudest ones - usually follow the world opinion. The thing about following the majority is you must always be paying attention because the majority can change its mind very quickly. Perhaps following the majority is not the best thing for the US at this moment in history. The greatest moments in our country's history have been when we as a nation decided to change our direction, regardless of what the rest of the world, the majority, would think - or do, for that matter.
If this is a harbinger of things to come in the next four years, the future of our country's strength in the world will continue to diminish. We must pray that God will continue to bless our once great nation, even though we don't deserve it. God Bless America!
[Author's Note: A very interesting article comparing the Bush administration and the new Obama administration's view on interrogation.]
Family Planning to the Rescue
Saving the economy, one contraceptive at a time...
Nothing drawn out here, but I actually laughed out loud when I read the news headline about money for "family planning" being included in the stimulus package that the Democrats are proposing. Apparently this will help stimulate the economy by... yea I drew a blank there too.
Look, I'm sure someone will come up with a convoluted reason why it will help but I have to ask, "This is your plan?" All those years of criticism of every one of Bush's policies and they finally figured out something better - birth control.
Now supposedly, spending is good for the economy - when it's people spending money that ends up in other peoples' hands. Spending tax dollars to prevent babies being born means the only transfer of wealth is from taxpayer to government, hardly a stimulus. Having a baby would require much spending on the part of the parents, as would putting a baby up for adoption (although I'm sure there are government fees involved there too). Family planning, of course, pretty much means trying to prevent people from having babies, via contraceptive or abortion...
And that's the thing, it's not about economic stimulus at all. It's about getting an agenda across. Now I'm not saying they don't have the right to try to pass legislation, but with the economy hurting, why would you risk messing the stimulus up by including something purely social and not in any significant way economic? That to me says, "I know you are hurting, but we really want to control the birth rate among poor people - we'll get to your problems later."
I'm not sure we want to slow the birth rate too much. We may end up like Japan, where some companies are letting their employees go home early in the hopes that the birth rate will increase.
Feeling It Out
It's more than just the words, it's the tone and the inference, perhaps just as much what was in between the lines as the lines themselves. After watching the inauguration, I found myself feeling sad.
Not sad because the guy I voted for didn't win - I really wasn't too excited about voting for him in the first place. Not sad because there's a different party controlling the White House - I'm not a big fan of either party right now. Not sad because of the race of anyone - that really doesn't matter to me (should it?). Not sad because of the great crises in which our nation has found itself - I'm not too convinced things are worse now than September 12th, 2001.
I'm sad because the assumption is made that our country is no longer great, that America no longer leads the world, that she needs to be restored and rebuilt. Yes, there are ways we can improve, there are things we need to deal with, there is progress to be made; however, there is no need to 'remake America'.
Our greatness is not found in what other nations and other people say, think, or feel about us. Our greatness is not found in a President, or what our politicians tell us. And our greatness does not need to be rediscovered, rewritten, retooled, or reworked for a new generation. Our greatness is found right where it has always been. Freedom, Liberty, Justice. Those principles, those ideals, don't need to be hidden so other nations will feel better, and they don't need to be reinterpreted into free health care, abortion on demand, and giving those that want to destroy us the same rights as our citizens.I'm sad because those that opposed the policy, direction, vision of our last President simply because they did not like him, and will applaud the policy, direction, vision of our new President simply because they do like him. In the eyes of some, one could do no right, while the other can do no wrong. Blind hatred has been replaced with blind love - and both are equally dangerous.
Those that supported and stood behind our last President when they believed he was in the right, and respectfully disagreed when they believed he was in the wrong will more than likely treat our new President in a similar fashion. In the same way, those that support and defend our new President without even a show of honest consideration, intellectual effort, or moral evaluation will be those that opposed our last President just as loudly and with just as little substance.
I'm sad because the underlying message is that one President ruined everything, and one President can fix everything. I don't think there is much that is further from the truth. A President is simply a man. At best he is a man who gives himself for what he believes is best for our nation. At worst he is a man who gives our nation for what he believes is best for himself. I don't believe that either is the worst case.
But no matter what the case his leadership is never perfect, and he does not singularly control the direction of our country. Our problems cannot be attributed to a single man, or a single administration. In the same way our success is not found in a single man, or a single administration. To do that would be a great mistake.
While I'm sure it's abundantly clear that I prefer our last President, and don't agree with the premise our new President has provided at the start of his term, let me be clear. I don't wish for our new President to fail. On the contrary, may God bless him with wisdom and may he be successful. May his policies be as successful as they are right, and may he defend this great nation regardless of the political cost.
However, if his new policies are rooted in socialism and his defense of this nation mistakes those who want peaceful co-existence with those that long for freedom, then may those policies fail quickly, and without great loss.
For history shows us that they will indeed fail sometime, and sooner is certainly better for us than later.