Monday, May 08, 2006

George's Ideals and Reality

The Washington Post has published an opinion piece by Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. I found Albright to be straight forward and on target in her assessment of Bush's 'idealistic cause' - "that America "has a calling from beyond the stars to proclaim liberty throughout the world."

Bush is not realistic (I think we knew that). Unfortunately, it is also not realistic to walk out on Iraq, now that we are there. It is seriously unfortunate. In more ways than one - particularly because of our human rights behaviour, the death toll in that country and because of our military's daily threat of death from various factions.

It doesn't help us much to look back at "why" we are there, other than to sustain our anger at an administration that lied to get their way. But, we do have an obligation to make things right or at least better than when we got there. That is not happening. Don't get me wrong, I want us out of Iraq as much if not more than most people. But, what happens when we just pick up an leave?

And, now we have the Iranian government tweaking our nose over nuclear capabilities, whilst their secret death squads enter Iraq and murder people. Without the help and aid of other nations, specifically those of the Middle East, I'm not sure how we will ever settle the continuing and confounding issues we now face in Iraq because of George Bush's idealism.

The debate between idealism and realism in foreign affairs moves back and forth like a pendulum because neither extreme is sustainable. A successful foreign policy must begin with the world as it is but also work for what we would like it to be. On a globe this complicated, even the purest of principles must sometimes be diluted. Still, we get up in the morning because of hope, which cold-blooded cynicism can neither inspire nor satisfy. If all America stands for is stability, no one will follow us for the simple reason that we aren't going anywhere.

The time has come to start looking beyond the Bush administration to its successor. Our new leaders, of whichever party, will face daunting challenges, including that of redefining what America stands for in the world. Their "to do" list is sure to include winning the battle of ideas -- as we should have long ago -- against the likes of Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, halting nuclear proliferation, devising a sensible energy policy, and restoring America's reputation as a supporter (and observer) of international law and human rights. At the top of that list, however, must be a reaffirmation of America's commitment to liberty and respect for the dignity of every human being. Without such a commitment, all else will be in vain.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home