Friday, March 16, 2007

Spoiled Brat Foreign Policy

Lou Dobbs can be quite a confusing character. I agree with a lot of his positions, but he goes crazy when it comes to the illegal immigration issue. Just last week, I decided to watch his show for a bit and it was segment after segment about illegal immigration and how it is destroying our country. Then in between all these segments he had one about Cuban immigrants, and just after going on and on about how amnesty was bad for Mexican illegals, he suggested that all Cuban illegals who made it onto our shores should be rewarded with citizenship because of their ingenuity! WTF?

Anyway, it is clear that he sees the plight of Cubans different from that of Mexicans. So, this creates two subjects that I will address: 1) Our foreign policy towards ‘enemy’ nations and 2) illegal immigration. Today I will address the former since I can get a lengthy post from both subjects.

So, why do I make reference to ‘spoiled brat foreign policy’? This is not in reference to all foreign policy of this country, but only a few instances in which our stance has no rational reason. Specifically, and most notably, this concerns our stances towards Cuba, Iran, and Vietnam.

For Cuba what happened was Castro refused, upon his rise to power, to play by the rules set by the United States government. It also happens that the US government was not so happy about him overthrowing the government of the friendly, but thoroughly corrupt, Batista. Batista was friendly to the US, US economic interests, and US corporate interests. Because of this, our government overlooked the poor treatment the Cuban people received from Batista. Castro came to power on the promise that he would help the people of Cuba and not serve the interests of the corporations. This he did, but at the expense of corporate interests, which of course lost all their assets to the communist Cuban government. Since Castro didn’t play by the American rules, our government refuses to do business with his country.

For Cuba there may also be the fact that our government and our people were upset over this seeming betrayal. Since the Spanish American war our country has viewed Cuba as our little brother in their fight for freedom and independence. It seems that our country was unable to accept the fact that Cuba had grown up and had every right to go on its own.

In Iran there was the similar situation of a US friendly dictator in power who was overthrown by a popular uprising. As any situation, this may not have been a problem if the new government had not socialized the oil industry. Again, Iran didn’t play by our rules, so they are being penalized for it. The standoff we are experiencing today with Iran is part of our governments temper tantrum over not getting its way.

Vietnam is a different case, especially since we now have diplomatic and economic relations with the country. This does not mean that they didn’t get treated poorly by our government though. After Vietnam came under the NV government our country supported the government in Cambodia despite the fact that it was communist. In retaliation for an attack by Cambodia, Vietnam invaded in overthrew Pol Pot who murdered millions of his own people. Of course, the fact that Pol Pot had committed genocide was no problem for our government as long as he was allied with our government. Support of Pol Pot in opposition to Vietnam had no actual strategic purpose except as retaliation for Vietnam’s unwillingness to cave to US pressure and revenge for victory over our military.

Looking at these examples it seems the factor of economic system and the ability of corporations to do business in these countries shapes US foreign policy. Iran and Cuba refuse to be dominated by foreign companies and instead government controls their major industries. Vietnam has been forgiven because they have allowed a loosening of their economy and are leaning towards capitalism.

So, our country is unable to engage in meaningful dialogue with these countries because they won’t play by our rules. No country, especially ours, should engage in foreign policy that resembles the attitude of a spoiled brat who has been refused their dessert. We consistently flog our country’s embrace of diversity, but that embrace only exists when diverse economic systems are the same as ours. If we don't engage these countries with diplomacy, and just attack them for not following our rules, then at best nothing will happen but, more likely, peace will deteriorate.

Addendum 3/17/2007:
Our stance towards Cuba has also been rather infantile. Almost from the day we decided we couldn't deal with Castro, our relations with Cuba have been dependent on his death. For the past fifty years our country has justified its sanctions on the country and its refusal to deal with the country on the premise that Castro will be dead tomorrow and then everything will be fine. For the past fifty years Castro has defied the United States government and continued to live. For some reason we forget the fact that he is a survivor, and our obsession with his always impending death was shown when he stepped aside from power to enter the hospital. He has been there for months now, and who knows, he may be on his way out, but I wouldn't put it past him to get healthy and step back into power. Also, just because he dies does not mean communism will be abandoned. It is just as likely that rulers will continue his legacy, and if that is so, what then?

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