Thursday, December 4, 2008

A humble suggestion to our new president

I have one new idea (at least I haven't seen it elsewhere) which I would love to see our new administration implement. The President could introduce it as the Obama Doctrine, and it could be stated quite simply: It is not the policy of the United States to establish a permanent military presence in any other country, except at the invitation of the people (NOT the government) of that country. This is a hard world. Sometimes a temporary military presence may be necessary, or it may be the least evil option available. But our country will never have any permanent bases outside our territory, except at the invitation, by impartially observed popular election, of the people of that country. And that presence will end if a subsequent election revokes that invitation. It will not be sufficient for the government of a country to approve: a government might be controlled by a powerful minority, or not be representative of the actual people.
Why this policy? I think that throughout the world, the actions of the current U. S. regime have inspired a fear of a revival of colonialism: the nineteenth-century practice of the great powers of taking over a country and extracting its resources, with no real benefit to the people already living there. This is particularly true in the Middle East and, obviously, in Iraq. People there fear that the West in general and the USA in particular is tempted to take over, extract all their petroleum and leave them with little or nothing. The actions of the Bush administration have done next to nothing to allay these fears, and much to inflame them. This has been the Islamofascists' most potent weapon. They can exploit this fear to silence many ordinary people who might support us, or at least want to just live their peaceful lives. Anyone who speaks or acts against the terrorists is tarred as a supporter of the neocolonialists. No people who love their country want to seem like that to their neighbors. We need to make it plain that this is not our intention, not now and not ever.
I really believe that one short paragraph like that one can do more for peace in Iraq, and indeed most of the world, than every soldier we could send.