Macho Middle East policy

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, October 11, 2004

In watching the presidential and vice presidential debates, I'm disappointed that Democrats, like Republicans, adhere to foreign policies that have invited the current crisis in the Middle East.

When John Edwards was asked about his policy toward Israel, he said the Israelis have a right to defend themselves and said nothing about what has been happening to the Palestinians for the last 37 years. Edwards chose not to criticize an American policy favoring Israel, which has inflamed the Arab world and made America complicit in Israel's oppression of Arabs. In doing so, I suspect domestic, political considerations weighed heavily. If Edwards had criticized Israel, the Kerry-Edwards ticket would be subject to political retaliation from the American Israeli Political Action Committee and risk being labeled anti-Semitic - the kiss of death for any American politician.

Our current policy in the Middle East and toward terrorism is, like Israel's toward the Palestinians, not to listen and compromise but to attack and kill. This policy hasn't worked in Israel, so why do our political elites think it will work elsewhere? Instead of recognizing the complaints of Muslims who see us supporting tyrannical regimes in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in exchange for cheap oil and disproportionately supporting Israel against the Palestinians, we ignore Arab perspectives, thereby increasing Muslim support for bin Laden and jihad against the United States. Though some Republicans say a vote for Kerry is a vote for bin Laden, terrorism experts report that al-Qaida would prefer to see Bush elected because Bush's occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq (Islam's second holiest country) proves bin Laden's argument that the U.S. seeks to control the Middle East.

The current Democratic Party's pandering to American right-wing ideology reminds me of the Democrats going into Vietnam to prove to Republicans they weren't soft on communism. It's still a macho contest to prove who's toughest rather than thinking about and doing the right thing. Unfortunately, there's no law requiring those who support wars to fight them. If there were, Bush and Cheney might be pacifists and a lot of innocent people would still be alive.

American voters are back in the box of choosing the lesser of two evils. I'll take Kerry because, unlike Bush, he doesn't think stubborn adherence to a mistake is strength, and it is likely Kerry will base some of his foreign policy decisions on reality instead of ideology.

Lisle Hebert


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