Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Best Friends Money Can Buy?

Reading the reports of unrest around the US embassy allegedly caused by a YouTube video that few if any has seen (including me) did not shock me, I'm sorry to say.  Apparently it's OK to insult any other religion in the world without fear of violent assault, but not that of Islam.  Evidently these true believers hold so strongly to their 'Religion of Peace' that it's OK to kill anyone who in any way insults or makes fun of your religious figures.  Now this in itself is a curious contradiction, since there is no iconography in Islam.  As such it seems incongruous that any 'image' can therefore be seen as an affront. (But let's set that aside for now.)

I also noted that an attack on US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, led to his death along with three others in a protest that apparently escalated into an attack on the consulate there on September 11th.  In spite of the ongoing reports from the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the Administration that there was no plan involved, it would take, in a phrase Mrs. Clinton used back in 2007 when still a Senator, "a willing suspension of disbelief" to accept that guys with rocket propelled grenade launchers just happened to show up at this curiously well organized tactical assault of US sovereign territory. (But let's set that aside for now too.)

This brutal assault on the persons and property of the United States has seemingly touched off a wave of demonstrations and destruction at Embassies from the Western Europe to Indonesia.  It seems that the apparently disenfranchised populations of predominantly Islamic nations across most of the world have decided to publicly share their negative opinions of us by destroying our property and killing our citizens.  Governments in many of those countries, which have seemed perfectly capable of putting out the fires of such demonstrations for many years (even when it required a little extremism and thuggery on their part), seem suddenly unable to protect US territory that they are bound to under international treaty.  Perhaps even worse, US Ambassadors seem unhappy or unwilling to issue Marines guarding those facilities ammunition in order for them to do what these host nations seem incapable of. (But let's set that aside for now too, even if this is getting a bit monotonous.)

Why, because many of these are after all, OUR FRIENDS ....

One might even say that some of these are the best friends that money can buy!  After all, the United States pours out more than $52.7 billion in foreign economic and military aid every year (according to the 2010 numbers I could find), with the economic part of that package coming to some $37.7 billion.  And what a list it is!  Let's look at some of our 'buck buddy allies':

*  Afghanistan topped the list with some $11.4 billion
*  Pakistan got some $2.85 billion
*  Iraq manage $2.1 billion
*  Egypt received a paltry $1.7 billion
*  Mexico got a mere $718 million
*  Gaza (yes little bitty Gaza) managed $693 million
*  And Indonesia got $338 million to spread across almost as many islands

Now lest anyone forget, we have been doing this for many years, under the leadership of both parties.  This may be another of those examples of 'bi-partisan blundering' that those of us looking at Washington DC can't help but notice when we poke our nose under the tent (no camel jokes intended ... well OK maybe there are).  And speaking of poking their nose under the tent, once that nose has found its way in, it seems impossible to dislodge it.  We seem to treat these wayward nations as if they were a ne'er do well brother-in-law.  No matter how much we give them, it's never enough.  And no matter how deep we dig in our pockets, they're never going to like us.  In fact, giving them the money only seems to make them hate us more.  While we're making such comparisons (and forgive me for noticing), but a lot of those nations appear to have significant Islamic populations.  

This is not to say that we carry no blame in these situations.  It was the US after all, who supported the despotic rule of the Shah of Iran; at least until we stopped supporting him.  Oh sure we got rid of Saddam Hussein and his evil persecution of his own people and those of Kuwait, but only after years of supporting him as a bastion against the guys who took over in Iran after we ran out on the guy who ran it before.  We also supported the despotic rule of Mubarak in Egypt before we bailed on him; and there was a time when we liked Gaddafi before we didn't.  Hell we still sell a lot of really cool military hardware to the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, knowing that various members of the royal family have (and probably still do) support a number of groups considered terrorists organizations around the world.

It therefore seems that our foreign policy is little more these days than a poorly planned and totally misguided attempt to get the best friends that money can buy.  It's a policy that's never worked particularly well for us, and in these days when we're all but broke and paying out with borrowed money, it's failing even worse than normally.  It is one however, that appears to be impossible to abandon; though perhaps there is one difference is that the current Administration has decided to exercise which might be worthy of note.  That's the practice of continuously apologizing to the crappy friends we have, and that only hang out with us while we're paying for them; while simultaneously insulting the ones not currently on our payroll.  It's a curious form of diplomacy that reminded me of the days of my youth, and some friends from a little band from Chicago that achieved a modicum of success; especially in the 70's.  Perhaps the President, since he currently chooses to call this his hometown as well, might want to learn from some of its finer poets and bards: 

Now, I'm a jet fuel genius 
I can solve the world's problems
Without even trying.
I have dozens of friends 
And the fun never ends
That is, as long as I'm buying.
Is it any wonder I'm not the president?
Is it any wonder I'm null and void?

From:  "Too Much Time On My Hands", written by Tommy Shaw

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