One wonders whether President Obama, for all the soaring rhetoric, grasps why certain nations really do hate us. Does he think a Grozny, Darfur, Rwanda, Serbia, or Tibet happen in reaction to US global sinful conduct? Does he appreciate why hot spots like Cyprus, Taiwan, or Georgia, do not boil over—or under what conditions they might? Does he really believe that in the pre-Bush era we all got along (cf. his al Arabiya interview); then Bush’s strutting, unilateralism, and preemption, presto, caused anti-Americanism?
Take Iran. It wants to be the preeminent regional power in the Middle East, and win for the Persian Shiites the mantle of Islamic frontline leadership in the long war to destroy Israel. That requires oil revenue, sponsorship of terror, and nuclear weaponry.
Despite Bill Clinton’s past ramblings, it is not democratic; instead, prescreened, preapproved candidates are confirmed by plebiscites, and civil liberties are nonexistent as we know them. The history of Khomeinism is one of executing thousands of Shah-supporters, sending tens of thousands to their deaths in mass wave attacks in Iraq, and using surrogate Hezbollah and Shiite operatives to blow up Americans from Lebanon to Iraq. In other words, a democratic internationalist America stands in the way of their megalomaniac aspirations.
After the Carter humiliations, the Reagan disaster with Iran-Contra, the Clinton feeble attempts at appeasement, Americans gave up on the Khomeinists, and more or less hoped to distinguish the Iranian people from their theocracy, talk up democratic change, and contain the mullahs’ terrorist aspirations. We can do this adroitly or clumsily, but existential differences will remain nonetheless—until a change in ideology on their or our part. Either they reenter the family of nations, or we redefine the family of nations to include thugocracies.
And now? What is there to negotiate over? How soon they can have the bomb? Triangulation with them over Israel? Promises to quit sending shaped charges into Iraq to kill more Americans.
Why does Hugo Chavez hate us? Is it because Bush’s ‘dead or alive’ed him or ‘with us or against us”ed him? Hardly. Chavez wants to end democracy in Venezuela for good, turn it into a Cuba-like communist dictatorship, use his oil revenues to whip up liberationist, anti-Yanqui feelings throughout South America, and end up with himself as some sort of messianic caudillo of the entire socialist continent.
Sound crazy? No more crazy than the daily Chavez communiqués. Again, by good or bad diplomacy we can soothe or excite him–but otherwise his aims are antithetical to the notion of democratic, capitalist states, with close ties to the North American democracies.
We can ditto all this with North Korea, Cuba, Russia, Syria, etc. So far all the Obama apologies for the sins of his own country (note always before he came on the scene), the serial “Bush did it” invective, the promises of a brave new Obama transnational world, the evocation of his middle name, and non-traditional lineage, and shared demagoguery against “them” (Wall Street, the greedy, the unpatriotic who make over the mythical trip wire $250,000), have not, and will not, change much abroad. Has Cuba promised to release prisoners, or apologized for all those killed? Has Chavez vowed to restore constitutional governance and quit subversion of his neighbors?