Michael Totten

A Plea to America - Stay the Course

by lebanon.profile
The Middle East has not been a nice place to live for a long time.
We now have some hope, but not much. We’ve been sold out before.
The Central and Eastern Europeans had dreams similar to ours. Their dreams were fulfilled. Unlike us, however, the people who oppressed them were the same people threatening the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and even China.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Americans and Europeans were banging at the doors to help. President Clinton created a position for Strobe Talbott to help Russia along the path to democracy. The President went to war in the Balkans against the will of many Republicans and the Russians.
NATO expanded. The EU expanded.
The Soros-es and Lauders of the world poured their billions into Central and Eastern European ventures.
Now, in under fifteen years, Prague, Tallinn, and Budapest are some of the finest places to live on the planet. America has gained some unswerving allies.
2005 began with bells of freedom ringing in Kiev. Bulgaria and Romania are coming closer to joining the EU. Turkey is now in the running.
The story was different in the Middle East.
30 January 2005 marked an historic moment for the Iraqi people. Purple fingers streaked across the world inspiring all doubters.
However, the carnage worsened throughout the year, and prospects are grim.
The massive turnouts in the recent Iraqi elections remain inspiring, but Iraq is still desperately in need of foreign assistance.
President Hosni Mubarak hosted a mockery of an election, and was applauded in the West.
The strength of the Muslim Brotherhood in the recent parliamentary elections is not a promising sign.
That elections occurred in which opposition could be voiced is fantastic, even if Egypt remains a dictatorship. Voices of dissent are increasingly being heard.
However, as Michael recently wrote, the prospects for Egypt are grim on all fronts.
Financial assistance only empowers the regime. Pushing for democracy empowers a poor, oppressed, religious, and uneducated people. The government imposes too many restrictions on free enterprise, and yet the people are horribly impoverished.
This situation will not last long. A country of 78 million people – many of them young, angry, religious, without work, and a lot of time on their hands – will not remain stable for long.
We’ve come a long, long way this year.
Unlike Ukraine, Lebanon in 2004 was in a hopeless situation. The President was re-appointed by a foreign country. The Constitution had to be changed first to allow this to occur. The UN, US, and the rest of the world muttered their disapproval.
October brought the near assassination of a popular opposition parliamentarian in a car bomb. A staged investigation was mounted. Nothing was found.
It appeared to some observers that the Syrian appointed Prime Minister’s government took as its main objectives cronyism, profit, and attacking the opposition.
14 February 2005 brought the assassination of the most prominent Lebanese politician in the world, the man bankrolling the opposition, the man preparing to dominate the summer parliamentary elections.
Thanks to our brave efforts and an amazing show of effort by Presidents Bush and Chirac, uniformed Syrian troops left the country.
However, the last few months have been plagued by terrorist bombings and politically motivated assassinations.
Now, as the year ends, Russia, China, and Algeria have forced the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that gives Syria a pass. The most prominent newspapers in America came out against the resolution. Their words matter, but we desperately need action.
Asking for Help
It’s difficult for me to argue that the United States must do more.
It’s very hard pleading for foreign assistance.
It’s hard to ask a country that already has 150,000 troops deployed in a single Middle Eastern country, has domestic terrorist threats, and is plagued by horrendous natural disasters to do more.
It’s hard to ask a country that already donates billions of dollars to Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Israel, and Palestine to do more.
It’s even harder to ask when I know Middle Eastern regimes and citizens will violently oppose American action.
It’s even harder to ask for more money when countries in our own neighborhood are profiting greatly at the expense of citizens driving to work in Macon, Syracuse, Lubbock, and Tacoma.
But your support is all we have left.