Belmont Club

Modern times

The Atlantic describes a man’s recurring nightmare: the possibility that oil may be found in a Western country. Aqqaluk Lynge may be an symbol of the modern world’s ambivalence over everything. To be fair, not many Greenlanders feel the way Lynge does.

Aqqaluk Lynge has a recurring nightmare: “When I’m lying awake at night, I pray we don’t find oil.” That anxiety puts Lynge, the president of Greenland’s chapter of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, a group representing indigenous people from Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Russia, in the distinct minority of his 58,000 fellow islanders, most of whom hope that a huge oil find will ensure the success of Greenland’s independence from Denmark. Roughly 76 percent of the voters in a referendum last year wanted greater self-rule; on June 21 of this year, they got it. … Then there’s the fear that Greenland could become the Nigeria of the Arctic, another victim of the so-called resource curse, in which oil wealth triggers a downward spiral toward dysfunctional dictatorship.

You mean a dysfunctional dictatorship as in Saudi Arabia, Iran or Venezuela? Heavens no. But if some Greenlanders are looking forward to finding oil instead of fearing it, maybe that’s because they they don’t know yet that carbon is bad. But they’ll realize it someday. Finding oil isn’t the only horror people stay up fearing at night. Caroline Glick describes another concern: that the West might actually keep some of its friends onside. Turkey, she says is becoming increasingly and openly anti-Western. “Once the apotheosis of a pro-Western, dependable Muslim democracy, this week Turkey officially left the Western alliance and became a full member of the Iranian axis.”

The Bush administration ignored the warnings of secular Turkish leaders in the country’s media, military and diplomatic corps that Erdogan was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Rather than pay attention to his past attempts to undermine Turkey’s secular, pro-Western character and treat him with a modicum of suspicion, after the AKP electoral victory in 2002 the Bush administration upheld the AKP and Erdogan as paragons of Islamist moderation and proof positive that the US and the West have no problem with political Islam. …

As for the Obama administration, since entering office in January it has abandoned US support for democracy activists throughout the world, in favor of a policy of pure appeasement of US adversaries at the expense of US allies. In keeping with this policy, President Barack Obama paid a preening visit to Ankara where he effectively endorsed the Islamization of Turkish foreign policy that has moved the NATO member into the arms of Teheran’s mullahs. Taken together, the actions of the Bush and Obama White Houses have demoralized Westernized Turks, who now believe that their country is doomed to descend into the depths of Islamist extremism. As many see it, if they wish to remain in Turkey, their only recourse is to join the Islamist camp and add their voices to the rising chorus of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism sweeping the country.

The idea that one might have friends or enemies is so binary, so simple-minded that it almost smacks of bigotry. Nuance is far better. After September 11, the Bush administration announced it was prepared to pre-empt any aggressor who was preparing to strike the United States. Eight years ago, “never again” meant never. Now it means … well, maybe. The pre-emptive strike doctrine is now being reviewed by the Obama administration as part of a more sophisticated approach towards a “more complex” international environment. Bloomberg reports:

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) — The Pentagon is reviewing the Bush administration’s doctrine of preemptive military strikes with an eye to modifying or possibly ending it.

The international environment is “more complex” than when President George W. Bush announced the policy in 2002, Kathleen Hicks, the Defense Department’s deputy undersecretary for strategy, said in an interview. “We’d really like to update our use-of-force doctrine to start to take account for that.”

The Sept. 11 terrorist strikes prompted Bush to alter U.S. policy by stressing the option of preemptive military action against groups or countries that threaten the U.S. Critics said that breached international norms and set a dangerous precedent for other nations to adopt a similar policy.

The doctrine is being reassessed as part of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review of strategy, force structure and weapons programs. Hicks is overseeing the review.

Gone are the days of simple good versus evil, enemies versus friends, striking it rich versus staying poor. We’re not in the black and white 1950s any more. Today everything is a shade of something.

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