Friday, September 14, 2012

My thoughts on the Mideast

With the attacks this week on our embassies across the middle east, questions have been brought to the forefront about what to do and how to handle the situations.  Here are a few of my thoughts. First, I am not convinced that I would have sent a message from the embassy or acknowleged that awful movie in the first place (and I don't mean awful because of it's message, I mean awful in terms of acting and production values.  Seriously, from what I saw it was worse than Battlefield Earth.). However, if I DID send a message, here's what I would have said:

"For more than 200 years America has been a place where people from around the world are welcomed and opinions and values from all walks of life are given the freedom to be voiced. It's the first and most important of our Constitutional amendments. Where people have the ability to speak freely, the government is at their mercy. This is a cornerstone of a free and civilized society.

Unfortunately, this means at times people will say or do things that large swaths of society find disagreeable. This is the price of freedom. A free society does NOT use violence to try to intimidate it's fellow citizens into silence; nor will violence presented by the citizens of another nation intimidate us to censor our citizens."

Following this I would send this message to leaders of every nation where islamic themed riots could threaten our diplomats:

"Esteemed __________, I understand there are elements of your society upset by this short movie that has been posted to YouTube. It is incumbent upon you as the leader of your nation to protect the embassies of other nations. Please understand that if you are unable to protect our interests in your nation, the staff at my Embassy will meet force with force, including the use of live ammunition. I also have drones at the ready and should my staff be unable to repel the crowds, I will authorize the use of drones to repel any crowds that have broken the boundary of our Embassy. This will ONLY happen if you fail to provide adequate protection. If these terms are not acceptable to you, I will close our Embassy, stop all US based travel to your nation and stop all monetary aid. I implore you to act and not let such a situation come to pass.
Yours in good health,
President Coyote Rich"

Back to reality.  I can't believe the lengths to which our leaders are going to cow-tow to these thugs. Islamofascism exists because the leaders of these nations WANT it to exist, not because of a horribly shitty movie made in America (if that were the case, the world would have rioted when Bill Maher's 'Religilous' came out.). Islam is not, as Hillary puts it, a 'great religion' - it is an arrow in the quiver of despots and tyrants. Moral equivicators on the left always say "but Christianity is just as violent."  Bullcrap.  It WAS used as pretext for a lot of conflict in the past. But not today. Every religion except Islam has modernized, and within Islam that is even a conscious choice. Take a look at Turkey - it is a Muslim nation and you do not see this kind of activity. Why? Because the military will not tolerate it. The political leaders and military leaders are on equal footing, and if the politicos attempt to turn Turkey into a theocracy, the military will take over. Turkey, for their part, wants very badly to be admitted into the European Union, and they know that if they have religious instability like Egypt that it will never happen. Amazing what the carrot of economic prosperity can do, isn't it?

That's at the root of what is happening here. Egypt has a very high unemployment rate. Last year it was around 12% and for those under 24 it was closer to 25%. I work with people in Egypt, and they tell me it's gotten worse since then. The folks I work with went to extraordinary lengths to ensure they could get their work done without interruption during the 'Arab Spring.' When the curfews were put in place, they each packed two suitcases; one full of food, one with clothes, and moved to the work site for the week. They set up two conference rooms as dorm rooms, one for the men and one for the women. The cafeteria became a rec center where they would go and read, surf the web (we had a private network connection that was not affected by the internet blackout) and play table games. The central courtyard became a soccer field. And, by the way, 20 of the 35 folks we have there are Muslim, 15 are Christian. Religious differences have never become an issue for this team because their unifying purpose is to get their work done. The HAVE jobs, and they want very much to KEEP them.

For the people who are rioting, it's a different story. They are largely unemployed. This year, as opposed to last year, they are largely uneducated. Thanks to high commodity prices (thank you ethanol!) they have a hard time even putting food on the table. They're angry, they're desperate, and they're easy prey for people like the Muslim Brotherhood. Much like the awakening of Nazi Germany, the leaders are able to blame their problems on a convenient scapegoat - Israel and her protector, the United States. These leaders do not WANT the economics to improve, because if they do they lose their iron grip on power and they lose their willing participant in these riots.

What Obama has clearly failed to learn from history is that appeasement doesn't work. When someone is fueling their power base with the hatred of everything you stand for, apologizing for being great serves to make the enemy more angry. An apology to a despot is like blood in the water for a shark. It only makes them crazier.

How do we move forward? Well, if we had a president who was looking out for the nation and not his ideology, we would have been drilling for oil & natural gas, updating our pipeline infrastructure, converting civil fleets to CNG and improving our refining capability over the last four years. We'd be in a position to tell the middle east to go to hell, we don't need you or your stinkin' oil any longer. Withdraw our petrodollars and our tourism dollars and let them waste away.

But we haven't had that president, those things haven't happened, so our best solution at this point is to elect a president who will focus on our energy policy and will have the balls to say "America is great; get over it. Quit fighting in the street and you can be great too. Oh, and by the way, punch me in the face or poke me in the eye, and I'm hitting back."

In other words, we need to elect Romney. He understands peace through strength, he gets the economics of energy policy changes, and he doesn't apologize for greatness. He's not the best choice for every individual, but he's the best choice for the nation.