Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thinking out loud

I've been following the news from Ukraine this past week and am intrigued by many things I hear.  One of the first statements that caught my attention was from Secretary of State John Kerry saying that "You don't just invade a country on phony pretexts to assert your interests".  I would agree completely, in fact there are plenty of international treaties in place stating just that and add that one risks looking like a fool if you don't acknowledge that the United States is guilty of that exact same action, most recently in Iraq.  Apparently I am not cut out for a job in politics because I don't think I could deliver a line like that with a straight face.   I would at least have to add "Look, we should know, we've tried it time and time again, it just doesn't really work out, at least its not worth the costs involved."  But, as I've said, that's not my job and I don't think I could do it anyway.
Presidential critics who last week were decrying his dictator-like-iron-grip-tyrannical personality now see him as weak because no foreign country would dare break international law if a real leader occupied the White House.  The dizzying speed at which some folks rush to condemn anything that President Obama (or his wife for that matter) says and does has yielded many silly moments and this may just be one more in the long line, not worth even trying to understand let alone answer. The prize for most ridiculous has to go to the chorus from the right praising Putin and holding him up as an example of how to be a leader.  As a teacher though I'm always looking for teachable moments and possibilities for learning.
I asked many of my POTUS hating friends for suggestions on what they would do, and of course this is not a scientific study, but the answers I got where mostly not answers at all.  One person suggested the same economic or political sanctions that are currently being discussed but everyone else couldn't come up with anything they would do.  A more interesting point I think is why should the President of the United States be the one who guarantees proper behavior from all the other countries in the world?  Going back to one of the criticisms of the President, that the events in Ukraine are completely his fault due to his weakness, if that's the case you'd have to assume that there's never been a strong President because countries engage in all kinds of infractions on international treaties all the time.  I would defy anyone to find a point in history where some country wasn't invading, interfering with or otherwise messing around with another country and not matter who is President of the United States it still goes on.
I hear some lamenting what they see as the end of American power or influence on the rest of the world.  Considering how that's gone for us lately is that such a bad thing?  Are there voices in other countries leveling the same critiques of their leaders? Why isn't England leading the way?  Oh for the days when Germany barked out the orders and everyone snapped to attention!  Secretary Kerry also made some comments about Russia taking a 19th century approach to the 21st century.  Could it be that all this angst over what appears to be America's diminished role in controlling the fate of the world is just as out of place in the world of today?

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