Upon hearing the news that US forces had entered Haiti again last week, I couldn’t help but think about that old movie Groundhog Day. In that wonderful film, Bill Murray’s character is forced by the Fates to re-live the same day over and over again until he addresses his character flaws and learns to be a better person.
The farcical nature of our recent Haitian adventure, of course, lies in the fact that we went there to remove President Aristide from power…the same President Aristide who we restored to office a decade ago in our last invasion of Haiti (though the exact extent to which our military participated in the physical removal of Aristide from office is, like everything else concerning this administration, shrouded in fog and propaganda).
This general theme of cyclical absurdity can be expanded far beyond that benighted Caribbean island.
Take our Afghanistan policy, for instance. Back in the 1980’s, the US armed and trained radical Islamists in their fight against the Soviets and their Afghan communist allies. These same Islamists, in turn, became virulently anti-American after the fall of the USSR and helped Osama bin Laden plan the 9/11 attacks. Subsequently, US troops went back to Afghanistan to fight our erstwhile Islamist allies…relying, in part, on Leftist forces once allied with the old Soviet communist regime.
But these twists and turns are transparent compared to our Iran/Iraq adventures.
Back in the 1950’s, the Shah was thrown out by a popular rebellion led by Mohammed Mossadeq. The CIA intervened and restored the Shah (at the behest of US oil interests), earning the US the bitter hatred of the Iranian people…a hatred which exploded when the Shah was permanently removed from power by the Islamic revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The US responded to Iranian hostility by arming the Sunni-Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Things came full circle when Saddam proved to be equally unpalatable and the US decided to support the Iranian-backed Shi’ites in Iraq against Saddam and his Sunni-Baathists.
Now that the Shi’ite Ayatollahs in Iraq are consolidating power, I fully expect that they will eventually be every bit as anti-American as their Shi’ite brothers in Iran. In all probability, this will prompt our masters in Washington to begin arming the Sunni-Baathists again
(You may have to go back and re-read the previous few Iraq paragraphs a couple of times until all of the twists and turns sink in…but no one ever said that Imperial politics was easy or straightforward).
And who knows? Perhaps somewhere down the road the US will bring Saddam out of retirement to lead his Sunni brethren against the "evil" Shi’ites dominating Baghdad.
Don’t laugh…it seems that nothing is too far-fetched for the geniuses running things in Washington.
Bill Murray’s psychological low point in the movie finds him recklessly speeding along a Pennsylvania highway with an obvious death-wish. In despair over his fate, he throws his arms in the air and hands the wheel over to Punxsutawney Phil. Giving the cuddly woodchuck the controls leads to predictable disaster.
But, true to his curse, Bill wakes up the next morning to re-live Groundhog Day all over again.
Unfortunately, the wheel of our foreign policy has been taken over by establishment rodents of a substantially less benign variety. Having discarded the traditional policies of our Founders (neutrality and non-interventionism), our ship of state has been careening towards disaster for many decades now.
And when our wild ride inevitably ends in a fireball, we won’t be waking up the next morning unscathed.
Steven LaTulippe [send him mail] is a physician currently practicing in Ohio. He was an officer in the United States Air Force for 13 years.