To get a better idea of what ails the world, let’s use our imagination to transport ourselves into outer space. From there, we can look down on Earth not as an American or as a European, but as a disinterested alien.
We see a collection of sovereign nations — some large, some small, some powerful and some weak. We also see that some of the powerful nations do not respect the sovereignty of some of the others.
For example, by what right do the United States and the Europeans tell Iran it cannot enrich uranium? Other nations enrich uranium. Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it grants the right to enrich uranium. Where does the United States get off telling the Iranians they can’t do it?
Oh, the U.S. claims Iran wants to build nuclear weapons. Well, first and foremost, Iran denies that, and there is no proof to the contrary. But suppose Iran does want to build nuclear weapons. Why shouldn’t it? We have nukes. The British, the French, the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Israelis all have nuclear weapons. Why shouldn’t Iran? For that matter, what right does anyone have to tell the North Koreans they can’t have nukes and can’t even test their missiles? Everybody else tests the missiles.
What you see is that the United States and some of the European states are still trying to run the world to suit them, even though formal colonialism has been a long time dead. President Bush seems to think that he has the right to engineer regime change in any country he chooses. The U.S. record on regime change is poor. One reason so many Iranians hate us is because we engineered a regime change in the 1950s that threw out their elected nationalist leader and replaced him with the Shah. A lot of Iranians were executed, tortured and imprisoned before the Iranian people could finally get rid of him.
What right do we have to tell Syria and Iran that they can’t supply arms to Hezbollah? We supply arms to Israel. In fact, we are about the world’s largest arms peddler. Mr. Bush calls Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The government of Lebanon and the European Union do not. Just because an American politician sticks a label on a group of people doesn’t mean those people lose all of their rights.
I don’t think the world will know peace until all the nations of the world agree to respect each other’s sovereignty. That means no sanctions, no externally arranged coups, no invasions, no refusal to talk. We would do much better if we talked to the Iranians and North Koreans and, while acknowledging their right to nuclear technology, offered incentives — including a security guarantee — not to develop it. You know, of course, that the U.S. refuses to talk to the Iranians and the North Koreans and has refused their requests for security guarantees. Countries don’t like to be "dissed" any more than individuals do.
I’ve been accused by some right-wingers of not liking America. As usual, they have it wrong. I love America, but I don’t like this present administration one bit. I think the Bushies are a dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance, and that they act in a reckless manner. They ignore what they should pay attention to and pay attention to what they should ignore.
Bush seems intent on pursuing regime change in Syria and Iran. If he persists, he will likely unleash a regional war, the consequences of which will be catastrophic.
What have you gotten for your $300 billion, your 2,600 dead, your 8,000 seriously maimed in Bush’s ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Stability? Don’t make me laugh. Security? America is hated in more parts of the world today than at any time in its history. What has Bush done right?
Before you resurrect the slogan "Stay the course," remember that one of the definitions of insanity is to keep doing the wrong thing. Let’s face it, folks. We elected ourselves a disaster. Bush didn’t understand the world when he was elected; he doesn’t now; and when he goes home to Crawford, Texas, he will still be puzzled by it all.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.