"Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957
If you've ever wondered about the world becoming a more dangerous place, and exactly how it is that it's getting that way, a more eloquent example of it than what is currently happening in the Middle East could scarcely be found.
First, the Tunisians get fed up with their authoritarian government and stage a revolt. Then, similarly, the serfs of Egypt decide they've had enough of their despotism too: "'Mubarak is a dictator. We want him overthrown. The time for reforms is passed. The people have had enough.'" ("Voices from Egypt," The Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 29th.)
And our problems with this? A "moral conflict," believe it or not: "As with Iran 30 years ago, American leaders again are wrestling with the moral conflict between Washington's demands for democracy among its friends and strategic coziness with dictatorial regimes seen as key to stability in an increasingly complex world, particularly the Middle East." ("Analysis: The U.S. moral conundrum in Egypt," Associated Press, Jan. 31st.)
To which, several things come to mind:
(1) Observe that the goal of "Washington's demands" is not the institution of limited-state, liberty-protecting forms of governments (i.e., capitalism) but "democracy" (i.e., mob rule) instead - and never the twain shall meet, for the former is based on individual rights and the latter is merely whatever the majority says it is.
What if the majority decides that it is best served by an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy, such as Iran's? No problem here, apparently. Said regime of which is the aftermath of our previous meddling in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern countries in the first place - and which also happens to be the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition bloc, actually founded in Egypt in 1928.
So, on the one hand of the "moral conflict": If the United States continues promoting "democracy" instead of capitalism, things aren't going to be looking too good for liberty in Egypt; for the extent to which the Egyptian people's desires for such a form of social organization are actually driving the current revolt is the extent to which those desires will soon be hijacked by a better-organized and sure-of-what-they-are-after group of theocratic fanatics. And what good can possibly come of that?
(2) And just what kind of "strategic coziness" is possible when the United States, the alleged defender of liberty, individualism and the Rights of Man, seeks to "stabilize" the region by supporting dictators?
These "stabilizations," the other hand of the "moral conflict," are the machinations that got us into this "conundrum" to begin with - and, to be fair to President Obama, are not something limited to his particular brand of foreign policy foolishness. It is an approach the United States has taken for several decades, where we have blown untold billions in foreign aid to prop up institutionalized thuggery.
But the entire "conundrum" is a sham, strictly the fallout resulting from our failure to properly check our foreign policy premises: In the real world, such contradictions do not exist. Were we to truly decide that the protection of Israel and the stability of the Middle East were our goals, we would simply tell the Arabs to keep their hands off - under threat of swift and total military reprisal. No meddling needed there; just some spine.
Instead of displaying such guts, however, the United States has chosen to play both ends against the middle instead - whereby we supply not only Israel with weapons and money, but her enemies as well. (!!) And then we stupidly wonder why everyone in the region hates our guts. This is the kind of contemptible hypocrisy one gets when one abandons principles and mixes one's premises. And we seriously do not understand why the rule of the brute continues its advance? We're actually paying for it!
What Tunisia, Egypt and all of the Middle East desperately need are the socio-political principles of capitalism - and the help of a world leader capable of articulating and advancing those principles successfully. Down that road, and no other, lies the future of freedom. But that is a strategy the United States itself rejected a number of years ago - and, in the absence of such principled intellectual leadership, don't expect for things to bode any better for our "allies" than they've been boding for us.
Bradley Harrington is a former U.S. Marine and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyo.; he blogs at www.timeforeverymantostir.blogspot.com