D. E. Cloutier, the jungle trader of the eponymous blog, is an intriguing complier of the bizarre, arcane, off-beat, and fascinating. What he rarely is is an editorialist.
Which makes this so interesting:
I was a gung-ho American soldier during the Vietnam War. I no longer support American efforts to promote democracy around the world. I won’t hesitate to squash a malicious enemy like a bug to defend the United States. But I don’t favor an interventionist foreign policy.
In the Persian Gulf War of 1991, American military personnel fought to free Kuwait. During the conflict, many Kuwaiti men of military age partied in Cairo and other safe cities. The cowards from Kuwait reminded me of Vietnamese cowards in Saigon during the 1960s and 1970s. People should fight their own battles.
Barack Obama’s arrogant decision to attack Libya angered me. In my view the President needs an attitude adjustment. He thinks he’s at the top of the pecking order. Actually, he’s at the bottom as a servant of the people.
Somewhere along the line, I lost faith in the federal government of the United States. I avoid American embassies when I travel outside the country. I stay away for a reason. Almost every major problem in my life had its genesis in a government decision.
The speeches of America’s provincial politicians often offend people in other lands. Chester (Chet) Bowles(1901-1986) was a Democratic diplomat and politician in the United States. He wrote, “The problems of foreign affairs are complex, involving politics, economic and social questions that require both understanding of history and various world cultures.” I agree with his observation. Without extensive knowledge about other societies, American leaders don’t have the proper foundation to construct solutions to international problems.
An Egyptian Air Force general once described me as a Western man with Eastern thinking. I won’t argue with his conclusion. I am full of contradictions. At a rifle range I sing peace songs when I shoot at targets.
This morning I remembered a recommendation from an American comedian, Brother Dave Gardner (1926-1983). He said, “Love your enemies and drive them nuts.” That was a pretty good advice.
I agree a lot of this, though not all, but mostly I’m interested in the opinions of thoughtful people whose experience is so different from my own. Those loudmouthed commenters here during the Wisconsin debate were a waste of time. Considered opinions from people with experience of the world are not.
Where I disagree with Jungle Trader is in the complete renunciation of an interventionist foreign policy. But we may not disagree by very much: as long as we agree on squashing enemies like bugs (enemy bugs, not nice ones like lady bugs), that’s plenty interventionist for me.
I’m conflicted beyond that. I thought it was honorable to liberate Afghanistan the first time, and not just degrade Osama’s ability to wage world war while leaving the Taliban intact. I’m disappointed we’ve had to do it again. Partying Kuwaitis and resentful Iraqis sour me further on latter day crusades (substituting what passes for democracy for what passed for Christianity). I would even back the president on Libya if I thought he knew what he was doing. Sheer terror at being found clueless, I believe, not the Constitutional prerogative of the Executive, is at the foundation of his resistance to the dictates of the War Powers Resolution. He called for Mubarak to go, and we have the Muslim Brotherhood on deck to take power; he launched something less than hostilities against Libya that was supposed to take only days—so far, 107 of them; he has been nowhere on Syria, which is the one country that could probably get no worse with regime change (harboring Hamass and helping Hezbollah as they do).
That said, even though I supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and even though they have had their moments of success, I’m not exactly eager to repeat the experiences.