Thursday, July 16, 2009

Changing times: two visions

Times change, circumstances change. 50 years ago, America had an "Affirmative Action" policy with regard to supporting people of other countries who were struggling to throw off the oppression of dictators and secure the blessings of liberty for themselves. That policy was that we would not remain silent and take a wait-and-see attitude; that we would stand up and speak out in support of anyone brave enough to engage in such a struggle; that we would let the world know without a doubt which side America was on in any such struggle.

Today? Not so much. Today we don't want to offend anyone, least of all our enemies.
I'm not really sure we ever really lived up to that "affirmative action" ideal, but I think we tried. There must have been several embarrassing lapses on our part. Another one of those "lapses" took place during the recent Iran election protests, in my opinion. We watched. We waited. We kept our mouths shut.

The following quotes by two different U.S. Presidents, almost 50 years apart, show clearly we are now traveling on a very different road. There is no need to judge, and each man should be allowed to live in his own time, but do compare:
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"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
—John F. Kennedy (1-20-61)

"Look, it's up to the Iranian people to make a decision. We are not meddling."
—Barack Obama (6-16-09)
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I'm sure most of the world agrees with our current president's decision. But something - some ingredient from the American recipe - has been lost along the way. Just my opinion.

12 comments:

Stephanie B said...

The problem isn't the policy but how it's been used. In my opinion, we've used it to defend the unpopular Shah of Iran and other dictators against the will of the populace that didn't want them, with force if necessary, AND we've stepped in SOME conflicts where people were being oppressed...but not others. See China.

Our use of force in the past doesn't look as benevolent as we like to think it does to most of the outside world (including many people we thought we were saving from themselves) especially when we can let horrible things happen at the same time elsewhere (See Sudan).

To me, that argues caution, particularly given the animosity for the US in that region already, on the part of our President, dealing with a history he didn't create but we all must live with. Even if I hate what's happening in Iran. Even if he does.

Just my opinion.

Relax Max said...

Of course I agree we don't need to jump in militarily. But I was wishing we might at least speak out in support, even if Iran didn't like it and thought we were meddling. We would have spoken out publicly and wished them well in earlier years. We are no longer a vocal supporter of people who try to throw off tyranny.

Relax Max said...

We can't be afraid of what our enemies say or threaten to do. We must take a stand of support on these things and not be afraid to speak what we say we stand for.

Stephanie B said...

I think he has made statements, though I won't argue that they were as strong as they could be. They were, however, stronger than the quote you provided.

I don't have a good answer. I see what you're saying and I'm sympathetic to the people who have asked for change and been refused, but I also understand that the religious control (which has endorsed the incumbent) over there is an aspect to tread warily around.

Crap like this makes me glad I'm not the president. Is it too gentle? Quite possibly. Have we had presidents that weren't gentle enough. Quite possibly.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to think the President could do more and to express your dissatisfaction. I just don't know how far to go with that.

frostygirl said...

I must say that when I listened to their spiritual leaders speech that Friday when he addressed the nation and the world I was very surprised when he said that "religious democracy" should be allowed in Iran, what a travesty! If he makes statements like that then one can see that a lot of leaders have become soft! I never thought I would hear him advocate religious democracy the two don't mix!

Now if he backpeddled so much then it would be difficult for any other country's leader to make a firm stand so I would not like to have to decide what to say if I was Obama's advisers.

Sheila said...

The American people to a large, or at least vocal, extent spoke out in favour of the IRA. I don't want to get into a discussion of the Ireland situation, but it serves to illustrate that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Your point of view is not necessarily the point of view of the general population you seek to support. Take care with your affirmative action.

Relax Max said...

Stephanie B, Again, I am not advocating we do any thing militarily. I'm just saying if you believe in something, don't be ashamed of it. And don't sit there and say nothing. If Obama said something stronger and then backed off it, that's even worse. Others may have spoken out too much. You may be right.
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Frostygirl, Iran calls itself an Islamic Republic. No such thing. If it is Islamic it is a theocracy. The religious leaders are dictators. The people don't have the real say, so it isn't a republic. If the head Mullah decided he didn't like Amadindinahjaaaad any more, he would be gone. So the election means nothing. If you are following a religion, there is not vote, only following.

Obama was a weasel for not more strongly condemning Iran's religious leaders when they ordered the beating of the demonstrators.
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Sheila, America should know what it's principles are and speak out when injustice is happening. The American government never spoke out in favor of the IRA. It strongly and consistently condemned it's terrorism tactics. The IRA is nobody's freedomfighters. Many Americans are of Irish descent and many of them want NI to be free of British rule. Some even approve of the tactics of the IRA, probably. They are not the American government. Freedom of speech is not something the should be suppressed, even if you don't agree with the advocates of the IRA. If the Irish want to be free of Britain, let them raise an army and put on uniforms and go die for their country instead of sneaking around and killing children and then running back into hiding. Better yet, convince parliament that independence is a good idea. Use petitions instead of bombs. I shouldn't be arguing with you about Ireland. I apologize for my blunt opinions.

Sheila said...

Yes there were some who approved of the IRA tactics. And supported them verbally and financially. The point I'm trying to make is not whether that was right or wrong, but that they had a different point of view. America's point of view can be voiced, I don't think that's a problem though I have reservations when the point of view comes from such a powerful powerful country, but there may be other points of view equally valid.

Going back to the Ireland problem, the majority of the population of in NI want to remain British. If you petition the whole of Ireland to include the Republic, then you get a different result. Who is right? Who should hold sway?

I don't mind your blunt opinions. I'm well used to them.

Relax Max said...

I understand there were many Americans who were vocal in their support (in all ways) of the IRA, just as there are many who are vocal in their support of Hamas. But the official voice of America comes from it's chief executive in Washington who was elected by the majority to speak for the majority. It must be that way. Stop arguing, please. :)

As for Ireland, why hold an election? - you already seem to know the result. :) I will beware of my affirmative action programs if you will beware of the phrase, "Everybody knows... "

Sheila said...

Show me where I said "everybody knows"?

ettarose said...

It sounds like this is a very touchy subject. I will say I believe violence solves nothing. In cases where violence has triumphed it does so briefly. Violence begets violence. When innocent babies are being killed in the name of the Taliban, the IRA, and others what does that prove? That defenseless ones are killed for something they know nothing about. Our President needs to grow some balls and speak out against these factions. No not militarily but at least condemn those who do not allow freedom of choice.

Relax Max said...

@Sheila - I just assumed that when you told me what the majority of Irish think. :)

@Ettarose - I was never advocating military support. I was only wishing our president would speak out in support of the oppressed more forcefully instead of being afraid that Iran might yell at us and call us meddlers. That’s all. No El Salvador and no IRA were in my sights. I do realize the question of who the oppressed are is sometimes unclear. Not unclear in Iran, though.

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