|EDINBURG, June 29 - Here at “home” - wherever home may be, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, or elsewhere - international events can be perplexing.
Appropriate foreign policy responses can elude us. We don’t know what “to make of it.” Is the Iraq war over? Is there a new war there? Are those perennial “chickens coming home to roost?”
The answer is yes and no. Some are roosting (immigrant children). Some new chickens are attacking (ISIS militant forces in Iraq). And some chicken hawks - who led us into war but avoided military service themselves - are urging more war. One such hypocrite is chronic draft dodger and President Bush’s former Vice-President, Dick Cheney.
Even conservative Megyn Kelley on Fox TV had had enough. She chastised Cheney for his role in the disastrous Iraq affair, for his tortured defense of the indefensible, and for his preposterous proposal to do it all over again! We are now living through the dreadful aftermath of Cheney/Bush’s unwarranted invasion.
Iraqis are enduring the devastation. Americans are enduring the economic chaos. All this was predictable when President Bush was spreading lies about “WMDs” (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Now, still intellectually dishonest, the purveyors of war, desperately attempting to escape any blame themselves, blame President Obama. But, amazingly, even another repentant right winger, Glenn Beck, had the courage to say “the liberals were right.” The mea culpas are welcome but painfully late.
So, what to think and what to do now? Are there any positive things to slake our anguish? Yes; I present three major points to ponder.
1. Benghazi: it’s OVER, so over! Yes, the President, the Secretary of State (Clinton) and Ambassador Rice were RIGHT. It indeed WAS the rant of a right wing, fundamentalist U.S. preacher against Islam which caused the riots that led to the death of our Ambassador. The ringleader is now being brought to justice! The nay-sayers do not admit they were wrong.
2. Iraq/Syria: Ok, so it’s NOT over; it’s just begun (again). Those chickens are not roosting but rebelling. But we need to recall WHO released Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS - Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It was President Bush, not President Obama (NewsCorpse, June 20, 2014). But long before the current renewed conflict, liberal opponents of the initial invasion had warned us of the instability to follow.
The long-warring factions (Sunnis/Shias/Kurds) in the Middle East will have to settle this alone. The President was RIGHT to vote against the invasion and is RIGHT in his policies of winding down the war and avoiding new ones. No “boots on the ground.” It is WRONG to talk of renewing a major conflict. Diplomacy and economic assistance are the only sane solutions.
3. Undocumented Children: It is an issue closer to home (South Texas). It is a humanitarian dilemma and a geo-political one. It, too, is a consequence of past U.S. policy. The arrival of these new “chickens” was predicted here in these columns. Both political parties were responsible. Both Democratic and Republican presidents intervened for over a hundred years in Central America.
President Reagan invaded Nicaragua, with a corrupt, brutal mercenary army. They were offspring of the dictator, Somoza, he had supported. President Obama, less bellicose, but not blameless, made a terrible decision to recognize a military coup in Honduras. That country is desperately poor, full of cartels and other criminal gangs. Honduras is the “murder capital of the world” (CBS, June 25, 2014). OF COURSE people are fleeing.
Other actors played a role. “Coyotes” spread false rumors raising false hopes about chances of permanence in the U.S. The violence and the economy provide the “push.” But the “pull” in this immigration wave is the dream of a better life in the U.S.A. Yet, one party (guess which?) has blocked every attempt at immigration reform. They blocked “even bi-partisan, common sense legislation such as the Dream Act” (José Rodriguez, Democratic State Senator, El Paso, June 23, 2014, Rio Grande Guardian).
Bottom line: immigration policy reform is needed now more than ever - major, fairer reform and SOON. What is more probable—once again—is denial and delay. Tea “Party” (not a real party) candidates and officials and their fearful Republican Party collaborators chant “no reform.” Also they repeat the mantra “no health care,” “no cooperation with any of President Obama’s policies,” because, well, because he is an African American and is President.
Really? So, racism and permanent negativism are reasonable fixes for domestic and international problems? Not if you are a thoughtful voter. Voting straight Republican ticket? Not when you have a more patriotic, realistic option. (Sorry if you don’t like parties; it’s all we have and we only have two main parties). Along with foreign policy, the pressing issues will be education, the economy, jobs, and one’s chances for survival and advancement.
Neither party has all the answers. But which party does NOT want a 100-year war? Which party wants to deal with Iraq and Iran and other Middle Eastern Issues in diplomatic ways?
Regarding domestic policy concerns: Which party wants a higher minimum wage? Which party wants more and better health care? Which wants more and better education? Which party continues to defund public education (and give your tax money to private education?) Which party wants to restore the $FIVE BILLION cut by Gov. Perry? Which party advocates re-building crumbling roads and bridges?
In Texas, the same choices are clear. There are sharp contrasts between the parties. Which party is led by a member of the largest gender group (52 percent women) and fights for women’s’ rights? Which party’s candidate for the State of Texas’ most powerful office—Lieutenant Governor—is a member of the state’s largest ethnic group, Mexican Americans? The stark differences between parties regarding domestic policies are clear.
In foreign policy, both parties have reputations to repair. But only one party admits its bad bets on past “chickens.” Only one party rejects the “hawks” as key to the future. Which one? Oh, come on, must I spell it out? It starts with a BIG D and sounds like DEMOCRACY—Greek for “rule by the people.” Let the people take back their country from the chicken hawks and the war hawks.
Dr. Gary Joe Mounce is a political science professor at the University of Texas-Pan American. His columns appear regularly in the Rio Grande Guardian.