TEA

I’m Tired Of TEA: Tyrants, Extremist, and Authoritarians

TEA

I don’t know about the rest of you but I sure do love iced tea on a hot summer’s day.  Here in Arizona we are quite fond of tea but were not as fussy as the British about it and often drink our tea ice-cold, which no self-respecting Brit would ever do.  I being a world conscious and free spirit type have tried tea of several varieties including green tea and herbal teas.  I have yet to find one I hated the taste of, though some are far better than others.  Then this movement comes called the Tea Party and I was not a fan of this kind of Tea or Party.  Seeing members wearing tea bags on their hats and tea paraphernalia caused me for a while to hide the fact from my liberal friends I was a frequent tea drinker and I liked it.  I feared all my coffee drinking liberal friends would disown me if they knew the truth of my love of tea.

I even managed to become friends with some tea party members of the libertarian variety.  Even though on discussions of economics, guns, race, etc… we were on opposite sides of the fence, when it came to personal liberty we had views in common.  I realized I could be friends with who I once saw as my enemy. I could have a reasonable discussion and debate with them and in the end we both realized we were not as divided as it seems sometimes.  In other words I can get a long with at least the libertarian wing of the tea party, the more authoritarian social conservative wing that is a brew simply too strong for my taste.  Every time I try to have a discussion with someone of that variety of political persuasion things end up boiling over.  Though to be fair I often get scalded when I try to debate with the pro big-brother variety of liberals.  Left-wing progressives and left-wing libertarians though are my perfect cup of tea to have a discussion with.  I can tolerate living in the same country with the Tea Party and actually as I said have a few Tea Party/ Tea Party leaning friends.  Though to be honest some of the more extreme members of the Tea Party it is hard not to get very angry with them, not to see them as the enemy, and not have a severe dislike for.  However there is another kind of TEA out there, that I have no patience and respect for whatsoever.  That is the tyrants, extremist, and authoritarians harming and killing innocents.

This brew of TEA is not only extremely bitter it is so toxic even smalls sips can be deadly.  This kind of TEA should not be tolerated and is worthy of throwing overboard from positions of power.  If these tyrants, extremist, and authoritarians think they can run the show they got another thing coming.  I have had it with them.  I have had it with their brutal and savage crimes.  I have had it with their crimes against humanity and human rights abuses.  I have had it with them murdering children and young people or anyone else.  They are the modern-day equivalent of Nazis and need to be driven from positions of power and never allowed to gain a foothold.  As savage and barbaric as they are they are still human so I don’t endorse bringing ourselves down to their level to defeat them, but we must fight against them.  They have been in positions of power and influence for too long.  We should use every diplomatic and legal tool we have to defeat them, and if that is not sufficient we will have to use some hard power to protect innocents from being massacred.

I reject militarism and pacifism; as both philosophies in the end lead to a loss of much innocent life.  Yes pacifism leads to loss in life as well; if there is a massacre taking place and we do nothing to defend people from that massacre we are allowing them to be killed by inaction.  I will not stand by while thugs kill entire groups of people.  I will not stand by and watch a tyrant’s regime continue to torture, maim, rape, and murder men, women, and children.  I will not stay silent to thugs who decapitate journalist.  I will not stand by when rogue law enforcement and security personnel take the law into their own hands and murder our citizens.  I will not be able to do much as an individual to stop it being my situation, but I have the power of the pen and my voice and I plan to use it.

I don’t want us to be fighting endless conflicts around the world, but where we can prevent massacre and crimes against humanity we should.  I have been involved in activism for Syria almost from the beginning of the conflict and reading, hearing, and seeing all the terrible things I did and watching the world play musical chairs at the UN was beyond frustrating.  Watching that tyrant Putin who is so in love with himself, stop every proposal that could have helped lessen the conflict was infuriating.  Watching the former UN Secretary say for month after month only diplomacy can end the conflict and we should not respond militarily in any capacity was effectively allowing the massacre to continue.  Too all such pacifist I say If those were your children, you would quickly give up your pacifism and take up the sword and fight.  If not, you would have allowed your children to be killed because your “values” and “fear” were more important to you than their lives.

I am no war hawk and anyone who knows my views would know this.  They would know I only support the use of force in self-defense of human life.  I am opposed to all preemptive, unnecessary, and offensive conflict including conflict which violates international law and the laws of war.  If some murderous thugs have to die to save hundreds, thousands, millions and they refuse to lay down the sword than we should take up the sword in self-defense of human life.

I want peace but the problem is these tyrants, extremist, and authoritarians around the world don’t want peace.  They want war, bloodshed, and carnage.  Why we Americans sit in our comfy chair in our air-conditioned home drinking our iced tea men, women, and children are being massacred.  It’s not our child, not our mother, not our father, not our family, not our friends and neighbors.  It really sickens me how some people seem perfectly fine doing nothing when thousands of Muslims are being massacred.

“We can’t afford it”!!!!  Oh how that excuse infuriates me.  When we get to the point when we can put money above so much of humanity than we have indeed moved over to the dark side.  We can afford to feed every hungry child in the world if we as a world made it a priority.  We certainly can afford to feed children in the region.  We can afford blankets and tents.  We can afford medical supplies.  Even if you for whatever reason don’t believe in violence for any reason even to prevent massacre than at least you should support humanitarian aid to suffering children in the conflict.  For us as a world to do nothing is to be a passive participant of genocide and crimes against humanity.

All the moral philosophers in the world who preach absolute non-violence never offer alternatives how to prevent and stop massacres and crimes against humanity.  If every child grew up in a loving home, in a loving neighborhood, in a loving world free from pain and harm we would have no violence in the world.  However that is not the world we live in.  We can pray, meditate, think our way to peace and men with evil intentions will go on committing atrocities.

I support all of those positive things previously mentioned to help bring peace but they alone are not enough.  I am always advocating for more love and peace in the world.  However we can not stand on the sidelines as we largely did in the Holocaust and many other mass genocides in world history.  We have ways today to prevent and stop such from occurring.  Prevention in the way of law and peace keeping troops and stopping by targeted military action.  We as the world have the power to stop much of the crimes against humanity in Iraq and Syria.  We have the power to save many refugees lives.  If we do not make use of that power we will live to regret it.  Hardship will someday arrive on our shores and we will wish someone would help us and they will be nowhere to be found.

We think we live in a fortress, an island, a land protected from such.  That is very naive thinking.  We can only allow things to get so destabilized before we start also suffering the consequences.  It has already happened to James Foley and I fear there will be many more acts of savagery against Americans and Europeans in the future.  We as a Nation seemed unbothered for years when Muslims were being beheaded in Syria and recently in Iraq. However when it happened to one of our own suddenly people cared.  I cared for a long time and so did many others, unfortunately most seemed to care less.  World leaders besides proclamations did little to stop the massacres.  I find it so heartbreaking we as a world can so base our empathy based on someone’s race, nationality, or other trait.  A human being is a human being, a child is a child; our love and empathy should not care where they came from and the shade of their skin or the God they worship or don’t worship.  The fact that such traits obviously does matter how much empathy we have or lack thereof, judging by the lack of concern people had for years, shows how heartless we as a society and individuals can be.

We all bleed red, we all cry tears, we all feel pain.  If there was a way to end the crimes against humanity occurring without the loss of any life, even the guilty of horrendous crimes I would support it.  That is not possible though as a man or a woman who is determined to murder others is going to murder others unless they are prevented from continuing to do so.  Sometimes we can capture them and try them in courts but on the battlefield with warring armies that is not possible to do most of the time.  You think a man who could cut off a journalist head with a small bladed knife is going to think twice about killing our troops in the attempt to capture him?  I don’t know what horrors happened to the man in the course of his life to make him that cruel, I don’t know how difficult he had it growing up, I don’t know what inner darkness in the man’s heart allows him to do such a thing; all I know is he and others will continue their “Jihad” against “infidels” until they cease to be free or cease to breathe.  They are not Muslim just criminals using their perverse interpretation of the Islamic faith as a justification for their crimes.  I have heard countless Muslims refer to them as not real Muslims and savages.  They’re even too cruel for Al-Qaeda to accept them in their ranks.  Several are Westerners from Europe and the United States.  These typically younger aged men were once living on our shores.  There is no shortage of troubled young men out there and these guys are experts at tempting such young men to join their ranks.  Many of these guys are experts at social media, the Internet, and very tech savvy.

Then there is the Assad regime who is among the most savage of regimes in world history.  I know Syria quite well though I have never traveled there, just from what I picked up in my activism and talking on social networks to other Syrians.  If there is any tyrant worthy of removing from power it is Assad.  An entire book could be written just on a brief summary of the crimes his regime has committed.  If we ever do go into Syria to deal with ISIS might as well target Assad’s regime as well, as they are killing even more Syrians than ISIS.  Just attacking ISIS is like cutting the tail off the snake, Assad’s regime is the head of the snake.  Until Assad and his regime goes there will be no peace in Syria.  Assad will burn Syria to the ground before he will step down.  All these “experts” who predicted Assad would step down were wrong, and we activist were right.  Here he is 3 1/2 years later and still going strong.  We activist were also right about the failure to respond to the Syrian crises would cause a regional conflict and a long hard battle would fan the flames of extremism.  The Obama administration didn’t want to go in so they found experts to tell them what they wanted to hear.  Well Hillary and Gates wanted more active involvement but they were Vetoed.  I am not mad at Obama I understood his fears but I believe he now realizes this issue is not going to solve itself and we are going to have to do something to overthrow the regime and run out ISIS into the desert.

With the chemical weapon destruction Assad proved when his back is against the wall suddenly he becomes very willing to negotiate and be reasonable.  Well its time to put his back to the wall again and not let up until we negotiate his departure.  With ISIS they are smaller than the media makes them out to be.  Yes they cover a large swath of territory but much of that is desert.  The areas they control they have less a grip than some seem to think.  Look with U.S. air power even the Kurdish forces could overpower them.  They may be savage fighters but they still can be beaten, Assad’s forces have beaten them before as has the Free Syrian Army.  If  we provide enough air cover, ISIS could be driven out in a matter of weeks to a few months.  Destroying ISIS should not be our goal, as that would require a prolonged campaign and fail as they would just get more fighters.  Just protecting the population centers should be our goal.  Let them hold up in the desert somewhere.

When it comes to authoritarians on our own shores I have no less anger for and see them ever bit as large of threat to human rights, human liberty, and human dignity.  I have very little faith left in our Nation’s police and security forces and I think a major overhaul is needed in departments across the Country and departments within our Federal Government.  The entire justice system needs to be reformed and we need to root out all the racism and corruption that exist within it.  Cops who commit crimes against the public need to face severe penalties.  No longer should we accept officers excessive use of force and killing suspects where it not necessary. No more should we accept corruption just being the status quo in our prison system.  No longer should we treat human beings worse than we treat stray dogs and cats.  No longer should we accept draconian laws, private prisons, and prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.  No longer should we accept failure to protect inmates from severe harm and death either by prison staff or other inmates.  We should demand an end to corruption, cruelty, and crime within our justice system, our prison system, and police and security forces.

Though I believe the average American has little to no appetite for any further military involvement in the Middle East, I believe it is necessary to save many innocent lives in the region.  Sure we can do nothing and allow Assad’s regime, ISIS, and other extremist groups to continue to terrorize the region.  We can continue to allow them to torture, rape, and murder innocent Syrian and Iraqi men, women, and children.  We can continue to allow them to burn and pillage Iraqi and Syrian neighborhoods, towns, and regions.  We can continue to watch the death toll grow ever higher and read news stories of ever more savage, brutal, and shocking crimes.  We can continue to make declarations decrying their savagery but do nothing of real consequence to stop such crimes.  We can continue to be as a Nation silent to crimes committed by our own governments and silent against the injustices and racism in our police and security forces and our justice system as a whole.  We can do all those things or we can stand up and take a stand and say no to Tyrants, Extremist, and Authoritarians.  We can stand up and fight and not allow such people and organizations the ability to continue their crimes against humanity and human rights abuses.  I for one will refuse to stay silent and will fight with the mightiest weapon of all, making use of the power of the pen.  I will continue to write to try to get the world to pay attention and call on the United States, Western, and Regional Powers in the Middle East to action.  The military will not accept me in their ranks due to health reasons, but I am willing to die fighting for human rights, human liberty, and human dignity if needs be.  Without those three things life is not worth living and those things are worth dying for.

“Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
World Human Rights blog, standing up for human rights, human liberty, and human dignity,
 
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Over 500,000 Iraqi refugees in need of emergency aid, officials say | Al Bawaba

June, 2014 (File/AFP)

One million people have been displaced by ISIS violence in Iraq since June, 2014 (File/AFP)

The refugees living in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region are still in dire need of emergency help despite humanitarian aid efforts by the UN.

International Organizations in Kurdistan Region’s Dindar Zebari said that the UN aid for Iraqi refugees was far from enough.

“There is still a serious shortage of necessities including food and water and other supplies, such as clothes and food for children. And even if this problem is solved, they still need shelter, such as tents, or some other public accommodation,” Zebari said.

“We need more help than the United Nations can offer since, in fact, only a few nations have provided humanitarian aid and that is far from enough. We are in desperate need of more help,” he said.

There are currently about 500,000 displaced people in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region.

On August 19, the UN refugee agency announced its plans to…

Read More Over 500,000 Iraqi refugees in need of emergency aid, officials say | Al Bawaba.

James Foley remembered as ‘brave and tireless’ – CNN.com

Copyright CNN

Copyright CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama credits James Foley with “courageous reporting”
  • Foley had been reporting from war-torn countries for four years when he disappeared
  • He spent time as a teacher in the Teach for America program in 1996 in Phoenix
  • One friend described Foley as a “funny, warm, Big Lebowski-loving guy”

New York (CNN) — When war reporter James Foley wasn’t writing for GlobalPost or recording video for AFP or appearing on the PBS “NewsHour,” he occasionally shared stories on his own blog, aptly titled “A World of Troubles.”

For a subtitle, he chose the famous Carl von Clausewitz sentence “War is fought by human beings.”

And that is exactly what Foley sought to show with his reporting: humanity amid the horror of war.

Foley was abducted while on a reporting trip in northern Syria in November 2012. He was never heard from again.

A video published Tuesday by the extremist group ISIS showed Foley being beheaded. It is not known when or where the video was recorded.

For Foley’s family and friends, the recording was the answer they hoped they’d never hear to their questions about his disappearance.

“We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people,” his mother, Diane, said Tuesday night.

She called him “an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”

In a televised statement Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama credited Foley with “courageously reporting” from Syria and “bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.”

“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world,” Obama said.

Shortly before he spoke, the president talked by phone with Foley’s parents. At a subsequent news conference on their front lawn, the parents were asked why Foley decided to travel to dangerous locales. “Why do firemen go back into a blazing home? It was his job,” John Foley answered.

Opinion: What should the U.S. do?

Courageous, generous

Foley was the oldest child of Diane and John Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire. He had four siblings.

Foley — Jim to his friends — had been reporting from war-torn countries for the better part of four years when he disappeared in Syria.

On Tuesday, fellow journalists remembered him for his courage and his generosity.

One of his friends, Alex Sherman of Bloomberg News, wrote on Twitter that he was a “funny, warm, Big Lebowski-loving guy.”

Another friend, Max Fisher of Vox, praised his “dedication to…

Read More James Foley remembered as ‘brave and tireless’ – CNN.com.

Authentic Photo of James Foley Before He Was Savagely Beheaded By ISIS Militant

U.S. General Says Raiding Syria Is Key to Halting ISIS – NYTimes.com

Copyright New York Times

A look at the next military steps the United States is considering in the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Video Credit By Quynhanh Do on Publish Date August 21, 2014. Image CreditHasan Jamali/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria cannot be defeated unless the United States or its partners take on the Sunni militants in Syria, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday.

“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated,” said the chairman, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, in his most expansive public remarks on the crisis since American airstrikes began in Iraq. “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.”

But General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who both spoke at a Pentagon news conference, gave no indication that President Obama was about to approve airstrikes in Syria.

General Dempsey also was circumspect in describing the sort of broad effort that would be required to roll back ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Copyright New York Times

Background on ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Video Credit By Christian Roman on Publish Date June 30, 2014. Image CreditReuters

Even so, General Dempsey’s comments were notable because he is the president’s top military adviser and had been among the most outspoken in describing the risks of ordering airstrikes in Syria when the civil war there began.

In the current battle with ISIS inside Iraq, Mr. Obama’s military strategy has been aimed at containing the militant organization rather than defeating it, according to Defense Department officials and military experts. Pressed on whether the United States would conduct airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria, Mr. Hagel said that “we’re looking at all options.”

Any use of air power involves risk, including the possibility that innocent civilians may be hurt or killed, or that a piloted aircraft might be shot down. Airstrikes in Syria would also draw the White House more deeply into a conflict from which it has sought to maintain some distance. But there is also risk in not acting, because it is very difficult to defeat a militant group that is allowed to maintain a sanctuary.

In planning its campaign against ISIS, American military officers have been contending with a highly mobile force that can move across the Iraq-Syria border with impunity.

To the consternation of American officials, ISIS has been using captured American equipment, including Humvees and at least one heavily armored troop transport vehicle. American intelligence officials have reported that the group has seized 20 Russian T-55 tanks in Syria, armor that ISIS could try to employ in western Iraq.

According to one American intelligence estimate, ISIS could not be easily defeated by killing its top leadership. Given its…

Read More U.S. General Says Raiding Syria Is Key to Halting ISIS – NYTimes.com.

This Is The Look of Terror

This article was written by a good friend of mine, fellow human rights activist, and citizen journalist named Bobby and I wanted to share it with you

Look at this young girls face closely. It is the look of terror, fear, shock and trauma. It is the look of those being persecuted for their beliefs, for being who they are. This poor girl was amongst some of the lucky few who were rescued from the besieged Mount Sinjar. Her face can easily be that of a Syrian child, an Israeli child, a Palestinian child, a Ukrainian child, or the face of a child from any number of conflicts going on throughout this world. It is the children who pay the dearest price. They have seen things that no child should ever see, they have seen things that most adults will never see in their life.

I spoke with a couple of friends today regarding the anxiety these children will face for the rest of their life. This face you see is one showing signs of PTSD, and she is way to young for that. I watched as she was rescued, how she could barely breathe, unable to speak. It was heart wrenching to watch, but at the same time it was a relief that she would make it out of that place alive. But what life will she have? We often see someone and wonder what will become of them after such an event. We never see them again, but they live a life that we cannot even begin to fathom. We are happy that she is rescued, but we go on with our lives and forget her. As one of my friends said, “We[Americans] don’t care because they[the terrorized] are over there.” And I was speaking to a person who very much cares, who was being brutally honest about the majority of us.

This article is about the little ones of these conflicts around the world. How can it be possible that the people who perpetrate this terror against children don’t realize what they are doing? I think they know very well, which makes it more of a crime against humanity than it already it is. Whether it is Assad, or whether it is ISIS, or whether it is Netanyahu, or Hamas, of the Real IRA, the LRA, or Putin, don’t tell me the adults doing this aren’t aware of the damage they have done. These victims have had their innocence stolen form them, they have had their childhood taken away from them. They will never sleep right again, they will never feel at ease again. When a car backfires they will cringe in fear thinking it a gunshot. They will miss much of their education, that too robbed from them. Some will need therapy or medication for the rest of their lives.

I want to know this girls name, I want the world to know this girls name, to follow her from afar to lend our moral support and prayers when she needs them, and she will. To see her grow up and smile again, to get married. To raise a family that doesn’t have to go through what she has. I want to know she is going to be okay.

The idea for this article, the girls image, was inspired by Ivan Watson, a CNN journalist, who filed a video report on the rescue of this child and the ongoing relief effort on Mount Sinjar. Pray for, or think of those in need of rescue, for those who are braving the danger to rescue them. Most of all, hope that they get the help they need. And by they, I mean all of those around the world that is child’s face represents.

Obama Doctrine: Speak Often, and More Carrot Than Stick

Barack Obama

Public Domain Image

Editor’s Note:  I typically tend to avoid overtly political and partisan articles on the World Human Rights blog, as I have said many times human rights should not be partisan issues and are far more important than political views.  However I at times feel the need to discuss such issues and take a stand on such debates.  I think this is a critical time in foreign policy issues and I think such issues need to be more widely discussed.  I refuse to stay silent with a world seemingly increasingly more fractured, violent, and suffering with hardships.  Now is the time for bold action and renewed attempts at diplomacy.  We mustn’t give up as a nation and as individuals no matter how difficult things get; as the world needs us now more than any other time since WWII.

There have been several foreign policy experts, amateurs, and bloggers who have tried to analyze and categorize Obama’s foreign policy philosophy.  They have both praised him and condemned him.  Some have congratulated him for the turning away from the Bush Doctrine of preemption and militarism and others have ruthlessly condemned him for doing so.  The thing all the opinion writers have in common is they are bias towards seeing Obama’s handling of foreign policy through their own philosophies and opinions on foreign policy.  It is very difficult to see things in a completely objective way when dealing with issues so serious and often dealing with literally life and death decisions.

From my own experience and observation I have seen few things that ignite as much passion both great and terrible as foreign policy issues.  It makes perfect sense being it touches on the most basic of our instincts of survival, fear, anger, power, and selfishness.  It also touches on our most evolved of human emotions and knowledge; our values, morals, and ethics.  We may be the most evolved in our questioning the rightness and wrongness of our thoughts, words, and actions when speaking of all living things on earth, but we are motivated by our instincts more than most of us realize.  Many times what causes us to finally make a decision is based on gut instinct and intuition.  In other words our ability to reason and have complex ethical and moral reasoning may be very evolved but we’re still creatures of habit and instinct just the same.

The thing that separates hawks from doves is I believe primarily our values and ethical belief systems.  I believe at its heart in spite of the appearance at times, political considerations are almost always secondary.  As an example lets take George W. Bush; he may have been a politician as much as any other, but it was his moral beliefs, ethical viewpoints, views on justice, and personality that drove his foreign policy decisions.  Bush tended to see everything in either black or white, there was not a lot of gray in his moral beliefs and ethical viewpoints.  You, as he famously or infamously said depending on your world-view, were either with us or against us.  You were either among the “good Nations” of the earth or you were part of the “axis of evil”.  You were either a good man or an evil man.  You were either a hawk or a dove.  A liberal or conservative.  A patriot or a traitor.  Loyalty was very paramount in support of him and his policies.  He took to heart the old parable of evil can only continue to exist in the world when good people do nothing.  He firmly believed America had a moral duty to bring evil regimes down and to “bring democracy” to people.  It was not just an ethical philosophy to him but he saw himself as ordained by God to lead the Nation during that time.

With President Obama in spite of what conservative critics say Obama’s foreign policy is also rooted in his moral and ethical views.  Not his deep “leftist” ideology as some of his critics suggest.  Obama’s faith, also in spite of his conservative critics, also deeply motivates him.  Unlike Bush I don’t believe Obama sees himself as ordained by God to lead the Country during this time.  He instead sees himself as chosen by the people by popular vote.  He does however I believe feel blessed and sustained by God.  Once again in spite of conservative critics, Obama compared to most politicians is typically a humble man.  Obama sees every person as a child of the same creator.  He believes in good and evil but he sees it in a realistic way.  He sees degrees of good and evil and people as being flawed and imperfect human beings.  He has the wisdom to learn from all people even his enemies, and he pushes himself to look for the good each person has to offer.  He believes very much so in the parables of being your brother’s keeper, loving your neighbor, and caring for the widowed and orphaned (the less fortunate).  These aren’t just ideal concepts to Obama but actual deep convictions of his.  He often has put into practice these beliefs in policies he has supported during his administration.  He believes it is humanities moral duty to seek peace and help one another.

For someone like myself who is no longer a person of faith I do not see this as threatening as a non-believer.  I see many of the principles he supports in foreign policy as being very much in line with my own secular, ethical, and moral views.  I have and continue to be critical of the over-reliance on drone strikes, assassination orders rather than capture and prosecution of terrorist, his increasing the powers within the NSA and other security and federal police agencies over American’s and other’s lives, his continuing the war in Afghanistan (all though I do support a residual of strictly peace keeping troops, training and intelligence analysis officials, and continued aid to the Country), and his failure to do more to end the Syrian crises.  I see all that as contrary to my values.  I do not feel the least bit uncomfortable in the President’s belief in the creator however and him being comforted in the beliefs that arise from that.  In the end we share a common humanity and have common views on humanity; although I feel some of the President’s actions and policies have been inhumane.  Though I support his policies overall much more than I oppose them.

Now while his values may be the basis for his views, when you get into specifics of actual foreign policy questions, it becomes more complicated to understanding Obama’s perspective.  President Obama typically seeks the most peaceful and light footprint  approach as possible to handling foreign policy issues.  I think Obama is very much aware of the cost in blood and treasure wars like Vietnam and Iraq can require.  I think he is painfully aware of the cost to the Country losing so many of its young people bogged down in a seemingly endless war with no hope of a resolution or any lasting gains.  I also think he is aware of the historical lesson of other civilizations of what happens when empires spread themselves thin and get involved in too many foreign entanglements at once.  This happened with Rome and its over-expansion of its empire, mismanagement, internal divisions/strife, and fighting battles on too many fronts; spreading itself thin allowing Rome’s enemies to gain the upper hand.  A smaller example of this has happened with the United States attempt to continue to maintain its overwhelming dominance in international affairs, political deadlock, economic problems, citizen dissatisfaction and increasing anger over things, the engaging in the longest U.S. war ever in Afghanistan and the risk of losing all our gains in Iraq.

President Obama is much more diplomatically oriented than militarily oriented.  I see this as a welcome and needed change.  I refer to the President as the Diplomat-in-chief rather than the President’s traditional role as Commander-in-chief.  Some are looking for a commander, but I am perfectly happy with a diplomat.  I see diplomacy as being absolutely critical in all the world’s hardships and crises today.  The fact is Obama has proven himself willing to use force when necessary, but almost always seeks a diplomatic path first.  Some may fault him for staying the course on the search for the diplomatic path too long and being too hesitant to use force.  The fact remains however this careful and deliberate tendency has prevented us becoming too entangled in foreign affairs, kept us largely out of many conflicts, and allowed positive things to take place that would not have been possible if the President acted in a more aggressive way.  One example of the latter is the ridding Syria of chemical weapons which was a major accomplishment; this could not likely have happened had we went full force militarily into Syria as we did Iraq.  The downside to this sometimes overly cautious and hesitant approach is things have been allowed to spiral further outside our ability to deal with them.  Had we acted more proactively, not preemptively mind you, I believe some of the events today could have been prevented or minimized the harmed they caused.  This may be a tough truth for the Obama administration to swallow, but I think if they are honest they can not deny this to be the case.

I think Obama is more than anything an idealistic pragmatist.  That may seem as an oxymoron, but what it really means is he is an idealist at heart and a pragmatist in practice.  I too think his winning the Nobel Peace Prize causes him to not want his legacy to be one of a wartime President and increasing international divisions; however fate being cruel that is exactly what happened.  President Obama I have noticed is always trying to speak to the concerns of all parties in situations and points of friction.  Some see this as being an inauthentic yes man and trying to be everyone’s friend, but I see it as showing someone who tries to see the situation or debate from another’s perspective.  I see it as someone who very carefully and analytically considers things before making his mind up for sure.  Sometimes this works against him when he doubts his gut and second guesses himself, takes too long to respond to an urgent matter, and gives his critics more political ammunition to use against him.  Overall though I believe this trait has led to much more rational and forward thinking decisions than his predecessor regarding foreign policy.  I see his pragmatism as veering too much off course of his ideals and values at times, but overall pragmatism has allowed him to carry through policies he could not do so otherwise.

President Obama is much more a believer in the carrot than the stick.  In other words he believes persuasion and ethical bribes is more effective of getting the results you’re seeking rather than the use of force to try to impose your will on others.  The original reference was referring to two ways to get a stubborn donkey to walk forward, the term appeared shortly after the civil war.  One is holding a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey to get him to walk towards the carrot thus bribing him with a reward for good behavior or hitting him with a stick to punish him for not continuing to move forward.  The former is obviously more humane and likely even more effective in the long run.  The donkey will not only move forward, he will trust you more in the future and be more willing to follow your lead.  The stick will only cause him to move forward because of fear and trying to avoid pain; he will never trust you though, be less willing to mind in the future, and it is inhumane to the donkey.  People are obviously much more emotionally complex than the donkey but it is a good metaphor for ways in dealing with diplomacy and foreign policy.  The stick has been far too emphasized in the past in foreign policy, I am glad someone finally is in office who makes much more use of the carrot.

This all said I still wish he would be more actively involved in the Syrian crises regarding refugees and displaced persons and helping provide a supportive role to moderates trying to protect the Syrian people from Assad’s regime and the extremist factions.  I still wish he would do more to help the minority groups within Iraq being persecuted, harmed, and killed.  I still wish he would double up his effort in the Israel/Palestine peace process.  I wish he would be much more forceful in his condemnation of war crimes and human rights abuses occurring the world.  I wish he would call out tyrants for their crimes against humanity, human rights abuses, and restricting liberty and democracy.  Lastly I wish he would reach out to the developing world more and keep more in friendly contact with our allies.  I realize all that is a tall order, but I believe all that is required to attempt to be a force for good and to restore our credibility in the world.  He has done some of all of that but I believe he needs to excerpt more effort in those things now more than ever before.

The fact remains even if FDR, JFK, or Reagan were President today, given the domestic and international conditions there is no way they would have had near the favorability they enjoyed during their Presidency.  FDR would not have a congress willing to sign-off on his New Deal, JFK’s legacy would be forever tarnished by 24 hour “got you” media, and Reagan couldn’t have even rallied his own party to support his proposals.  I believe history will judge Bush harshly but will be more forgiving of Obama and see him as a pragmatic idealist who tried to make the world better but was plagued by constant external burdens.  I have criticized President Obama a number of times on certain things and am disappointed he is not the socialist the Tea Party said he was; but the fact remains he has made a lot of accomplishments both domestically and internationally.  This all in spite of a very hostile time, current state of affairs, and world.

In the end I think many of his supporters will say something similar to: “You know Obama when he came to office we expected him to change things and he did just that.  He wasn’t all we had hoped for, but he did change some things for the better.  Though in fairness the Country was such a mess when he came to office we were looking for someone far greater than any one man could live up to.  He brought more equality to our nation, he brought some people on the margins of society into the wider social fabric, he helped create a healthier Nation, he spoke up for the refugees and immigrants in the world, for the impoverished and marginalized,  and in spite of his overseeing much conflict he was always trying to bring some peace to the world.  Sure he was not perfect, but looking back he was the right man for the time and accomplished much more than most people give him credit for.”

Wishing for more peace and stability in the world,

Alan Curtis Montgomery

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