Traverse City Record-Eagle


America’s identity crisis

Troy Keith, The Armchair ConservativeWatching as the events continue to evolve throughout the Middle East, it’s difficult to determine a central theme to our current foreign policy positions. Widespread protests have been squelched by iron-fisted leaders across the region as people are gunned down by oppressive regimes in Yemen, Iran, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Saudi royalty is keeping one hand on the oil spigots and the other on top of the heads of their citizenry. Bahrain, one of our most strategic allies, teeters on the precipice. Our response? Tepid and indecisive.

As the genocide in Rwanda and Darfur showed us, the United States apparently has more important concerns than humanitarianism or the simple-minded and unsophisticated promotion of democracy. Is it any wonder that we’re suffering from a national identity crisis?

The brutal slaughter of rebel forces continued for weeks in Libya and once we finally did decide to intervene, many on the right have cried “too little, too late.” As thousands died by the hand of Gadhafi, President Obama dithered over intervention and sought approval from the United Nations before moving to act.

After mobilizing a small armada, committing US troops to the battlefield under eventual NATO leadership and launching nearly $200 billion dollars worth of cruise missiles in an initial salvo, Mr. Obama then took some time from his grueling golf schedule and NCAA bracketing to enjoy a much needed vacation in Brazil. No Presidential address, no congressional approval and no legitimacy in the eyes of many.

Despite a consistent and unwavering stance against such military actions in the past, President Obama has committed our forces to yet another Islamic conflict. Contrary to previous promises, troops have been bolstered in Afghanistan, we remain in Iraq and war trials are resuming at Guantanamo Bay.

The Obama administration continues the controversial rendition program and backed renowned torture expert Omar Suleiman as a replacement for Hosni Mubarak. People on both sides of the political equation are struggling to make sense of this latest incursion and put our country’s recent actions in context with the President’s rhetoric.

To cast further doubt upon this “kinetic military action”, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi penned a heartfelt letter to the President claiming that the rebels we support are really members of Al Quaeda. Perhaps this explains that whole birth certificate hullabaloo.

I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son, and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me. We are confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave, so that I could follow your example?

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan chided:

I warn my brother do you let these wicked demons move you in a direction that will absolutely ruin your future with your people in Africa and throughout the world…Why don’t you organize a group of respected Americans and ask for a meeting with Qaddafi, you can’t order him to step down and get out, who the hell do you think you are?

Although later recanted, Dennis Kucinich had initially suggested that the president should be impeached for his action in Libya as reported by

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told Hotsheet today that it’s an “indisputable fact” that President Obama committed an impeachable offense by authorizing a military attack without congressional approval. “The next question is what does Congress do it about it,” Kucinich said, adding that he hasn’t said he’s introducing a resolution for impeachment.

Ralph Nader joins the anti-war/impeachment chorus with:

Why don’t we say what’s on the minds of many legal experts; that the Obama administration is committing war crimes; and if Bush should have been impeached, Obama should be impeached.

[Bush officials] were considered war criminals by many people. Now, Barack Obama is committing the same crimes. In fact, worse ones in Afghanistan. Innocents are being slaughtered, we are creating more enemies, he is violating international law.

For those who might suggest such actions to be hasty or unmerited, we should remember the words of the constitutional scholar and then Senator Obama as stated in 2007, “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Is this simply hawkish posturing before next year’s campaign? Perhaps this series of unfortunate events is merely positioning for future conflicts in which the armed forces of the United States of America can be called to action by the President and the U.N. without congressional approval?

Whatever the reason for our latest military endeavors and however we’ve gotten to this sorry point in our nation’s development, it’s clear that we’ve lost our way. We’re in the process of losing our soul as well — although “selling” might be a more appropriate term.

We’ve acted rashly in some instances and not at all in others. Despite our best intentions and the media’s incessant portrayal of the Egyptian uprising as a revolution worthy of Nathan Hale and freedom lovers everywhere, our encouragement appears to have placed the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood in a position to assume power. Gadhafi must be stopped, but do we really understand the consequences of our actions?

The desert sands of Afghanistan and a tenacious bunch of “freedom fighters” kicked the rear end of the Russian bear so hard that it scurried back to its cave and hibernated through the entire collapse of the former Soviet Union. As we continue the same fight against an army of our own creation in the longest war of American history, is our fate to be any different? With a decade behind us, we’re facing a generational hatred of America that lies smoldering within billions of people that simply wait for a flame.

Our money and blood is not buying us any favors or banking a surplus of international goodwill. We need to seriously reevaluate our position in the world, fess up to our indiscretions and back up our future promises with clear, decisive action that speaks to our values as a nation.

The United States used to stand for something and whether they agreed with it or not, everyone everywhere knew what that was. It’s time we got back to our roots. We’ve spent decades flirting with dictators and fostering trade with those amounting to little more than international gangsters.

The answer is simple although the execution will be difficult. Promote democracy, foster freedom, help, barter with and defend those that respect basic human rights. Lead by example with character and dignity and others will follow.

Like it or not, a line has been drawn in the sand and we need to decide which side we’re going to stand on. Once our feet are firmly planted, we’ll be in a position to help others to stand with us as we confront what is shaping up to be an ideological war of biblical proportions. It’s time we got our house in order.

When you add it all up
The tears and the marrowbone
There’s an ounce of gold
And an ounce of pride in each ledgers
And the Germans kill the Jews
And the Jews kill the Arabs
And the Arabs kill the hostages
And that is the news
And is it any wonder that the monkey’s confused
He said Mama Mama, the President’s a fool
Why do I have to keep reading these technical manuals
And the joint chiefs of staff
And the brokers on Wall Street said
Don’t make us laugh, you’re a smart kid
Time is linear
Memory’s a stranger
History is for fools
Man is a tool in the hands
Of the great God Almighty
And they gave him command of a nuclear submarine
Sent him back in search of the Garden of Eden

“Perfect Sense” — Roger Waters

  • Gene

    I am listening to my local talk-radio interview Victor Davis Hansen regarding 0′s speech last night. He points out 0 ‘consulted’ (a few leaders) congress before the Libya attack, while Bush got congressional approval for Irag. This is the standard the media requires. I.e. Democrats are given the pass to do ‘what is right,’ vs. the Republican who is suspect of wanting to start a war, etc. and is not given a pass; The identity crisis, you might say of operating within our liberal media.

    V. good column, Troy. But if you could cite poetry from say, Idomeneo instead of Pink Floyd !

    • Troy Keith

      Thanks Gene.. it’s hard to get away from my hippie roots. Could be the cellular memory stored in the pony tail.

      Received a reply posted at another source yesterday that struck me:

      “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests.” George Washington

  • jeff4

    ya know troy, its getting closer and closer to trout season. I might have to hop over on the Rapid River and do some fishing, forget about wars and presidents and the catholic church and bombs and taxes and laws and abortion and teachers making too much money. Trout, a potato, some bacon and asparagus. Forget my troubles and fish. Cook some sloooowwwwwwww food.

  • Gene

    I must be nice to be able to have the summer off, and having that paycheck roll in on-time, twelve months a year. Assuming you have yours spread out over the whole year so you don’t have to manage spending during the summer. Sloooooowwwww summerrrtimee and the living is eaaasssy.

  • jeff4

    GENE!! don’t worry, —- I get paid 9 months of the year for my 9 month of the year job, work a summer job for a summer paycheck, and this summer on top of that i’m taking two college courses. Then since i coach a fall sport, my “vacation” from summer work and classes ends in early August. But, dont worry, i’ll catch plenty of trout every Saturday and Sunday. And, I agree 100% – when you have a job you love the living is always easy. And mine is very easy.

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