Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Iran: Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

America—the United States of—was founded on an awe-inspiring belief: “We the people.”  We—with no qualifiers.  All of us.  At our country’s inception, this was not true, but words have power, and that power compels many of us to continue to believe in our possibilities. I cling to Langston Hughes' poetic hopes--"Let America be America again, the land that never has been yet and yet must be."

There are those who proclaim American Exceptionalism, and they condemn anyone who discusses some of our historic failures as being less than patriotic.  Supposedly, we do not love America as much as they do.  Does our love of country need to be blind?   How then is any country to become all that it can be if its citizens are oblivious to its faults?  How can our country rectify historic wrongs if we pretend not to see them?

Let us then engage in some serious introspection about the consequences of Western actions in the Middle East. (The term Middle East was not widely used until after World War I to describe the area of Northern Africa and the Arab states, but at that time, it was to separate that area from the Far East and the rest of Africa.)  When we study the unintended consequences of Western actions in this area, we cannot be surprised that many in the Middle East regard Westerners—sometimes particularly the U. S.—as nations meddling where we don’t belong and/or as oppressors.  We do say that we want peace in the Middle East, but our words and actions often seem to contradict this.  There are exceptions, but in general, Western powers have done more harm than good whenever we/they took on a superior or paternalistic role in--or attitude about--this area.  After all, colonial powers did draw lines on a map after World War I to create new nations, but the cultures in these areas are ancient, not new.  Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are among those nations created on paper, but Iran—formerly Persia—remains in essentially the same place as it has been for centuries. 

We need to remember that history, especially since the neo-Cons who started a war with Iraq by choice and on bogus intelligence are now telling us not to consider talking to Iran about their nuclear capabilities.  The Powers that Be took the neo-Con advice about Iraq.  That was disastrous.  Why are those people even talking now?  More importantly, why is anyone listening?  After we could not find the non-existent WMDs, the not-war, rather an "operation," became all about a democratically elected government in Iraq.  Rumsfeld was totally shocked that a Shiite majority won, even though he could have found out that Shiites--who had been oppressed by Hussein and the Sunni minority--have outnumbered Sunni in Iraq forever, had he checked.  Then Bremer disbanded Hussein’s Sunni army, and they became the insurgents.  There wasn't an al Qaeda in Iraq when we started the war, but there was an al Qaeda in Iraq during and after.  Petraeus, the general to end all generals, used the Sunni for a bit, and then that was over.  So now, they've morphed into ISIS/L.  This disaster is a direct result of our ill-informed, ill-considered actions when we marched into Iraq.  Yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who “gassed his own people.”  (When the G. W. Bush administration said that, they hoped we’d forget that the gassing of his own people occurred while we were allied with Iraq against Iran.) 

And now Iran is a worry of ours, a worry that Iraq—with Hussein in charge—had kept in check.  Get a grip people.  We cannot magically wipe out the reality that Iranian scientists already know how to make nuclear weapons and, that in time, they can produce a nuke.  Given that, why is it a bad idea to negotiate to delay this as soon as possible?  McCane and his “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” gang seem determined not to talk to Iran.  Forty-seven GOP Senators even went so far as to write a letter to the Ayatollah of Iran, telling him not to trust any deal with us.  Why are they--and some Democrats--so intent on our not working with other nations alongside  the Obama administration in attempts to avoid war?  We finally have many of the globes’ powerful nations—Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany—working together to lessen the threat of increased nuclear proliferation.  And this is a non-starter?  Why?

Going to war with Iran is a very bad idea.  Lest you have any doubt about this, check out some of these facts.

Compare the areas--Iran: 636,400 sq. miles to Iraq: 168,754 sq. miles.  Compare the populations--Iran: 81 million people to Iraq: 36 million people. Look at the difference in percentages of Sunni and Shiite Muslims in each country.  Iran is 90 percent Shiite and about  9 percent Sunni.  Iraq is 60-65 percent Shiite with 15-20 percent Sunni. There are Christians and Jews in both areas, but other religions are a very small part in either country.

Add to these facts that Iran is one of the globes’ oldest civilizations (Persia—224 AD).  Iraq was carved from Mesopotamia and drawn on a map by the League of Nations in 1920 after the demise of the Ottoman Empire.  It only became independent in 1932.  The geographic identity of Iranians is centuries old; Iraq is a much newer nation.  Think about these facts, and you can see that fighting with a much larger country with more people might deserve some critical thinking before rash acting.

Just touting American Exceptionalism and saying USA!  USA! does not excuse us from being rational when we make decisions that have far reaching, life or death consequences.  Before we barge headlong into a war we might just be able to avoid, think détente, all you Reagan lovers.  And do study your history and the facts as well as recall the events of the Second Gulf War—as we now call Operation Whatever.  (Congress will not and has not declared war since World War II.  Our police actions or conflicts or operations are only called war after we finish them.)  War with Iraq was far from a promised cake walk, and that mission is far from accomplished.  The tragic deaths and life-long repercussions for the men and women who fought for us there deserve our best.  They deserve to believe that we do not ask so much of them without considering the cost to them and their families. Now Iran?  Dear Congress: Please think before you shoot off either your mouths or the guns.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I've Already Been There. Why Are We Going Back?

I came of age as the image of June Cleaver collided with the voice of Gloria Steinem, when the country basked in our goodness--“One nation, under God”--while enforcing Jim Crow laws with water hoses and snarling dogs.  Lake Erie caught fire, and young men I knew were fighting—some dying—in a civil war in the jungles of Vietnam.  We’d ignored humankind’s ongoing damage to our environment and slipped and slid into a civil war in South East Asia.  “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana, 1863)   Read history.  What have we learned?

We marched and spoke out and wrote letters and joined political campaigns, believing that we could make a difference.  We wanted equal civil rights and voting rights for people of color and for women, a sane foreign policy, and a safer environment.  And change did come.

Because of the courage of so many, Congress passed laws to make the 14th and 15th Amendments a reality.  The war ended.  We vowed to better the environment and lessen our dependency of Middle Eastern oil.  The 26th Amendment gave 18-year-old citizens the right to vote, a right they’d certainly earned since they’d been deemed old enough to go to war.  The birth control pill and Roe v. Wade gave women the power to control their own reproduction.  Then, in 2008, the U. S. elected a Black president.

I naively became certain that my children and their children would see a world of equality, of fairness, of thoughtful actions.  That they would live in a world of safe food and drink; of clean water and air.  The idealist in me hoped politicians would have learned the lessons of history when sabers once again began to rattle.  I was so certain……..then.

Not now.  Howard Nemerov did warn us: “We know that we know better than they knew/ And history will not blame us if once again/The light at the end of the tunnel is the train.”  Looks like a big Kaboom may be right in front of us.

While racism has never been extinguished, very few felt comfortable being overt about it.  And then Tea Party members proudly carried protest signs depicting President Obama with a bone through his nose.  Talking heads convinced a gullible segment of the population that Obama wasn’t even born in the U. S, that he was a secret Muslim intent upon destroying the country.  Uber capitalists fought to weaken the EPA and regulations that protect the consumer.  On Meet the Press, Vice-President Cheney talked of “preemptive strikes” to begin a needless war with Iraq, a war that has unloosed chaos throughout the Middle East and strengthened Iran.  Women’s rights have been assaulted.  The Supreme Court has allowed a few billionaires to buy political power through Citizens United, something that unites only the power of money and the weakening of ordinary citizens.

I look at my grandchildren and worry about their futures unless everyone--in and out of government--awakens, reads, looks at the big picture, thinks long term, and realizes that the “Good Old Days” were only good for prosperous white men, not for most everyone else.  I so long for a day when America becomes a country intent to do what it takes to become what it promised to be.  Langston Hughes pleads, “O, let America be America, again/The land that never has been yet/And yet must be.”  Please, America, let us not go back to the past.  I’ve been there, done that, and I want to move beyond all that.  The past was not all that great for far too many in this country.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Corporations as People? No. Money Is Speech? I Don't Think So!

I cannot understand some of the recent Supreme Court decisions.  Some of the justices seem to have read another constitution than the one I have studied and treasured throughout my academic life.  The interpretations about the political process beginning with the Citizens decision seem to negate my ideas about equal rights.  How can a corporation be a person?  When people are ill, they seek medical help; they don’t get government bailouts.  When people miss mortgage payments, they lose their houses.  When big banks lost money on mortgage gambling, tax payers came to their rescue.  They are too big to fail.  People are too small to be saved?

According to the first definition of person in Miriam Webster, a person is a human being.  A corporation is not a living human being and therefore, cannot be a person.  A corporation cannot vote, even after it has given all the money it wants to skew the political process.  Nonetheless, even though it cannot literally vote, it can buy votes.

How can money be speech?  First of all, money is not free, and not everyone has the same amount.  Does that mean that a full-time minimum wage earner making a little over $15,000 a year can talk as loudly, metaphorically speaking, as Bank of America’s CEO whose yearly compensation is $24.8 million?  When these figures are seen, even saying that money is speech is absurd.  Mitch McConnell is the Senator of Kentucky, and every time I’ve heard him equate money and speech, I am astounded as he should know the reality of poverty’s hardships well.  Kentucky is in the top five states in terms of poverty.  How can a representative of my home state say, “Money is speech,” as he is wont to do, when he should know what the out-of-work coal miner makes? 

And finally, how could SCOTUS so weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1968 by declaring that it is no longer as needed?  At this point, over 20 Red States have enacted new voting laws that make it difficult for inner-city residents to vote, even if they have voted numerous times in the past.  They have no need of a driver’s license, which is required for voting in many states, even though they may have numerous, verifiable photo ID’s. Some of the elderly either have never had a birth certificate either because they were born at home or have long ago misplaced the one that they had.  Not in the least surprising is that most of those for whom voting has been made more difficult lean toward the Democrats.  It is absolutely loathsome when Republican governors like Florida’s Gov. Scott shorten voting days and polling areas in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods, especially after evidence of long waiting lines and vote times in the last elections.  Florida’s ballot is often pages long, stuffed with amendments from the sublime to the ridiculous, and it takes the conscientious voter more than a moment to cast a vote. Additionally, his and other GOP governors’ moves to cut Sunday voting directly impacts the African-American community who have long made voting the Sunday before election day—Souls to the Polls--a tradition of long standing.  And Sunday voting also aids those who work six days a week and don’t get leisurely lunch breaks to do with as they please.  To deliberately make it difficult for certain voters and not others is discriminatory without a doubt.

When I watched John Lewis and others beaten and gassed as they peacefully walked across the Pettus Bridge in 1968, I wept.  And then, when they and many, many others completed that march all the way to Selma, I was so very hopeful that equal rights was going to become a reality.   And then followed the passage of the Voting Rights Act thereafter; it made me believe that the US had finally become what it could be, what it was meant to be.  I now feel very naïve because I really believed that was that; all could vote.  It never occurred to me that this could be undone!

What can you and I do about it?  Register to vote, no matter how inconvenient they make it for you.  Start early and find people to help you if you run into obstacles.  Lobby your elected officials to extend voting times and dates.  Shame them on social media if you must, but do make your views known.  Money is loud but so is persistence, especially if you organize others to make noise with you.  Do vote in all local and state elections.  The Democratic base turns out in presidential elections but is less faithful in off-year and local elections.  When we don’t vote, we cede our voice to others who don’t have our concerns for the environment, health care, the social safety net, women’s choice, etc.  Our failure to vote in 2010 state elections allowed Republicans to take more gubernatorial races than ever before in history.  That not only resulted in giving them power to gerrymander to their party’s advantage as well as to redo voting rights’ laws.

And so here is the take-away: SCOTUS rulings have made the rich and powerful more rich and powerful.  SCOTUS has made it more difficult for some to vote.   We, the people not rich and powerful in money but in voice, need to vote and vote and vote and to make our voices heard whenever and wherever.  Tweet, Facebook, e-mail, blog, write op-ed pieces.  Old school or new, do what it takes to reclaim your place in the political spectrum.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It’s the Right to Vote. It's Not an Entitlement

       Is the Voting Rights Act in danger of being overturned or weakened? The very thought of this moves me to tears.  For my entire adult life, I have taught young people about our country’s struggle to deal with the issue of race, partly because I was so oblivious to and ignorant of anything about it until the violence engendered by the Civil Rights Movement came into my living room via John Cameron Swayze, Peter Jennings, and Walter Cronkite.

      The right for African-Americans to vote was paid for in blood. Philadelphia, Mississippi, 1964: Klansmen murdered James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.  One of the murderers was the deputy sheriff.  Why were they killed?  Because they were registering Blacks to vote. 

       On Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, I and many others in America watched in horror as the televised airing of The Nuremberg Trials was interrupted to show the horror of unarmed men and women being gassed and beaten as they crossed the Pettus Bridge in Selma. Alabama, peacefully marching to ask for the right to vote.  Current Congressman, John Lewis of Georgia, led that march and was severely beaten for the effort.

       The attitude of some on the Supreme Court is that these two events among so many others are “oh so yesterday.”  And then there’s Justice Scalia.  He actually stated that the Voting Rights Act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”

       Mr. Justice Scalia: Voting is a right and the responsibility of a citizen.  Your seeing it as an entitlement is utterly appalling!

       Chief Justice Roberts made comments leading me to wonder if he was asleep while some Red State legislatures did everything they could to disenfranchise the minority and youth vote, constituencies that turned out for Obama in 2008.

       The Supreme Court sits in D. C. where some waited in line for up to four hours to vote.  In Miami, FL, the average wait time was 90 minutes.  That was the average.  Many in minority districts waited well over 4 hours to vote.

       Before 2012, most of us voted with any ID or none if the poll worker knew the voter.  But in 2012, voting for some became much more difficult. Nineteen states tried to make it very hard for minorities and the young to vote; certain restrictions for registration or  for re-registration made it more than difficult or even impossible for some to overcome. Because of the Voting Rights Act, these new laws were blocked in some—but not all—states.  And it’s not over.  As the Court deliberates, other states are considering new ways to disenfranchise some voters.

       Just last month, the NC legislature passed a bill aimed at curtailing the college student vote.  In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that college students have the right to register and vote where they go to school. To get around this, NC is proposing to remove the tax exemptions for dependents who register to vote at any address other than their parent’s homes.  Why?  In 2008, college students in NC voted overwhelmingly for Obama, and Obama won the state.  And while he didn't win the state in 2012, he did take over %48 of the vote and a huge percentage of the youth vote.  So, the GOP legislature in NC wants to nip that in the bud if at all possible.  Taxing to prevent votes for Democrats is a tax the NC GOP can support.

       A democratic republic like the US is dependent upon making it possible for all citizens among the many constituencies to register and to vote.  Even after the Fifteenth Amendment was passed in 1870, in the Jim Crow South and some other parts of the country, whites only could vote.  We cannot be that kind of country again.  This is not an all-white country today nor has it ever been.  The Voting Rights Act further assured that the Fifteenth Amendment would be enforced.

       These legislators working to curtail the rights of some of these constituencies cannot call themselves patriotic, cannot wave the flag and declare themselves super Americans.  Their attempts to impede the voting rights of their fellow American citizens are anything but good for the country.   They claim to be preventing voter fraud, but that is a smoke screen.  Out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud, according to a Department of Justice study outlined during a 2006 Congressional hearing. Only 26 of those cases, or about .00000013 percent of the votes cast, resulted in convictions or guilty pleas. 

       What about voter fraud even more recently?  What we can go by is the number of times that people have been prosecuted successfully for such crimes. And the number is     ridiculously low. You have a better chance of being hit by lightning than discovering an incident of polling place fraud.  [Read more Q&As in U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad.]

       It is my fervent hope that the Supreme Court can see its way to the truth about what is really going on and keeps the law that protects us from the machinations of those trying to keep all the electoral power for their own kind.  Remember, what goes around politically comes around.  The GOP would not like it if Democratic Party controlled legislators enacted laws to curtail Republican voter turnout, and I would be just as unhappy about those attempts to disenfranchise anyone.  Our country’s well-being depends on free and fair elections.  Voting should be encouraged.  It should be made more, not less, possible for all eligible to cast a ballot.  Candidates then have to make their cases to all voters and to win on their merit, regardless of party affiliation.  Our country will be the better for it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. All Men Are Created Equal. Words that Are Meant!

On this day, January 21, 2013, I saw an America in which I believe with a whole heart, an America living up to the words penned by our Founding Fathers--that we have been endowed with "unalienable" rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and that all are created "equal." While we may not be all that we have the potential to be yet, we are much closer than I ever thought we'd be in my lifetime,  Having come of age in the Mad Men/Jim Crow eras, seeing an African-American take the presidential oath  of office for his second term is nothing short of astonishing.

America continues to change and to become.  The Founding Fathers were all white males.  They were highly educated property owners, including some who owned slaves.  But they wrote that we are all equal, that we all have the same rights.  Even if they did not mean everything that they said at the time, the people of this country have held the Founding Fathers' feet to the proverbial fire.  Those who already had those rights took them for granted.  Those who had yet to gain them--the poor, the people of color, all women--treasured those words and expected them to be true for them as well.  After all, those words had been written and enshrined.  The words were therefore meant.

On this day, the juxtaposition of the inauguration and the day that yearly honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the words of the Founding Fathers almost jump from the page.  In August of 1963, I sat in front of a television set in the Alpha Delta Pi basement at the University of Kentucky.  I and those watching with me were sure that King's eloquent words would sway everyone to see that all should be afforded equal rights.  And the view of all those on the mall--white and black, old and young, rich and poor, Jews and Christians and Muslims--standing together singing "We Shall Overcome"......I felt then that maybe we had.  Sadly, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL less  than two weeks after that, a horror which killed four little girls, blasted us dreamers back to reality.  But today, America saw a Black man who had been elected by over 50% of the American people for the second time.  That is the dream Dr. King saw, not the nightmare we still sometimes see when people--even some politicians--use demeaning dehumanizing language to diminish those who are seen,  in any way, as different.

Nonetheless, the words--yes, the words of the Founding Fathers and the words of Dr. King are becoming increasingly real.  Many of the Founding Fathers died of old age and natural causes, but their words survived.  Dr. King's life ended abruptly with an angry bullet, but the haters can't kill and idea or a dream with guns and ammo.

Once wordsmiths like Jefferson and Madison penned the young country's aspirations on paper all those years ago, they lived and continue to live.  Today, President Obama noted that what helps one helps us all, and I was reminded of something else Dr.King said. "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever effects one directly effects all indirectly."

Today we saw the widow of slain Civil Rights worker, Medgar Evers, give the invocation.  We saw the Tuskegee Airman honored in the parade.  We saw the America that Langston Hughes wrote about in "Let America Be America Again."  "Let America be America again, the land that never has been yet and yet must be."

Today, we moved even closer to the country that we can be, that we must be, to thy country that we were promised,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

You Have the Right to Remain Silent. Please, I Beg of You, Donald, Do!

I realize that Donald Trump is a successful man, but it is difficult for me to take him seriously.  First, there is the hair. .Whatever does he see when he looks in the mirror?  He cannot possibly see what the rest of us see.  Maybe that topper he wears keeps sanity from seeping in, because for a man who has made gazillions of dollars, he says some really crazy things.

Regardless of where you stand politically, the birther nonsense the Donald continues to promote is too fringe for the Republicans I count among family and friends.  How much conspiracy would it take for a mother to give birth to a son in Kenya, simultaneously convince a newspaper in Hawaii to print a birth announcement on that very day that her baby was born in Hawaii, and then keep all of this a secret until he decided to run for president four decades plus later?  There are reasons to argue about things President Obama should have done and could have done, but his not having been rom here has nothing to do with that.


President Obama finally caved into the birthers over a year ago and did release his long form birth certificate.  No other president has ever been harassed in this manner, and I wish the president had just ignored them.  I didn’t think it would change any of their minds.  Facts are of no concern to those kinds of people. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it best:  “You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts?” But some of the fringe in the GOP now choose to have their own “facts.”  If they were no longer to accept that people who once spoke Spanish settled Florida and California, they would say, “Well that’s your opinion.  We do not believe that.” Remember, one of Romney’s campaign leaders proudly said that they were not going to be bothered with fact checkers.  Reality? No thanks.

In April, Trump tweeted the following: @realDonaldTrump

An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.

A credible and, as always, unnamed source who either does not exist or who is as crazy as the gullible who buy what he is saying, regardless of facts—

The real birth certificate sows that Obama was born August 4, 1961m in Honolulu’s Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital.

"I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest," Obama said. "But I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as for the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve."

By May 29, 2012, Trump said in a CNBC phone interview that the document was not enough, and that "nothing has changed my mind." In a CNN interview on the same day, the "Celebrity Apprentice" host continued to press the issue, prompting Wolf Blitzer to say Trump was "beginning to sound a little ridiculous."

Trump upped the ante when he began to question President Obama’s academic record.  For the record, Obama graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School and earned his Bachelor’s in international studies from Columbia.  He is sure that some document will list the President as a foreign student.  Trump has also implied that the President can’t be that smart. Even if affirmative action played a part in Obama;s acceptance to either of these prestigious schools, the assigning of Magna Cum Laude is only earned by academic achievement.  Obama was President of the Harvard Law Review.  This is an unarguable fact.  You do not have to agree with his politics to accept that.  For some reason, Barack Obama’s academic achievement just sticks in the craw of the Trumps and Limbaughs of this world.  Why is this?  In one breath, they accuse the president of sounding “too professorial.”  In the next, men like John Sununu suggest that Obama is lazy, or, in Sarah Palin’s view, the president “shucks and jives.”  Is this about anything but race?  About Obama’s being the other? One not like us?  I say it is.

Trump’s most recent rant borders on publicly extorting the President of the United States.  He demanded that the president release his college records and passport applications to see if they note his place of birth. 

“Donald Trump criticized President Obama on Thursday for not agreeing to release his college records and passport application in return for a $5-million donation to a charity of the president's choice.

“The real estate magnate and TV personality announced last week that he was extending the offer to the president, and that Mr. Obama had until Wednesday to comply. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he extended the deadline to noon Thursday.

“After the deadline came and went, Mr. Trump posted a video on YouTube calling it a "very, very sad day for the United States of America." He suggested that the president's snub prevented him from giving $5 million to a group such as the Wounded Warrior Project, American Cancer Society or to the families of victims from the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.

“’Someday those papers will come out, and people will say, 'You know what? Donald Trump was right,'’ he said in a video.”
Perhaps, Donald, someday people will say, “You know what?  Donald Trump was nuts!”

The President has maintained a sense of humor about all of this kerfuffle about his legitimacy.  When he appeared on The Tonight Show, he joked that he and Donald Trump had had bad blood dating back to their school days in Kenya. "We had constant run-ins on the soccer field," the president said. "He wasn't very good and resented it. When we finally moved to America, I thought it would be over."

Donald Trump, you have a right to remain silent.  Anything you say can be used against you.  If I hadn’t been brought up to be polite, I might just say, “Shut up!  You’re making an ass of yourself!”

Friday, February 17, 2012

War with Iran? Really!

It seems foolhardy to hear politicians rattling sabers at Iran, implying or even saying that they will go to war if Iran attempts to get nuclear weapons. There are definitely dangers inherent in Iran’s procuring nuclear weapons, but going to war with them does not seem to be the only answer.

The United Kingdom and France, our allies, are part of the nuclear club. Pakistan and India are nuclear, and while they frighten one another, we have not threatened to go to war with them. And, while it is not official, we all know that Israel has nuclear capabilities.

We ignored China until they detonated a nuclear bomb in 1964. Prior to that, we had not recognized the entirety of mainland China, calling Taiwan “China” after Mao Tse Tung and the Communists drove Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalist forces onto that island. I always thought it a bit absurd that we did not “recognize” a land mass of 3696100 square miles (according to Britannica Encyclopedia), but that’s all we did when China went nuclear. We just didn’t officially notice them.

Because the former Soviet Union had actual weapons of mass destruction, we were engaged in a Cold War from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in1989. That Cold War period lasted four decades and countless lives were lost containing Communism. We fought wars in Korea and Vietnam ourselves and financed wars by surrogates across the continent of Africa and Latin America.
And how about North Korea with nuclear weapons? No one has ever accused their leaders of sanity, have they?

I’d just as soon no one had the kind of power to annihilate entire populations, but, as my grandmother always said: If wishes were horses, we’d all take a ride. Like it or not, several countries have nuclear weapons, and, therefore, we have to learn to co-exist with them. We have used diplomacy and sanctions as well as working with other nations to keep those we fear at bay. Iran’s Arab neighbors are keeping very vigilant about Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons, and so I hope that Israel does not get trigger happy too quickly. I fully understand why Israel is so leery about a nuclear-armed Iran, but I also hope that they do not start a war with Iran and drag us into it.

Let us not forget that we invaded Iraq on the unfounded belief that they had nuclear weapons. Remember President Bush’s speech to the United Nations? “Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year,” he told the U.N. General Assembly in New York in 2002. In September of that same year, National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice said on CNN: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” As it was, Iraq had no nuclear weapons, but nearly 45,000 Americans died in that war and thousands more were wounded. We’re still in Afghanistan. Do we really want to wade into another war in the Middle East unless there is absolutely no other way?

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Isn’t that how it goes? Wars have
unintended consequences. Iran’s new strength is partly a result of our having weakened their arch nemesis: Iraq. For decades, Iran and Iraq kept one another in check by fighting against or preparing to fight against one another. When we invaded Iraq, the U. S. and Iraqis had to concentrate on first squelching insurgents and then rebuilding a government and bombed-out buildings and infrastructure. With their eye off the Iranians, Iran grew stronger and more bombastic. There was no enemy on their border any more. We had seen to that.

Yes, Iran is a problem. But then so is North Korea with nukes and a crazy man at the helm, civil war and unrest in parts of the African continent, a weakening European market, a U. S. Congress who can’t play well with others, crumbling infrastructure in our own country, and so much more. Saber rattling and bellicose talk are of little use. As the old saying goes, talk is cheap. furthermore, loud talk is even less valuable. Dealing with the complex world in which we live requires a multiple pronged approach, not just guns blazing. Our foreign policy has to be more sophisticated than threats of war at every turn. We cannot afford to lose more lives and money to force our ideas on another country. How much of the world can we occupy? How many countries can we control? There are better ways. Instead of politicians standing around talking tough, we need statesmen and women, sitting around a table, thinking, reasoning, and strategizing. Please! More grownups in the room!