March 24, 2006

Albright: Good vs. Evil Isn't Policy

For the last five-plus years, we've gotten used to Bush's platitudes of "good vs. evil" and how the "evil-doers" hate freedom. For those of us with a higher education beyond the sixth-grade level, which excludes pretty much anybody who voted for Bush in November of 2004, the oversimplification and labeling of whole groups of people as black vs. white, good vs. bad, has been insulting - both to them, and to those of us expected to swallow the tripe.

Today, in a scathing contribution to the LA Times, former secretary of state Madeline Albright takes the conversation up a few pegs by intelligently outlining that "Good vs. Evil Isn't a Strategy" at all. As she writes, "It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction." In all seriousness, this isn't like Star Wars with a Rebel Alliance facing "The Dark Side". International politics, globalization and how it intermixes with religion, cannot be simplified by a black vs. white, us vs. them, good vs. evil mentality.

As we've learned, President Bush and his cronies are not interested in learning the truths that may conflict with their elementary conclusions. It wasn't until 2005 that Bush even realized that Sunnis and Shiites were different sects in Iraq, after all, and that the two groups might occasionally disagree. (Big understatement) In fact, even if some of Bush's goals are well-intended, his oversimplification and saber-rattling has served to turn the global forces against us, making it more and more unlikely that our wishes will be enacted. Albright spells this out, saying, "In today's warped political environment, nothing strengthens a radical government more than Washington's overt antagonism."

It's a shame that it has turned out like this. Bush's predecessors in the Republican party, including his father and Reagan, always commanded some level of respect when it came to foreign policy, and while they too may have had shady dealings, they didn't try to simplify the enemy so much so that talks were impossible. Even the Soviet Union's "Evil Empire" came to the table to reduce the nuclear arms race. With this group of dunderheads making policy, there's no chance we would see Iraq, Iran, or North Korea offer similar compromise.

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