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home : opinion : opinion June 28, 2016

8/26/2013 12:38:00 PM
Editorial Honey, not hegemony, should be Middle East American foreign policy

If we want to avoid being dragged into another costly and unwinnable war, We, the People, better start writing letters and making telephone calls to our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. to let them know what we want them to do. Our president has done a pretty good job of keeping us out of Middle East wars, but there is a strong push from Republicans and Democrats in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House for the U.S. to take the lead in trying to bring peace to the region by supplying arms, military advisors and limited military action, such as enforcing a no-fly-zone in Syria. This policy has never worked in the Middle East and there is no likelihood it will begin working.

It sounds noble and humanitarian when we talk about our desire to support democracy in the Middle East, but our history in the Middle East is anything but noble and humanitarian - and people in the Middle East know that and are suspicious of every move we make toward hegemony in the region.

Hegemony, for those who, like me, do not often use the word, is the policy of leadership or authority of a country over others. When we decide that the United States is responsible for policing what is happening in another country or influencing it by arms, military advisors and limited military action, we are pursuing hegemony - and it is always resented in the Middle East because of our history there.

In 1951, in a fair and democratic election the people of Iran chose Mohammad Mossadeq to lead their nation. At that time, the oil resources of Iran were controlled by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which we know today as British Petroleum (BP), and the profits from oil production were going to foreigners. Mossadeq had the audacity to propose using those profits to benefit the people of Iran.

In 1953, Britain, with the secret assistance of the United States' CIA, instigated a military coup to remove Mossadeq and install Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was subsequently removed by the Iranian people in the revolution of 1979. Britain and the U.S. wanted Iran's oil. The U.S. assistance was primarily a secret from U.S. citizens but not from people in the Middle East.

People throughout the Middle East view the United States as greedy for oil. Whatever we do there is under suspicion because of our past experience there. They don't seriously believe our objectives are noble or humanitarian.

Sometimes, no matter what it costs in human lives and misery, there is no role for outside interference in the affairs of another nation. We saw that with our own American Civil War. Would it have been better if a powerful European nation had intervened and forced an end to the conflict before the battle was over? Which nation and on which side of our civil war?

The struggles going on in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East need to be resolved by the people of those nations by themselves. When they decide that the misery and loss of life is more than they can either tolerate or afford, they will make their own peace. In the meantime, we should only offer humanitarian assistance through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and let the United Nations decide and provide whatever other intervention is needed.

Whether you agree or disagree with me, I encourage you to exercise your responsibility as an American citizen to write or call your elected representatives in Washington and let them know how you feel about our nation getting more deeply involved in Middle East turmoil than we are already.

For your convenience, I am including the addresses and phone numbers of our Washington delegation below.

You can make a difference in what our government decides to do in the Middle East, but you must make your voice heard by speaking up.

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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