Those people who continue to maintain that it is America’s job to police the world are not giving enough credit to the people who live in the countries that America is supposed to police.
So long as America dips her hand into the world’s affairs, and stirs that pot, she remains the lightning rod for all the pent-up frustration and hatred that should be directed against despotic governments that repress people. Americans feel a great need to repay the help that France gave us when we threw off the yoke of colonialism. Bringing the freedom of democracy to the world seems to be in our blood.
But Americans forget that we do not live in a democracy: we live in a republic. France did not take out King George: King Louis gave us troops and money and expertise, and fought with us after we begged for help. But the colonists already had a vision of where they wanted to go. Many immigrants had come to America to escape an overbearing monarchy. Many colonies had enacted laws protecting their citizens from an overweening government, based on the Magna Charta. Private property was already considered to be sacrosanct, and many colonists joined the battle against England simply to keep the British soldiers out of their homes.
The Arab countries that we are supposed to be assisting have no such legacy to draw from. Say that we manage to impose democracy from the top. If any segment of society is later unhappy with the election results, and we know how often that happens in this country, America is forever blamed for imposing an unwanted rule. Somehow, in the translation from our country to theirs, democracy becomes not one vote per person, but each person must like the outcome. This madness, as they say, must stop.
One of the greatest gifts that we have given the world is our example of change of leadership without violence. At the time it was instituted, it was unparalleled, and it is still rare. Even after fighting off England, even with the backing of the constitutionalists, it almost didn’t come off. Had George Washington not been the statesman that he was, America could have become yet another monarchy.
What some in the world expect is for America to depose current dictators, set up an election system where everyone can vote for a new leader, allow that leader, no matter his moral code, to take office in the name of democracy, stand by when that leader denounces the imperialistic tendencies of America, hold firm when that leader’s minions burn the American flag, burn the President in effigy, storm our embassies, kill or imprison Americans, and decry our most basic principle of freedom of speech, while calling us The Great Satan.
And for what? So long as democracy is imposed from above, it doesn’t belong to the people who are now thrust into it. The desire for protection of personal property, for responsibility for governing themselves, must come from the governed. America was founded by people who (slaves aside) had basically equal opportunities to do well for themselves. And, more importantly, who had conflicting enough desires to want little to do with government intervention in their lives.
The people in the countries involved in the Arab spring apparently do not share that basic desire for freedom. And we can’t give it to them. It must come from them. If, once a dictator is gone, they want to install a government of sharia law in its place, there is no way that America can stand by her principles and keep them from doing just that. However, the principles of sharia law and of the American Constitution are anathema to each other.
It is ridiculous for us to send our young people, our money, and our best efforts to depose a government when what is set up in its place immediately calls for us to be gone, and decries us as morally corrupt. What is the point?
Like Officer Krupke in “West Side Story”, we are universally despised for our intrusion. The people that we are trying to help think that they know better how to run their lives. And there is no way that we can force them to believe any differently. Unlike Officer Krupke, we weren’t hired to do the job of the world’s policeman. Where is the benefit to us to serve as cannon fodder and grist for the mill?
It is time for us to retire from the scene, until such time as the benefit of our wisdom is requested. Right now, all that is asked of us is our military might, but truly no one that we are attempting to help thinks that we have anything of value to offer when it comes to running a country. That is the one thing that we are better at than is anyone else in the world, and that is the one thing that no one wants to hear.
Until a country comes to us and asks for help, not in setting up a democracy, that’s easy, but in establishing a country which has respect for all of its citizens, respect for property rights, respect for the rule of law, and respect for the right to speak out against the government, we’re not doing the world or ourselves any favors by jumping in to any fray.
To those who say that we have a duty to hang in there, to wait it out while the Arab spring blooms, I say, it is a false spring, because the new governments have no more respect for their citizens than did the despots they succeeded. Until the people have enough respect for themselves, until another George Washington comes along to enforce the concept of a republican constitutional form of government, we are doing worse than spinning our wheels: we are spending time and money and the blood of our children in creating masses of people who hate us for our interference.
We don’t realize how lucky we were to have that group of people we call the Founding Fathers in charge. Unfortunately, looking to the East, I don’t see their like on the horizon.