« What it Means to Honor Freedom of Speech and of the Press. | Main | The Ugly Truth: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Wealth in the U.S. »

America’s Abdication of Leadership 

The world we live in is a dangerous one. While climate change may still be the single most dangerous factor threatening the human race, as well as one that requires superhuman collaboration and self-sacrifice to solve or even mitigate, other more solvable dangers are more immediate and, for many people in the world, more threatening. The nuclear threat of North Korea, and, less obviously, of errant possessors of nuclear weapons causing massive destruction out of malicious zealotry, is one that looms large. For people living in the Middle East, and parts of Africa, constant wars threaten and destroy lives, homes, and the infrastructure of civilization. Other nations, either indirectly involved or bystanders, suffer from their own cultures and infrastructures being challenged by the influx of refugees from the countries affected by such wars.

America’s abdication of leadership in combating climate change is obvious to the world and appears to be fueled by both skepticism of the opinions of the scientific community and corporate greed, which is makes our country averse to any regulations of industry that limit profits. We are not only not participating in worldwide efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, we are gutting our environmental protection and emission reduction efforts here at home. Countries that are moving toward renewable energy sources, electric cars, and water conservation look askance at America’s short-sightedness, while they, without our leadership, march forward toward fossil fuel independence and strict environmental  and emission regulations.

In the realm of Middle Eastern conflicts, America continues to disgrace itself by choosing sides in longstanding national, religious and cultural conflicts, rather than by offering diplomatic mediation and incentives for moderation, as has been at least part of American tradition in the past (although we have, for decades mounted either overt or clandestine help to one side or another in most conflicts, and often, as is the case today, sold arms to virtually all participants). Our hands have rarely been clean, but today we don’t even pretend to play the role of neutral mediator.

In the perennial conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, where we have made notable efforts to broker peace accords in the past, we now have chosen the side of Israel and fanned further flames of conflict by announcing support for Jerusalem as the country’s capital. We have colluded with Israel in reducing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, both directly from the U.S. and through the U.N. There is no obvious upside to our position. While it could be argued that such measures may force Palestinians to come to the bargaining table with Israelis, in fact the measures have emboldened Israel to move further right toward an eventual goal of greater encroachment into Palestinian-claimed territory and less support for a viable Palestinian state.

Nikki Haley, America’s UN Ambassador, recently wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times in which she chastised Iran for smuggling missiles into Yemen for use by Houthi rebels. She pointed out that such missiles have been launched into Saudi Arabia and threaten to widen the war. In her words, “The world can no longer claim ignorance or skepticism of Iran’s role in fomenting instability in the Middle East.” I’m not sure than anyone other than Iran itself claimed that Iran wasn’t fomenting instability with its support of groups such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, but her inflammatory comments failed to mention the massive U.S. support in military hardware, including fighter planes and bombers, to Saudi Arabia, which is directly fighting for the Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi government, a government elected in a one-candidate presidential election that chose the former vice president to replace the 33 year dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. A civil war followed and soon became also a sectarian religious fight between the Shia Houthis and the Sunni Hadi supporters, with Sunni Saudi Arabia supporting one side and Shia Iran the other. More recently, the supporters of the government have split into factions with one group seeking independence of Southern Yemen from the rest of the country, so it is not even clear who the true government would consist of (Hadi himself resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the moment). The war itself has caused catastrophic destruction of life and property, but Saudi blockades of food and medical supplies have caused the “worst famine seen in modern times” within Yemen. In this context, the U.S. response has been entirely one-sided, with American officials such as Haley and President Trump using Iran’s supplying of missiles to the Houthis as an argument for invalidating the Iran Nuclear Deal (although neither has anything to do with the other) using such statements as “Die-hard defenders of the Iran nuclear deal don’t want to hear it because it proves, once again, that the Iranian regime can’t be trusted.”  Ambassador Haley went on to say, “…we have the chance to rein in Iran’s behavior and demand that it live up to its international agreements that discourage conflict. But if action is not taken, then someday soon, when innocent Saudi civilians are killed by Iranian weapons, the chance for peace will be lost.”

The chance for peace? The United States, which is supplying the weapons used by Saudi Arabia and virtually ignoring that country’s famine and epidemic-inducing blockade is doing nothing to promote peace. We are using the conflict as a chance to build a coalition against Iran and to strengthen the military might of Saudi Arabia, while further demonizing Iran. This is not leadership. It is collusion with those we deem to be on “our side” in promoting war as a solution to international problems.

America has abdicated its role as a world leader.





Reader Comments (1)

Casey...As nearly half of America believes in the second coming of Christ/Armaggedon happening in their lifetimes.....maybe America is leading....but not in a direction you appreciate.

February 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDariel Garner

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>