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October 24, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-24

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu

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EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890.

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

( ( The

media are doing their

'W'w

usual number - stoking

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

fear with nonstop coverage
while criticizing people for
being afraid - and the pundit
posture of choice is to narrow
the eyes like a sailor in a
Camels ad and go into Greatest
Generation mode. In the new
culture of war without end,
anxiety is the mark of a sissy. If
you're scared, you better keep it
to yourself."
-Richard Goldstein in this week's
Village Voice, on being afraid of anthrax.

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Foreign policy and the uninfonned American
MANISH RAIJI NOTHING CATCHY

merican foreign
policy is taking
quite a beating right
now. The self-loathing of
liberals has turned from
limited foci - such as the
inherent racism of white
people - to a much broad-
er one: America is the new
public enemy number one
for the so-called progressive. It is certainly
unfortunate that the liberal mindset has to be per-
verted by those radicals who assume the role of
martyr at every turn.
In this instance, "progressives" blame Amer-
ica completely for the terrorist attacks, thereby
apologizing for, or even negating, the role of
Osama bin Laden and fundamentalist Islam in
the equation. I will avoid sinking to an argumen-
tum ad absurdum on this count; suffice it to say
that fundamentalism is more responsible for ter-
rorism than any actions that America has. ever
done. If bin Laden and those who share his fun-
damentalist views are still angered about the
Moors being kicked out of Spain in the 15th cen-
tury (neglecting to mention the fact that the
Moors invaded Spain and slaughtered Spaniards
in the first place), then it's reasonable to say that
his demands are ludicrous and cannot - indeed,
should not - be entertained.
But that's not to say that a reasonable look at
American foreign policy is not justified. Ameri-
can foreign policy has its share of horror stories,
but violent retaliation against the American big
dog has been centered in the Middle East. What
factors about sectors of the Middle East promote
such violence, such radicalism?
In this case, America does play a role, but the
role isn't the obvious one that "progressives"
like to point to. This isn't an issue of sanctions
on Iraq -- we have sanctions on Cuba, but
Cubans aren't manning flights aimed at our
buildings. This isn't about supporting Israel dur-
ing the civil strife against Palestinians - we
implicitly support China against Tibet, but
Tibetans aren't threatening a holy war against us.
No, the role of American foreign policy,
especially in regards to the Middle East, is a vit-
riolic mixture of fundamentalist Islam and an
insecure, wavering American foreign policy. It's
not that our policies are bad per se, it's that they
seek immediate results while neglecting long-
terrp stability. This lack of follow-through has
everything to do with a shifting series of Ameri-
can presidents coming in contact with an
unchanging roster of non-democratic monarchs
and theocrats in the Middle East. Saddam Hus-
sein has been around for 22 years; we've
changed presidents and cabinets five times since
then. Yasser Arafat has been funding suicide
bombing for 32 years - seven different presi-
dents have dealt with him. Saudi Arabia's King
al-Aziz Al Saud - 19 years, four presidents;

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak - 20 years,
four presidents; Libya's Colonial al-Qadhafi -
32 years, seven presidents. All of these nations
have some form of Shari'a - Islamic law of
varying degrees of oppressiveness.
The U.S. clearly suffers greatly from the
shifting face of foreign diplomacy, especially in
regards to a stagnant leadership in the Middle
East. Monarchies are not exclusive to the Middle
East, but Shari'a certainly is. Islamic leaders have
little concern for their citizens, and are capable of
extending national benefits at the expense of citi-
zens -- indeed, the use of Islam as the backbone
of government gives theocrats a moral righteous-
ness for their actions, regardless of how amoral
they truly are,
American presidents have their hands tied, at
least to some extent, by the vague notion of
"public opinion." Because of this tie to democra-

tic elections, presidents must do what
is politically popular instead of what
is politically right. It was politically
popular to support a less extreme
Lebanese government - until 241
Marines were killed by a car
bomber. After that, the tide of opin-
ion turned and what was politically
popular was to pull out of Lebanon
and leave their government in tatters
and open to attack by Shi'ite funda-
mentalists. It was politically popular

Perhapsi
to reco
whethi
Ame
popul
should,
arbiter o
polic

to aid Afghanistan against the Soviets, but it was
not politically popular to remain in the region
and aid in the development of a representative
government. It was politically popular to bomb
Baghdad, but not to continue the real diplomatic
battle by overthrowing Hussein and allowing
Iraqi citizens a representative government.
Only a few examples of an unfinished job
done by American presidents who were explicit-
ly tied to popular support.
Perhaps it's time to rethink these ties. Per-
haps it's time to reconsider whether the Ameri-
can populace - with an attention span that can
barely handle commercial breaks and an ethno-
centrism that gives it the scope of a grade
schooler - should be the arbiter of foreign poli-
cy, especially in an increasingly global society.
The U.S. has implemented safeguards
against raucous and uninformed public opinion.
The Electoral College and the Supreme Court
are examples of this; on one hand, the American
public is not fully trusted with the decision on
who leads the country, while on the other hand,
the process of Judicial Review is divorced from
popular politics. Both of these institutions are
explicit statements regarding public opinion: The
American public cannot be trusted fully.
It certainly wasn't necessary in the isolation-
ist days of America's birth to safeguard foreign
policy in a similar manner. But the U.S. has
become an increasingly powerful world player
- indeed, the end of the Cold War brought

about a global situation in which the U.S. is the
major international player. In times like this, for-
eign policy must be safe-guarded against the
whims of the American public.
Why not set up a body - similar to the
Supreme Court - that is in charge of the focus
of foreign policy? This body would be com-
posed of people with life terms, who set the
agenda for American foreign policy without hav-
ing to be concerned about issues of election. The
.Supreme Court is an evolving body that is tied to
precedent; the executive branch is a wildly shift-
ing position that changes ideology in tune with
the election cycle. Four- or eight-year presidents
cannot properly make headway on the foreign
circuit when faced with dictators who have been
in power for decades, and who will be in power
for decades to come.
Make the president a puppet for this foreign
policy body; make the president
it's time accountable to and responsible for
2nsider the opinions of that body. If
American foreign policy is a slow-
er the ly evolving set of standards -
rican much like our Judicial Review is
ace ... - we as a nation could go a long
be the way toward maintaining some sta-
bility in the foreign field.
of foreign President George W. Bush has
y ..., hinted at this need to ignore the
American public. He said that,
even if the American public tires of this war, he
will not. That's the right idea, except Bush obvi-
ously won't take this war to the level that is
required - it's not enough to "smoke (Osama
bin Laden) out of his hole"; American foreign
policy must follow through in its efforts to
spread democracy. This means that, once the
Taliban is removed from power (and yes, it
should be removed from power), America must
stick around and create a fair government (and
no, a fair government has nothing to do with the
Northern Alliance).
At the same time, Bush has hinted that he is
tied to public opinion and is being forced to suc-
cumb to it. Bin Laden says that his rage is fueled
by the plight of the Palestinians, which makes
the American population question our ties with
Israel. The U.S. should not back down on its
peace efforts, and it must be willing to remain
involved as long as it takes, to ensure that the
emerging Palestinian state is a democratic one.
American foreign policy is worth criticizing,
but not necessarily for its goals. The established
goal of American foreign policy - the exten-
sion of democracy - is laudable, but the lack of
follow-through is not. In a world where the U.S.
is demonized by so many, we require a strong,
constant set of policies that do not waver with
the fancies of the population.
Manish Rani can be reached via
e-mail at mraii@umich.edu

0

Y LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Trotsky's legacy
tarnished on Daily's
editorial page
To THE DAILY:
Jim Secreto's Viewpoint in Friday's
Daily ("What does Jesse know about
BAMN?" 10/19/01) was the latest in a
series of editorials, articles and letters to
the editor that have been published in the
Daily over the past month attacking Trot-
skyism and its supposed organizational
representative on campus, BAMN. In none
of these has there been a serious attempt to
explain what Trotskyism is or how it is
related to BAMN. Instead, vague refer-
ences are made to "BAMN's Trotskyite
tendencies" and this somehow suggests the
necessity of isolating, or better yet
expelling, the organization.
Secreto's views, and those of the
Daily's editorial board ("Sectarian
Sojourn," 9/28/01), are only a more moder-
ate version of those presented in a letter to
the Daily earlier this month by Justin
Shubow ("Trotskyism leaves nothing but,
'death,' 'suffering' in its wake; campus
should beware," 10/1/01), in which Trotsky
was likened to Hitler and the suggestion
was made that Trotskyist organizations

Bush's dubious legitimacy
still worth discussing

TO THE DAILY:
The Sydney Morning Herald reported
yesterday that The New York Times, Wash-
ington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN
consortium investigating last year's presiden-
tial election results in Florida has postponed
the final stage of this analysis.
Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for
The New York Times, cited the war as one
reason for this decision. I did not vote for
George W. Bush, I do not agree that a "war"
is the best way to make us more secure, and I
want to know whether Bush is really the pres-
ident we elected. The faci that he is waging a
war that does not have unanimous support in
this country is all the more reason to deter-
mine whether he indeed has the right to do so.
Defending democracy should never be a sec-
ond priority for our nation, even in these
strange times.
Democracy implies responsibility. Let us
have the courage to examine the most diffi-
cult questions we face - including, what to
do if the president should not have been the

AP PHOTO
Headlines from the Orlando Sentinel during
the contested Florida recount.
president. Otherwise, we ourselves endanger
our political system more than foreign
aggressors are capable of.
KIRSTEN SCHWIND
SNRE graduate student

intellectual, political and moral giants of the
20th Century, and was assassinated by the

Jackson that proves the organization has
nothing in common with Marxism or Trot-

Aak

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