Lately I've been trying to keep my general political stances to a verbal-only kind of communication. Particularly since, well, at the moment a lot of it is in flux. ((Despite being economically conservative and "right"-leaning in foreign policy, I'm at the moment hoping Obama becomes President. This could change if he gets the nomination and doesn't put up in debates.)) A lot of what's going on in America is confusing - the party system here is so election-based that policies get adjusted for the sake of winning.
Whereas in the House of Commons you join a party because you believe in very specific things, and you never stray from the party line. I sort of like that method better. At least you can guess where people stand mostly.
Anyway, I never really was one to "get" American politics. I think I watched Angela Merkel's campaign more closely than the Bush/Kerry election. The middle east is really where it's at for me. Since I realized the world was big - about the time I got my first car - I've kept a close eye on the Muslim world. A lot of people in high school couldn't understand why the attacks happened, and then waved it off as "well, they hate us." Rhetoric like "they hate our freedom" never jived with me. ((Okay, stay with me on this: Mohammed first recited the Koran around, what, 600AD? So they're 600 years behind Christianity, approximately. 600 years ago, let me tell you, Christian women weren't exactly having a fun time of things, either, and Christians were still a good few centuries from hitting the New World, oppressing Africans and killing Natives. Not that it makes any of it okay, but put it in perspective.))
So, I was watching the Pakistan election as best I could, especially after Bhutto's death, which frustrated me greatly over her arrogance at thinking she could just ride out Kennedy-style in the midst of taking on a dictator as a woman with Taliban-esque factions pretty much everywhere just before the vote. She clearly either couldn't comprehend how important she was, or so believed in her power that she thought she was invincible. Either way I wish it was someone smarter who had the clout she did.
In spite of that, it seems like her movement won, which I can't help but feel good about. This really does run counter to American interests, but being a supposed purveyor of freedom and propping up a dictator in the most volatile region in the world just doesn't mesh very well with me. I'm glad that Musharraf is getting smacked down, and I'm hoping that his ouster is imminent. For once I'm with the Democrats on foreign policy. There's no reason a Musharraf-only policy should exist.
I noted once that he was a pain in the ass and a dictator, to which I received the response, "Well, he's our dictator."
That was our first mistake. It was clear that the Bush administration didn't have the foresight to notice other parties were becoming viable, and only cared about the fact that the current leader was a military leader. So we gave him some cash, made him promise really really hard that he would do all he can to promote democracy in Pakistan, and let him go on his way. Perhaps it was a good idea to start - Pakistan was pretty volatile, he wasn't actively oppressing the people - but the moment he started erasing the checks and balances in his country, that should have been a sign to cut him loose, show the Pakistanis something redeeming about us.
Instead, now we're having to roll in, hat in hand. This is another reason a Democrat's got to get into the White House - so many bridges have been burned that the only way to rebuild them is for an opposition party member to go in and say, "hey, we were against him from day one," and hope that gets it started.
My worry, however, is the dove-ish feeling I get from the left, right now. Is any of the money getting thrown to the fire in Iraq going to be diverted to Afghanistan, or other antiterror operations? Or is it going to get blown on Hillary's universal health care, or Obama's health plan ((Assuming he has one.)) ? I mean, Iraq, sure, pull it out, but we forget that Iraq was an enormous distraction from the real battle that's still going on, and has been on our doorstep since the early nineties.
If Bin Laden was in Pakistan, with Musharraf out, and we had solid intel saying he was in a market in Islamabad, would we go in? We should, but would we? With McCain I could say probably so. He's not a big fan of waterboarding but that doesn't make him a dove, really. Just a, well, former POW. I don't know about Obama. I wish I could feel confident in that either nominated candidate would send a team in and deal with pissed off diplomats for a few weeks to get him, but I don't.
I find it strange that we're totally okay with going into the most holy lands of Islam and putting up troops there which breeds the sort of resentment that further organizes terrorist cells despite no actual battling going on in that country, yet in a volatile country with a lot of violent factions, we hesitate. Michael Scheuer is way too angry for my tastes, but the guy isn't stupid. We're weak where we should be aggressive and callous where we should be sensitive.
I don't want to put the blame on the easy-and-faceless targets of lobbyists, but God help me if I don't want to blame it on just plain ignorance on the part of our candidates and elected officials over the past twenty years or so. I mean, have any of our current candidates read the Koran, even under the auspices of "knowing your enemy?" It's a question I'd love to ask them. Maybe if there's another one of those interactive debates I'll try to get that into it.