Monday, February 14, 2011

Representatives exuding Cold War mentalities need to step down

Old Man Winter and the Nile
The Huffington Post

by Erica Payne

Watching John McCain and his Cold Warriors parry on the crisis in Egypt has been telling -- they spent the last few weeks awkwardly dithering over how to respond to a new era emerging in the streets of Cairo. Their ambivalence illustrates both how fast the world is changing and how far behind our politicians are falling. As the turmoil in Egypt enters its 17th day, its time we accept that we cannot use stagnant foreign policy strategy which was designed for a world in 1989.

Last week on the Sean Hannity show Senator McCain warned that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohammed el Baradei, the most likely man to lead a transitional government in Egypt was "no friend of the United States." This was presumably because as the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Baradei spoke out (correctly) predicting the absence WMD's in Iraq and challenging the United States' (non-existent) rational for invasion. The self defeating sore loser attitude, in a moment when the world is looking to American leaders for sound judgment, shows just how lost in time many of the foreign policy old guard are.

The Cold War clique has been making the rounds criticizing the administration's failure to back America's long time ally (and despot) Hosni Mubarak. They lament the dangers of free elections in a Muslim country and clamor on about bombing Iran. These old-school hawks also relish calling those who disagree naïve, invoking their aged wisdom -- and lifetime experience supporting dictators worldwide to fight the Cold War.

The scrambled reaction to Egypt reminded me of another classic McCain moment, when in the 2008 debates he decried Obama's willingness to engage unfriendly states in dialogue as (subtext: youthful) naïveté. McCain declared that Obama "would sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Raul Castro without precondition." It was a cheap shot, but it was also telling - when McCain had to pick the three countries in the world that posed the greatest risk to America he picked Cuba. His answer was a spot on -- for 1962.

Of course it's tempting to fall back on the old paradigm -- we haven't actually come up with a new one. When the Soviet Union fell, America went from being a grandmaster at the chessboard to another kid on field day (albeit the biggest and richest kid) but our policies never evolved. With no monolithic enemy to stare down we faced a slew of newly significant unpronounceable countries -- countries with their own ambitions, histories, and oh yes, piles of weapons we sold them during long proxy wars. Many of these countries have things we want, some have ideologies we fear, and all speak a language our Cold War style leaders just don't understand.

The complicated truth many in power deny is that we cannot just tweak our Cold War lens. The very basics of our defense and security strategy just don't work anymore. While politicians of yesteryear took comfort in neat words like force ratio and mutually assured destruction, today Al Qaeda doesn't care about our nukes. All the tanks and guns in the world can't stop avian flu from crossing our borders. And in the new globalized marketplace no amount of military might can shield us from the powerful math skills of Estonian children - who now out-test our own kids.

Furthermore, technology has made information -- and the power it engenders -- accessible to people the world over. Egypt is just one more sign that dictators and the American politicians who love them may have met their match in the millennial generation.

Not only are John McCain and his pals making policy for a world that is long gone, they're also blocking the road to reform. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, in a desperate effort to freeze time, has spoken out against National Science Foundation funding for political science research.

We are stagnating when we should actually be embracing change as good news. With a fresh view the new alignment is promising -- our globalized planet presents opportunities for prosperity on a scale unimaginable 50 years ago. Peace, democracy, and freedom abroad mean more security and prosperity at home. We should appreciate the challenge -- America is uniquely positioned to build a better world for generations to come.

As the Egyptian crisis grew and it became apparent protesters weren't going home Senator McCain (bizarrely) announced his call for President Mubarak to abdicate, via twitter:

"@SenJohnMcCain: Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres. Mubarak 2 step down." Whether that was McCain, or as I suspect a quick-thumbed millennial staffer, it was just too little too late. So here is my twitterized response to the once impressive statesman Senator McCain:

@EricaPayne: u were g8 n thx for ur service bt regrettably time has come 4 ppl still living in coldwr 2 plz step down. #SenJohnMcCain

John McCain: Putin and Hu Should Watch Out
Ariz. Republican Calls Egyptian Revolution "Repudiation of al Qaeda," Says Protests Will Not Be Confined to Middle East
Face The Nation
By Lucy Madison .

(CBS) Arizona Sen. John McCain predicted on Sunday that the recent governmental overthrow in Egypt would likely spur similar movements throughout the world, and warned foreign leaders in countries like China and Russia that they might be "a little less secure" of their power in light of recent events.

"I don't think this is confined to the Middle East, just as we believe that human rights are universal," said McCain, in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation."

"These winds of change that are blowing, I think I would be a little less cocky in the Kremlin with my KGB cronies today if I were [Russian Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin," he warned. "I would be a little less secure in the seaside resort that [Chinese] President Hu and a few men who govern and decide the fate of 1.3 billion people."

McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he could not yet determine the extent to which Egypt's revolution would impact the rest of the Middle East, but expressed concerns about how similar events might play out in surrounding countries.

"The Egyptian people are educated, they're sophisticated. They are not a country, in all due respect, one like Yemen where there are stark contradictions [existing] within that country," McCain said.

He also said he worried that, in countries like Iran and Syria, protests would be met with harsh governmental responses.

"The Syrians obviously and the Iranians will be much more harsh if demonstrations take place in their country," he said. "And the message to the Iranians is, let your people have peaceful demonstrations and let's have democracy in Iran, Syria and other countries, which are [not only] not our friends but are in many ways our enemies."

The Arizona Republican called the Egyptian revolution a "repudiation of al Qaeda," and praised the peaceful nature of the protests demanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

"The Egyptians helped us in the fight against al Qaeda," he said. "This revolution is a direct repudiation of al Qaeda, who believe that the only way you bring about change is through violence."

He added that while Eypt was "incredibly important in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process," Israel might have "reason for concern" as a result of Mubarak's loss of power in Egypt.

"Whatever government is going to come into power is not going to have a close relationship that they [had] with Mubarak - let's just make that assumption," he said. "Then the question is, what will be the nature of that relationship, and will there be places like Gaza that are flash points anyway that will cause the likelihood or possibility of conflict?"

Regardless, McCain said he thought the spread of anti-governmental demonstrations - even in traditional allies like Egypt - would ultimately benefit the United States.

"This is spreading and it's great news," he said. "It is fraught with uncertainty. But some of these things were bound to happen, number one. Number two is, it's good for everything we believe in. We've got to believe in the long run that countries that have free and open societies are going to be natural allies of ours over time."

No comments:

Post a Comment

I want to hear from you but any comment that advocates violence, illegal activity or that contains advertisements that do not promote activism or awareness, will be deleted.