Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What We Learn from History

A recent issue of The Week quoted Aldus Huxley who famously said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

From my perspective, this is directly applicable to our current situation in Libya where the United States has once again dabbled in a foreign society we do not understand. It’s a wonderful goal to get rid of a vicious dictator. But, like Iraq and Afghanistan, we do not understand their culture. What comes after the dictator?

Libya is a tribal society where people owe their allegiance to family and clan and tribe more than to the nation. As soon as the dictator is overthrown they will begin fighting each other for supremacy. Which side will we be on in such a case? Unfortunately, our political leaders learned nothing from the mess we found ourselves in when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. So much for learning the lessons of history!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Resist the Pressure

Newspaper reports indicate that the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to intervene in the Civil War in the North Africa country of Libya. President Obama has declared publicly that the dictator, Qadhafi, must step down. To date he has declined to do so. Political hawks want the United States to declare a no-fly zone to protect the rebel forces from the dictator’s loyal air force. Defense Secretary Gates has indicated that initiating and maintaining a no-fly zone is much more complicated than it sounds.

From my perspective, President Obama should resist the pressure to get involved in the Libyan civil war. We already are engaged in two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. We should have learned something from that experience. We do not have the resources to get bogged down in another Middle Eastern war. Nor is there constitutional authority for doing so since the United States has no vital interests in the country of Libya. We must stay out of this!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Interesting Comparison

The Governor of Wisconsin has been cheered on by conservatives for his bravery in taking on the teacher’s union as well as other public service workers. He needs concessions from them to balance the state budget. Conservatives are all in a twitter over the fact that the average teacher’s salary in Wisconsin is $51,000 a year. I find that an interesting area of concern when conservatives maintain that people who make $250,000 a year can hardly make do and need a tax cut. The disparity in this comparison is puzzling indeed.

A further insistence by the Governor of Wisconsin that even though teachers are under contract he ought to be able to breach that contract and get financial concessions from them When reminded that contracts should not be violated the response from conservatives has been that the tough times require us to make hard decisions. People who work in public service must realize that their employment contracts cannot remain binding under such conditions.

Back when the country was in a financial crisis, Wall Street bankers who drove their companies to the verge of bankruptcy were still getting multimillion dollar bonuses. We were reminded that contracts are binding and could not be violated just because we were in a financial crisis. The message here is that for really wealthy people contracts may not be impaired but for people who make $50,000 a year as a public employees, contracts are meaningless.

From my perspective these comparisons show the moral bankruptcy of conservative leaders in America. What is good for one income group should be good for the other. It appears that conservatives are indeed waging class warfare.