Talking with Taliban and Syrian Rebels Evoke Shades of the Cold War

by Ryan on June 18, 2013

in History,International Relations,Social Unrest,War on Terror

In our not-too-distant past, America clearly stood for freedom and free markets around the world, as those concepts were in our best political and economic interests.

Then the Cold War came and we had to do business with sketchy people in order to out-maneuver even more sketchy people bent on world domination.  Yet, we promoted transparent democratic republicanism while simultaneously propping up nasty third-world dictatorships on a case-by-case basis.  It was the price to pay for ending Soviet communism and saw some positive results, but it tainted our soul and made us look like hypocrites.

Since the early 1990s, we’ve been trying to fix that perception.  As the world’s primary superpower, American hegemony has meant interconnected economies, the World Wide Web, and an attempt to encourage freedom abroad.  Yet, America foreign policy has also been inconsistent since then and lately we’ve been drifting aimlessly outside of a few platitudes thrown around in speeches in an obligatory fashion.

Just over the past week these latest face palm-inducing American ball-drops emerged:

We’re doing business with the medieval head-cutting, female suppressing, former Bin Laden harboring Taliban.  We bet on Karzai and got a Cold War-style strongman doing our business and wonder why the people of Afghanistan don’t like him as some look toward the Taliban for an alternative.

We’re supporting al Qaeda-affiliated cannibals in Syria.  We waited too long to do anything substantive in Syria and are stuck with all bad choices unless we hunker down and “let Allah sort it out” as we watch and react.  We generally used to do that before Vietnam (a civil war we should have handled much differently) and should probably find a way to put more thought into our foreign policy actions moving forward.  The Defense Department may still be stuck in the Cold War, but the world is moving on.  So should we.

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