Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21: U.S. Needs To Get Rid of "Our S.O.B." Foreign Policy

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Language advisory: The term "S.O.B." is used in the context of the topic.

A previous United States president reportedly once said of a foreign leader known for acting less than humane toward his own people, "He's an S.O.B., but he's our S.O.B."

That "Our S.O.B." policy has been in place at least since President Franklin Roosevelt was in office (The story goes that FDR coined the phrase.) and continues today.

The list of brutal foreign leaders the United States has supported or compromised with for its interests is long and includes the likes of Josef Stalin, the Shah of Iran, Sadaam Hussein, both Duvaliers in Haiti, Ferdinand Marcos....And that's just the start.

Of all these marriages of convenience, it can be argued that only one provided results that altered the course of history: The uneasy alliance with Stalin's Soviet Union during World War II, which both the Soviets and the Allies needed against the Nazis.

The list of "our S.O.B.'s" has also included recently deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and many Arab leaders who are now in trouble. And Moammar Khadafi, the Libyan leader, started his waltz with Washington in the years immediately following 9/11.

Part of the United Kingdom, another of the nations whose planes are currently strafing Libya, has had a similar mentality: Witness the decision by the Scottish government in 2009 to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Libyan man found guilty in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. The argument at the time was that al-Megrahi was dying, but we all know that Mark Twain quote about reports of his death. The oil company BP may have played a role in the release to try to get oil contracts in Libya, so the decision turned out about as well as BP's drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Marriages of convenience almost never work, and current events are proving that.

President Barack Obama has proven himself ready to think about different ways for the United States to conduct foreign policy with his calls for countries to abide by the wills of their people. It's time to find out how this country and others would do if the United States stopped supporting "our S.O.B.s."

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