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World more complex than sound bites

History books tell us that World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. But did it really? The reality is that Europe took a time out until 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland igniting World War II. No sooner had that war ended in August 1945, on the deck of the USS Missouri than the Cold War began.In essence, WW II was an extension of WW I and the Cold War was an extension of WWII. Much of the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East is a direct result of these wars, especially the Cold War. The Mideast, with its vast oil resources, was simply too valuable for either the United States or the Soviet Union to leave unattended. During the Cold War, the United States supported corrupt governments throughout the Middle East to counter balance Soviet influence. These alliances served American interests, but inevitably negative byproducts resulted; i.e., the distrust that is felt by many in the Arab-Muslim world toward the U.S. today.Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan (four Democrats and four Republicans) all realized that the exigencies of protecting American interests necessitated supporting governments that did not share our democratic values. If we look back to World War II, if not for American aid to Josef Stalin, the Red Army that faced almost 80 percent of all Nazi forces may well have been defeated – and that postulated event would affect us to this today.The Soviet Union was closer to collapse during the mid- to late 1980s than originally thought. However, historians also hypothesize that if the Soviets and Chinese had settled their differences in the ”60s and ”70s, we may have lost the Cold War. When viewed against that potential horror, it becomes clear that supporting selected dictators, just like supporting Josef Stalin, was the lesser of two evils.Alliances are never permanent. They are contingent upon national interests at any given point in time. And since the Kerry campaign contends that the senator would do a better job than George Bush of protecting our nation, I think Americans are entitled to definition about the senator’s position on key geopolitical issues.At the Democratic convention, Ted Kennedy said, “We should have strengthened, not scorned the alliances that won two world wars and the Cold War,” implying that the president should have enlisted the aid of France and Germany. Yet a week later, Bill Clinton told The Financial Times, “France and Germany had already decided that there were no circumstances in which they would use military means to enforce the will of the U.N. Former President Clinton articulated specific circumstances, while Sen. Kennedy harangued. Whose words better served Americans?What alliances was Sen. Kennedy referring to? Russia was our ally during World War II, but our enemy during the Cold War. What about Germany? Germany was our enemy during World War II but our ally after World War II (at least the Western half was). How about the Japanese? They were enemies during WW II, but allies during the Cold War. Why didn’t Sen. Kennedy make reference to Eastern European nations such as Poland – a potential adversary when it was part of the Soviet bloc, but our ally today? And finally, there’s France. When under German jackboots or threatened by Soviet hegemony, America was their ally. But when faced with potential scandals about the illegal sale of high-tech weaponry to Saddam and the Iraqi oil for food program, they felt differently. So with the exception of the British, just who are our “traditional allies”?Sen. Kerry has not outlined how he plans to deal with Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. The repressive policies of those governments guarantee a steady stream of angry young men into terrorists’ camps. Yet without the aid of Pakistan and Kazakhstan, the Taliban would still be in power. Without a stable Saudi government overseeing their refineries, the world’s economies could go into a tailspin, not just the United States’. Egypt is a central breeding ground for terrorists, yet they actively aid the United States in intelligence gathering, diplomatic coordination, financial cooperation and more than any other government in the region has supported the Middle East peace process. The senator hasn’t told us under what circumstances he would use force or if he would use pre-emptive force. What is the senator’s exit strategy for Iraq? What will he do about Europe’s refusal to negotiate the Iraqi debt? How does he plan on dealing with Iran and North Korea, both of which are bent on acquiring deliverable nuclear weapons? Sen. Kerry continually talks about “our European allies.” Does that mean he would bring the French, Germans and Russians into the Middle East peace talks even though the Israelis don’t trust them? These are complex matters, and it’s important that each candidate articulate his respective positions clearly so we can engage in public discourse about the real issues facing America. Unfortunately, much of what we hear and read (even in the Vail Daily, oh my!) is little more than irrational invective. Instead of establishing a platform for debate by clearly articulating their candidate’s positions, too many do little more than spew hate-filled rants just as Sen. Kennedy did. I wonder if these little minds realize that their bumper-sticker catch phrases do not make our nation stronger – they diminish it. If John Kerry’s answers to the questions posed above are more reasoned than those of George Bush, then by all means let’s elect him president. But before Americans can make that decision, we need supported arguments and unambiguous details – not moronic harangues and clichés. Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at bmazz68@earthlink.netVail Colorado


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