He who represents himself has a fool for a client.
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The above statement is clear. He who acts unilaterally is a fool – more so in complex matters. From a faith perspective one might observe that this proposition is a divine “fail safe” – a way of insuring that we do not act as if we are God, for we are prone to errors and imperfection.
In grand things and small – unilateral action most frequently breeds folly, fundamental error, destruction – and death: individual and collective.
Yesterday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal carried an article by Max Boot who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and in it Mr. Boot describes how Mr. Obama is pursuing a policy to shift the United States away from Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and other allies in the Middle East in favor of Iran – a state that has vowed “death to America,” engaged in persistent terrorist acts against the U.S., and articulates an intention to destroy Israel.
Mr. Boot characterizes the American troop withdrawal from the Middle East as “disastrous and destabilizing.”
The article is worth reading. It provides a concise and detailed account of the President’s actions in that important strategic area.
What is most stunning about the President’s action is his unilateral action.
He acts alone, without consultation. He is a loner, acting without the counsel of select foreign policy experts or the input of either the military or elected members of Congress.
Mr. Obama, it seems, is not apprised of history.
A reading of the consequences of unilateral actions in foreign and military policy are clear in Hitler’s disastrous command of the German military in his invasion of Russia, a former German ally. Closer to today, a review of “Arab Spring” as it has played out in Libya shows our failure to retain a post-Gadhafi American presence has produced anarchy. Ditto, Iraq. Power, of course, abhors a vacuum.
Shifts such as the realignment which Boot discusses require national conversation for they present profound alterations.
Let the President make a public case. Let us decide if this is right for us and all those who will suffer its consequences. We are after all a sovereign people. We might want to put to the test the President’s demonstrated judgment on matters foreign and domestic and then we can decide if preceding Presidents and policy makers have been wrong in the Middle East all these years.
Failures on grand scales have wide and costly consequences. Reading Boot’s article brought to mind this account of the actions of German military guards at the Auschwitz concentration camp:
Others are carrying a young girl with a missing leg; they hold her by her arms and by her one remaining leg. Tears are streaking down her face as she whispers sadly, “Please, please, it hurts, it hurts …” They heave her into a truck, among the corpses. She will be burned alive, together with them.
From We Were in Auschwitz
The stakes are personal and faith is very much in play.