When I open up a newspaper or read an article on line about what is happening around the world right now, I can’t help but think that maybe Billy Corgan was right when he crooned,
sent to drain,
hold you up to the flame.”
Because the violent and tumultuous world in which we live is finally crashing through the thin veneer of innocence and ignorance that we so desperately cling on to in America. As Americans we take for granted our freedoms and liberties that have taken hundreds of years to establish and millions of American lives to maintain.
The reality of the situation is that the rest of the world is jealous of America. They are jealous of our way of life, of what we have, and what we can do. They envy our ability to eat until we are obese, the ability to “text in” who will be the winner of America’s Next Top Model, the ability to have Kardashians, Lohans, and Sheens actively fall apart on national TV, and sit back and watch all of this happen with nary a care in the world. They are envious because they live in situations where they are oppressed, where they will never rise past the station in life they were born into, or live in societies that still maintain the rule of kings, queens, and royal families. And those are the “civilized” nations.
They want to share in that same freedom and they are relying on our benevolence to help them out of the situations they are in. However, it only behooves us to do that when there is something besides altruism waiting for us at the end. “Helping people out” is costly, both in finances and in lives for the person doing the helping. America can’t help every drowning person, or we risk the fate of drowning ourselves.
When I think about the civil unrest and ousting of oppressive despotic leaders in the Middle East, first in Yemen, then Egypt’s first and second revolution, and Libya and Syria which are still in the process, I am reminded of how badly the world’s people desperately want freedom.
It is reminiscent of any random generic movie scene where the enemy has captured the hero, and a rescue party is needed to get him out. The rescue team once they are in to wherever he is being held then has to forage their way through a medieval like dungeon complete with tortured souls chained half-dressed to the walls in various states of having been “interrogated,” past flailing arms and cries pleading with the stealthy team to rescue them too, all as they make their way to the hero’s cell. Do they not see these other prisoners? Obviously the same horrifying fate that was going to befall the hero is going to happen to these pathetic souls. So why not rescue them and set them free as well?
The reason why is two fold. First you cannot risk yourself and you mission to help someone who might end up getting you killed. And second, you don’t know whom you are helping out. Just because you think someone needs to be helped doesn’t mean they think they need to be helped, nor does it mean they want or will appreciate your help.
Let’s examine the first part of the equation. Using the same scenario from before let us assume that the team manages to extricate not only the hero, but also all of the unfortunate prisoners. How are they going to protect all of these people and carry them to safety? These prisoners are in no shape to fight for themselves. And if they are given a weapon, you are taking a weapon out of the hands of someone who is trained how to use it and are putting it into the hands of a perfect stranger who probably can’t or doesn’t know how to use it effectively.
Further more, you don’t know who this person is or who may or may not have the best intentions for the success of your escape in mind. How are they going to get them all out of wherever they are and to safety? The vehicle they arrived in didn’t have extra space for 14 more people. They were going on a covert rescue mission, not to their senior prom. And these are just two of the problems. Are they going to take these people back to their homes? Give them home makeovers? Get them a job managing the automotive department at their local Sears in Wichita? Where do you put these people, what can you do to truly help them?
Second even if they do manage to help all of these people, who’s to say these people should be helped? They were obviously locked up for a reason. We are just assuming that it is for the same reason that the person the team is there to rescue is. But what if they are also a bad person. It is often a misconception that the old adage “The enemy of your enemy is your friend” is a correct way to chose allies. This unfortunately is not the case.
Obviously we are not talking about movies, heroes, rescue missions, and prisoners. What we are talking is the world we are living in. This is about the geopolitical landscape that is now upon us that that is dramatically different than anything we have experienced int he past. We have weapons of mass destruction that are located in countries with destabilized governments, militants that have no allegiance to one nation or another, essentially making them combatants without borders, and despotic rulers intent on keeping their population squarely under the thumb of their tyrannical rule. And this is all happening on a global stage with the fear of a nuclear attack as the backdrop of this play. And the only country that seems to have the balls and the ability to police the world is vilified every time it does.
It is only responsible and prudent to be leery about trusting just any country, look at what happened in Afghanistan. We helped the rebels fight off the imperialistic invasion of Mother Russia, and once they are able to drive them back, they turned their attention towards us. They used our own weapons, equipment, and tactics we taught them to start attacking us. People we armed and trained such as Osama Bin Laden, who were once our allies through this form of thinking, became one of, if not our most sought after enemies.
Even if you enter into a situation with the best of intentions, it can and will often blow up in your face. It is true that the saying “No good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind when analyzing recent US foreign military action. We can’t be expected to help everyone out because it is the right thing to do. Helping in that manner comes at a cost, both financially and socially. Lives are on the line, who do we decide to help, how do we decide who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? These are all important decisions, and honestly cannot be made without first helping the problems we face here at home.
The world IS a vampire. It is dangerous, unsavory, and if we are not careful will suck us dry if we don’t take steps to protect ourselves.
Going into the Middle East is like going to Dracula’s castle at night. Atrocities will be seen, bad things will happen to half the people that enter, and the only way anyone is getting back out safely is to fight their way out. It is unfortunate that so many countries need to be helped in that region, and that we are in a position to help so many of these countries. But the responsibility is not ours. We have our own issues to worry about, our own house to get in order, and a partisan government that almost won’t allow this country to keep running. It is unfortunate to say, but policing the world is only a job we will take if it comes with a high salary and tremendous benefits.