Making Vietnam Safe for Communism

The final debate will focus on Foreign Policy. A time for both parties to explain exactly how they are different.

Obama is likely to focus on how he has weakened al-Qaeda by killing Bin Laden. He will echo Biden’s assertion that it is now the job of the Afghan people to provide their own security. Romney is likely to discuss the importance of being actively involved in intervening in the Middle East to ensure American interests are protected, including going to war with Iran “if necessary.” China also has to be kept in check, particularly when it comes to how they have manipulated their currency. He will echo Ryan’s assertion that we need to stay in Afghanistan long enough to ensure the Taliban don’t just move back in and use the country as a safe haven for their terrorist activities.

Let’s consider some of the arguments and ask yourself a few questions.

Did killing Bin Laden cripple al-Qaeda? Will one man’s death destroy their war effort? Do you really believe al-Qaeda has no one to replace him or their other leaders that have been killed? Would the same logic apply if they were able to kill some of our leaders? I’m guessing it only emboldens them, as it would us. I wonder if the next guy may be an even brighter, more evil mastermind than the first. If you want him dead because of what he orchestrated, then just say so. I understand revenge. There is no need to say his death will lead to the demise of al-Qaeda.

If Biden was correct in saying the Afghan people need to provide for their own security, then why can’t the same be said for Germany, Japan and South Korea …? Maybe we can spend those resources on securing our southern border – you know, the concept of “deficit neutral”.

We will hear other theories of how to manage the Muslim world. Identify whom to fund and arm and then hope they establish democracy. Do we actually believe that we will establish democracy in these Muslim countries? Have they so far? And what kind of democracies are we creating? We can’t even trust our own citizens to pick the “right” constitutional candidates. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when they vote in radicals. And if they actually voted them in, isn’t that democracy? Alas, if that happens we’ll just go back in and start all over, and over, and over. Cha-ching.

In the Middle East and North Africa alone, there are 20 countries with 392 million people and 98% are not free – including Saudi Arabia our “ally.” Why don’t we force freedom on Saudi Arabia?

Do we want to bring them our version of economic freedom? I thought the free market does best without government intervention. Our own country seems to be struggling with that concept. Maybe if their economies were not forced to be based on the dollar then they would feel, and be, more “free.”

So now we are going after China because they have manipulated their own currency. What about the unelected FED’s manipulation of our own currency and how that has hurt our dollar? Where’s the talk about going after the FED (hint – not in the debates but from brave House constitutionalists)?

What makes us think our politicians, who are so horribly inept at managing virtually anything they touch, somehow are geniuses when it comes to perpetually spending our money to become entangled with foreign countries?

So I guess I will be labeled as “naive” because I question our politicians’ foreign policy decisions. Because I am more concerned with making America safe for democracy than making the world safe for democracy. Maybe I am naive like Washington, and Jefferson, both of whom cautioned about meddling in the affairs of other countries.

I am not anti-military. I am anti-poor-foreign-policy. The military is never the problem. The military is a well fashioned weapon – and when used incorrectly, like the gun, it is not the military’s fault – it is fault of the person pointing the weapon irresponsibly.

We can always find a war to fight, but our country is in an economic crisis. All I ask is that these decisions are debated and judged to be the will of the people and constitutional.

So during the debate, ask yourself – how much will this cost, how many Americans may die, what is the certainty that we will succeed, what is success, what is the risk for a broader war – even world war? If country x is so bad, what about countries y z a b c d e? Where does it end? Why is it that we think we can solve the violence in other countries when we can’t solve it in Chicago or Detroit? What would Jefferson do? What would Jesus do? WWJJD?

Finally, to leave you with an example of how unpredictable all of this is – consider the latest from the South China Sea. The U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington was cruising over there as a show of power to China. Vietnamese security and government officials were flown onto our nuclear-powered ship. The visit will, “likely reassure Vietnam…” of our growing support. I thought Vietnam was communist? Are we now making Vietnam safe for their own brand of communism? I guess Vietnam didn’t turn out so bad after all if they are now trading partners worth helping.

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Is God So Busy, He Needs Me to Judge Others for Him?

Christ never taught us to hate others. Lucifer is in hell because of vanity. Should we, as Conservatives and Christians, be identified with hatred and vanity? Let me be clear, as a believer in individual liberty, it is not my intent to tell others what to do. This is more a periodic self-check because, the way I see it, I need more people on my side, not fewer. I am just convinced that passion can get in the way of persuasion at times.

I spent a few days at a monastery a while back. I arrived late and was greeted by a very kind, 90 year-old monk. He took me straight to the kitchen to share a simple meal of fruitcake and peanut butter. I told him I thought it must be very hard to be a monk. He smiled back, with peanut butter on the side of his face and said, “Oh, it’s easy to be a monk when you live in a monastery. What you are trying to do, now that’s hard!”

He continued, “It is hard living in a world of vanity and hatred and trying to change yourself and lead others to Christ. You know, I’ve always believed the greatest sin was the first sin – vanity. Vanity is what got Lucifer cast from Heaven, and why the apple got bit in the first place. It leads to hatred and separation from God’s love.”

I thought, as great as our country is, it is a vain country filled with greed, selfishness, power, judgment and coercion. So I asked him how do you fight it?

“Well, the opposite of vanity and hatred is humility and love. We are taught to love others as ourselves. Now that doesn’t mean an erotic or vain love. It is fine to be disappointed and angry with others, just like you are with yourself at times. You just can’t hate. It is hard to not hate when you see the bad. But the bad is in everyone and it comes from being human, we all have it, murderer and Mother Teresa, and it is our sin, our fault. But the good, the good is not from us, it is from God. When you find good in others, you find God, which opens them up to a sharing of God’s love. That is how you stay humble, not judging and thinking you are better than they are.”

He was right, his lesson has been hard to follow, but I have noticed that when I have followed it, it has led to lots of open dialogue with others of differing views. That openness also allows for persuasion.

During my career as a psychologist and hostage-negotiator, I have dealt with many resistant to change. They seem to fall into two simple categories, those that are and are not open to change. You can’t do much with those resistant to even the possibility of change. Don’t waste your time. Move on. That doesn’t mean you don’t provide fact-based argument against false claims without getting dragged into the mud with them. But there is a risk of getting too emotional with them because it can chase off those that would have been open to dialogue. Why would those open to dialogue even consider it now as they hear this “Christian Conservative” spewing hatred and trying to force my view on others?

I have been taught to not even think about doing that with a hostage-taker. The only way a hostage-taker is influenced to release the hostage is after common ground has been established. Even a hostage-taker is open to change and persuasion. Hostage negotiation has a 95% success rate. The negotiator listens and demonstrates understanding, even when yelled at. That leads to a strange rapport. At that point, the hostage taker is open to problem solving and being influenced with reason, because things have calmed down. When was the last time anyone changed a core belief because others tried to cram it down their throat when everyone was emotional?

Shouldn’t I treat my opponent at least as well as a hostage-taker, if I truly want them to change? On the other hand, if I want to vent, I vent. I just have to remember, venting may chase off others.

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