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Words from Winterbilt

Itís a New Year Ė Time to learn Something New

Shannon Bohrer

(1/2014) My New Yearís resolution is includes eating well, getting enough rest, enjoying my spare time, catching up on my reading and taking time for general reflection. I know that does seem like a full plate but I do feel the general reflection is important. Besides, general reflection is unlike a specific reflection, general reflection covers a lot of topics. It is my hope that through general refection I can assist my loyal readers with introspective views of world events, political matters and other non-important topics.

A critical element of general reflection is that of introspective thought Ė which requires openness to learning. In very simple terms some things we believe to be true - are sometime not true. Sometimes our strong beliefs get in the way of learning. A good example of this is politics, where both sides believe the other side is wrong Ė just because it is from the other side. Another critical element of general reflection is that when examining problems, sometimes good solutions are none existent. In general we tend to think of problem resolution as a way to resolve problems and yet some problems are not easily resolved Ė and some may not be solvable.

The recent foreign policy issues with Syria are a good example of a problem that may not be easily resolvable. In a previous article I discussed the problem for the perspective of our alternatives. Basically the alternatives of siding with the anti-Assad rebels would mean siding with known terrorist and conversely not doing anything would be siding with the Syrian government, or Assad. On the face of this we have two choices, one being bad and the other being bad. Of course with the divide in our politics, both political parties will espouse that their choice is better Ė than the other!

Another reality of general reflection is that even when faced with choices that will not solve the problem, we have no way of knowing what will happen no matter what choice we make. Egypt is a good example of this. As soon as we take one side, we are seen as the enemy by the other side. The road to a true democracy can be long and difficult. Our own war of independence was eight years and there are much longer examples in European history. Sometimes democracy only takes root after everything else has failed Ė and sometimes it still fails.

We, the United States along with European allies supported the rebels against the Gaddafi forces in Libya and the rebels won. When a bad leader is ousted the world seemed relieved and a temporary joy occurs, that is until a new reality takes place. Is Libya a stable country, has a democracy taken hold, does it look like it will, or has eliminating the Gaddafi regime allowed other terrorist to take control. I donít think anyone can at this time tell us what form of government Libya will have in the future.

What seems to be a long term problem for the United States is Iran. The problem as stated is that if Iran is allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon we and our allies could be at great pearl. It might be wise to first ask if this threat is real. There are currently eight countries that have nuclear weapons; including North Korea and Pakistan. I am certainly not an expert in world affairs, but I would think that North Korea and Pakistan would also be of great concern, maybe more so since they already have the weapons. However, even with the other nuclear states Iran could still be a threat. The sanctions against Iran appear to be working in that they say they want to negotiate. However, there are interested sides that say we cannot trust the Iranians.

Examining Iranís recent history might be helpful in looking at the situation. The Iranian Revolution began in 1978 with demonstrations against the Shah (our friend). The Shah fled the country because of strikes and demonstrations and in 1979 Iran became the Islamic Republic. This was supported by a referendum. In December 1979 a referendum approved a theocratic constitution. These were very bloody times in Iran but many Americans only remember the takeover of the American Embassy and the hostages that were held until January in 1981. Since that time the United States and Iran have not been on good terms.

Also in 1980, our dear friend; Saddam Hussein, of Iraq, invaded Iran to take back some property he stated belonged to Iraq. Even with the help of weapons from a super power (Us), the Iraqi forces were eventually held to a long stalemate. Saddam Hussain was our friend when he invaded Iran, but he was our enemy when he invaded Kuwait. Of course since that time we invaded Iraq, which shares a border with Iran, and captured Saddam Hussein. Also, since that time we invaded Afghanistan, which also shares a border with Iran. With U.S. troops on both sides of Iran, Iran started a process that could lead eventually to building Nuclear weapons. Also at that time The U.S. also had a policy of pre-emptive strikes. Maybe Iran looked at North Korea and said to themselves since they already have the bomb; nobody is going to attack them!

Iran now says they want to negotiate and we still have politicians that say we should not trust them. What would these politicians want us to do, more sanctions, attack, invade? I think there are just as many Iranians that say they cannot trust us. Maybe we canít trust them, but the alternatives are what? Reflective thought would say we really donít need another war, especially one that we have no idea what the outcome will be, how long it would be and what would it cost. We have already lost too many servicemen and women and we have too many disabled servicemen and women from our current involvements, we donít need anymore.

There is the unknown of not negotiating and the unknown if we do negotiate. However, with the lessons from our recent involvements and invasions of other Middle Eastern states, the negotiation option might be the better choice. Learning something new is a good idea, learning from previous mistakes can also be good.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer