The vast understatement today is, ‘the world is in dire straits’. Entire cultures are being destroyed. This is by no means a solely Muslim issue but the fact remains that while a large segment of the Muslim population on virtually every continent seems intent on world domination in the form of a caliphate, research indicates that an equally large segment of more moderate Muslims are in partial agreement.
Compounding this is the fact that, the youngest generations of cultures from every nation in the world are in tune to the message of extremism and are at the very least, refusing to reject it out of hand. That group of young men – that segment of the population which grows larger every day and proportionately more intense in their embrace of extremism. And their leaders are indoctrinating them in the twisted religiously mandated necessity of slaughtering every man, woman and child, Muslims included, who take exception to their ideology.
The world cannot discount the added effect this extremist ideology has on young, displaced Muslim men, fleeing from the unchecked inhumanity of so many national leaders. As a culture of human beings, we are in trouble. Surely, the only people who do not agree with that assessment are those who simply refuse to open their eyes.
Lest we lose sight of similar problems and allow the problem of Islamic refugees fleeing their homeland to overshadow disasters in other parts of the world, we must remember that below America’s southern border, the northern triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are producing a flood of thousands of displaced people, fleeing violence and oppression of a different sort.
Though a perfect storm of events have coalesced to contribute to this disastrous state, many analysts agree that the greatest negative impact of events is a severe dearth of leadership on the world stage. Cries of, “let someone else take the responsibility of leadership for a while”, or “this is not our problem”, or “we have our own problems to deal with”, have pooled frustration, and now seem to have become the ‘voice of common sense and reason’.
The world today must pause and take a long hard look at the concept of a true functioning world leader. Avoiding such a concept simply postpones inevitable disaster as we have seen multiple times this decade. From the perspective of an American citizen and one who has served and is aware of this need, the question is, does America qualify?
Consider the concept of America as such a world leader. Questions that may present themselves in such consideration include the obvious, is this necessary, but also, what would qualify a nation to be such a leader? Would such a world leader, as a nation be within its right, in demanding that it be compensated for the cost of doing the job? After all taking on this responsibility for that nation would be costly in many ways. And finally, to what extent should this nation have control over relevant international issues? Initially however, the question must be asked, is this role being handled effectively by the United Nations?
This issue, being the most pertinent question, should be answered first. Is the United Nations effectively handling the function of ‘leadership” for the world? Is the United Nations, as a matter of fact, even capable of handling world crises?
Today’s crises differ from those of yesteryear in that they are transnational, particularly in the Middle East. Afghanistan’s crises effect Pakistan and Iran. Syria’s issues spill over into neighboring Iraq. Complicating this is the fact that most of these issues deal with Islamic terrorism and the stated goal of Islamic extremist leaders of world domination.
ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, for instance has made his goal of establishing a worldwide caliphate abundantly clear. Indeed his very name Abu Bakr is the name of the first Islamic caliph. Adding to this is the fact that ISIS, a potentially international terror group, and al Qaeda a known international terror group are exercising alarming influence over the Taliban in Afghanistan. Most analysts agree on the concern that the former regional threat, the Taliban, may be influenced to “take their show on the road”, or at least support those terror organizations who choose to do so.
The question remains, is the United Nations capable or even willing to deal with these very grave issues. Many would answer no to both questions. Others would add that the UN, while failing to prevent mass genocides or interdicting civil wars that threaten the entire world, does have a very clear role in matters that do not involve peacekeeping or preventing the brutality of dictators, such as Bashar al Assad.
The United Nations is a perfect venue for responding to crises such as the spread of Ebola or alleviating world hunger or helping to coordinate the problems arising from a refugee crisis, but preventing the actions of the world’s Assad’s, or Saddam Hussain’s has not proven to be a UN forte. As a matter of fact, the UN, most would agree, has not only been ineffective in this area, but it has been used by many of these leaders to support or defend their genocidal acts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin faces only minor opposition within the UN, and in point of fact, has been supported by a level of acquiescence, in his support and defense of Assad, the principle culprit responsible for a refugee crisis that is said to be more egregious than any since WWII. Further supporting evidence may be found in a simple evaluation of the world today.
Following 70 years the UN has been an established body, a dozen nations are considered at war-as of 2014 – and serious conflicts are in progress in an additional half dozen. Most of these conflicts are years or even decades old. Few would deny that, as a peace keeping organization, the UN has a dubious record at best.
The United Nations has peace keeping operations in eight nations in Africa. Most would give these operations a failing grade, based on the simple number of continuing genocidal incidents on that continent. For a number of reasons, the United Nations has failed as a world governing body in terms of serious conflicts or outright war.
History indicates that nations in turmoil, turn most often to independent governments of stable, neighboring nations for assistance. The UN is a body of representatives who seldom agree on resolutions while nations are normally of a single mind. The question is whether that single mind is a constructive mind? Is the guidance provided by that stable nation of single mind devoid of selfish motivation? Does that stable nation of single mind have the legitimate moral authority to provide such guidance?
The world has stumbled for 70 years in an effort to establish a body of nations, notionally devoid of selfish motivations to provide guidance in times of turmoil. Most would agree that The United Nations, with the possible exception of certain non-conflict crises such as shortages of food, water or outbreak of disease, has failed.
There is one single nation the world has turned to, in times of conflict or confusion and that nation is the United States of America. The question, “Is it necessary to have a world leader”, has been asked and answered on numerous occasions. The question, “What qualifies a nation to be a world leader”, has been similarly answered.
It can be surmised that virtually all nations begin at the same starting point. All nations are born with, a land mass of some proportion, a number of inhabitants, an amount of natural resources and a perceived will to flourish. Very few nations have begun their journey to where they are today, with disproportionate advantages or for that matter, disadvantages when compared to other nations.
Their journeys, though begun at different times throughout history, have been filled with ups and downs, and myriad setbacks and roadblocks until they arrive at the point they find themselves today. Every nation in the world today, is a result of the effort and energy—or lack thereof—of their occupants, historically.
We all stand upon the foundation, good or bad, built by our forefathers. In the beginning, we were virtually the same. In the beginning we had virtually the same opportunities and hindrances. All nations have met challenges and enjoyed successes and failures and made mistakes. We are today, what we, and those who went before us, have made of ourselves. We in America have every right to be proud of our success and we have the obligation to bear the burdens of our failures.
In this light, few would argue that America is the most powerful, the most benevolent and the most caring and compassionate country in the world. More human beings flee to the safety, security and shelter that is America, than to any other nation in the world, today. They do so in part because they know they will be treated with the utmost charity and compassion when they arrive.
While other nations share in that distinction, none are chosen as destination points more often than America. If qualities such as compassion and charity and strength are defining, is America therefore, qualified to be the leader of the free world? That questioned has been answered in the affirmative.
The question of necessity, in terms of a single world leader is obvious. The question of qualification in terms of the United States, being that ‘single world leader’ is additionally obvious. Continuing in this vein, the more contentious questions of authority, and just compensation for a nation that chooses to accept such an awesome responsibility must be determined.
Responsibility to act, with no assurance of the authority to act, is folly. Refusing to recognize a leader is like a family unit where no one has the final say in an important decision. Chaos is the normal result of such a practice.
Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta stated recently, “If the US doesn’t lead, no one else will.”
Adding to this, few would disagree, leaders must have leeway and authority granted to them by the rest of the civilized world. Of course, in this vein, a leader must demonstrate fairness and equitable decision making to earn the authority. A trusted leader should have few problems gaining the sort of support from the free world, necessary to function in this capacity.
Throughout history, world leader nations have often been referred to as acting in an authoritarian manner, or sometimes arrogant and dictatorial. This description ironically is highly similar to that, a restricted adolescent would assign to his father; a father with the responsibility to act but also with the authority to act.
Though seemingly trite, the role of world leader can easily be compared to that of a father and his responsibility to his children. America has always been called upon to step in and be the adult in the room in times of conflict or chaos. Indeed, following WWII when The Soviet Union virtually walled off much of Eastern Europe the United States became officially recognized as the single nation leading the free world against this injustice. Few will ever forget the image of President Ronald Reagan in a speech at Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987 demanding, of Soviet Union Leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, “Tear down this wall”.
The world without a single world leader is what we have today. The end result is what we see today. Our attention should be drawn to the fact that a half dozen European nations today, as a result of this dearth of leadership are undergoing a vast fundamental change in culture as a result of the flood of refugees pouring across their borders; a change which will forever alter the landscape, and while it is true that some of these changes will prove to be positive, it is also true that the catastrophic immediate impact of the change will be detrimental.
America has yet to experience the effects, positive or negative, from this refugee crisis simply because we are continents away, but our time is coming. We are however, experiencing a cultural divide that is anything but helpful in terms of whether we should accept refugees.
Those who have clamored for America to avoid becoming embroiled in the issues of other nations might understand from this current situation, how, and why, ‘simple avoidance’ is completely impossible. An added fact is that, being thrust into the situation in this way makes our position much more difficult and costly.
To those who advocate a policy of non-intervention, I would ask you to critique the result of such a policy. I would additionally add, a simple review of history will prove such a result to be the norm rather than the exception.
America must act as a world leader, if for no other reason, simply to avoid situations which are much more costly and negatively impacting. We have a proven history of benevolent, compassionate world leadership. Few nations would argue this point. And as is the case with any just parent, nations over whom we have exercised this authority have not always been pleased with the result, but in the end, justice has prevailed where America has intervened.
A world without leadership is what we have today. The catastrophe of millions of individuals fleeing their homes, is the result. This should never have happened. A world leader in the case of Syria for instance, should have intervened immediately. A leader who slaughters his people has no right to remain in power and though it sounds harsh, opens himself to the most severe response for the free world.
Appropriate action, lethal if necessary, by the leader of the free world should be an immediate direct response before chaos gains momentum. The longer the world allows such tyranny to exist, the more difficult it is to destroy. Added to this is the fact that terror groups and insurgent groups thrive on chaos, and encourage chaos whenever and wherever they can. Terror groups around the world are at least partly responsible for encouraging lack of leadership in in order to contribute to chaos, confusion and instill fear.
Additionally, leaders who commit genocidal acts on their own people, generating situations that lead to such refugee crisis, should suffer proportionate loss of American and foreign aid. It has been proven that in most of these countries, the leaders pocket large portions of the aid provided to them to secure the welfare of their own people anyhow.
American leadership and commitment of American resources in such situations would reduce or virtually eliminate the number of refugees who flee to other countries, thus reducing the expense to these other countries. America has the right to demand compensation to support their efforts. All of this this takes time and commitment and political will, but it has to be done and it is the right thing to do.
If the world accepts such a situation and America takes on this responsibility, we would in fact be taking on a permanent leadership role. Once the hard work of stabilization of such situations worldwide was completed however, the frequency of these incidents would reduce dramatically and the world would once again have a leader to turn too in times of turmoil, establishing more of a ‘diplomatic’ recourse for people at risk. The knowledge that America would be willing to step in and intervene in nations the world over, would be a great incentive to world leaders to do the right things by those they lead.
It is little more than pure and costly folly to assume that America can sit idly by, untouched and unaffected by the problems of the world. Additionally, where we refrain from early intervention, our cost will be much greater.
Just as a human being has a moral responsibility to intervene when a child before his very eyes, is being slaughtered, America has a moral authority to act as the leader of the free world. America has the moral authority to intervene with force if necessary, to prevent tyrants and brutal dictators from slaughtering their people and creating devastating refugee situations. America further, has the right to demand that the rest of the world compensate us for our cost in light of the fact that such intervention will ultimately allow them to avoid situations such as that in Europe today.
Unfortunately, there is no alternative.
American Diplomacy is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to American Diplomacy.