Saith Me.. Informed Citizenship

It requires more than just voting in order to practice informed citizenship. You cannot only tune-in every 2-4 years and hope that you’ll have more than a narrow understanding of the issues.

The world is complex and deferring your civic responsibility to others isn’t going to make you satisfied with the actions of the government.

You might not be a bad citizen if this is what you choose to do, but you won’t be an informed citizen.

informed-citizenship

Saith Me… The Ugly

The human story that shreds the heart of so many, also seems to bring out the vile ugliness of others.

When people feel a burning need to promote and protect themselves at the expense of another, we see the ugly nature of humanity in its fullness. Turning away from this ugly sight does not absolve one from its contaminants. Like an insidious disease, you either fight it or succumb to it, you do not simply ignore it hoping it will go away.

War for Gas

Spring 1990 Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein claims economic warfare over Kuwaiti oil production.

By August, his military forces had invaded Kuwait.  By January 1991 the US had committed to freeing Kuwait and its oil.  There were many reasons the US government, the US media and the US people gave for the decision to wage war on Iraq.  The most reasonable justification was that a sovereign nation had been invaded.  Other reasons were:  support an ally and major US oil supplier, Saudi Arabia; help the Kurdish people of Iraq from their ongoing persecution; and prevent known biological and chemical warfare from being used by Saddam against the peoples of the Gulf region.

By February, President George H. W. Bush had challenged the Iraqi people, specifically the oppressed Kurds, “to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.”

To the great relief of the US, the First Gulf War ended quickly.  The promises made to the people of Iraq were left unfulfilled, as the citizens of the US pressured the President to pull out of the region.

November 2000, George W. Bush was elected as the US president bringing with him feelings of unfinished business in regards to Iraq and a desire to finish the task his father had started.  The only thing holding back the new president was a lack of justification for reentering Iraq; a justification the US citizenship would support.  However Iraq was not the same country as it had been a decade earlier.  A harsh crack down on the opposition by Saddam had left the country with greater fear of their dictator and with the potential for greater instability should the dictator be removed.  Added to this was also a greater distrust of the US and its promises.

By 2003 terrorist actions and threats had propelled the US population into a state of fear making it easier to convince them of a just cause to invade Iraq, and embroil the US into a further Middle Eastern war.  It would take the majority of a decade to pull the US troops out of this war.  However, Iraq would remain destabilized, and by that time the entire region would become destabilized.   Technology and a changing world would propel the Middle East into internal turmoil and revolt.  While the pleas of rebels would seek US help, the distrust and dislike for the US would continue to grow.  Allied nations and adversarial nations alike would distrust the US and its policies knowing that US election politics and fickle citizens could again force a US president to go back on his promises or worse encourage a president to act aggressively towards perceived threats.

So why do I bring up this history?  Well it is simple, gas prices or war to protect gas prices?  If one moves away from listening to political yelling matches, they might just hear that a) even with additional US drilling for oil, current gas prices would not drop anytime soon, b) opening up the US reserves would only adjust the price minimally, c) the prices of gas will go up not down if speculators fear more Gulf conflict and d) it is through trade agreements not threats that the US has been able to maintain the low gas prices compared to what Europe pays.

Ah, remembering back when gas was only a buck a gallon.  I was newly married, had children on the way and was dirt poor.  President Clinton was developing solid friendships with trading partners as well as putting the US on a path of making millionaires a common place. Oh yea, he was also developing a reputation for avoiding war even when our people were under attack.

It was good times, strong economy, low gas prices and big houses. All was perfect – right?  However, all an enemy had to do was wait; wait for a new president to be elected; a president less opposed to retaliation when attacked.

Low gas prices are gone, big houses are foreclosed on, and businesses closed up shop or moved away. Millionaires have lost millions, the middle class have lost jobs, and the poor have become so much poorer.  Religious wars, cultural wars, and international wars are threating our homeland and allies.

Okay so times are tough, but all this blame and hate and fear is not helping us.  Go back to 1990, it was Saddam that invaded a sovereign nation and he is now dead.  It was Osama Bin Laden that brought down the towers and the Pentagon in 2001. He too is now dead. Katrina was a natural disaster so we can’t send troops or drones after her.  BP was responsible for the big oil spill, but eliminating them won’t undo the environmental damage or lower our gas prices.

Our presidents, regardless of their political party affiliation have tried to do what they thought was best in every crisis they have faced.  They have all in their own way tried to correct the ills they have inherited.  President George H.W. Bush protected an ally.  President Bill Clinton pulled the US out of a deep recession.  President George W. Bush tried to fulfill a promise made by his father, tried to punish international terrorists for their crimes and tried to keep us from going into a recession after years of conflict and natural disasters.  President Barak Obama is trying to aid our poor, rebuild our international relationships, pull us out of a recession, bring jobs back to the US and keep us out of new wars despite entangling alliances.

In an election year it is my duty to vote as my conscience dictates, but I will support the people’s choice as I have after every election.  I will and do support my president regardless of who he is, because he is my president.  I will let the history books decide if his policies helped the people more greatly than they hindered.  I will not add my ire to my president’s burden, because I know he acts on his conscience.

I understand policies of containment and I understand the need to stand up to genocidal dictators. I recognize the turbulence of our time and the often unavoidable reality of war.

I understand there is great suffering in the world, but I do not expect my president to fix it all in four years or even eight.  With so many worries and ills in the world that the president must contend with, I will not take him to task over gas prices!

For a timeline of information on the 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars, Click Here for an informative page.