Saturday, December 02, 2006

Case In Point By Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

On a recent trip to Austria the damaged reputation of The United States abroad was made quite clear by the attitudes of our European cousins. The United States is now seen in a light of suspicion and most average Europeans hold a measure of contempt for our government.

Some Americans say, “Who cares?” But there are serious consequences for us when we decide to go it alone and leave our allies behind. Namely, our country bears the brunt of casualties and we bear the greatest portion of actual financial cost too. Furthermore, our businesses find a more hostile atmosphere in which to operate and make deals. A negative image abroad harms our companies’ abilities to compete.

The Europeans are not happy about our fall from grace – they appreciate the role that our country played in WWII and they appreciate the role that we played as a stabilizing force for the past 50 or so years. The Europeans want to support an America that they remember from years past – a beacon of hope for peace and human rights for all peoples of the globe. They yearn for an America that is fighting for the underdog and standing up to injustice for the sake of doing what’s right and not because we are trying to help Exxon-Mobile shore up its reserves. Not one European nation wants the role the US holds and they do not want to see us lose pole position either. They simply want an America that they can cheer for and trust. One gentleman put it this way, “We could understand that you elected Bush the first time, you didn’t know better, but to reelect him made Europeans ask, “What are the Americans thinking?” I would argue that Bush lost the first race by more than 500,000 votes and the second election was so tainted by scandal in several states, especially Ohio, that it is indeterminable whether or not we Americans did in fact “re-elect” Mr. Bush. But, with that aside...

Most Europeans are quite capable of keeping the people of a land and the government of a land separate. They understand that politics doesn’t always equate society at large.

Again, our allies want us to lead. They want us to lead while holding high the banner of justice. Europeans still praise President Clinton for tackling genocide and violence in the Balkans and admit that it was they who should have taken care of the matter in their own back yard. But, it was we who sent troops and did the work – our veterans whom we are all so proud of. Their mission was clear and our soldiers did what the European forces were apparently incapable or unwilling to do – enforce our collective pledge to never again allow genocide (on Western Soil).

I know that America’s military can accomplish most any mission that they are handed as long as they know what the goal is. This is no difference for anyone who is at college; starting a business; working for a dream – they have to know what they are shooting for and not simply wandering in the wilderness in order to achieve their goals. Every American stands proudly behind our men and women of the Armed Forces for bravery and loyalty.

Our nation has grown tired of senseless loss of lives. It was the administration who had no game plan for our soldiers, and it was this administration that holds all blame for current troubles that they failed to plan for.

As scripture says, “Our people perish for lack of vision.”