Most non-Americans are confused by the American expression, “That’s the way the ball bounces!” Except for a few advanced places like Austria, Finland, Sweden, etc. where American football is taking hold, all foreign balls bounce the same way. Why not? They’re all round! Only the American pigskin, the “elliptical spheroid,” is shaped so as to add a tantalizing extra element of opportunity (or disappointment) to this great American game.
(It’s been said that a football cheer at M.I.T. goes “Repel them! Repel them! Compel them to relinquish the elliptical spheroid!” Those readers who actually attended M.I.T. might contend that a football’s shape is more accurately described as a prolate spheroid.)
Obama doesn’t deserve Morsi’s fall or the potential deflation of the Muslim Brotherhood. He’s the biggest foreign policy zero ever to direct American foreign policy, but on the principle that a stopped clock is right twice a day, Obama now has a rare chance to achieve heroism. Read quickly. The opportunity might not last until the end of the column.
America has been known to put forth an occasional “doctrine.” In 1823 America’s fifth president, James Monroe, unfurled the “Monroe Doctrine” letting Europe know that any further colonization on the continents of North or South America would henceforth be treated as acts of aggression calling for American military intervention. And there it froze! European colonialism stopped in its tracks. The huge Spanish and Portuguese possessions in South America were now independent. The smattering of other colonial adventurers “over here” – France, Holland, Sweden – remained smattered and are now mostly charming Caribbean cruise ship destinations with their thousands of cocktail-sipping and snapshot-snapping tourists remaining unconcerned and unaware that, “Hey! This place, St. Barts, used to be Swedish and that place yesterday, St. Maarten, is still Dutch.”
After World War II, while millions of sloppy sentimental Americans were still toasting our “gallant Russian allies,” our less-gallant former Soviet allies were conspiring, spying, supplying, infiltrating and fighting to snatch and seal Greece and Turkey along with the vastly victory-expanded Communist bloc. President Harry Truman, high-school dropout, wasn’t about to give away Allied victory as cheaply as the beads tossed from a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans. Just in time to head off Moscow’s success, Truman promulgated the “Truman Doctrine” that told Moscow, “Sorry, Comrades. Greece and Turkey will remain free.” And Truman sent Gen. James Van Fleet to that part of Europe. Despite the tremendous support for Communism in Greece thanks to the Communist resistance to the Nazis, and thanks to the fierce Turkish hatred of next-door-neighbor Soviet Communism, Greece and Turkey remained free and even became members of NATO.
What a great feeling Truman must have had seeing a part of Europe (which he probably couldn’t have located on a map while he was a cog in the Pendergast machine in Kansas City) free and dancing in the streets shouting his name!
And now the oddly bouncing geopolitical football gives Obama a Hanukkah-from-Heaven moment here in early July 2013. No thanks to Team Obama, here we have Egypt and Turkey – the two largest and strongest Islamic states in the Mideast – spinning and susceptible to a stroke of American leadership that could well serve their people, freedom, peace in the region and American interests. Let a new doctrine go forth letting one and all know America would like to rekindle the lost hope of that “Arab Spring” of 2011. We therefore serve notice that America will do its diplomatic best and exert all legitimate non-violent influence to end the demoralizing and destructive practice of ousting tyrants, celebrating free elections – and then witnessing the birth of those great possibilities aborted before our helpless eyes by new oppression.
We may then follow with 68 pages detailing what kind of governments we’d like to see in the region, being vague enough to avoid diplomatic heartburn down the road. The objective is to put America solidly behind PERMANENT SECULAR STATES WITH REGULAR MULTI-PARTY ELECTIONS.
A word of comfort, please, to those aghast at the notion of America “telling others how we’d like to see them govern.” There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as it’s merely a “doctrine” letting the world know our preferences. There may be trade and travel sanctions on those who “disobey.” Fair enough, so long as there are no bullets, bombs or boots-on-the-ground.
America and the Soviet Union both had empires. Theirs was authority-without-obligation. Ours was “obligation-without-authority.” That’s why Russia is still widely hated in their former East European “colonies” and George H. W. Bush was able to speed-dial a 34-country coalition to help us eject Iraq from Kuwait in the early 1990s.
Can mine be the only American pulse that quickens when word goes forth that we now have a doctrine, a policy!?
“Hear Ye! Let there be no more ‘leading from behind’ or ‘hiding within the leaves’ or whatever the excuse du jour is for leaders who don’t have what it takes to say, ‘Mr. Gorbachev! Tear Down This Wall!’” Or, “Mr. Morsi, come again when your ‘Brotherhood’ learns to behave a bit more brotherly!”