عرض كامل الموضوع : Hard Lines, Red Lines and Green Lines by Thomas L. Friedman

مقالات اليوم
23-09-2012, 05:15 AM
Hard Lines, Red Lines and Green Lines

بقلم Thomas L. Friedman

Washington ON Wednesday, Myanmar’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, came here and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the Capitol. I was not there, but I read the transcript and was deeply impressed by the emotional tribute delivered by Senator John McCain, who thanked “ ‘The Lady,’ for teaching me at my age a thing or two about courage.” In closing, McCain quoted Aung San Suu Kyi’s famous dictum that “it is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” I love that line: it’s not power but the fear of losing power that corrupts. It is deeply true and relevant today, when so few leaders now dare to throw caution and polls to the wind and tell people the truth about anything hard or controversial. Aung San Suu Kyi gave up 20 years of her life for her country. Many leaders today won’t even give up a news cycle. You see it everywhere: Muslims go on a rampage against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo because of a despicable and juvenile anti-Muslim video on YouTube — and the new Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, at first refuses to condemn them or even properly protect America’s diplomatic mission. Only a blistering phone call from President Obama, who no doubt hinted that Egypt wouldn’t get another penny of foreign aid if Morsi didn’t act, prompted the Egyptian leader to condemn the attack. Muslim Brotherhood officials “explained” that Morsi was torn between the demands of diplomacy and not wanting to alienate his base or be outflanked by even more hard-line Salafist Muslims. Sorry, to lead is to choose. Not a good sign. But you know what they say about people in glass houses. ... In July, Representative Michele Bachmann started a bogus campaign against Muslims in the U.S. government, including a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann wrote to the leaders of America’s national security agencies questioning whether the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the federal government. Both Senator McCain and the House speaker, John Boehner, chastised Bachmann for her politically inspired witch hunt — but not Eric Cantor, the House majority leader. The ambitious Cantor saw a chance to get a little political edge with the Republican base, against his rival Boehner, and told Charlie Rose of CBS News that we should understand Bachmann: “I think that her concern was about the security of the country.” Yes, right, Mr. Cantor, and I suppose that was all Senator Joe McCarthy was concerned about, too. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel has been loudly demanding that America publicly draw a “red line” in respect to Iran’s nuclear program that would delineate exactly when the U.S. would launch a strike against Tehran. Bibi is Winston Churchill when it comes to demanding that the U.S. draw red lines, but he is a local party boss when America asks him to draw a “green line” delineating where Jewish settlements in the West Bank will stop and a Palestinian state might start. Oh, no! Can’t do that, Bibi tells American officials. “I would lose my coalition.” So America is supposed to risk a war with Iran, but Bibi won’t risk anything to advance a deal with the Palestinians that might create a little more global legitimacy and sympathy for Israel, and America, in the event of a war with Iran. Thanks a lot. Obama made every mistake in the book in trying to negotiate a “grand bargain” on taxes and spending last year with Mr. Boehner. But I’ve always had one question: Boehner said that he walked away after Obama, at the 11th hour, asked for $400 billion more in taxes to bring along more Democrats. Why did Boehner just walk away and not call Obama back and say, “Here is my deal — no $400 billion more — take the original bargain or leave it.” He didn’t do that because he was afraid Obama might take it — and Boehner knew he could not deliver his Tea Party base or would lose his speakership trying. So he didn’t try. As for Obama, he’s been at his best when he has dared to lead without fearing the politics: taking out Osama bin Laden, securing health care without a public option, racing to the top in education and saving the banks rather than throwing all the bankers in jail, which they deserved. And he has been at his worst when he’s put politics first: spurning Simpson-Bowles, doubling down on Afghanistan for fear of being called a wimp and dropping “climate change” from his speeches. My gut tells me that this deficit of global leadership can’t last. For one thing, the world is getting so interdependent that weak leadership in one country now deeply impacts so many others. Think euro crisis, Israel-Iran or Chinese pollution. And, for another, I don’t believe the two most powerful disciplining forces on the planet — the market and Mother Nature — will sit idle for another decade and let us keep building these huge financial deficits and carbon surpluses without one day delivering some punishing blows that will require herculean leadership to deal with. So let’s honor The Lady from Myanmar, not just with a medal, but in a way that really matters — with emulation.