Un Bel Di
Max Boot details the history of "cutting and running" throughout American history. The consequences were often tragic and somegimes wide-ranging. The inevitable rhetorical question is asked. Why should any ally trust America?
Many Americans have been wondering why so many Iraqis are willing to fight for militias and terrorist groups but not for the American-backed government. Look at it from their perspective. Would you stake your life on a regime whose existence depends on Washington's continuing support? Given our long, shameful record of leaving allies in the lurch, that has never seemed to be a smart bet.
Some of those incidents are long forgotten. Others are green in memory.
But that was nothing compared to the betrayal of the Iraqi Kurds and Shiites in 1991. President George H.W. Bush urged Iraqis to "take matters into their own hands" and overthrow Saddam Hussein, yet stood by as Hussein's henchmen brutally put down the uprisings. The U.S. did not even shoot down Iraqi gunships, which could have been done at little risk to American forces.
All might be forgiven if the twists and turns of policy were guided the constant star of national interest. Boot wonders if even that compass is heeded.
This long trail of American treachery has grave consequences for our foreign policy. It emboldens our enemies (the Bay of Pigs led to the Cuban missile crisis, for example), dispirits our friends and makes it harder to achieve our objectives. Knowing our history, few Iraqi leaders are counting on American support in the future. They're making their deals with the devil, whether neighboring states or sectarian militias. And if we do scuttle out of Iraq prematurely, Afghans and others whose support we seek will get the message again: Don't trust Uncle Sam.
It was the great novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald who best captured the peculiar essence of betrayal committed by those too rich, too secure and too self-absorbed to care. Gatsby was destroyed through the single chink in his armor, his love for a woman who never gave him, beyond the attention for a fleeting novelty, a second thought: Daisy, his one and unworthy love. "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…" And it was Puccini who might have written the final score.
Un bel di, vedremo
Levarsi un fil di fumo
Sull'estremo con fin del mare
E poi la nave appare
Chiamerà Butterfly dalla lontana.
Io senza dar risposta
me ne starò nascosta
un po' per celia e un po' per non morire
Un bel di.