Sunday, December 19

Seeing things in Black and white instead of in shades of gray.

There is no shortage of complaints about President Bush. One specific criticism that I heard recently really got me thinking; The President is a poor leader because he sees issues only in terms of Black and White.

President Bush calls things as he sees it. After September 11, he stated to the World "You are either with us or against us." The President's statement is a perfect example of not only his black and white view of the world, but also of the President applying that view to American Policy. His innumerable critics say that this type of thinking is not appropriate, as the world is a complicated place where issues must be seen in shades of Gray.

I started thinking about the differences between the two ways of seeing things. Looking at our daily lives, I was surprised at how often we all take advantage of looking at things the gray-way. It seems that the main reason to apply this way of thinking to our everyday life is simply that this way of seeing is to our benefit. Unfortunately, this way often allows us to reason away being on the wrong side of the law.

Take speeding for example. The roads are highways of gray. Most cars on the highway are speeding. How fast is too fast? How often do you end up in the passing lane behind a car going too slow for you? The slower car should move right to let you pass but often does not. Perhaps they do not because they are already speeding. In the world of gray, who is wrong and who is right? Other than the fastest car and the super-aggressive driver, the rest of us can speed by the police with no risk of any of us getting a ticket.

Is it wrong to pace a group driving on the Interstate when they driving twenty miles over the speed limit? Is it wrong to jaywalk across a busy street interfering with traffic? What about littering, tailgating, driving drunk, double parking, and all those other activities that people should not be doing but have somehow decided that it was alright for them to do it. These actions degrade the standard of living for all of us. Over three hundred million people live in the United States, many of us take some liberties and often the outcome is a decrease in the standard of living for all of us.

What is the result when governments see issues in terms of gray and not in black and white? Israel building settlements on land that they occupy and theoretically should eventually de-occupy. Palestine failing to institute needed reforms for self-rule and put an end to suicide bombings. Iran concealing information from UN Nuclear arms Inspectors. India failing to hold a referendum in Kashmir on its future because they know that the Muslim-Majority their will vote to join Pakistan. The Sudanese Government permitting genocide within their own country. North Korea failing to care for its citizens.

France and Russia Take full advantage of gray for personal gain. Both countries were racing to be the first to violate Sanctions against Iraq with direct flights to Baghdad in 2000. The spokesperson of the French delegation on the first flight that arrived in Baghdad stated "There is no need for permission from the United Nations'' concerning France's actions in the matter. That's a good thing to know, especially coming from a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Governments of many countries are not behaving in a responsible manner. They are not properly educating their children. Their leaders are parties to questionable transactions that enrich secret bank accounts around the globe. They prevent free travel out of their country. They spend limited government resources on their military while ignoring the social wellbeing of their people. Failing to provide health care for their people. Blaming other countries for their problems.

We should all care about the people trapped in these countries. Governments of countries like North Korea use collective hate and fear of a menacing United States to maintain control of their population. Any questions concerning their government's own criminal activity is explained away with a reference to how all of North Korea's problems are the fault of the United States.

Where is the United Nations to stop all of this bad behavior? The UN is the international body entrusted to preserve world peace, and enhance the lives of all people living on this planet. Unfortunately, the UN does not appear to be able to act effectively in making the world a better place. Its members have infected the Organization with the gray way of viewing the world. Every country is able to gray-away whatever they are accused of.

This is why a number of countries have UN Resolutions that they are in violation of. Where is the threat against non-compliance from the United Nations? Why was there no real action after the first resolution was violated? There is none. The 'good' countries do not have the determination and will to force the 'bad' countries into doing good things. Countries are quick to condemn horrible deeds committed in other countries but their words ring hollow.

President Bush's words ring loud and clear. The world pays attention to what he says. Ex-President Taylor of Liberia listened and stepped down from office to go into hiding in Nigeria. Without a word spoken in their direction, Libya got the message of the Bush Administration and decided to re-establish normal relations by handing over their complete WMD program. Afghanistan and Iraq are both under new management. Saddam is behind bars and years later, Bin Laden still does not dare to walk openly, even in areas sympathetic to his cause. These results were all because of the actions of the United States and those Countries willing to stand with her.

There is still much to do. Countries like North Korea, The Sudan, and Iran all have leaders who count on the world community to view their activities in shades of gray. Unfortunately, when we see things in shades of gray, the result often ends up much closer to the black position than the white one.

I am sure that President Bush knows this and he does not find it acceptable. I wish more or the world's leaders would too. We have a coalition of the willing, now we just need to win over the unwilling. Once that happens, the bad apples of the world will have no excuse to hide behind. The world may be a complicated place, but it is because the leaders make the world it complicated by refusing to implement the simple solutions to most of the world's problems.

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