What ups and downs. First we hear Gaddafi has been killed, good. Then we begin to realize that a billion dollars of U.S. aid to NATO in the Libya military intervention and what we now appear to be getting for it is another Islamic nation that will follow sharia law, the antithesis to western democracy.
Actually I am not sure from what I have just been reading that it is a done deal and that Libya will take the Islamic or radical Islamic and/or sharia law route. Things are in a state of flux, but reportedly the head of the provisional government there said sharia law would be adopted. I understand there is opposition there to that (oops more civil war?).
There are conflicting reports as to whether Tunisia, though a largely peaceful transition, will adopt sharia law — I just read a news story that quoted the leader of the ruling party there that said it would not for fear of offending western nations for whom it depends upon for its economy — tourism, trade.
Islamists and the military seem to be taking control in Egypt after the U.S., or the Obama administration anyway, got all excited about the promise of the dawning of a new era of democracy through what has been called the “Arab Spring”.
In my lifetime the official and consistent foreign policy of the United States has been to promote democracy and self-determination of people worldwide, and I think it has been partly sincere, if there is such a thing as partly sincere.
Looking backwards to the Cold War:
If self-determination should wind up being the choice of the communist path, then we were not for it, because communism is counter to everything we stand for, particularly in the field of human rights and a fair and impartial judicial system, and of course it does not fit in with our capitalist approach to economic matters.
A further problem is that even if people supposedly chose communism, the evidence casts doubt on the validity of the notion that such was actually chosen by free will.
The communist threat was in the past.
Today the threat appears to be what some call “radical Islam“. Governments that are run under the control of this radical Islam (such as Iran) do not fit our definition of what takes place in free societies brought about by self-determination and the choice of democracy.
So, years ago, in the Cold War, a democratic-communist government would be an oxymoron.
Today it is hard to conceive of a democratic-Islamist government that uses strict sharia law (which is a religious doctrine that does not square well with western ideals or human rights — particularly for women, although it is said to be interpreted differently in different Islamic nations, some being a little more progressive or liberal).
So, for our 40 billion-dollar investment in Libya we may have helped promote another Islamist state.
The irony here is that U.S. administrations have had in their thinking the idea that the promotion of western democracy means freedom of religion, but you can hardly have freedom of religion (or even freedom from religion) if its tenets and strictures are written into or directly used as the basis of a nation’s laws and if religious leaders have any control over the government.
(Our own laws may be often based on moral codes that have their basis in religion, but they have become secular — kind of like Chirstmas.)
I think the United States is correct in promoting (not necessarily through war, though) self-determination and democracy, with freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, which goes along with freedom of religion. George W. Bush was correct in saying that we are not at war with the religion of Islam itself or those who practice it. Instead we are at war with terrorists who proclaim they are following Islam in what they do.
The religious right wing in the U.S. does not help the cause of peaceful foreign relations or for that matter, the promotion of religious freedom in the U.S., when it paints everything as a Holy War against Islam.
I will admit, though, Christianity by our history and custom has been what I would call the de facto official religion of the United States since its founding. Judaism has had a struggle but has become accepted. Most others are tolerated to some extent, with the exception of Islam, which faces extra scrutiny in light of the terrorist activities, especially 9/11.
Short of armed intervention, there is nothing wrong with generally promoting western democracy, but all-out nation building does not seem terribly practical and is subject to the law of unintended consequences.