In his recent book, “A Crack in the Edge of the World” author Simon Winchester purports to describe, as the subtitle puts it, “America and the great California Earthquake of 1906.” He doesn’t get to the actual quake until about page 200 of a 400-page book -- but Winchester does eventually manage to write a few chapters about the earthquake and its aftermath.
But that’s a book and, let’s face it, it’s not all that important in the grand sweep of world events. What’s more important is that some members of the mainstream media may finally be recognizing that we live in a dangerous world.
In the Christmas Day edition of The New York Times, correspondent Michael Wines noted that sometimes it isn’t enough to send food and financial aid to struggling areas. Sometimes it would be better to send the Marines.
“Since the Cold War ended, humanitarian responses to wars and political crises have mushroomed, sometimes supplanting more muscular diplomatic and military actions of years past,” Wines wrote. “Sending aid, it seems, is easier, warmer and fuzzier than tackling the root problems that led to the crisis at hand.”
The root problem in this case is dictatorship. Wines specifically wrote about Zimbabwe and North Korea. In each of those countries, the government swallows tons of international aid while allowing its people to starve. For these governments, food is the ultimate weapon. Of course, Wines could just as easily have been describing pre-war Iraq.
There, Saddam Hussein was abusing the United Nations Oil-for-Food program to maintain power. Things were working so well for him that, after more than a decade of sanctions, he was as secure on his throne as ever. Meanwhile, his oil-rich nation was crumbling around him.
Finally, after Saddam had flouted 17 U.N. resolutions ordering him to disarm, the United States decided to address the “root cause” -- him. The coalition we led in 2003 deposed Saddam in weeks, forcing him underground -- literally.
There’s no way any of this would have happened without military intervention. Journalist Robert Kaplan has been in and out of Iraq since 1984. He recently told radio host Hugh Hewitt, “Had we not gone into Iraq, the sanctions would have been lifted, all the scientists from the ex-Soviet Union, the nuclear and other scientists, would have flooded back there. The U.N. sanctions would have been lifted. And the problems we would have now would probably be equally as bad, though of a different nature.”