There’s not yet such a thing as heaven on earth. But there is a hell. And it can be found in Havana this week.
Most of the world’s worst leaders are there, for something called the Nonaligned Movement summit. Imagine a room filled with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and the summit’s hosts, Raul and Fidel Castro. Throw in high level delegations from North Korea, Syria and Myanmar and you’ve got the planet’s worst regimes represented.
It’s not just the Axis of Evil, but the entire Evil Orbit that will be on hand. Not that the Nonaligned Movement accepts that title.
According to a draft of the summit’s joint declaration, the proud nations of the NAM “totally reject the use of the term ‘axis of evil’ by a certain state to target other states under the pretext of combating terrorism.”
In fact, the Nonaligned Movement says it condemns “terrorism in all its forms.” That’ll come as news to Israelis. After all, just two months ago, summit attendees Iran and Syria were supporting the terrorist movement Hezbollah as it lobbed rockets into Israel, killing civilians.
But the NAM has a different view of that battle. Its final declaration will celebrate what it calls Lebanon’s “heroic resistance to the Israeli aggression” and it will insist that Israel pay for damage caused by the war that Hezbollah started. Of course.
If the NAM seems disconnected from reality, maybe it’s because the group’s clocks stopped 15 years ago. After all, the Nonaligned Movement started early in the Cold War to provide a support system for countries caught in the middle of the nuclear standoff between the United States and Soviet Union. That’s where the name “nonaligned” comes from. Today the group has no reason to exist. It’s a dictator’s club, desperately seeking relevance.
Cuba’s Vice President Carlos Lage gave it his best shot this week, while taking a shot at the United States. “Amid wars and threats of more wars, the world in which we live is each day more unjust and unequal,” Lage explained. “The real history has been that of a growing dominance of a nation that is unscrupulously exercising economic and political pressures.”
Yet if Americans really were such warmongers, we’d send the Marines to Havana and whack all these bad guys at once. Instead of tying ourselves down with Iraq-style nation building, we’d simply get rid of the world’s worst human rights abusers and allow Cubans, Venezuelans, Iranians and the rest to select new and (hopefully) better leaders.
We’ll never do it.
Even when dictatorial leaders and human rights abusers taunt the U.S., they’re confident they can rely on what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” to prevent us from invading them. Hence, Fidel’s clung to power just 90 miles from our shores, and we’ve never sent our military to turn him out.
But the U.S. military’s probably the only force in the world that can actually help Cuba. As Thomas Barnett wrote in his book The Pentagon’s New Map, “Show me a part of the world that is secure in its peace and I will show you strong or growing ties between local militaries and the U.S. military. Show me regions where major war is inconceivable and I will show you permanent U.S. military bases and long-term security alliances.”
Barnett adds that the opposite is also true. “Where America’s security exports have been hesitant, intermittent, or nonexistent, there you will find most of the violence in the world today,” which we certainly do in Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Sudan, etc.
Of course, the peace delivered by the American military also delivers prosperity. For example, while most North Koreas are starving, South Korea (under our security umbrella) has developed one of the most dynamic economies in the world.
And once a country has a successful economy, it’s unlikely to resort to violence. “Of the 37 major conflicts spread around the world I the 1990s, 34 occurred in countries with annual per capita GDP totals of less than $2,936,” Barnett writes. “When countries rise above that $3,000 mark, they seem to get out of the mass violence business.” Thus, global prosperity -- spread and encouraged by the U.S. military -- is the real key to “killing transnational terrorism,” as Barnett writes.
There’s a world worth creating out there.
We won’t get there as long as some leaders in the Nonaligned Movement cling to power, but their world is the past, not the future. A virtual heaven on earth of peaceful trading partners making money -- not war -- is coming. The dictators of the NAM won’t be around to see it.