Friday, March 7, 2003

Where's Monty Hall?

Where’s Monty Hall?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 7, 2003

In an episode of the 1970s television program “The Odd Couple,” Felix Unger, portrayed by Tony Randall and Oscar Madison, played by Jack Klugman appeared on the then popular game show “Let’s Make A Deal,” in a horse costume.

Attempting to garner the host’s attention, Felix shouts out, “pick me Monty, pick me.”

Well, this is what’s happening on the global stage. Nations that ordinarily wouldn’t get a second look are trying to get the attention of the United States in order to make a deal with the most powerful country in the world. Nations like Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea and Pakistan want to know what they can get from the United States in exchange for support in the potential military conflict against Iraq.

The United States already looked behind Door Number One – Turkey, only to find an empty box when that country’s parliament voted on Saturday, March 1 to deny U.S. permission to use its bases. There was talk that the Turkish parliament might hold another vote and change its mind.

The initial deal offered by the U.S. to Turkey amounted to $26 billion in loans and support. The Monday after the rejection, the Turkish stock exchange took a 13 percent dive. Should Turkey wish to revisit the deal, the United States ought to offer half, if even that much to the majority Muslim nation straddling Europe and Asia.

To the other nations wanting the U.S. to cough up billions for its vote as members of the United Nations Security Council, they should get nothing. That they do not understand the moral imperative at stake here is unfortunate. To suggest that it is wrong for the U.S. to threaten a trade embargo against those nations not supporting the U.S. by calling it extortion, neither shall the United States be extorted in order to get permission from an organization so irrelevant that Saddam Hussein has thumbed his nose at it for a dozen years and counting.
Like a parent threatening to punish a child, “if you do that one more time…,” the United Nations has done likewise to Iraq, repeatedly, with the same result – no consequences for heinous actions.

Making matters worse, is that so-called allies of the United States, Belgium, France and Germany could have put up a unified front to force Hussein to back down. By opposing the U.S., Hussein has been emboldened; and even more so every time an American takes to the streets to protest its own government. Behind Door Number Two Monty reveals disloyalty to the United States.

(Sadly the American protesters are part of a dangerous group of people who blame America, their own country, for the evils in the world. This unfortunately is a growing trend permeated in the public schools of this country. A public school system where time-outs have replaced real punishment. A place where students are given good grades for their effort even when the effort comes up short and even passed on to the next grade so as not to damage the self-esteem. A place where competition is increasingly shunned, again for fear of damaging the all too fragile self-esteem.

Most recently, in the city of Oakland, California and in the state of Maine, anti-war ugliness has gone over the edge. In Oakland, teachers taught anti-war lessons without a voice from the other side. Speakers, paid for with citizens tax dollars were brought into schools to preach anti-war rhetoric. In Maine, teachers upped the ante by maligning students who have parents in the reserves called to active duty, as well as fulltime members of the U.S. armed forces.)

Granted the first amendment to the Constitution gives the protesters the right to do so, but they should listen to former Iraqi citizens now living in the U.S. either as American citizens or legal residents. Many have testified to the brutality under which Iraqis live. They have testified that Iraqi citizens are waiting for Americans and military partners like the British and Spanish to liberate Iraq.

Even Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-MA), so vehemently opposed to the war, does not recognize that there are about 30 nations that will join American troops should war become necessary. On the Senate floor on Friday, March 07 he referred to potential military action by the United States as “unilateral.” Kennedy was more concerned about what the rest of the world would think about the U.S. than the importance of the mission, much akin to being worried about being popular than being right.

It’s better to be right than popular. World opinion does not begin and end with the French, Germans, Chinese and Russians. Twenty-three million Iraqis are counting upon the U.S. military and its partners to do what’s right.

When the war is over, American troops/advisors along with its military partners’ troops/advisors should keep enough people in Iraq to oversee the restructuring of its government as well as to ensure democratic elections take place. This is something of which even Jimmy Carter should approve. For their efforts, those nations should receive discounts on oil, beneficial to all involved, while those countries standing idly by, get nothing, are rebuked and condemned by the United Nations and play no role in the reorganization of the nation of Iraq. Hopefully when Door Number Three is opened Monty will find a free Iraq.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer living in Alexandria, VA.

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