Friends & Enemies

June 17, 2013 - 7:00 AM

Human beings need enemies. Often for good; sometimes for ill. But having an easily definable enemy is very helpful.

Organizations need enemies to send you mail and call your home asking for donations. The March of Dimes was established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to combat the crippling disease of polio.

With the advent of the Salk and later the Sabin vaccines, polio was effectively wiped out in the United States and the March of Dimes needed a new cause. It found one in preventing birth defects later expanding into helping women have healthy pregnancies.

During World War I and World War II the enemies were easy to identify. They wore uniforms that called out "I am your enemy" and combatants generally stayed on their own side of the battle line.

Sometimes friends can become enemies. Hitler and Stalin signed a pact to carve up Eastern Europe and stay out of each others' stuff, but Hitler decided that his empire just didn't look tidy without the Soviet Union in it so he wheeled his troops around to the east and tried to defeat Stalin.

On the other hand, sometimes enemies become friends. Or at least allies. After starting two major wars in thirty years Germany decided it was better to outwork its competitors rather than outfight them, and now - other than still not having a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council - is among the most important nations on the planet.

I raise this because, as we head into uncharted waters in Syria and with a newly elected president in Iran, enemies are harder to identify and friends are harder to hang onto.

A great deal of weaponry we provided to the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan (friend) when they were fighting the Soviet Union (enemy) fell into the hands of the Taliban (enemy) and have been used to some effect against NATO forces (friends) over the past decade or so.

There is some concern that if we provide weapons to the Syrian rebels (friends) and they win, they may be overtaken by a branch of al-Qaeda (BIG enemies) known as as al-Qaeda on the Arabian Penninsula or AQAP and we will have, in effect, provided modern weapons to our most virulent current enemy.

Egypt used to be a good, good friend even though we were a little uneasy about the way president Hosni Mubarak spent the billions of USDs we sent him to keep him from deciding Israel was too tempting a target.

Now that Mubarak (erased from the friend/enemy list) has been chased out, we are still funding Egypt but Egypt (sort of friend) is being run by a government largely made up of members of the Muslim Brotherhood (not an enemy, but not a friend, either).

While all that is going on, the prime minister of Turkey (friend) Tayyip Erdogan, has his hands full with young Turks (really) who have been rioting over the past few weeks over Erdogan's continuing efforts to turn Turkey from a secular nation (good) to an Islamic nation (not-so-good).

Given that Turkey (friend) shares a borders with Syria (enemy) you would think this is an easy call on our part, but as we saw in Libya (which used to be an E*N*E*M*Y) the Arab Spring didn't help things much and Turkey is one of the largest nations in Europe, so all we can do is wait and watch.

Domestically, there would be no Republican Party without a Democratic Party

SIDEBAR

I have been asked many times if I hated Democrats. I have always answered the same way: I love Democrats. Without them I would never have had a career.

END SIDEBAR

When he took office, President Obama had Democratic (his friends) majorities in the House and the Senate. Look what happened when he had no Republicans (his opponents) to push against in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Republicans (our friends) won control of the House by such numbers that it is doubtful the Democrats (our opponents) can win it back within this decade.

As the Senate - and later the House - work through an immigration bill, look at what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (opponent) has been up to. He has largely stayed on the sidelines - although he did stroll onto the pitch on Wednesday saying - according to Politico.com, that "he will not allow the Gang of Eight immigration bill to require stricter border security measures merely in order to attract Republican votes."

Why? Doesn't he want Republican votes?

Not so fast. If he can blame the defeat of immigration reform on the GOP (friend) then he prevent them from using immigration to attract Hispanic voters (would-be friends) down the road.

Reid needs the GOP to stay the enemy of Hispanics.

See how simple this is?

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Ok. Lots 'o links: March of Dimes, U.N. Security Council, Turkey, and Harry Reid. Also an amusing Mullfoto from the Newport Beach Hilton Sunday morning.