Monday, September 7, 2015

As world turns forward, don't march backward

CNN does less news and more retrospectives these days. Hence, one would have been excused to assume it was showing another century in China the other day.

Missiles nose to tail, soldiers goose-stepping, China was parading every ounce and centimeter of its military might. And for what?

In observing the anniversary of World War II's end, China took the unusual tack of acting like a military behemoth for the first time in years, and to remind itself how much it still hates Japan.

There was much to hate about imperial Japan and what it did to China in the 1940s, but that was 70 – seven-oh – years ago. How could relations still be frozen? Let it go. Let it go.

Could we say the same about 50 years of threats and political stasis with Cuba? Could we say the same regarding the drum-beating and chest thumping denouncing a multi-national effort to curb Iran's nuclear designs?

Yes, we could. Time delivers to mankind new opportunities to move forward. When we see daylight, it is irresponsible to not consider new possibilities.

We moved on in mending relations with Japan, with Germany, with fascist Italy, with Vietnam. It is to President Obama's credit that he's the one to see it was time for a change with Cuba.

As for Iran, it is no longer the nation that held American hostages for an interminable stretch. Its people are more westernized than ever and more amenable to what the rest of the world offers.

The "great Satan" rhetoric is the pretense of hardliners for whom bellicosity is power. The same, of course, applies to hardliners here at home. What a fascinating dynamic it is to see these two camps – enemies -- solidly united. They should exchange hugs.

Meanwhile, young Iranians, and young Cubans, want nothing more than the new day that comes with historic change.

So, does the Iranian deal make the world less safe? One has trouble understanding how, since rejecting the pact would be a signal to Iran that a peaceable resolution is unattainable.

Colin Powell said that on a Sunday news program, stepping forth to support the Iranian agreement. Meanwhile, on another channel, Dick Cheney had no real rejoinder when an interviewer observed the extent to which crushing Iraq's regime empowered Iran, while the latter sped up its nuclear program.

No, Mr. Cheney, what we did in Iraq did not make the world safer. It only reshuffled dominoes of domination and introduced the shards of regional fragmentation. Anyone who thinks that we could bring anything but cataclysm to the entire region by doing the same to Iran is dreaming.

It is ironic that one of the most forward-sounding voices of reconciliation in our nation's history is Dwight Eisenhower, who hated war "as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

Eisenhower also said the world "must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect."

Warlike actions do nothing more than empower those on the other side who talk up war. Actions of engagement and conciliation stir the desire of those on the other side who simply want peace.

Say what you will, but the collapse of the Soviet Union came because of the thirst of its people to have some of the things that we have in the West. Among the fruits of "glasnost" were influences like American TV – yes, like "Dallas."

Sure, we talked tough. We built our military arsenal for the worst. But ultimately, what caused a warlike empire to crumble was more peaceful intentions, and the Earth's turning toward a new day.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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