Interests and friends

“Nations don’t have friends, they have interests.” Charles deGaulle is often credited with what seems an obvious if distasteful truth of politics.

Listening to an NPR article on Egypt yesterday morning got me thinking about this political gem and its theological implications.

The report did a fair (as in balanced; rather than less than good) job presenting the reasons the US had been allied witMubarak for these past 30 years. Basically, the reasons were these:

  1. good relations with Israel
  2. allied against Islamist groups
  3. regional stability

What about human rights?  Recent reports have indicated that Mubarak offered the protestors either a free press or more freedom of the press.  The US allies with countries that don’t support the most basic rights enshrined in our own Bill of Rights?

Which takes us back to deGaulle’s dictum.  Diplomatically, the United States has determined for at least the last 30 years that a less-than-ideally governed Egypt was better than one with which we might not have a smooth relationship.

But what now?  This is the century when we (the US) overthrows dictators (with whom we don’t get along) to impose democracy.

I am not sure how comfortable I am, as an American citizen, with our nation caring more about regional stability than about human rights.

I am sure how I feel about such things as a follower of Jesus.  For Christians, such things as regional stability, relative peace, and free-flowing petrol cannot trump our concern for fellow people.

For all of us who are American citizens and followers of Jesus, this put us in an awkward place.  While we acknowledge that we cannot expect our government to run according to the dictates of the Gospel, we cannot ourselves function faithfully in any way other than according to the Gospel.

Living here in between God and Caesar is not an easy place, but this is the place we have.

5 thoughts on “Interests and friends

    • I found myself wanting to argue that democracy ought always to trump any other form of government. Yet, I have to admit that this is not necessarily the case.

      Sometimes I wonder if the US is still a literate enough electorate to sustain healthy democracy.

      • When do you think the US was ever a “literate” enough electorate? It’s all relative. I’m not even sure what a “healthy” democracy is – there will always be failings.

  1. I totally agree. All we can control is ourselves, right? The part for me that’s the most difficult to navigate is what happens if we don’t have a “smooth relationship” with these countries? I don’t think regional stability is more important than human rights. But I do think our leaders have a responsibility to protect the citizens they serve (which may be the main reason for the dilemma you present). By inviting political instability, it opens more doors for more wars not unlike the ones we’ve already found ourselves in.

    Thank you for making me think about this.

  2. Sometimes our choice is not between good and evil. Sometimes it is a choice between the lesser of two (or more) evils. In fact, in complex situations such as political choices, MOST of the time it is a question between which is less evil, not about which one is all that good.

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