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A new party steps up

Joe Licandro | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Fed up with both the Republicans and Democrats? Feel as if the 2004 election is another case of choosing between the lesser of two evils? Well, help is on the way. I, Joe Licandro, am officially declaring my candidacy for the 2004 presidential election as the first-ever nominee for the Common Sense Party, a.k.a. Get Your Head Out of Your Butt Party.Because of space restrictions, there is not enough room for me to provide detailed specifics, so, for brevity’s sake, I will instead elaborate on a few key political issues certain to weigh heavily on the minds of voters this fall. This is the first article of a two-part series. Today’s will outline the CSP’s foreign policy goals in the Middle East, while the next will outline my domestic agenda and social platform.First and foremost, the United States should take the fight to terrorists everywhere around the world. This means working more closely with Europe to bring down Islamic terrorist cells operating there. This means staying in Afghanistan until Al Qaeda is destroyed. This also means bombing terrorist camps in countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria that are not only unwilling to stop them but actively encouraging them. And if we have to do it alone, so be it. When it comes to this nation’s security, we should not have to consult the United Nations or ask France for permission before taking pre-emptive action to protect ourselves. To describe our foreign policy platform in one statement, the CSP advocates proactive foreign policy as opposed to reactive.Moving along. Believe it or not, the United States is less dependent upon Middle Eastern oil than ever before, which is a step in the right direction. But let’s take the ultimate step: Let’s not buy a single drop of oil from the Middle East. OPEC has far too much influence on the U.S. economy, constantly manipulating output levels to disadvantage the American consumer. The Middle East has been a source of constant trouble for the United States No matter what we do to try and improve our image there, it will remain this way as long as dictatorial regimes remain in power, television stations like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya rule the airwaves and radical Islamic clerics maintain a death grip on the populations of these countries. By buying oil from places like Saudi Arabia, we in effect are our own worst enemy, keeping in power the “human-rights-abusing, treat-women-like-dogs” royal family, who sits back living in incomparable luxury while the rest of their population suffers in abject poverty. To stay in power and deflect blame, the royal family allows their country’s religious leaders to promote a vicious hatred of the United States and the very freedoms we espouse. It’s little wonder that 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian citizens.To accomplish this goal, we need to pursue two courses of action. First, we need to develop environmentally friendly alternative forms of energy so that gas-powered cars become extinct, like dinosaurs. In the meantime, we can stop buying gas-guzzling SUVs and start buying more hybrids. Secondly, until we move away from gas-powered cars, we should start buying oil from other places in the world, like South America and Africa, where deposits of the “black gold” are just now being discovered. Will my plan hurt the U.S. economy in the short run? Possibly, but we’ll survive. Consider this, though. Not buying oil from the Middle East will hurt them a lot more than it will hurt us. Here’s why: Saudi Arabia and the rest rely on single-export economies.As for Iraq, it’s easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback, criticizing the current administration for miscalculating and underestimating the time and toll of post-war redevelopment and recovery, but it’s also a monumental waste of time, just like the 9-11 Commission hearings. What’s done is done. Undoubtedly, the United States will continue to experience pockets of hostility while we remain there. But we cannot cut and run. We must remain firm, working as quickly as possible to transfer power over to the Iraqis. Then if they fail to make democracy work, it’s their fault, not ours. Provided security is restored following the July 30 scheduled date of power transference, the CSP will set a target date of pulling troops out of Iraq by January of 2008. Each year, the number of troops will decrease. 2008 will not mark a full-scale withdrawal, as the United States should maintain a military base in Iraq similar to ones currently held in Germany, Japan and other parts around the world. This will serve as a fresh reminder to anti-American neighbors not to interfere with Iraqi affairs, or risk facing devastating consequences.Israel has always been a headache for the U.S. foreign policy makers. But I’d rather have a headache than the permanent migraine that would result if we were to completely abandon the only democracy in the Middle East. The United States should pressure Israel to abandon its new settlements on the West Bank, as it has pledged to. The United States will support a Palestinian state, but only if it is democratic in nature and does not support violence against Israel. But the United States, unlike the Europeans, will not publicly condemn Israel for building a wall sealing its borders off from Palestinian suicide bombers. Along these same lines, the United States will not publicly or legally challenge Israel for carrying out targeted killings against known terrorist leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah like the recent one against Shiekh Ahmed Yassin. Surrounded by Arab neighbors who would love nothing more to wipe Jews off the face of the earth, Israel is left with no choice but to defend itself aggressively and decisively. Their very livelihood is at stake.While the United States will remain committed to Israel’s security, the United States will not continue to provide it with such high levels of economic aid. Israel is the only first-world nation in the Middle East, yet it receives more monetary aid than any other country in the world. Even in rough economic times, it is capable of supporting itself. On this note, the United States will completely stop giving monetary assistance to Egypt – the second largest benefactor of American aid. Egypt receives roughly a billion in aid per year from the United States only because it has not undertaken any military action against Israel since it signed the Camp David Accords in 1980. On principle alone, we should not have to pay a country not to attack another. But for the following reason above any other, we should not provide aid to a country led by “Dictator-Elect” Hosni Mubarak, who refuses to stop the Egyptian press from printing hate-filled lies about the United States in their national newspapers equivalent to The New York Times.The Middle East is only one area of the foreign policy, but it’s the most prescient. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to touch on other regions of the world. But in case you have questions, remember – it’s all about practicing a little common sense.

Joe Licandro is a senior political science major. His column appears every other Wednesday. He can be contacted at jlicandr@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.