Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Washington’s Take On Foreign Policy: It’s Just Plain Silly

Despite the ideological fog that often surrounds the city of Washington, D.C. or even the looming threat of war, however, few people missed D.C.’s Spin of the Week. Phones lines across the nation hummed with news of Congress’s newest foreign policy: Freedom Fries.

Never mind their busy schedule full of debates on other important issues like affirmative action, educational funding, and partial birth abortions. The House Administration committee somehow found the time to rename both French fries and French toast.

Excuse me for indulging my imagination a little, but what comes next? If Britain and Canada withdraw their support from our actions in Iraq will we wake up one morning to find members of Congress dining on “Justice Muffins” and “Liberty Bacon?” Does the House expect America’s service industries to follow suit? Pity the poor teenagers who, in addition to the humiliation of neon uniforms and hair nets, will soon have to ask, “would you like some Freedom Fries with that?”

Now, in all seriousness, this veers dangerously close to the cultural prejudices of the forties when sauerkraut was renamed “liberty cabbage.” And France is not even the country we’re fighting! I’m puzzled that Congress has not yet suggested that we stop putting Middle Eastern gasoline in our cars and SUVs. But maybe I’ll change my mind when Amoco and Mobil start selling “freedom fuel.”

In Washington these days, they call this foreign policy. Forgive me for being a Midwestern bumpkin, but I call it just plain silly.

It seems that politicians campaign on large concepts and big ideologies and then get lost in the minutest details all the while hoping that one big flashy piece of legislation will win them reelection. They sell headlines and pray that the American attention span is too short to read the whole story. Why else would the President promise to cut taxes while and increase funding for both education and national security? Anyone with a basic understanding of high school math can understand that spending more money is no way to balance a budget already several billion dollars in the red.

There is no doubt that headlines sell. What Congressman in his right mind would admit to having voted against the Patriot act? Or the Leave No Child Behind bill? No politician could run a successful campaign without mentioning “justice” or “freedom” or “family values” or – a perennial favorite among office-seekers in the Midwest – “the American Way.”

Americans know how to work words. Our policy-makers and -shakers pride themselves on their powers of persuasion. We are the verbal bullies of the international schoolyard. And now other nations may just call our bluff.

So before we dig ourselves into an even bigger hole over something that is – I just can’t resist – small potatoes, I wish that the politicians over there on D.C.’s other Hill would take some time to consider the potential consequences of the esoteric concepts they throw around to lend weight to those actions that seem somewhat less than consequential.

I’d like the hawks of Congress who jump to support the President’s tough-love preemptive policies to walk along the rows of white crosses at Arlington or read the tens of thousands of silent names etched into the Vietnam memorial. I’d like them to understand the way most average Americans do that each soldier sent to the Gulf is someone’s brother or sister or daughter or son or mother or father or classmate.

I’d like them to walk the streets of my hometown where miles of yellow ribbon are tied around trees, lampposts and mailboxes. I’d like them to see the fields and houses of the farmers and auto workers who struggle to feed their families. These are certainly not the ones who benefit from the famed tax cuts.

Sometime they should drive down the highways of the rural south, say in Georgia or South Carolina or Mississippi, and see the children who, despite whatever legislation Congress may cite or celebrate, are still very much left behind.

I’d ask them to wait for a day at one of the offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where hundreds of desperate immigrants, visas expired, clamor for green cards, knowing the wrong name or skin color could jeopardize their chances for a better future.

Renaming French Fries is not going to help these people. It does little more than create fodder for late-night comedians and make other nations roll their collective eyes in our general direction.

Washington is a place of big ideas and noble concepts. But those who have the power to affect change should not forget those citizens who voted them into office in the first place.

I’d like them to remember what they’re fighting for.

Julia Martin is a Hoya Staff Cartoonist and a sophomore in the College.

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