British imperialism made a mess in Syria; now they want us to clean up after them

Most people have apparently made up their minds about what we should do about Syria, but I find myself dithering ("The decisive moment," Sept. 9).

Doing nothing seems like a terrible idea, and military action seems also seems a terrible idea. It comes down to choosing the lesser of two evils, but the perils inherent in either choice are daunting.

I pity the leaders of our country who have to make these truly life and death decisions. I do believe that there are some lessons to be learned as the result of this crisis. We now definitely know that the United Nations has become ineffective. This would appear to be a perfect situation for the U.N. to handle, but the voting rules of the Security Council have rendered the organization irrelevant in this crisis.

The U.S. needs to lead in the effort to restructure the organization. If that fails we may have to take the very drastic step of withdrawing. If the current U.N. is totally dysfunctional and impotent, something needs to be developed in its place to deal with the extremely serious problems of the 21st century.

We also need to rethink our "special relationship" with Great Britain. Aside from the ongoing problem in Northern Ireland, the UK is currently at odds with Spain over Gibraltar and with Argentina and other countries of Latin America over what the Brits call the Falkland Islands. Why would a country in Northern Europe believe they are entitled to maintain a territorial presence in the Mediterranean or off the coast of South America?

Of course, the clever Brits maintain that their continued presence is the will of the inhabitants, since they conducted referendums that showed a majority there want these territories remain under British jurisdiction.

I guess so! It doesn't take an historian to know that it has been British policy over the last few centuries to send large numbers of Brits to the four corners of the world. If they hadn't gotten rid of substantial numbers of people on that scepter-ed isle they would be living like sardines.

I believe we can trace many of the current world problems to the pathetic foreign policy and the overt imperialism of successive British governments in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They consistently ignored natural, ethnic and religious boundaries and drew national borders that still cause problems.

They are still imperialistic by nature, and unfortunately we have borrowed some of their bad habits. We are suffering now as a result.

What we need is to develop new and creative structures and strategies that will work in the modern world, and we need to rethink what we call our "national security," since the only countries that border ours are Canada and Mexico.

Edward McCarey McDonnell, Baltimore

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