While pundits fantasize and then bicker over the domestic machinations they see behind President Obama’s response to the crisis in Haiti, I see a missed opportunity to explore its benefits as a propaganda tool in the War on Terror.
Fundamentally, our geopolitical agenda -- my one-liner interpretation of the American brand -- is to help people live so they can pursue life, love, and happiness. Our enemies' agenda, by contrast and broadly, is to kill people so the survivors can live imprisoned in a fundamentalist prison. Unfortunately, the actions that communicate each position are often similar, or at least the visuals suggest a moral relativism: blowing people up is blowing people up, regardless of how you choose to narrate it. By fighting terrorism the Western democracies help substantiate the terrorist brand position. Footage of people voting in elections isn't compelling counterpoint.
So why aren't we issuing a challenge to Iran, Syria, and any other country that wraps support for terrorists with blather about fairness and humanity:
Join the relief effort in Haiti. Save people irrespective of their nationality or religion. Share in the responsibility for preserving life. Your actions will speak much louder than your words.
Of course there'd be no answer, but simply by asking the rhetorical question we could communicate the breadth and depth of what we're doing. It would let us contrast images of help with the images of conflict. And it's not such an unreasonable thought that Iran in particular would have expertise dealing with earthquakes (they have them all the time), so if it (or any pro-terror government) replied and made even a symbolic gesture, it would show some recognition of our shared humanity.
Either way, wouldn't we get incrementally closer to winning the War on Terror by standing for life? We can't kill our way to victory. I fear that our enemies can.