Damnit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a security analyst. But they may not be our allies next month. You sure you want to give them phasers and photon torpedoes?
Captain Picard would never violate the Prime Directive, not even for all the Dilithium on Rigel 9 and all the green women on the planet Hoth! There's no gun-boat diplomacy allowed on the Love Boat!
Please for to give me powerful weapons so I can keep order on my planet. I promise to be your best friend fo-evah.
Via NPR: On Tuesday, in a scrum with reporters, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) chastised a proposal by the Republican Study Committee in the House to eliminate $250 million in economic assistance to Egypt. "All I would say to my colleagues is that we live in a dangerous world, and foreign aid is in our national security interests," he said.
"I went to France to Install Democracy and All I Got Was This Lousy Emperor and a Guillotine Blood Bath." - Thomas Jefferson
Gratuitous picture of Jolene Blalock. She played a Vulcan.
So I prefer William Shatner's Captain Kirk to Patrick Stewart's Captain Picard. Stewart always reminded me a bit of Captain Stubbing from the Love Boat. And that was hard to ignore.
Nevertheless, I have to give Picard an extra point for sticking a bit more faithfully to the futuristic concept of the Prime Directive, which basically says, "Stay out of the affairs of other cultures."
Kirk, on the other hand, would dabble all the time in the affairs of developing cultures. To prevent the Klingons from taking over. To help good-looking primitive people who walked around in loincloths escape the tyranny of the computer-lizard Bahl. But Picard stayed out of that game.
I bring this up because of Egypt, which has been getting arms and aid to the tune of billions of dollars from us. Now it seems there's a bit of an issue with the dictator of that country somehow displeasing the people he's been ruling, and he took away their Internet porn, and now wants a few months before he is evicted from office. Probably so he can enjoy that Internet porn free of his pesky citizens slowing it all down for him.
Have you noticed, in any of the photos coming out from Cairo and whatnot, some very American looking military equipment? Like the M1-A1 Abrams tank?
Back in a previous career-incarnation of mine, I helped put together a video for a defense contractor touting the virtues of an air-defense software system. The primary purpose of the video was to convince the Egyptian military to purchase it with U.S. military aid dollars. At the time, I didn't think much of it, but now I'm worried that this system may be used against our own planes one day. It's a pretty effective system. I wish I hadn't done as good a job on that video.
It is only natural to fail to plan for all eventualities, especially bad ones. I suppose the thought was, Egypt will always be an ally, so let's help them out. Never would we elect a President who would take the side of anti-western forces like the Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-freedom Islamists, as Robert Spencer discusses in a recent post.
Now it seems possible that Egypt may go the way of Iran. We still hold out hope that it will be a secular government that holds freedom in high regard, but there have been a lot of people in the streets of Cairo calling for renewed war against Israel and the U.S. -- enough of them to give me pause.
There are always the dangers of unintended consequences, which is what Star Trek's Prime Directive was all about preventing. Unfortunately Thomas Jefferson and La Fayette were born before Paramount studios was founded, because they went to France to help them overthrow their monarchy after we had our American revolution. Great ideals, but somehow our export went bad there, and you ended up with the best of times and the worst of times, and Napoleon in Egypt, getting ready to crown himself Emperor one day. Sure, we eventually purchased Louisiana from Napoleon for a trifle, but there were a lot of decapitated heads that got us to that point.
And we seem to keep making these sorts of mistakes.
I am by no means a George-Washington-style isolationist, but it seems to me that we have gone way beyond "engagement" and landed somewhere deep into dumb-ass Star Trek Nazi episode territory.
I refer, of course, to the episode Patterns of Force. A fellow named John Gill introduces to a developing planet the concept of National Socialism. Of course, he was only going to give them just the good parts of Nazism (?), eschewing the bad stuff. But things go horribly wrong. Fortunately, Desilu Studios already had plenty of German WWII uniforms in its warehouse, so the episode's budget was acceptably low. Regardless, the whole episode was all about why the Prime Directive is a good thing, which the original series forgot over and over, just like we do.
Like in this other episode ("Omega Glory"), where Shatner gets to give this big speech after meddling in the affairs of some extraterrestrial culture, which luckily is clothed in Desilu Studio's leftover caveman costumes:
Somehow the U.S. Constitution was developed coincidentally on another planet light-years away from Earth.
We should never inflict upon other cultures this sort of mangled speaking style. It may be turned against us one day.
Update: Looks like Mubarak is fighting back like a dictator, with thugs. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the muslim Brotherhood wants Egyptians to prepare for war with Israel" and there's plenty of Anti-Israel Imagery in the Riots.
Stacy McCain's got some good reportage and snark from his undisclosed bunker: Crisis in Cairo Continues: Egyptians Ignore Obama, Resort to Violence
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