I am visiting my family in Northern Virginia. Sitting by a small spring-fed lake in this very peaceful neighborhood on the outskirts of our Nation’s Capital, I am reading the local papers, following international news on the internet and talking to some of my old friends on the phone as I catch up on world news. Hearing and reading the almost daily news stories about Afghan soldiers killing our troops who are there to train them for a better future; hearing the fascist leader Ahmedinejad of Iran hatefully declaring “The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists.” As I deeply worry about what is to come in the next few months, I keep thinking about the motto of the First Marine Division I am personally familiar with; “No Better Friend; No Worse Enemy”.
It is said that General James N. Mattis, the current commander of the United States Central Command popularized this slogan for his command which was originally coined by Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 BC – 78 BC), known commonly as Sulla. He was a Roman general and statesman with the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice as well as that of dictator. He is said to have written these words as his own epitaph in 78 BC. His original words were “No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full.”
What does it mean to be someone’s “No better friend?” As far as I am concerned, no better friend is someone who will do everything to protect you; someone who will not be afraid of giving his or her own life for you; someone who will always be there in your times of trouble, caring for you and your problems and will sacrifice himself or herself to make sure you get through your problems.
What does it mean to be someone’s “No worse enemy?” In my opinion, no worst enemy would be someone who will not hesitate to go after wrong-doers because they have harmed him, his friends or his country. He may end up destroying himself or herself in the process but will not hesitate to go after the wrong-doers to the ends of the earth.
For many years America and Americans enjoyed unusually good and friendly relations with the peoples of most nations around the world who themselves aspired for the freedoms we enjoyed here. America willingly and generously shared the wealth and knowledge she possessed with these nations and peoples. American people, as citizens of a young nation of only a hundred or more years, had accomplished more than the rest of the world did in a thousand years. We were the envy of the world. When people from many nations asked for America’s help, she gave it willingly and without any reservation. Americans shed their blood in the process of freeing millions from the hands of ruthless dictators in far-away places. America was their best friend, they could find no better. When friends of America were ever harmed and they asked for her help; Americans were there to help with all their might. Those who harmed America’s friends found out very quickly that we were their worst enemy, bar none! The world trusted America and the Americans without any reservation.
Take a look around the world now. There are trouble spots everywhere; it looks like we are on the verge of a worldwide conflict and only a handful of countries consider us their friend and trust our word. What happened? Why we are not trusted anymore? Could it be because we entered into a number of conflicts to help our friends but left in a hurry without finishing the job? Could it be because we shed our enemy’s blood, lost many of our own in the process, yet rushed home prematurely, leaving our friends in the hands of their enemies to be tortured, maimed or killed?
Today, a Syrian dictator is murdering his own people by the hundreds without any nation or leader around the world lifting a finger to stop them. The government of Iran, which is very close to producing a nuclear weapon under the noses of an apathetic Western world, is declaring their desire to “wipe Israel off the face of the world” is helping this Syrian dictator. As America and the rest of the Western nations watch feebly, other dictators are once again emerging and ruling all over South America; Chavez in Venezuela, Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina and the ever present Castro family in Cuba. There seems to be a complete lack of leadership around the world. America is no longer considered to be the “No better friend…No worse enemy…” to resolve conflicts and give comfort and aid to those in need. All of a sudden America and Americans seem tired of helping those who do not seem to help themselves.
For nearly twenty years, Iran has been working feverishly and openly to get a nuclear weapon. Other than the occasional lip-service from a weak and ineffective United Nations and seemingly unenforceable sanctions from the United States and the leaderless West, nothing has been done to stop this mad and furious march towards Armageddon in the Middle East. Our one and only real friend in the area, Israel is left wondering what happened to their “No better friend…No worse enemy…” In reality, Israel may have already decided that they are their own best friend and their adversaries’ worst enemy and they may have to take care of this one alone. After all it is their lives that are at stake; it is their children’s future in question and it is the very existence of their country in the balance. Israel may take decisive action in Iran within the next few months, most probably before our November 6 elections for political and geopolitical reasons. The consequences and end results of such an action are completely unpredictable at this point in time.
PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) terrorists have taken positions in Northern Syria along the Turkish border and are supported by Iran. Director of National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee has acknowledged that blasts in Syrian cities since last December “had all the earmarks of an Al-Qaeda-like attack.” Al-Qaeda and some of their local operators are now part and parcel of the Syrian rebel groups. The murderous government of Syria is being propped up by the mullahs of Iran and despots of Russia. The area is now a highly powerful explosive powder keg as it has never been and a match is getting ready to be struck very soon. Maybe sooner than we all think.
As I sit under these old and graceful oak trees by the shores of this peaceful lake early this morning, only ten minutes away from the center of the world where critical decisions are being made or not being made; I am anxiously wondering if I will be sitting here same time next year pondering what happened, why it happened and if it could all have been avoided.
I do miss America being “No better friend… No worst enemy…” of everyone around the world.
Tarik Ayasun is Vice Chair of the Code Enforcement Board and President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors, he has given many years of community service to various organizations.