Rusia (Russia) is in Suria (Syria). The names of these two countries are made up of the same Arabic letters.

According to Larbi Sadiki, senior lecturer in Middle East politics at England’s University of Exeter, the interchange of these names and letters means more than word play for anagram enthusiasts. Russia’s presence in Syria is seen as both an enemy and an opportunity.

Russia and China are at their best when preventing a country or individuals from gaining the slightest bit of freedom from an oppressor. Liberty is elusive for the masses, the 99-percenters.

What the media calls the phenomenon of the “Arab Spring” shows no signs of dying out. The desire for change of government is greater than ever.

What appeared months ago as an isolated barnyard fire “the other side of nowhere” is exploding into a worldwide conflagration.

Different protests for various and often unclear reasons are showing again the underdogs’ desire to be free, respected and treated as fellow human beings.

Freedom, in its various forms, is manifesting itself more and more by those saying, “Enough!” Toleration of the ruling elite is at an end.

In each country the story line has been different, blurred to a degree by those seeking freedom yet unwilling to agree among themselves how to better the situation.

The United States is blessed beyond its wildest imaginations. This land is built upon centuries of the development of laws rather than the whims of an autocrat. Our history has been free of despots (with the exception of some money moguls, who fortunately never held the reins of government).

But the vast majority of the rest of the world’s peoples are still headed by evil, “me or the highway” maniacal dictators, ruling with iron fists and no thought for the “little people.”

Anyone who has read a high school history book knows what eventually happens to glorious empires.

Check the list: Aztecs, Incas, Ottomans, Pharaohs, Assyrian, Medes and Persians, Alexander and the Greeks, Rome, Hitler’s 1,000-year reign, 2,500 years of numberless Chinese empires, and who knows how many African empires.

Go even farther back in history to the Hittite warrior-kings of the Bronze Age. They were the first to set up imperial institutions later copied by the Romans and now the United States.

They established military colonies, constructed road systems and were adept at imposing vassal treaties. (For more of ancient civilizations, see studies of Kenneth W. Harl, Tulane University.)

What could be the lessons for our land of the free and home of the brave? We could begin by not sending troops to Syria. No more secret agents tooling around that country or anywhere else. Shut down bases still operating in Iraq. Call a halt to Afghanistan since Osama bin Laden is dead.

(We seem to have forgotten why we went there. Not to invade or fight anyone – just catch the guy responsible for Sept. 11, 2001). And follow that up by closing as fast as possible most of the 700-plus Army, Naval and Air Force bases around the world.

By such actions, we let the world (especially Russia and China) know the U.S. is not interested in an “American Empire.” America can break that chain of empire failures.

Britt Towery is a former missionary to China. He lives in San Angelo, Texas. This column also appeared in the San Angelo Standard-Times.

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