Archive for the ‘foreign policy’ Category

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rebuffs Obama’s peace message

March 22, 2009

In a video message on March 20, 2009, Pres. Barack Obama tried to reach out to Iran, reminding the hard-line Islamic country to show its greatness not by way of arms, but through peaceful means.

His offer to normalize relations with the mullah-dominated country is a campaign promise he had to fulfill—a radical digression from Pres. George W. Bush’s policy of non-negotiation towards a regime known to be part of the “axis of evil” that threatens to wipe out Israel.

Obama’s peaceful diplomacy is what most of the Western world wanted. Yet, this presidential gesture delivered in time for the Persian new year of Nowruz is looked upon as a form of “surrender” which the “hard” Muslims expect from the “soft” Americans. Iran thinks the United States, saddled by economic problems, is wearied by terrorism and preoccupied by the Iraqi and Afghan wars; it doesn’t have the enough strength to fight. That’s why Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to rebuff the US president.

“He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed…Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged.” —-Yahoo News/ AP (03/21/09, Dareini, A)

Iran finds a new sense of self-importance learning of Obama’s conciliatory stance to patch up the strained relations between the two countries. Denying terrorism and the Iran’s race to produce nuclear arms, Khamenei lashed on Obama by mentioning a litany of Iran’s grievances against the United States.

Amid calls of “Death to America” from his audience, the cleric-leader dwelt on long standing hostilities since diplomatic ties were severed after the fall of the pro-US Shah government about 30 years ago.

Many have some inkling on know how the Iranians are taking Obama’s peace overtures. Iranians opposed to the cleric-controlled government may support him. But others may look at his peace suggestion as a sign of weakness. Like other warlike Muslims in other parts of the world, Iranians don’t respect a man who looks like a wimp even if he is the president of the United States. (Photo Credit: Polyphake; Photon Trap)=0=

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“Win or lose, after the election we go shopping.”

October 29, 2008

Except for the people of Georgia and the Philippines, CNN reveals, seventy-five percent (75%) of the world wants Sen. Barack Obama to be the next US president.

The Fil-Am Democrat (FLD,) who spoke of ethnic “ignorance” and cautioned her kababayans that “a nation of bigoted fools is hopeless” raged over the support for Sen. John McCain. As a continuation of my blog: “On Filipino’s support for McCain: This goes deeper than ignorance,” on October 24, 2008, I proceed to think more on the Filipino. See what we have and you decide.

The Georgians

The small East European country with 6 million people allied with the United States was recently invaded by Russia. Georgians probably wanted a candidate like Sen. McCain with experience to help them deal with their problem with Russia.

What do Filipinos want?

Pres. Bill Clinton’s popular catch words “It’s the economy, stupid!” helped him win over the republican Pres. George H. W.Bush Sr.

It’s the economy again, but this time, Filipinos seriously weigh in on homeland security, the war on terror, religious freedom, illegal aliens, foreign policy, social security, taxation, healthcare, education, abortion, same-sex marriage, global warming, and stem cell research. That’s hell of a lot to think about.

Everybody knows the future of American is at stake. Tied with their moral values, they face conflicting issues in their way of life which are difficult to reconcile. At the risk of losing hold of their American dream, they have to decide with their moral stand, relying on what they hear from family and friends, church, media and workplace. Like any voter, they are vulnerable to misread the election issues and decide against their own respective interests.

Religion & Tradition

There are those who think religion isn’t needed in America anymore. The liberal extremists assert tradition is blasé and counterproductive. They want to ban prayers in school. They protest the mention of God in government. They trash the Christmas tree, efface the “In God We Trust” in the US currency, and prohibit the Christ’s birthday scene display in public. To advance abortion and same-sex marriage, they push on redefining life and the meaning marriage, hoping to change the constitution.

Many Filipinos don’t agree. Families decry the assault of liberalism on morals and ethics. They worry on the effects of secularist relativism for themselves and their growing children. They recognize the contribution of religious believers in the building of America. Rejecting corruption and injustice, many quietly abide with Pope Benedict XVI, the Orthodox Christians, denominational Christian sects, and other faiths including the Muslims and Jews.

US & Philippine Politics

The US election reflects the politics in the Philippines. The ACORN voter registration fraud in USA is just as deplorable as the “Hello Garci” scandal of Gloria M. Arroyo and the Joc Joc Bolante election money diversion.

There is hypocrisy, corruption, and distortions hurled on both sides. The manipulation of public opinion through massive campaign spending and eloquent talk has made it hard to ascertain truth.

Filipinos find it hard to buy on promises of change without action. But surely there are those who put their trust on promises. In the crisis that damaged the credibility of the financial system, they have a schizophrenic view of the motives of leaders. They are disappointed and angered for even the retired economics guru Alan Greenspan admitted his mistake in handling the economy.

The financial bailout of $700 billion seems not enough to solve the economic meltdown which some say comes every hundred years. The economy continues to be volatile. Federal Reserves chairman Ben Shalom Bernanke and Treasury secretary Henry Paulson struggle to bring the economy on track. Yet, even with resiliency and optimism, Americans ask if the new president can deliver.

But Filipinos aren’t that politically engaged. They rather stay on the side to focus on their personal lives, work hard to recoup the lost time to advance their dream and that of their families. They are ambivalent to vote for a candidate with grandiose promises, questionable past, and unproven track record of service. Yet, they also worry about a president coming from the ranks of old politics.

“Redistribution of Wealth”

Counted among the successful migrants in America, Filipinos play by the rules. They work hard in the tradition of free enterprise. Many avoid the greed and corruption they see in their native land and they hurt when they see it happen in Washington and Wall Street.

They believe honest job gets rewarded better than being idle and lazy. They know competition is a force which drives people to advance in the social ladder; they frown on dole-outs which encourage indolence. Their friends and relatives who have not seen the gruelling work in America may not agree with them.

Unlike the 12 million aliens who gate-crashed USA, majority of Filipinos waited for years working legally to become integrated and become citizens. Taking the capitalist mindset to pursue the American dream, they look at government’s sudden interest in private property with suspicion.

The candidate who wants to intrude into private money by “spreading wealth” isn’t what successful Filipino migrants desire in spite of the fact that sharing wealth abides with their Christian beliefs. In some ways, they want other people to share America’s pie, but they want them to respect the law and work by the rules.

Filipinos are unwilling to be dictated by politicians on what to do with their health insurance, retirement money, savings, investments, and 401Ks. They desire to do charity in their own terms. Socialist liberals, riding on many cash-strapped Americans needing financial help are tempted to tap and give away money to “level the playing field.” Filipinos know the devil lies in the details of a drastic plan and they ask if an elected official(s) can have a blank check using tax-payers’ money to reprogram society.

Broken Promises & Taking Responsibility

Pres. Bill Clinton didn’t fulfill his promise on universal healthcare. Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda grew in strength and the stock market ballooned into a bubble which ruptured almost at the end of his term.

Clinton didn’t correct the warped and corrupt business practices of Wall Street in his time, paving the way for its collapse, damaging the finances of ordinary people in the Main Street.

The immorality in the Monica Lewinsky affair almost kicked Clinton by impeachment. In spite of approving reviews from democrats, he didn’t take enough responsibility as the people expected. The same frustration apply to Pres. George W. Bush and the “do nothing” warring officials of the senate and congress.

The credit card and mortgage debts are out of hand. Americans live beyond their means. The government has not exercised enough oversight and the moral guardians are losing sway over the people’s sense of right and wrong.

Greedy investors and financial managers have signed in borrowers worse than the loan scammers in the Philippines. Those who can’t pay for their homes dodge their complicity by leaving blame to mortgage lenders and the government. Responsible citizens don’t think this way.

With this mess, who then will the public vote? Those who are buried in debt and joblessness root for a promised savior-president, but Filipinos are more pragmatic. Maybe they heard of financier Bernard Baruch’s advice: “Vote for the man who promises least. He’ll be the least disappointing.”

Partisan Media

The media spread truth and lies. The public has become the captive of its bias and agenda. The media failed to vet on Obama’s background which citizens need to know. Instead, they drum up inanities which distract the focus of the electorate. By pounding on anti-American themes throughout the Bush administration, the media have succeeded in demonizing USA around the world. With huge latitude to control information, it’s easy for them to influence the thinking of the people here and abroad.

Against the majority, many take a detached and independent stand against the media’s excesses. There is lopsidedness in the information stream from the liberal New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN against the underdog conservative defenders in Fox News and the rightist talk radio announcers. Filipinos ask, “How sure are you that the media give you the right information?” Is it any wonder the US newspapers have suffered dropping readership and many Americans don’t turn on their TV anymore?

Movie Stars & Celebrity Politics

Hollywood has joined the political fray too. Filipinos have seen it happen in the Philippines. Talk show hosts like Jay Leno, movie star Barbra Streisand, TV darling Oprah Winfrey, singer Madonna, lesbian comediennes Ellen de Generes and Rosie O’ Donnell, atheist and anti-religion Richard Dawkins, and secularist anti-conservative movie director Michael Moore rein over liberalism while conservatism and traditional family values aren’t given a fair shake to express itself.

The culture these celebrities promote is not what Filipinos can easily take—bait, hook, and sinker. Many believe they can better rely on themselves about how they’ll conduct their lives than trust the movie stars.

The prospect of a USA rising under a liberal president seems dampened by a silent fear of an economically and culturally waning America whose moral moorings is fast fading. Conservative Americans and Filipinos are worried by the change in society (for the better or worse.) Even the academics from universities are viewed with distrust; in their erudition they have their own self interest to pursue.

Foreign Vote in the US Election

With Obama’s African ancestry, people abroad hope he will somehow think like his Kenyan forebears and have sympathies for the cause of the outside world. Those who harbor anti-American sentiments find Obama likeable against McCain for being an “extension” of Pres. Bush. Foreigners have generously donated money in Obama’s campaign chest counting that their interest will be served if he gets elected.

Race Issue

In the privacy of their homes and in the tone of their humor, there are as much racial undertones that Filipinos are willing to admit. It also goes true with the Americans, but perhaps lesser. Lacking multiracial exposure compared to those who have been in USA longer, Filipinos are still more likely to favor a white man to be president, but this can change. A combination of simple preference, ignorance, colonial mentality, and bigotry are to blame if they vote solely on the basis of race.

You Decide

Think seriously where you stand on the issues. Decide wisely. The economy is important as the questions on where the culture of America is going— the milieu in which our children will live in the future. Resilient and adaptable, I expect all of us will accept whoever wins. We must be prepared to enjoy or suffer the consequences which go with the decision. As Imelda Marcos said in her uncanny wry humor, “win or lose, after the election, we go shopping.”

Photo Credits: wwww.hamburg.mi.us; amobb; wishymom; mariozucca; Amm; leeKlement; j-walkblog; ahurey; chuckumentary) =0=

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Richard Lugar Praises Obama on Foreign Policy

October 15, 2008

Republican Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar and a prominent member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in his speech at the National Defense University that there are benefits to talking with enemies of the US, as against use of military force.

Generally, Lugar praised Barack Obama who John McCain called “naive” for saying that as US President he would talk with the likes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Isolation does not resolve contentious issues, Lugar added in agreement with Obama’s line. In campaign speeches in a presidential debate, Obama repeatedly says that, while he does not take military option off the table, not talking to an enemy regime as a form of punishment does not make sense. Lugar rebuked McCaine by saying that exclusive use of isolation or military force in dealing with enemies of America may not be desirable. “In some cases, refusing to talk can even be dangerous.”

McCain recently took a flack when he turned cold shoulder on the prospect of meeting the Prime Minister of Spain. Spain’s sin: it pulled out its troops from Iraq when the US-initiated invasion started to get messy and unpopular. Since that time, President Bush has snubbed Spain’s leaders, a cue apparently not lost to Senator McCain.

Noting recent diplomatic success in dealing with North Korea, Lugar suggested further diplomatic engagement with Syria and Iran. He suggested though that McCain may be right when the Republican nominee warned that “there are times when diplomatic approaches to rogue regimes have little efficacy.”

In July, one Obama campaign ad mentioned Lugar by name and Lugar says he is “pleased” to have worked with the Democratic nominee on nuclear proliferation issues.

We here in the Philippines remember then Congressman Richard Lugar as the head of a US conressional committee who attempted and failed to broker a deal betwen President Ferdinand Marcos and Cory Aquino as the Marcos regime started to crumble in the aftermath of Ninoy Aquino assassination. At that time, Marcos was a SOB but “he is our SOB.” Incidentally, Obama promises not to have none of these SOBs.