Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why not Let President Obama Collect the Peace Prize?

The Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee is worried. What if they throw a celebration and Liu Xiaobo, the honoree, can't attend? He is in jail. The Chinese authorities apparently won't let his wife attend in his place, nor apparently any of his friends will accept in his place. So what to do?

I recommend asking President Obama to attend and accept on Liu's behalf. Why not? The Committee gave Obama the Prize last year, somewhat prematurely one might say, and what has he done for World Peace?

American soldiers are still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq with no end in sight. One would be hard put to point the finger at any one spot on earth where his administration has been able to lower tension rather than raising the temperature.

Since President Obama has rendered the previously award rather pointless, adding another won't matter.

Like the Committee, I had harbored fond hopes that the election of Obama meant a different America. Unfortunately, he and his administration has not been able to break from the past.

The neoconpoop* mentality held over from the Bush Administration continue to dictate the foreign policy thinking of the current one. In other words, we still think of ourselves as the self-annointed champion of democracy and supreme ruler of the world.

In the meantime, our federal budget is bleeding red ink and our young men and women bleeding real blood. Increasing number of our allies dare to disagree with our views and are pulling out of troubled spots and leaving behind the Americans with perhaps a handful of Brits to put out the fires.

Obama's opposition fresh from electoral victories big and small has avowed that their top priority is to make sure Obama does not get re-elected in 2012. No one seems to care about getting anything done in the meantime that would rectify many of America's pressing afflictions.

Obama's recent trip to Asia did not accomplish much nor cover him with glory. He certainly can expect to do better with a quick swing to Oslo. Since he won't have to take along a huge entourage, the trip won't give cause for his opponents to make astronomical exaggeration of the bill to taxpayers.

And the Norwegians can still have their party, even with a familiar name brand.
* neoconpoop is abbreviation for neoconservative nincompoop.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Diaoyu Controversy Festers

Since the Chinese fishing trawler collided with Japanese Coast Guard vessel off the Diaoyu islands, the crew was detained, the captain arrested, China protested then tourism to Japan dried up and rare earth exports halted and finally the captain was released without charges. However, the bilateral tension and dispute continues today.

A recently released video clip taken from the coast guard ship strongly suggested that the ship swerved in front of the trawler in an attempt to stop the forward motion of the fishing boat. Since two objects cannot occupy the same space, the collision became inevitable. Claiming that Chinese trawler deliberately rammed the coast guard vessels seemed a bit of a stretch.

A more enlightened summary of the incident and dispute has been written by Professor Jerome Cohen in the Council of Foreign Affairs. It is recommended reading for those interested in the history behind the dispute.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sure way to win in politics: Blame it on China

America is abuzz over the TV commercial running on national networks by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). In an ominous ad projected into 2030 and in a style reminiscent of Apple’s sledgehammer Super Bowl ad, the message is saying that federal government debt and waste is killing this country.

But the most obvious villains in the piece are not the Americans responsible for the mess but the dastardly Chinese. In 2030, the Chinese listening to the lecture in this commercial are chortling in delight at America as the most recent failed state to enter the trash bin of history joining the British Empire, Rome and Greece.

Actually, I have also reached the same conclusion that America is approaching that of a failed state. I just wasn’t smart enough to connect the dots and put the blame on China.

I see politicians lack the courage to tell the unpleasant truths that cutting taxes is no sure cure to economic revival, that continuous warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq is bringing America to ruin, and that allowing the Ponzi schemes on Wall Street to multiply and get too big to fail is destroying the credibility of the dollar.

I don’t see our leaders prescribing actions for the benefit of our country. I see the policy makers piling on national debt to be paid by future generations. By making the dollar worth less with time, I believe they are hoping to pay the mounting national debt with cheaper dollars. Shame on them if that’s what they are thinking.

A guest on NPR estimated that over $4 billion will be spent on campaign financing for this off year election, a ghastly increase of around 35% over the total spent for the last presidential election. Issues have been tossed aside in favor of 15-second, attack sound bites cloaked in half truths and outright lies financed by hidden donors.

The way to win elections is to raise overwhelming lot of money and fill the air with negative and even hateful messages and hope that enough sticks to tar the opposing candidate and carry the day. America is now a model of sham-o-cracy, not democracy.

In a Fox interview following the repeated airing of the CAGW ad, Donald Trump declared, “This country is in serious trouble.” I heartily agree. But then he goes on to say, “The Chinese are making everything. They are smart and they are cunning.”

The Fox anchor proceeded to gush to Mr. Trump in admiration, “Sounds like you are getting ready to run for president.”

Wow. This country is in even more trouble than I thought. Just think, all our troubles will go away if we just blame the Chinese. Blame them loud enough and one can even sound presidential. If I were the Chinese, I wouldn’t wait till 2030, but would unload the trillion dollars they are holding now.

A version appeared in New America Media.