Sunday, August 18, 2013

I’m not speaking to you

I was one of those optimists when President Obama was first elected.  Worn down by 8 too many years of George W and hopeful that a new administration would translate to new ways of doing things; and in fairness, some things have been new.  I’m sure paying much more for my health care than ever before, so that’s different.  Thinking back to that first election following the George W stint, I recall the Republican candidates all trying to avoid being painted as “Busch Lite”.  So it is with irony and chagrin, that in some ways, our Democratic president might have taken a sip of “Busch Lite” in his foreign policy.

We teach our children that if you have a problem with someone, to talk to them.  Ditto for advice in the workplace and general living – if you have a problem with someone, talk with them.  Yet when it comes to something as important as relationships among nations, somehow the same rule is not applied.  Instead, we get into continued pettiness – they did this, so we aren't going to talk to them; they did that, so we aren’t going to the Olympics.  Even if you don’t believe reconciliation is possible, there is much truth to that saying of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.  Governing from a position of strength means you do what’s right, regardless of the polls or how the other party will spin it; you do what’s right, because it is the right thing and you can withstand the unwarranted criticisms that will follow because you are strong.

Frankly, I don’t think Putin is given the respect that he deserves.  Russia is sovereign country and perhaps the US needs to come to grip with the reality that we don’t rule the world; we are merely a citizen in it.  I recall one of the comments attributed to Putin shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attack was in essence that the US needs to figure out who its friends are (making reference to the number of Saudis involved in the the terrorist attacks).  During that era, George W referring on many occasions to “our friends, the Saudis”… sort of like our friends today, the Pakistanis, who really helped us out with dealing with Osama (yes, I’m being facetious).  Meanwhile, our sanctimonious vocal minority want to suggest that perhaps the US should boycott the 2014 Olympics in Russia, pointing to “human rights issues” in addition to the Snowden in Russia beef.  Perhaps, we should compare the Russian human rights records with “our friends”.  I don’t think the Saudis, Afghanis, Iraqis or Pakistanis are shining examples when it comes to human rights.  I’m wondering if any of these friends would be willing to host a Pussy Riot concert or sanction a gay marriage.  I’m quite doubtful that they would.

In the meantime, President Obama, pick up the phone, call Putin.  You’re an excellent smoozer, lay on the charm and let Vladimir know that you’ll see him in Sochi in 2014 for vodka.  And if things are getting too stressful in the Oval Office, call Hillary first; she cares about you.  After all, she did offer to get you a pillow during those debates.  Have the courage to rise above the insanity of doing the same thing the same way, yet expecting a different result.  Call Kim and invite him to a NBA gave; he can sit next to Rodman if he wants (I’m sure Dennis would oblige).  Who knows, maybe Kim will respond and go Gangnam Style at half time.  While you’re dialing, don’t forget our neighbor, Fidel.  You don’t have to date him, but a Christmas card might be a nice touch.  I realize these proposed overtures may appear simplistic, but maybe simple is better.  Aloha, Mr. President.

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