Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The View from Abroad
With Dick Cheney roaring the benefits of torturing foreign citizens and right-wingers upset with President Obama's projection of American power abroad, it's a good time to see how things are playing overseas.
To that end, highwayscribery is going to translate an article penned by Jorge Ramos Avalos from today's "Diario San Diego."
Ramos, for those of you not versed in Latin American culture, is a Mexican journalist of enormous prestige whose reputation is derived from his objectivity, lack of ideological prerogatives, breadth of culture and coverage in the southern hemisphere.
That's him next to Ana de la Reguera, about whom we know little other than that her image is worthy of reproduction.
In "The End of Big Brother," Ramos writes that Obama's appearance at the recent confab of Latin American leaders in Trinidad and Tobago, "broke prejudices and schemes that, in some cases, took decades to construct."
On that trip, Ramos observes, Obama agreed to deal with the Cuban dictatorship, a novelty not witnessed in 50 years. He shook the hand of Hugo Chavez in spite of prior insults directed at him and in contrast to his predecessor who "hid" from the Venezuelan.
Obama, he continues, treated Mexico as an equal, jettisoning an era of U.S. congressional "certifications' of that country's efforts to deal with its [our] drug problem.
"He promised change and that's what we're seeing," Ramos wrote. "In just two days time, Obama launched a completely new policy toward Latin America."
Of course, this is what has the right-wingers so upset. Great fans of the "global" economy, their understanding is that all its participants be subservient to U.S. interests. When flashpoints arise from the hatred this unilateralism breeds, the redneck analysis is that they "hate freedom."
What they hate is something quite the opposite.
Ramos views Obama's perspective as one of give and take: That the U.S. won't stick its nose in the affairs of Latin America, but will not accept the blame for all its ills.
The prior approach, still a favorite at FOX News, was to interfere and deny the effects of that interference.
In Cuba, Obama is trying something different than his 10 predecessors, all of whom failed in their efforts to dislodge the Castro regime from power.
In an interview with Ramos, the president said, "During the past 50 years the status quo has failed to promote liberty or democracy in Cuba and I'm ready to try some new things in an effort to break up the old bosses."
Unwilling or, as we know from this side of the border, unable to renew a ban on the assault weapons causinng Mexican law enforcement so much trouble, Ramos noted that Obama has proposed to Mexican President Felipe Calderon, "a relationship of mutual responsibility, of partners in a process."
The "Univision" tele-journalist said Obama reasserted his position that "round-ups" of illegal immigrants in the U.S. solve nothing and that he has communicated this sentiment to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"I can't promise immigration reform," the president told Ramos, "because the outcome is not mine alone to determine, but it is mine to initiate a process and that I promise to do."
These items are music to the ears of our southern neighbors. Our own southerners, clumped into the Republican Party as the are, have long viewed foreign agreement with our international policy as evidence of failure, but Obama has a different understanding of the way it should work.
Ramos sees this in Obama's familiarity with soccer, which he played during that part of his childhood lived in Indonesia, and his desire to prod a return of the World Cup to the U.S. in 2018 or 2020.
"Obama no longer wants the U.S. to be the hemisphere's big brother," observes Ramos,
''except when it comes to soccer, which he wants to invite everyone to his house to play."
For conservatives who feel their world overrun by federal takeovers of financial institutions and the imagined avalanche of gay marriages eroding our nation's moral fiber, Ramos' conclusion should serve as salve:
"In spite of Obama's best intentions, it will be hard to forget that, in may ways, the United States still owns the soccer ball."
And that should make for a Happy Hannity.