The month of August saw the release of the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Party Platforms just in time for the election season. Party Platforms are generally political manifestos that outline the party's general positions on topics considered most pertinent to the current political climate. Platforms rarely say anything that those faithful to the party aren't already aware of, but for those on the fence, it can be illuminating to have the issues clearly outlined. Now, perhaps, is as good a time as any for us to compare the party's respective foreign policy positions.
The Global Citizen
After much anticipation and media-baiting, Obama's camp finally made their first pivotal chess move in the 2008 election process. The announcement of Senator Joseph Biden as a running mate was made via text message to supporters at three in the morning, just hours after it had already been confirmed by major news sources.
By now, most of us have heard the mainstream media's various rationalizations for Obama's VP choice. Biden, the son of a Scranton, Pennsylvania car salesman hails from a working class background, thus he may pull in the white working class voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Biden has a "solid pro-Israel record" according to at least one major Jewish organization; this will please Jewish voters. And Biden is the quintessential "everyman"; neither flashy nor terribly sophisticated, he will surely help play down Obama's perceived elitism.
But some believe that the greatest asset that the Senator brings to the ticket is experience and expertise in foreign policy. Having spent 36 years, nearly three decades in the Senate, Biden chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, co-chairs the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, and has also been a longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has a a long and extensive background in foreign affairs, particularly Eastern European and Middle East politics.
The whole world turned its eye on Beijing this August in what many were led to believe would be a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit. This summer's Olympics were certainly host to an array of extraordinary athletic achievements. Even I, not at all an avid sports fan, found myself taken in by the spectacle, and particularly by'standout athletes like American swimmer Michael Phelps, who has made his country more than proud.
But as the Olympic flame blew out on Sunday many began to look back on the 2008 Beijing Olympics and wonder what legacy it will leave in its wake. Sadly, the athletic accomplishments of many will be overshadowed by the fact that these Games were little about sports and more about politics, greed, and deception as the international community complicity gave credence to a hostile regime that is fundamentally undemocratic and steeped in human rights abuses and atrocities. The motto for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics was, ironically, "One World, One Dream", chosen out of 210,000 submissions submitted worldwide. Unfortunately, this 'dream' is far from realizable for many of the world's poorest and oppressed and the Olympic host country, far from fostering this dream, continues to exacerbate global inequality with each passing year. We, here are at GlobalSolutions.org, are primarily concerned with China's position on two critical issues: Darfur and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Much has been made in the past week of the ongoing talks in South Africa by delegates of Zimbabwe's feuding parties, Zanu-PF and MDC, to negotiate an end to the country's current political crisis. Talks are coming on the heels of what has been a turbulent three months following the controversial March 29th general elections.
Historians are of the opinion that President George W. Bush will go down in the books as possibly the worst president of the United States. Polls published by CNN suggest that Bush is also the most unpopular president in America's history. Americans gave Mr. Bush a 70% disapproval rating on how he is handling his job as the Nation's leader.
This summer I traveled to Japan after indefatigably working for two months to save up for a two way ticket and a JR train pass. During the three weeks of my stay I came across many new and interesting cultural quirks. For example the Japanese make a point slurp as loudly as they can when eating noodles as eating quietly may offend the cook or when going up the escalator they stand on the left side and pass on the right. Another is when a Japanese person wishes to express his or her gratitude, they lightly bow their head.
I also got a chance to become more acquainted with Japan's fascinating history which is given so little attention in both American and European public schools. In Tokyo I visited the Edo Museum which illustrated the highly sectarian society existing in Japan until the second half of the 19 century. In Kyoto I went to a local museum dedicated to the life of their national idol: Sakamoto Ryoma, the man who fought for the westernization of Japan, which allowed it to become a world power. A stop in one of the cities, however, left a heavy feeling. Though more than half a century has passed since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the United States, killing 140,000 people and razing 90 percent of the buildings, there remains a kind of melancholy, unpleasant aura amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
They say if you want to get to the truth of something, get it straight from the horse's mouth. If one wanted to get to the truth of the ongoing genocide in Darfur by its closest witnesses, one would have done well to attend the "Voices from Darfur: A Call to Action" event that took place on Saturday in DC. Hosted by Africa Action, the nation's oldest advocacy organization working on African affairs, the event was held at the Sankofa Caf' in northwest DC, just across the road from Howard University.
S. 3294 - Advance America's Priorities Act, the so-called 'Coburn Omnibus' bill, containing 35 pieces of bipartisan legislation, was killed in the Senate yesterday after failing to receive enough cloture votes. The vote to consider the bill amounted 52 to 40, eight votes shy of the 60 required. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada had aligned together a laundry list of measures that Oklahoma Senator 'Dr. No' Tom Coburn has attempted to hold or stop completely for the last year. Considered non-controversial and near unanimous support in the house, this bill has gained attention mainly due to the slow progress in the Senate during the 110th Congress, with a focus on Senator Coburn's relentless obstruction. Reid's spokesman Jim Manley said, "Things have gotten so bad that Republican senators have approached Sen. Reid to ask that their bills be included in the package." Explaining the bill and the political situation at hand, Senator Reid's wrote to President Bush and fellow members of Congress:
"Mr. President, today I am joining with Senators Leahy, Lieberman, Feinstein, Inouye, Kennedy, Boxer, and Biden, to introduce an important bill, with provisions in a variety of areas - from advancing medical research in critical areas, to cracking down on child exploitation, to promoting important U.S. foreign policy goals, to helping improve America's understanding about the oceans. What unites this diverse package of bills" One thing - unprecedented obstructionism. Here are just a few examples of the legislation that this bill includes - and that Republicans are preventing from becoming law:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke today on Iranian national television about the role of the United Nations in nuclear disarmament. Like with North Korea and India, the United States has attempted to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program and to open its plants to international inspection. But unlike these countries Iran remained indifferent to the entreaties. In exchange for Iran's cooperation in suspending its uranium enrichment program, the United States promised to ease economic and diplomatic sanctions it has imposed on Iran for the past decade.
Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Barack Obama was criticized by the McCain campaign for not having visited the Middle East, which they believed displayed a lack of foreign policy intelligence and experience. So, Obama and his campaign scheduled meetings in Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Kuwait to show that he is directly informed and has had personal contact with American troops.