Archive for Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama says reaching out to enemies strengthens U.S.

April 20, 2009


— Defending his brand of world politics, President Barack Obama said Sunday that he “strengthens our hand” by reaching out to enemies of the United States and making sure that the nation is a leader, not a lecturer, of democracy.

Obama’s foreign doctrine emerged across his four-day trip to Latin America, his first extended venture to a region of the world where resentment of U.S. power still lingers. He got a smile, handshakes and even a gift from incendiary leftist leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and embraced overtures of new relations from isolated Cuban President Raul Castro.

“The whole notion was that if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness,” Obama said, recalling his race for the White House and challenging his critics today.

“The American people didn’t buy it,” Obama said. “And there’s a good reason the American people didn’t buy it — because it doesn’t make sense.”

Still, Obama made sure to inject some go-it-slow caution and clear expectations for U.S. foes as he capped his trip to twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago with a steamy outdoor news conference.

On Cuba, he said Castro should release political prisoners, embrace democratic freedoms and cut fees on the money that Cuban-Americans send back to their families. Obama has lifted some restrictions on Cuba, and Castro responded with a broad, conciliatory overture.

“The fact that you had Raul Castro say he’s willing to have his government discuss with ours not just issues of lifting the embargo, but issues of human rights, political prisoners, that’s a sign of progress,” Obama said. “And so we’re going to explore and see if we can make some further steps.”

He did not, though, offer any sign of lifting the crushing U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, as many Latin American and U.S. leaders want. Obama acknowledged that the U.S. policy in Cuba for the last 50 years “hasn’t worked” but said change will be gradual.

In Washington, both Democrats and Republicans said Sunday that they wanted to see actions, not just rhetoric, from Cuba.

“Release the prisoners and we’ll talk to you. … Put up or shut up,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“I think we’re taking the right steps, and I think the ball is now clearly in Cuba’s court,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. “They need to respond and say what they’re willing to do.”

Obama returned to Washington early Sunday evening. But even before he got back, Obama was facing condemnation from some Republicans about how he dealt with Chavez. “I think it was irresponsible for the president to be seen kind of laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez,” said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

The president brushed that aside, noting that Venezuela has a defense budget about one-six hundredth the size of the United States’ and owns the oil company Citgo.

“It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States,” Obama said.


jaywalker 9 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Obama on Chavez, but it's certain to be made a mountain out of a mole hill. And it's not gonna stop me from boycotting Citgo. I like the diplomatic approach; world is changing, we helped to that, helped bring a lot of countries up out of third world status. They're not gonna wanna be lectured to as they accepted in the past.

geekin_topekan 9 years, 2 months ago

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beawolf 9 years, 2 months ago

What did Cuba do? Here's the tip of the iceberg.

Thousands of political executions. Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners. Arbitrary arrest and detention with no rights to trial. Monitoring of private communications. Severe limitations on freedom of speech and press. Denial of exit permits. Denial of all civil liberties.

That said, the embargo has failed. In fact, it has helped Castro tighten his grip on Cuba by isolating the country from outside influences. In the Soviet Union, trade with free-market countries helped undermine Communist rule.

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 2 months ago

Log-as usual you're absolutely right. Maybe the reason these books are doing so well is that a lot of people want to reach out to the rest of the world in peace. In order to do that, they want to fine out where we went wrong in the first place. Thanks for posting the titles to the books, I couldn't find them. Noam Chomsky rocks, can't wait to read his book as well as the other.

LiberalDude 9 years, 2 months ago

"Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev"- This guy sounds like a tool. Hey Nevada, please vote out Sen. Ensign next election.

jaywalker 9 years, 2 months ago

"Overblown rightwing paranoia and bs."

And yet he counters none of the points. Shocking. And it's 'rightwing' paranoia even though it was JFK who kicked off the longest standing embargo in history? LBJ, Carter, Clinton.......all kept the hammer down 'cuz of.... 'rightwing paranoia? Riiiight. That must be why the Republicans have argued so often to soften the sanctions and open up trade with Cuba. But the info gathered from Cuban-Americans who were lucky enough to survive life on that isle AND make it to our shores have convinced the majority of politicians, left and right, of exactly what beawolf lists. I 'spose all those Cubans hopping on anything that floats in desperate attempts to reach the U.S. are just plumb 'loco', huh log? Or are they paranoid?

Then comes the "LOOK at the U.S.!!" and all we hath wrought: Unsupported crappage on severe limits of freedom of the press (laughable), we all don't have the right of habeas corpus (talk about paranoid), "many" peace activists are not allowed to fly (ever consider the country they're trying to go to doesn't want them?), and Jose Padilla.....TWICE! Well done. Check me if I'm wrong, but isn't Padilla that upstanding citizen doing 20 years at a SuperMax, convicted after little more than a day of deliberations, along with two or three other upstanding citizens, you know, his co-defendants? Excellent choice for standard bearer of your argument, log.

feeble 9 years, 2 months ago

Clearly, it was a mistake for Nixon and Kissinger to reach out to Chou En-Lai and Mao Zedong. That effort at ping pong diplomacy clearly did nothing to forestall nuclear war, open up China to US Trade or radically alter global politics, like getting the Russians to submit to détente.

Heck, look how angry Nixon is in the pic behind the following link:

Godot 9 years, 2 months ago

No wonder Obama sat there through all the hate talk about America without flinching. He agrees. He chose a pastor who believes the same thing and sat in the pews listening to the same thing for 20 years.

nverlost 9 years, 2 months ago

logrithmic, ever stop to wonder why so many countries (and foreigners) dislike the good ‘ol USA so much? Maybe because we have achieved a lifestyle many would be - goodness should I say - jealous of? Instead of always sympathizing with the poor souls of those countries who seem to be battered by just Republicans of this country, perhaps you should just move to one of those country's and give them your undedicated volunteerism in helping their needs for a better life. It's just amazing how you can turn any topic into a Dem or Repub issue. The word “naïve” seems to work foot the bill here once again. It sure would be nice if everybody in the world all just got along like brothers and sisters but it’s never happened in the history of the world and it’s never going to happen. What you see as an Obama positive I see as a sign of weakness in this president. Everybody will always be taking aim at this country while we live a kind of freedom and capitalistic lifestyle that makes this country what it is; a lifestyle Chavez condemns and the steps Obama is leading us down will only weaken our position in the world by giving credibility to a leader who is insane. I guess your ok with that though aren’t you?

Flap Doodle 9 years, 2 months ago

loggy, we'll all come down to the station & wave bye-bye when you move to Cuba.

jonas_opines 9 years, 2 months ago

"That said, the embargo has failed. In fact, it has helped Castro tighten his grip on Cuba by isolating the country from outside influences."

That's what always happens with embargos, I think.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

Tom, you are either with us or against us, remember?

So why do YOU hate America so much?

LiberalDude 9 years, 2 months ago

Exactly. Mr. Nancy hates our President... and thus hates America.

You Mr. Nancy are no patriot. That is for sure.

Paul R Getto 9 years, 2 months ago

My take on this: Obama is on the right track and we must talk to everyone. I think the 'right' wing is upset because it is becoming clear the 21st Century belongs to China and India. The 20th century was ours, but it's over. We will still be a major player and one of the most powerful nations around, but our days of calling all the shots are over.

TobiasFunke 9 years, 2 months ago

We should definitely 'help spread democracy' all over the place by invading, bombing, gaining control of resources...

But we will rule the world with an iron fist and no other nations get any input. What a great example of democracy we are. And yeah, we in this glass house should avoid throwing stones.

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