Curtain Raiser

Know Who Your Friends Are, Colltalers

The Summit of the Americas, held over the weekend in Colombia, may have had all the makings of a great event: high-wattage guest speakers, high-level talks about world’s geopolitics, a beautiful scenery for all those privileged few to enjoy.
One thing it won’t have though: consensus over four of the major issues affecting all nations that share the same geographic accident, and not much else. To be honest, most nations would like to tell the U.S. what to do with that consensus.
For the U.S. couldn’t be further apart from pretty much everyone else over issues concerning Cuba, Iran, the so-called war on drugs, and immigration. In fact, for all intent and purpose, the U.S.’s position on these issues hasn’t changed since the grim Gipper.
And that may not be pure coincidental; despite what most of us would like to believe, the Obama administration shares much more with the Reagan tenure than it’d be safe to say, ‘pragmatism.’ That really doesn’t bode well for our times, by the way.
Both leaders are charismatic, but whereas Reagan wouldn’t be elected to a merely municipal seat, if it were up to the current, extreme-right GOP leadership, President Obama is far from what his detractors see as socialist inklings.
In any case, most Latin American nations already have a full blossoming trade with Cuba, both commercial and cultural, to even care about what the U.S. thinks about it.
They don’t care either to our cozy relationship with Israel, which to many impairs our ability to remain relevant, not merely a brutal military threat, not just to Iran but to the whole Middle East and North of Africa regions.
The war to ‘eliminate’ drugs from our midst, said to have cost U.S. taxpayers some $40 billion only in 2010, according to some estimates, has only given unlimited power to ruthless cartels in Mexico, Afghanistan and even the Amazon basin.
And the Obama administration has been even more myopic when it comes to its immigration policies than even George W.’s. That, along with the widespread criminality surrounding the world of illegal drugs has been solely responsible for a growing, highly-profitable new industry: that of locking people up, and send some of them to death.
We’re more out of sync than ever with the countries we used to dictate their policies according to our own interests. They grew tired and powerful; we got completely self-obsessed with our own increasingly xenophobic domestic policies.
So, why should they, or anyone for that matter, care about our opinion? Sadly, the only respect we’ve been getting from the world lately is the one out of fear of our all-too dominant military defense complex. No wonder, their multi-trillion budget it all but guaranteed to at least 2040, when hopefully a new generation of American leaders will be in a position to lead.
In the meantime, we’d better treat our friends with the respect they deserve, and make sure we hold ourselves to the high standards we should expect anyone to hold us too. Which means, enough of that mafioso rhetoric: one has the friends one’s earned through acts of compassion and courage, not intimidation and self interest. Respect out of fear is not respect, it’s just fear.
And you know what frightened people are capable of, right? They’ll cowed in horror, they’ll recoil and they’ll scream. Next, they most likely will do something stupid. On the contrary, do something good for your friends this week and have a great one. WC

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