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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Reaching out to enemies strengthens US

Posted by on Apr. 19, 2009 at 8:35 PM
  • 11 Replies

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090419/ap_on_go_pr_wh/cb_obama_summit

Obama says reaching out to enemies strengthens US

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – 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."

As for Venezuela, Obama's friendly encounters with Chavez at the summit drew intense publicity — partly, Obama said, because Chavez is good at getting in front of TV cameras. Chavez's anti-American rhetoric has, in the past, led Obama to call him a demagogue.

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.

Venezuela and the United States expelled each other's ambassadors last September. But during the summit, Chavez approached Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and said he was restoring his nation's ambassador in Washington, voicing hopes for a new era in relations.

"We ratify our willingness to begin what has started: cementing new relations," Chavez said Sunday in remarks broadcast on state television. "We have the very strong willingness to work together."

Obama's dealings with Chavez spoke to his broader message: dismissing arguments of the past, and respecting other democratic governments even if he opposes their economic and foreign policy.

"If we are practicing what we preach, and if we occasionally confess to having strayed from our values and our ideals, that strengthens our hand," Obama said. "That allows us to speak with greater moral force and clarity around these issues."

He said of his doctrine for engagement: "We're not simply going to lecture you, but we're rather going to show through how we operate the benefits of these values and ideals."

The president said he found it interesting that many of the leaders talked about how Cuban doctors have dispersed throughout the region, and their countries depend on them.

"It's a reminder for us in the United States that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction, if our only interaction is military, then we may not be developing the connections that can, over time, increase our influence," Obama said. He neglected to mention that the U.S. Agency for International Development provides many services in Latin America, including health care, education and humanitarian relief.

Central American leaders who met with Obama said they pressed him on immigration reform. They also said that Obama promised to consider providing better notice before the United States deports dangerous criminals back to their nations.

Even Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, a critic of U.S. policy, said he found Obama receptive to dealing with the issues raised. Ortega said Obama "is the president of an empire" that has rules the president cannot change. Nevertheless, Ortega said, "I want to believe that he's inclined, that he's got the will."

Both Graham and McCaskill spoke on "Fox News Sunday." Ensign was interviewed on CNN's "State of the Union."

by on Apr. 19, 2009 at 8:35 PM
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Replies (1-10):
itssweetness
by Member on Apr. 19, 2009 at 8:38 PM

I agree with Obama.

The Repubs are HATING THIS and ragging on Obama to no end because of it.  Its time America got off its high horse and I think it's a very smart move on Obamas part.

itssweetness

Junebug926
by Bronze Member on Apr. 19, 2009 at 8:45 PM

Isn't reaching out to your enemies the Christian thing to do anyway? Anyone care to chime in with the bible verse?? I think it's in Matthew where it speaks about loving thy enemies.

vlester
by Bronze Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 3:47 PM

I  agree with both of you ladies

emilysmom1966
by Silver Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 4:15 PM

clapping

PamR
by Pam on Apr. 20, 2009 at 4:19 PM
Of course it does - I agree with the president.
luvmygrndhg
by on Apr. 20, 2009 at 7:03 PM

It is interesting that on an individual level a person who "befriends" an enemy for their own agenda is considered a two-faced, backstabbing hypocrite but in politics it's called diplomacy.

Yes, the bible says to love our enemies but it doesn't say to make them think we're their friends falsely.


~*~Peace and blessings~*~
spoiled_wife
by Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 7:24 PM

I fully agree.

Ideologies , nor do core beliefs (for example religious beliefs), can not and do not change through brute force.

Might does not always make right.

                                               

hsteele
by on Apr. 20, 2009 at 7:35 PM

I think there is a difference in befriending an enemy and not bitch slapping them when they shake your hand. Would you rather he had done that? Or would you rather our president representative of the US to the world, act cordially and politely. I haven't seen where Obama has invited Chavez over to dinner with the wife and kids or anything. Just because he was polite and cordial with the man doesn't mean they are now best friends.

Quoting luvmygrndhg:

It is interesting that on an individual level a person who "befriends" an enemy for their own agenda is considered a two-faced, backstabbing hypocrite but in politics it's called diplomacy.

Yes, the bible says to love our enemies but it doesn't say to make them think we're their friends falsely.



Heather
Proud Pagan Mama


"...now you're in the minority. Its supposed to taste
like a $h&t taco."
~John Stewart~
Check out my Group especially for Pagan Families
http://www.cafemom.com/group/paganfamilies
spoiled_wife
by Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 7:42 PM

I am curios about something.

How is Chavez/Venezuala our "enemy"?

I mean. We get nearly 25% of our oil from them.

Most of our petrol corporations have operations there. Granted, Chavez asked that these corporations pay the taxes owed to Venezuala or leave. But wouldn't our government do the same to multinationals doing business in our nation.

Is it because he is a socialist or has a soialist leaning government? If this is so. Why aren't other socialist leaning nations considered enemies?

Is it because he has expelled envoys? I mean. If we had eliments in our nation that were caught on tape trying to overthrow the government by force. Wouldn't we toss out the nation's envoyz/diplomats that sponsered such actions out of our own country.

I guess I'm just not understanding how Chavez/Venezuala are an enemy of the United States.

                                               

hsteele
by on Apr. 20, 2009 at 7:45 PM

Because Chavez has shown open disapproval of our government, and we can't have that. I mean, we're the most perfect government in the world.

Quoting spoiled_wife:

I am curios about something.

How is Chavez/Venezuala our "enemy"?

I mean. We get nearly 25% of our oil from them.

Most of our petrol corporations have operations there. Granted, Chavez asked that these corporations pay the taxes owed to Venezuala or leave. But wouldn't our government do the same to multinationals doing business in our nation.

Is it because he is a socialist or has a soialist leaning government? If this is so. Why aren't other socialist leaning nations considered enemies?

Is it because he has expelled envoys? I mean. If we had eliments in our nation that were caught on tape trying to overthrow the government by force. Wouldn't we toss out the nation's envoyz/diplomats that sponsered such actions out of our own country.

I guess I'm just not understanding how Chavez/Venezuala are an enemy of the United States.


Heather
Proud Pagan Mama


"...now you're in the minority. Its supposed to taste
like a $h&t taco."
~John Stewart~
Check out my Group especially for Pagan Families
http://www.cafemom.com/group/paganfamilies
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