America’s Inadequate Response to the Revolution in Kyrgyzstan

On April 7, 2010 the people of Kyrgyzstan, a far-away country straining under an increasingly oppressive president, liberated themselves. In a revolution recalling those of 1989, protests unexpectedly toppled the authoritarian government. The opposition quickly took control, promising free and fair elections.

The United States government promptly asked if the new administration would allow America to keep its air base in the country. It did not endorse the new government, instead releasing a statement that read:

We remain a committed partner to the development of Kyrgyzstan for the benefit of the Kyrgyz people and intend to continue to support the economic and democratic development of the country.

To be fair, there is some concern over the credibility of the new government. Kyrgyzstan’s president himself came to power after a similar revolution overthrew an authoritarian regime. Power might corrupt the new government as it did with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Moreover, this military base is very important to the interests of the United States. It constitutes a vital logistical component of the war in Afghanistan. Outside of Afghanistan itself, the United States does not have another regional military base.

But sometimes standing for a principle is more important than even the most vital military base. These principles include things such as freedom, liberty, and democracy. America, however imperfectly, has always championed these values. When an oppressed people free themselves, it is a fundamental part of America’s creed to stand with them.

President Barack Obama himself – not Hillary Clinton – should take thirty minutes out of his week to call the new government, congratulating them for their efforts standing against tyranny. He should apologize for supporting Mr. Bakiyev (who in any case was no friend of the United States, having previously threatened to close the base).

Actions like these will be remembered by the new Kyrgyz government long after the United States forgets. They might – in fact, they probably will – even convince it to keep America’s precious air base.


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A New Horizon of Nuclear Nonproliferation With Russia

I'm beginning to see the reasons why I voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  With the passage of the no doubt historical healthcare legislation, although with much work needed, Obama has defined himself as someone who is determined to work hard and show no fear when pursuing tough agenda items. 

Healthcare, however, was not the primary reason I voted for him.  Throughout the Bush Administration, the vision of America had been distorted.  We were seen as less of a country who was willing to help, and more of one who was willing to control.  Our doves were overpowered by our eagles, and the worldview of the United States was certainly not positive.

Bush perpetuated a vision of "shame-be-damned, caution to the wind" mentality was willing to bludgeon other countries with Thor's America Hammer.  

This vision, I believe, changed with the election of Barack Obama.  A more rational and warm approach to foreign policy was brought in when he was inaugurated January 20, 2009 (the same time I personally was in a hospital bed bearing a newly acquired "harry potter like scar," but thats a story for another day.)

During this time, peace and cooperation were synonymous with Obama's name, and hope and change were the figureheads of his campaign and the early days of his presidency.  I believe they still are.

Restoring America's reputation as a compassionate (yet strong) country was important to me when I cast my vote on election day, and I believe Obama has started to deliver.  The recent cooperation with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama have proved very promising with the reduction of nuclear weapons and furthering better relations with our former Soviet Union friends.

Obama called the pact a step toward "the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." He said nuclear weapons "represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time."

Source: Huffington Post

An landmark agreement, due to be signed April 8 in Prague, would help to reduce nuclear arsenals in both countries.  Both Russia and the United States seem to have genuine interest in creating a more nuclear-free world, and this is a refreshing site to see. 

Though being disappointed in the past, I remain cautiously optimistic that this will be the beginning of many great things for both Russia and the United States.

Baby steps America... Baby steps.


Moscow Suicide Bombing Tragic, Raises Brows

An unfortunate suicide bombing, now being referred to as a terrorist attack, occurred early today in Moscow, Russia.  Russia is known for its large mob population, imparticular Moscow, but terrorism and suicide attacks have been relatively dormant over the years.  This comes to a surprise to many of the Russian people and American people alike.

Here is a brief statement from The New York Times

Female suicide bombers set off huge explosions in two subway stations in central Moscow during the Monday morning rush hour, Russian officials said, killing more than three dozen people and raising fears that the Muslim insurgency in southern Russia was once again being brought to the country’s heart.

These attacks are awful and unfortunate, but also raises some eyebrows.  Obviously an attack like this is horrific and surprising, but rarely do you see an attack like this carried out by female insurgents.  Generally, the terrorist attacks Americans associate with are enacted by males.  I have said several times that we cannot label any one group as more prone to carry out such attacks as these, and this is why.  

These tumultuous times for Russia need to be met with warm cooperation from the United States. Prime Minister, and likely to be President Elect again in 2012, Vladimir Putin had this to say

Mr. Putin vowed that "the terrorists will be destroyed."

Violence is never the answer, nor should it be.  The United States and Russia have had some rocky roads in the past, but union must be restored in the faces of domestic dangers such as these.  Although this insurgency was prompted by domestic concerns with Chechnyan issues, the matter of terrorism transcends this.  Hopefully we can work together to stop these things from happening again.


The Fundamental Difference Between Democrats and Republicans

Last year, former governor Sarah Palin famously campaigned on a theme of “real America.” This widely derided message implied that only “real Americans” vote Republican.

Yet there is something to Mrs. Palin’s theory. However unintentionally, it lays bare a fundamental truth of American politics.

Think about how most people picture Americans. In fact, take a moment to imagine an average American: detail everything possible about this person.

Here is how I picture this American – let’s name him Bob Smith. Bob is a happy white male, with a lovely wife (he is straight, of course) and one or two beautiful kids. Bob calls himself a Christian – a Protestant, actually – but goes to church less than he should. Like his American parents and grandparents, Bob lives in a  well-off suburb. Bob went to college but not graduate school; he makes a firmly middle or upper-class income but labels himself middle-class. Bob is the archtypal American, and he loves America very much.

Bob is a Republican.

It is the Bob Smiths of this country that compose the core of the Republican Party. American to their bones, they are fully assimilated into the country and happy with the way it is. Bob has never encountered resentment or hostility because of who he is, and he never will. People like him define the soul of the United States. They vote conservatively – for things to remain much the same as they are today – because they are content with the status quo.

The Democratic Party is composed of persons who have cause of complaint. They are not Bob – they do not have the luck of being  white, male, and middle-class. Their last names are not like Smith – they are names like Zai, Contreras, Chakicherla, Alazzeh, and Obama. Many do not call themselves Protestants, or even Christians. Some live in immigrant communities; others in inner-city ghettos. Nearly all have – or believe they have – been treated unfairly by America’s institutions. These folk want things to be different, and so they vote for liberalism (which, distilled to its purest essence, constitutes change of the status quo).

That is the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. It constitutes the defining chasm in American politics, even more than race.

So next election, when an agency like CNN pops out its exit polls of how this group voted and how that group voted, one doesn’t need complex statistical models to understand why one group voted Democratic and the other Republican. One merely needs to ask this simple question:

Which group would Bob Smith belong to?


China's growth: still real

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

This week, the Chinese government announced that China’s economy had expanded by a stronger-than-anticipated 10.7 percent in the last quarter of 2009 and that it had grown 8.7 percent for the entire year. This news, however, was not greeted with relief but with the skepticism that has typically met such news emanating from China in recent years. The Wall Street Journal ran a story on its front page with the headline “China Seeks to Tame Boom, Stirs Growth Fears.”

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