Saturday, May 24, 2008

Building on FDR's 'Four Freedoms' -- American diversity is the foundation for American leadership, strength, and prosperity

Barack Obama just made a major foreign policy speech, May 23, 2008, in Miami, Florida. The speech, running a bit over 30 minutes, reflects his vision and promise of a fundamentally different way of doing things, demonstrates a seamless connection between foreign and domestic policy, and stakes out firm ground on immigration policy, including unequivocal and unflinching support for comprehensive immigration reform and bringing illegal aliens "out of the shadows."

Here you will hear Barack Obama express many of the same principles and values that underlie the Unity Movement.

This is real leadership: Obama unafraid to confront his political adversaries and the right-wing demagogic, xenophobic, fear-and-doubt mongering spin machine head on. Unafraid to lead, at home and abroad.


What all of us strive for is freedom as FDR described it. Political freedom. Religious freedom. But also freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
We must heed the words of Dr. King, written from his own jail cell: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom ....

I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We've heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.

It's time for more than tough talk that never yields results. It's time for a new strategy. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. That's why I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in Cuba – through strong, smart and principled diplomacy.
We've heard plenty of talk about democracy from George Bush, but we need steady action. We must put forward a vision of democracy that goes beyond the ballot box. We should increase our support for strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and the rule of law. That is how we can support democracy that is strong and sustainable not just on an election day, but in the day to day lives of the people of the Americas.
We must also make clear our support for labor rights, and human rights ….

… if we've learned anything in our history in the Americas, it's that true security cannot come from force alone.
That is why the United States must stand for growth in the Americas from the bottom up. That begins at home, with comprehensive immigration reform. That means securing our border and passing tough employer enforcement laws. It means bringing 12 million unauthorized immigrants out of the shadows. But it also means working with Mexico, Central America and others to support bottom up development to our south.
We'll establish a program for the Department of Energy and our laboratories to share technology with countries across the region. We'll assess the opportunities and risks of nuclear power in the hemisphere by sitting down with Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. And we'll call on the American people to join this effort through an Energy Corps of engineers and scientists who will go abroad to help develop clean energy solutions.

This is the unique role that the United States can play. We can offer more than the tyranny of oil. We can learn from the progress made in a country like Brazil, while making the Americas a model for the world. We can offer leadership that serves the common prosperity and common security of the entire region.
An alliance of the Americas will only succeed if it is founded on a bedrock of mutual respect. It's time to turn the page on the arrogance in Washington and the anti-Americanism across the region that stands in the way of progress. It's time to listen to one another and to learn from one another.
… We'll expand the Peace Corps, and ask more young Americans to go abroad to deepen the trust and the ties among our people.

And we must tap the vast resource of our own immigrant population to advance each part of our agenda. One of the troubling aspects of our recent politics has been the anti-immigrant sentiment that has flared up, and been exploited by politicians come election time. We need to understand that immigration – when done legally – is a source of strength for this country. Our diversity is a source of strength for this country. When we join together – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and native American – there is nothing that we can't accomplish. Todos somos Americanos!

Together, we can choose the future over the past.
Every moment is critical. And this must be our moment. Freedom. Opportunity. Dignity. These are not just the values of the United States – they are the values of the Americas. They were the cause of Washington's infantry and Bolivar's cavalry; of Marti's pen and Hidalgo's church bells.

That legacy is our inheritance. That must be our cause. And now must be the time that we turn the page to a new chapter in the story of the Americas.

The text of the complete speech (as prepared) is here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vote for Change

Here's a glimpse of Barack Obama's revival of grassroots democracy and nationwide campaign for change.

Participate in the Vote for Change movement here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dancing with wolves, negotiating with devils

Today's Saipan Tribune has excerpts of an excellent Op-Ed piece by Leslie H. Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, writing for the Washington Post: "In the end, every President talks to the bad guys."

These verities of international relations, or any successful engagement of an opposing power, not only highlight the superiority of Barack Obama as the next President of the U.S., but also reveal lessons for us right here on the tiny islands of the Commonwealth.

"I have been charged by the president with making sure that none of the tyrannies in the world are negotiated with. We don't negotiate with evil; we defeat it." -- Vice President Dick Cheney, December 2003

Lil_hammerhead has hosted a lively discussion of just how stupid the 43rd POTUS is. Leslie Gelb tells us more. Posing the question of how do you deal with someone you believe to be evil, Gelb tells us simply: "You just can; it's done all the time." After citing examples from history's greatest (and less great) leaders, Gelb continues:

"Only President Bush messed up this simple, effective two-step approach to diplomacy. In 2002, he famously blasted Iraq, Iran and North Korea as "an axis of evil." (They were evil, though certainly not an axis.) But unlike Reagan, Bush virtually blocked his own future diplomatic path by making regime change his goal toward these evildoers, thereby slashing incentives for the devils to negotiate with him. Why should they negotiate if Bush's aim was to overthrow them? The policy made no sense, and sure enough, it didn't work. Bush did indeed go to war against Iraq, but he entered into direct negotiations with Pyongyang and eventually wound up holding ambassadorial-level talks with Iran about the present situation in Iraq. Those reversals made Bush, rather than the bad guys, look hypocritical."

Here's the nitty-gritty:

"The real issue is not whether to talk to the bad guys but how -- under which conditions, with which mix of pressure and conciliation, and with what degree of expectation that the bad guys will keep their word. When figuring out how to go about negotiating with devils, the questions [are] very basic."

Unfortunately, too many people miss this simple principle. The Cheney-Bush mentality, lodged in a very different part of the political spectrum, also exists right here in the CNMI and in the thought processes of overseas allies, thwarting progress toward goals and engendering missed opportunity.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Become An Obama Organizing Fellow

The Obama campaign is looking for students and recent graduates to train in the basics of grassroots organizing and campaign fundamentals.

Obama Organizing Fellows will then be placed in a community to work for real change from the ground up.

This is a wonderful opportunity to be part of a new generation of leadership. Here's where you apply.