Phone Tagg

I’m still furious at my dad for not letting me respond to a wrong-number text he once got that was intended for Tagg Romney.

I had so many ideas. My opening line would have been, in Birbigs fashion, “who dis.” What could have been.

Never forgive, never forget.

Cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism didn’t win women the right to vote. Cynicism did not get a Civil Rights Act signed. Cynicism has never won a war. Cynicism has never cured a disease. Cynicism has never started a business. Cynicism has never fed a young mind. I do not believe in a cynical America; I believe in an optimistic America that is making progress.
Romney adopted knee-jerk anti-Russian positions on every relevant issue, and married them to reflexive anti-Obama criticisms. That’s all that he did. It isn’t surprising, since he had no particular foreign policy experience, nor had he had much of an interest in these issues before he started his seemingly endless presidential campaigning. Romney had no particular insight into Russian behavior, and definitely didn’t understand what motivated Russian leaders or how they viewed U.S. policies in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. If the U.S. had been following his recommendations over the last year, tensions between the U.S. and Russia would likely be even worse, since Romney’s idea for Russia policy in practice was little more than to antagonize Moscow whenever possible.

eirthbndr said:

I do not like Obama because I feel he is incompetent. He does not seem to care about domestic issues. He could help in the situation in Missouri, but he has said next to nothing. As a leader of the United States and in the African-American community, he is obligated to put forth something. I just feel as though he doesn't care about his own citizens, and worries more about our image to the outside world. But of course, I'm the ignorant, self-centered American for wanting better domestic policy.

Please don’t say that you’re being “self-centred”, you elect your leaders to serve you and I do feel your criticism about his response to Ferguson is legitimate. I did not ever mean to suggest that Americans who criticised Obama were being selfish or ignorant of the bigger picture. I do agree Obama should say more because even though the US is a federal state, American history is littered with examples where the federal government had to step in to protect African-Americans from racist state governments. What I write below is because I hope it gives Americans a perspective of what it is like to not be an American, to live with your attention fixed on this powerful country whose every move can affect you- whose leaders can more profoundly affect our lives  than our own elected ones. We are all limited by our own settings- just as I won’t actually fully comprehend the serious problem of institutionalised racism in the US unlike Americans like you who actually live there even if I read about it. 

When I said I was glad Obama won instead of Romney, it’s because for us outside of the US who have no vote, the fact is that your country is the most powerful nation in the world who can just as easily destroy or help us. Perhaps, it is unfair to an extent that your leaders have to spend half their time embroiled in foreign conflicts instead of focusing wholly on US citizens- as you are right to demand-, but it is the way of the world where America is a superpower.

image

It is not just about “image" to the outside world, but life and death for many non-Americans- like the Iraqi Yazidis and Christians who were surrounded and besieged by ISIS on a mountain- and facing genocide- who were begging for American airstrikes. There have been times when the US failed to intervene- like in Rwanda. The cruel part was people didn’t even need US soldiers on the ground, but just equipment and money- the US government pressured the UNSC to instead cut the already overstretched UN peacekeepers already there. At least 800,000 people were murdered. 

image

Or the Iranians worrying about whether the US would escalate from sanctions to war- just as Iraqis first feared it when Bush announced he was invading. Obama has actually handled Iran pretty well by de-escalating the situation and shutting down those who wanted war. To Iran’s neighbours, who know a destabilised Iran would have severe consequences for them. That is good for Americans too- soldiers will not be sent into a conflict that could have been defused diplomatically. Next to Romney, it was plain to us Obama was the president who had greater knowledge and understanding of the nuances of global conflicts. Romney came off to many of us as the epitome of white American privilege- and someone utterly blind to it - embracing the old forms of arrogant US exceptionalism that has harmed many of us, where everything is about brute force and appearing “tough”. 

And…well speaking as a non-American, many many things Obama has done hasn’t exactly made us happy either. Here’s a few: Many Pakistanis are angry at the increase in drone strikes. Palestinians are completely against the way the US has propped up Israel. Many Asian countries wish he would really beef up US military presence to deter China for example. Syrians felt they were left to die when there should have been military intervention against Assad- which would not have allowed ISIS to grow into the threat it is today (ISIS seems to have originated in the Syrian civil war). He certainly has not pandered excessively to non-Americans at all, but to many of us (though not all), as imperfect as he is, he is a vast improvement over Bush because he clearly better understands the world and doesn’t use the very jingoistic kind of American exceptionalism I see in a lot of Republican politicians who go around saying things like “I won’t ever apologise for America!” when the US government committed hideous injustices on people who deserve not just apologies but compensation. 

No American president is perfect, and even those who are generally beloved today like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln made plenty of mistakes and had their own detractors. FDR interned Japanese-Americans unfairly, even when there was no evidence of widespread disloyalty. He also failed to bomb the concentration camps. Lincoln was called a dictator even by some pro-Union politicians because he greatly expanded his wartime powers to deal with the seccessionists and their suspected sympathisers in the Union and slammed by abolitionists themselves who felt he was too hesitant and too slow in making the step to officially abolish slavery. 

This is why many non-Americans pay so much attention to who your president is- because we have a huge stake in it. You are right to criticise or be dissatisfied with Obama where he has had his shortcomings, because all US presidents too have to multi-task. You elect your government to serve you- you are only asking for what is owed. But this is how things are like through our eyes, and as imperfect as Obama is, he has so far shown a better understanding of using the US military wisely and not to show off, than Bush- all the while facing the extremely unreasonable obstructionism in Congress I have seen as somebody who’s studied US history. By all means, hold his feet to the fire. But I do hope you understand why non-Americans pay such attention to and feel we have a right to comment on US politics- because it affects us. 

Text
Photo
Quote
Link
Chat
Audio
Video