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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 11th, 2008 - 01:50:56

Two low-risk foreign policy decisions, one hopeful world
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 11, 2008, 00:17

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Are Americans so concerned about Obama�s centrist image as he is about to take the reins of the nation that they force him to look right when he should be looking straight ahead? If they do, they�ll come out as unquestionable fools, for never will there be a better opportunity to make amends with the entire world for past bullying behavior without having to play their hand, adding pride and dignity to their bet.

By making two foreign policy decisions within a week after assuming power, two far-reaching decisions yet domestically of low political risk, Obama could single-handedly open up the floodgates of goodwill. And it could simply take the form of an assertive general statement made after two brief phone calls to Havana and Moscow. Two short conversations made in candor, and one press release unequivocal in meaning, even if lacking in details.

Two policy decisions that will affect not just Russia and Cuba, but the entire world! Two policy decisions that indirectly could pave the way for a cessation of violence in the entire Middle East; an unnecessary confrontation between the Muslim World and a West that insists on maintaining the upper hand, never mind Palestine or the sentiments of a billion people who against their morals and good judgment could be influenced to believe that maybe their struggle, their fight for existence, rests in a jihad to the end, even at the expense of having their counter-crusaders dubbed as terrorists.

Desisting from the deployment of interceptor missiles in Poland, and an advanced radar station in the Czech Republic, might be considered a military-political policy decision, but it far exceeds that: it is, unquestionably, a key foreign policy decision, one likely to resonate throughout the world and erase most, if not all, damage brought about by an imperially-bred post-Cold War Pentagon aided by a reckless two-term presidency of the biggest inane fool ever domiciled in the White House. Vladimir Putin has let it be known already that the line has been freed for Barack Obama to make the critical call that would put an end to an already ignited new cold war.

And Fidel Castro has, similarly, made a genteel gesture for the new American president to bring about a change in relations with Cuba, and his brother Raul�s government; one that would affect not only the well-being of 12 million residents of the �the pearl of the Antilles� but one that would substantially decrease the tension in the present state of discord affecting Pan-American relations, and the distrust of the US in Latin America.

Lifting both the trade embargo and all sanctions which have existed, or have been added to during almost five decades, with little purpose other than political amity towards a vengeful, self-serving -- and up to now politically influential -- group of Cuban exiles, is not just the right political thing to do, but the moral thing to do. And Obama�s proclamation of such request to the Senate, to do away with unnecessary punitive measures, would certainly suffice; a Senate, this time, surely eager to comply.

In both cases, there must not be a quid-pro-quo exacted, either explicit or implied, in these actions by President Obama, for any exchange of goodwill will take place of its own accord without the unmerited call for the hypocritical enactment of rules of behavior in which American leaders always appear to take the call to arms in �noble defense� of democracy and human rights.

Although Obama has intimated �a need� for the Cuban government to release 219 jailed political prisoners, he should desist from echoing voices of those around him and, as he assumes power, let out his own fresh voice. Let human rights be invoked by those people who themselves have a pure heart, and let the cry for that assertion of human rights come from an international body which admonishes and monitors the denial of said human rights, and not a nation with a prejudicial outlook as to what represents the existence or the curtailment of such rights, pointing to nations as compliant or aberrant according to its own selfish interests.

It�s in Obama�s hands to signal, and do so immediately, that the United States is changing course in foreign policy. And he can do it with little political risk to himself or to his administration. And this can be done without taking his eyes away from the principal problem confronting his presidency: an inherited economic depression that will replace the old-standard inherited by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933; and one that is sure to be entrenched for years . . . even if optimal economic weapons are used to combat it.

Will Obama prove to be a true leader, his own man? It won�t be long before we find out as he is put to the test.

� 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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