Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

CHINESE CHECKERS & WORLD ECONOMICS

February 7, 2011
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In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.Confucius

Chinese Checkers board

 

China is still a paradox for the Western developed nations even as it slowly sips capitalism, converting itself into the second world economic power. What China may not be willing to wholly swallow is the tint of democracy that inevitably goes with economic wealth and prosperity, as very recently demonstrated in relation to the Nobel Peace Award.

 

To understand China and its strategy on international relations, one must either have lived in Asia amongst Chinese for some time or try to find a palpable example of how these perseverant people draw up their goals and lay out their strategy.

 

If one has ever had a chance to play Chinese Checkers, he/she would easily comprehend what the past weeks of international actions by Chinese dignitaries in several fronts represent. Decidedly, China has had to put its foot forward to seek recovery of its wavering prestige after the absence of Liu Xiaobo at the Oslo Nobel Peace Awards ceremony last December 10, 2010.

 

On the checkers board, China has come to realise the order of priorities of the other international powers seated at the games table. Its growing economic power is no longer doubted and even Japan has admitted that its Asian neighbour has surpassed Nippon economic might if not replaced it as Asia’s primary industrial nation. If there is an Asian trait where China outshines is in perseverance towards established goals; and the present-day Chinese regime has understood that whilst not having to relinquish its communist ideals, capitalism offers it the best launching pad towards economic prosperity. Kissinger’s role in the Ping-Pong Diplomacy with then China’s Prime Minister Chou En-lai led to the Communist regime taking over the UN seat the Nationalist Chinese had occupied since the organisation’s constitution in 1945.  Ever since the Nixon Administration acknowledged in 1972 the existence of a Communist government (People’s Republic of China) in Beijing in the now famous Shanghai Communiqué during President Nixon’s week-long state visit to China, the trail was set for the USA to formally break diplomatic relations with its natural ally, the Taiwan-based Republic of China and establish formal relations with the larger mainland Chinese government in 1979.

 

Once the supreme world leader, the United States of America, took that step, all other democratic nations have the go-signal to establish open trade relations with the PRC. A few of the so-called non-aligned had already recognised diplomatically and some others had submerged trade relations behind the USA’s back. Year 1979 marked the turning point to openly trade with the nation with the world’s largest (and still growing) population.

 

Precisely what seems to have attracted most other states, China’s immense population as a potential market, could very well be the Communist regime’s ‘Achilles’ heel’ as time goes by. True to say, China has imposed birth controls measures some time ago to put a stop to the exponential growth of its population, especially in the rural area. However, as time goes by, the tides may have changed, especially in the macro-urban area such as Beijing & Shanghai. The high cost of living in tentative consumer zones discourage Chinese couples to have off-springs, leading to the initial break of birth of toddlers who would later have to support the burden of aging generations.

 

If China would look into this problem now, it would be faced with the true dilemma of its accelerated blossoming into one of the world’s leading economies. The problem China has yet to face is that of unequal wealth between urban citizens and those Chinese residing in rural, industrial and mining zones. It is creating a serious breach in consumer habits as well as modes of living that could very well end in a cause of medium-term future conflict.

 

China is converging into a unique model with a strengthened economy based both on its cheap labour and consistent industrial development. However, in the process, it is retaining the worst part of its Communist heritage and adopting the less solvent portion of democratic developed nations’ growth model that of a global unsupervised market. In the short-term, this has permitted China to take an empowerment role in international economics to the point it possesses the world’s Nº 1 bank and PRC’s investments in other states’ bonds. It has acquired businesses and land both in Latin America and Africa, in a clear attempt to diversify risk.

 

It has however not considered that the true risk to its upcoming combo-type regime that fails to relinquish old ideological traits whilst it embraces economic habits of Western democracies lies in splitting up of its vast population and territory into nuclei where one or the other purist model may finally wish to prevail. China should comprehend that it would prove insufficient to have a leader educated in the UK to make 1.350 million (1.35 B for Americans) citizens toe the line towards a democratic regime.

 

Furthermore, it will take more than mere networking at conferences such as the recently-ended Davos World Economic Forum (where China’s delegation passed from 6 in 2001 to 66 in 2010) or the state visits by its premier and vice-premier to the USA and the stronger EU states to really convert China into a full-pledged democracy. Such time is both far and near, depending on which side of the fence one may see it from.

 

Revolutions are not writhe in a day, much less in a vast territory subdued during decades by the charm of Mao Tse Tung. Nevertheless, few would have expected the turmoil that now plagues Egypt but had its first spark in Tunisia. Global communications is changing social interaction habits for good.

 

China has played well its external economic moves on the checkers board; to the point that major other players sit agape in admiration whilst freedom is curtailed. What goes on within the walls of that other China is another story and few abroad are aware of the tensions that may be developing. How long before China either proves the solvency of its economic power or succumbs to its evident internal socio-economic disorganisation?

 

In the Year of the Metal Rabbit that has just started, China may well have to turn inwards in order to reach the true goals desired by its now open-eyed citizens immersed in the new pleasures of a semi-restrained global consumer economy.

 

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

 

 

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SEASON’S GREETINGS ……

December 20, 2010
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OBAMA’S METAMORPHOSIS: FROM PEACE AWARDEE TO MISSILE SHIELD PROMOTER

November 21, 2010
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“ …. Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.  ……  The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.” Barack Obama (Oslo, Norway  December – 2009)


At the end of his term as 2009 Nobel Peace awardee, I come to understand better Obama’s rather contradictory speech at the Oslo Nobel ceremony last year.

Obama’s personal peace convictions have come up against the reality of the tasks of the man that took over the Oval Office from a belligerent predecessor who left him the bitter inheritance of a questionable invasion of Iraq and a rather shaky strategy to defeat Al Qaeda’s expansive terrorism at its Afghanistan roots. No less relevant was the status of international relations with the European allies across the Atlantic or the state of the thawing Cold War with defunct USSR’s successor, Russia.

The recently concluded NATO Summit celebrated this weekend in Lisbon has taken a gigantic leap towards a stronger military alliance that has declared Russia, at last, as an ally. The Cold War seems to have been finally buried for good, or least up till a new confrontation crops up between Russia and the USA.

Why my reluctance to accept Lisbon’s alliance declaration at face value?

First, Medvédev and Obama signed earlier this year a renewed START agreement that should conclude in a joint reduction of their missiles’ arsenals. Nevertheless, said agreement may never come into effect if and when the new Republican majority in the US Congress decide to reject same. Both Republicans and the White House are presently engaged in a bluff & counter-bluff game to put pressure upon each other prior to the constitution of the new Congress in January, 2011.

Second, Afghanistan topped the NATO meet priority list and the conclusions reached of a gradual withdrawal to end in 2014 seemed to please not only Karzai but the NATO members as well. Not so, Medvédev, who doubts that such deadline is realistic.

Third, instead of heading towards peace, NATO expansion with a missile shield to protect Europe with Russian cooperation, may well be a means to combat international terrorism but likewise it is a sign that more wars and conflicts are expected from territories to the East of Europe.

Are we about to set new standards for ‘just war’ which may well surpass reasons of shear military logistics to enter other areas of international relations such as economics?

Are we assisting to a new distribution of geo-political power that will only move the demarcation line further towards the East of the Atlantic?

Has President Obama’s brief stay in Lisbon been intended towards a Western-front pact with Russia included to curtail other world powers from the temptation of going beyond their economic ambitions?

So far, since I started my posts in this English blog in April, 2009, my humble views have made bulls-eye on major international issues. Those who have followed my Spanish blog  http://www.blogger.com/profile/06825435168558835379 since 2005, have seen that we have likewise pointed out certain flaws in US-EU relations which have led to this rather estranged situation, apparently cleared in a 90-minute meeting as an appendix of the NATO Summit. Unfortunately, time will prove that encounter insufficient to patch the tattered relations dating back to the clashes during the 8-year Bush Administration. Obama has not been too observant to realise that his problems back home in such vital issues such as the economic crisis, climate change and military alliances have only one possible firm ally – the European Union.

Obama has now reached his objective, the EU’s support and that of Russia for a missile shield. Likewise, the NATO partners have approved his proposal of a more powerful NATO military alliance. Nevertheless, Obama in his metamorphosis has left out his search for peace and a more balanced distribution of wealth to curtail the miseries of millions in underdeveloped nations around the world. He has become unworthy of the Nobel Peace Award granted him in 2009.

His true problems start now not only in the home front but before millions of citizens of different races, religions and cultures who had looked up to him as a symbol of democracy in peace.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour


OBAMA’S RETURN TO EUROPE: WHAT IS IN STORE AFTER THE G-20 FLOP?

November 19, 2010
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Sad to say but true, President Obama is not only a questioned leader in the USA but also as a world leader before the eyes of some of his staunch allies, particularly in Europe.

This weekend’s NATO Summit in Lisbon will be the first encounter after the disheartening G-20 performance by the cast of developed & developing nations’ leaders meeting in Seoul. Said summit will be followed by yet another bilateral one between the USA & the EU which may not count with Obama’s presence.

The disheartening results of an ineffective meet such as the one held in Seoul, whereby developed democracies on both sides of the Atlantic succumbed to a subtle Chinese strategy of political abstraction, cannot but have cooled even further already estranged EU-US postures in the economic field. China had its ways at the Seoul summit and as of today has further aggravated economic tensions with the latest communiqué from its central bank by raising its reserve ratio 50 basis points. Furthermore, the Communist Asian superpower has set its protectionist mechanism to curtail foreign investment in Chinese real estate and enterprise as a precautionary measure to avoid speculation.

True to say, the EU’s stance at the G-20 meet wasn’t all that unanimous, with Germany applying pressure on the USA in a similar manner as China but with different tactics. I keep asking myself why both superpowers – the USA on one side and the EU as a whole bloc of 27 state & 500 M population on the opposite side – haven’t yet decided to sit down to draw out a single strategic route for the economic crisis resolution.

The opportunity was missed when the EU-US bilateral summit scheduled in Spain in May was cancelled due to Obama’s overloaded agenda on the home front. Since then, six months have elapsed and the crisis has not only grown in intensity but rather new doubts have been raised as to the best common ground solutions no one seems to venture into.

The NATO encounter will have Afghanistan at the top of the priority list. The US seems more worried about ensuring military backing from the EU partners than solving other issues on hand. Indeed, probably the new common adversary encased in Al Qaeda’s terrorism requires a collective effort in lieu of a defunct ‘cold war’ with the extinct USSR now converted into an ally represented by Russia. Nevertheless, even in this new ‘war against terrorism’, I see a lack of realism in the world leaders’ analysis.

¿Can we forget that China, the emerging superpower with UN veto rights, not only is not a full-pledged democracy but likewise is a traditional sly manipulator of world political tensions in such vital issues as Iran & Korea?

Resolving favourably the Afghanistan issue is yet light years away, if ever a satisfactory solution is feasible on medium term. Yet, NATO members are attending the issue as ‘top priority’ with the presence of a no less insignificant and worthless Karzai. Instead, these nations should be discussing not only a common defence with Russia against ‘international terrorism’ (not only Al Qaeda), which goes from fanatic movements bent on destabilising democracies but also implies ‘economic terrorists’ who are capable of sinking the world into further long-term crises whilst bolstering their unscrupulous enrichment schemes.

While the powerful in economy and the military meet in Lisbon, the Nobel Peace Awards Committee has cancelled this year’s ceremony because China has not allowed the 2010 awardee, Liu Xiaobo, nor any family member, to travel to Oslo; Haiti is plagued by cholera and the population has uprisen in revolt against the UN Blue Helmets; Indonesia suffers from volcano eruptions with death toll rising; the Sahara territory under Moroccan dominion is isolated from the world whilst possible abuses are being committed; More than 30,000 children die each day due to hunger, and malnutrition shortens the life expectations of many thousand more; There are over a billion hungry people in the world today according to FAO’s malnutrition report, with almost 2/3 in Asia (where China & India have the largest populations) and 1/3 in Africa & Latin America.

I could go on to cite numerous such situations, not to mention that poverty has increased even in developed countries (15 M in 2009) the world over.

I wonder how our leaders can meet time and again to discuss economic & military issues and get nothing resolved to the world’s citizenry’s satisfaction in what really counts.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour


HAITI & THE WORLD’S FALSE PROMISES

October 25, 2010
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Scarcely nine months after Haiti suffered the earthquake disaster, it appears again in headlines the world over. This time is the outbreak of cholera that is brought to front page.

What really is concerning is the fact that the Haiti earthquake disaster harvested promises expressed in high-sounding phrases before the General Assembly and in other international forums. Today, when Haiti again is news, not only have the promises not been fulfilled but likewise world leaders and organisms have a rather indifferent reaction to the urgent sanitary needs of a stressed Haitian population still living in provisional tents since last January. Only Oxfam seems to have kept acting to bring comfort to the needy in the distressed island. The UN officials have not said a word about their role, which should be a leading one. Nor have the economic organisations linked to the UN seemed to seek the urgency of rebuilding homes and roads in the ruined Caribbean nation. Likewise, the USA and the EU have decelerated the flow of humanitarian aid after the first months of the disaster. Many nations seemed to have returned to their priorities and principal worries, the global economic crisis.

Where are those millions of Dollars & Euros in aid boisterously promised nine months ago? Has part of the aid received been deviated by corrupt officials in charge of the humanitarian actions? Have the countries delivered the sums promised by their respective leaders when the flashes and TC cameras registered their promises?

In any manner, world leaders have failed to fulfil their compromise with the disaster-stricken victims of Haiti. Aloofness and disdain of true world humanitarian affairs is part of the role that most leaders seem to prefer, as a shield from miserable reality. Only the economic crisis keeps them awake at night but snore whilst human beings die of hunger, disease or natural disasters.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


NOBEL PEACE AWARD: FROM OBAMA TO LIU XIAOBO, A NEVER-ENDING TALE OF CONTROVERSY

October 25, 2010
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No matter how many Nobel Peace Awards have been granted, the world remains immersed in a sea of violations of human rights, incessant wars and lack of just distribution of wealth …

A year has elapsed since President Barack Obama was named the Nobel Peace awardee. It seemed then that the Norwegian-based jury granted the prize in the hope of Obama’s future contributions towards peace. Twelve months later, the advances in those issues on his White House desk have mainly remained unresolved. True to say, the Obama Administration has firmly commenced the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, as promised. However, Guantanamo remains open with political prisoners accused of terrorism without democratic guarantees for their defence; nor has the White House efforts to foster Palestinian-Israeli peace talks given any significant progress.

To take over the honour of being the Nobel Peace Award in 2010, the Norwegian-based jury has elected a Chinese dissident to replace Obama as the champion of world peace. Liu Xiaobo not only remains serving a long-term imprisonment but will probably miss the Nobel Awards ceremony in his honour. Although world leaders headed by the outgoing awardee have pressured the Chinese Communist Government on the issue, as the days pass, interests seems to wane in favour of Liu Xiaobo’s release from prison.

Today, Obama is lost in the density of political meetings to try to save as many governors and congressional seats now held by Democrats. He scarcely has time to lose till the Nov. 2 mid-term elections and the dilemma created by the Norwegian-based Nobel jury on the 2010 award must be too far in the back of his mind today.

Other world leaders elsewhere have varied worries of their own trying to wade through the global crisis or local issues that require their full attention. Justified or not, each one looks for his own priorities and objectives, with little or no concern for ensuring human rights in powerful nations such as China. I wonder if their attitude would be different if the state in question was a less powerful nation with less economic and military influence on the destiny of Mankind.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona




G-20 TORONTO SUMMIT: LAST CHANCE TO SEE THE CRISIS FROM ANOTHER ANGLE

June 23, 2010
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Spanish Version              http://wp.me/pRlnf-1a


After a futile Busan meeting of economic ministers earlier this month, hopes of progress and consensus amongst world leaders at the G-20 Summit are scarce.  One inevitable question crops up – Are these government leaders governing their nations and the world for the citizens that elected them or for the financial markets that sway their fragile decisions?

Just as Obama was about to take over at the White House and Spain was first invited into the group, the G-20 met in Washington D.C. under a retreating George Bush. Two other summits, London https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/hello-world/ & Pittsburgh https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/the-pittsburgh-summit-the-world’s-future/ , have been held since then with practically the same futile results. Chances are that the Toronto summit will be more along the same line.

Whilst the USA has flirted with China in what was dubbed ‘G-2 formula’, the EU has been incapable of having a solid single stance towards international economic policies in the successive summits. Furthermore, the White House is cautious about withdrawing public expenditure hastily meanwhile recovery is hardly convincing. On the contrary, German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has whipped other EU leaders with French President Sarkozy’s consent towards drastic public debt cutbacks in the 27-member club. This opposed views will make it difficult to come to a common ground in the truly indispensible actions G-20 leaders must take without further delay.

Canada’s Prime Minister and summit host, Stephen Harper, is precisely against the only common point between US and European leaders – the levy on bank operations. His posture will probably be used by other leaders from emerging economies to delay any actions that may endanger their respective growth rates. However, this very growth may well be the cause of economic overheating in Brazil, China and India that could put any recovery in serious trouble. Harper, who boasts of Canada´s economy y banking solvency seems to forget that he heads a nations that has steadily lost relevance in worlds affairs and whose banks are too conservative to be a reference as institutions for the New Millennium.

Moreover, China may have apparently made a concession to the USA with regards the Yuan but it would prove naive to consider such tactical move as a definite trend towards Chinese permanent cooperation in all economic and political international issues. On the contrary, this move may well be countered by a rather steadfast stand against any of the US–EU proposal at the Toronto summit.

In a similar manner, Brazil’s outgoing President, Lula Da Silva, in an effort to impress Brazilian electors and assure his proposed successor’s victory will probably play a hard-line strategy against US proposals.

I feel that world leaders continue being incapable to think big https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/world-leaders-uncapable-to-think-big/ nor are they creative enough to view the crisis issue from another angle. It is evident that the G-20 meet must start off by recognising the main cause of this sneaky situation. No solutions will ever be effective if free-trade and globalisation isn’t governed by global financial & investment regulations agreed by world leaders and implemented under strict authorized international supervisors. The care-free ways of liberal monetary flows has been unleashed for three decades to produce the existing crisis that may well pervade another decade or so.

Is any world leader brave enough to put the warning bell leash on the market’s unscrupulous misdoings?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


HEALTHCARE, A MILESTONE IN U.S. HISTORY THAT DIVIDES AMERICANS

March 23, 2010
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President Obama has won the first round of a battle where several Presidents before him succumbed. In his scarce year in office, not only has he already made History by being the first Afro-American President that also won the Nobel Peace award in record time but also the instigator of a social change in American public health.

The internal war waged by anti-healthcare factions were not only directed towards the proposed new public health measure but went so far as to directly attack the President with all types of tactics. In fact, even prior to the East Room signing ceremony today, 12 states had already announced their intention of filing law suits questioning the constitutionality of the new law before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The most powerful nation in the world is a paradigm of how prosperity & progress can blind a population into the real values of quality of living. For such an economic and military power such as the USA, it is unconceivable that almost half of its population reject social policies that enhance their healthcare program. Having lived in that country for some time, I for one experienced that imperative necessity of having an appropriate private medical insurance coverage, just in case. Such situation is unthinkable even in the less powerful nations of the European Union.

Furthermore, have closely followed the public debates and strong opposition campaigns of vested interest lobbies, one cannot but be surprised that public opinion was intentionally misled by supposed risks of U.S. bankruptcy due to the then proposed measure, now enacted into law. Important media and affected insurance companies dumped the citizenry with false facts about the long term costs of putting the law into effect from now till 2014, when in truth; the U.S. medical burden today is way off costs in other developed countries round the world.

In spite of the historic signing today, this law will have a bumpy test run before it can slowly be put into effect. Its repercussions are yet to be felt in this year’s congressional elections and the sponsors of the so-called anti-Obama tea-parties will prolong their misdoings in a last-ditch attempt to stall the desired effects of said new law.

President Obama deserves a round of applause for his strategic steering of the vessel to safe port but his Administration must realise that once more the ship must sail out and face new thunderstorms of that archaic Establishment that has had its ways and whims in Washington D.C. for too long a time.

Is this the moment towards a real change in the outdated American way of life?

The President’s remaining mandate will be the testing ground of who is to have the final say before the next presidential elections in November, 2012.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


WORLD TRADE & ECONOMY JIGSAW PUZZLE: THE EXPLOSIVE G-2 FORMULA

February 28, 2010
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President Obama’s visit to China last November hastily coined a new economic axis, G-2, in U.S. and international economic circles. The results of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/obama-after-copenhagen/) a few weeks later seemed to confirm closer ties between two world powers with different goals. I for one was totally convinced that the Chinese theatre show would be short lived.

World trade events involving the U.S.A. & China in the last quarter have tensed relations. However, bilateral commercial relations have not been the only point of confrontation that has lit the red-light alert in the growing risk of rupture. U.S. arms sale to Taiwan and the Dalai Lama’s private visit to the White House have served to ignite the already heated atmosphere.

There are two main points that oblige the Obama Administration to watch their step in their relations with China :-

  1. The Iran nuclear dilemma
  2. China’s hold on U.S. public bonds

Let me analyse each item and the impressions said issues cause in other scenarios such as the European Union.

The Iran Nuclear Dilemma

The international scenario on nuclear development is supposedly supervised by the United Nations through its IAEA; such situation implies that the five U.N. members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom & U.S.A.) with veto power in the Security Council have final say on sanctions and nuclear power control. Having convinced Russia to back U.S. demands on Iran, China is the only veto bloc power that could frustrate U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran’s uncontrolled uranium enrichment scheme.

Being aware of its strategic vote, China has the Obama Administration in a rather awkward position. No words are required whilst China picks the flower dilly dallying on the issue.

China’s hold on U.S. public bonds

China may have as much as 20% of U.S. long-term bonds. A recent move to sell part of its holdings just as commercial hassle on Chinese products imported into the U.S.A., was but a warning of what China could do to effectively harm the still shaky U.S. economy. Furthermore, China has refused to revalue its Yuan, in order to rebalance U.S.-China import-export trade flow.

In this rather inflamed setting, American economic policies seem predestined to toe a soft-line where China is concerned. Nevertheless, President Obama’s bet on a G-2 axis to trigger a global world economic recovery is destined to fail. Moreover, if the U.S. Administration has still any hopes of soothing their Chinese counterparts with light concessions, it then becomes evident that the Obama team knows very little about Chinese Machiavelli-style use of time to wear off their adversaries.

Instead of a G-2 with this unreliable undemocratic commercial partner, the Obama Administration has to bend back to envision a more solid panorama where the other partner lies across the Atlantic Ocean, a natural partner for free-trade, economic sustainable growth, democracy and peace.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


OBAMA SPEAKS TO THE NATION

January 28, 2010
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U.S. President Obama is one speaker worth listening to even it means staying up late. He has command of language and an impressive presence in public, that very image that made him popular and landed him in the White House.

Last night Barack Obama returned to his campaign speech ways and challenged Congress leaders to back up measures he proposes to create new jobs and resolve economic problems of the average American. He knew that he had the audience nationwide and that his words would sink in deep to make it clear that he means business.

However, the President avoided putting pressure on ticklish issues such as the healthcare bill and only mentioned it in the passing. Likewise, for the first time in his 12 months in office, he blamed the Bush Administration for the economic crisis and two wars inherited. A wink to the Republicans on budget and tax cuts didn’t harvest the expected applauses but Obama didn’t deter from his intention to speak more to the gallery than to the congressmen and senators in the hall.

Surely enough, public opinion surveys showed an improved image. What I wonder is how much easier will the Obama Administration have it to pass bills in the Senate. In a congressional partial election year, politicians from both parties will be cautious not to provoke voters in their constituencies. I feel that the first bill to be sacrificed will probably be the healthcare bill, at least as to the extent of coverage and planned expenditure.

No matter how well Barack Obama may speak to the nation, Washington lobbies end up having most of their ways at the end of the day. The President assures he isn’t quitting but neither are the lobbyists.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


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