Winning hearts and minds

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Some critics of United States global policy say that the US not only supports the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); it also created it (see, for example, www.global research.ca). Although that claim was hooted down as part of his disinformation campaign, Donald Trump said the same thing during the US presidential elections last year, when he said that ISIS is a creation of the Barack Obama administration.

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Trump’s counterrevolution

Donald Trump
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Supposedly founded, in 1776, on the proposition that all men are created equal, it took the United States nearly a hundred years to formally abolish slavery in 1863, and another century to integrate the races. That only in 2016 did a major political party nominate a woman for US president seems somehow apt: the right of American women to vote was recognized only in 1920 through the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, nearly a century and a half after 1776. (Filipino women won the vote in 1937 before the US recognized Philippine independence.)

The myth is that the United States is a beacon for the world and the benchmark against which the health of democracy, liberty, equal opportunity and social, political and economic equality should be measured. But these ideals have proven to be difficult to fully realize in the US despite legal guarantees. African Americans and other people of color still complain of racism in the work place and even in their neighborhoods, where being shot to death or surviving a confrontation with militarized, heavily armed police forces can depend on the color of one’s skin. The glass ceiling still limits the number of women in decision-making positions in government including Congress and the corporations, with the US, this late in the day, still to elect its first woman President.

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Independence, not isolation

Philippine flag by Mike Gonzalez
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The “independent foreign policy” that President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to adopt for the Philippines has for some reason been interpreted as either a policy of isolation or autarky in the sense of non-involvement with the rest of the world and a denial of the interdependence of nations, or as a total break with the United States.

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Two elections

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Elections this November took place in two countries that are geographically far apart, and have practically nothing in common. But the results were in both cases as expected, although due to widely different reasons.

In the case of the national elections — the first in 20 years — in Burma (officially Myanmar; the ruling military junta changed the country’s name in 1989), almost 95 percent of the 1,157 contested seats for the bicameral parliament were won by the main political party backed by the junta, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), with the rest of the seats being won by other junta- friendly parties. One opposition party that contested the elections won 16 seats, another, three.

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