Back to the past

MOST FILIPINOS–85 percent of them, according to a survey by the US-based Pew Research Center–may think the US their lord and savior. But no matter how convinced they are that their devotion to the US is reciprocated, and that the latter will go to war for them in case of a confrontation with the Chinese bully, on the first day of his visit, US President Barack Obama expertly dodged the question of whether his country would defend the Philippines in the same manner that he unequivocally pledged to defend Japan.

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Double talk

BENIGNO AQUINO III was in attendance at the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in New York last September 20 where he also delivered the keynote address. Convened by the United States and Brazil, the OGP describes itself as “a new multilateral initiative to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.”

US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff are the co-chairs of OGP. The Philippines is one of only two Asian countries, the other being Indonesia, in the OGP steering committee, which has eight member countries: the U.S., Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines and South Africa. The Steering Committee members were supposedly selected on the bases of a country’s Fiscal Transparency, Citizen Access to Information, Disclosures Related to Elected Officials, and Citizen Engagement.

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High hopes and low points

Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States and the first black to assume that post on January 20, 2009. He was elected in November 2008 on a tide of hopeful support both at home and abroad. Both at home and abroad, many people thought that his term would be unlike that of his predecessor’s, and that, on the contrary, it would address and bring to a satisfying close some of the issues that had haunted the US for eight years, including the war of several fronts the fight against terrorism had become.

The hopes were understandable. The US economy was in shambles, with jobs lost, manufacturing plants shut and many facing uncertain futures. Worse of all, as Obama noted in his inaugural speech, while the economic and social indicators of the crisis were evident — “ Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet,” “less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”

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The pit and the pendulum

He did say during the campaign for the Presidency that the US should talk and “meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe alike.” But it’s beginning to look as if talking to everyone may have consequences he and his advisers may not have foreseen—or don’t consider priorities for US interests.

“Not talking doesn’t make us [the United States] tough,” said Barack Obama in 2008, “it makes us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership.”

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