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Sakmongkol ak 47

Friday, 14 November 2008

Style vs. Substance: Promises of Change

In an interview over Awani, Khairy Jamaludin aka KJ, said something on Obama’s foreign policies. It is something capable of general application. It concerns changes in policy. There is a big difference between changes which are cosmetic which are meant for public consumption and at the opposite end, changes which are substantive.

In America, the real instigators for changes in American foreign policies are the lobbyists. Large companies and even countries engage consultants to lobby American law makers into adopting policies which are favourable to them or at least are not detrimental to their long term interests.

Take the case of Obama’s Middle East Policies. Especially on Israel. Obama may not be overtly influenced by the Israeli lobbyists for example, but he relies heavily on advisors who are known to be hawkish as regards any threats to Israel. Zbigniew Brzezinski and others are pro Israel nonetheless. Obama's top adviser is Zbigniew Brzezinski.

What Obama has done is to change his style- from using lobbyists to using hardened advisors who are set in their style and prejudices. Thus, a change in style does not necessarily entail a change in substance.

Another key Obama adviser, Anthony Lake: he was the main force behind the US invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years during which they brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti.

Another Obama adviser, General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in '91 appeared smilingly on Indonesian TVs and later there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of US fighter planes.

Another key Obama adviser, Dennis Ross. Ross, for many years under both Clinton and Bush 2, a key--he has advised Clinton and both Bushes. He oversaw US policy toward Israel/Palestine. He pushed the principle that the legal rights of the Palestinians, the rights recognized under international law, must be subordinated to the needs of the Israeli government--in other words, their desires, their desires to expand to do whatever they want in the Occupied Territories. And Ross was one of the people who, interestingly, led the political assault on former Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

Another Obama adviser, Sarah Sewall, who heads a human rights centre at Harvard and is a former Defence official, she wrote the introduction to General Petraeus's Marine Corps/Army counterinsurgency handbook, the handbook that is now being used worldwide by US troops in various killing operations. That's the Obama team.

Therefore, as regards policies concerning Israel, Iran and those countries alleged to harbour terrorism threats, American FP under Obama will not undergo any substantive changes. What appears more likely to happen, are cosmetic changes that alter style but not substance.

Why is it difficult to alter substantive changes? Because the old ways and habits have been ingrained in the American psyche. Obama grew up in such a culture and is likely to internalise some of these unchangeable values. Therefore calling for changes will be a daunting task for Obama.

Sakmongkol has given his congratulations to Obama. He knows he is just following the crowd. If one doesn’t congratulate Obama, one can be accused of being a bad sport. Anti change or whatever.

Sakmongkol has also given his reservations on president elect Obama. Or rather, America’s foreign policy under Obama. He has warned about the rise of a messianic zeal to change the world. Obama’s foreign policy will see a rejuvenated American pursuit of cultural hegemony. In particular, the imposition of liberal democracy. Obama’s army of Libdems.

The principal reason for the rise of the new American cultural hegemony is the supreme confidence gained from the Obama victory. It teaches that anything is possible. Translated into geo-political terms, it will mean, the imposition of liberal democracy is possible anywhere. That will usher in a period of greater American interference in the domestic polices of independent countries. With people like Brzezinsky leading the charge, the Obama years will see a resurgence in American pro-activism..

People like Anwar Ibrahim and his roving band of bourgeois idealists, will warm up to Obama’s bandwagon.

It is very difficult to find one politician who is willing to hold a contrary view. We would like to see what our young leaders say about this matter. Muhkriz who has adopted a similar battle cry of dare to change, should say something about this. We want to see how he can bring out substantive changes in Pemuda UMNO in particular and UMNO in general. We are also all ears to Khir Toyo’s tempe philosophy. We want to see Khir’s formulation of inclusiveness.

Therefore, sakmongkol respectfully begs to differ, when people make it their avowed claims to change. He is not easily convinced. Please prove him wrong.

Easier said than done. More shadow to the substance. More hustle to the bustle!.


Anonymous,  14 November 2008 at 18:45  

tok sak,

i think najib should appoint u as one of his advisors. u are definitely qualified..


Piggy Singh 14 November 2008 at 23:33  

Salam Dato Ariff,

Heard that any president elected must comply to the wishes of jewish lobbyists, otherwise he will suffer the same fate as Kennedy. So doesn't matter democratic or republican as president, we will never see a true peace accorded in Palestine.

Also thanks for your visit, it's truly inspirational to have an endorsement from Sakmongkol Sir.


A Tabib 15 November 2008 at 17:08  


You forgot to mention two other personalities:

VP Joe Biden who's a self-described Zionist and a buddy of Anwar Ibrahim; and Rahm Emanuel the Chief of Staff. Emanuel is the son of an Irgun terrorist and spends much of his time in Israel.

The pro-Israeli camp has become so entrenched in the American political system since the time of Eisenhower that it makes no difference which party wins as far as the Palestinians are concerned. The US administration will do their (Israelis') bidding. In the words of Led Zeppelin, the "song remains the same."

As far as Pemuda is concerned, I agree with you that "change" is easier said than done.

It's the conundrum facing the reformed Chief of the Cannibals again: how does he change the eating habits of his tribe - so that they're just plain omnivores - without his ending up as the main item on the menu?

Of the three candidates, Mukhriz has had the least opportunity to make a fool of himself since he hasn't held public office. KJ can be counted as having held public office since he was the invisible wazir behind the Padishah Abdullah Badawi. KT? well, the less we hear of him the better.

I won't be holding my breath but if any of them declines a ministerial appointment when he wins, then there may hope for change...not withstanding the fact that some disgruntled tribesmen may then start heating the water in the cooking pot...

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