Sunday, November 2, 2008

The World Is Watching

While those of us in the US are thinking about Election Day and who is going to lead our country, I recently came across a wonderful New York Times video titled Cuba Watches the U.S. Election which I would like to share with you.

It is understandable that Americans are preoccupied with this election. After all, some have said that it is the most important election of our lifetimes. New voter registration has soared and people across the country have stood in lines for hours just to get the chance to vote early.

But from the video above along with reading about detailed US election coverage by many foreign publications, it is obvious that the international community is no less interested than we are in the outcome. The only difference is that they can’t vote.

I have always had a difficult time understanding why we still continue the
US embargo against Cuba after over 45 years other than the political pressure from some Cuban-Americans who still have a blind hatred towards Fidel Castro. While the aim of the embargo was to put pressure on Castro to bring democracy to the Cuban people, most of its critics feel that the effects of the embargo have done more to hurt its people than the government.

Who can forget
Barack Obama's Berlin speech from July in front of an estimated 200,000 people? For the video of that speech, see this link. Although John McCain put down Obama as a “celebrity” as a result of his tour of the Middle East and Europe, it is hard to remember any American receiving so much positive attention in Europe especially since our relations with the world have soured so much under the policies of President Bush.

I think that the main problem we have in our attitudes toward some foreign countries is that we only think of them in terms of their leaders and not their people. For example, when we think of Cuba we think of Castro and when we think of Iran we think of Ahmadinejad. But this overlooks that behind all of the windbag rhetoric spouted back and forth by the leaders of our countries are ordinary citizens who are just trying to get along as best they can. Although there is still anti-American government propaganda in countries like these, the Internet and other forms of electronic communications have allowed people from all over the world to get to know what the American people are really like.

Perhaps the most controversial part of Michael Moore’s movie Sicko was when he took some of the people in his movie (including 9/11 rescue workers who got sick from the toxic fumes) unable to afford US medical care to Cuba for medical attention. And while Moore’s many detractors would say this was nothing more than a stunt, if you can watch the heartfelt emotion between the Cubans and their American visitors
in this video clip without shedding a tear yourself, you must have a heart smaller than The Grinch himself!

While those outside of our country cannot vote for our president, there is nothing stopping them from taking sides on whom our next president should be. Clearly Barack Obama has created the most excitement with his youth, energy, and willingness to engage our other world leaders on at least some diplomatic level whether they be friend or foe. In Cuba, many feel that Obama would
do the right thing and take steps to normalize US-Cuban relations. Others like New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof although not picking a candidate feels that this election will be an important step in having the US once again Rejoin the World. It is no wonder that the world is watching!

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