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Take a Step Back to Move Forward

How is the U.S. seen from afar?

As the political session begins to move in earnest I think we should ask ourselves, how are we seen from afar? We think of our self as the belle of the ball, the bright and witty. But can we not learn from how others see us?

The Huffington Post has a posting from Soraya Chemaly titled "10 Reasons The Rest of the World Thinks The U.S. Is Nuts". The author goes into a detailed discourse on recent efforts by the Georgia state legislature to require a woman to carry a “stillborn or dying fetuses until they 'naturally' go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigs in the same situation.” One of the sources in this article is a winner of the Nobel Peace prize, a Liberian woman named Leymah Gbowee, who had the individual courage to demand peace in war torn county, her county Liberia. Ms. Gbowee makes some penetrating comments on the current tableau. 

We proudly call our nation “the land of the free.”  A recent feature in Al Jazeera, a news source that was won praise for its, “willingness to broadcast dissenting views” brings that into question. The author is John Stoenr, the editor of the New Haven Advocate and a lecturer at Yale. The author takes a long view of the Occupy Wall Street movement and moves to place OWS in a historical perspective.  What is noteworthy is that this article is one of the most viewed on this renowned site.   
The Guardian, an English newspaper, discusses in its Comment section, that this pampered private school elite can only lead to US decline.The focus of the article is on private schools, especially upper crust private schools in Manhattan. The author goes on to make the points that public funding for education has been cut to the bone where public schools “struggle to offer textbooks and supplies.”

It you look to the Montreal Gazette, they are reporting real movement in regards to the proposed Keystone oil pipe line. To my point of view this might be the key paragraph.  “Former Alberta energy minister and energy envoy to the U.S. Murray Smith said both sides — Republicans and Democrats — were more interested in learning about the issues surrounding the divisive Keystone XL pipeline and bitumen extraction in Western Canada than he had seen previously.” Could this be something we need more of - bipartisanship?

Do you recall the term “banana republic?” This harkens back to the days when “a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit.”  Our foreign policy towards countries in Central America was limited.  Are there not parallels in our current foreign policies? I would suggest that looking at the recent course of actions towards Pakistan is highly reminiscent of our policies towards countries in Central America. The remarks of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan writes she “has underscored Islamabad wants to build a relationship with Washington which has the ownership of Pakistani people and that it works for both sides in a way that is respectful of Pakistani sovereignty.”  This seemingly sets a high bar for the course of our future relations with a key ally.

I have had conversations with people from near and far regarding our beloved Electoral College.  How many people can explain it and how it works and why it works?  

For any country to be successful in the long term, we can not be seen as the school yard bully. We must calmly and succinctly persuade others to our to point of view. We will not be successful all the time in doing so. Then again, we do not have a monopoly on being correct.  There are many paths to the top of the mountain. 

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