Articles

Can you learn from America?


24 January 2020

 

By: Wimar Witoelar & Monica Ayu P.
We are so very different, America the world’s most advanced nation and Indonesia, a nation striving to make it into the ranks of the advanced. Yet there are remarkable similarities to make it possible, indeed necessary, to learn from each other. Population size, natural endowments, cultural pluralism, and a desire for democracy. One tends to simplify the analysis by looking at the chief executives as if it is useful to look at the presidents of each country.
Focus on the incident where the American President Donald Trump killed General Qasem Soleimani. Note that President Trump is at his best when making decisions without much deliberation. By virtue of his position and his natural talent for taking the initiative, he dominates any other thoughts around him and takes the most audacious action that he thinks no one has ever dared before. His ideas might not be original but they have not been tried. Like what he did on that fateful morning in January. From his vantage point in Florida, he staged drone strikes of high precision and technique against the most dangerous man in the Middle East who was in his car at Baghdad Airport.
Many had questions but nobody dared to challenge his decision. Only a week later some voices ventured doubts on whether Trump really knows the steps that should follow.
So the question is, where do we go from here? 
Important perspectives
Some of the best insights are given by adversaries such as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Foreign Minister questions whether the United States feels safer after the assassination of General Qasem. The truth is that the deployment of tens of thousands of troops shows a high feeling of insecurity on the part of the US. The United States violated Iraqi sovereignty and they violated the emotions of the people. The United States has an abundance of military equipment but according to Javad Zarif, beautiful military equipment doesn’t rule the world. People rule the world. The United States has to wake up to the reality that the people of this region are enraged. The United States cannot stay in this region with the people of the region not wanting it anymore.
Furthermore, Javad Zarif thinks President Trump is destroying the U.S. constitution and the U.S. political process. He has spent trillions without making the United States more secure today.
Among domestic US observers, 2020 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders remembers that the American people were lied to about the situation in Vietnam in the 1960s. This eventually produced a war that ended up costing 59,000 lives. A big lie accusing Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction caused the deaths of over 4,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of people in the region were forced to leave their homes. Senator Sanders believes that a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster, far worse than the war with Iraq, producing war that will go on and on and on.  Bernie Sanders is committed to congress do everything it can to remind this president about the Constitution of the United States. It is the Congress that determines whether or not this country goes to war and not the President of the United States. 
We don’t know how many more leaders are against the war in Iran. Probably everybody who has a stake in the direction of the US Government. It is quite amusing if it were not so dangerous to see how many people have no idea where Trump’s Iran initiative is going. Not the people in the White House, not the members of the US cabinet, and not the governments of the allied countries. 
In a way, Trump’s main purpose has been achieved, which is to shift the media agenda from the impeachment to Middle East emergencies. It takes Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi to stop Trump’s destructive path by launching a legal barrier based on the constitutional rule that war is the area of authority of the congress, not the president. Now Trump has to seek congressional approval to wage war, while his own initiative is a bit weakened because there is no act two to follow the opening act Nobody really wants to wage war, and the Iran regime is too smart to be provoked into actions of war. 
So now Trump faces two unfinished affairs, one is the Iran crisis which he started proactively and the big one is the impeachment crisis, which one could say is also on him. He is in a tough position but a lot of people fear, at least people who are not on his side, that somehow he always manages to get out of this crisis, which other people would leave helpless. 
Now his impeachment is going to the Senate. The rules are not yet clear, but party discipline is asking Republicans to vote for him. Now the moral pressure against the Republicans is getting more complicated because it is very hard to justify the impeachment process, going against the common interest of senators who are up for re-election. 
The Iran crisis is limited scope, if you consider the parties involved, but not if you consider the implications which could lead to nuclear disaster. Any act of desperation could cause nuclear firepower to be a part of the scenario. Although it is hard to imagine the world coming into nuclear war, it is quite possible. It is just a matter of how pessimistic or how optimistic you are. Nobody knows.
So there are lessons to learn from America. One is not to be swept away by political charisma and symbols. Keep your perspectives and stay informed.
==============

By: Wimar Witoelar & Monica Ayu P.

 

We are so very different, America the world’s most advanced nation and Indonesia, a nation striving to make it into the ranks of the advanced. Yet there are remarkable similarities to make it possible, indeed necessary, to learn from each other. Population size, natural endowments, cultural pluralism, and a desire for democracy. One tends to simplify the analysis by looking at the chief executives as if it is useful to look at the presidents of each country.

Focus on the incident where the American President Donald Trump killed General Qasem Soleimani. Note that President Trump is at his best when making decisions without much deliberation. By virtue of his position and his natural talent for taking the initiative, he dominates any other thoughts around him and takes the most audacious action that he thinks no one has ever dared before. His ideas might not be original but they have not been tried. Like what he did on that fateful morning in January. From his vantage point in Florida, he staged drone strikes of high precision and technique against the most dangerous man in the Middle East who was in his car at Baghdad Airport.

Many had questions but nobody dared to challenge his decision. Only a week later some voices ventured doubts on whether Trump really knows the steps that should follow.

So the question is, where do we go from here? 

 

Important perspectives

Some of the best insights are given by adversaries such as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Foreign Minister questions whether the United States feels safer after the assassination of General Qasem. The truth is that the deployment of tens of thousands of troops shows a high feeling of insecurity on the part of the US. The United States violated Iraqi sovereignty and they violated the emotions of the people. The United States has an abundance of military equipment but according to Javad Zarif, beautiful military equipment doesn’t rule the world. People rule the world. The United States has to wake up to the reality that the people of this region are enraged. The United States cannot stay in this region with the people of the region not wanting it anymore.

Furthermore, Javad Zarif thinks President Trump is destroying the U.S. constitution and the U.S. political process. He has spent trillions without making the United States more secure today.

Among domestic US observers, 2020 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders remembers that the American people were lied to about the situation in Vietnam in the 1960s. This eventually produced a war that ended up costing 59,000 lives. A big lie accusing Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction caused the deaths of over 4,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of people in the region were forced to leave their homes. Senator Sanders believes that a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster, far worse than the war with Iraq, producing war that will go on and on and on.  Bernie Sanders is committed to congress do everything it can to remind this president about the Constitution of the United States. It is the Congress that determines whether or not this country goes to war and not the President of the United States. 

We don’t know how many more leaders are against the war in Iran. Probably everybody who has a stake in the direction of the US Government. It is quite amusing if it were not so dangerous to see how many people have no idea where Trump’s Iran initiative is going. Not the people in the White House, not the members of the US cabinet, and not the governments of the allied countries. 

In a way, Trump’s main purpose has been achieved, which is to shift the media agenda from the impeachment to Middle East emergencies. It takes Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi to stop Trump’s destructive path by launching a legal barrier based on the constitutional rule that war is the area of authority of the congress, not the president. Now Trump has to seek congressional approval to wage war, while his own initiative is a bit weakened because there is no act two to follow the opening act Nobody really wants to wage war, and the Iran regime is too smart to be provoked into actions of war. 

So now Trump faces two unfinished affairs, one is the Iran crisis which he started proactively and the big one is the impeachment crisis, which one could say is also on him. He is in a tough position but a lot of people fear, at least people who are not on his side, that somehow he always manages to get out of this crisis, which other people would leave helpless. 

Now his impeachment is going to the Senate. The rules are not yet clear, but party discipline is asking Republicans to vote for him. Now the moral pressure against the Republicans is getting more complicated because it is very hard to justify the impeachment process, going against the common interest of senators who are up for re-election. 

The Iran crisis is limited scope, if you consider the parties involved, but not if you consider the implications which could lead to nuclear disaster. Any act of desperation could cause nuclear firepower to be a part of the scenario. Although it is hard to imagine the world coming into nuclear war, it is quite possible. It is just a matter of how pessimistic or how optimistic you are. Nobody knows.

So there are lessons to learn from America. One is not to be swept away by political charisma and symbols. Keep your perspectives and stay informed.

 

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