Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Myanmar: The Path of Indifference

The Myanmar government’s deliberate policy of callous indifference towards the tragic plight of its citizens ravaged by cyclones during the past few weeks is nothing new. This ruthless and disgusting variation on humanity’s inhumanity to humanity has been played out repeatedly in the annals of history. Here are two examples. In 1943 (during World War Two) there was a massive famine in the Honan province of China. The late journalist Theodore White was in China as a correspondent for Time Magazine. When he heard rumors about the famine he went to Honan to investigate for himself. What he saw can be read in chapter four of his best-selling book In Search of History. What had had happened was that the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-Shek had ruthlessly collected all the grain that had been harvested in the Honan province as a means of payment of that province’s taxes, leaving nothing for its populace to eat. Theodore White filed a story in Time that exposed the horrors of the famine and the Nationalist government’s unwillingness to aid its victims. (Indeed Chiang Kai-Shek, instead of taking action to assist the victims, tried to get Theodore White fired). It was only after a massive outcry in the world press that Chiang was shamed into taking action to aid the people of Honan (it was the same callous indifference that led the Chinese people to overthrow Chiang in 1949).

The other example took place in the Ukraine in what was then the former Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War Two. The Ukraine (Russia’s breadbasket) had already suffered greatly during World War I and the Russian Revolution. It suffered even more during the purges and the Five Year Plans ordered by Josef Stalin during the 1930s. It was further bled white by the Nazis when they occupied the Ukraine from 1941 to 1944. But if that was not enough it suffered even more when Stalin, having reestablished his authority over the Ukraine after expelling the Germans, ordered a new purge and reestablished his failed agrarian policies—this resulted in a massive famine which led to the deaths of millions of Ukrainians. Nikita Khrushchev (Stalin’s commissar for the Ukraine) later wrote in his memoirs that the conditions in the Ukraine were so dire that some of the famine victims were resorting to cannibalism to survive.

When governments treat its own citizenry as enemies then death is the inevitable result. The only question being what manner of death will its people be forced to suffer and endure before it succumbing?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton: In the Arena

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails daringly greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”--John F. Kennedy speaking about Theodore Roosevelt

Although it appears that Hillary Rodham Clinton will fail to gain the Democratic nomination for President, she has done more to advance the cause of women in national politics than any other female politician. Her campaign destroys forever the sexist notion as to whether women can endure the rigors of presidential campaigning. What has been forgotten amongst the endless prattling on prime-time political talk-shows is that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign managed to endure this long and this far despite the disadvantages she had to cope with along the way. She was forced to handle the excess baggage of her husband’s past personal misconduct; her own Senatorial vote approving the second Persian Gulf War resolution; Barack Obama’s oratorical skills and charismatic personality and the key fact that as an African-American he siphoned off millions of votes that would have gone to her otherwise (Clinton backer Geraldine Ferraro was not being racially insensitive when she told reporters that Obama’s race was a key factor in his successful campaign. She was speaking a well-based truth but in this hyper-sensitive politically correct atmosphere it brought her into disfavor. If Obama were white he would not be in the lead with regards to the delegates) and last, but no means least, the antiquated hostility towards her candidacy based on her gender.

Three times in the 2008 campaign her candidacy was written off and the post-mortems were being read and three times she came back and won key states which sustained her effort. What the pundits keep forgetting is that her persistence reveals the enormity of character and strength that Hillary Rodham Clinton has embodied all her life. Her persistence and refusal to surrender (when others were preaching surrender) or shrink in the face of adversity shows that she does indeed to possess the desperately needed qualities that America must always need for its next President.

Again, she will not gain the 2008 Democratic nomination for President but she should not be deemed unworthy of a future try for the Presidency. People forget that Ronald Reagan failed to win the G.O.P. nominations in 1968 and 1976 (being a very close defeat) and yet Reagan came back, defying the questions regarding his age and his hip-shooting rhetoric and won two terms as President while forever altering the American political landscape. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political journey is not finished.

We will see more of her…and we will.