Sunday, April 02, 2006

Condoleezza Rice's UK Visit

According to an article on the BBC website (several articles, actually), US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently paid north-western England (and Jack Straw, in particular) a two-day visit.

Although I do not agree with many actions and policies of the Bush administration, I did agree with some of what Rice said to reporters there.

For example, I approved of the following:
"Ms Rice said her meeting with local Muslim leaders had been 'stimulating and candid'.

She said they had discussed how conflicts could be better resolved through 'politics and debate than through conflict and violence'.

What had emerged, she said, was the view that 'There is no difference or conflict between Islamic values and democratic values.

'In fact people who practise Islamic faith live here in a great democracy, as participants in a great democracy, as they do in the United States, as they do in India, in Indonesia and other places around the world.'" — from the article
What Rice says may all be insincere, and the visit may be nothing more than political posturing (that is, it may have no actual effect on policy or attitudes). Still, I like that she talked with local Muslim leaders and spoke of Islam in a positive light. I also like that she said that the protesters (of which there were many) were exercising a democratic right, and were not out of order. If members of the US government always acted like this, they would probably have a better reputation (justified or not).

In case it isn't obvious, I don't think it is enough to seem tolerant and open. If the US government were more diplomatic, but actually had no respect for others' opinions, that clearly wouldn't be acceptable.

Speaking of which . . . Yes, I do think the US government and any other government in the world should listen to and respect the opinions of foreigners. We non-Americans don't have the right to dictate US policy, of course, but we may have thought-provoking things to say. Furthermore, we do have a stake in US policies. That's what comes with being a superpower; people care what you do and say, and they will have opinions. The responsibility that comes with power, etc.

Anyway, one trivial thing that bothered me about the article was in the following quotation:
"We have to recognise Guantanamo is there for a reason, because we captured people on battlefields... who were either plotting or planning or actively engaged in terrorist activities." — Condoleezza Rice
Leaving the whole Guantanamo issue aside, isn't the statement a little contradictory? People on battlefields tend to be called soldiers — soldiers who plot, plan, or actively engage in military activities — don't they? Where guerilla warfare and things of the sort are concerned, I should think that terms like "battlefield" don't apply. I suppose this is all part of the "new kind of warfare." I should get with the times. :o)

To be fair, I will mention that (judging from the ellipsis) part of the quotation was left out in the BBC article, so I may be taking things out of context.

One last little note: Interesting that the British don't seem to like putting periods in their abbreviations (e.g. Ms, Lt Col) . . .


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