Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dear Candidates: Lead, Don't Loot
By Bashir Goth
The Question: The U.S. starts to choose a president this week. If you could send the candidates one message, what would it be?

My message would be simple and clear: Use the great American values of liberty, equality, and human dignity for all that are enshrined in the American Constitution. This is what attracts the world to America. It is the illusion of realizing this dream that appeals to people all over the world and makes America the land of opportunity. America defeated the Communist world not by force but by propagating these ideals through its powerful media, through its corporate culture and its liberal trade.

In Africa, it was the Peace Corps teachers that left the greatest impression on the minds of the generation that grow up in the 1960s and 70s. They not only taught the youth, but they intermingled with them, they learned their culture, some of them even married local people and a number of them became scholars in the cultural areas in which they worked.

America is at its best when it crosses oceans through its corporate power and not through its military hardware; when it sends its fast food chains, its Starbucks, its Hollywood movies and its freedom culture, and not when it sends its cruise missiles, its bombers and its marine fleets. I would like to tell the coming president, take heed of history; all known powers of the world, from the ancient civilizations to 20th century dictatorships, have started to crumple when they relied on military muscle. Force is the choice of the desperate.

Let the civilized, cultured and sophisticated and humane face of America obliterate the brutal, savage and inhumane images that the world has seen in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. There is no doubt that the whole world will follow America if America chooses to be a leader and not a looter.

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