Before I go on leave

A letter to Mr. Obama

Dear Mr. President

I was thrilled by your inaugural address, I found much to agree with it, but the euphoria of the moment delayed the contemplation of a couple of its more interesting points. And I quote:

“…To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds”

Those are noble thoughts, and we thank you for them, but with all due respect, will you kindly leave us the hell alone with your offer of food, water, education as you open your hand to our dictators’ unclenched fists?

On the second part of that, I realize you spent part of your childhood in one of our poor nations and that you have seen the situation of the urban poor in third world countries. It is not a lack of water, or ability to grow food, or a lack of education that is keeping us poor, it is the lack of employment that keeps our incomes low. Most of us have plenty of water, food and other basic resources, and our children score higher than yours do in basic education examinations. We need your investments and your outsourced jobs far more than your aid. I realize this may lead to unpopular choices at home when your own economy is in a shambles and your unemployment rate is rising, but putting regulations on outsourcing and foreign investments to boost your local economy will make us poorer despite all the aid you suggest wanting to send.

But no rush. We did quite well during your last great depression, even if it helped start World War II which we regretfully had to bear more of domestically than you did. We understand that and have forgiven for evacuating your pledged military forces just as the Japanese invaded. It all worked out in the end and we got our democracy back in 1946 which your predecessor Mr. McKinley had stolen from us almost exactly fifty years earlier.

We like you and we like your words, but please understand that most of your predecessors had nice words also, as they treated many of our poor nations rather shabbily by supporting the sort of corrupt dictators you now wish would unclench their fists, while helping them suppress democratic forces who opposed them. We don’t mind that as much as the havoc your predecessors caused as you changed your minds and removed them. This has been our experience thus far at any rate and your offer to help is very kind, but we’d really rather you ease up on this issue. We manage to figure things out in due course and are usually better off for it, like we did with Mr. Marcos who then VP George Bush Sr. gushed over saying “we love your adherence to democratic principles” during Mr. Marcos’ third inauguration in twenty years. You would have laughed to see our eyes rolling. Your Senator Lugar’s telephone call to Mr. Marcos on behalf of Mr. Reagan was timely, but we sorted it out by ourselves enough for that to have been necessary. And thanks for the helicopter that pulled him out of the Palace. It made things a bit easier for Mrs Aquino the next day as he and Imelda were en route to Hawaii. Oh! Thanks for the handy place of exile too! You are from there after all.

We know you intend to be different and we want to hold you to your intentions as we hope don’t screw your Presidency up. But if you do, we understand and won’t hold it against you. We don’t hate George Bush as much as your countrymen do, because we’ve been there and done that enough times. It would be nice to see you succeed by behaving differently from the vast majority of your predecessors over the past 120 years.

Good luck & thanks!

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