Anton Goryunov reports from Rangoon: Is it just me or has President Barack Obama got it into his head that he is the greatest authority on democracy, freedom, human rights and all that other stuff that Western leaders like to talk about but not actually abide by? I mean, there he was, addressing an audience in Rangoon, describing his vision of how freedom would turn Burma into a land of prosperity and abundance if its rulers stopped harassing their own people and follow the advice of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman every self-respecting Western leader wants to be photographed with these days.
Mr Obama delivered one of the most politically correct speeches of his presidency in Rangoon, not forgetting to point out that not that long ago the colour of his skin would have prevented him from voting, let alone become President. In fact, so PC was his speech that the audience barely applauded him, even though he made those pauses when applause was expected. It’s one thing addressing the leftie luvvies in New York or London where words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ cause a spontaneous orgasm and a violent outburst of emotions but it’s a totally different ballgame in Burma where most people know that behind every pledge of freedom lies some nasty agenda that usually benefits the few and not the many. These people also know that America’s ‘helping hand’ can be a double-edged sword and drag whole countries under the influence of multinational corporations that have only their own interests in mind.
In all honesty, it was difficult to understand why Mr Obama decided to do his current Asian tour at a time when America is balancing on the edge of the financial cliff and risks sliding into a financial meltdown. Foreign tours are usually conducted by political leaders to distract attention from their domestic failures. Considering the situation in the US the President should have probably concentrated his efforts on sorting out the mess at home rather than pledging his loyalty to the Asian Pacific region.
And then, of course, there is the issue of communist China that the Obama Administration has to grapple with. We have a situation, ladies and gents, when the US President talks passionately about the need to have freedom and democracy in order to achieve prosperity but at the same time finds nothing wrong with dealing with a brutal communist dictatorship when it comes to selling it US Treasury IOUs to keep America afloat. Doesn’t work like that in the real world, you know. You either do what you preach or risk being accused of hypocrisy and a very sinister form of pragmatism by treating different dictatorships differently. Yes, including Saudi Arabia as well.
And another thing: Mr Obama tried to do his best promoting America as the oldest democracy in the world because of its love of freedom. Well, after a presidential election costing around $3 billion, when the American people were forced to choose the lesser of the two evils while more than 100 million didn’t even bother to cast their ballots these statements sounded a wee bit far-fetched, if you know what I mean.
I rest my case.