As the dust settles and the euphoria of the historic Obama inauguration ends, people all over the world are keenly watching what the next moves would be of the first black American President who won the presidency on the promise to deliver change.
Such high expectations cannot be avoided because the global influence of America is so far-reaching that policies issued from the White House, even if intended for their own domestic affairs, impact on the lives and fortunes of people outside the American borders.
But such influence – some call it dominance – did not come without a price, especially for countries and peoples who came under the American sway. In the course of building their own empire, the Americans did what European colonialists have earlier done: conquered territories and putting to death and destruction whoever resisted their colonial expansion.
The Iraqi and Afghan people are the latest witnesses to these destructive and inhuman aspects of the empire building of America. Earlier it was the Indochinese people and much earlier, at the turn of the 20th century, it was the Filipinos.
Of course, their generals, businessmen and politicians package their imperialist aggressions in terms palatable to the American public and the rest of the world who fall for their propaganda. In our case, it was labelled as “manifest destiny’, later it would be called as delivering “freedom and democracy” and in Bush’s term it was the “war on terror,” even if they were the ones dishing out a war of terror.
Before the last of the conquering army leaves, it makes sure that the conquered territory and its leaders would sign a number of unequal treaties and agreements to ensure that their influence and control will remain.
We recall all these to put into proper context the changes that we need and why there is guarded optimism even among those who have only the best wishes for Mr. Obama. For instance, even as the world applauded Obama’s signing an executive order calling for the closure of the notorious Guantanamo prison base, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro reminded the Americans that the base itself should be returned to its rightful owner – the Cuban people.
For the changes that we need: we should ask Mr. Obama to put an end to American military intervention through the so-called Balikatan exercises and stop propping up with millions of dollars the AFP which is notorious for its human rights violations. That is for starters.
Then, we should also ask him to stop pushing a free trade agreement (FTA) that is worse than the Parity Amendments and the Bell Trade Act put together.
But why address these demands to an American president whose job is to look after the American people’s interests when we have our own president who should look after the Filipino people’s interests?
True. But in matters like these, Malacañang takes its cue from the White House. #