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Does Being Pals With Sketchy Leaders Help the US?

In case you guys missed the big controversy over the weekend, on Saturday Barack Obama smiled at, shook hands with and accepted a gift from the ever incendiary president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. They're basically in love.

Critics, like Dick Cheney, say the handshake could make enemies "think they're dealing with a weak president." But Obama says reaching out to enemies strengthens our hand. Obama thinks a little listening, opposed to heavy-handed diplomacy, will make foreign leaders on the margins cooperate with the US. Obama also pointed out that America has nothing to fear from Chavez since his "defense budget is probably 1/600th of the US."

In addition to shaking hands with a man who has called the US the most "murderous empire that has existed in the history of the world," Obama has shown signs of thawing relations with Cuba and Iran. Are you on board?


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
I don't think it's making pals it's more about being respectful and trying to see the other person's point of view. Obama is just trying to resolve some of the tension that the US has caused in the world. I think it's great and makes these politicians less likely to lash out against the US in the future.
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
I agree with hypnotic. We, as Americans are able to live or our lives in a freer society than that of even China, where they still control the media completely and even the amount of children people have. We are by no means perfect but the fact that I work outside of my home, wear pants, and had children out of wedlock without being hauled in by the police or killed without at least the appearance of looking for my killer, is what keeps America off of that same level.
EmmaDilemma EmmaDilemma 8 years
* by this way, I mean in the way of N. Korea et al
EmmaDilemma EmmaDilemma 8 years
Hartsful, although the American government doesn't govern in this way, it has supported and continues to support governments which do do such things. I would say that the position taken against Hugo Chavez and other such leaders by W is a hypocritical one, in the tacit support that the U.S. has provided for WORSE regimes, in my opinion. The problem with Chavez, for example, is not human rights abuses, but his witholding oil from the Americans. Were he not "guitly" of witholding oil from the US gov't, I don't really think that anyone would care.
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
oops missed a comma between gender and social.
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
As always hypnotic, very well put! :)
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
The US has violent societies, neighborhoods, schools, movies, books and things that are not of the govt. Yes we might have crooked cops and politicians. But our govt doesn't condone (yet) denying education to people based on gender social status or race. Our gov't doesn't deny liberties (yet). It isn't acceptable for a woman to be raped on the street for punishment here. It isn't acceptable for a young couple to be killed because they went against their parents choices. People of all ages and genders are not stopped by law or govt to not cover their heads, or flirt, or court. A construction worker wont be killed for being annoying to us for cat calling and we have the right ourselves to be annoyed or yell back etc. Just a very small example of the govt doesn't make our choices for us.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
The U.S. is certainly not the most violent or malicious or close to it. However the U.S. is certainly one of the most controlling and in more recent History one of the most manipulative. IMO our protection of our so called interests abroad have led us down a slippery slope of contradiction when it comes to our principles leading us in many cases now to speak out of both sides of our mouth. So I'll agree that the U.S. is guilty of unsavory practices but to suggest that we are no better than N. Korea or Iran is very short sighted.
Fushaa Fushaa 8 years
Mermei, I do seriously believe that the U.S is no better than Iran, North Korea or China when it comes to issues such as human rights and other abuses. And, there are in fact, people who fear for their lives due to the actions of the United States. It doesn't make it any less of an issue just because those people may not be Americans. What is presented on the news, in papers and other media is not the full story. No reminders necessary :)
mermei mermei 8 years
Fushaa, I guarantee you cannot come up with any accusation that I haven't heard before. But seriously, you really think the US can go head to head with Iran, or North Korea, or China on human rights abuses? With Saudi Arabia? With the many failed states in Africa, such as the Sudan or Somalia? Hell, reporters critical of the Russian government keep mysteriously disappearing. The best part of the United States is that there are numerous critics who do not fear for their lives who will hold the nation accountable for its transgressions. Personally, I'm very glad of that. But even as an imperialist power with a recent record of torture, no, the US is absolutely not by any standard the most "violent, malicious, controlling and human rights violating country in the world." I cannot believe that an intelligent person needs to be reminded of that.
cptnruthless cptnruthless 8 years
"keep your friends close, and your enemies closer". Personally, I like that he's not just ignoring them and pretending that they don't exist - maybe having a positive relationship will turn around some of the negativity.
redchick152 redchick152 8 years
this is one of the reasons that i LIKE obama...he is our NEW president and he's trying to act like a professional in a professional setting. its not like he's shooting hoops w/ chavez! being new, he has a different and fresh perspective on things and there is nothing wrong with him meeting with/talking to our so-called enemies. i think thats the whole reason he was elected--he has DIFFERENT ideas.
Fushaa Fushaa 8 years
You question whether we know anything about other countries in the world, I question how much you really know about the U.S?
mermei mermei 8 years
"Welcome to America. A lot of people don't realize that in it's own way the US **is** the most violent, malicious, controlling and human rights violating country in the world." Wow, that is an extraordinarily ignorant statement. Seriously, do you know anything about any other countries in the world?
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
I agree with Fushaa, EmmaDilemm, and SidneyT.
karlorene karlorene 8 years
i think its ridiculous
cordata cordata 8 years
I'm disturbed by the term "sketchy leaders" - do any leaders of predominately white countries fall into that category? Leaders who were illegitimately elected? Or just countries that the media decides not to like on a certain day? The US needs to have a dialogue with ALL countries. It's not a pick and choose kind of thing
Fushaa Fushaa 8 years
SydneyT22: I couldn't agree with you more! In such an individualistic and power hungry society it seems that people are more concerned with who has the upper hand. As long as it's the U.S people are OK with the whatever policies have been implemented and whatever actions have been taken, regardless of what rights are violated and who is invaded. I also want to say that I am disappointed with TresSugar for even presenting the idea in such a manner. So, while I voted yes on this question, it was definitely NOT for the reason given.
EmmaDilemma EmmaDilemma 8 years
I'm a bit confused as to what is the difference between Hugo Chavez and the other "thugs" (i.e. Agusto Pinochet) that U.S. foreign policy has been friendly towards. I think this is an important and positive move away from the "with us or against us" (and by us, capitalist/pro-US values) that has been characteristic of US foreign policy in the 20th century. Chavez doesn't begin to enter the realm of human rights abuses committed by other regimes which the U.S. has supported, so why is it negative that dialogue is being opened?
SydneyT22 SydneyT22 8 years
Wah Wah wah, the tone of this article sounds ignorant and it bothers me. Why call diplomacy and the attempt to TALK to other world leaders good or bad a mistake? Just because it has a history of being a violent, malicious, controlling, human rights violating government? Welcome to America. A lot of people don't realize that in it's own way the US **is** the most violent, malicious, controlling and human rights violating country in the world. But it's ok, cause we're in power and no one can critisize. So, for once a leader of our country rather TALK to the big bad guys instead of continuing to act like one? I don't think it's a matter of keeping yor friends close and your enemies closer, that's a simplication or a very complicated problem.
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
I'm w/ that lucky! :true: :)
luckykarma luckykarma 8 years
I respectfully disagree with you hartsfull, I don't care where my news comes from, I just care that I get it.
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
Absolutely Red! :true:
Red77 Red77 8 years
If I was about to run out of gas, and the only gas station near me was a Citgo or 7-11 Citgo, I would run out of gas and call roadside before I EVER gave a dime of my hard earned money to Chavez. READ about him, people. LEARN what he thinks of this country and what he wants to accomplish.
hartsfull hartsfull 8 years
Those are good points tele! :) I have to say I agree w/ an open mind to communicate. I don't like the buddy buddy look of it all though.
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