Category: Your Voice Written by Robert Weiner and Richard Mann
The news conference that President Obama held last Tuesday, where he led with the difficulty of the options in Syria, would have had a crisis of even far greater dimensions if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had not taken major steps toward Middle East peace before she left office.
President Obama and new Secretaries of State John Kerry and Chuck Hagel at Defense recently made trips to the Middle East. Obama visited Israel, the West Bank and Jordan in March, while Kerry visited Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq. Hagel visited Israel just days ago. None of these trips would have been possible without a little-noticed set of urgent shuttle diplomacy by Clinton.
The media regularly says President Obama has failed to bring peace to the Middle East. But “peace” there is even more of a misnomer than peace with the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. The U.S. and many countries ultimately realized that “peaceful coexistence” was a more realistic term and objective.
Last November, rockets were flying over Israel after the targeted killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. The threat to world peace with outright war was far more real than the braggadocio verbiage from North Korea now which all seem to be taking as a real threat. In Israel, the bombs and missiles were coming in daily. Nearly 300 Israelis were injured or killed. Israel had to fight back and did, firing the defensive iron shield system and attacking militant cells and rocket launchers in Gaza. This was real war if ever there was one.
Hillary risked her safety and life to go into the fray. She went to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo on Nov. 20-21 and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and other military and civilian leaders. In typical Hillary fashion, she determinedly flew back and forth and back and forth between the locations, and included U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in the discussions.
She told the Middle East leaders to stop the missiles and the bombs. She told them to negotiate. And she probably told them, secretly, that if they did, President Obama, and then the new Secretary of State to follow her, would visit, give them US prestige and credibility, and generate an ongoing relationship including continuing our financial and technological support. She probably also told them that if they kept sending missiles at each other, there was no way on earth that the US would send top officials there, they would all look like pariahs, and US financial and military aid from Congress would be threatened.
She brokered a cease-fire, sponsored by Egypt. In the Middle East, if you’re not at war, you’re at peace.
Syria—at Israel’s northeast border—is a world boiling point right now. The President is able to isolate the problem and our options just to that nation because of former Secretary Clinton’s intervention. At least some of the region is not a powder keg.
Hillary had a lot of accomplishments in her tenure – getting Burma to allow elections with the opposition including National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, placing a value on women’s dignity and rights throughout the world, garnering more support in a Latin American trip than any top US visitor since JFK until Obama’s current trip. In addition, her presidential campaign (the past one—a current one has not been decided) laid out a better foundation for health care—a cross between single payer and public option. Hillary’s plan would have been far more in step with the rest of the world. Other countries pay about half the price for a longer life span and lower infant mortality than we provide citizens in the U.S.
But when Hillary became Obama’s partner in the administration – a brilliant step by President Obama to bring in his strongest primary opponent – one of her biggest accomplishments was the Middle East peace process. Even though it may have had far reaching positive world impact, it was also her least noticed achievement.
Robert Weiner is a former White House spokesman in the Clinton administration and former chief of staff for Cong. Claude Pepper(D-FL),spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee, and senior staff for Cong. John Conyers (D-MI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Ed Koch (D-NY), and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). He wrote the epilogue to Bankole Thompson’s groundbreaking book, Obama and Christian Loyalty. Richard Mann is senior policy analyst for Solutions for Change.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 00:06
Category: Your Voice Written by Sen. Bert Johnson
Yesterday, May 6, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited schools in Detroit that are part of the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA). As is the norm for such visits, I am sure he had the opportunity to speak with several well-coached students about how great things are at their school. The reality, however, is less rosy. Click Here For Complete Story
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 10:13
Category: Your Voice Written by Princess Hayes
I don’t have inside information about whether Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s taking out petitions is an indication that he actually plans to throw his hat into the ring. I’m not convinced that if he seeks re-election he can win. I am certain of this: his potential candidacy makes a lot more sense than that of Tom Barrow. Bing’s flirtation with running was unexpected. He now says he’ll huddle with close advisers and family members before making a decision by the May 14 filing deadline. Come to think of it, his candidacy might be a healthy sign that the 2013 mayoral campaign will be more vigorous and dynamic.
Elected to a full four-year term in 2009, Bing inherited a city with devastating bureaucratic, fiscal, economic and social problems. The environment was so severe, the problems so deep-seated, they were beyond his ability to manage. So while he can be criticized for not finding the creative energy to fix high taxes, high crime or burgeoning deficits that would eventually lead to an emergency manager, the lack of solutions wasn’t entirely his fault. The mayor received no help from a generally weak and recalcitrant City Council, which seemed more intent of perpetuating its high-priced, high-perks existence than providing a high level of services to the people its members claimed to represent. With appointment of an EM, the council has been effectively, albeit temporarily, neutered. Going forward, any mayor might be more effective if the EM gets runaway spending under control and removes restructuring obstacles in the City Charter that gives the council veto over needed reforms.
That Mayor Bing has never stopped fighting for the city is reinforced by corporate giants who seem to be descending from the heavens to assist Bing in rescuing the city from the brink of insolvency. New firms and retail stores are slowly but surely relocating to downtown or Midtown. Young gentrifiers, apparently believing that Detroit has a brighter future, are quietly making their presence known. Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert and partners are on a downtown building-buying spree. Other business leaders are supporting Bing by chipping in millions for the purchase of 23 new ambulances and 100 new police cruisers in the fight against crime. Some 50 city parks will open this summer in part due to millions in corporate donations. Community groups, businesses, churches and block clubs will adopt more than 100 other parks. I think it’s folly, but a multimillion dollar streetcar system is about to be built — partly by private dollars — to shuttle passengers from the downtown area to Midtown.
Don’t think for a moment that the mayor’s contemplated entry into the race won’t present a challenge to contenders Mike Duggan, Benny Napoleon, Fred Durhal, Krystal Crittendon, Lisa Howze and Tom Barrow. At some point, the major media will get around to focusing on the foibles of Mike Duggan, considered at the moment to be the man to beat. I’m sure he’d prefer that some things in his political/business life remain buried in history. Sheriff Benny Napoleon is generally thought to be a finalist. But questions also surround Napoleon’s prior and current management styles. But then, voters will find something to criticize with everyone in the race. It is inconceivable that perennial candidate Tom Barrow believes he will be taken seriously. Twice he challenged the election outcome against Detroit Mayor Coleman Young and later mayoral hopeful Dave Bing. In both cases, Barrow claimed hanky-panky, rather than voter rejection, caused his defeat. He’s tried, but Barrow also can’t deny his conviction for bank fraud, tax evasion and filing false tax returns. For that, he served 13 months of a 21-month sentence.
So don’t count the votes yet. The mayor, through the power of incumbency, has time to redeem himself. And once the hyperbole surrounding the race is replaced by reality, Dave Bing could be the dark horse that overcame the odds.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:25
Category: Your Voice Written by Princess Hayes
Just 100 miles from where Trayvon Martin was killed, the slaying of an unarmed Black teenager that unleashed intense racial anger and antagonism, there is a new example of the racism and racial insensitivities that continue to punctuate our society. With Martin’s death still a bitter memory, a Port Canaveral Police Department firearms instructor did the unthinkable — Sgt. Ron King offered paper targets resembling Martin to fellow officers for shooting practice in the Florida town. King claims the targets were teaching tools for what not to shoot at, but his supervisors deemed his action inappropriate and he was fired last weekend. Throughout each day, newspapers, the airwaves and Internet routinely crackle with stories like this one, stories demonstrating that racism and the centuries-old racial hierarchy still exists. This destructive belief that skin color makes one group of people superior to another has dominated American culture, our institutions and our narratives consciously or unconsciously for centuries.
When Roland Martin says race played a role in his firing from CNN, when racial incidents erupt at a high school in Grand Haven, Mich. or when there are a series of hate messages at Oberlin College, all these events are widely reported in the media. Not much adverse news about racial biasis missed with the 24/7 news cycle, abundant talk radio, social media channels and the ever-expanding blogosphere. But do these stories represent the real real story about our communities? Not long ago, reporting on acts of racism was considered progress. After these media reports, it becomes less likely that incidents can be covered-up. Once hostilities are out in the open, frank and honest discussions can occur and perhaps lead to solutions that address the root causes of racism. Yet those committed to positive change and healing the wounds of racism, both past and present, recognize there is also a changing America out there.
This is also a nation of people with positive stories to tell about our communities, to tell about families of all different races and ethnicities -- the neighbors that we love and respect regardless of the narratives dividing us. Americans are working together, finding common ground in diverse neighborhoods and bridging their differences to sustain racial harmony in their communities, in their schools and in an array of public and private institutions, including the criminal justice system. But these are the stories that aren’t reported in the media and aren’t reflected enough in narratives regarding race.
In Michigan, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services is healing divisions between Arab and non-Arab Americans. The center engages communities to document and share personal narratives and collective histories of the national Arab American community’s experience after 9/11. It includes an exhibit, a series of public programs, educator’s workshops and community dialogues.
In New Orleans, the Ashé Cultural Center is utilizing art and culture to create a safe and healing space for all who come through its doors, especially young people in the community. Its Truth Be Told project includes commissioning and producing original art works that are made available to other groups, gatherings, and events to stimulate thinking and dialogue in the community. The center is expanding interracial participation in their commemorations and producing a series of film screenings, panel discussions, roundtables, and lectures to upgrade knowledge, thinking on race and the impact and influence of racism.
And in Chicago, the Collateral Damage Project conducts interactive research on gun violence, racial discrimination and gang participation in urban communities. It has resulted in a traveling exhibition, multi-media documentary and the development of a social networking website for youth. Their work explores the lives of 46 youths who lost their lives to gun violence and examines the destructive role that violence, discrimination and residential segregation play in urban communities.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:34
Category: Your Voice Written by Princess Hayes
This isn’t new to us anymore. Oklahoma City, New York, Boston and maybe West Texas, and Mobile, Alabama are all places where terrorists have struck right here on our own soil. And let’s not forget the poison-laced letter sent to the White House, and even though no one has officially confirmed it, the grounding of American Airlines flights for a day.That’s how terrorism is….the acts are horrible and the worry of what they might have been and the fear of what’s coming next is just as bad.
But one thing that comes to mind is how acts like the one in Boston really proves there are two Americas. There’s the part that includes me and a lot of you, the part that lives so far away from violence and police activity that there is shock and amazement at the very idea that a city could be held captive. Then there’s the other part in almost every predominantly Black city in America where living like this has become the new normal. Not to downplay the marathon bombing or its victims in any way. But that one day of terror should make people think about the way so many people of color live every day.
The kind of America that a lot of people fear is on the way — helicopters hovering overhead, curfews, metal detectors and armed security in schools, bars on the windows of homes is already here in parts of Los Angeles, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia and and the list goes on. Now that the Americans who were shocked at the possibility of being shot in their neighborhoods have gotten a taste of how many people of color live, will anything change? Probably not.
The celebration of the capture of the bomber and the great job done by law enforcement closed that chapter, until the next time. Meanwhile, drive-by shootings, armed robberies, and police corruption all keep happening in community after community, and the other America is just relieved it’s all happening on the other side of town.
Exactly one week after the marathon bombers struck in Boston, just blocks away from the president’s Chicago residence, a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed in a backyard. The mother of Cornelius German said she was waiting to pick him up on Monday night on a nearby street corner but he never arrived. Then she saw a lot of police cars race by. “I saw a police officer. He said a little kid got shot. Somehow, I knew it was my baby. I went back there. I saw my baby on the ground in the grass. I saw his gym shoes and his jacket.” Unimaginable for most, normal for too many.
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:10
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