President Obama talked about U.S. jobs and economy in India and Indonesia this week.
Meanwhile, heâ€™s been questioned back home about these efforts and those of the Federal Reserve to jump start the economy through techniques that are being described as â€œdevaluingâ€ the U.S. dollar to aid American exports. This approach has been compared to the currency manipulation that China engages in and the U.S complains about.
President George W. Bush also just released his memoir and he has appeared on network television to discuss his presidency.
Thereâ€™s certainly a lot to compare between the state of the world and the outlook the U.S. has toward the world under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
With that comes an important need to measure the not only the actions and styles of leadership between these two presidents but also the feeling and state of mind we as the people of the country were and are dealing with.
These half-thoughts came to me this week as a story was relayed to me by an international student traveling during the time immediately after 9/11.
The story was hauntingly familiar, but clear that, unless it happened to you it would be easier to forget: Being questioned by Federal Agents, whole families were all but quarantined while on vacation, and even now are a cause for red flags for any friends who mention you as an acquaintance in government job application background checks.
That was 2001 and the U.S. government had just given a green light to protect us at all costs.
It seems today that many of us have moved on and are far more concerned with the economy and if we are going to be able to have jobs after the holiday season.
Are national security and the economy closely linked? The timing of the Wall Street and sub-prime industry crash could never come at a good time, but things did seem to be coming along well post-9/11.
But then again, it has been nine years and weâ€™ve learned a lot ÂÂâ€“â€“ things we already knew but had forgotten. The world has recognized and generally embraced that we are a global community and globalization is here.
As individuals we are impacted by activities across the globe in places weâ€™ve never heard of, and it behooves us to be aware of those who live drastically different lives. Maybe more importantly is to respect their way of life, even in cases we donâ€™t necessarily agree with it, as understanding and mutual respect is likely one of the more effective techniques in diplomacy by which we might expect to increase the kind of cooperation that results in change and compromise and maybe even peace.
The front line of this challenge could very likely be addressing issues like the cultivation of opium and poppy in regions such as Pakistan and Afghanistan â€“â€“ two countries where the U.S. is working to both fight terrorism, while at the same time spread democracy and diplomacy.
We have an opportunity to hear about this challenge Nov. 15, when the director of Narcotics and International Law for the U.S. Department of State come to campus to talk with students about his work.
Watching the two presidents discuss their approach for representing the citizens of the U.S. almost side-by-side this week really made me think of how my friends overseas are taking this in. Having been fortunate enough to do a fair amount of traveling, I am grateful to know and have friends in all corners of the planet and to know that the relationships Iâ€™ve created with people is usually the basis for a lot of my perspectives and ideas of conflict resolution.
Having these perspectives and the faces of these people in the back of my mind really does change the way I think about how I might have liked to change how our country responded to a bad situation. Maybe making more friends before trouble erupts is the solution?
Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental health. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.