Who Really is ‘Presidential’? Thoughts Ahead of Tonight’s Debate – #Election2016


Trump__Clinton-2.jpg

Bernie Sanders was not presidential [sadly to say – despite many of his ideals being great – if not the best compared to his counterparts].

That is something the American people are struggling to grasp – especially the youth.

What is – ‘presidential’?

Donald Trump – is not presidential. But for reasons different than Bernie. Bernie is, well, simply put, without any character, really. Despite all the slogans and witty catch phrases, Bernie is just another product of social trends. He isn’t Justin Trudeau. He isn’t Obama. He just doesn’t have any flair. Americans like intellect – but they equally value humor; athleticism; suaveness – or “swagger” in today’s terminology. None of these are characteristic of Sanders.

The same could be said of Donald Trump but for different reasons. He is too uneducated, vulgar, impolite, erratic & irresponsible for such leadership – if not to hold any post. He can barely manage his own funds – or his father’s, rather.

That isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton is ‘presidential’.

Back in ’08, I hadn’t heard of a guy named Barack Obama, but as the campaign progressed, I realized – I had just witnessed the rise of an extraordinary individual. This man is beyond brilliant – something that few people truly appreciate. I can say that the world appreciates Obama more than America – which is quite telling. That isn’t necessarily true – a lot of Americans love our current president. But the ‘other side’ is equally if not more bent on voicing their hatred – to put it ‘mildly’.

Ahead of tonight’s momentous occasion, the first live debate between Clinton & Trump – I share the following sentiment. People often expect too much. This is a sign of…a lack of experience maybe. But other forces play a role too. The world is suffering and yet, the average American struggles to understand the nooks and crannies of his or her own political system and culture.

As an Armenian-Syrian immigrant living in America – I must say that my perspective should be heeded. There are many causes which are directly connected to me that have yet to be addressed or have been horribly managed, by the US wholly but also precisely by US president Barack Obama, whom I continue to support. Why? Because I am not a perfectionist in the political sense – and expect some compromise – not always – but in times of necessity and urgency. There is much change, and much work to be done in the stride towards justice – but it is just that – a stride – a path. We cannot be held back by radical expectations which in themselves seek to paralyze our sense of progress. That being said it is clear to me there is only one candidate worthy of a vote in this election and that reasoning is from contrived a moral and practical logic – that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

So while she isn’t necessarily the perfect candidate – relative to America’s choices – she is definitely presidential.

The US president is a person of immense wisdom and discipline; responsibility and sacrifice; public service and family value. Which of the two candidates possesses these qualities? And if you have to think twice – think again.

What gets me is that Americans want to change parts of their system that are less relevant to domestic and global wellbeing while ignoring the more pressing issues. And then when a tragedy or crisis occurs, Americans are left wondering how or why. Instead of a Wall Street revolution there should be a minority rights and immigration reform revolution. Instead of a focus on spreading democracy abroad we should be seeking to reduce our arbitrary and partial political influence overseas. Issues like these are costing us – but instead Americans wish to focus on ideological ambiguities and polarized politics.

That is why the candidates have dwindled down to the current options available – one representing the so-called establishment while the other represents the ugliest part of the establishment disguised as anti-establishment.

It is undoubtable that America and the world must implement comprehensive political reform – but this is likely an impossible feat under the auspices of a hypothetical President Trump. On the contrary, Hillary, like Obama (but perhaps to a lesser degree since she is more hawkish) – will pave the road for future generations to at least further the cause of progressivism in its purest form.

Perhaps future generations will reflect a more balanced perspective on US politics – representing minorities; women; LGBTQ; etc. But this cannot be associated with any particular ideological strand or populist trend as it has been in this election. American individualism and personal responsibility, contrary to the ‘8th grader youtube conspiracy video viewer mentality’ – is not preserved or protected by the far left or right – but rather, by a careful, tolerant moderate centrist. So when I say that Hillary Clinton is in fact presidential – that is precisely why. She isn’t just the echo of our grievances – but also of our reason.

Advertisements

A Hitlerian Revisitation?


hitler.jpg

Bernie Sanders is the voice of the American youth.

What we can learn from ‘Brexit’ is that the youth are largely anti-conservative.

As Hillary Clinton gears up to the final moments of the presidential election, the nation is wondering if the worst might actually come true – a Donald Trump victory.

Donald Trump is bad for a lot of reasons, besides the most obvious which include his disdain for anything but himself. He is racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, ethnocentric and when it comes to ideology or economics he is practically clueless – simply exhausting the funds of his father’s enormous wealth.

Last week the DNC was hacked. Accusations are now thrown at the Russians. US media has entertained the idea of Russian-Trump collusion. Such is naive for a variety of reasons. The broader world does not care for a Hitlerian revisitation. Furthermore, America is ashamed to admit its own doing. Once again. Surprised?

Putin did not attack the DNC. This accusation is another right-wing conspiratorial narrative.

The right is built on paranoia and fear. It is a culture of self-depriving asceticism that results from a superiority complex; this in turn feeds authoritarianism and irrational radicalism. This pride is a hatred of freedom; a desire for exclusive freedom. Call it privilege; or apartheid.

That is why the right feeds on Islamophobia and sensationalist news coverage to perpetuate a narrative that builds on fear.

That the US is accusing Russia of hacking DNC emails prematurely is telling. There is such a disconnect between world powers. At least on the world stage. Who knows what is happening behind closed doors. But what is clear is that in plain view, the Russians are underestimating how much a US candidate can influence global politics. Trump would be a disaster for everybody but himself. He is just another pawn of global interests; despite his attempt to portray himself as the exact opposite – a force against the “global world order”. Even accusations about Trump’s involvement with Russian oligarchs is a stretch – not because oligarchs don’t exist; rather because they are largely exiled from Russia.

Recent attacks in France were apparently linked to ISIS. ISIS is not a political terror group – it is a religious terror group. The religion is not Islam – rather it is is Islamism. It is fueled and funded and caused mainly by the intimate US-Saudi relationship, which has preserved and perpetuated Wahhabism. ISIS cannot be understood as a coherent political movement. Nor can it be lumped into the same category as groups like Hezbollah, which has a coherent political strategy that does not make religion its focal point, but rather the political objective of Lebanese sovereignty.

Turkish politics has continued along its downward spiral into abyss. Erdogan is retreating to reconciliation with authoritarians he isolated after the Syrian revolution. If Erdogan was smart, he’d not only play these cards in his benefit – he would align this with Turkish national interest. What is more important to the Turks, a friendly West or sovereignty?

That is a question every non-Western leader is forced to answer, which is because the West, led by America, has been bent on violating national sovereignty since WWII. The world knows that America is the greatest and strongest nation on earth but that does not mean it is infallible. A better world would still exhibit American leadership, but it would also exhibit cooperative measures between world powers and periphery states, with a common respect for sovereignty. Under such culturally relative conditions, world peace, security, freedom, prosperity and cultural traditions can all be cultivated. Irrational politics, and radical assertions that play on miseries and insecurities and elusive calls for power-hunger are threats to all of this.

Democracy might or might not work everywhere. The violation of sovereignty works nowhere.

Put that into perspective.

Yervant


IMG_0195.JPG

“He who is conceited cheats himself.”

A quote from my grandfather Yervant, a truly magnificent spirit in all his splendor. He came to this country in 1920 to study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the first ever Armenian-Syrian to do so, but was unable to stay due to troubles at home. I dedicate my pursuit of life’s wonder to him, from whom I have inherited this deeply embedded ambition.

The Gift [Artwork]


The Gift.jpg

“The Gift”

Art by Nermine Hammam

Executively Produced by KRIKOS

Presented by Colours of the Culture

The Fate of the Middle East


c5b5ea2c842144e2b80919c08eb10316_6.jpg

The fate of Middle Eastern conflicts is that they are long and bloody.

More recently, they have been immortal.

The Palestine issue has almost turned into a hopeless cause in which activists are smeared as promoters of violence. The losses suffered by Arabs, while Israelis and Americans gain footing, is tough to look beyond. How does one have hope beyond all these drawbacks?

In 2003, Iraq was invaded. Ever since, terrorism has risen sharply becoming a norm.

Then the Arab uprisings occurred, and no real progress came about. In fact, the Middle East is arguably in worse condition than it was before 2003, whether it is temporary or transitional.

None of the world’s major powers have done anything to reduce the suffering and destruction – but they certainly have invested resources into protecting their interests and initiatives. As I watch videos upon videos of suffering Syrians, both inside and outside of their country, I become more disenchanted with the Syrian government’s lack of accountability, morality and disregard. Where is the empathy? The obedience of many Arabs to the tyrannical cults of personality which rule their societies isn’t that mind-boggling to me, only because here in America, we study things like the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. I see too much suffering happening to my people.

But if Palestinians are suffering the same fate, and have been, for the last 50 years, at the hands of a so-called democratic Jewish state, who am I to blame? Americans and Europeans are quick to point their fingers at Arab heads of state – but in Palestine and Iraq, conditions have been worsened not by heads of state but also by foreign occupiers.

The sense of distrust among Syrians, and Arabs altogether towards any attempt to “police” the Middle East should not be so difficult to grasp – though it is for many Americans.

But why must ordinary people suffer at the hands of political officials? The levels of political, economic and social control in Arab states is beyond apprehension. If we cannot trust democracies or authoritarians, we have nobody to go, but ourselves. In doing that, menaces like ISIS and al Qaeda emerge.

The narrative in America is that the Syrian people are suffering because their government is stubborn. Like many governments outside of the Occident, authoritarianism is rampant in the Middle East. Syria is one of the examples. With a notorious secret police service, haunting tales about political prisoners and disappearances, horrifying accounts of state terror, Syria is a prime example in fact. The state’s inability to accept a free society that enables economic mobilization, has led to an economic disaster in which tribal ideologies are sought for survival. In this scenario, ISIS is the shadow of Assad. Neither can exist without the other. Would ISIS wain with Assad’s end? Would the specter and appeal of Islamic radicalism lose ground because of a lack of justification?  In this case, the Syrian government is inciting sectarianism and extremism.

But this theory rests largely on the assumption that authoritarianism is the cause of the problem in the Middle East. If that were the case, it would be authoritarianism, not Israeli apartheid and occupation, which subjugates Palestinians. But maybe an end to authoritarianism, would also imply an end to Israeli authoritarianism. In this case, the menace to the Arab and Islamic world is not colonialism, but rather, authoritarianism – a domestic sentiment of political hubris practiced by political elites, whether they are Zionist, Alawite, Saudi or Shia.

In another scenario, global powers are playing tug-o-war for control of regions like the Middle East, Latin America, Central & Southeast Asia. These powers include the US, Europe, Russia & China. Here, the cause of instability is imperial overstretch, violating state sovereignty, stirring animosity and violence. If nation-states like the US did not seek superiority but rather economic development, the world could experience a state of co-existence. Culturally, the West is more inclined to domination. As a result, the East responded with their own mechanism for resisting imperialism – communism. Here, the instigator is the Anglo-Saxon civilization, which seeks a level of exploitation of others. But if all nation-states sought containment, there would be less imbalance and instability. There is a level of insecurity among the Anglo-Saxons in which they cannot accept a level-playing field.

Both scenarios are compelling. Others would point to less human based factors, like oil abundance or environmental factors. Some analysts argue the main cause of instability in the Middle East is cultural – Islam is unique.

All of the arguments have some truth to them but which is most compelling and which has the most support?

Since the end of WWI, the Arab & Muslim world became more vulnerable than ever. That is because the Ottoman Empire officially collapsed, withering away into a fragmented and divided states, leaving them vulnerable to colonial domination, which is exactly what happening via Sykes-Picot in the Middle East. In the 20th century, the West dominated the East through covert operations. But in the 21st century, this manifested through direct invasions, such as the 2003 War in Iraq. Then came the war in Libya. Now the US is considering its options in Syria and Yemen. It seems hard to believe, that the removal of Saddam Hussein did anything better for the Iraqis than his initial takeover to begin with. It could mean that Iraqis have to wait another hundred years before their country is able to function democratically and resist destabilization – but is this possible with a constant threat of foreign intervention?

All of these factors must be considered.

Personally I feel that because destabilization in the Middle East increased sharply after 2003 indicates the influence of foreign intervention. Furthermore, covert operations by the US to overthrow even democratically elected leaders further enflamed the fire of radicalism. It would seem then that the argument which points to foreign intervention in the Middle East, or occupation, as the main driver of terrorism and instability, to be the most compelling.

America has pushed for democracy in its foreign policy while not practicing it fully domestically. Furthermore, its pressures for regime change have only revealed its ulterior motives in meddling in the affairs of usually more vulnerable states. Only through containment of the US’ imperial ambitions can the world see a reduction of Russian assertiveness, the appeal of Islamic radicalization and global instability.

 

Stream all of KRIKOS’ latest music releases


America is Saddam


When “patriotic” Americans vilify others countries and their leaders, like for example, Saddam ‪‎Hussein‬, you forget one thing. When Saddam‬ dropped mustard gas on the Kurds; when he murdered his own people and sent their bodies cut up in boxes to Middle Eastern families; remember this picture?

Rumsfeld-Saddam