Presidential Politics and Foreign Affairs

I want to take a personal approach to this topic as I do tend to take to every topic in this blog.  Foreign affairs of the world I live in as I see it is the foreign affairs environment being discussed just here. I am an American, a Roman Catholic and an Anglo-Acadian and each of those identities are in themselves sets and networks of connections that arrange my interactions with and connections to the other people in the world. They are not the only identities I hold nor or all the connections I make filtered through these realities. But they are enormously important connections to understand if one wishes to understand me or  how I see the world. Family and friendship for example are almost always touched by my national citizenship, faith and ethnicity even when a friend has none of these things in common with me. Family gatherings often center around a faith event. So I am the real dyed in the wool kind of Catholic who as an American looks forward to the Pope’s approaching visit.

My niece Anika at her confirmation with her baptismal godparents who are my sister Mary and myself. Anika's mother, my sister Sarah took the picture.

My niece at her confirmation with her baptismal godparents who are my sister Mary and myself. My niece’s mother, my sister Sarah took the picture.

 

I’m writing this post at a complicated place in my life to be thinking about foreign affairs. One fact is that the Pope is coming. I have been looking forward to that event with some interest. It’s an event that has affected my reading and viewing choices lately. In the recent ABC teleconferences with the Holy Father there was an emphasis on his connection with Catholic immigrants into the United states as well as with the Catholic Hispanic Population. You can link to that event here. The White House  has begun to put forth its own vision of the Pope’s visit since just after the President’s visit to the Vatican in March and you can see something of that view of the September 23 visit of His Holiness just here.  The Pope will likely address climate change, life ethics, immigration and social justice during his visit to the United States. Together on a number of occasions a President of the United States and a Pope have set an agenda for at least some of the prominent geopolitical discussion around the world. It may well be that this visit of the Pope to America will involve that kind of cooperation and interaction with the Obama White House. Some people are discussing Pope Francis and Donald Trump as being antithetical beings. There is some truth to that sense that they may likely clash on immigration and the mere fact that His Holiness is a Latin American. But the idea of antithesis can be overdone. I here Donald Trump has looked into buying the Pope’s favorite soccer team in Argentina. If that is true then surely they would have some mutual interests to discuss.  I am not sure what any of the Presidential candidates really think about the Pope’s visit nor how that visit will play into image of  the Obama Administration that they all need to address in their campaigns.

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Where I was baptized, made my First Communion and was wed.

The St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Where I was baptized, made my First Communion and was wed.

 

I’m not sure if my sense that the U.S. is in a place where I would be foolish to feel intensely connected to any of the current political candidates is mostly because of my own sense of having reached a place in my life where any hoped for outcomes seem unlikely. I am far past the point of making choices or experiencing successes which would enable me to feel the joys and vulnerabilities now which resemble those I felt when I was young. For the facts that I have made evident over years of this blog are facts that I am  more than alittle alienated from any kind of American dream. But I look to each of them and hear the stories of faith as diverse as Rubio’s experience with Catholicism and having been a Mormon, Jindal’s conversion to Catholic Christianity from the Hinduism of his background with or without Muslim influences. I study with interest the bold Protestant Christianity of Huckabee and Carson.This is a post on foreign affairs and so why mention the faith of several candidates and take so much time to discuss faith given how brief these posts are? It is not merely because of the Papal visit. It is because dealing with the world is a very diverse set of issues that can include almost any situation and demand people to analyze almost any set of circumstances. Therefore the questions of religious, spiritual and philosophical frameworks do seem to matter a lot in these connections. I have discussed Hillary Clinton’s religion before and you can revisit that here.   I have also discussed how our country as a whole relates or might relate to the Pope and you can revisit that discussion here. Cuba is releasing thousands of prisoners in anticipation of the Pope’s visit and it is understood that Pope Francis brokered the new relations between the United States and Cuba. He already comes bringing an influence that the next President of the United States cannot ignore.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

The question of how America fits in to the world not only demands our attention as voters in this cycle of Presidential party primary elections but also is a question that many people have to deal with daily. China is one of the principal sources of development investment in Louisiana and is also one of the primary markets for Louisiana’s agricultural products. Although I have been to China and have other connections there I do not have to leave this place here in rural south Louisiana for the relationships between the United States and China to affect me and concern me. The fairly rapid loss of 39% of the value of the Shanghai Stock Exchange index value is a real concern for those living life in Acadiana. That did happen and so we here should want to know what Presidential candidates think about all of this. But thinking is not enough. We can see that Hillary has had some dealings with China. Beyond that it takes more effort to see what each person running for office may have had in terms of experience with China. I join with Thomas Sowell and others who have said that the GOP would be well advised to remember all that governors learn about governing but let us also remember what happens in the world is largely about understanding the parties with which one is dealing. What do the candidates know about governing. China is a real place made up of real people and institutions.

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The Iran Nuclear  Deal as it is currently called  also demands some experience and understanding.  We all live in a world which is full of complex connections from Russians moving troops into Syria to Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda sometimes fighting against each other and sometimes on the same side. The chance to elect a President of the United States is a chance to elect someone who understands and can negotiate in the Muslim world and with all the other powers who are into Muslim and have complex relationships with people in that world.

I am as far out of power as it is easily possible to be. I am also very far from effectively engaging in political struggle. But I have a voice like all of you and intend to use it. Now is the time for questions. Those questions may save us a lot of trouble later.

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