Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Presidential Travels: Why Mongolia?

Well, today just that question was answered over at "Ask the White House"--"an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House." Dr. Michael Green was doing the honors today, and this was his answer:
In Mongolia the President will congratulate the Mongolian people on the progress they have made to become a mature and stable democracy and he will thank them for their role in Iraq. Per capita only two other countries have sent more of their soldiers to help the Iraqi people establish a democratic and stable nation. It is young democracies like Mongolia's that often understand freedom the most, and the President wants to say thank you. He also wants to demonstrate that even remote countries have a strong friend in the United States when they embark on the path of reform and good governance.
Interesting note about the per capita involvement in Iraq. I hadn't considered that before.

In response to whether the American President will take in any cultural sights and sounds in Mongolia, Dr. Green mentioned that "the President and First Lady will visit a traditional Ger (felt tent) village to see Mongolian traditional throat singing, horse-head fiddle playing and other cultural events."

We look forward to the actual trip and to seeing what comes of it.

After all, it's not every day the leader of the Free World visits the Central Asian steppe.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but I don't think the White House is a very good source for anything informative. (Consider, for example, the "fake news" that spews from certain US gov't agencies, paying of columnists etc.) The current US administration is extremely secretive about its real, underlying intentions. (While this is a historical fact, it's more prevalent during the current administration.) I certainly would not give too much credibility to Bush's democracy verbage. (I live in the States; I know.) Don't you think that the ever closer ties between Russia and China plays a role as to why the US officials are visiting Mongolia? Although Bush calls Putin his "friend," US administration officials have been critical of China for a number of reasons, whether rightly or wrongly.

11/10/2005 8:21 AM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Anonymous (11/10/2005 8:21 AM)--

The day that the Bush administration or any other administration is completely transparent with the public about what they're doing will be a cold day you know where. As it is, I don't think that what Dr. Green wrote yesterday about the president's visit was patently false. Do you? If anything, it's incomplete.

To wit: As far as other geopolitical reasons for Bush's visit, I think that you're right on target. You ask "Don't you think that the ever closer ties between Russia and China plays a role as to why the US officials are visiting Mongolia?" Absolutely. America would be a dummy to not foster closer relationships in that part of the world. And it would also be a dummy if it came right out and said "we're trying to keep a lid on Russia and China by forging an aliance with Mongolia." Splitting the difference between competing interests is called politics. And unfortunately, yet necessarily, politics is a dirty and dishonest business.

Either the first or last part of your sentence is a non-sequitur. But re the first part: yes, although Putin is America's diplomatic "friend," that doesn't mean that America's still not wary of him and his plans. That shouldn't come as a surprise.

As far as the US's criticism of China is concerned, it's not limited to this administration. Also, are you at all critical of China? I think that the US is critical of China for largely the same reasons that you are. And being a government--and a strong one at that--the US is puting its muscle where its mouth is sometimes does more than just talk. Even if you disagree with the manner, wouldn't you agree that the administration's motives are right?

These aren't rhetorical questions. Please drop me a line if you have a moment.

11/10/2005 10:14 AM  
Anonymous yan said...

I don't think Bush's visit is anything more than a n opportunity to produce some feel-good foreign policy headlines. I somehow got the impression they want to show that there are some countries where exporting democracy actually works. Never mind that there were also other factors than US foreign policy that played a role in the democratization of Mongolia.

I don't believe in any hidden agendas, either. Because of her two real neighbours, Mongolia simply has little geostrategical value for anyone except those same two neighbours. No matter what Bush says to the press, Russia and China probably know pretty well that against their will, noone could guarantee Mongolia's integrity and souvereignity. Mongolia, on the other hand, knows that their best chance to protect themselves against foreign meddling is to raise the policitical cost of such acts. Hence the "third neighbour"-policy (the term has been around quite a while, and referring to anyone from S.Korea to the EU), and the attempts to raise her international profile by participating on peace missions like in, umm, Iraq, or soon in Kosovo.

11/11/2005 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we don’t uphold ideals, if the people don’t staunchly stand for such things as a complete transparency and absolutely clean politics in government, who in the … that place you referred to (which is here with us today, unfortunately) … will? Please, I insist, no I plead that we must be extremely critical of government policies and officials whoever they are, wherever they may be. It is our duty as citizens, ever so especially in a democratic society, because of the universal truism that power corrupts, which is quite unfortunate considering those in power in a democratic society, such as the US, are really nothing more than our servants. We must not let one item, one issue pass our scrutiny.

As Latino, I am very familiar with US policies in what it likes to call, during the Cold War era, “its sphere of influence,” which includes ALL of Latin America. The current US administration wants to extend its sphere of influence to everywhere – my God! even space! The use of “influence” here, by the way, does not necessarily connote amiable relations by any means.

No, Putin is not a Bush’s “friend”, but they do have a sort of diplomatic relationship, which will eventually disintegrate for two obvious reasons, the eroding democratic state of affairs in Russia, an issue that Bush brought up with Putin in the Summit in Chile last year, and Russia's relationship with Iran. Further, I really don’t believe the current US administration is a particularly sincere advocate for democracy as much as it uses “democracy” or its lack thereof, supposedly, to instigate dispute and conflict. Consider, if you will, Venezuela.

It’s predicted that the US will increase of the number of international bases from the current 700 to 1000 by the end of the decade (Dr. Schurmann at UC at Berkeley). How many permanent bases are being built in Iraq, something like 14? Consider Paraguay. I’m willing to wager US will include Mongolia before Bush’s term is up. I’m not particular in favor of putting anyone in harm’s way whether it’s in Paraguay or Mongolia for the divine ambitions of the “chosen few.”

For whatever it’s was worth … thanks, anyway.

11/13/2005 5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Mongol I am extremely grateful for this visit. Being a small insignificant neighbor of the two of the greatest regional, perhaps former/future great superpowers, it is a fortunate event to host a leader of a great country. Despite the cynicism I sense on this blog USA is a beacon of democracy to the world. Yes, I see issues and problems but who does not have them. At the end of the day, I would much prefer USA to China or Russia, for that matter to old Europe or Japan. Thanks, President Bush!!!

11/15/2005 8:03 PM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Anonymous (11/15/2005 8:03 PM), your comments are well taken and are echoed enthusiastically.

(I hope we don't come off as being too cynical around here!)

11/15/2005 10:28 PM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Yan, you said "I don't believe in any hidden agendas, either. Because of her two real neighbours, Mongolia simply has little geostrategical value for anyone except those same two neighbours." Well, perhaps no geostrategical value as a nation, but perhaps geostrategical value as a geographical entity. Having Mongolia as an ally makes it much easier for the US to have friendly LAND between two enormous, continent-engulfing LANDS immediatley north and south of it. As the US's trouble with air bases in Uzbekistan in the ongoing war on terror in Afganistan and Iraq attest, good ol' soil on which to land a aircraft sometimes means a whole lot. It's this point--Mongolia's situation between Russia and China and its proximity both to East Asia and Central Asia--that makes Mongolia so attractive to the US.

It's worth noting that this particular ambition on the part of the US in no way negates its other important reasons for supporting Mongolia at this time and in this way: its being an ally in the War on Terror, a fledgling democracy in a critical part of the world, etc. etc.

11/15/2005 10:49 PM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Anonymous (posted 11/13/2005 5:17 AM), thanks for the comments, the underlying point of which--something like "beware of America"--I nevertheless disagree with wholeheartedly.

As far as the American sphere of influence is concerned, I only say the larger the better. Everyone should have a chance at fulfilling their own capacity by enjoying as much freedom and liberty as is possible. America didn't come up with the principles of freedom and justice. Those principles, called by some natural rights, have been around since before man walked the earth. The more people enjoy those principles, the better off this planet will be. If America just happens to be the main exporter, then so be it. I'll take my freedom from whoever can deliver it.

There's a many more things I'd like to say here (especially re: the life-saving nature of the American sphere of influence during the Cold War). But instead, I simply invite you (re)consider the post from a Mongolian reader posted today at 08:03:38 PM:

"... USA is a beacon of democracy to the world. Yes, I see issues and problems but who does not have them. At the end of the day, I would much prefer USA to China or Russia, for that matter to old Europe or Japan. Thanks, President Bush!!!"

11/15/2005 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments. I might just learn something here. And, forgive me, if my comments appeared "cynical" when I was trying emphasize the necessity of being critical in a democratic society.

I too enjoy freedom and think everyone should enjoy it. Yes, of course, I too would prefer the US to China, but, God, the US is a long way from being heaven, or even close to it.

I'm just concerned about the injustices committed in the US and don't the same to occur in Mongolia as has happened in Latin America.

By the way, I hope some day to visit Mongolia. Thanks

11/16/2005 9:06 AM  
Anonymous yan said...

Hmm, maybe it would be more precise to say that Mongolia does have geostrategical value only as long as Russia or China allow it. However, once Russia and China get unfriendly, there is nothing the US or anyone else could do, except giving diplomatic dispproval.


What's up with those plans to send Mongolian troops to Sierra Leone, btw?

11/21/2005 2:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read this? "US courting Mongolia to counter China" You can find the article here:

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/B41612EC-5CB8-4D24-9190-0FFDB5F24C99.htm

Don't under estimate the impudence of imperialism.

11/26/2005 5:46 AM  
Anonymous yan said...

I suppose you mean Chinese imperialism? Or maybe we have read different articles - the one I read said mostly that Mongolians don't like China as much as they like the US (no big surprise here, they probably like any country better than China). No idea what that has to do with imperialism, though.

11/29/2005 9:45 AM  
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