On Fridays, Latitude News takes stock of the week’s international headlines to see what the rest of the world thinks of America.
This week, judging by the columnists in Dawn.com, Pakistan wants a little respect.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was touring Asia to discuss relocating American forces to that region from Europe. As Panetta was meeting foreign dignitaries, the U.S. was also launching drone attacks in Pakistan. On Monday, reports said drones killed Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Lib.
In America, we think of a drone as a flying machine that wages war without putting our soldiers’ lives in danger. In Pakistan, the drones are an affront. Pakistani leaders protest that they haven’t sanctioned the attacks on their territory.
Najmuddin Shaikh, who is Pakistan’s former foreign minister, wrote on Dawn.com a piece that was representative of the site’s columnists, many of whom have written the strikes have helped seriously undermine the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Here’s Shaikh:
The highlighting of these grievances and apprehensions and the fuelling of fears about malevolent American intentions with regard to Pakistan’s nuclear assets have helped generate a degree of anti-Americanism in the general public that will be difficult to overcome, particularly when there is no visible impact from the $22bn in assistance that the Americans say they have given Pakistan over the last decade.
Speaking in India, Panetta said the drones would keep flying. In Afghanistan, he said the U.S. was running out of patience with Pakistan because its officials aren’t working hard enough to rid the Afghan border of terrorists.
China, on the other hand, was happy to be Pakistan’s best new friend.
Iran stance dismays
Foreign pundits expressed similar dismay regarding the U.S. and Iran.
American, European and Israeli leaders don’t want Iran to build a nuclear weapon. Their diplomacy, however, never seems to go anywhere. In the U.S., we view the problem as Iran’s intransigence. Abroad, they see American fumbling.
Writing in the United Arab Emirates-based Gulf News, British journalist Patrick Seale said President Barack Obama appears more interested in saber-rattling than working with international efforts to end Iran’s nuclear dreams. On June 18th and 19th, Iranian negotiators and their counterparts are scheduled to meet in Moscow, but the White House has undercut those efforts, Seale wrote:
Obama seems to have been persuaded that Iran, already reeling under crippling sanctions, would meekly submit to American demands if still more pressure was applied. This was a fundamental error of judgement. Far from submitting, Iran reacted defiantly and hopes for a win-win deal evaporated. There are now no great expectations of a breakthrough at the Moscow talks.
The American stance led to Mohsen Sazegara, a founder of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ex-deputy prime minister, to tell a conference of Jewish groups in New York that the U.S. should forget dealing with Iranian officials. Instead, he said, Obama should appeal to the Iranian people, who are sick and tired of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Israeli newspaper Haaretz had the story:
Sazegara said that the U.S. was “focused on the wrong course” in its dealings with Tehran, because the regime “will never give up its nuclear program.” The only recourse, he said, was to “reach over their heads” to the Iranian people and to encourage a change in the regime.
Of course, it’s hard to reach over someone’s head when you suspect they have a nuclear bomb up their sleeve.
Big, costly Americans
On a lighter note…
As First Lady Michelle Obama was promoting her new book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was seeking to regulate soda pop, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Neil Macdonald was blasting Americans for their big waistlines.
It’s an old story, of course. Fat Americans, that is. But Macdonald’s purple prose is too good not to quote:
Bellies hanging down over belts, rolls of neck fat, faces so bloated they’re losing their original appearance, huge rear ends and breasts (on men as well as women), curtains of fat hanging off the undersides of arms, and thick, heavily veined legs muscular from years of hauling around all that extra tonnage.
Macdonald’s obviously a pro, because he backs up his verbiage with statistics showing that U.S. healthcare is skyrocketing in part because of fatso-related diseases.
No argument here.