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Monday, May 27, 2024

Open letter to our American friends

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

© AP Images
© APimages
© APimages
© APimages

I have always been a great admirer of the United States. America’s achievements in the fields of science, technology, aviation, exploration, economy and medicine have been second to none. A world without your country’s pioneering can-do spirit and innovation would be one minus life-changing electric light bulbs, skyscrapers, airplanes, photographic film and smart phones.

Our children have been enriched by the education they have received in your finest colleges and universities and, most importantly, you have generously given more than any nation to the world’s poor and dispossessed.

I salute America’s status as the leader of the free world and a champion of civil liberties and acknowledge that many of its presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, John F.

Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, have been exemplary statesmen in terms of their contributions to peace and prosperity.

Unfortunately, George W. Bush made unforgivable foreign policy blunders impacting the Middle East, while President Barack Obama broke promises and proved not to be up to the task. He is widely criticized for watering down America’s global influence by leading from behind. The community of nations needs America to remain “a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere,” as Reagan always emphasized.

However, my fear is that out of disillusionment with the political establishment, a section of the US voting public is falling under the sway of inappropriate candidates with extreme positions and vulgar turns of phrase. If the unimaginable happens, America will lose its credibility along with many of its traditional allies. I have always naively believed that presidential candidates were thoroughly screened in terms of background, family ties, colleagues and friends. It appears they are not.

Sad to say, among the current front runners, there is no one with impressive, impeccable credentials representing the concerns and ambitions of all. Worse, the Republican camp, in particular, is sorely lacking. GOP debates are devolved into entertaining slanging matches with rivals launching personal attacks on one another to grab the media spotlight.

There is not one candidate with sufficient dignity or gravitas required to become America’s Commander-in- Chief, certainly not those attempting to capitalize on the politics of fear, which is why Republican elites are in panic mode fearing their party will be stained for decades to come. As the New York Post recently reported, “Exasperated Republicans” are “vowing to quit the party, vote for Hillary Clinton, or cast a protest vote”.

Party seniors such as Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham are shocked and angry. McCain wants voters to “think long and hard”. I would second that appeal. This is not a game or a television series. You, the good people of America, hold not only your future but the future of the world in your hands. You, and you alone, have the power to make America great again which cannot happen as long as it is walled-in in more ways than one.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton does carry certain baggage on her shoulders due to her private email server, but she has apologized for that mistake. At least she comes with diplomatic experience and a record of holding high office as Secretary of State.

She has an incisive understanding of international affairs and is respected by heads of state. Her competitor Bernie Sanders is scandal free and is a fiery advocate of America’s values. They have been battling each other respectfully and the latest news is that Ms Clinton sees him as “an ally” to take on the Republicans.

“I hope to win the nomination,” she said. “If I am so fortunate I hope to work with [Bernie Sanders] because of the issues he’s raised, the passion he has demonstrated, the people he has attracted…” Playing to each other’s strengths, together they would make a fine team.

Hillary Clinton, a successful lawyer was an excellent First Lady and a hands-on Secretary of State. She has dedicated her career to serving her country and possesses the wisdom, knowledge and stature to be at the helm steering a safe course through any troubled waters without resorting to bigotry, racism or fear mongering.

Do not be influenced by the allegations against her. Let those be sorted out through legal channels. In any event, when one compares her mistakes to the threats posed by Republicans, they pale into insignificance. If her achievements were set against her errors on credit and debit columns, her credit would vastly overshadow her debit. She is not perfect. No one is. But she has a record that is tried and true and for that reason I consider her to be the best person for the Oval Office. As they say, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t!

You might ask ‘What is this to you, an Arab citizen of the United Arab Emirates? What business is it of yours to advise us on our pick? I have no legal right. I cannot turn up at the ballot box on 8 November to cast my vote. But I have every right to express my opinion because choices made by past presidents and the current incumbent have rearranged the geopolitical deckchairs in my part of the world.

Iraq was invaded and promised democracy before it fell into Iran’s sphere of influence. The Syrian people have been abandoned to regime barrel bombs, Hezbollah’s firepower and so many terrorist groups it is hard to remember their names. And now Tehran is over $100bn richer thanks to President Obama’s terrible deal and is being courted by the US and Europe in spite of the threat it poses to the region.

All I can do is appeal to you, the voters, to sit quietly, take a deep breath and ponder on all the pros and cons of each candidate. Do not get caught up in hysteria or in the cult of personality. Your country is worth more. Forget such labels as Democrat and Republican. You are privileged to belong to one of the greatest countries on earth; the United States of America. Put aside partisanship.

You are all Americans and if you listen carefully to your hearts and minds, the world will be celebrating with you on Friday, 20 January 2017 when the next president is scheduled be inaugurated.

I wish all of you well. God bless you and may God bless America!

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