Monday, August 11, 2008

Concerning Asia: questions unasked of Bush and presidential candidates

En route to the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, President Bush visited Thailand. During the stop in Thailand, a Thai journalist at The Nation had an opportunity to interview the US president. Dismayed by the meaningless soft-ball questions that had been asked, blogger Fonzi at Thailand Jumped the Shark blogged his own list of questions for President Bush:
1. I would have asked him what he thought about the coup. (Why did the US give nod and wink support for the coup?)
2. ---------------------------- about his
relationship with Thaksin. (They were supposed to be close personal friends at one time.)
3. -------------------
---------- about the CIA rendition flights and if the US ever had secret prisons in Thailand.
4. -------------------
--------- what type of military and intelligence support the US is giving to Thailand in the South.
5. -------------------
--------- if he thought Al Qaeda was operating in the South.
6. I would have asked him
about terrorism in Southeast Asia.
7. -------------------
--------- about the Thai-US Free Trade Agreement and Compulsory Licensing.
8. -------------------
--------- why the US hasn't been engaged with ASEAN the last 7 years.
9. -------------------
--------- about China's influence in Southeast Asia, particularly in Burma.
10. ------------------
--------- why the US was impotent in getting support to the Burmese after the recent Cyclone.*
These are good questions for Bush. More important still are the questions about Asia that have yet to be asked of either US presidential candidate.

While in Thailand, Bush gave a speech about America's relations with Asia. Journalist James Fallows called the section of the speech pertaining to China "more sophisticated than anything that either John McCain or Barack Obama has said on the subject." In the US campaign much has been made of the candidates positions on Iraq; far too little has been asked of asked about how the respective candidates would engage Asia. Not only Thai journalists have shirked asking important questions of US leaders.

* His wife Laura was asked this question recently. I thought her answer was interesting.

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