Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher's Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week's question: What Current World Leader Or Statesman Would You Most Like To Interview?
The Razor: Here are my picks:
1. John Bolton – One of my favorite statesmen around these days. His stint at the UN was much to short under W, and I’m hoping that somebody picks him for Secretary of State if the GOP retakes the White House in 2016. What I’d like to ask him is: How do we engage China? Handling that nation seems to be one of the challenges of the coming decades. We need to engage them while at the same time train them to stop viewing the world in zero-sum terms. That requires a return to the peace-through-strength attitudes we saw under Reagan with the Soviets.
2. Emperor Akihito of Japan – As a lover of Japanese culture and history I’d like to get his take on his father’s role in World War 2. I’d also like to hear his opinions on Japanese society. Must Japan always rely on gaiatsu – foreign pressure – to change, or is it becoming more dynamic? Does he view Japanese history as cyclical – and are we entering a more militaristic period that we saw at the beginning of his father’s reign? What is his view of Japan’s future? Does he see it integrating more with the West (like the US), the East (China) or taking a more non-aligned, independent role?
3. Lech Walesa – In the 1980s I idolized both him and Vaclev Havel. Standing up to the communists in their countries took guts in the 1970s and 1980s, just a few years after the Prague Spring of 1968 was crushed under the treads of tanks. People forget just how dangerous that was, and how monolithic Communism appeared during that era. For Walesa I’d like his opinion on the future of socialism. Does it have one? I’d also like to hear what he has to say about the American Left which has shown itself to be no friend of dissidents to leftist regimes. The Left ignored the likes of Solzhenitsyn and Sakarov during the Soviet era, just as it ignores Cuban and Venezuelan dissidents today (and the Ukrainians too I might add).
Bookworm Room: When I look at world leaders today, I don't want to interview any of them. Not one of them strikes me as an interesting person.
While I'd like to know if Bibi Netanyahu has a plan for weathering three more years of Obama, he's not going to tell me. I'd also like to know what Obama's college and law school transcripts say (bad grades, foreign nationality,etc.), he's not going to answer that either.
In other words, my questions won't elicit anything interesting, so why bother? Interviews would be fun and interesting only if truth serum was a prerequisite.
The Glittering Eye:I've never cultivated the skills necessary to conduct a good interview. I think I could probably learn them but it would take some practice and I do believe that it's an acquired skill.
However, if I did have the necessary skills and I could interview anybody, I think I'd like to interview Vladimir Putin. I think he's taking a pretty poor hand and playing it extremely well. He's probably the most influential leader in the world today.
David Gerstman/ Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion :The world leader I would most like to interview is President Barack Obama. I don't believe I would get a straight answer, but I really want to know how he thinks, especially on Iran.
For example at the U.N. he confidently proclaimed that Iran's Supreme Leader had issued a fatwa against the use of nuclear weapons. Yet we know that in the mid-2000's, Iran's one time nuclear negotiator (and now President) Hassan Rouhani said, "the only thing that stands between mastering enrichment technology and obtaining weapons-grade uranium is a political decision to make that transition." (emphasis mine.) Iran's leadership does not view developing nuclear weapon as a religious decision but a political one. Iran recently agreed to disclose information of its experiments on "exploding bridge wire detonators." Additionally in 2011 the IAEA discovered "However, subsequently, the Agency was shown documents which established a connection between Project 5 and Project 111, and hence a link between nuclear material and a new payload development programme." Claiming that it is a military area, Iran has not allowed IAEA inspectors full access to the Parchin site. Last year the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) quoted the IAEA: “Iran has conducted further spreading, levelling and compacting of material over most of the site, a significant proportion of which it has also asphalted.”
Not only has Iran been shown to have been pursuing means for detonating and delivering a nuclear weapon, but it is likely covering up evidence that it tested its detonating technology.
Given all that I would ask President Obama, what is there about Khamenei that makes him trust the Ayatollah, especially given Khamenei's unremitting hostility towards the United States? Why is he willing to risk the safety of the West and America's allies to a ruthless tyrant such as Khamenei?
If you allow me a boast, I did "interview" a world leader in 2006, though he wasn't a world leader then. Rick Richman of Jewish Current Issues arranged a bloggers conference call with Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. I got to ask one of the questions. The answer was cut off but, though it wasn't transcribed, he eventually went on for quite a while. From Netanyahu's response, "... if Iran has nuclear weapons then every American is in great peril. America is in peril. Our world is in peril. It’s very important that people understand that this is not Israel’s war, you know, our house against their house, to a limited extent. It is our house, in the broad sense of the word "our." That is, the house of freedom, the house of democratic societies ..."
Little has changed since then. Netanyahu is still warning about Iran and the world remains deaf to his pleas.
JoshuaPundit; Difficult to pick three... my first choice would undoubtedly be Vladimir Putin. I think he has a great deal to say about how he sees Russia's role in the world, and I've tried to dissect that side of him before. It would be fascinating to do it in person. I would also want to talk to him about Iran and find out how, aside from a stable southwest border he sees any strategic value in building up Iran's nuclear capability, especially in view of Russia's dire demographic situation.
Mahmoud Abbas, the unelected dictator of 'Palestine' would also be interesting, but in a different way, My method here would borrow a few licks from Oriana Fallaci and force him to address certain, umm.... contradictions. For instance, rais, you recently told a group of Leftist Israeli students in Ramallah that you weren't a Holocaust denier. Yet your doctoral thesis from Moscow U was clearly Holocaust denial, and you have seen to it that your thesis is an integral and mandatory part of Palestinian education to this day. And while you mentioned that, regrettably there was actually anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement in Palestine's media and schools, as leader with absolute dictatorial powers, why haven't you done anything to stop it? And why does 'Palestine' pay salaries to men who murder women and children and make heroes and role models out of them if the idea is to educate your people for peace? Which you keep saying you want?
You get the idea.
Last but not least would be a toss up between Dick Cheney and Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister. I'd want those to definitely be off the record.
Ask Marion:Wow… the last time I had to answer a similar question was in college… but it was what 3-leaders from history (alive or dead) would you like to interview? My answer then was Richard Nixon, Adolf Hitler and Jesus… Today that answer would be Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Jesus.
Hmmm… What leader(s) would I like to interview… that is alive… hmmm? Three leaders that I would really like to interview would be Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Ted Cruz, none of which are world leaders… at least not yet. But Sarah Palin really is the unofficial leader of the Tea Party and can captivate an entire room or auditorium as well as touching the heart of a single person at a book signing like nobody else…. And the Tea Party is a kind of nation unto itself. Plus I do truly feel that she is the GOP’s ‘best’ answer to and possibility of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, so very well can and will be a world leader. Glenn Beck is a leader and should be an inspiration to anyone in the media as well as the conservative movement. He battled and stood his ground at Fox and when the door closed because he would not yield he started his own multi-media empire with little if any encouragement or help. And then there is Ted Cruz who is the latest victim of Progressive Palinization (Quaylinazation several decades back) who like Sarah Palin packs the house to rousing applause and support where ever he goes no matter what the mainstream media and Beltway Progressives try to feed us. And if you are lucky you get a double shot of Cruz when his ever so popular dad, Raphael, shows up! Palin-Cruz in 2016 is my vote and then they will be world leaders!
But back to the question… world leaders… Hmmm? There are so few ‘real leaders’ let alone Statesman these days… But I would have to say Benjamin Netanyahu, Mikhail Gorbachev and Angela Merkel would be my choices for an interview. (Pope Francis I or Vladimir Putin were my fourth and fifth choices).
Mikhail Gorbachev is the last of the courageous, creative and forward thinking team of four: President Ronald Reagan, Blessed (Pope) John Paul II, Prime Minister (Baroness) Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev (the General Secretary Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) who ended the Cold War and changed the face of the world without a single shot being fired.
Although generally out of the limelight, the former Soviet leader is still active and said Sunday that the political crisis in Ukraine, which has seen its president driven from the capital after months of protests, stems from its government's failure to act democratically:
"Ultimately this is the result of the failure of the government to act democratically" and to engage in dialogue and fight corruption, Gorbachev said during an address at the International Government Communication Forum in the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu is a steadfast leader that should have the respect of the entire world, yet he stands virtually alone to defend the only real bastion of democracy in the Middle East. He is surrounded by enemies and under constant criticism from former allies and even second guessed by American Jews. Yet, he is the leader many Americans wish we had. Netanyahu, who was educated in the United States, has a love for America but has endless devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.
A picture is worth a thousand words… here is Benjamin Netanyahu and Barry Soetoro (Obama) in their early twenties (Courtesy Lucianne.com)
See Benjamin Netanyahu in 2006 tell it like it is during a 2006 General Assembly in Los Angeles. . . . . Most U.S. media outlets refused to show this clip
GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD:
Without a doubt - one of America's fav uncles - is also by happy chance the most articulate cat around.
Great Britain's youngest PM in a century and her longest serving ever. Undeniably, Tony is a master of political thinking. He is a genius when it comes to understanding the change in the public mood and society, although not without fault, as history has shown.
Labour philosophy, its political agenda, the structure of the voters who dug Labour, and who didn't, the meaning of "working class" in the 80's (the philosophical essence of the change to New Labour could be summarised in his words: "I hate class. I love aspiration")
Blair's declaration of support for America to Congress is still required reading for any serious discussion of diplopolititary concerns
Uncle Tony's Rules for Intervention and follow up thoughts and applications are totally spot on.
He also plays a mean rock guitar and takes his Xianity seriously.
Well, there you have it.
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