Tag Archives: Malaysia

Obama Criticizes Fear of ISIS, Asks Media to ‘Maintain Perspective’

During a press conference at a meeting of the United States-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Malaysia on Sunday, Obama maintained his belief that the U.S.-led coalition will defeat the Islamic State. Obama also warned against succumbing to fear of ISIS and called for the media to report in a way that would “maintain perspective” and avoid bolstering terrorism, while calling militants “a bunch of killers with good social media.”

At the conference, Obama began by discussing current relations with Japan, Australia and the Philippines, and said he wanted to talk about a headline that called the trip “Obama’s Asian Distraction?”

“The premise seemed to be that this region was somehow disconnected from pressing global events,” Obama said. “I could not disagree more.  This region is not a distraction from the world’s central challenges, like terrorism. The Asia Pacific is absolutely critical to promoting security, prosperity and human dignity around the world.”

[RELATED: Reality Check: Proof U.S. Government Wanted ISIS To Emerge in Syria]

Obama noted that for over a year, the U.S. “has built and led a broad coalition,” which consists of 65 nations, against ISIS. However, because of “the frequent focus on America’s leadership of this campaign,” Obama claimed that the contributions of other partners are overlooked.

[RELATED: U.S. Encourages Coalition Partners to Intensify the Fight Against ISIS… Online?]

Obama also noted that “more than 40 countries have now passed or strengthened laws to prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and 34 nations, including the United States, have arrested foreign terrorist fighters.”

[pull_quote_center]All of which is to say that our coalition will not relent. We will not accept the idea that terrorist assaults on restaurants and theaters and hotels are the new normal – or that we are powerless to stop them. After all, that’s precisely what terrorists like ISIL want, because, ultimately, that’s the only way that they can win. That’s the very nature of terrorism – they can’t beat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorize us into being afraid, into changing our patterns of behavior, into panicking, into abandoning our allies and partners, into retreating from the world. And as President, I will not let that happen.[/pull_quote_center]

When asked if he would consider Russia being a part of the coalition, Obama said it depends on whether the nation can make a “strategic adjustment.”

“It will be helpful if Russia directs its focus on ISIL, and I do think that as a consequence of ISIL claiming responsibility for bringing down their plane, there is an increasing awareness on the part of President Putin that ISIL poses a greater threat to them than anything else in the region,” Obama said. “The question at this point is whether they can make the strategic adjustment that allows them to be effective partners with us and the other 65 countries who are already part of the counter-ISIL campaign.  And we don’t know that yet.”  

When asked how Americans should feel about the Islamic State “if they shouldn’t be scared,” Obama said he believes there is a difference “between smart applications of law enforcement and military and intelligence, and succumbing to the kind of fear that leads us to abandon our values.”

Obama noted resilience of Americans in the face of terrorism, and said “once this network is destroyed- and it will be- there may be others that pop up in different parts of the world, and so we’re going to have to continue to take seriously how we maintain the infrastructure that we’ve built to prevent this. But it doesn’t have to change the fundamental trajectory of the American people. And that we should feel confident about.”

Obama went on to say that “the media needs to help in this. I just want to say- during the course of this week, a very difficult week, it is understandable that this has been a primary focus. But one of the things that has to happen is how we report on this has to maintain perspective, and not empower in any way these terrorist organizations or elevate them in ways that make it easier for them to recruit or make them stronger.”

Investigative journalist Ben Swann reported on the origin of ISIS in March, and he noted that while the perception has been created that the group is the “creation of American inaction,” the reality is that they are the “product of direct action.”


U.S. Ignores Malaysia’s Human Trafficking Record in Favor of TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of the largest trade agreements in history involving the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The nations have been negotiating the deal since 2005, with global resistance growing since 2012.  Now that President Obama has signed into law Trade Promotion Authority, or ‘“fast track”, the trade agreement is expected to be presented to Congress before the end of the year. Under Fast Track, Congress only has an “up” or “down” vote on the TPP and can not amend the agreement.

Following the passing of Fast Track it was reported that a provision was included that allowed the State Department to upgrade Malaysia’s status on human trafficking in order to comply with U.S. laws on trade. TechDirt reports:

“Earlier this week, we wrote about a troubling move by the US State Department to “upgrade” Malaysia from a “tier 3” country to a “tier 2” country regarding human trafficking. This move came despite a near total lack of evidence of any improvement by Malaysia. In fact, just two months ago 139 mass graves were discovered for migrant workers who had been trafficked and/or held for ransom. And the US ambassador to Malaysia had publicly criticized the country for failing to tackle its massive human trafficking problem.

So why would the State Department magically upgrade Malaysia? Well, because of a tiny provision in the fast track “Trade Promotion Authority” deal that Congress recently passed. It noted that fast track authority would not apply to trade deals involving countries that were categorized as “tier 3” by the State Department. In other words, this should have given the US tremendous leverage to push Malaysia to really tackle the problem. Instead, because it appears that the administration is so focused on getting the TPP officially finished and ratified, it got the State Department to just magically upgrade Malaysia, and effectively spit on the graves of those murdered migrant workers.”

Once the news began to spread, 19 Senators wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding answers.

“Fighting human trafficking is one of the great moral challenges of our time. It is therefore with grave concern that we now hear Malaysia may be upgraded in this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report based on developments that occurred after the end of the review period. A premature upgrade of Malaysia would undermine the integrity of the TIP report process and compromise our international efforts to fight human trafficking.”

These allegations are only the latest criticisms of the TPP. The critics of the TPP come from a wide spectrum of activists, doctors and religious leaders. The most-cited issue with the trade deal is the granting of authority to international tribunals which will have the power to override court rulings within the individual nation states.

As the trade agreement nears completion both the Anglican and Catholic churches of New Zealand are demanding that the government be more transparent about the negotiations. Radio NZ reports that bishops from the churches are concerned with the lack of openness and that corporate interests are influencing the agreement while the people are being excluded. The churches also called on the New Zealand government to make the draft text of the agreement public.

In early February,  doctors and health professional representing seven countries released a letter warning that the TPP will lead to higher medical costs for all nations. The letter, published in The Lancet medical journal, states that, “Rising medicine costs would disproportionately affect already vulnerable populations.” The doctors called on the governments involved in the trade deal to publicly release the full text of the agreement. They also demanded an independent analysis of the impacts on health and human rights for each nation involved in the deal.

Also in February, an analysis by The Washington Post revealed the US government’s numbers on expected job increases from TPP are not factually correct. The Fact Checker examined several quotes from government officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Both Kerry and Vilsack claimed the international trade agreement would create 650,000 new jobs. However, these numbers do not take into account income gains and changing wages. According to the government own sources imports and exports would increase by the same amount resulting in a net number of zero new jobs.

The U.S. government’s willingness to ignore human trafficking allegations goes to show that this nation has no interest in “human rights” and only uses the phrase when it is convenient to their goals of global hegemony. The people have only the illusion of representation. If we are to create a truly free world we must begin to look to our communities for answers and not the State.