Common Sense Foreign Policy Obama Might Learn from Lee Kuan Yew

Former Prime Minister and founding father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew is a great admirer of the United States of America. He sees the United States as the benign stabilizer of the world and “the most benign of all great powers”.

In regard to his opinion of America’s role as an economic super-power, Mr. Lee sincerely believed it was the United States that brought peace, technology and economic prosperity to South East Asia.

In his interview with Charlie Rose, the former prime minister said America’s greatest strength is its openness to immigrants and its ability to attract the best and the brightest from different parts of the world. This unique appeal, Mr. Lee said, is what China lacks. He also said that even thought China enjoyed economic rise after joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, it was still “nothing” compared to the U.S. 

Mr. Lee attributed Singapore’s fast economic rise to its openness to trade and foreign involvement.

Despite being mildly critical to some of America’s excesses and policies, the Asia’s well-known statesman is fully aware that America, including Japan and Europe, “brought us to where we are”.

The question is, what can U.S. President Barack Obama learn from the Grand Master?

Although Mr. Lee maintains an attitude of not making any unsolicited advice that could BE interpreted by leaders of other countries as ‘arrogant’ or ‘imposing’, I believe he has something to say about Obama’s interventionist military adventurism in the Middle East and Africa.

Today we all know that one of Mr. Obama’s client states in the Middle East– Egypt– recently fell due to a nationwide public revolt. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi collapsed despite Obama’s military support and multi-billion dollar financial aid. The post-American leader also supports the Islamic rebels in Syria by sending them weapons and monetary support.

Even Russia’s Vladimir Putin warned Britain and the U.S. against arming the Syrian rebels “who kill their enemies and eat their organs”.

“Do we want to support these people? Do we want to supply arms to these people? It has hardly any relation to the humanitarian and cultural values that Europe has had for centuries,” Putin said.

Yet Obama is determined to support his Islamic allies in the region.

Now is it constitutional, proper and even moral for Mr. Obama to use his people’s money and military to get involved in the internal affairs or problems of some countries that don’t really want to learn from others, much less help themselves and their own people?

In terms of foreign policy, I believe this is what Mr. Obama should learn from Singapore’s most revered founding father:

“I don’t see it as my duty as a prime minister— an elected prime minister—of Singapore… I am not a client state of the United States, I’m not in receipt of your aid, nor am I here to seek aid. I’m doing all right, I hope to do more trade with you, and I don’t think it is the duty of the elected representative leader of Singapore to go and involve his country in a situation which can end disastrously for his whole people.”

He gave that response to an interviewer who urged him, implicitly, to send “a small token to the field” to help the United States resolve the conflict or “difficulty” in Vietnam. (Watch the interview below)

On the issue of immigration, Mr. Lee might– or should– give the following advice:

 “Mind you, immigration of the highly intelligent and highly hard-working, very hard-working people. If you get immigration from the fruit-pickers [chuckles for several seconds at the idea], you may not get very far!”

That’s what he said to Charlie Rose who asked him about America’s greatest strength.

Yet it seems that Obama wants to import more terrorists and religious fanatics to the U.S.

As to America’s unsustainable welfare state, Mr. Lee gave the following observation:

“If you follow the ideological direction of Europe, you are done for.” There are always people who require help, but “addressing their needs must be done in a way that does not kill incentive.”

“Americans and European governments believed that they could always afford to support the poor and the needy: widows, orphans, the old and homeless, disadvantaged minorities, unwed mothers. Their sociologists expounded the theory that hardship and failure were due . . . to flaws in the economic system. So charity became ‘entitlement,’ and the stigma of living on charity disappeared.” Welfare costs grew faster than the government’s willingness to raise taxes. They “took the easy way out by borrowing to give higher benefits to the current generation of voters.”

Indeed, the only logical result of Obama’s welfare madness: deficits and dangerously high public debt.


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