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 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)

Interview with Lee Kuan Yew

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.



* Related Article  from VINCENTON BLOG *

A Tale of Two Leaders: Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong Vs. P-Noy

Excerpt :
Consider what Lee Kuan Yew (in his interview with Charlie Rose) said about their and America’s openness to foreign professionals and investors:

Lee Kuan Yew: “It’s not just American talent that gets you here. You’re just 300 million people and they [China] have 1,300 million and very many more able people.

“But you are attracting all the adventurous minds from all over the world and embracing them, and they become part of your team.

“Now I don’t see two million Indians and half a million other peoples, Japanese, Koreans, and others, becoming part of China. I mean, first the language is so difficult. Secondly, the culture is not embracing. How do you fit in?”

Charlie Rose: “Take Singapore… It has to be a place people want to invest in. It has to be a place… go ahead.

Lee Kuan Yew: “It has to be a place that’s useful to the world. Otherwise it wouldn’t exist.

Charlie Rose: “And that’s what you’ve created since the founding of the modern city state?”

Lee Kuan Yew: “Absolutely. We have made ourselves relevant to the world…”

Charlie Rose: “And how will you maintain your relevancy?”

Lee Kuan Yew: “By keeping on changing. You cannot keep your relevance by just staying put. The world changes. There are shifts in the geopolitics and economics of the world. We’re gonna watch it and we’re gonna ride it.

“We are keeping our links with America, with Japan, with Europe. THEY BROUGHT US TO WHERE WE ARE.”


Lee Hsien Long explained his thought process in the following fashion:

 “Because if your politics is wrong, your economics is bound to go wrong. And the reason why so many countries cannot get their economies right, it is because their politics don’t work.”

“I think that we have got to be able to get the fundamentals right and, so far, we have been able to do so,” said Mr Lee. “And we can continue to get the politics right and then I think the economics can work out,” he added.

Mr. Lee also believes in getting the “fundamentals right” and to “continue to get the politics right” so economics can work out.

Here’s a report from TodayOnline:

Said the Prime Minister: “I cannot make everybody a billionaire, but I can make sure everybody can earn a good living for himself. I think that’s possible. But it takes effort and you have to be competitive.”

Mr Lee cited the Government’s investments in a slew of measures, ranging from infrastructure to providing less well-off Singaporeans with subsidies in healthcare and education, among other things. “I don’t think it will make us a society where everybody is absolutely equal,” he said.

“In fact, if I can get another 10 billionaires to move to Singapore and set up their base here, my Gini coefficient will get worse but I think Singaporeans will be better off, because they will bring in business, bring in opportunities, open new doors and create new jobs, and I think that is the attitude with which we must approach this problem.”


Comments from the video clip’link  :

  • This video clip really showed me what a confident communicator LKY is. He is able to poke at the American Govt in a diplomatic way. In 1967, when Singapore was only 2 years old as a nation, and as PM of Sg, he has the audacity and poise to engage the powerful American press during a sensitive time of the Vietnam War. He has taught me a good lesson…. when engaging a person or organisation, have..
    “100% RESPECT, but 0% FEAR” !
  • “First of all, I can’t speak of Chinese, I am SINGAPOREAN!!” there you go… respect

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