Thursday, May 24, 2007

A reflection on Bill Clinton’s visit to Columbia

By Judit Trunkos

Columbia is definitely on the political map these days. Aside from the recent presidential debates, former President Bill Clinton made an appearance at the 29th Annual Freedom Fund Celebration hosted and organized by the NAACP last Friday.

Clinton used his trademark sense of humor to ease into serious issues such as health care and the global and domestic economies, but the common denominator in the many issues Clinton addressed was the global economic trend of interdependence.

In the latter part of his speech, Clinton explained that the worlds “interconnectedness” has so far been the major distinctive feature of the 21st Century. He didn’t place the U.S. in the position of the world’s policeman, but instead emphasized cooperation and global community using the example of President Bush’s supportive reaction to the victims of the 2004 tsunami that decimated the coasts of the Indian Ocean. Clinton pointed out that by providing assistance to Asian countries, the U.S. not only helped many people in great need but also improved America’s image among the global community. In other words—unlike many candidates in the 2008 presidential race—Clinton promoted soft power over military power with respect to the global community.

Interdependence, as he explained, is both bad and good and referred particularly to the sharp division between the northern and southern hemispheres with respect to distribution of wealth. In order for things to change, he says, people need to work together to initiate change, partly by choosing the right leader and partly by acting as a community... a global community.

At the conclusion of his talk, Clinton emphasized the significance of improving health care, education, low wages and high unemployment inside the U.S. before focusing on other nations’ problems. He also urged his audience to step up and act as a community—not only with fellow Americans but with the rest of the world.