Middle Eastern Bloggers Commend Powell for Support of Muslim Americans

title="Voices without Votes, Americans vote, the world> speaks">

International bloggers have begun registering their feelings and opinions on Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama.

Speaking during a Sunday morning public affairs program, Powell, Secretary of State during President George W. Bush's first term, called Obama "a transformational figure" who would reach out in a more diverse, inclusive way across the United States.

Most international bloggers stayed away from making political prognostications of the endorsement. Instead, many investigated the social aspects of a one-time favorite for the GOP nomination to cross party lines and support a Democrat.

Dennis Jones, Jamican-born economist writes in his blog, Living in Barbados, that it was the negative aspects of McCain's campaign -- like attempting to tie Obama to 1960s domestic terrorist Bill Ayers -- that pushed Powell towards the Democratic candidate.

Powell also touched on negative reasons: he was "concerned about the negative direction McCain's campaign has taken recently"; that the U.S. has "managed to convey to the world that we are more unilateral than we really are''; that the Republican Party had moved more to the right than he liked; that the McCain campaign was seemingly "narrower and narrower" and "exclusive" (citing the feeble and over-the-top attempts to suggest that Obama is associating with terrorists). He was also concerned about the judgement shown in choosing Governor Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate: "I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president."

Yet, the issue of race in America is not only a problem for the McCain camapaign or the rest of the Republican party. He continues:

[Commentator] Tom Brokaw showed what is really a problem with America's attitude to race--amazing distrust of black people--by asking that Powell deal with the suggestion that his endorsement was because Obama was black. Powell rebutted by saying that he would have endorsed months ago had that been the case. It's extraordinary to get major political figures crossing party lines. But would anyone have suggested that a major woman politician endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton was because the two of them were women?

Manuel A. Tellechea at the Review of Cuban-American Blogs admits that he judges politicians by their positions on Fidel Castro. With Powell's politics, he was not surprised by the endorsement.

In 2001 when Colin Powell declared before a House hearing that "Castro has done good things for his people," I knew immediately that he was an enemy of the Cuban people; and when, in 2006, Powell proclaimed on a trip to Brazil that "Cuba is no longer a major threat to Latin America," I knew that all the dominoes would be allowed to fall in the region before the Bush administration noticed that it had two dozen Cubas on its hands.

It's no surprise to me, then, that Colin Powell would endorse Barack Obama, who's just as unconcerned as Powell is about the Castro regime's threat to the region and to its own people; but who, unlike Powell, can carry their shared beliefs to their logical conclusion -- negotiations without prior conditions and complete capitulation to the tyrant.

In the Middle East, bloggers focused on Powell's criticism of members of the Republican party who have attempted to brand Obama a Muslim.

From Kuwait, Q80Economics points out that "it is really sad that being an Arab or a Muslim came to be an insult."

That is thanks to extremism and terrorism that tarnished the reputation of all Arabs and Muslims. It is not enough to just fight terrorism after it happens. Extremism is growing strong in our society and within the political system. It is time to stand up for our freedom and salvage our reputation before extremists turn the country into a Taliban state.

The Palestinian blogger Haitham Saddah points out that while Powell can in part be blamed for the war in Iraq, he may be fighting for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

With all my personal reservation over Gen. Colin Powell's history and relation to Middle East wars and suffering; his recent stand against his party's racism is brave.
Today in 'Meet the Press' at MSNBC, he spoke up for all Muslims and fair minded-Americans and definitely let-down his own party and washed his hands from the republicans rhetoric.

Talk Turkey, who admires Colin Powell, reminds readers that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said both candidates were qualified to be President. Nonetheless, Talk Turkey returns to the rumors of Obama being a Muslim:

During the interview, regarding the 'outcry' whether Obama is a Muslim, Powell noted that although Obama is a Christian, the following question should be asked instead, "What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" For that comment I commend him. Why shouldn't a Muslim child born and raised in the U.S. not be able to dream today that she could one day be the President of the U.S.?

Finally, from Thailand, Jotman points out:

Powell was right to endorse Obama. And he was right to criticize the McCain campaign for not reminding people that it would not be a bad thing if Obama was either Muslim or Arab.

This blogpost is cross-posted from Voices Without Votes, a Global Voices project that aims to
enable readers to experience American events through the eyes of ordinary citizens from outside the United States.