Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, March 19, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 12



 Mountain Views News Saturday, March 19, 2011 


 As I See It

GREG Welborn



I’d like to mention a few stories 
from last week’s Mountain 
Views News, in case you 
missed them.

Page 1: Japanese Cultural 
Night is scheduled for Friday, 
March 25, at Memorial Park. 
There’ll be a Sumo demonstration, Samurai 
costumes, Taiko drumming and “lots of Japanese 
food and festivities”. Mayor Mosca will introduce 
the L.A. Consul General of Japan, along with execs 
from the Tokyo horseracing scene.

The first member of my wife’s family I met, over 
25 years ago when he was here on business, was 
my brother-in-law Akira. I told him I’d always 
been intrigued by that Japanese deference towards 
one another. He explained, “You’ve got half the 
population of the United States, in an area the size 
of California, of which two-thirds is mountainous 
and uninhabitable. So, over the centuries, people 
have had to learn to get along with one another.”

Page 2: Southland author Naomi Hirahara, whose 
parents were raised in Hiroshima, will appear 
March 17 at the Sierra Madre library. Acclaimed 
writer of mysteries with Japanese themes, she’s 
also written on Japanese farming and gardening in 

Getting to know my wife-to-be, I told how I’d 
moved from up north to the big city of Los Angeles. 
She replied, “You don’t know what a ‘big city’ is; 
you’ve never been to Tokyo.” She took me there, 
and she was right; like half-a-dozen Manhattans 
side-by-side, but new, with ten times the neon. 
If you’re ever in Ginza, check out the exhibition 
floors in the Sony building; you’ll see what’ll be 
showing up at Best Buy five years from now.

Going the other direction on the timeline, being 
accustomed to century-old buildings regarded 
as artifacts, there’s a different perspective when 
walking through a wooden temple in Kyoto 
whose floors were already well-trod at the time 
Jamestown was founded. Later in a taxi, I look 
at the tourist map and tell the driver, “This looks 
interesting - the Imperial Palace”. The cabbie hates 
to disappoint but explains it’s not the real thing; 
that the original was destroyed in a fire and what’s 
there now is a reproduction dating back only to 

Page 4: A program celebrating the Japanese 
Goodwill Garden at Sierra Madre School will 
take place there on March 19. The Garden, dating 
from 1931, fell into disrepair during the War, but 
was lovingly restored under the guidance of Lew 
Watanabe - an artist whose work is part of our 

After JFK’s assassination, regular TV programming 
was not resumed until after the funeral. It took 
awhile to return to the regular broadcast schedule 
after 9/11. As part of our cable package, we 
subscribe to NHK - the Japanese public TV 
network. We’ve had it on straight for a few days 

Ever wonder why bamboo is such an integral part 
of Japanese landscapes? Since ancient times, they 
realized its inter-weaving root system held the soil 
together, helping protect from earthquake damage. 
The Japanese have always lived with earthquakes, 
and have been the best prepared for them.

When my wife called me from another room that 
Thursday night, though, as NHK interrupted 
regular programming, it wasn’t to see damage 
caused by rough shaking. We watched aerial shots 
of waves of brown muck engulfing roads, fields and 
neighborhoods; carrying along whatever houses, 
cars, trains or boats lie in their path; leaving 
ocean freighters aground on freeways, buses atop 
buildings, communities flattened.

My wife got on the phone with sisters outside 
Tokyo to make sure they and their families were 
okay. We were able to reach them from Sierra 
Madre, but they were unable to reach a sister’s 
in-laws in Sendai, or to reach anyone who knew 
how to reach them. (My wife just tells me the 
latest NHK report is of a thousand bodies washing 
ashore in Miyagi Prefecture.)

Page 5: The Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena 
is set to open “Meiji: Japan Rediscovered”, at the 
end of the month. Featured are arrays of artwork 
and intricate craftsmanship, primarily for export, 
from the late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century 
period when Europe and America embarked on 
their discovery of the wonders of Japan.


 Cell phones and other communications down. 
Trains stopped. Family members unable to 
contact one another as workers stay overnight in 
their office buildings or walk home. Government 
buildings, as well as Tokyo Disneyland, open their 
doors for those needing a place to stay.


 Statistics become numbing. Ten thousand 
dead. Thousands more unaccounted for. Millions 
without power, fuel, food and drinking water 
- let alone a job to go to in the morning. One 
statistic that caught my eye dealt with the town 
of Minami-Sanrikucho, which had a population 
about the same as Sierra Madre’s. Two-thirds of 
that population was swept away.


 The Japanese coastline was moved twelve feet. 
The earth shifted on its axis. This was not an event 
of a generation, but rather one of a millennium.


 Page 13: Another “As I See It” column, and 
(maybe) readers wonder, “How does he get his 
inspiration, anyway?” Often, I’ll turn to a news 
webpage and click on a story just to get riled by 
the playground name-calling exchanges between 
adversarial left/right comment-posters. Today, 
though, although postings were from those same 
partisan contributors, they were of one voice: one 
of prayer, compassion, sympathy, encouragement 
and solidarity with Japan.


 Our sensei at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple 
compared enlightenment to the sun: It’s always 
there; and although you may not see or sense it in 
the dark of night or behind the clouds on a stormy 
day, it’s still there, nonetheless.


 I wondered about the sun symbolized on the 
Japanese flag being red, rather than yellow. Red is 
the color of the sun when seen through the ashen 
plume of a volcanic eruption or the billows of 
smoke from a forest fire. But it’s still there, and 
when the smoke clears it returns - undimmed. 

Candidate Obama promised a radical 
transformation of the United States, and 
as President he has steadfastly embarked 
on a program to bring life to that promise. 
While he has been checked somewhat on 
the domestic front, he has been far more 
successful – if that’s the word we actually 
want to use – in foreign affairs. The radical 
transformation of our foreign policy is now 
complete, and the results are disastrous not 
only for millions of people who look to the 
United States for leadership, but also for 
those of us at home. 

The blue print for President Obama’s foreign 
policy make over was described in detail in 
the July 2008 document he commissioned, 
entitled “Strategic Leadership: Framework 
for a 21st Century National Security Strategy”. 
Its authors consisted entirely of people from 
the left who truly believe we should live in a 
“post-American world” in which the concept 
of internationalism dictates that the U.S. can 
only pursue its interests in concert with other 
powers, but that it may never pursue them 

The key summarizing phrase in this document 
states that “such leadership recognizes that 
in a world in which power is diffused, our 
interests are best protected and advanced 
when others step up and at times lead 
alongside or even ahead of us”. The White 
House even trotted out its representative, Ben 
Rhodes, last week who told reporters that 
“this is the Obama conception of the U.S. role 
in the world – to work through multilateral 
organizations and bilateral relationships to 
make sure that the steps we are taking are 

Here’s the translation of all that into plain 
English. We’re going to wait until the 
members of NATO, or the members of 
the U.N. Security Council, or the member 
of the EU, or the members of some other 
organization tell us it’s O.K. to do something 
before we do it. And the result? 

The President of the United States told the 
world publicly that Moammar Gadhafi had 
to go, and then he didn’t lift a finger to make 
it happen. Gadhafi, rightly sensing weakness 
in the leader of the free world (who by the 
way doesn’t even accept the fact that he is 
the leader – see the quote above) ordered 
full assault on rebel forces, has likely by now 
recaptured much of the rebel capital, promises 
gruesome retribution against his own people 
that want nothing more than to be free, and 
will likely make good on that promise as we 
stand by and watch.

This was the singular foreign policy test case 
of this administration. Here was a foreign 
event which could in no way be attributed to 
his predecessor. Under his watch, the people 
of Egypt rose up, and we dithered. The 
people of Libya rose up, and 
we retreated behind pleas 
to the U.N. to pass some 
resolution or the other to at 
least show we care. To add 
insult to injury, hoping to 
export this warped view of 
foreign policy to other allies, we instructed 
the Saudis not to intervene in Bahrain, only to 
see them ignore the directive and do precisely 
the opposite. Not only do our enemies mock 
us, but now our erstwhile allies ignore us.

The abdication of moral leadership is now 
complete. No serious observer can have any 
doubt that this president will not lead, does 
not know how to lead, and believes that the 
very act of leading in international affairs is 
counterproductive to our interests and to 
the interests of representative democracies 
across the globe. The cop on the beat has 
gone home to nurse his perceived wounds. 
The irony in this situation can’t be missed. 
The Arab League actually asked the U.S. to 
intervene, and yet this president still sees U.S. 
action of any type as an act of imperialism or 
unjustified aggression. We won’t go in on our 
own, and we won’t go in even when asked.

We’ve surrendered, and the war hasn’t 
really even started yet. Radical Islamists 
will read the same message, and they will 
be emboldened. Bin Laden hit the nail on 
the head when he told the world that when 
people see a weak horse and a strong horse, 
they are naturally attracted to the strong 
horse and pull away from the weak horse. 
The attacks on our interests will only increase 
after this shameful abdication of leadership. 
The world will become a more dangerous and 
unstable place as rogues and dictators seek to 
expand their territories and power. 

When the United States fails to act – fails to 
lead – it doesn’t result in greater international 
cooperation; it results in less. Other countries, 
sensing that they are alone without a natural 
leader won’t band together to pick a new 
leader, they will simply scramble to act more 
in their own self interests without regard to 
multilateral relationships. What good is a 
bilateral, trilateral or multilateral relationship 
if there is nobody to lead it? Obama has kept 
his promise; he has transformed the U.S. into 
a sad, pitiful, scared sheep waiting to follow 
someone else’s lead while hoping that the 
wolf doesn’t knock at our door.

About the author: Gregory J. Welborn is a 
freelance writer and has spoken to several 
civic and religious organizations on cultural 
and moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles 
area with his wife and 3 children and is active 
in the community. He can be reached at