Looking for your feedback on an essay.
As I am not a native english speaker, it is always a problem for me to write a more or less good essays. Could you please share your thoughts about some of my writings?
Thank you in advance.
Here is a first one:
This is a right time to take a closer look at Obama’s acting on the world stage, as only a few days ago the president has returned from his first long trip abroad. During one week, president Obama attended the G20 summit in London, a NATO meeting in Strasbourg and a conference of European leaders in Prague, as well as visited Muslim Turkey and Iraq. This chain of meetings has clearly shown the new image America will have on the international scene for the next four years. So, I am offering you to make a tour around international issues Obama’s administration has to deal with, find differences and similarities of the new president’s approach to diplomacy from his predecessor, and appraise the progress Obama made for the first months being in the White House.
Obama’s foreign policy: a new chapter of American engagement?
Let’s take a step back to the days when Obama just came to office and look over major challenges the new president faced in terms of foreign policy. There are two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Obama inherited from his predecessor. They serve as a good remainder of American mission to fight against global terrorism, what, no doubt, Barack Obama will continue performing. We should also add to this group North Korea and Iran with their ambitions to create nuclear weapons. Another thorny issue is relations with two superpowers – Russia and China. There are also old clashes between the US and Cuba. The last important question is an American role in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
From the first moment Obama got down to settle these issues, one thing became clear: foreign policy of the Bush era was over. After 8 years in Washington his diplomacy is mostly described as incompetent by foreign policy gurus. As The Washington Post put it, “It won't be easy to undo what Mr. Bush has done,” talking about the enormous amount of errors made during his term. Nevertheless, president Obama managed to take a giant step forward since he entered upon his duties.
Well in advance of his notable trip overseas, Obama signed the executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and CIA detention centers all over the world. Soon after, President Obama gave a formal interview to an Arab TV network, where he spoke of the importance of respect when dealing with the Muslim world. He also announced the plan of withdrawal from Iraq. Even though the last one caused lively debates over terms of withdrawal, it must be admitted that it is a significant move to finish prolonged war. In the meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had some important talks in Washington and abroad. She visited four Asian nations as a gesture to build new international relationships; in particular, Clinton affirmed that the US would work with China on many crucial issues despite differences on human rights. During her next trip to the Middle East, she announced the US aid package of 900 million dollars to help the Palestinian people, showing American concern in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Secretary also mentioned about the ways of improving relations with Russia, which could play a crucial role in negotiations with Iran.
Chosen tactics mark the beginning of end of the Bush era. Moreover, we should remember that all of that was reached while major resources were directed at fighting with economic crisis. Nevertheless, some commentators criticized Obama’s foreign policy for its wrong direction and similarities with Bush’s approach. Thus, Foreign Affairs magazine came up with an article “The making of George W. Obama.” The Post’s columnist Krauthammer called Obama’s policy “supine diplomacy” concluding that Pakistan "capitulated to the Taliban" because of indecision of Washington; as a result, according to him, Obama was forced to increase amount of troops in Afghanistan. Others blamed him for his friendly tone in relations with Russia what resulted in some strategic concessions.
The trip in Europe revealed even more interesting facts regarding people’s attitude towards Obama’s diplomacy. Public approval of his foreign police increased by 7 percent, from 54% in February to 61% in the beginning of April. However, disapproval rating rose too, from 22% to 28%. First of all, it shows that activities in the White House attract more and more Americans to what is going on. Second of all, shifts in the ratings prove peoples’ two-fold attitude to some of Obama’s plans. For instance, in Europe he told about his believes to reduce and eventually eliminate both Russians and American nuclear stockpiles and prohibit any nuclear tests. His resounding speeches about standing “together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century” is that what actually scare some skeptics. For many people it sounds too good to be truth. Thus, Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, called Obama’s proposals “a dangerous fantasy.” The Economist gave a good summary of the Republicans’ grievance. ”The conservative critique," the magazine writes, "of Mr. Obama is that he is Jimmy Carter redux: a woolly idealist who thinks he can sweet-talk bad guys into behaving. While he pursues talks with Iran, Republicans fret, Iran's leaders chuckle behind their beards and carry on enriching uranium.”
Personally, I see more positive than negative changes with Obama’s accession to power. With already habitual confidence he assumed a responsibility to solve the old problems. He just uses a different approach from what we used to see. America under Bush was always separated from others. George W. Bush created the “us vs. them” ideology and ignored the idea of cooperation and unification with others countries for better security. And we all know where it led us to. President Obama tries to replace an attitude of force with dialogue. In his brilliant speech one in Turkey Obama clearly expressed his motives, and I couldn’t not to agree with these words. “First, I believe we can have a dialogue that’s open, honest and vibrant, I want you to know that I’m personally committed to a new chapter of American engagement. We can’t afford to talk past one another, to focus only our differences or to let the walls of mistrust go up around us. Instead, we have to listen carefully to each other. We have to focus on places where we can find common ground, respect each other’s views — even when we disagree. And if we do so, I believe we can bridge some of our differences and divisions we’ve had in the past."
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Here is another one:
Speaking about the American Dream, we usually imply some sort of fulfillment, something what is associated with success and happiness. For different people the American Dream acquires a variety of meanings; nevertheless, generally we could divide them into two categories. It is an open secret that for the majority of people the American Dream brings up an association of material welfare. For other people it is an idea to fulfill their spiritual wishes. It is also pretty common to behold a situation when a person is faced with the tough choice between these two tracks of the American Dream. Stephen Cruz, a main character of story written by Studs Terkel, can serve as a classical example of such a person. In contrast to him could be placed Cora Tucker, a hero of Anne Witte Garland’s work. What does it truly mean to implement the American dream? What tracks do our heroes choose and whether it led them towards fulfillment? I hope we will be able to answer these questions, as well as get a better understanding of the essence of the American Dream after thorough analysis and comparison of our main characters.
Stephen Cruz and Cora Tucker.
Stephen Cruz is one of five children of Mexican immigrants who came to the US in an attempt to find a better life. Being born in America, he didn’t know all the difficulties his grandparents and parents went through, and he didn’t understand why his “fairly affluent” family was only allowed to live “where all the trashy whites were.” He was smart enough to get into college, becoming the first one in his family who obtained a degree. After graduate school, where he combined his knowledge in engineering with a master’s in business, he received dozens of good job offers, which, he naively believed, was just because of his excellent skills. However, his first workplace opened his eyes to a real nature of his American Dream. “I was a good compromise,” this is how Stephen describes himself looking back at these times. He was hired as a member of minority; at the same time he “wasn’t really black.” That was a moment, when Cruz for the first time realized that he never considered himself different. As he says, “that was the trouble.”
Nevertheless, he stayed on the business track and went to work at another company, holding the opinion that “businessmen gave a damn about society, that given a choice they would do the right thing.” After a few more years in the field, he realized that minorities are as bad to each other as whites are to minorities. He tried to bring some of them together, but he failed in his attempt. “Hey, the American dream, you got it,” Stephen heard in response from people around, whose only propositions were to “fall in line” and “lay off”. Being fully disillusioned, Cruz quit the job with thoughts to switch the business world for something else. Nevertheless, he shortly understood that it would be much smarter to “take the bucks and continue looking for the answer.” Thus, Stephen Cruz gave himself another chance, getting a new position with bigger than ever salary. But other warnings to “get in line” were waiting for him, one more disappointment.
The consulting world, where Stephen appeared to figure out how executives work, was an eye-opener to the reality of the American dream. “The dream is not losing. This is the notion pervading America today: don’t lose.”
Cruz left the business world. Taking a teaching position in the university, he is saying “we’re gonna be all right.” He finishes his life story reasoning about the elusiveness of the American dream and importance that modern business assumes. He admits that “a counterpower is needed.” And it seems to be true, as initial opportunity to succeed transformed the world in the place where money and corporations are defining peoples’ destinies.
Cora Tucker, the main character of Garland’s article, comes from a poor African American family living in Virginia. She, as well as another eight siblings, gets to know what hard physical labor is beginning in her childhood years, when her family becomes sharecroppers, which was the most possible way to survive for her family at this time. She was an intelligent child who loved attending school. Her school essay even led her to the meeting with the Virginia governor, what actually turned into a big disappointment. Being among winners in a contest for the best work, she publicly refused to shake the hand of the governor when she realized that her essay was rewritten. This episode greatly describes the firmness of her character, which she would never lose through her life.
At seventeen she sorted out her priorities, dropping out of high school and choosing instead marriage and kids. She decided to get a job as her children have grown up. Cora becomes a seamstress at one of the factories, where she attempts to create a union. During the years at the factory, Cora was saving money to build her own house. She finally realized her dream, despite her husband’s initial lack of support.
All these years she was active in the community. She participated in different organizations fighting for the rights of black Americans and conducted many campaigns trying to attract people from the community to join her. Cora was doing every possible thing – from encouraging young people to read about black history to driving people to the polls – to change peoples’ attitudes.
Leaving her job because of health problems, Cora Tucker creates her own organization, Citizens for a Better America. A survey, which was carried out by the CBA, revealed a real picture of discrimination against black employees and caused investigations at the state level. She was invited a few times to Washington to testify on welfare issues, even though it was not common place for “talks from a grassroots level.” Thus, Cora was establishing a reputation.
But besides supporters, she made many enemies – people were threatening her in different ways. However, it never became a cause to diminish the scope of her activity. “If you stop doing things because somebody says something bad about you or does something to you, then you’ll never get anything done,” she says. And she never stopped. As many people noticed, even though Cora was not the greatest orator, her words were always full of energy and honesty, which couldn’t leave people untouched.
Keeping on with her mission, Cora started publishing a monthly newspaper. Besides all the meetings she was attending, she was still helping as many community dwellers as possible in their everyday problems. In the meantime, CBA expanded to several chapters in different places; moreover, Cora joined two other organizations, Virginia Action and Citizen Action. Thus, she always tried to stay busy. All this time, her mother remained the only person who was ready to help.
Stephen Cruz and Cora Tucker – people of one epoch, but different worlds. They both were Americans and both had moments when they felt as if they were aliens in this country. They both tried to fight against this injustice; the approaches they chose were just slightly different.
Stephen and Cora were of the same age, being born in 1941. Coming from the working families, they were not spoilt kids; on the contrary, from her early years Cora did all the works adults usually do. As we could notice, they both were pretty smart kids, and if not for the severe reality of Cora’s world they could easily meet each other in college. It never happened, as seventeen years old Cora turned towards family values. It is still a riddle for me, why such a wise girl like Cora, who has watched the whole life her mother struggling in poverty, didn’t want a different life for herself. Perhaps I should admit that even for a girl who was awarded with the meeting with the governor, it was unlikely to make her way through college in those times. However, very soon we meet the real Cora Tucker. Her life was devoted to the good of the community. Cora was doing every possible thing to cease discrimination of black Americans, turning her life into a life of other people. It looks like she was created to help, to defend, and stand up for others.
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In contrast to Cora we get to know a much more common variant of the American Dream, Stephen Cruz. If Cora’s goal was to uphold the rights of African Americans, Cruz’s “fight” took place in his own inner world. His job, seeming initially as guarantee of success and a good life, becomes for Stephen the biggest dilemma. The business world opened up for him possibilities to earn money, but it also revealed his “difference” from others. Adding a follow-the-rule system, which business world offered, Cruz arouse for himself a perennial question – affluent life or your own principles. And if, for instance, Cora Tucker never ever thought to “stop doing things,” Stephen takes much more lifelike decisions allowing himself to be run by money. “You might as well take the bucks and continue looking for the answer,” is the line, which greatly describes his way of solving the problem. It seems like reasoning of a greedy person, who especially doesn’t look in a favorable light comparing with a valorous life of Cora Tucker. Nevertheless, I think we have to admit that being a “victim” of affirmative action, we should give Stephen credit for what he reached; at least for the fact he found a way to get education. I am wondering that in some other context we could consider him as a good example for imitation – a son of Mexican immigrants, who found a way to get into college and have a well-paid job. Is it what every immigrant (to be frank, every American) wish for himself or his children? Thinking about it, let’s not forget that Cora Tucker didn’t even have a large support of her own community, as people “feel threatened by her.” She always believed that she was doing the right things (what remained her major incentive), but whether the right things are usually not supported by others?
No, I am not trying to turn everything over. I just want to find a reasonable explanation of what they did. Of course, Cora Tucker should be called a real hero – Dr. King of her own community. This is why the question should not be whether it’s right or not what she did – it is indisputably – but whether others were really need what she wanted to bring them? As we could see, the idea of “the pursuit of happiness,” what is one of the bases of American ideology, could easily overshadow many other aspects of life. So, Stephen Cruz did everything right, exactly in accordance with the rules this country set up to reach success. And his inner conflict is just rare display of sentimentality. The fact that he finally left business doesn’t really mean the victory of idea over material welfare, as it was more because not his conflict became unbearable, but because he realized that being out of business world he still “gonna be alright.” Could we say that Stephen made his dream come true? The uncertainty he lived with all his life doesn’t make me think so. Even though his decision to leave the business could be interpreted as he finally realized that this was not what would make him happy, the accent on his savings is persuading me to believe that he didn’t get rid fully of money dependence. In Cora’s case I adhere to the opposite opinion. I am sure that if she would be asked whether she implemented her dream or not, Cora Tucker would give you a straight affirmative answer on it; moreover, her answer would sound with the same confidence she has while fighting for the peoples’ rights.
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Is there anybody willing to help me? Please.
Re: Looking for your feedback on an essay.