April 2005 Archives

April 30, 2005

Bush's Orders to the Iraqi Government

On April 29, 2005, Deep Blade over at Deep Blade Journal posted an insightful analysis of the impact that President George W. Bush's April 28, 2005 speech will have on Iraqi politics. He wrote: Last night in the national press conference, Bush issued some marching orders to the Iraqis, telling them in no uncertain terms who will design and control their "chain of command." These orders were given in the president's response to a question about when US troops might be withdrawn."

BUSH: ...Thirdly, a fundamental problem has been whether or not there's an established chain of command, whether or not a civilian government can say to the military, here's what you need to do -- and whether the command goes from top to bottom and the plans get executed. And General Petreaus was telling me he's pleased with the progress being made with setting up a command structure, but there's still more work to be done.One of the real dangers, David, is that as politics takes hold in Iraq, whether or not the civilian government will keep intact the military structure that we're now helping them develop. And my message to the Prime Minister and our message throughout government to the Iraqis is, keep stability; don't disrupt the training that has gone on -- don't politicize your military -- in other words, have them there to help secure the people.
"Could the message be more stark?" Deep Blade asks, adding: "US troops will be in Iraq for a long, long time. The elected government can hardly be considered truly sovereign under this occupation." I agree. Bush is applying the so-called "Good imperialism" doctrine that's being pushed in some western quarters to justify 21st Century economic exploitation in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Here's a link to Deep Blade's entire post.

Permalink | No Comments

'Take up the Western Man's Burden'

David R. Francis, The Christian Science Monitor's senior economics correspondent, commented April 28, 2005 on what is often described as "the New Imperialism" being promoted in some quarters. He writes:

When the United States took over the Philippines after the Spanish-American War in 1899, British poet Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem in praise of imperialism. Each stanza began: "Take up the White Man's burden." After World War II, colonialism became a nasty word. The Philippines - and just about every other colony - won political independence.

But today Kipling's call to spread, as he saw it, civilization to remote parts of the world could be rephrased "Take up the Western Man's burden." The industrial nations are once again asking how much they should help poor countries establish good government and greater prosperity. University of Rochester economist Stanley Engerman calls it a "new, good imperialism."

Mr. Francis said, "Good imperialism - if it exists - deals more with economics than the political control of the past."

No matter how you package it, domination is domination and economic exploitation is still exploitation. The real test of the new thinking in the U.S. is whether national political leaders will allow an economically rising China to apply the new imperialism doctrine in its relations with the world's most powerful nation. I predict that Americans would fight an attempt to economically dominate the U.S. Whether it succeeds is another story in this age of globalization, which can be a double-edged sword. Secondly, I suspect that, as in the past, the new imperialism will be directed at non-Europeans or non-Christians primarily in Africa and Asia, which includes the Middle East. I also think China will be among the major practitioners of the doctrine. Here's more of "The New Imperialism."

Permalink | 1 Comment

April 29, 2005

Boston Globe: Rank and File Have Taken Heat for Abu Ghraib

"With his job on the line over the shocking revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib prison last year, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the world to ''watch how democracy deals with wrongdoing and scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and, indeed, our own weaknesses," writes reporter Charlie Savage in the April 28, 2005 issue of the Boston Globe. "Now, exactly one year after the photographs from Abu Ghraib became public, the Defense Department has placed seven low-ranking guards under court-martial. No general -- or colonel, or CIA intelligence officer, or political appointee -- has faced any charges." An they probably won't, Mr. Savage. The little guy is always the scapegoat. Besides, generals look after generals unless one of them is a woman some generals probably don't want in their ranks. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

After Abu Ghraib, Why is U.S. Coaching Iraqi Troops on Human Rights?

The April 29, 2005 issue of Daily Times of Pakistan says "Almost exactly a year after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal broke out, the U.S. military said Thursday [April 28, 2005] it was launching a human rights training program for the Iraqi army's detention personnel.The pilot project kicked off as the U.S. military's own human rights record was back in the spotlight on the first anniversary of the scandal over the sexual and physical abuse of prisoners inside the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison," the paper added. The Daily Times story includes quotes from a story the U.S. military reportedly sent to some news outlets.

Permalink | No Comments

April 28, 2005

Annan Wants Security Council's Big Five to Keep Sole Veto power

"United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Thursday [April 28, 2005] that new members should not expect to get veto powers if the Security Council was expanded," reports Iftikhar Gilani in the Daily Times of Pakistan. That means the five permanent members will continue to dictate to other nations. It also mean that no African or Latin American nation will be able to veto any measures the five permanents bring before the Security Council unlike the U.S., Asia and Europe. Europe should have only one member, as far as I'm concerned. It has three, if Russia is included.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Ramesh Thakur on 'Enhancing U.N. Legitimacy'

Ramesh Thakur, in a "special to The Japan Times, opined that, "Many commentators have noted that the timing and intensity of the recent surge in anti-Japan protests in China may be due in part to Tokyo's push for permanent membership of the U.N. Security Council." See "Enhancing U.N. legitimacy" for more.

Permalink | No Comments

What is 'Practical Conservatism'?

Joseph Britt, substituting for Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch, posted a thought-provoking article on April 28, 2005 headlined "Practical Conservatism." It's worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Tony Blair: 'I Acted With a Clear Heart'

Trevor Kavanagh, political editor of The Sun of Britain, reports that "Tony Blair has blasted anti-war critics and insisted he helped topple evil Saddam Hussein with "a clear heart." It's still aggression, Mr. Blair. Here's Mr. Kavanagh's report.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Marie Woolf Analyzes Goldsmith's Advice to Blair

Marie Woolf of The Independent analyzes Peter Goldsmith's legal advice to British Prime Minister Tony Blair cautioning him on joining President George W. Bush in invading Iraq in March 2003. Here's a link to her analysis.

Permalink | No Comments

Peter Goldsmith's Legal Advice to Blair on Invading Iraq

Peter Henry Goldsmith, the British attorney general, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair:

You have asked me for advice on the legality of military action against Iraq without a further resolution of the [UN] security council. This is, of course, a matter we have discussed before. Since then I have had the benefit of discussions with the foreign secretary and Sir Jeremy Greenstock [the then British ambassador to the UN], who have given me valuable background information on the negotiating history of resolution 1441. In addition, I have also had the opportunity to hear the views of the US administration from their perspective as co-sponsors of the resolution. This note considers the issues in detail in order that you are in a position to understand the legal reasoning.
Click here to read Mr. Goldsmiths advice to Mr. Blair regarding the legality of invading Iraq.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Telegraph: 'The Voters May Forgive Him: His Party Never Will'

The Daily Telegraph of London: Tony Blair does not make it easy for those who supported the war to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. The arguments in favour of the war were - and still are - compelling, and the difficulty of Iraq's journey towards democracy and stability should not obscure the real progress that is being made. But as Michael Howard has said, even when the Prime Minister is right, he uses the wrong arguments." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Simon Jenkins to Blair: 'Try the Truth Next Time, Tony'

Simon Jenkins of The Times of London, in commenting on Lord Goldsmith's legal opinion on whether invading Iraq without the support of the United Nations was legal, said:

The recently published advice from the Attorney-General confirms what most people suspected. Mr Blair could not have won Cabinet and parliamentary support for the war in March 2003 without two crucial pieces of publicisable information. One was that Saddam posed an “imminent” threat, the other that an invasion not backed by the UN was still legal. When he read Lord Goldsmith’s March 7 opinion, which was unequivocally hostile to the war, he knew it had to be changed. The crusader was armoured, mounted and half way to Jerusalem.
Mr. Jenkins said Mr. Blair "needed a blessing not a permit from the Mother Church that is the law. Since its vicar on earth was Lord Goldsmith, a man whom he had preferred and ennobled, he duly got what he wanted." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Times Gives Blair the Benefit of the Doubt on Iraq

The Times of London, in an April 29, 2005 leader headlined A Reasonable Case: The difficulties of distinguishing international law and international politics," told its readers:

When selective extracts of the advice that Lord Goldsmith provided to Tony Blair on the legal status of any war in Iraq were first leaked, a number of observers argued that the Attorney-General’s cautious and balanced thoughts were proof positive that the Prime Minister had “lied”. Lawyers are supposed to weigh the arguments for and against, a fact that was lost on those fighting an entirely different war. The release of the full memorandum that he sent to the Prime Minister on March 7, 2003, suggests that much of what has been said about his alleged position on the war has been exaggerated or distorted.
The Times said, "His text helps to settle at least some of these matters." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

SPN: State Department Keeps Terrorism Report Under Wraps

SecurityProNews reported April 28, 2005 that, "On the same day that the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) released a report indicating that the number of terrorist attacks tripled in 2004, the US Dept. of State reported that global terrorism remained a "significant threat." And then, they put the report back into their pockets," SPN said. Here's a link to SPN's report.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Talabani Approves Some Cabinet Members

Associated Press Correspondent Qassim Abdul Zahara reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani "and his two vice presidents approved most of a proposed Cabinet for Iraq's transitional government that would reflect Iraq's religious and ethnic diversity." Citing "officials" as its sources, the wire service said "last-minute discussions continued over three of the 36 ministries - the important defense, oil, and electricity portfolios - officials said, and that could delay a vote by the National Assembly on the new Cabinet that has been expected Thursday [April 28, 2005]. The Kurds want the oil portfolio but I'd be surprised if the Shiites agree to that. Who wants to be held hostage by the group that has the oil in its region? Surely not the national government. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

April 27, 2005

EU Referendum Says the European Consensus is Under Pressure

EU Referendum takes a look at "The consensus under pressure" as the May 29, 2005 French vote on the European constitution draws nears. French voters' ratification of the constitution is not a sure thing.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Is Professor Liam Kennedy Brave or a Fool?

Atlantic Blog calls Liam Kennedy, a professor at Queen's University in Belfast, a "genuinely gutsy professor" for opposing opposing Gerry Adams in west Belfast in the forthcoming Northern Ireland election." The independent candidate, according to Atlantic Blog, "says he is standing because of continuing IRA punishment attacks." The blog said, "Normally, that would be a lead for making fun of someone doing something inane, but not in this case."

The professor of economic and social history "said his campaign will focus on the "grip" paramilitaries have on communities and the threat to democracy they represent," Atlantic Blog reported.

Permalink | No Comments

What Syria's Withdrawal from Lebanon Means for Syrians

Joshua Landis, Syria Comment.Com: "Yesterday was a day of celebration in Lebanon: 29 years of military occupation by Syria came to an end. Although the Lebanese and world press covered the story in detail, Syrians largely ignored the fanfare. It was not a proud day in Syria. In fact the Baath newspaper included no story about Lebanon on its front page." I wonder why? Read more of "Syria's Withdrawal from Lebanon Means More Internal Change." for an interesting analysis on what the pullout means for Lebanon and Syria.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Writer Sees a Failed State and Regression in Liberia

Charles Kwalonue Sunwabe, Jr., writing in the Liberia Observer:

It is tragic, sad and disappointing to see Liberia, descend so quickly into a state of "perpetual regression" barely a year after its villainous former President, Charles McArthur Taylor, departed in disgrace. Back in August of 2003, Liberians overwhelmingly greeted the departure of disgraced former President Charles McArthur Taylor with jubilation - some even naively began to say that his forced departure from the country that he had wrecked indeed signaled a new beginning.
"But," the writer added, "as the situation in post-Taylor's Liberia indicates, little has changed as it is "business as usual" with endemic corruption, rancor, governmental and bureaucratic inefficiencies, deceit, lies and despicable irresponsibility prevalent everywhere." Read more of "The State Has Fallen - Regression in Liberia."

Permalink | No Comments

Why is African Leader Hiding in Croatia?

The Daily Telegraph of London reported April 28, 2005 that, "Equatorial Guinea's exiled opposition leader Severo Moto is alive and living secretly in Croatia, a magazine reported yesterday [April 27, 2005], a week after his disappearance was reported. Mr Moto, who has lived in Madrid since the mid-1980s, fled the Spanish capital without telling his wife or political associates over a month ago. Spanish newspapers said it was believed he was dead." The Telegraph added:

The weekly Globus magazine, however, printed an interview with him yesterday, quoting him as saying he feared Spanish attempts to kill him. It published photographs of Mr Moto in Zagreb and said he was staying at a Croatian friend's business in the suburbs of the city where he was interviewed on April 24.
"Mr Moto is said to have received death threats from president Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who accused him of supporting a failed coup last year," The Telegraph reported. Here's more of African Leader Hiding in Croatia.

Permalink | No Comments

Can Togo Avoid Civil War Over Outcome of Presidential Election?

Inter Press Service Correspondent Noel Kokou Tadegnon, writing from Lome, the capital of the West African nation of Togo, said, "Emmanuel Akitani-Bob, an opposition candidate in the presidential election held Sunday [April 24, 2005] in Togo, declared himself winner of the poll Wednesday [April 27, 2005]. This came a day after the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) announced that Faure Gnassingbe, son of deceased head of state Gnassingbe Eyadema, was the provisional winner," Mr. Tadegnon wrote, He noted that the April 26, 2005 announcement "was greeted with outrage by opposition supporters, who erected barricades and burned tires in the Togolese capital, Lome, to protest the outcome of the poll." The question is: Can Togo avoid civil war by forming a government of national unity?Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Peace Talks Between Sudan, Darfur Rebels Set to Resume in May 2005

On April 27, 2005, African Union spokesman Nourreddine Mezni told the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a "UN humanitarian news and information service," that "the peace talks [between the Sudanese government and rebels in the western region of Darfur] are expected to resume in May [2005], although specific dates will only be finalized at the end of the current consultation." Here's more of IRIN's report.

Permalink | No Comments

African Union Reportedly Asks NATO for Help in Darfur

African leaders often seem incapable of solving Africa's problems without help from Europeans and Americans. In what appears to be the latest sign of that, "The African Union has asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) "for talks on how the western military alliance could provide logistical support for its monitoring mission in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur, a NATO spokesman said on Wednesday [April 27, 2005], according to a report in The Daily Star of Lebanon. The paper, citing reports from news agencies, said "the African Union president had written to NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer suggesting "the AU secretariat and NATO secretariat begin discussions on NATO providing logistical support to the AU in Darfur". Here's The Daily Star report.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Canada Investigating Whether U.S. Killed a Canadian in Iraq

According to CTV.ca, Cloe Rodrigue, Canada's Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said Canada is investigating whether a Canadian in Iraq was killed by U.S. forces on Saturday [April 23, 2005].

Permalink | No Comments

Are African Leaders Serious About NEPAD?

Gamal Nkrumah, writing in the April 21-27, 2005 Al Ahram Weekly Online, report that African heads of state and government who travelled to the Red Sea resort of Sharm El- Sheikh on Tuesday demonstrated that there was no shortage of goodwill to resolve the many challenges facing Africa. Those who failed to show up were a reminder that an agenda that unifies Africa is sorely needed. He added:

The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), widely acclaimed as a blueprint for continental economic survival, is based on the premise that African countries are committed to undertake policy and institutional reforms. In return, the wealthy countries of the North have pledged to create an enabling international economic environment that would permit African countries to develop and prosper.
Mr. Nkrumah said "Twenty-nine countries and 10 heads of state and government took part in NEPAD's 13th Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) and the third Peer Review Mechanism. "Africa's economic development is in our hands," Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo boasted at the close of the Sharm El-Sheikh summit." Here's more of "Knee pads and floats."

Permalink | No Comments

Why Belgium's Spies Have lost Their Llicence to Kill

The Daily Telegraph of London reported April 26, 2005 that, civilian agents of Belgium's "Sûreté de l'Etat, the equivalent of Britain's MI5, are already among the most powerless intelligence operatives in the Western world, with no right even to tap telephones. Now, they have had their handguns confiscated on the orders of their general administrator, Koen Dassen, a Belgian newspaper reported," according to the Telegraph. Why? It was because " one agent "drunkenly tried to shoot a colleague in the head," the paper said.Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Iraqi Press Monitor Resumes Publication

Helena Cobban at Just World News reported on April 26, 2005 that, "Yesterday [April 25, 2005], the Institute for War and Peace reporting put out the first edition of once-daily 'Iraqi Press Monitor' since February 2nd [2005]." I'm glad the publication is back. It fills in the gap in mainstream reporting on Iraq. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Europe Will Still Exist If French Say No to EU Constitution

Daniel W. Drezner, assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, has an April 25, 2005 post that asks:"What happens if the French say "non"?" The question is in reference to the European Union's constitutional treaty, which comes up for a vote in France on May 29, 2005. So far, French public opinion seems to be running against it despite efforts by French President Jacques Chirac to drum up support for it.

Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission, warned on April 24, 2005, that, "There would be no more Europe," if the vote fails in France. "We will pass through a long period of crisis. The problem will not only be a catastrophe for France, but the fall of Europe," he told a French newspaper. Surely, Mr. Prodi exaggerates. Europe will still be Europe.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Ehsan Ahrari Comments on the 'Dangerous Games the Saudis Play

Ehsan Ahrari, in an April 26, 2005 commentary in Asia Times Online, said "One wonders why there is any surprise that hardline Islamists won the Saudi municipal elections. Seven winners from that country's most liberal city, Jeddah, were part of the "golden list" circulated by hardline Islamist clerics," he wrote. "Five of the six winners in Buraidah, capital of the ultra-conservative province of Qassem, were also hardline Islamists. Islamists also did well in the holy city of Medina. A close look at these elections is likely to uncover dangerous games that are being played in the birthplace of Islam," he contends. Here's more of his analysis.

Permalink | No Comments

April 26, 2005

Muslim Scholar Ali Al-Tamimi Convicted in the U.S.

Ali Al-Timimi, one of the most prominent Islamic scholars in the U.S., was convicted August 26, 2005, of 10 counts alleging he encouraged followers on September 16, 2001 to join the Taliban and fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to Arab News and other publications. "Jurors reached their verdict in their seventh day of deliberations," the paper said. I've heard Mr. Tamimi, who is free on $75,000 bail pending his sentencing in July 2005, speak in person and have listened to his tapes. He is a well-respected scholar among English speaking Muslims in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

Permalink | No Comments

Is U.S. Sponsoring Militias and Death Squads in Iraq

On April 24, 2005, Deep Blade Journal posted a worth-reading article headlined "US-sponsored militias and death squads in Iraq." The subhead is:"US program unleashes ex-Baathist enforcers." Read it here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Primary Focus of Bush-Abdullah Meeting Was Oil Prices

Arab News correspondent Barbara Ferguson noted in an April 27, 2005 article, that:

President Bush's meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at his ranch in Crawford, Texas on Monday [April 26, 2005] focused on soaring global oil prices as well as political reform in Saudi Arabia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the so-called war on terror. But it was the price of oil that topped the agenda. Crude oil prices hit record highs in April, briefly topping $58 dollars a barrel. Nationwide retail gas prices have climbed to over $2.28 a gallon.
She said, "The Saudis reiterated their recent pledge that the oil-rich nation will soon increase its output, currently running at 9.5 million barrels per day." Read more of "Bush-Abdullah Meeting Focused on Oil Prices."

Permalink | No Comments

What Mendicant Diplomacy?

Joseph Britt, who is ably posting for Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch while Mr. Dejerjian takes a break from blogging, had this to says about President George W. Bush asking the Saudis for help in lowering oil prices:

Just in case this hasn't occurred to anyone else I thought I'd point out that the idea of a President of the United States having to approach foreign governments hat in hand asking for favors is thoroughly offensive, barring some grave emergency. First it was the Chinese two weeks ago over their weak-yuan policy, and today it is the Saudis over oil production levels and the idea that they might invest in refineries here in the United States.

Counting on other governments to bail ours out of problems it is unwilling to address seriously itself is an abdication, not a policy. As the poet might have said if he'd been even a tad bit wonkish, "oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to never propose anything that might be seriously unpopular and damage our approval ratings." All right, so I wasn't an English major, but you get the idea.

My response to Mr. Britt's post was:
In recent years, the Saudis have frequently bailed the U.S. out when oil prices reached a level that is politically dangerous. In fact, the U.S. is not as self-sufficient as many of us think. We've always depended on the resources and actions of others. The same goes for other nations. The difference is that the wheeling and dealing goes on behind the scenes. If negotiations don't work, then threats come into play. I think I'd rather pump more oil to lower oil prices rather than face the threat of a U.S. inspired political movement or sanctions. By publicly asking the Saudis to help lower oil prices, knowing they are going to cooperate by pumping more oil, allows everyone involved to save face.
Mr. Britt's post resulted in a variety of responses. Read them here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Israel and Lebanon After Syria's Withdrawal

Jessy Chahine of The Daily Star of Lebanon reported April 26, 2005 that, "as the head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon packed to leave with his country's remaining troops Monday night, Israel expressed hope the withdrawal would pave the way to peace with Beirut. "We hope such withdrawal will open the path to peace with Lebanon with whom we have no territorial conflict," the paper quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom as saying.

The Star said the Israeli official added: "We are not entirely sure that the Syrians ... have withdrawn their intelligence services." It's almost certain that both Israeli and Syrian intelligence agents are still in Lebanon. As People's Daily notes, "Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and set up a so-called security zone in south Lebanon in 1985." Hezbollah forced Israel out of the South in 2000. The israelis occupied the country for 22 years. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Did Bolton Politicize U.S. Intelligence on Syria?

In an April 25, 2005 article headlined "Bolton and the Politicization of US Intelligence on Syria," Joshua Landis, editor of Syria Comment.Com, asserts that:

Nothing has done more harm to our confidence in US intelligence warnings than the willful politicization of intelligence by the ex-Under-Secretary of State John Bolton, whose nomination for the position of US Ambassador to the UN has now run into grave problems in the Senate.
Mr. Landis' assertion was made in the context of "posting an article on Syria's security network in Lebanon"... that "comes from intelligenceonline.com, a site I cannot find. It was sent to me by a reader who asked that I publish it even though he noted that "I feel it's too much talk, not enough facts." The assistant professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma added:
I post it, nevertheless, because there have been a number of articles reporting the same thing. One never knows about the truth of such unsubstantiated claims.
Currently a Fulbright Scholar in Syria and Lebanon for the 2005 academic year, Mr. landis told readers, "I never now how to pass on such articles. US intelligence agencies and institutes have been so damaged by their propensity to spin that one must take this sort of unverified news with a large grain of salt and remain skeptical until ones sees some facts." Here's more of his insightful post. Here's a link to Intelligence Online.

Permalink | 1 Comment

U.S. Troops Cleared in Shooting of Agent Protecting Journalist

The U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, Iraq who shot and killed Nicola Calipari, an Italian secret service agent escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to what he thought was safety on March 4, 2005, after she was freed from hostage takers, will be cleared, according to The Associated Press. Ms. Sgrena, a veteran correspondent who works for Italy's Il Manifesto, told TG3 television, according to Reuters: "Now they're not even talking about an accident, at least according to the reports, but it seems they want to lay all the blame on the Italians," "This represents a slap in the face for the Italian government."

Permalink | No Comments

April 24, 2005

The Interpreter: A Political Thriller Worth Watching

Munir Umrani, Editor of The Diplomatic Times Review: "The Interpreter" is not for you if your film appetite leans towards French Connection-style car chases or violence such as that in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies. But if you are looking for a slice of life in the world of diplomacy and intrigue, with deception thrown, in you will thoroughly enjoy this political thriller starring Sean Penn, Nicole Kidman and the United Nations, where much of it was shot. One cannot but reflect on what it takes to keep the lid on or end regional crises so they don't threaten international peace. I highly recommend this film. It's a four star thriller. There is more of this review at The Diplomatic Times Review.

Permalink | No Comments

The Interpreter: A Four Stars Political Thriller

"The Interpreter" is not for you if your film appetite leans towards French Connection-style car chases or violence such as that in Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies. But if you are looking for a slice of life in the world of diplomacy and intrigue, with deception thrown, in you will thoroughly enjoy this political thriller starring Sean Penn, Nicole Kidman and the United Nations, where much of it was shot. One cannot but reflect on what it takes to keep the lid on or end regional crises so they don't threaten international peace. I highly recommend this film. It's a four star thriller.

I saw Director Sydney Pollack's 128 minute Universal Pictures production at Loew's Cineplex here in Chicago, where the cost of a ticket was $9.25. Loew's was one of the 2,758 theaters in which the film opened on April 22 in the U.S. and Canada. According to Reuters, "the film opened last weekend overseas, grossing $9.3 million from 1,157 playdates in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, among other foreign territories." This weekend's take was "$22.8 million in receipts, easily knocking "The Amityville Horror" to second place with $14.2 million," according to MarketWatch.

The theater was already sold out when my wife and I arrived for a 3 o'clock showing. We decide to catch the 4 o'clock show. This gave me a chance to observe those waiting to get in and those leaving the theater. In fact, I observed three audiences and noted that each was 99.9 percent Caucasian. They were also mostly of middle age. I wondered why the film did not attract many African-Americans or Hispanics since most of the nations in the UN are populated by people of color. This is something that General Electric, the owner of Universal, may want to look into.

Anyway, "The Interpreter" is an excellent thriller despite Sean Penn's tiresome, sad-faced smirk that seems to be his trademark. He plays Federal Agent Tobin Keller who is assigned to protect the "The Interpreter,'' Sylvia Broome, one of the 113 staff interpreters, not translators, hired by the U.N. She is African-born and is from the fictional African nation of Matobo (Zimbabwe). She speaks an obscure tribal dialect among other languages.

While returning to U.N. headquarters to retrieve her bags following a building evacuation, she overhears a plot to assassinate Matobo President Edmund Zuwani, who is scheduled to address the United Nation's General Assembly. Zuwani, a one-time highly revered intellectual and liberator turned tyrant in his old age, is trying to protect himself from prosecution for crimes against humanity. His argument is that his actions were undertaken to thwart terrorism in Matobo. He is played by Bermuda-born actor Earl Cameron, who made his film debut in the 1951 movie "There Is Another Sun."

Of course what Broome overhears puts her in danger. Her identity becomes known when a light in the booth where she works is flipped on and the plotters get a good look at her. She goes to the Feds with what she knows and Keller is assigned to thwart the plot, if there is one. Only he doesn't believe her, or doesn't think she is telling the whole truth. There is no love lost between the two although a friendship eventually blossoms. In fact, Keller is pining over his wife, who left him for a dancer. Perhaps that accounts for the sadness he displays in the first half of the movie.

The assassination plot is believable to this reviewer. I had scares in Jamaica in 1979 while covering a United nations Conference Against Apartheid, where someone I trust overheard Jamaican agents saying I was a U.S. intelligence agent and speculating whether to do me harm. In Libya in the early 1980s, while covering an Organization of African Unity Summit, I was placed on a watch list and was allowed to leave the country after a Libyan official who had studied in the United States, and had befriended me, demanded that I be allowed to leave. Again, I was suspected of being American intelligence American agent.

Finally, it is quite scary when someone whispers in your ear and tells you that you are being watched by agents. It takes a certain coolness to operate under that kind of pressure. And coolness is what the assassins in "The Interpreter" have. They are played ably by Byron Utley and Michael Wright, another perpetual brooder in films. I think the ending will surprise you.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Writer: Caricom's Lack of Unity Frustrating

Lorna Callender of the St. Kitts and Nevis Democrat has an excellent commentary on a phenomena that plagues smaller nations in some regions of the world. That is the failure to vote as a bloc in world and regional bodies. In an article headlined CARICOM lack of Unity Frustrating, she noted that,

At the OAS meetings recently, CARICOM countries were poised to dominate the outcome of the elections. Holding 14 votes out of a maximum of 34, CARICOM could have decided who would hold the post of OAS Secretary General, if they would only agree to vote en bloc. This they did not do. After the first tied vote of 17/17 for the candidate from Chile and the one from Mexico, one would have thought that CARICOM countries would go into caucus and decide on the outcome. This too, apparently did not happen; there was a second tied vote.... And yet a third tied vote.
Ms. Callender said, "A few days before the election, CARICOM announced that it could guarantee at least 10 votes for the Chilean candidate. When the countries were listed, the name of St. Kitts and Nevis was not there, though the reporter felt that it was likely that St. Kitts and Nevis would vote with the rest. We are left to wonder why St. Kitts and Nevis did not declare its hand? Was it waiting in the lobbying game for further benefits? And whom in fact did we vote for eventually?" Caribbean leaders should read her article and heed it.

Permalink | No Comments

Syrian Baath Party Reportedly Will Dissolve its National Leadership

Joshua Landis at Syria Comments.Com has posted an informative commentary on an article that appeared in Arabic at al-Sharq al-Awsat headlined "The Baath Will Dissolve its National Leadership and Drop the word "Socialism" from the Party Name." This "is going to happen at the 10th meeting of the Regional Leadership due to be held next month," according to Mr. Landis, citing Ayman Abdulnour as "the main source for the article. As a party member and one of the best informed Syrians around, he should know," Mr. Landis added.

Permalink | No Comments

Is John Bolton Winning His Confirmation Battle?

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has an insightful analysis of the Bolton confirmation battle headlined The John Bolton Battle: Who is Winning?Mr. Bolton is President George W. Bush's choice for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Army Clears Sanchez, Other Top Brass of Abu Ghraib Abuses

The Sunday Times of London: "The American army has cleared Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former senior commander in Iraq, and three other top officers of all allegations of wrongdoing in connection with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib jail." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

HRW Wants Rumsfeld, Tenet Investigated for Torture

Human Rights Watch HRW) has issued a report titled Getting Away with Torture?Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees. HRW notes in the Executive Summary:

It has now been one year since the appearance of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers humiliating and torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly after the photos came out, President George W. Bush vowed that the wrongdoers will be brought to justice.

In the intervening months, it has become clear that torture and abuse have taken place not solely at Abu Ghraib but rather in dozens of U.S. detention facilities worldwide, that in many cases the abuse resulted in death or severe trauma, and that a good number of the victims were civilians with no connection to al-Qaeda or terrorism. There is also evidence of abuse at U.S.-controlled secret locations abroad and of U.S. authorities sending suspects to third-country dungeons around the world where torture was likely to occur.

To date, however, the only wrongdoers being brought to justice are those at the bottom of the chain-of-command. The evidence demands more. Yet a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses.

As this report shows, evidence is mounting that high-ranking U.S. civilian and military leaders including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba made decisions and issued policies that facilitated serious and widespread violations of the law. The circumstances strongly suggest that they either knew or should have known that such violations took place as a result of their actions.

HRW said, "There is also mounting data that, when presented with evidence that abuse was in fact taking place, they failed to act to stem the abuse."

This article is also posted at The Opinion Gazette.

Permalink | No Comments

April 23, 2005

High Oil Prices and the Day of Reckoning

Deep Blade Journal has an insightful post headlined "$380 oil?" The writer says "a day of reckoning is on the horizon" because oil and energy policies are based on the belief that high oil prices won't lead to recession.

Permalink | No Comments

Summit Leaders Endorse Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership

"Leaders of more than 100 Asian and African countries representing two thirds of the world's population endorsed on Saturday, April 23, 2005, a strategic partnership aimed at breathing new life into a half-century alliance," according to Islam Online.net. The publication cites an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report in which Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, host to the now concluded Asian-African Summit, as saying:

Through this partnership we will create, in the years ahead, a legacy of social, economic and cultural development for future generations of Asians and Africans.The declaration of the new Asian-African strategic partnership is a milestone.
According to Islam Online, "the meeting marked the 50th anniversary of the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference in the Indonesian city of Bandung, where the Third World sought to assert itself for the first time, inspiring the Non-Aligned Movement." South African President Thabo Mbeki, the co-host of conference, said on April 23, 2005, "We have the responsibility to follow up on all of this." If they do follow up, it should enhance African and Asian economic development and diplomatic and political cooperation. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Scientists Ask Nuclear Powers to Work to Abolish all Nuclear Arms

The Committee of Seven for World Peace Appeal, "a seven-member group of Japanese scientists and academics has urged the world's five major nuclear powers to stick to a global treaty on nuclear nonproliferation and work toward the complete abolition of nuclear arms," reports The Japan Times. If non-white nations can't have nuclear nations, then all nations should get rid of theirs. That would end the double standard on nuclear issues. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Japan Times: 'Koizumi Issues Rare War Apology'

"Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on April 22, 2005 expressed "deep remorse" and "heartfelt apology" for Japan's wartime wrongdoings," according to The Japan Times. "The gesture, while repeating the gist of what Japan said a decade ago, was apparently aimed at mending ties with Japan's Asian neighbors," the report said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Hu Jintao Says He Wants Better Relations With Japan

"Chinese President Hu Jintao said he wanted better relations with Japan but also told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during ice-breaking talks [in Indonesia] that Tokyo needed to reflect on its wartime past," according to an April 23, 2005 report in China Daily. "Speaking after the talks in Jakarta, Hu said differences between the two Asian powerhouses needed to be resolved through dialogue," the report says. "Japan also needed to meet its commitments not to support Taiwan independence, Hu added.

"Remorse expressed for the war of aggression should be translated into action," Hu told reporters after the meeting, held at the end of an Asian and African summit in Jakarta," China Daily added. Hu was also quoted as saying: "(Japan) should never do anything again that would hurt the feelings of the Chinese people or the people of other Asian countries."We hope both sides will make efforts so that Sino-Japanese relations can be on a healthy and stable development track." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

China, Indonesia to Sign Comprehensive Agreement

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Chinese President Hu Jintao will sign a comprehensive cooperation agreement on April 25, 2005, Mari E. Pangestu, Indonesia's minister of trade, said on April 23, 2005, according to The Jakarta Post.
"For the first time, the signing of the agreement will be comprehensive, as it will cover various disciplines, including politics, security, socio-politics and investment," Mari told the press, The Post reported.

Permalink | No Comments

As Expected, Top Brass Escapes Responsibility for Abu Ghraib

Josh White of The Washington Post noted in an April 23, 2005 article on the Abu Ghraib prisoners of war abuse scandal that,

An Army inspector general's report has cleared senior Army officers of wrongdoing in the abuse of military prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere, government officials familiar with the findings said yesterday.
He added: "The only Army general officer recommended for punishment for the failures that led to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan is Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, who was in charge of U.S. prison facilities in Iraq as commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in late 2003 and early 2004. Several sources said Karpinski is expected to receive an administrative reprimand for dereliction of duty."

This should not surprise anyone. Well-connected top brass protect each other and use grunts, who are always expendable, as scapegoats. As for General Karpinski, she's learned the hard way that she's not part of the old boys clique, and never will be. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

'The Interpreter' Getting Coverage Around the World

The Interpreter, which Sun-Sentinel.Com of Florida calls "A thriller for smart grown-ups" and Xinhua of China says brings "glitz, gore to UN," is being talked about around the world. Maybe it's because the UN is one of the stars. I intend to see it today. I also intend to post a review. By the way, most of the reviews I've read have been positive.

Permalink | No Comments

Moussaoui's al-Qaida Role Was to 'Strike the White House'

Al-Qaida operative Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy on April 22, 2005, said he was not scheduled to be part of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida mission that attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Instead, he was chosen for a later mission in which his role was to fly a 747 and "strike the White House" with it. This was a "different conspiracy than 9/11," he said.

I hope the full transcript of his confession is released immediately so those of us interested can get the entire context of the confession. I also want Mr. Moussaoui's views on the history of the conspiracy. Mainstream media and blogger reports, including this one, do not have the depth that I seek. Here's more on his April 22, 2005 confession. And here is a Findlaw link to the pleadings in United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui aka Shaqil, aka Abu Khalid al Sahraw.

Note: This post can also be found at The Opinion Gazette and The National Political Observer.

Permalink | No Comments

Moussaoui's al-Qaida Role Was to 'Strike the White House'

Al-Qaida operative Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy on April 22, 2005, said he was not scheduled to be part of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida mission that attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Instead, he was chosen for a later mission in which his role was to fly a 747 and "strike the White House" with it. This was a "different conspiracy than 9/11," he said.

I hope the full transcript of his confession is released immediately so those of us interested can get the entire context of the confession. I also want Mr. Moussaoui's views on the history of the conspiracy. Mainstream media and blogger reports, including this one, do not have the depth that I seek. Here's more on his April 22, 2005 confession. And here is a Findlaw link to the pleadings in United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui aka Shaqil, aka Abu Khalid al Sahraw.

Note: This post can also be found at The Opinion Gazette and The Diplomatic Times Review.

Permalink | No Comments

April 21, 2005

Albert R. Ramdin is Caricom's Candidate for OAS Post

U.S. Newswire reports in a press release that, "The candidate from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for the post of Assistant Secretary General at the Organization of American States (OAS), H.E. Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin participated in the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Community of South American Nations on 18 and 19 of April 2005." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Japan, China Both Are Losers in Diplomatic Game

Yoichi Funabashi, an Asahi Shimbun foreign affairs columnist, says, "The Japanese and Chinese governments should both be declared losers in the diplomatic game" currently underway between the two Asian economic giants. Here's his reason for saying so.

Permalink | No Comments

Scholar Says China's Hardly in a Position to Lecture Japan

In an article in the April 22, 2005 edition of The Australian, Ross Terrill, a research associate in East Asian studies at Harvard University, opined:

You could be forgiven for smiling at East Asia's two giants bickering over school textbooks and rocky reefs, over how many apologies add up to an Apology and who should pontificate at the UN on behalf of Asia. Yet China-Japan wrangling, containable for now, could yet explode and make Middle East violence seem like kids throwing stones.East Asia is the axis of world power, because the US, China, Japan, and Russia intersect here as nowhere else.
Mr. Terrill, an expert on China, said, "coiled Japan and theatrical China have seldom got on well. War between them in 1894-95, starting over Korea, undermined China's last dynasty and gave Taiwan to Japan. Widespread war again occurred from 1937 to 1945, as Japan's armies sought to put China under Japanese tutelage. Japan's attack doomed Chiang Kai-shek's rule and fuelled Mao Zedong's victory - and Tokyo lost control of Korea as well as Taiwan. Since 1945 only US power has prevented a resurgence of China-Japan rivalry, with all that would mean for Australia and other countries in the region." Mr. Terrill's analysis is quite insightful.

Permalink | No Comments

The Asian-African Business Summit

On April 21, 2005, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the Asian-African Business Summit, according to Jakarta Post.Com. The publication said the summit was "attended by at least 500 businesspeople from 24 countries from the Asian and African continents." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Jakarta Post Reflects on First Africa-Asia Summit

As Asian and African leaders gather in Indonesia this weekend, Jakarta Post.Com recalled in an opinion piece that:

When Asian and African leaders gathered in Bandung 50 years ago, their mission seemed so much simpler. They strived for the liberation of colonized peoples and pledged not to be pawns in superpower rivalry.
"In many respects," the publication asserted, "our forefathers succeeded in their mission of creating a better world. No less than several dozen countries on the two continents were liberated as an indirect result of the Bandung Conference. But things are still far from perfect. From superpower rivalry, the world has now succumbed to a unilateral hegemony. The struggle against colonialism has changed into a struggle to liberate nations against new forms of enslavement, such as poverty and ignorance." Read more of the opinion piece headlined "Principles of life."

Permalink | 1 Comment

Historic Asia-Africa Summit Gets Underway in Indonesia

The Times of India notes that, "while many Asian and African nations enjoy greater political freedoms and more peace 50 years after the first Asia-Africa summit, poverty has risen dramatically in the two continents and this weekend leaders will seek ways to profit from closer, strategic ties." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Rice Trying to Instigate Revolution in Belarus?

Roland Watson, The Times of London's Washington correspondent:Condoleeza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, said yesterday [April 21, 2005] that Belarus was the last dictatorship in Central Europe and encouraged voters to evict its tyrannical ruler. "It's time for change in Belarus," Dr Rice said after meeting seven leading Belarussian dissidents in Lithuania. She said the presidential elections next year would provide the opportunity for voters to express their will, and that Washington will watch carefully to ensure that they were free and fair." I guess it's ok to foment revolution in Belarus while punishing guerillas in Iraq for doing the same. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Sue Blackwell Defends Boycott of Israeli Academics

Guardian Unlimited: "Sue Blackwell, a Birmingham lecturer, who is launching her second attempt to secure a national boycott of Israeli academia, said that, if successful, the move would increase the pressure on the "illegitimate state of Israel". She accused the country's universities of being complicit in the alleged abuse of Palestinians in the occupied territories." Here's more. Another perspective is here.

Permalink | No Comments

Abbas Expected to Visit Washington in mid-May 2005

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to visit Washington in mid-May 2005 for talks with President George W. Bush, U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said on April 21, 2005, according to Reuters.

Permalink | No Comments

Does West Try to Shape Middle East for its Own Interests?

Ahmed Janabi at Aljazeera.Net raised interesting points in a recent article headlined "Arab world and a conspiracy to control." He said "recent UN resolutions dealing with the Arab world have triggered the old debate in the Arab world about whether the west deliberately conspires to hinder progress in the region for its own interest." The debate is legitimate although it is often dismissed in the West. I recommend Mr. Janabi's article.

Permalink | No Comments

AIPAC Dumps Staffers Under Investigation in Pentagon Spy Case

Nathan Guttman at Haaretz.Com analyzes American-Israel Public Affairs Committee's pragmatic decision to fire policy director Steve Rosen and Iran expert Keith Weissman. Both men and Pentagon staffer Lawrence Franklin are under investigation for allegedly being part of an Israeli spy ring in the Pentagon. Speculation has it that Mr. Franklin is an Israeli mole who passed classified documents on U.S. policy on Iran to Israel through the two men. According to Mr. Guttman:

The two senior officials directly concerned with the Franklin affair - Rosen and Weissman - will have to pay the price by facing legal charges, possibly even indictments, analysts in Washington said yesterday, while the organization will emerge almost unscathed. But the price will be a heavy one. Rosen is not merely another AIPAC official; in the eyes of many, he is AIPAC itself. He joined the lobby after the struggle over the sale of AWACS surveillance equipment to Saudi Arabia, a struggle that AIPAC lost but that put it on the map at Capitol Hill.Rosen pushed not only for lobbying with Congressmen but also directly with the executive branch. His executive lobbying proved a success and Rosen was seen coming and going at the White House, State Department and Pentagon, advocating Israel's case.
Mr. Guttman also said, "While very little is being said by the sides, it is clear that Rosen and AIPAC are not parting as friends." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Rice calls Russia a ‘Strategic Partner’

The Daily Times of Pakistan reports that, "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, balancing her harsh criticisms of Russia's democratic record, Wednesday [April 20, 2005] called Moscow a strategic partner and urged boosted cooperation on several fronts during talks with President Vladimir Putin." She said:

Russia is not a strategic enemy. We are not against Russia
The papers said Ms. Rice also told Moscow Echo radio "before leaving for delicate talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and later Putin in the Kremlin":
We see Russia as a strategic partner in the war on terror. We see Russia as a strategic partner in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We see Russia as a strategic partner in solving regional issues like the Balkans and the Middle East.
Here's more of the Daily Times report.

Permalink | No Comments

Pravda: 'Can Condoleezza Rice speak Russian'?

"Is Condoleezza Rice a Russian expert? Yes! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" The Russian publication Pravda asked that question and others in an April 21, 2005 article headlined "Can Condoleezza Rice speak Russian?" The paper also asked: "How did Condy get appointed as Secretary of State and labelled a Russian expert? Could it be that she told President Bush that she was an expert in rushin' around and he made her his "Rushin' expert"?

Permalink | No Comments

How Kommersant Reported Rice's Current Visit to Russia

Kommersant correspondents Mikhail Zygar and Leonid Gankin, in an April 21, 2005 report on Condoleeza Rice's first visit to Russia as U.S. Secretary of State, said:

Yesterday in Moscow, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with President of Russian Federation (RF) Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov, head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Rice made several unprecedented statements. She, in fact, admitted that the U.S. will start to inspect Russian nuclear facilities. The Secretary of State demanded Putin resignation in 2008. She also hinted that Byelorussia is to expect Orange Revolution and Russia a bright future. Her Russian counterparts pretended stubbornly that they didn't hear anything.
The writers also said, "The first visit of Condoleezza Rice in Moscow as Secretary of State started in a nervous atmosphere (as Kommersant wrote yesterday). For several hours she could not get into the hotel because of some anonymous phone calls. Then she finally moved into her room despite the threats and after that she decided to have dinner with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

April 20, 2005

Reporters Cooper & Miller Lose Appeals Court Ruling on Sources

On April 19, 2005, The full U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington rejected Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times' request for a stay of Judge Thomas F. Hogan's October 2004 order that they do time for refusing to disclose their confidential sources to a grand jury investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to journalists. The wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, she was outed in a column by syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Her non-official cover is believed to have been deliberately blown to punish her husband for debunking President Bush's claim that Saddam Hussein obtained yellowcake uranium from Niger to use in weapons of mass destruction.

The Times and Time plan to appeal on behalf of their reporters. I'll be surprised if they prevail. There does not seem to be much sympathy for journalists these days.

Permalink | No Comments

Vote on Bolton for U.S. Envoy to the UN Off Until May 9

Thanks to Republican Senator George V. Voinovich of Ohio, John R. Bolton will have to wait until the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meets again on May 9, 2005 to learn whether he will be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The senators, who heard testimony from pro and anti-Bolton elements during his confirmation hearing, which was scheduled to end April 19, 2005, are in recess until May 9. Then, according to The Boston Globe, they "may call more witnesses and possibly ask Bolton to offer additional testimony." Here's more on this embarrassing setback for Mr. Bolton.

Permalink | No Comments

NBC's Brian Williams May Get a Blog

NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker wants NBC news anchor Brian Williams to start blogging, according to Reuters. "I don't know why Brian Williams isn't blogging right now," Mr. Zucker is quoted as saying. "We should be looking for a more interactive component ... and be experimenting more."

Indeed. If network television news is to survive, it has to become more interactive. That means allowing comments on Mr. Williams' blog. Here's more of the Reuters story.

Permalink | No Comments

April 19, 2005

Did Bolton Keep Iran, IAEA Reports From Powell and Rice?

Washington Post Staff Writer Dafna Linzer reports that, "John R. Bolton -- who is seeking confirmation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- often blocked then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and, on one occasion, his successor, Condoleezza Rice, from receiving information vital to U.S. strategies on Iran, according to current and former officials who have worked with Bolton." If this is true, will he block crucial information about U.N. developments? If so, the Bush Administration may want to increase its spying on other U.N. delegations. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

April 18, 2005

How Mariel Boatlift Altered the Demographics of South Florida

Michael Browning of the Palm Beach Post takes a look back at the 125,000 Cubans that arrived in Florida 25 years ago in what came to known as the Mariel Boat Lift. According to Mr. Browning,

Mariel altered the demographics of South Florida, shifting the balance of politics in Florida already a slippery "swing state" farther to the right. Florida had 9.7 million people in 1980 and was about 9 percent Hispanic. Palm Beach County had only about 28,000 Hispanics, about 5 percent of the population. Today, Florida has nearly 16 million people and is nearly 17 percent Hispanic. Palm Beach County has about 1.14 million people and is 12 percent Hispanic: One in every eight people here is Hispanic.
Mr. Browning also noted that, "Mariel sent frightened Anglo-Americans scurrying northward, to Broward, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, to get away from what was perceived as an engulfing tide of coked-up criminals and tattooed lunatics, of the type immortalized by Brian de Palma in his 1983 movie, Scarface." Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Generation Y's 'Politics of Control'

Arkansas News Bureau columnist John Brummett today posted an informative commentary on Generation Y headlined "A new generation's politics of control." It's worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs of the '90s Turn to Lobbying

Fort Wayne.Com today posted a Wall Street Journal article that offers a "glimpse at the uneasy transition a group of cutting-edge entrepreneurs of the 1990s face as they take their first steps into Capitol Hill lobbying. They saw explosive growth in recent years but now realize the road to future prosperity runs through Washington." Journal staff writer Jeanne Cummings noted that "Red Hat, Inc., a software company; Monster.com, a job-search Web company; and Google Inc., the search-engine giant, all hired their first lobbyists within the past few years." Some of company CEOs don't like the negative publicity that often surrounds successful lobbying. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you can't have it both ways. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Washington Note's Coverage of the Bolton Confirmation Hearings

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note offers interesting news and commentary on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's confirmation hearing on John Bolton, President Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Permalink | No Comments

CNN on When Tom Delay Met Jack Abramoff

Karen Tumulty at CNN has an interesting post today headlined "When Tom met Jack." That's House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Lobbyist Jack Abramoff..

Permalink | No Comments

Dean Says Schiavo Case Will Hurt GOP in 2006 and 2008

So Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is going to make the Terri Schiavo case "an issue in 2006." At least that's what The Associated Press is reporting. The AP noted that Ms. Schiavo died March 31, 2005 at a Florida hospice, "almost two weeks after her feeding tube was removed by court order -- ending a bitter legal battle between her husband, Michael, and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler." Mr. Dean reportedly said Schiavo is also "going to be an issue in 2008 because
we're going to have an ad with a picture of (House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay saying, 'Do you want this guy to decide whether you die or not? Or is that going to be up to your loved ones?"'
Mr. Dean, who was speaking at an Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality event on April 15, 2005, in West Hollywood, California, also said, according to the AP:
The issue is: Are we going to live in a theocracy where the highest powers tell us what to do? Or are we going to be allowed to consult our own high powers when we make very difficult decisions?
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt is quoted as saying on April 16, 2005:
"It's disturbing that Howard Dean would plot to use the life of Terri Schiavo for political gain," Schmitt said Saturday. "This demonstrates a troubling lack of sensitivity and one would hope that Democrat leaders in Congress would reject such a strategy. The American people expect their leaders to provide solutions and principled leadership rather than overt partisan politicking.
Of course, Karen Finney, the Democratic National Committee spokeswoman, had to weigh in. According to the AP, she defended Mr. Dean's comments, saying he was speaking to "Republican intrusiveness into people's lives." "This is another example of a Republican party that is overreaching," she said, according to the AP. "Tom Delay and his cronies want to intrude in personal family matters. Democrats believe that individuals and their families should be trusted to make these very personal decisions, not Tom DeLay and not the government." This highly emotional issue will be with us for quite sometime. However, it remains to been how much it will hurt the Republicans, if at all. I also how much Tom Delay's threat to punish some judges for their rulings in the Schiavo case will hurt the GOP. If I'm not mistaken, he has apologized. Some critics called it a non-apology. Comments are welcome. Note: This post can also be found at The Opinion Gazette.
Permalink | No Comments

Why India and Pakistan Delayed Communique on Leaders' Talks

The Daily Times of Pakistan: "The joint statement by India and Pakistan following talks between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 16 and 17 [2005] has been postponed until Monday morning [April 18, 2005] owing to last minute differences on the wording of the text." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

G7 Finance Ministers Issue Another Oil Caution

The Deep Blade Journal, my major source for understanding global oil issues, noted on April 17, 2005 that:

"the money managers from the world's wealthiest country (sic) met this weekend in Washington where they discussed their usual agenda of how best to extend extreme neoliberal policies -- for example, opening the Chinese currency to speculation under the guise of correcting ``imbalance'', denying struggling people in poor countries debt relief through endless ``case-by-case analysis of HIPC [Heavily Indebted Poor Countries] countries'', and keeping these same countries and their people wide open for foreign exploitation and easy repatriation of profits -- while destroying unions and our local manufacturing jobs in the process.But this time they had to sooth nervous capitalists with a salve of faux bullishness in order to explain away the recent slide on Wall Street -- often a leading sign of deepening economic hard times."
The money managers from Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada met at a time when high oil prices have them running scared. They said, according to Deep Blade Journal, that "Higher oil prices are a headwind, and the expansion is less balanced than before. We welcome efforts to improve oil market data, increase medium-term energy supply and efficiency." Is this a departure from the line they took at the tenth G7 meeting in Washington, DC on October 2, 2004? Read this post at the Deep Blade Journal for some perspective.

Permalink | No Comments

Rahul Mahajan on 'Israel's Apartheid Wall'

Rahul Mahajan at Empire Notes has an informative post on "Israel's Apartheid Wall." In it, he describes his April 14, 2005 participation in "a public debate about the Israeli wall and its effect on Israeli-Palestinian relations and on Israeli security." This is an issue that should be more widely debated in the United States due to the fact that billions of dollars in taxpayer money goes to Israel. Unfortunately, it won't be because it is one of those hot-button issues that could invite attacks from some of Israel's supporters in the U.S.

Permalink | No Comments

The Roots of U.S.-French Enmity

Matthew Price, writing in the April 10, 2005 edition of the Boston Globe, said "the vogue for freedom fries may have waned, but more than two years after the diplomatic dustup between George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac over the Iraq war the books on the fractured state of Franco-American relations keep coming." Some books cited are:

Denis Boyles' ''Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese'' (Encounter), Richard Z. Chesnoff's ''The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us - and Why the Feeling Is Mutual'' (Sentinel), John J. Miller's and Mark Molesky's ''Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France'' (Doubleday) - the very titles suggest that while George W. Bush may have made nice with Jacques Chirac on his most recent trip to Europe, certain segments of American society are never going to give France a break.
"But according to the French scholar Philippe Roger," Mr. Price said, "such Francophobic biliousness may be nothing compared to the deep-seated antipathy that our Gallic cousins feel for us. Nevermind the Marquis de Lafayette - or Benjamin Franklin's cozy memories of his years whipping up support for the nascent republic in the salons of Paris. The French have had it in for American civilization from the beginning." But does it matter? Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Hobsbawm Describes an 'Assembly of Political Ghosts" From the 1980s

The London Review of Books has a thought-provoking essay by Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm titled "An Assembly of Ghosts" It's about "a fans chance to pay tribute to a hero, even a tragic hero." The fan is Mr. Hobsbawm and the hero is former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whom the fan met at this year's World Political Forum in Turn, Italy, March 4-6. The forum, according to Mr. Hobsbawm , attracted

"Upwards of a hundred middle-aged and elderly men and the usual handful of women are sitting at one side of a long rectangle of tables, in the hall of a military academy in Victor Emmanuel baroque, looking at each other across a wide space and listening to simultaneous translations from and into the usual languages plus Polish (the Poles have sent two ex-presidents of very different views, and an ex-premier). At right angles to me, at the top table, I observe the shrunken, sharp-eyed Giulio Andreotti, seven times Italian prime minister between 1972 and 1992, the stiff-backed military figure of General (later President) Jaruzelski, who suppressed Solidarity and negotiated the end of Polish Communism, and Mikhail Gorbachev himself, amazingly well-preserved, handsome and affable, but looking smaller than he is next to his huge neighbour, Helmut Kohl, the longest-serving chancellor of the Germany he reunified in 1990. A place has been kept for ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was late in arriving from Brazil. Even a cynical old historian is impressed by such a line-up.
Mr. Hobsbawm, who said "I can recall no experience like it, described the gathering as an "assembly of political ghosts. Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

State Department to Stop Publishing Patterns of Global Terrorism

Has the Bush Administration decided to stop publishing Patterns of Global Terrorism, the annual report on international terrorism that the State Department has issued since 1985? Yes, reported Jonathan S. Landay of Knight Ridder Newspapers' Washington Bureau in an April 15, 2005 dispatch. But why? It's because "the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered," according to Mr. Landay. If the 2004 report is accurate, the Bush Administration is not winning the war on terrorism as it claims. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Looking Back at Bandung Conference and Indonesia's Role in It

Amitav Acharya, deputy director and head of the Research at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore, notes in a Jakarta Post article that, "fifty years ago, the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung represented the largest ever conclave to date of new states entering the post-war international system. What were its major implications for international and Asian regional order?" His answer can be found in "Bandung's 1955 Asia-Africa Conference and Indonesia."

Permalink | No Comments

April 17, 2005

Is Iraqi Alliance Seeking to Oust Top Officials Of Hussein Era?

The Washington Post, citing "a top official," reported April 18, 2005 that "the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance," the political bloc "leading the new Iraqi government," will "demand the removal of all top officials left over from the era of former president Saddam Hussein... The move would be part of a purge that U.S. officials fear could oust thousands of the most capable Iraqis from military and intelligence forces the United States has spent more than $5 billion rebuilding," the paper said. It remains to be seen whether they will go peacefully into the night.Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

When Both Sides Take Hostages

Helena Cobban, in a commentary at Just World News in which she condemned the alleged taking of 200 Shias hostage in Madaen, Iraq, by Sunni Guerilla, asked:

But what, at the end of the day, is the moral difference between such hostage-taking and the practice of the US and Allawist forces up to now, of taking massive numbers of Iraqi "insurgents" as detainees and holding them-- often in undisclosed locations-- for weeks and months without trial?
Indeed, what is the difference? Read more here. Here's a link on alleged U.S. hostage taking in Iraq. Here's another.The U.S. is reportedly holding over 10,000 Iraqi prisoners. There are no clean hands in this war.

Permalink | No Comments

When Both Sides Take Hostages

Helena Cobban, in a commentary at Just World News in which she condemned the alleged taking of 200 Shias hostage in Madaen, Iraq, by Sunni Guerilla, asked:

But what, at the end of the day, is the moral difference between such hostage-taking and the practice of the US and Allawist forces up to now, of taking massive numbers of Iraqi "insurgents" as detainees and holding them-- often in undisclosed locations-- for weeks and months without trial?
Indeed, what is the difference? Read more here. Here's a link on alleged U.S. hostage taking in Iraq. Here's another.The U.S. is reportedly holding over 10,000 Iraqi prisoners. There are no clean hands in this war.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Someone Trying to Start a Civil War in Iraq?

Al-qaida in Iraq usually takes responsibility for its acts. Presumably, if it had taken up to 200 Shiite hostages in Madaen, Iraq as reported, it would have taken responsibility for the deed. Instead, according to Thaier al-Sudani and Majid Al-Hameed in The Scotsman, "an Internet statement issued by Al-Qaida in Iraq said the reports of hostage-taking had been fabricated as a pretext for raiding the town.
Another Sunni insurgent group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, echoed the accusation in a separate Internet posting," they wrote.

Some reports say Iraqi troops freed hostages while others said they did not find hostages or al-Qaida fighters in Madaen. Is someone is trying to initiate a civil war between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq? If so, hopefully cooler heads will prevail.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Someone Trying to Start a Civil War in Iraq?

Al-qaida in Iraq usually takes responsibility for its acts. Presumably, if it had taken up to 200 Shiite hostages in Madaen, Iraq as reported, it would have taken responsibility for the deed. Instead, according to Thaier al-Sudani and Majid Al-Hameed in The Scotsman, "an Internet statement issued by Al-Qaida in Iraq said the reports of hostage-taking had been fabricated as a pretext for raiding the town.
Another Sunni insurgent group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, echoed the accusation in a separate Internet posting," they wrote.

Some reports say Iraqi troops freed hostages while others said they did not find hostages or al-Qaida fighters in Madaen. Is someone is trying to initiate a civil war between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq? If so, hopefully cooler heads will prevail.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Howard Says Australia Will Stay Out of Japan, China Dispute

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Online) reported April 18, 2005 that Australian Prime Minister John Howard will not side with China or Japan in the current dispute between the two Asian economic giants. Mr. Howard, who left April 18 to visit both Beijing and Tokyo, reportedly told reporters:

I would like to see the current tension abate, of course - it's not something that directly involves Australia. It's a difference of opinion between Japan and China and I hope it's something that will be addressed. The Japanese Foreign Minister has gone to Beijing and he obviously is trying to calm down the situation. There are a variety of reasons for it - I don't intend to give a commentary and I certainly don't intend to take sides.
As Jonathan Watts, The Guardian's (London) correspondent in Beijing, noted in an April 18 dispatch:
The Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, had flown to Beijing hoping to improve mutual relations, which have fallen to their lowest point for 33 years because of a territorial dispute, Chinese boycotts of Japanese products and Tokyo's approval of a new history textbook which ignores Japan's wartime atrocities in China.
But, according to The Guardian and other publications, China refused to apologize. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Mr. Machimura: "The Chinese government has never done anything for which it has to apologize to the Japanese people."

I predict that the two sides will reach detente by the time the East Asian summit convenes in Malaysia in December 2005.

Permalink | No Comments

Howard Says Australia Will Stay Out of Japan, China Dispute

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Online) reported April 18, 2005 that Australian Prime Minister John Howard will not side with China or Japan in the current dispute between the two Asian economic giants. Mr. Howard, who left April 18 to visit both Beijing and Tokyo, reportedly told reporters:

I would like to see the current tension abate, of course - it's not something that directly involves Australia. It's a difference of opinion between Japan and China and I hope it's something that will be addressed. The Japanese Foreign Minister has gone to Beijing and he obviously is trying to calm down the situation. There are a variety of reasons for it - I don't intend to give a commentary and I certainly don't intend to take sides.
As Jonathan Watts, The Guardian's (London) correspondent in Beijing, noted in an April 18 dispatch:
The Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, had flown to Beijing hoping to improve mutual relations, which have fallen to their lowest point for 33 years because of a territorial dispute, Chinese boycotts of Japanese products and Tokyo's approval of a new history textbook which ignores Japan's wartime atrocities in China.
But, according to The Guardian and other publications, China refused to apologize. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Mr. Machimura: "The Chinese government has never done anything for which it has to apologize to the Japanese people."

I predict that the two sides will reach detente by the time the East Asian summit convenes in Malaysia in December 2005.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Keizo Nabeshima: Japan and China are Wasting Time

Keizo Nabeshima, former chief editorial writer for Kyodo News, who now writes on political and international affairs, noted in an April 18, 2005 article in The Japan Times that, "In December [2005], an East Asian summit will be held in Malaysia." He added:

Sino-Japanese partnership is crucial if regional cooperation is to advance. Now is the time for Japanese and Chinese leaders to begin strategic dialogue on issues that will be of mutual concern a decade from now. Japan and China greeted the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic normalization in 2002. They should be enjoying mature relations, but instead face serious trouble.
"In addition to the disputes over historical perceptions," the writer said, "China has begun efforts to exploit natural gas resources near the border of the Japanese and Chinese exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea." The Chinese have made a similar charge against Japan. Read more of Nabeshima's "Japan, China wasting time."

Permalink | No Comments

Keizo Nabeshima: Japan and China are Wasting Time

Keizo Nabeshima, former chief editorial writer for Kyodo News, who now writes on political and international affairs, noted in an April 18, 2005 article in The Japan Times that, "In December [2005], an East Asian summit will be held in Malaysia." He added:

Sino-Japanese partnership is crucial if regional cooperation is to advance. Now is the time for Japanese and Chinese leaders to begin strategic dialogue on issues that will be of mutual concern a decade from now. Japan and China greeted the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic normalization in 2002. They should be enjoying mature relations, but instead face serious trouble.
"In addition to the disputes over historical perceptions," the writer said, "China has begun efforts to exploit natural gas resources near the border of the Japanese and Chinese exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea." The Chinese have made a similar charge against Japan. Read more of Nabeshima's "Japan, China wasting time."

Permalink | 1 Comment

Anti-Japan protests continue in China

Japan's Asahi Shimbum noted April 18, 2005 that, "For the third weekend in a row, China was swept by a wave of anti-Japan protests." Here's the Asahi report.

Permalink | No Comments

Anti-Japan protests continue in China

Japan's Asahi Shimbum noted April 18, 2005 that, "For the third weekend in a row, China was swept by a wave of anti-Japan protests." Here's the Asahi report.

Permalink | 2 Comments

Bloggers and the Republican Strategy Memo in the Schiavo Case

Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler's April 17, 2005 comments on "The Post's coverage of the mysterious Senate memo dealing with political strategy in the case of the now-deceased Terri Schiavo" in a column headlined "Getting Blogged Down in the News." He's writing about it now because he's been away from The Post for ten days.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Denies Saying Tom DeLay 'Knew Everything'

Syndicated columnist Robert Novak stated in his April 17, 2005 column that, "embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff's spokesman has sent the Jewish Forward an e-mail denying a Newsweek report that quoted him as saying House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ''knew everything'' about an alleged fraud involving fees paid by Indian tribes." He added:

Abramoff also claimed that the unnamed luncheon companion quoted by Newsweek ''has flatly denied ever stating that Mr. Abramoff said these things.'' An orthodox Jew, Abramoff sent the denial only to the Jewish Forward.
Despite controversy over his own legal and ethics problems, Mr. DeLay is still the House Majority and a powerful man. If he, Mr. Abramoff, is acquitted, he knows he will have to deal with Mr. DeLay, if he wants to get back into the powerful and lucrative lobbying game in Washington. That's why the denial should not come as a surprise. On the other hand, Mr. Delay has to wonder which man is telling the truth.

Permalink | No Comments

Is John Bolton Too Hip for 'Scaredy-cat Democrats?'

Mark Steyn's column in the April 17, 2005 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times is headlined "Bolton's just too hip for scaredy-cat Dems." Really?

Permalink | No Comments

Blogging and Elections

"Web logs seem on their way to becoming part of the American electoral process with a new survey by Harris Interactive reporting that 44 percent of U.S. adults who use the Internet have visited a political blog," according a United Press International article in the April 15, 2005 issue of The Washington Times. "The survey also revealed that 27 percent of Netsurfers read blogs at least once a month," the report added. Frankly, this doesn't surprise me.

Permalink | 1 Comment

April 16, 2005

Is Najib Al-Miqati Pro-Syrian?

Sasa at The Syrian News Wire describes Najib Al-Miqati, "who was nominated by the opposition" to be Lebanon's new Prime minister, as "still quite pro-Syrian. He's seen as the perfect uniting figure to lead Lebanon into May's elections: he is the opposition's favorite as well as being quite close to Syria," Sasa writes, adding: "He was chosen at the expense of Syrian puppet Al-Murad (the former Defense Minister)." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Najib Al-Miqati Pro-Syrian?

Sasa at The Syrian News Wire describes Najib Al-Miqati, "who was nominated by the opposition" to be Lebanon's new Prime minister, as "still quite pro-Syrian. He's seen as the perfect uniting figure to lead Lebanon into May's elections: he is the opposition's favorite as well as being quite close to Syria," Sasa writes, adding: "He was chosen at the expense of Syrian puppet Al-Murad (the former Defense Minister)." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

A Look at China and Japan's 'Old Conflict' Over Oil & Gas

David W. Martin at Oil Politics International, which covers "issues of international politics as they relate to energy and oil," notes that "protests in China against Japan have intensified. Now a controversy about oil and gas in the East China Sea has been thrown into the mix," he wrote, adding: "While the oil and gas dispute is not new, it may be intensifying not because anything has actually changed, but because it is in Chinas interest to ratchet up anxiety over the issue." I found his analysis educational. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

A Look at China and Japan's 'Old Conflict' Over Oil & Gas

David W. Martin at Oil Politics International, which covers "issues of international politics as they relate to energy and oil," notes that "protests in China against Japan have intensified. Now a controversy about oil and gas in the East China Sea has been thrown into the mix," he wrote, adding: "While the oil and gas dispute is not new, it may be intensifying not because anything has actually changed, but because it is in Chinas interest to ratchet up anxiety over the issue." I found his analysis educational. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

John Bolton's Boosters

Dr. Demarche at The Daily DeMarche, which is described as "a blog by members of the State Department Republican underground conservative Foreign Service Officers serving overseas commenting on foreign policy and global reactions to America," offered a worth-reading commentary on the opposition to John R. Bolton becoming the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Dr. Demarche contends that:

Much has been written in the MSM about people opposing the nomination (my personal favorite proposes Michael Bolton, instead), and his confirmation vote has been delayed so that more negative testimony can be dredged up.
"Not surprisingly," Dr. Demarche added, "there has not been much coverage of those who support the nomination. Even less surprising is that this story has gotten almost no coverage." I found Dr. Demarche's post, headlined "Bolton Boosters, Inc.," quite informative.

Permalink | 1 Comment

John Bolton's Boosters

Dr. Demarche at The Daily DeMarche, which is described as "a blog by members of the State Department Republican underground conservative Foreign Service Officers serving overseas commenting on foreign policy and global reactions to America," offered a worth-reading commentary on the opposition to John R. Bolton becoming the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Dr. Demarche contends that:

Much has been written in the MSM about people opposing the nomination (my personal favorite proposes Michael Bolton, instead), and his confirmation vote has been delayed so that more negative testimony can be dredged up.
"Not surprisingly," Dr. Demarche added, "there has not been much coverage of those who support the nomination. Even less surprising is that this story has gotten almost no coverage." I found Dr. Demarche's post, headlined "Bolton Boosters, Inc.," quite informative.

Permalink | No Comments

Senator Lincoln Chaffee and the Bolton Nomination

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has an interesting analysis of the confirmation hearing of John R. Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and President George W. Bush's choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He wrote in an April 16, 2005 post:

When most observers of the John Bolton jousting match were focusing on whether [Senator] Lincoln Chafee was going to support or oppose Bolton, many of his advocates and opponents did not realize that the testimony that unfolded in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as other disconcerting reports in the media had seriously shaken other members, particularly Republican members, of the Committee." He added: Endorsing or working against Bolton's nomination is not a partisan matter -- or should not be.
Mr. Clemons said, "there are lots of Republicans irritated by the carelessness of this nomination by President Bush. But," he added, "what has played in much of the press -- around the entire nation -- is that the U.S. Senate is about to confirm a person who demonstrates tendencies that seem "monstrous" to some. In a nation where people value fairness, civility, balance, and decency -- supporting Bolton raises other potential costs for Senators," Mr. Clemons asserted.

Mr. Bolton, who was nominated on March 7, 2005, has encountered serious opposition from some Democrats, diplomats and intelligence professionals. Here's more of Mr. Clemon's analysis

Permalink | No Comments

Is Mass Immigration Good for Britain?

"There is, at heart, a simple reason why immigration has more than doubled" under British Prime Minister Tony Blair, according to Charles Moore of Britain's Opinion.Telegraph. "It is because Labour wants it. Its current policy states: "Controlled and managed immigration is essential to the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom and the health of the public services." This sentence sounds reassuring, but actually it is saying that mass immigration is a good thing. I do not believe that most British voters accept this. It is high time it was submitted to a clear electoral test." Read more of "Blair believes mass immigration is good for Britain - do Britons?"

Permalink | 1 Comment

Why Tymoshenko Cancelled Her First Official Visit to Russia

Taras Kuzio, in a an April 15, 2005 post Eurasia Daily Monitor, tells why "Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko cancelled her first official visit to Russia this week. The Russian Prosecutor-General's office has continued to insist that she be brought in for questioning in connection with a long-forgotten case from the 1990s in which she is accused of bribing Russian Defense Ministry officials," the writer said, adding: "Ukrainian authorities under former president Leonid Kuchma unsuccessfully tried to smear her with these and other charges in 2001-2003. " Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Tymoshenko to Russia: Stop Treating Ukraine like `a Little Brother'

Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's prime minister, has "called on Russia to stop treating Ukraine like ``a little brother,'' saying it was time for an equal relationship between Kiev and its former imperial master," according to Kiev Ukraine News Blog.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Drezner: Will Realpolitik Sell the EU Constitution to the French?"

University of Chicago assistant political science Professor Daniel W. Drezner asks: "Will realpolitik sell the EU constitution to the French?" His conclusion:

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next six weeks. My hunch is that support for the "yes" side will increase as the vote nears -- and even if the referendum fails, the French can simply schedule another referendum. On the other hand, if the quixotic combination of realpolitik and social democracy doesn't generate majority support in France, then I'm not sure where it will work.
Mr. Drezner, whose blog is widely read, offers several links to articles on the Chirac effort to get French voters to back the referendum. I think they are worth reading. His blog is also worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Chirac, French Voters and the European Constitution

Joseph Britt, who is the guest blogger at The Belgravia Dispatch while its proprietor, Gregory Djerejian is on a brief hiatus, made this interesting observation about French President Jacque Chirac's attempt to get a favorable outcome in the May 29, 2005 referendum on the European constitution. He said:

Suppose French voters really do reject the new European constitution in the referendum scheduled for May 29. Dan Drezner outlines some of the difficulties Jacques Chirac and the rest of the French political elite are having in persuading voters that the greater glory of Jacques Chirac and the rest of the French political elite requires them to vote for this gigantic monstrosity. If it's rejected it could be resubmitted to the voters later, but would more likely have to be renegotiated.
Mr. Britt said, "Obviously this would have implications for the other European countries. A European political identity defined as much as anything by not being American would suffer a heavy blow indeed if French voters of all people decided that they do not really want what their president is commanding them to vote for. What could replace it"?

Good question although I can't imagine why any independent-minded European would support Mr. Britt's suggestion of "a new political party with a platform for making Europe more like the United States." If Europe becomes more like the U.S., then the U.S.' imperial mantle would be complete. European citizens would be expected to become docile spectators on the global stage, like many of their cousins on this side of the Atlantic, who support whatever adventures a U.S administration would choose to undertake.

As it now stands, Europe, or should I say France and Germany, offers a good counterweight to the U.S. The diplomatic role France played leading up to the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq was a good example of an effort to use diplomacy to prevent a war launched under false pretenses. This independent stance did not sit well with many Americans, who thought the world should fall in line behind the plan to attack an Arab nation that posed absolutely no threat to the U.S. Here's more of Mr. Britt's analysis.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Cobban: IWPR's Iraq Projects Are in 'Real Trouble.'

Helena Cobban at Just World News noted in an April 16, 2005 post that, "The Institute for War & Peace Reporting's (link added) Iraq projects have sadly been in real trouble recently." She added:

I don't know if all their good participants and trainees got snapped up to work for deep-pocket western media people? If so, that's a real shame, because the project, which produces articles in Arabic and Kurdish editions as well as in English, has always looked poised to make a serious contribution to the development of independent journalism inside Iraq.
However, Ms. Cobban said, "their projects in the Balkans have been continuing in great shape." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Japan's 'Altered Image' of an Economically Emerging China

Nakanishi Hiroshi, in an April 16, 2005, article in The New Nation of Bangladesh headlined Japan-China tie: An altered image, noted that:

In December last year, the Cabinet Office published the 2004 edition of the "Opinion Poll on Diplomacy." For more than a quarter of a century, this annual survey has been investigating the level of affinity that Japanese citizens have with other countries and how they see Japan's relations with these countries. Its findings serve not only as a barometer of Japanese views on other countries at a specific time but also as an indicator of longterm trends. It probes public feelings about the United States, Russia, China, South Korea, and other countries that have close ties with Japan.
While "The Japanese public has maintained its fairly stable views on the United States and Russia over the last twenty-five years..., on the other hand," Hiroshi wrote,
feelings about China and South Korea have changed dramatically over the past twenty-five years. The top highlight in the recent survey findings is a clear decline in the proportion of those feeling close to China : 58.2 percent did not find that China is friendly to Japan and only 37.6 percent did.
Current demonstrations in China against Japan and Japan's response supports the conclusion that the opinions the two nations have of each are worsening. But why? I think it's all about gas, oil and Japanese aggression against China during World War II. It's also about Japan's attempt to obtain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, which China, as one of the five permanent members with veto power, can and probably would veto. However, Thalif Deen, in an article at Asia Times Online headlined "Tussle over UN seats is a shadow play," disagrees with this conclusion.

Permalink | No Comments

Is More U.S. Spending on Public Diplomacy a Waste of Money?

Liz Sidoti of The Associated Press: "President Bush has made spreading democracy and halting terrorism in other countries a priority, and at first glance his budgets have leaned more on defense than diplomacy to achieve that objective. But a close look at spending trends since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shows a growing reliance by the Bush administration and Congress on more than military might to accomplish that. Critics question whether the diplomatic spending is sufficient."

The question is not whether the spending is sufficient but whether it will do any good without a change in the Bush Administration's sometimes arrogant attitude in world affairs, especially in the Islamic word." I think more spending in this area is a waste of money but a good way to reward well-connected public relations firms. Here's Sidoti's analysis. Here's a link to the United States Information Agency Alumni Association website.

Permalink | 1 Comment

India and Pakistan's Common Background

KeralaNext.com of India reports that, "With the feel good factor reshaping the Indo-Pak ties and the cricket diplomacy driving the bilateral relations, the two countries are trying to bank on their common background. It's a pleasant co-incidence that the Prime Minister of India was born in Pakistan and the President of Pakistan was born in India," KeralaNext.com reported. So why aren't there better relations between the two nations? Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

April 15, 2005

The Foreign News Observer Will Suspend Publication

On April 16, 2005, The Foreign News Observer(FNO), The Diplomatic Times Review's (TDTR) sister blog, will cease publication. It is increasingly difficult to work what is ordinarily a 12-hour day job and keep several blogs updated. Since the FNO and TDTR both focus on international affairs and diplomacy, I will post what would have been published at TFNO at TDTR. I invite FNO readers to become a member of the TDTR family of readers.

Sincerely,
Munir Umrani

Permalink | 1 Comment

April 12, 2005

Why Murder Someone Who is Committing Suicide?

Gail Russell Chaddock, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, made an interesting observation about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethical and legal woes in an April 12, 2005 article headlined "Historic parallels as DeLay's woes deepen." The subhead is: "From Jim Wright to Newt Gingrich, powerful House leaders have become targets of opposition. She wrote:

In public, most Republicans say that what's driving the criticism of the House majority leader is politics, not ethics. The Democratic "hit machine" is pouring millions into a campaign to oust the most powerful Republican in Congress. But the real target is the Republican majority and its agenda. But in private, some senior leaders are saying it's only a matter of time before the most powerful Republican in Congress is forced from office. "Democrats should save their money. Why murder someone who is committing suicide?" said a senior GOP lawmaker, on condition of anonymity.
A great question, especially since former DeLay associate and superlobbyist Jack Abramoff "is now the target of a Justice Department criminal probe of allegations that he defrauded American Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars in fees," according to Newsweek. He, according to the magazine, told a colleague, "there are e-mails and records that will implicate others," including Mr. Delay.

Note: This post is also at The Opinion Gazette.

Permalink | No Comments

April 11, 2005

Are Nuclear Weapons Only for White People?

Kenneth Pollack and Ray Takeyh, writing in an article in the March/April 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs headlined "Taking on Tehran," states:

Even as the United States struggles to fix the troubled reconstruction of Iraq, the next big national security crisis has already descended on Washington. Investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have discovered that Iran is trying to acquire the capability to enrich uranium and separate plutonium, activities that would allow it to make fissile material for nuclear weapons. Revelations of Iran's massive secret program have convinced even doubtful European governments that Tehran's ultimate aim is to acquire the weapons or, at least, the ability to produce them whenever it wants.
Why shouldn't they? Especially when the United States, Israel and other western nations have them? Why is it ok for people of European descent to have such weapons and not Africans, Arabs and other people of color?

Permalink | 1 Comment

Chirac Faces Uphill Battle on France's Upcoming EU Vote

Alex Duval Smith comments in the April 10, 2005 Sunday Observer on France's upcoming European Union vote: "Once they were seen as the most loyal of all Europeans, but this week President Jacques Chirac faces one of the biggest battles of his political career as he launches a crusade to persuade the French to vote 'Oui' in next month's referendum on the EU constitution. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Can U.S. Foreign Policy Be Truly Altered?

Tom Barry, Laura Carlsen, and John Gershman notes in an article published at the International Relations Center's website that, "President Bush says we must stay the course in Iraq , and he promises to continue during his second administration the radical foreign and domestic policies laid out during his first term. We believe it is time to change course," the wrote. "But can the course of U.S. foreign policy ever truly be altered?"

"Has there ever been a model for a dramatic shift away from militarism and unilateralism toward international cooperation and peace?"

"The answer to these questions is yes," the maintain in their article headlined "The Good Neighbor Policy: A History to Make Us Proud." I think their ideas are worth reading and discussing.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Belle Ciao's Coverage of Baghdad Rally

On April 9, 2005, Belle Ciao published an informative article and photos on what it called a "Massive "End the Occupation" Protest in Baghdad" that "Dwarfs the "Saddam Toppled" rally." Read it here.

Permalink | No Comments

River Bend Comments on 'The Cruel Month...'

River Bend at Baghdad Burning: "Ever since Jalal Talbani was named president, there have been many angry Shia. It's useless explaining that the presidential chair is only symbolic- it doesn't mean anything. "La izayid we la inaqis." As we say in Iraq. "It doesn't increase anything, nor does it decrease anything." People have the sense that all the positions are 'symbolic'- hence, why shouldn't the Shia get the head symbol? The disturbing thing is how the Kurds could agree to have someone with so much blood on his hands. Talbani is known for his dealings with Turkey, Britain, America and other and his feuds with [Massoud] Barazani have led to the deaths of thousands of Kurds." Read more of her commentary on events in Iraq..

Permalink | No Comments

Is CARICOM Gaining Significant Political Power in the OAS?

Prior to the April 11, 2005 vote to elect- a new Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Norman 'Gus' Thomas, Caribbean Net News' senior correspondent, reported that, "a great deal of interest is being paid to Monday's Organization of American States (OAS) election of a new Secretary General for the hemispheric body. The heightened interest is stemming from the fact that some fourteen countries in the mostly English-speaking Caribbean are said to be holding the key to the election of the next Secretary General of the OAS made up of some 34 nations," he said, adding: " The Washington-based OAS Headquarters is where governments meet to try and resolve regional problems." The voting was deadlocked 17-17 after five ballots on April 11, 2005. The next round of voting will take place on May 2, 2005. Here's more of Mr. Thomas' analysis.

Permalink | 1 Comment

OAS Will Try Again May 2 to Elect a Secretary-General

The Organization of American States will try again on May 2, 2005 to elect a new secretary-general after failing five times on April 11, 2005 to break a 17-17 tie between Jose Insulza, 61, Chile's Interior Minister, and former Mexican foreign minister Luis Ernesto Derbez, 58. The man the Bush Administration wanted, Francisco Flores, 45, a former president of El Salvador, quit the campaign before today's vote because he did not have much support among the 35-member body. The position became available because former Costa Rican president Miguel Angel Rodriguez resigned after Costa Rican authorities accused him of corruption. He held the secretary-general post for four months. Here's more on the vote.

Permalink | No Comments

April 10, 2005

Fair! Looks at 'America’s Broken Electoral System'

Miranda Spencer, writing in the March/April 2005 issue of Extra!, a Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) publication, reports that, "throughout 2004, the swing state of Ohio was in the media spotlight. Prior to the election," she wrote, "it was a site of alleged voter fraud and suppression; as Extra! reported (12/04), the news media tended to portray the charges as partisan ploys rather than significant threats to the electoral process." Here's more of her indepth and worth-reading report.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Market Watch: 'Bush's Social Security Lobbying Effort Skirts Law

Market Watch reported April 10, 2005, that, "the Bush administration has spent millions of dollars in the past two months on its campaign to overhaul Social Security, narrowly skirting laws that prohibit spending of taxpayer funds to indirectly lobby Congress." Here's more of the story.

Permalink | No Comments

Rick Santorum Seems to be Hedging His Bets

During an April 10, 2005 appearance on ABC's "This Week," Senator Rick Santorum (R.-Penn) said he thinks Representative Tom "The Hammer" DeLay of Texas, the House Majority Leader, "has to come forward and lay out what he did and why he did it and let the people then judge for themselves." As The Associated Press notes, Mr. DeLay:

has been dogged in recent months by reports of possible ethics violations. There have been questions about his overseas travel, campaign payments to family members and his connections to lobbyists who are under investigation.
In what appears to be a defense of Mr. DeLay, Mr. Santorum, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said: "But from everything I've heard, again, from the comments and responding to those, is everything he's done was according to the law. Now you may not like some of the things he's done. That's for the people of his district to decide, whether they want to approve that kind of behavior or not." I think Mr. Santorum is hedging his bets. He doesn't want to incur the wrath of Mr. DeLay while going on record against The Hammer's alleged ethics violations

Permalink | 1 Comment

Will Abandoning Jack Abramoff Lead to Tom DeLay's Undoing?

Politics R U.S. says House majority Leader Tom Delay "may have known everything about the his problems with ethical behavior." The blog cites an article in the April 18, 2005 issue of Newsweek as evidence of this. According to the magazine, Jack Abramoff, "once a Washington superlobbyist" who "is now the target of a Justice Department criminal probe of allegations that he defrauded American Indian tribes of tens of millions of dollars in fees," reportedly told "a former colleague" that, to use Newsweek's words, "there are e-mails and records that will implicate others," including Mr. Delay. It will get interesting when the contents of e-mails start showing up in The Washington Post or The New York Times. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

April 9, 2005

Republicans Should Pause Before They Panic"

Michael Barone at U.S. News.Com thinks "Republicans should pause before they panic" at polls purportedly showing that "congressional action in the Terri Schiavo case was unpopular" and "George W. Bush's job ratings have dipped, and Congress' job rating is lower." While Republicans should not panic, they should not ignore the anger and sense of betrayal many of their supporters felt over the outcome of the Schiavo case. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Representative Hastings Takes Job as Ethics Investigator

The Associated Press says U.S. Representative Doc Hastings, "the Washington state Republican, has taken charge of one of the most thankless jobs in politics -- investigating the alleged wrongdoing of colleagues as chairman of the House ethics committee." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

April 8, 2005

Blogger's Technical Woes

"What's up with Blogger, the institution that is eponymous with the media phenomenon it helped spawn?" That question was asked by Adam L. Penenberg in a post in Wired headlined "Bloggers Pitch Fits Over Glitches." It's a post about the many glitches one encounters when trying to use the free blogging service by Google. I left Blogger for Movable Type and TypePad because of the glitches that prevented me from regularly updating The Political Observer, the forerunner of The National Political Observer. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for."

Permalink | No Comments

John Lauck Joins Senator Thune's Staff

John Lauck, "a South Dakota State University history professor who ran a computer Web site critical of former Senator Tom Daschle during the 2004 campaign is joining the staff of Senator John Thune, the Republican who ended Daschle's 26-year congressional career," according to the Rapid City Journal.Com.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The FEC's Rules on Political Blogging

Richard Hasen, the William H. Hannon Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and writes the Election Law blog, says "the blurring of the line between journalists and others, particularly bloggers, is having ripple effects in the world of campaign finance. And, although most people don't realize it yet, the effects could be so large as to effectively end a century-old limit on corporate and labor union participation in politics," he wrote. "What likely will take the place of that limit is a new legal regime where the only regulation of independent political speech is disclosure of funding sources." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Gillmor: 'Big Journalists Finally Take on Apple in Blog Case'

Dan Gillmor at Dan Gillmor On Grassroots Journalism, Etc. says "big journalists" are finally taking on Apple who in December 2004 sued several bloggers for allegedly publishing proprietary information about a new Apple product that had not been released. "They've been AWOL so far, but finally some Big Media companies are coming to the legal defense (Silicon Valley Watcher) of the Web publishers Apple is suing for reporting "trade secrets" in recent months," Mr. Gillmor wrote on April 8, 2005. "I suspect this is because the judge in the case dodged the question of whether the site owners were journalists in the first place. As I noted before, the ruling was a direct shot at the process of journalism in California," Mr. Gillmor added. "I'm glad to see that the big journalism organizations have understood the stakes -- and are acting on that." So am I.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Taranto's Take on 'The Cornyn Kerfuffle'

James Taranto of OpinionJournal did an interesting take on what he calls Senator John Cornyn's "mostly sensible speech on judicial overreach," including one paragraph of the speech "which justifiably raised some eyebrows." Here's his opinion.

Permalink | No Comments

Oregon Paper Wants to Know: How Low Will Tom DeLay Go?

The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon says "The Terri Schiavo tragedy brought out the worst in a lot of people, but no one in public life sank lower than House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose brazen threats of retribution against judges dishonored the Constitution he is sworn to uphold." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Black Chronicle: It's Time to 'Get Really Scared'

The Black Chronicle: "It was appalling when the majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives threatened political retribution against judges who did not toe his extremist political line, but when a second important Republican stands up and excuses murderous violence against judges as an understandable reaction to their decisions, then it is time to get really scared." Here's more of the editorial.

Permalink | No Comments

Think Progress is Waiting for a Conservative Apology

Think Progress: "So the latest, albeit terribly unsurprising, revelation is that the Schiavo memo is indeed very real, came from Sen. Mel Martinez's office, and was handed over to Sen. Tom Harkin as some talking points. But there is still one question left. How long will it take for the conservatives, who quickly named this Memogate, to retract their statements? It might never happen." I think some conservatives will acknowledge that they were wrong. Here's the entire post.

Permalink | No Comments

Mr. DeLay Continue's Verbal Assault on Judiciary

Samantha Levine of the Houston Chronicle's Washington Bureau reported April 8, 2005, that, "A week after denouncing the judges in the Terri Schiavo case, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay resumed his verbal assault on federal judges Thursday [April 7, 2005] by telling conservative religious activists that the judicial branch is out of control and Congress should reassert constitutional authority over the courts."

If the report is accurate, Mr. Delay is asking for more trouble and risks isolation from the more powerful of his Republican colleagues who do not share his views on Federal judges. If he becomes isolated within his own party, it becomes easier for his political enemies to pick him off. President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Senator Bill Frist (R.-Tenn) have publicly distanced themselves from Mr. DeLay's call for reigning in Federal judges" because they don't want to be perceived as supporting the intimidation of the judiciary although they have no qualms about appointing Federal judges who hold their political and cultural views.

Mr. Cheney played a major role in Mr. DeLay's rise to power. In 1988, the then Minority Whip gave Mr. DeLay his first significant House leadership position when he made him a deputy whip. "The Hammer," as he is called, became Majority Whip in 1994. He became Majority Leader in 2002, when Representative Dick Armey of Texas retired. He uses his position, among other things, to keeps Republicans in Congress in line for the Republican Party and the White House. Whether out of party loyalty or fear of punishment by having to face primary candidate handpicked by Mr. DeLay, Republicans are defending him as revelations emerge about his legal troubles and alleged ethical violations. Some Democrats are taking advantage of his self-inflicted troubles to take him down.

One can wonder whether Mr. DeLay is criticizing judges to deflect attention away from his legal and ethical woes now that he is a prominent target in the no-holds-barred world of national politics in which Republicans are masters of the game. As Los Angeles Times Reporters Mary Curtis and Richard Simon noted in a March 20, 2005 post:

DeLay's troubles began last year, when three fund-raisers with ties to him were indicted in Texas, charged with illegally using corporate contributions to fund Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature. A short time later, the House ethics committee rebuked him three times for political tactics members said went too far. The scrutiny intensified when recent newspaper stories raised questions about two overseas trips DeLay took that were linked to a high-powered Washington lobbyist now under criminal investigation for his tactics in promoting American Indian gaming interests.
Mr. DeLay reportedly has an iron grip on many Washington lobbyists, especially those dubbed DeLay, Inc. According to Bloomberg News, some of his former aides are building "lobbying empires in Washington." Others have already built them and enjoy lucrative benefits as a result of their ties with Mr. DeLay. I wonder how long before some of them come forward with smoking guns to save their own skins.

Politically, Mr. DeLay may be on a slippery slope. A Houston Chronicle poll contends that Mr. DeLay's "footing among his constituents has slipped drastically during the past year and a majority of his district disapproves of how he handled the Terri Schiavo case." The poll showed:

Nearly 40 percent of the 501 voters questioned Wednesday [March 29, 2005] through Friday [April 1, 2005] said their opinion of the powerful Sugar Land Republican is less favorable than last year, compared with 11 percent who said their view of him has improved. Half of the respondents gave DeLay a somewhat or very favorable rating.
The bottom line is that Mr. DeLay, who accused Democrats of gunning for him because they have no legislative agenda, is a powerful man. But powerful men become vulnerable when they become arrogant and perceive themselves as invincible. If what I've read in recent weeks about Mr. DeLay is correct, he's at that stage. Soon he may find himself on trial before one of the judges he wants to reign in.

Permalink | No Comments

April 7, 2005

India and Oil Diplomacy in Central Asia

Manish Chand, in an April 6, 2005 post at Hindustan Times. Com, said, "With the global race for scarce energy resources intensifying, India is increasingly looking to Central Asia both as a reliable source of oil and natural gas and a focus of its strategic interests in Asia. Uzbek President Islam A. Karimov's visit to India has underlined New Delhi's growing engagement with Central Asia." the writer said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Why Did Judge Posner, Economist Becker Start Blogging?

Chicago Tribune reporter Maureen Ryan, in an April 7, 2005 article headlined "SMART BOMBS: 2 high-powered Chicago thinkers (a Nobel Prize winner and a rabble-rousing federal judge) rattle the blogosphere -- one intellectual grenade at a time," asked Judge Richard Posner of The Becker-Posner Blog: When did you first become aware of blogs?" He said:

It's pretty recent. I started reading a couple of them, like Andrew Sullivan's, and this fellow in Tennessee, Instapundit, and Mickey Kaus and a few others maybe a couple of years ago. My real introduction to the process was that a friend of mine, a [law] professor at Stanford, Larry Lessig, asked me to be a guest blogger for a week last summer. And that's when I learned how it works, how you post things and so on. That was my real initiation, and I enjoyed the experience. . . . Having dipped my toes in the water, when Becker suggested this, I was responsive.
The same questions were put to Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker. Read their responses.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Senator Martinez's Counsel Resigns Over Schiavo Memo

Brian H. Darling, now the former legal counsel for Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) "admitted yesterday [April 6, 2005] that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night," with The Washington Post, the paper reported April 7, 2005.

The Post also said, "Conservative Web logs have challenged the authenticity of the memo, in some cases likening it to the discredited documents about Bush's National Guard service that CBS News reported last fall." No such weblogs were named.

Permalink | No Comments

April 5, 2005

Threats Against Judges Should be Discouraged, Not Encouraged

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice and numerous bloggers are scathing in their criticism of Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, who recently criticized judges who, in his words, "use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions."

Senator Cornyn, Representative Tom Delay and others of great influence should cool the rhetoric. Those who are inclined to attack judges don't need any inducement from political leaders. Judges should not be threatened with death regardless of our dissatisfaction with their decisions, even in the highly controversial Schiavo case. Yet, the reality says they will be. Here's Mr. Cornyn's speech.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Kaus and 'The Curse of the Pulitzers'

Mickey Kaus' "The Curse of the Pulitzers" is good reading. He highlights a letter from "alert and anguished L.A. reader "G"--that takes a look at the Chicago Tribune-owned Los Angeles Times' often-criticized local coverage. The paper won Pulitizer Prizes this year for international reporting and public service. Here's a list of 2005 winners.

Permalink | No Comments

Professor Critiques Becker and Posner's Positions on Banruptcy Bill

Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, in a post at Joshua Micah Marshall's Special Edition Bankruptcy blog on the bankruptcy bill, takes issue with Judge Richard Posner and economist Gary Becker who, in her words, "have joined the ranks of academic bloggers that have turned their considerable intellects to the topic of bankruptcy reform." She added:

I expected a real treat, but their recent comments on the pending bankruptcy bill are so out of touch (and out of date) that I was amazed to see them advanced. Posner and Becker's entire discussion rests on the standard chestnut that the bankruptcy bill will benefit consumers because it will reduce creditors risk and therefore cut interest rates."
Professor Warren said, "That argument not only ignores twenty years of data; it also perpetuates a plodding perfect markets model of consumer credit that most theorists have long since abandoned." Here's more of her commentary.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Poll says Support for Tom DeLay Falling in His Texas District

"A new Houston Chronicle poll shows support for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has slipped drastically in his district, and a majority of his constituents disapprove of how he handled the Terri Schiavo case," according to an Associated Press post in Editor & Publisher. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

April 3, 2005

Baghdad Burning: American Media is Everywhere in Iraq

River Bend at Baghdad Burning says "two years ago, the major part of the war in Iraq was all about bombarding us with smart bombs and high-tech missiles. Now there's a different sort of war- or perhaps it's just another phase of the same war. Now we're being assailed with American media. It's everywhere all at once." It's called cultural warfare, River Bend. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Politics of Media

Paul Star at Technology Review.Com says "When people discuss politics and the media, the topic is usually bias and spin. Radio, TV, and the Internet today are thick with ideological combat, and public opinion about both news and entertainment media is increasingly split along partisan lines," he maintains in an article headlined "Political Networking".

Permalink | No Comments

African-Americans and the Social Security Debate

Eddie Huff, a member of the "national advisory board of the Project 21 black leadership network, contends that "African-Americans can and should be the strongest proponents of Social Security reform for one simple reason: Transferability." Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Old Politicians and High-Powered Jobs

The Washington Post reports that "the top tier of the federal government remains the most welcoming arena in American society for people who want to keep high-powered jobs late in life. Aged and influential is such a common combination that most of the time it draws little notice," the paper said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Joshua Landis' 'Travel to the Syrian Coast'

I found "Travel to the Syrian Coast," a post by Joshua Landis over at Syria Comment, to be an enjoyable read. I recommend it for the description it provides of a part of Syria.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Political Upheaval in Lebanon Lead to Another Civil War?

Liz Sly in a Knight Ridder Tribune News dispatch from Beirut reports that, "The bright new Lebanon heralded by the much-vaunted Cedar Revolution is starting to feel ominously like the bad old Lebanon of the bitter past." Hopefully, the country will not return to civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Asian-African Summit Set for April 22-23, 2005

China View reports that, "Indonesia will host the Asian-African Summit on April 22-23 to commemorate the golden jubilee of historic gathering of Asian-African leaders in the West Java town of Bandung in 1955, that gave a birth to the Non-Aligned Movement and the anti-colonialism and anti-racial segregation principles. The forthcoming summit will bring the theme of "Reinvigorating the Bandung Spirit: Working toward a New Asian-African Strategic Partnership," the journal said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

India Won't Accept Security Council Seat Without Veto Power

"India has rejected the possibility of its accepting permanent membership without veto power in the proposed expansion of the UN Security Council," notes The Hindu of India. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

German Foreign Minister Reportedly Running for Political Life

The Times Online of London's Roger Boyes notes in an April 1, 2005 dispatch from Berlin that, "Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, once wrote a bestselling fitness book called Finding Myself Through Running. Now he is running for his political life, fending off a revolt by officials in his ministry and trying to dodge the flak from an immigration scandal," Mr. Boyes has concluded. The question is: Will Mr. Fischer resign? Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

American Diplomacy

Permalink | No Comments

What is China's Global Strategy for Energy, Security, and Diplomacy?

Drew Thompson, Assistant Director at the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes in an article in The Journal of Turkish Weekly that, "Next month is the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, where Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Indonesian President [Ahmad] Sukarno set out to carve a space for Asian and African countries based on principles of mutual interest, respect for national sovereignty and non-alignment with either the United States or the Soviet Union. In 1955, an economically and politically isolated China aspired to economic self-sufficiency through a closed, planned economy that was not dependent on imported food or other raw materials." Read more of "China's Global Strategy for Energy, Security, and Diplomacy."

Permalink | No Comments

Hindustan Times Tells Readers 'US Wants India to Counter China

On April 1, 2005, the Hindustan Times, citing an article in The Christian Science Monitor, informed its readers that, "The US wants to have a strategic partnership with India to counter China." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Times of India: 'Rice Attempts to Derail India's Oil Diplomacy'

Arijit Barman of The Times of India reported April 2, 2005 that, "On Wednesday, March 16, two interesting events unfolded almost simultaneously in New Delhi. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice on her whistle-stop tour to India made the concerns of the Bush administration very vocal: That the US is uncomfortable at the prospect of a $4 billion gas pipeline bridging the economies of Iran and India. Instead, she suggested she would be happy to provide superior technologies and even nuclear power, one of the most expensive energy alternatives, to India." Click here to read about the other event.

Permalink | No Comments

India, Pakistan Engage in Back-channel Diplomacy

"With [Pakistani] President General Pervez Musharraf's planned visit to New Delhi less than two weeks away, back-channel diplomacy is gaining momentum as an important meeting between aides of the top leadership of India and Pakistan is on the cards next week," Dawn, a prominent Pakistani newspaper, reported April 2, 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Archives