May 2005 Archives

May 31, 2005

Friedman is Right: Gitmo P.O.W Camp Should Be Shut Down

I agree with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp should be shut down. Now. On May 27, 2005, Mr. Friedman wrote: "Shut it down. Just shut it down." He added:

I'm talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantanamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please Mr. President, just shut it down.
Mr. Friedman's call for the Gitmo camp to be shut down is equivalent to former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Leland Cronkite's 1968 commentary on the Vietnam War. As PBS' noted in its "Reporting America at War" series:
In 1968, while anchor of the "CBS Evening News," Cronkite journeyed to Vietnam to report on the aftermath of the Tet offensive. In a dramatic departure from the traditions of "objective" journalism, Cronkite concluded his reports with a personal commentary in which he voiced his strong belief that the war would end in stalemate.
PBS noted that, Mr. "Cronkite's editorial would later be regarded as a critical indice of public opinion of the Vietnam War." Mr. Friedman is regarded in some quarters as the nation's leading foreign affairs columnist and a voice for the current U.S. foreign policy establishment. See "Just Shut It Down."

Permalink | No Comments

Friedman is Right: Gitmo P.O.W Camp Should Be Shut Down

I agree with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp should be shut down. Now. On May 27, 2005, Mr. Friedman wrote: "Shut it down. Just shut it down." He added:

I'm talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantanamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please Mr. President, just shut it down.
Mr. Friedman's call for the Gitmo camp to be shut down is equivalent to former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Leland Cronkite's 1968 commentary on the Vietnam War. As PBS' noted in its "Reporting America at War" series:
In 1968, while anchor of the "CBS Evening News," Cronkite journeyed to Vietnam to report on the aftermath of the Tet offensive. In a dramatic departure from the traditions of "objective" journalism, Cronkite concluded his reports with a personal commentary in which he voiced his strong belief that the war would end in stalemate.
PBS noted that, Mr. "Cronkite's editorial would later be regarded as a critical indice of public opinion of the Vietnam War." Mr. Friedman is regarded in some quarters as the nation's leading foreign affairs columnist and a voice for the current U.S. foreign policy establishment. See "Just Shut It Down."

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Stench From Gitmo is Getting Stronger

The stench from human rights abuses at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay is getting stronger as reports of abuse of Muslim prisoners of war on the Bush Administration's watch continues to become public. President George W. Bush is trying to put a positive spin on it but it's not working. See Deep Blade Journal's post headlined Bush is the Dissembler.

Permalink | No Comments

The Stench From Gitmo is Getting Stronger

The stench from human rights abuses at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay is getting stronger as reports of abuse of Muslim prisoners of war on the Bush Administration's watch continues to become public. President George W. Bush is trying to put a positive spin on it but it's not working. See Deep Blade Journal's post headlined Bush is the Dissembler.

Permalink | No Comments

Did CIA Buy Some Gitmo Detainees From Bounty Hunters?

Helena Cobban, the proprietor of Just World News, asks in a May 31, 2005 post: "How many of the roughly 530 detainees in the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo were actually sold into bondage by bounty-hunters eager to make a fortune from U.S. rewards programs?"

"Quite possibly, a large proportion of them," she said, noting that, "AP reporter Michelle Faul has a very shocking piece on the wire today that makes this claim." See Guantanamo detainees sold into bondage?

Permalink | No Comments

Oxblog And 'A Defense of the Leg Man'

I read "A Defense of the Leg Man" at Oxblog and found it quite interesting. It was written in response to Oxblog proprietor David Adesnik's "praise of the airborne soldier as the best of the best." Here's the post.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Media, The White House and AI's Human Rights Report

The Fields Report, which offers commentary on international affairs, says "The media is letting the White House again dictate the storyline with regards to the Amnesty International human rights report. As long as the issue continues to be the "gulag" controversy, Amnesty's actual charges get obfuscated," according to a May 31, 2005 post in the blog. Here's more. Also see Amnesty International Report 2005.

Permalink | No Comments

Is President Bush Stalling On The Bolton Documents?

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note, who has provided consistently good analysis of the Bolton confirmation battle, said "President Bush knocked around Democrats today for delaying a vote on John Bolton -- but in fact, it is his own team who has caused the delay."

Mr. Bolton is Mr. Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

"With one utterance," Mr. Clemons declared in a May 31, 2005 post, "President Bush could end the efforts by Democrats and moderate Republicans to hold off a Bolton vote by just offering up the documents requested by Senators during their Constitutionally-required investigation of Bolton, his record, and his behavior."

Mr. Clemons said "Until Bush concedes defeat to the growing list of Senators who have serious concern (like Senator John McCain) that this battle over requested evidence is not just about Bolton but about the principle of separation of powers in government, then Bolton's nomination will sit in limbo." He may be right on this. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will the European Union Unravel?

Pavel Molchanov, a Texas financial analyst, noted in the June 1, 2005 edition of The National Business Review of New Zealand that:

Three times in the past three years, France has thrown a bombshell on the stage of international politics, with lasting consequences. First, in April 2002, when Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the second round of the presidential election, there was briefly the prospect of a far-right demagogue running a nuclear-armed G-7 country. Then, in early 2003, President Jacques Chirac with a stubbornness befitting his role model Charles de Gaulle declared that France would veto any Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, causing damage to the Atlantic alliance that lasts to this day.
"And then," Mr. Molchanov added, "on May 29, 2005, the people of France went to the polls and gave a bloody nose to the entire European Union." I recommend Where next for the European Dis-Union?

Permalink | No Comments

Is No Vote on EU Treaty a Case of Old Europe vs. New Europe

In a June 1, 2005 report in the New York Times Company-ownedInternatiional Herald Tribune, Judy Dempsey summarizes the positions of some former Eastern bloc nations towards France and Germany. For example, she wrote:

The Czechs say some of the older members of the European Union, such as France, fear the loss of their status quo inside the bloc and are taking it out on those Eastern European countries that joined only a year ago.

The Poles say that France is upset because the later entrants, mainly former Communist countries from Eastern Europe, are not willing to accept French leadership inside the bloc and are blaming them for upsetting the old order, largely dominated by France. The Slovaks say they are being used as scapegoats for high unemployment in France and Germany, even though it is France and Germany that have benefited from cheap labor costs in Slovakia, where both countries have invested heavily in the car industry.

She said, "The Hungarians say Western Europeans are blaming Eastern Europeans for the no vote against the EU charter but that the reality is that a worn-down political class does not want to face the truth about the need for economic reforms." See "For many EU members, no vote on treaty is case of old vs. new" for more opinion from Eastern European observers.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Tony Blair The Last Big Man Standing in Europe?

Jonathan Freedland opines in the June 1, 2005 issue of The Guardian that, Everywhere British Prime Minister Tony Blair looks, he will see dead ends. And yet, in conversations yesterday, Downing Street folk hardly seemed distraught. If anything, they appeared rather cheery. Here's why.

They now see a European stage in which Blair is the last big man standing. Jacques Chirac is mortally wounded, while Gerhard Schröder took a drubbing in last week's German regional elections. He could be out by the autumn. Viewed through Downing Street's rose-tinted glasses, that leaves a Blair-shaped hole. He has won a vote while all around him have lost theirs.

More importantly, the optimists note, the trend in Europe is in Britain's direction. For nearly a decade, the old Franco-German motor has been stalling as both nations have struggled economically: new members have been reluctant to follow their example. Enlargement has brought in ex-communist states which prefer so-called Anglo-Saxon liberal economics to the French social model, with its statist protections and regulations.

Mr. Freedland said, "The result has been serial defeats for France and Germany, rebuffed on their choice for commission president, rebuffed on the contents of the constitution itself - a document the French scathingly dubbed the constitution Britannique. Symbolically, and most painfully for the French, the unofficial language of the corridors of Brussels is now English." Here's more of his interesting assessment.

Permalink | No Comments

The Moderate Voice: Is Chirac French Toast?

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice provided excellent coverage of the May 29, 2005 rejection of the European Constitution by French voters. His lead on a May 30, 2005 post reads like this:

A shocker...A failure of leadership...A body blow... An embarrassment to France...A repudiation...
"Those are adjectives that some are using in the wake of France's rejection of the European Union's first constitution," Mr. Gandelman wrote, adding: "And they're popping up in news stories not just about the vote outcome but about French President Jacques Chirac and France's political establishment. The news reports, editorial reaction, and weblog comments are as devastating as the VOTE. The bottom line: Chirac put his reputation and clout on the line and lost, bigtime. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Dominique de Villepin: France's New Prime Minister

As Scotsman.Com noted in a profile on him, Dominique de Villepin, France's new prime minister, "captured the worlds attention with an impassioned speech in 2003 supporting France's opposition to an invasion of Iraq."

The 51-year old poet, politician and former foreign minister from 2002-2004 was "named prime minister of France" May 31, 2005. He succeeds former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who was replaced by President Jacque Chirac following the May 29, 2005 majority "Non" vote in France on the EU Constitution. Scotsman.Com calls de Villepin's elevation "the latest leap in a charmed career as foreign minister, writer, trusted adviser to President Jacques Chirac and, since last year, interior minister." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

May 30, 2005

A Debate Over Photo of a Partially Clad Saddam

Yamin Zakaria of Al-Jazeerah.Info, not to be confused with Al-Jazeera.Net, and Sun Editor Tom Newton engaged in an interesting exchange of opinion spurred by the Sun's publication of a picture showing former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in his underwear and sleeping. See "Yamin Zakaria's Response to The Sun Newspaper Editor, Tom Newton."

Permalink | No Comments

Mitch Albom: 'If You Criticize U.S., You Must Criticize Them

Detroit Free Press Columnist Mitch Albom, who embarrassed himself in April 2005 by publishing a column that said that Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson had flown to St. Louis to attend college basketball's Final Four to root for Michigan State when they had not, has a May 29, 2005 column headlined: "If you criticize U.S., you must criticize them," meaning those who resist and criticize U.S. efforts to subdue and control Iraq and Afghanistan. Here's more. I think he should stick to sports writing.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Iraqi Soldiers Training in Britain: Why?

Rupert Hamer, Defence Correspondent for the Sunday Mirror of England, reported May 29, 2005 that "hundreds of Iraqi soldiers are to be flown to Britain so they can be trained out of the reach of suicide bombers."

"The first batch of 40 National Guardsmen will arrive tomorrow [March 30, 2005] for a three-month course in military tactics," he noted. "They will be based at the Army School of Infantry in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales" Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Abid Ullah Jan's Analysis of Realists vs. Nihilists

Abid Ullah Jan, author of "A War on Islam?" argues in the May 30, 2005 edition of Media Monitor's Network that, "The more time goes by, the more the realists and nihilists among the political analysts are exposed. The realist will tell you that the U.S. adventures for imposing its will with the barrel of a gun are doomed to failure. Nihilists will tell you that the war must go on for liberation and democratization." See "Realists vs. Nihilists." I think it's worth reading whether you agree with him or not.

Permalink | No Comments

Are Any Iraqi Civilians Being Killed By U.S. Troops?

Every day, American newspapers report the number of Iraqis reportedly killed by suicide bombers. They rarely give prominent report on Iraqis killed by Americans, with the exception of "insurgents." Does this mean that no ordinary Iraqi civilians are killed by Americans?

Permalink | No Comments

The 'Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism'

Robert A. Pape, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, writing in a May 18, 2005 Op-Ed article in The New York Times, repeated an important observation about terrorism that I think Americans would do well to ponder. He made the same argument in "Dying to Kill Us," which was published in the Op-Ed section of The New York Times on September 22, 2003. In his latest Op-Ed article, he said, in part:

Many people are mystified by the recent rise in the number and the audacity of suicide attacks in Iraq. The lull in violence after January's successful elections seemed to suggest that the march of democracy was trampling the threat of terrorism.But as electoral politics is taking root, the Iraqi insurgency and suicide terrorism are actually gaining momentum. In the past two weeks, suicide attackers have killed more than 420 Iraqis working with the United States and its allies. There were 20 such incidents in 2003, nearly 50 in 2004, and they are on pace to set a new record this year.
Mr. Pape added: "To make sense of this apparent contradiction, one has to understand the strategic logic of suicide terrorism. Since Muslim terrorists professing religious motives have perpetrated many of the attacks, it might seem obvious that Islamic fundamentalism is the central cause, and thus the wholesale transformation of Muslim societies into secular democracies, even at the barrel of a gun, is the obvious solution. However, the presumed connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism is misleading, and it may spur American policies that are likely to worsen the situation." Read 'Blowing Up An Assumption" to understand why.

Permalink | No Comments

Iraq's Jaafari Wants Dr. Abdul-Hamid's Arrest Investigated

Reuters reported May 30, 2005 that, "Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has ordered an investigation into the detention of" Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, his spokesman "said on Monday, [May 30, 2005], amid fears the arrest could exacerbate sectarian tensions."

Dr. Abdul Hamid was arrested at his home in Baghdad by U.S. troops earlier on Monday, May 30, 2005, according to the Iraqi Islamic Party. He was later released. The U.S. acknowledged that it made a mistake.

Laith Kubba, Prime Minister Jaafari's spokesman, told Reuters:

The prime minister has ordered an investigation into the arrest. We believe there are parties that are benefiting from such raids on prominent Sunni leaders who have been supporting the political process and democracy in Iraq.

"This is the fourth time that a Sunni leader has been arrested.
Mr. Kubba added, according to Reuters that "he did not think the troops who arrested Dr. Abdul-Hamid knew his background."

Question: Doesn't U.S. occupation forces have an intelligence file on Dr. Abdul-Hamid?

Question: Could it be that the arrest was a deliberate act of provocation?

Secondly, except for its public relations value, Prime Minister Jaafari's investigation is a waste of time. He has no authority to reprimand U.S. occupation forces. Even if he did, I doubt he'd be foolish enough to do it. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

U.S. Says it Made Mistake in Arresting Mohsen Abdul Hamid

With "more than 200 members" of Dr. Mohsen Abdul Hamid's Iraqi Islamic Party currently being held without charge in U.S. detention camps around Iraq, the U.S. arrested the Islamic scholar early May 30, 2005.

Following his detention, which drew important condemnation form some Iraqi politicians, U.S. occupation forces interviewed him and realized they had made a potentially costly mistake, according to Al-Jazeera. It's this kind of heavy handed action that can make an enemy out of someone who normally would not advocate armed resistance. See "U.S.: Arrest of Sunni leader a mistake." Also see the Daily Telegraph of Australia's "Sunni leader's arrest 'a mistake'".

Permalink | No Comments

100 Delegates Expected for Africa Project Exchange Workshop

"About 100 delegates from various African countries and overseas are expected to gather in Cape Town to hold a three-day workshop termed Africa Project Exchange Workshop from tomorrow,[May 31, 2005]," according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation. "The workshop spearheaded by Umgeni Water from KwaZulu-Natal comes ahead of the three-day World Economic Forum (WEF) to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Rwanda May Be Admitted Into East African Community

"Rwanda could be admitted to the East African Community (EAC) by the end of this year, according to a directive by the heads of state of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda at a two-day extra-ordinary summit, which ended on Monday [May 30, 3005] in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam," reports the United Nation's Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) in a dispatch carried by Reuters.Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

African Business Leaders to Back Britain's Debt-Relief Plan

James Macharia, writing in the May 30, 2005 edition of Independent On Line, said, "Africa's business leaders plan to back Britain's mission to give more aid and boost trade in the world's poorest continent at a summit this week, but will also demand better governance from their political counterparts. African leaders and business executives meet from June 1-3 in Cape Town at the WEF Africa summit to support the British plan which challenges the rich world to stop protectionism and give Africa an extra $25-billion a year in aid until 2010," he wrote.

It's ironic that in 2005 Africa is still begging the west for aid although it's one of the richest continents. Thanks to neo-colonialist policies imposed by former colonial powers after African independence, which resulted in some African leaders borrowing billions of dollars from the International Monetary Fund (IMF] and the World Bank. The so-called development loans, billions of which often ended up some African leaders' foreign bank accounts instead of aiding their constituents, effectively bound Africa to the West. It is a strategy that has much of Afrcia's money flowing to the West long after the first African nation, Ghana, gained political independence in 1957.

According to a study issued in September 2004 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD),

Between 1970 and 2002, Africa received some $540 billion in loans; but despite paying back close to $550 billion in principal and interest, it still had a debt stock of $295 billion as at the end of 2002. And the figures are even more disconcerting for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which received $294 billion in disbursements, paid out $268 billion in debt service and yet remained straddled with a debt stock of some $210 billion
UNCTAD's report concludes that "this amounts to a reverse transfer of resources from the world´s poorest continent."

UNCTAD's "report also contests the popular impression that Africa´s debt overhang is simply the legacy of irresponsible and corrupt African governments. While certainly part of the story, particularly under the cloak of cold war politics, exogenous shocks, commodity dependence, poorly designed reform programmes and the actions of creditors have all played a decisive part in the debt crisis.
And a more nuanced picture shows that the debt profile moved from "sustainability" in the 1970s to "crisis" in the first half of the 1980s, with much of the debt being contracted between 1985 and 1995 under the guidance of structural adjustment programmes and close scrutiny by the Bretton Woods institutions (BWIs).Here's more of the Independent On Line report.

Permalink | No Comments

The Arrest of Mohsen Abdul Hamid Could Haunt U.S.

The Times Online, in a dispatch based partly on Associated Press reports, said May 30, 2005:

In a move that could further fuel a sectarian crisis, American troops detained the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq's largest Sunni Muslim political party, during a house raid early today in western Baghdad, a top party official and police said. Mohsen Abdul Hamid, the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, was detained by American soldiers with his three sons and four guards, said the party's secretary-general Ayad al-Samarei. American military officials could not immediately confirm the detentions.
"Iraqi President Jalal Talabani expressed his surprise and discontent about the arrest of the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Dr. Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, and called for his immediate release," a statement from the president's office said, according to the Times. "The Iraqi president said that no one gave prior notice to the Presidential Council about the arrest of Dr. Mohsen Abdul-Hamid. This way of dealing with such a distinguished political figure is unacceptable."

The Times noted that, "the arrests came on the second day of Operation Lightning, the Iraqi-led anti-insurgent offensive in Baghdad that Mr Abdul Hamid's party opposes, believing security forces will trample over innocent peoples rights. Here's more on this potentially explosive development.

Permalink | 1 Comment

'Fleet Street's Verdict' On The EU Constitution

ePolitix.Com has gathered opinion from some of Britain's newspapers in a post headlined "EU constitution: Fleet Street's verdict." The publication said, "There are mixed views on whether a British referendum should still take place. But there is a consensus that the constitution in its current form is now dead."

Permalink | No Comments

Which Way Now?

The Road to Euro Serfdom: "The French have done the dirty deed for us, which may be the first time it was not the other way around. What happens next?" Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

European Council Scheduled to Meet June 16, 2005

The European Council is scheduled to meet in Brussels on June 16, 2005 to discuss consequences of the French and Dutch referendums on the EU Constitution. The French rejected it on May 29, 2005. The Dutch are scheduled to vote June 2, 2005.

Permalink | No Comments

Views of Some European Politicians After France's EU Vote

EurActive has interesting quotes from European politicians in the aftermath of the May 29, 2005 French referendum on the European Union Constitution. See "Disappointment in yes camp after 'non' to Constitution."

Permalink | No Comments

French Voters And The Fear of Free-market Capitalism

John Leceister of The Associated Press reported May 30, 2005 that, European Union "Treaty opponents built a coalition of the disgruntled by bashing the United States, Turks, immigration in general, Eurocrats and free-market capitalism. They tapped into fears that jobs will be lost to 10 countries that joined the European Union last year, most of them in Eastern Europe where labor is cheaper," he wrote. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Deutsche Welle: 'French Vote Not the End of Europe'

Germany's Deutsche Welle is not as pessimistic about France's "Non' vote in THE May 29, 2005 referendum on the European Union Constitution. The publication opined on May 30, 2005:

Many have already started reading the European Union the last rites after the French rejected the EU constitution on Sunday. But far from killing it off, the EU may in the long run benefit from the result.

The 'non' vote in the French EU constitution represents one side of a European paradox: France has long been one of the strongest advocates of cooperation and integration within the bloc and yet Sunday's vote against the EU constitution is a clear sign that the French people now reject a contract which would promote these ideals.

"However," Deutsche Welle added, "while doom-mongers may now be ringing the death knell of the EU, the French vote may actually give the bloc time to reflect and to take its foot off the gas in the enlargement juggernaut to its benefit." I agree. See "French Vote Not the End of Europe."

Permalink | No Comments

Does Europe Need a 'Period of Reflection'?

The Manchester (England) Evening News told its readers May 30, 2005 that, "Europe's political leaders, including Tony Blair, started picking up the pieces today after France rejected the proposed EU Constitution." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Blair EU Presidency and the EU Constitution

Scotsman.Com asserts in a May 30, 2005 editorial that, "yesterday's French rejection of the European Constitution is seen by Tony Blair and the European establishment as posing a "profound question" for the Continent's future. The fact that on Thursday [June 2, 2005] the Dutch could follow suit could make life even more difficult for the Brussels bureaucrats who have staked their future and their considerable salaries on its acceptance," the publiation said.

"Their instinct will be to persuade Mr Blair, when he assumes the rotating EU presidency on July 1, to try and save this blueprint for the future," Scotsman.Com opined, adding: "And indeed it will be his also. The Prime Minister believes that his place in history could be assured by persuading Britain to vote in favour of the constitution, perhaps not as good as his original ambition to persuade a sceptical UK population to join the euro, but in the wake of the French vote that would appear to be virtually impossible." See "Blair should grasp opportunity with both hands" for more.

Permalink | No Comments

What Does 'Non' Mean?

Kirsty Hughes, a former senior fellow of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels states in a BBC news analysis that,

Europe's politicians were right to be nervous about the outcome of the French referendum on the EU's constitution.
"The No from France is likely to plunge the EU into an unprecedented crisis," she contends. See "What 'Non' Means."

Permalink | No Comments

BBC: French Press Stunned By 'Non'

According to the BBC, "Several French papers see the country's rejection of the proposed European constitution as a major blow to President Jacques Chirac. Other commentators trace the defeat of the "Yes" campaign back to the shock second place won by the National Front's Jean-Marie Le Pen in the 2002 presidential election," the BBC added in a May 30, 2005 report. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Reporting on France's No on the EU Constitution

The Andalou News Agency of Turkey's told its clients May 30, 2005 that, "the U.S. press interpreted the French voters voicing a "no" for the European Union (EU) Constitution at the referendum held yesterday (May 29) as thumbing their noses at the country's governing elite." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Why Most Frenchmen Voted No On EU Constitution

Ali Ihsan Aydin of Zaman Daily Online of Turkey reported May 30, 2005 that, "following the announcement of the [EU] referendum outcome in [France], a new public poll was published noting that 59 percent of French people claimed unemployment as the main reason for their refusal of the European Constitution, while 40 percent reflected discontent over the government." See "Surprise Comes from 'No' Voice in France."

Permalink | No Comments

Straw to Address House of Commons on France's EU No Vote

This is London reported May 30, 2005 that, British "Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is to make a Commons statement next week on the implication for Britain of the French 'no' vote on the new EU constitution." See "Straw Commons speech on EU crisis".

Permalink | No Comments

May 29, 2005

Meyers: al-Zarqawi's Death Won't End al-Qaida in Iraq

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on "Fox News Sunday" May 29, 2005:
I think what people need to know though, as the leader, as the al-Qaeda's leader and the foreign fighter leader, the jihad leader in Iraq, that he's [Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] an important target, but even getting him, the movement will continue. Al-Qaeda has a way of continuing to put people in those leadership positions. Having said that, we're putting 24-hour-a-day seven-days-a-week pressure on Zarqawi, his organization.
General Myers' candor should be welcomed. However, I wonder how long before someone calls for his resignation for being so candid. Here's more. Here's a Transcript of General Myers on Fox News Sunday.
Permalink | No Comments

Mail on Sunday: What's Bad for Europe is Bad For Britain

Black Enterprise.Com alerted its readers to a Mail on Sunday article that asks: "Will France Kill the Beast It Created?" The article notes that,

Today's French referendum on the treaty for a European Constitution is only a part, though an important part, of the general crisis of Europe. Britain is involved, both because we are members of the European Union and may have our own referendum later, and because half our trade is with Europe.
"Anything that is truly bad for Europe will be bad for us," the publication said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Europe's 'Political Elites' and the EU Constitution

Laura Rozen at War and Piece had a good roundup of opinion on the France's EU referendum prior to the vote. The consensus was that the constitution would be rejected. The reasons are still worth reading although the outcome of the vote is known. Here it is.

Permalink | No Comments

The Belgravia Dispatch's Perspective on the French Vote

Gregory Djerejian at the influential Belgravia Dispatch calls the French rejection of the EU Constitution "A rather resounding non." He offers an interesting and worth reading perspective on the subject. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

A Lament Over the Defeat of the EU Constitution in France

The Austria-based proprietor of Ostracised from Österreich made this interesting comment about French voters rejecting the EU Constitution on May 29, 2005:

Just as Chirac is threatening to appear on my TV screen in a couple of seconds, I feel it's a sad moment for political Europe. The fact that European proposals elaborated with as much collective effort as the constitutional treaty are successfully and easily destroyed by people like the ones who are celebrating now on the TV stations across Europe (Mme Le Pen, Mr Emmanueli, Mr Haider) shows that the constructive part of the political spectrum has a serious problem in relating to its constituents. There is an issue of dissociation between the people and its representatives. On the other hand, this is exactly why it's high time to do something for the kind of politics we deserve.
This sounds like an astute observation to me. Estrangement of voters and their representatives seems to be a problem all over the world. This also includes the United States. On the other hand, voters have a right not to follow their leaders like blind sheep. When leaders are out of step with the majority of those who vote, they and their programs are rejected. It's called democracy.

Permalink | No Comments

Is EU Membership a Priority for Iceland?

Hjortur J. Gumundsson, editor of the EU Related News From Iceland blog, said in a May 29, 2005 post that, "Today, a week after the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), held its biannual general meeting, nothing has been reported in the Icelandic media concerning what was decided during the meeting on matters concerning Iceland's relationship with the European Union.

"Not one word!," the editor said. "Furthermore, it has proved very hard to find any documents concerning that on the Internet. In fact I haven't been able to find any yet. This all points to what actually comes as no surprise that EU membership is no priority for Icelandic social democrats, at least not at the moment. And more than that it hasn't been since before the Icelandic general elections in the spring of 2003." Here's more of "EU membership no priority for Icelandic social democrats."

Permalink | No Comments

EU Referendum's Update On The French Vote Count

Richard North over at EU Referendum says the "Corrected score now stands at 57 percent NO - 42 percent YES, with 83 percent of the votes counted" in the French referendum on the European Union constitution. EU Referendum quotes Caroline Wyatt of BBC Radio 4 as saying "Chirac has been dealt a humiliating blow". Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

A Fistful of Euros: And It’s A ’No’

Edward over at A Fistful of Euros said, "According to the initial estimates from the French agency CSA for 'France info' the no vote has carried the day, by 55.5% to 44.5%: a huge difference.

"OK, I guess the debate can now begin," he wrote.

And so it will, Edward. It's a worthy topic for debate. I suspect much of the commentary will center around French President Jacque Chirac and what the vote means for his legacy. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

'It Was Never Meant To Be That Way'

The Financial Times' John Thornhill, writing from Paris, tells "How consensus in favour of Yes to the European Constitution slipped away in France. "It was never meant to be that way," he wrote in a May 29, 2005 dispatch. His perspective is quite interesting. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Update: French Voters Reject EU Constitution

"French voters were said tonight to have resoundingly rejected the EU Constitution, sending a defiant message to France's political establishment and dealing a blow to plans for further European integration," reports Philippe Naughton of Times Online of Britiain. Other publications are also reporting that French voters rejected the constitution.

Mr. Naughton noted that, "As polls closed around the country, the three major French polling organization all reported a no vote of around 55-56 per cent, in line with opinion polls before todays vote." Despite claims to the contrary, the French rejection is not the end of Europe or France. French voters simply voted no out of economic concerns, which is one of the strongest motivations for maintaining the status quo. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Why U.S. Ordered Some Americans Out of Haiti

"A surge in carjackings, kidnappings and gang roadblocks around the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince has gotten so bad, the American Embassy in Haiti on Friday [May 27, 2005] ordered the evacuation of all nonemergency workers and family members," reports the News-Press of Southwest Florida. The publication said, "The situation is fueling concern among members of Southwest Florida's Haitian community, as well as workers with local aid groups active in the Caribbean country." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Hungering for Justice in Haiti

The Baltimore Sun: "Most Americans have never heard of Yvon Neptune, the jailed former prime minister of Haiti who has been on a hunger strike since April 17, [2005] but his decision to starve himself speaks volumes about the failure of U.S. policy in Haiti. And it underscores the hypocrisy of the Bush administration's policy of engaged diplomacy in defense of human rights and democracy around the world," the Tribune company-owned paper said on May 29, 2005.

The publication said, "If the Bush administration is serious about supporting democracy around the world, where better than in Haiti, which is in our geographic back yard? It's not just Mr. Neptune's health that is in peril, it's also Haiti's." Read more of "Hungering for justice."

Permalink | No Comments

Is Suriname's election An ‘example for the Caribbean’?

"CARICOM Election Observers have commended the electoral officials and the Surinamese people for their responsible behaviour and the maturity displayed, which undoubtedly reflect their confidence in the electoral process and commitment to democratic principles," according to Ivan Cairo, Caribbean Net News 'Suriname correspondent.

"Polling day in the general elections in Suriname on Wednesday May 25, 2005 was characterized by calm, good humour and friendliness between supporters and agents of opposing parties outside the polling stations, said chief of mission Clem John Friday [May 27, 2005] at a press conference in the Surinamese capital Paramaribo," Mr. Cairo wrote. Here's more. Also see "Caribbean Electoral Observers Mission Now in Suriname."

Permalink | No Comments

U.N. Begins Inquiry Into Hariri's Assassination

Detlev Mehlis, "senior public prosecutor in the office of the attorney-general in Berlin," Germany, is in Beirut, Lebanon, to start investigating the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, according to Al-Jazeera.Net. Mr. Mehlis, who was named in early May 2005 "by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to head the international inquiry, told journalist after arriving In Beirut May 26, 2005: "I'm very glad to be here even if it is because of an incomprehensible tragedy, not only for you but for everyone in the civilized world." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Lebanese to Vote on Four Consecutive Sundays

Karine Raad, staff writer at The Daily Star of Lebanon, reports that, "Saad Hariri, son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, is expected to record an overwhelming victory in the first polls in Lebanon in three decades to take place without the presence of Syrian troops."

"The first round of parliamentary elections is set to kick off on Sunday [May 29, 2005] in Beirut, with voting spread regionally across four consecutive Sunday's, ending on June 19, [2005]," she noted. Here's more..

Permalink | No Comments

The Yorkshire Ranter's 'Chinese View on the EU'

Alex at The Yorkshire Ranter has a very informative post headlined "Chinese View on the EU". I recommend it

Permalink | No Comments

'Blair Should Campaign for EU Constituion'

The editorial position of the Sunday Herald of Britain is that "Even if France votes no, Blair should campaign for the EU constitution." The paper said:

For Tony Blair and the UK government there are serious lessons to be learned in this debacle. Under Blair, Europe has been an almost silent issue. The anti-European prejudices he inherited in 1997 were supposed to be addressed immediately by the numerous promises to transform Britain into a country that would be at the heart of Europe. Such promises disappeared like thin ink on a damp page. If Britain follows the French example, then Blair has no chance of winning a Yes vote. Chirac started the referendum campaign 12 months ago with a 30-point lead over the No camp. Blair, if he began a campaign tomorrow, would start well behind the No vote. And unlike Chirac he would not have a sympathetic press backing Europe.
The publication added: "Britain remains unsure about whether Europe and deeper European integration is beneficial or even necessary. The EU is still regarded as a continental venture dominated by our senior European partners and we still largely distrust the entire project as somehow just not British enough. And whose fault is that? Chirac perhaps took too much for granted. But Blair has done even less. European roadshows were at one stage offered in his mission to explain. But again they failed to materialise. Should Brussels even with the prospect of a French No vote and a No in the Netherlands later this week still want to see all EU member states lay their constitution colours on the table, then Blair faces a year of begging. Chirac at least confined his appeal to one night of live television."

Could it be that Mr. Blair feels more American than European and wouldn't dare make a foreign policy move without approval from U.S. President George W. Bush? Commentary on this question would be appreciated.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Hugh Schofield: 'How Did It Come to This'?

"How did it come to this?" asks Hugh Schofield in a May 29, 2005 Sunday Herald article on France's referendum on the EU Constitution treaty. He wrote:

The Yes camp claims to believe that victory is still in its grasp. Valery Giscard dEstaing the former president who led the drafting of the EU constitution predicted a Liverpool-style comeback in the political equivalent of extra time. The rallies, in the presence of various European leaders, whooped it up till the last minute.

And maybe supporters of the treaty are right. The last opinion poll to be published before official campaigning ended at midnight Friday had the No vote down to 51%. It is conceivable that the one-fifth of the electorate who are undecided will have a crise de conscience and keep the constitution alive.

"Conceivable but only just," he added. Why? "Because the opposition has run a brilliant campaign, leaving supporters of the constitution mealy-mouthed and platitudinous. Because, within the space of a few weeks, it has become perfectly correct in bien pensant left-wing circles to say one is pro-European but still voting No in todays referendum. Because Jacques Chirac is a discredited president. Because France is in one of those moods." Read more of "How did it come to this?"

Permalink | No Comments

France's 'Yes' Lobby Offered Glimmer of Hope

Daily Telegraph of London correspondents Henry Samuel in Paris and Patrick Hennessy wrote in a May 29, 2005 article that, "France's beleaguered Yes lobby was offered a glimmer of hope in the last opinion poll carried out before today's referendum on the European Union constitution, which showed the rival camps running almost neck and neck."

"The survey, released late on Friday [May 27, 2005] by the polling company TNS Sofres, put the No vote at 51 per cent, predicting its win by a whisker," they noted, adding: "A TNS poll earlier in the week, however, had put it on 54 per cent, suggesting a late surge in support for the constitution. About 20 per cent of voters were still undecided." Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, "who was in charge of drawing up the constitution," thinks the Yes vote can prevail. Here's why.

Permalink | 1 Comment

China View's Backgrounder on the EU Constitution Treaty

China View offered its readers a "Backgrounder" in the form of a "Q&A" about the EU constitutional treaty. The vote is being watched with interest by ordinary citizens and political analyst in various parts of the world.

Permalink | No Comments

Some British Politicians' Views on France's EU Vote

What is the opinion of British politicians John Major, Peter Mandelson, Lord Kinnock and Sir Menzies Campbell on today's referendum in France on the European Union constitution? Guardian Unlimited of London has the answer.

Permalink | No Comments

May 28, 2005

To Capture or Kill a Figurehead

In analyzing the impact of the death or capture of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the insurgency in Iraq, the BBC said, "to capture or kill such a figurehead would also be a considerable symbolic and morale boost to U.S. forces and the Iraqi administration. But no-one believes it would be a silver bullet that would finish off the resistance," the news outlet said. Here's more of the BBC's analysis.

Permalink | No Comments

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Message Boards

Aqeel Hussein in Ramadi, Saleh Al Jibouri and Colin Freeman, reporters for the Daily Telegraph of London, reported in the May 29, 2005 edition that, "Western terror officials have been monitoring al-Qa'eda message boards for two years, sifting postings about beheadings, suicide bombs and kidnappings.

"Last week," they wrote, "their attention focused on the claim that Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who is accused of beheading the British hostage Kenneth Bigley and masterminding the bloody insurgency, had been badly injured in a shoot out with American troops."

The reporters noted that, "According to one posting, purporting to be from his official spokesman, Zarqawi was spirited out of Iraq after being treated in a hospital in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold."

They quoted "Rita Katz, a U.S terrorism expert who monitors jihadi websites," as saying the posting sounded authentic. "There is only one source of proper information on al-Qa'eda operations in Iraq," she said. "If it does not come from him, it is not authentic." The Telegraph article is worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Zarqawi's Death Won't End Iraqi Insurgency

Ian Mather, diplomatic correspondent for Scotsman.com, notes in a May 29, 2005 article that, "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has long been viewed as the key figure in the insurgency sweeping Iraq. By capturing him it was once thought that the new government would gain control of even the most hostile areas of the country," he wrote, adding: "But the power struggle to succeed al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq has shown that the organization is resilient enough to withstand the blow." I agree. The insurgency will not end whether al-Zarqawi is killed or dies a natural death although there will be lulls and setbacks. It will not stop until the U.S. ends its occupation of Iraq. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will State of Siege in Baghdad Curtail Insurgency?

Iraqi Defense Minister Saddoun al-Dulaimi and Interior Minister Bayan Jabbor's announced on May 26, 2005 that "Operation Thunder" would get underway in Baghdad next week in an effort to crush insurgents operating effectively in the city despite the presence of a large contingent of U.S. occupation troops and a so-called Iraqi security force. The crackdown won't stop the insurgency although there will likely be a lull until they figure out how to circumvent the operation. Although some insurgents will be captured and killed, finding a weakness shouldn't be too hard since some of the 40,000 troops that will take part in "Operation Thunder" are most likely members of the insurgency or sympathize with it.

Not only that, one of the intelligence tidbits announced by the Iraqi government was where the checkpoints will be and how many will be fixed and how many will be mobile. Stephen Farrell of The Times Online, who called the announcement of "Operation Thunder" "a carefully planned public relations exercise" although Mr. Dulaimi and Mr. Jabbor described it as attempt to gain the initiative in the war, wrote:

They said that a security cordon of 675 fixed and mobile checkpoints would be thrown around Baghdad to reduce insurgent violence that has killed more than 600 this month, with more than a dozen dead in attacks yesterday.

Mr Dulaimi said that the capital would be divided into 2 sectors and 15 districts where police would operate 24 hours a day, monitoring all foreigners and going into every hotel, every restaurant and every street and take to prison every Arab who does not have authorization to be here.
He added: "The cordon would begin next week and be extended to other areas of Iraq over the coming fortnight. However, there was some confusion, with senior aides indicating that some operations had already begun."

I guess that means Baghdad will become a prsion camp. It's already a killing zone.Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Russia, China Scheduled to Sign Border Pact June 2, 2005

"The Russian and Chinese foreign ministers will exchange instruments of ratification of the bilateral additional border agreement on June 2, [2005] said a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry," according to Ria Novosti.

"According to him," the Russian news and information agency said, "it will happen in Vladivostok, Russia's Pacific port, where the Russian and Chinese ministers will meet separately on the sidelines of the Russian, Chinese and Indian foreign ministers' meeting." The agreement "was signed in Beijing on October 14, 2004 during Vladimir Putin's visit to China," noted Ria Novosti and noted that "the State Duma (Russia's lower house) ratified the additional agreement" May 20, 2005 "followed by the approval of the Federation Council (upper house)."Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

China Ratifies Border Treaty With Russia

MosNews.Com reported May 28, 2005 that China has announced the ratification of a treaty pertaining to its eastern border with Russia. The treaty "was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China in October 2004," according to MosNews.Com. Here's more. Here's the People's Daily report on the treaty.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Say EU Constitution Will Survive French No Vote

"The European Union's constitution will not be scrapped even if France votes against the treaty tomorrow [May 29, 2005], European leaders said yesterday [May 27, 2005," according to Scotsman.com. "That would mean [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair will still have to hold a UK referendum on the constitution regardless of the result in France," the publication said in a dispatch from Paris. See "EU constitution 'will live on' even if France votes No."

Permalink | No Comments

The EU Show 'Must Go On'

George Parker of the London-based Financial Times reported in a May 28, 2005 dispatch that, "European Union leaders are preparing to send out a defiant message that the "show must go on" tomorrow night after what they fear will be a No vote in the French referendum on the EU constitution.

"In Brussels the EU is resigned to France rejecting a treaty that was intended to reconnect Europe to its citizens; diplomats expect a second No vote from Dutch voters on June 1," Mr. Parker wrote.

He said, "The prospect of a No vote in France has provoked apocalyptic warnings in recent weeks" He noted that, "Michel Barnier, French foreign minister, claimed there would be "a serious political breakdown". Many diplomats privately fear a gridlock, but the EU will attempt to put a brave face on what looks likely to be a humiliating setback," Mr. Parker noted. A No vote probably will prove embarrassing to France, which views itself as one of the leaders of Europe. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 27, 2005

The EU's motto is 'United in Diversity"

Demystifying the EU Constitution provides good commentary and interesting tidbits about the European Union. Here's more.
Permalink | No Comments

Giscard-d’Estaing on the EU Referendum Vote

EURealist's May 27, 2005 post headlined "Giscard-dEstaing Elitists one way street" notes that LeFigaro has reported that Valery Giscard-d'Estaing has said that the (European Union) ratification process will "obviously continue" if France votes no and that, "What we'll say at the end, is that those who have not voted for the Constitution, we will ask them to revote." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The EU Referendum and Stability and Growth Pact

Edward over at A Fistful of Euros has an interesting perspective on the France's May 29 referendum on the European Constitution and what a "no" vote could mean. He wrote in a May 27, 2005 post:

Looking forwards rather than backwards, I can't help trying to imagine what the world will look like on Monday. (We may all be in for a surprise, but the latest poll seems to put the no at 55%, which is quite a large margin of error if its wrong, *and* Le Monde today makes the point that as the no rises and rises in the polls, the number of undecided voters continues to reduce).
"Well," he added, " ironically I think one of the consequences will be an attempt to enforce the Stability and Growth Pact. This is why I mention being fair and balanced, since in the past I may have been a little too cynical about this: although not without reason. I now think The Pact Mark II may have considerably more bite." Click here to read why. Here's an explanation of the Stability and Growth Pact.

Permalink | No Comments

'The EU was France's Baby'

Alice Thomson of the Daily Telegraph of London quotes Marie-Laure Vigreux, a publisher, as saying "We [French] love a good philosophical debate." She was referring to the heated debate in France over the May 29, 2005 referendum of the EU Constitution, which, polls show, most French voters will reject.

"Like 50 million other French citizens," the Telegraph said Ms. Vigreux "and her husband, François, were sent a copy of the constitution by post.

"We read it in bed together," she said, according to the Telegraph. "My husband says he will vote No but, in the end, I think we will both vote Yes. The European Union was France's baby. We conceived her, we nurtured her - we can't throw her out now." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

French Overseas Territories to Vote on EU Constitution

Voters in French overseas territories begin voting in the country's referendum on the European Union's constitution on May 28, 2005 with the "No" camp holding its lead in the opinion polls," according to Reuters. Overseas territories is a euphemism for colonies. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Egypt's Referendum on Amending Its Constitution

"Almost 83 percent of voters approved a key amendment to the constitution that will allow Egypt's first contested presidential elections, Interior Minister Habib Al-Adli" said May 26, 2005, announcing the result of a referendum held May 25, 2005, according to Summer Said of Arab News. See "83% Vote Yes in Egyptian Referendum" for more. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt called the referendum a sham and notes that some of its members were arrested even before the vote took place. See Amira Howeidy's "Reading the Signs."

Permalink | 1 Comment

'What's Eating Europe'?

William J. Kole of The Associated Press asks in a May 27, 2005 commentary:

"What's eating Europe? In theory," he opines, "these should be the continent's glory days. Already united by a common currency, flag, legislature and more, the European Union's 450 million citizens now are looking at a landmark constitution that many leaders insist will translate to a greater voice in world affairs and the means to achieve even greater prosperity.
"In practice," he added, "there's an overwhelming sense of doubt, disillusionment and just plain disgruntlement -- epitomized by polls that show France probably heading toward a rejection of the charter in a weekend referendum. From Berlin to Brussels, a funk born of frustration with high unemployment, lackluster economies and perceived political paralysis is feeding a nagging feeling that Europe's moment may irretrievably have passed it by." Here's more. The article is worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Chirac: Britain Must Hold European Rreferendum Even if...

"French president Jacques Chirac will tell Britain to go ahead with a referendum on the EU constitution even if his own country rejects the treaty, it emerged today," according to the May 27, 2005 issue of This is London. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

IOL: 'Germany to Ratify European Constitution'

"The European Union constitution was set to clear its final legislative hurdle in Germany today as the upper house of parliament votes on the charter, two days before French voters have their say in a referendum," according to Ireland On-Line. The publication said, "The constitution enjoys broad political support in Germany and was expected easily to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority in the upper house, which represents the country's 16 states and is controlled by the conservative opposition." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Chirac's Final 'Yes' Pitch for EU Constitution Be Persuasive?

Deutsche Welle reports that, "President Jacques Chirac [of France] has made a last televised plea to the French people urging them to vote in favor of the European constitution on Sunday [May 29, 2005]. But rejection may not mean the end of all the draft's 448 articles," the German publication said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 26, 2005

Uzbekistan's Karimov Signs Oil Exploration Deal With China

Kommersant reported May 26, 2005 that, "Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov sealed in Beijing yesterday a long-term cooperation agreement for exploration and subsequent production of Uzbek crude. But in China, they are not willing to confine to the power industry, viewing Tashkent as the crucial component to ensure stability of its western frontier. Exactly this stance determines today's attitude of China to Uzbekistan and to all events happening there." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

A Japanese Diplomat's Remarks

The Korea Times opined May 26, 2005:

"It is not rare for a Japanese politician to hurt the feelings of neighboring countries with controversial comments on historical or territorial issues. This time, however, Japan's top career diplomat is creating a stir with remarks criticizing Korea's diplomatic relations with the U.S., possibly driving a wedge between Seoul and Washington. True or not, these comments are not only incontinent, but also threatening to the maintenance of a tight alliance so crucial to resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. Tokyo needs to explain itself, if necessary, apologize.
The Korea Times continued: "Japan can't help but hesitate to share information with Korea, as the U.S. does not seem to have confidence in Seoul." So said Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi- in a meeting with visiting Korean parliamentarians on May 11. If this is true, it is as if Tokyo, and even Washington, is impairing tripartite cooperation. Even if it is not true, by triggering suspicions among allies the damage has been done. In any case, he raised unnecessary controversy." Here's more of the editorial.

Permalink | No Comments

Deutsche Welle: 'Europe Can Weather Constitution Refusal'

Deutsche Welle of Germany noted May 26, 2005 that, "Politicians have warned the French that voting down the EU constitution would push the EU into a period of introspection and even lead to the collapse of the union. Other observers say it's not as bad as all that."

"Whether reading newspapers, watching TV, or even just sitting in a café, it's been impossible to get away from the constitutional debate for weeks -- and rightly so, both sides agree," Deutsche Welle said, adding:"This Sunday's decision will play a fundamental role in the future face of the European Union."

Deutsche Welle quoted former European Commission president Romano Prodi as saying about a French constitutional rejection. "We will go through a great period of crisis. The problem will not only be a catastrophe for France, but the fall of Europe."

Europe will survive despite claims to the contrary. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Observers Say 'French EU Referendum Lost’

EUPolitix.Com reported May 26, 2005 that European newspapers say, "Senior French politicians have given Sunday's [May 29, 2005] crucial EU vote up as lost."

"Former French finance minister, leader of ruling centre-right UMP and rival to President Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy has predicted a non on May 29," EUPolitix.Com said.

"The thing is lost," Mr. Sarkozy "is reported as telling Elysée colleagues" on May 25, 2005, according to EUPolitix.Com, which noted that, "Le Figaro has reported Mr. Sarkozy as forecasting a definite rejection with the French non only a matter of degree. "It will be a little no or a big no," he said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

May 25, 2005

Dakota Voice: 94 Defense and Foreign Policy Experts Back Bolton

The Dakota Voice, which covers "the issues, people and politics of South Dakota," reported May 25, 2005 that,

The Senate is expected to vote soon on President Bush's nomination of John Bolton to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In anticipation of this historic vote, the Center for Security Policy has released an updated version of a letter in support of Mr. Bolton it had circulated earlier this month to the Foreign Relations Committee, and which has now been signed by ninety-four of America's most accomplished defense and foreign policy practitioners."
Read the Voice report here.

Permalink | No Comments

WSJ Offers Highlights From Its All Things Digital Conference

Jason Fry at The Wall Street Journal Online has an informative article that highlights the Journal's "D: All Things Digital" conference, which was held May 22-24, 2005 in Carlsbad, California. It drew some of the major players in e-commerce, technology and Internet publishing, etc. I found it quite interesting.

Permalink | No Comments

Was Survey on Syrian Baathists a Hoax?

Joshua Landis raises the possibility that a survey on Baathist political opinion in Syria, which was described in a recent alseyassah article, was a hoax. See "The Survey of Baathist Political Tendencies: A Hoax?

Permalink | No Comments

Landis: 'Syria Arrests Many and Stops Cooperating with US'

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment.Com reported May 24, 2005 that, "the Syrian government has begun what seems a sweeping crack down on civil society leaders and opposition members" He added:

This is coordinated with cutting off CIA and intelligence cooperation with the United States. It comes at the time of the UN announcement that the United Nations team has verified the pullout of all Syrian troops and (as far as anyone can tell) intelligence officials from Lebanon.
Mr. Landis noted that Secretary General Kofi Annan told reporters on May 23, 2005: "We have verified all the withdrawal, including the border area." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Egyptians to Vote May 25 on Election Law Changes

Doha Al Zohairy reports on Egypt's vote on "a referendum for a constitutional amendment." According to the writer, the referendum "asks voters to decide whether a government proposal to allow multi-party presidential elections should be incorporated into the constitution. Official results are expected on Thursday [May 26, 2005] afternoon ." .

Permalink | No Comments

Al-Jazeera: 'Lebanon Election Promises Sea Change'

Al-Jazeera: 'Free of the shackles of its powerful neighbour Syria, Lebanon votes on Sunday [May 29, 2005] in what is being hailed as the first truly free elections in three decades - with the anti-Damascus opposition set to win." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Survey: The 'No' Vote in France for EU Referendum is 54 Percent

"The latest survey in France revealed that the "no" vote for the European Constitution referendum, which will be held on May 29, has climbed to 54 percent," according to a May 25, 2005 report at Zaman.Com.

Permalink | No Comments

French, Dutch Citizens Send Strong Signals on EU Referendum

"The fact that the imminent referendum on the European Constitution has split French society shows that a lack of legitimacy is plaguing European institutions," according to the Greek newspaper eKathimerini.Com. "The crisis is hardly exclusive to France. According to opinion polls, the Dutch, who will cast ballots three days after the French, have grave misgivings about the EU text, too," the publication said.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Has Congress Rediscovered Its Center?

"A new center of political power rose in Washington this week, and it could challenge the White House and leaders of Congress for control of the national agenda," contends a Knight Ridder Newspapers-Christian Science Monitor article in the May 25, 2005 issue of the Seattle Times. It's worth reading. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim Thinks Iraq Won't Have a Civil War

Bassem Mroue of the Associated Press (AP) reported May 24, 2005 that Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, "who heads both the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the governing United Iraqi Alliance," does not see a civil war in Iraq's future.

"The awareness of the Iraqi people and the links between them will prevent such a war, God willing," he said "in his heavily guarded Baghdad home overlooking the Tigris River," according to the AP. Here's more. Also see "Iraq Civil War Fears as Violence Intensifies."

Permalink | No Comments

May 2005 a Deadly Month For U.S. Troops in Iraq

"So far, insurgents [in Iraq] have killed 54 U.S. troops in May [2005], including four yesterday [May 24, 2005] and 14 in the past three days," according to Tom Lasseter, Knight Ridder Newspapers' Baghdad correspondent. The Iraqi death toll probably far exceeds that. There will be more deaths for both U.S. troops and Iraqis before the month ends. Here's his report.

Permalink | No Comments

Why 'Friction is Inevitable' Between Japan and China

China Daily, citing news agency reports, said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a Tokyo busines forum on May 25, 2005 that "friction is inevitable" between Japan and China "as both enlarge their influence regionally and internationally." He added:

"A collision is not inevitable, because both governments see the benefits of cooperation and neither wants a conflict. "But both sides need to moderate nationalist sentiments, manage territorial and other disputes which arise and find wise ways to gradually defuse the issue and work toward reconciliation.
Mr. Lee, who spoke at "a forum in Tokyo hosted by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily, said the problem is that,"The two countries have not reconciled and come to terms with the history of the Second World War the way Germany and France have done in Europe." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will China and Japan Ever Settle Their Differences?

Matthew Clark of The Christian Science Monitor says, "When it comes to the ongoing row between China and Japan, it seems that even fence-mending trips are doomed to end with very public, high-level displays of disagreement." Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

The Japan Times 'Stop the Torture and Abuse

The Japan Times opines in a May 25, 2005 editorial that:

The steady drip of revelations about the abuse of prisoners in the global war against terror is doing serious damage to the U.S. image and efforts to win that battle. Contrary to official claims, the instances of misbehavior are not episodic or exaggerated; they appear to be serious, widespread and systematic. The United States must move quickly to remedy this ugly and disturbing situation. A credible and public assessment of the abuse must occur and all those responsible -- not just the soldiers at the bottom of the chain of command -- punished.
The publication said, "an unequivocal condemnation of the worst techniques should come from the highest levels of the U.S. government. Only then will the United States begin to repair the damage that has been done." Read the entire editorial.

Permalink | No Comments

Comments by International Herald Tribune Readers

The May 25, 2005 edition of the International Herald Tribune has interesting commentary from readers around the world on The New York Times May 20, 2005 report on torture of Afghan prisoners at Bagram Airbase, the War in Iraq, the Newsweek Qur'an desecration story, etc.

Permalink | No Comments

Did Bush Know Claims on Iraq Were Wrong?

Capitol Hill Blue's May 23, 2005 article headlined "Intel Analysts Knew Bush's Claims on Iraq Were Wrong" is an interesting perspective on the subterfuge used to justify the invasion of Iraq. I recommend it. See what Capitol Hill Blue calls "the infamous Downing Street Memo, which documents how intelligence was altered to fit the story that both Bush and Blair sold their governments to justify the war."

The publication said the memo "is being called The Smoking Gun that some believe could bring down the Bush White House." It may bring Mr. Blair down, however, I doubt it will have much impact on Mr. Bush except in the history books. For more on the Downing Street Memo See the Downing Street Memo blog.

Permalink | No Comments

'There's a War Going on and Americans are Dying'

Ed Naha offers an interesting commentary in a May 24, 2005 article at uruknet.info on how the mainstream media in the U.S. reports the deaths and injuries of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and how Americans are responding to the deaths. He said

As I write this, 1,636 American troops have died in Iraq, 49 this month alone, and over 12,000 have been injured. And how is America responding to this? With a big yawn. Last week, "The Los Angeles Times," printed the results of a study it conducted, tracking six newspapers and two news magazines on their coverage of the Iraq invasion from the period of September 1, 2004 to February 28 of this year. Just how many photos of American casualties had been shown to our fellow citizens during that time period? Newsweek: 0. Time: 0. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 0. Los Angeles Times: 0. New York Times: 0. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 0. Washington Post: 0. Seattle Times: 1.1,636 American men and women killed in action. Almost no photographic coverage. I guess the MSM has followed the lead of Barbara Bush who, back in '03, said: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths...? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
Mr. Naha added: "Now, I'm not suggesting that print and video news outfits transform themselves into an Iraqi house of horrors, showing gore-laden scenes of dead Americans 24/7, but that old adage "out of sight, out of mind," seems to come into play here. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters are dying and this country's reaction is silence, save for the occasional patriotic political bromide; this country's reaction is inaction, save for flag waving and sticking a "Support Our Troops" bumper sticker on the ass of an SUV." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

If Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Dies, the Insurgency in Iraq Won't End

The Times of London's Richard Beeston noted in a dispatch from Baghdad that U.S. occupation forces in Iraq, "who have teams of special forces troops hunting the fugitive Jordanian" Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, treated the May 24, 2005 announcement that he was seriously wounded "with caution. Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Boylan, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, said that the announcement could be ploy," according to Mr. Beeston. "He is still our No 1 target to be captured or killed and, until that happens, the hunt is on."

Mr. Beeston noted that, "All sides in the conflict accept that the insurgency is driven by disaffected members of the Sunni community, including former officials of the ousted Baathist regime, as well as Islamic militants."

While Zarqawi is real, the question is: Does he head the resistance in Iraq? Wikipedia notes in its biography of him that,

In one report, the conservative newspaper Daily Telegraph (of London) described as myth the claim that Zarqawi was the head of the terrorist network in Iraq. According to a U.S. military intelligence source, the Zarqawi myth resulted from faulty intelligence obtained by the payment of substantial sums of money to unreliable and dishonest sources. The faulty intelligence was accepted, however, because it suited US government political goals, according to an unnamed intelligence officer.[See "How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind"] The Zarqawi myth has also been purported to be the product of U.S. war propaganda designed to promote the image of a demonic enemy figure to help justify continued U.S. military operations in Iraq[7].
Keep in mind that resistance to U.S. occupation won't stop if Zarqawi dies or is already dead. It will continue as long as those forces and their allies are in Iraq. In fact, some U.S. military officials expect it to last for years. Others say the resistance is being defeated. Also keep in mind that Zarqawi was part of what the Bush Administration likes to call foreign Muslims fighting in Iraq although it does not refer to itself as foreign Christians fighting in Iraq. The point is that the major resistance seems to be carried out by Iraqis.

Finally, it is often noted that only a small number of Iraqis are resisting the U.S. occupation. That doesn't mean much since historically guerilla war is carried out by a small segment of a population.

Permalink | No Comments

May 24, 2005

Japan, China Squabbling Over Cancelled Meeting

Japan Today reports in its May 25, 2005 issue that "Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday [May 24, 2005] brushed aside China's claim that the Japanese government's stance over war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo led to the sudden cancellation of a meeting between the premier and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi.

"Both sides should have their say on this, not just China," Mr. Koizumi "told reporters at his office, referring to remarks by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing that the Yasukuni issue prompted Mr. Wu to cancel the May 23, 2005 meeting," according to Japan Today. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Performs His Role Well

Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder Newspapers observed in a May 24, 2005 report that, "Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended America to the Muslim world yesterday [May 23, 2005], saying reports of prisoner abuse in U.S. detention facilities don't represent the real America."

"Newsweek's story is not America's story," the Afghan leader said, referring to the magazine's retracted account of Qur'an desecration at a detention camp for suspected terrorists," Mr. Hutcheson reported "There is this freedom in America for religion, and there are Muslims, on a daily basis, praying in mosques in America. And there are Qur'ans, holy Qur'ans, all over America."

Sure there are. In fact there are probably hundreds of thousands. I have at least five myself. However, that doesn't mean that interrogators didn't desecrate it in an attempt to humiliate Muslims at Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Facility. Interrogators will use whatever they can to rattle detainees. But what do you expect Mr. Karzai to say? He is the Bush Administration's caretaker in Kabul, the Afghan capital. In fact, I expect him to say anything the administration wants him to say.

By the way, I agree that the things described by Newsweek, and what what The New York Times described in a May 20, 2005 report as taking place at Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan doesn't represent the real America. It represents the America that most of us don't see and don't want to see.Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Newsday: Afghanistan Left in the Lurch by U.S.

Newsday contends in a May 24, 2005 editorial that, "The United States is paying the price for its sins of omission in Afghanistan. Freed from the Taliban's religious shackles, the nation was never afforded the attention, aid and expertise to turn it into a well-functioning state as the Bush administration shifted its focus to the Iraq war. Despite billions of dollars in economic aid and military help, Afghanistan teeters on the edge of dysfunction today.," the paper said. Expect even more trouble if the U.S. builds permanent bases in Afghanistan. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Raw Story: 'Bloggers Take on U.S. Over 2002 Iraq Planning Memo'

John Byrne at Raw Story has an important post headlined "Inspired by Kos diary, bloggers take on U.S. over 2002 Iraq planning memo."

It's about DowningStreetMemo.com, which was established in "response to U.S. media silence surrounding the official minutes of a pre-war meeting leaked on the eve of the recent British elections," according to Mr. Byrne, who noted that the memo was "authored by a foreign policy aide to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He said "the minutes are perhaps the most damning ammunition in the arsenal of those seeking to demonstrate that the decision to go to war in Iraq was fixed. The memo is definitely worth reading. I was struck by its candor.

This article is cross-posted at The National Political Observer.

Permalink | No Comments

Raw Story: 'Bloggers Take on U.S. Over 2002 Iraq Planning Memo'

John Byrne at Raw Story has an important post headlined "Inspired by Kos diary, bloggers take on U.S. over 2002 Iraq planning memo."

It's about DowningStreetMemo.com, which was established in "response to U.S. media silence surrounding the official minutes of a pre-war meeting leaked on the eve of the recent British elections," according to Mr. Byrne, who noted that the memo was "authored by a foreign policy aide to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He said "the minutes are perhaps the most damning ammunition in the arsenal of those seeking to demonstrate that the decision to go to war in Iraq was fixed. The memo is definitely worth reading. I was struck by its candor.

Permalink | No Comments

May 23, 2005

Whappened to $69 Million in Iraqi Oil Receipts?

On May 21, 2005, Michel Picard, Managing Partner of KPMG's Iraq Desk sent a Statement of Cash Receipts and Payments for the Development Fund for Iraq" to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board for Iraq (IAMBI) and to the Government of Iraq. The audit reports were published on May 23, 2005. The bottom line was that $69 million dollars worth of oil was unaccounted for. Th audit covered the period June 29, 2004 to December 31, 2004. The following reports were also sent to IAMBI, which was created by the United Nations to keep track of Iraq's wealth while it is under occupation:

Report of Factual Findings in connection with Export Sales;
Report of Factual Findings in connection with the Oil Proceeds Receipts Account;
Report of Factual Findings in connection with Disbursements; and
Management Letter on Internal Controls.

In the 20-page "Statement of Cash Receipts and Payments," KPMG, who was hired by IAMBI, said:

We have audited the accompanying statement of cash receipts and payments of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI or the Fund) for the period from 29 June 2004 to 31 December 2004. This financial statement is the responsibility of the Government of Iraq. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the accompanying financial statement based on our audit.

Except as discussed in the following three paragraphs, we conducted our audit in accordance with International Standards on Auditing and International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Standards on Government Auditing. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statement is free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statement. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by the Government of Iraq, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

As described in Note 4 to the financial statement, the internal control systems over the Iraqi oil industry were not sufficient to ensure the completeness of export sales of petroleum and petroleum products for the period from inception (22 May 2003) to 31 December 2004, from which proceeds were required to be deposited in the Fund in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1483. It was not practicable to extend our auditing procedures sufficiently to quantify such amounts and accordingly we could not satisfy ourselves over the completeness of export sales.

As described in Note 4 to the financial statement, a reconciliation of fuel oil produced, consumed and exported contained 618,203 tons (approximate market value of $69,000,000) of unreconciled quantities. The implication is that fuel oil produced was greater than consumed and exported. Consistent with these unreconciled quantities, recorded export sales of fuel oil decreased by 561,596 tons when compared with the prior period. We were not provided with a satisfactory explanation for these matters.

KPMG said, "The potential effect is that receipts for the period from 29 June 2004 to 31 December 2004 and cash as at 31 December 2004 would have been higher by $69,000,000, less 5% to be transferred to the Compensation Fund. It was not practicable to extend our auditing procedures sufficiently to satisfy ourselves over the completeness of export sales. Here's a link to the reports.

Permalink | No Comments

Deutsche Welle: 'German Elections Affect EU Budget Talks'

DW-World.DE Deutsche Welle reported on May 23, 2005 that, "EU foreign ministers sparred Sunday [May 22, 2005] over budget questions, as the prospect of early general elections in Germany injected fresh uncertainty into the talks, already dogged by Britain's vow to hold onto its budget rebate.

"The ministers met over dinner in Brussels to sound each other out over their positions on the EU's long-term budget, before getting down to bargaining at an official gathering on Monday [May 23, 2005]." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Schroder's Call for Eary Elections in Germany a High Stakes Gamble

"German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's call for early federal elections this fall is a high-stakes gamble not only for Schröder and his Social Democrats at home, but for the European Union as a whole," according to DW-World.DE Deutsche Welle. Read why here.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai: 'No Afghan is a Puppet'

The Times of India told its readers on May 23, 2005 that, in an interview with Fox News, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said:

"No Afghan is a puppet, you know. There is a stronger ownership of the Afghan government and the Afghan people now.
If he is not a puppet, why does he need U.S. permission to do anything significant? Why does he need U.S. troops and mercenaries to protect him? Why was he handpicked to lead Afghanistan? Just asking. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Mr. Karzai's Attempt to Save Face

"George Bush served notice that U.S. forces in Afghanistan would remain under American control, despite renewed allegations of prisoner abuse by U.S. troops," reports Rupert Cornwell, The Independent of London's Washington correspondent.

According to Reuters, Mr. Bush said:

We will consult with them [the Afghans] in terms of how to achieve mutual goals and that is to rout out the remnants of al Qaeda and to deal with those folks who would come and would like to create harm to U.S. citizens and Afghan citizens.
On the question of repatriating Afghan prisoners detained at Camp X-Ray, which is located at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Cromwell said "President Bush also made clear that Washington would not be pressured into an early repatriation of all Afghan detainees. "

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had publicly stated that he wanted U.S. occupation troops in Afghanistan put under his control. He also called for Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to be repatriated to Afghanistan.

Before even broaching the subjects, he had have know that his desires would not be met. However, I can understand his need to save face after Afghans held anti-U.S. demonstrations last week following a Newsweek report that some interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed the Qur'an down a toilet and desecrated the holy book of Muslims. He can't protect himself. So how is he going to tell U.S. troops what to do. Occupiers do what they want, not what their satraps demand of them. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Giving Away Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai to President George W. Bush during a May 23, 2005 press conference in the East Room of the White House:

We have been talking with your officials in Afghanistan and have conveyed to you through your embassy and government the desire of the Afghan people to have a strategic partnership with America, because after the completion of the parliamentary elections, the Bonn process will come to an end. From that point onward, we would like the world to recognize that with the completion of the Bonn process and the arrival of the Afghan parliament, Afghanistan will not suddenly stand on its own feet. Politically, we will have done the process -- politically, we will have completed the process, but in terms of the institutional strength, Afghanistan will continue to need a lot of support.

And I'm glad that you signed with me today a memorandum of understanding on the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the United States of America, which will make sure that Afghanistan continues to receive reconstruction assistance, which will make sure that Afghanistan continues to receive training from the U.S. for its military and the police, and which will enable Afghanistan to stand on its own feet eventually and be a good, active member of the region, contributing to peace and stability in the region, and be a bridge between various parts of that part of the world for trade and values.

I suspect the Afghan people are like the American people. Most don't know what the hell their leader is doing in their name. I predict that in a few years, Afghans will attack U.S. military facilities in Afghanistan the way they attacked the Soviets during the Soviet Union's invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Permalink | No Comments

White House Transcript of Bush and Karzai's May 23 Press Conference

Here is a White House transcript of remarks made by President George W. Bush and and Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a joint press conference in The East Room of the White House following their May 23, 2005 meeting in Washington.]

Permalink | No Comments

Secretary of State Rice's Speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference

Here is the U.S. Department of State's transcript of a speech that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice delivered May 23, 2005, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Permalink | No Comments

Abbas Expected to Ask Bush for Economic and Political Support

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters on May 21, 2005 that the Palestinians will ask President George W. Bush "about the American position on starting implementation of the road map [for peace] after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza," reports Agence France Presse (AFP).

According to AFP, he made the statement in Ramallah after he returned "from a summit with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh." Mr. Abbas said the Palestinians will ask Mr. Bush to ensure the roadmap "is implemented."

In addition, Mr. Abbas said the Palestinians "will also ask Bush for political support for our position on the Palestinian problem, and for economic support as soon as possible." He is scheduled to meet with Mr. Bush at the White House on May 26, 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Palestinians, Israelis Differ on When Sharon, Abbas Will Meet

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in Egypt May 21, 2005 that he will meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on June 7,[2005] a date that has yet to be confirmed by Israel's government," the Palestine Media Center (PMC) reported May 22, 2005.

The PMC said both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Sharon "are expected in the United States this week for separate talks, Mr. Sharon on May 23 and Mr. Abbas on May 26. "

"I will meet Ariel Sharon on June 7," Mr. Abbas "told reporters in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak," accord to the PMC. "This is the proposed date so far," he added.

"However," the PMC reports, "Sharon's aides denied a date had been set or plans finalized. "The prime minister's bureau is interested in setting up such a meeting but no such meeting has been set for that date or any other date," David Baker, an official in Sharon's office, said.

"The Palestinian response to the Israeli denial was swift," according to the PMC. It added: "A senior Palestinian official traveling with Abbas told Reuters: "Sharon's office called to request a summit ... if Sharon's office wants another date, they should call us back."

The PMC said, "Abbas top security adviser Jibril al-Rajoub, also traveling with him in Egypt, told Reuters: "Meeting Sharon is not Abu Mazen's (Abbas's) life dream, but he will not object to such a meeting to pave the way for the resumption of the peace process and implementation of the roadmap."

Permalink | No Comments

Clouds Over AIPAC

Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC states in a May 23, 2005 article in Media Monitors Network, that, "Despite recent controversy, the thousands of pro-Israel activists gathering at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual policy conference will find official Washington appearing to be as receptive as ever to the organization and its cause. But there are clouds over AIPAC and a persistent debate within the Jewish community that must be noted, as well." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Why Calls for AIPAC to Register as a Foreign Agent May Escalate

Buried in Haaretz correspondent Nathan Guttman's May 24, 200 article on the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual policy conference underway in Washington is this candid observation:

AIPAC is making a special effort to communicate its complete loyalty to the U.S., something that was taken for granted in the past. The Franklin affair has rekindled the question of the lobby's loyalty and its definition as an American organization. Some marginal groups which have been working for years against AIPAC have taken advantage of the Franklin investigation to call for AIPAC to register as a "foreign agent" - a special status reserved for lobbying organizations that work for a foreign country.AIPAC rejected this completely, saying it was an all-American organization, completely loyal and committed to the American notion of voluntary action to achieve common goals.
Mr. Guttman said, "The Franklin-AIPAC investigation is far from over, but it is already clear that if the organizations' former employees are indicted and the court decides that they did indeed transfer information to Israeli representatives, the demands to have AIPAC registered as a foreign agent will intensify." Here's more of "AIPAC flies the flag for American values."

Permalink | No Comments

Who Are The Winners and Losers in the Battle Over Bolton?

Steve Clemon at The Washington Note, said in a May 23, 2005 post that, "most who have been watching the battle over John Bolton's nomination to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations have been surprised at the ferocity exhibited by Dick Cheney and others supporting him as well as by the many opposed.

"The American Prospect's Mark Goldberg has a superb article, out just today, that looks at the battle in a bit more distant way," Mr. Clemons told his readers. "He considers what the Bolton struggle tells us about future combat between choices promulgated by the radical right and opposed by progressives -- with moderates finding their way through the process." Mr. Clemon published the enitire article. It's worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. to Create Four Huge Military Bases in Iraq

Tom Regan of The Christian Science Monitor, in a May 23, 2005 article headlined "U.S. to Consolidate Forces into Four Huge Bases in Iraq," reports that:

Top U.S. military officials in Iraq confirmed Monday that they are planning to consolidate the more than 100 bases where US personnel are now stationed in Iraq into four huge, more permanent bases.

The Washington Post reported Sunday [May 22, 2005], however, that these military officials say that, despite the appearance to the contrary, these moves do not signal a "permanent US presence in Iraq.

Mr. Regan said, "The U.S. military commanders say that building these new bases, which would be located in the north, south, west and center of Iraq, are "part of a withdrawal expected to occur in phases, with Iraqi forces gradually taking over many of the bases inhabited by US and other foreign troops." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

India, Pakistan and the Siachen Glacier

Karl F. Inderfurth in the May 23, 2005 edition of The Christian Science Monitor: "Imagine waging a miniwar at 21,000 feet, where temperatures touch minus 40 degrees, and where altitude sickness and frostbite have caused as many casualties as bullets and artillery rounds. That's what India and Pakistan have been doing for the past two decades in a remote area of disputed Kashmir known as the Siachen Glacier, the world's largest outside the polar regions." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Pakistan Courting Southeast Asia?

Raakhee Suryaprakash, a "research intern, Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter," contends in a May 24, 2004 Asia Times Online article that,

The recent tour of Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to four Southeast Asian countries was a highly strategic move on the part of his government. Pakistan's ex-Wall Street banker premier has been working overtime, both as finance minister and prime minister, to resolve the nation's debt problems in the quest to stabilize its economy.
The writer said, "while Pakistan has very good, rich friends in the two global powers of today, the U.S. and China, other windows of opportunity are also being explored by the Pakistani administration." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Nambaryn Enkhbayar is Mongolia's President-Elect

Nambaryn Enkhbayar won the May 22, 2005 presidential elections in Mongolia, according to AsiaNews.It. The publication said Mr. Enkhbayar "polled 53,4% of the more 900,000 votes cast. He is competing against three other candidates. His main rival, Mendsaikhan Enkhsaikhan from the Democratic Party, polled 20%."

AsiaNews.It said, "Mr Enkhbayar, who was Mongolia's prime minister between 1990 and 1994, said on Monday [May 23, 2005] that Mr. Enkhsaikhan had called to congratulate him on his victory. "He suggested that we work together. I replied that I am really looking forward to working together with all the contenders," Mr Enkhbayar said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi Suddenly Cancels Meeting With Koizumi

"Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi canceled a meeting scheduled for Monday [May 23, 2005] with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi due to a "sudden duty" in China, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said, according to a <1>Kyodo News article published in Japan Today.

"The other side sought to have the meeting so we thought it would be a good opportunity," Mr. Koizumi is quoted as saying. "I have no idea why it was canceled. I would meet with them anytime."

The report said, "the cancellation was made a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao complained during a meeting with top Japanese lawmakers in Beijing about Mr. Koizumi's visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo," according to Kyodo News.

Permalink | No Comments

May 22, 2005

Huntington: Turkey in 'Best Position' to Lead Islamic World

Zaman Daily Online reported May 22, 2005 that, acclaimed political scientist Professor Samuel Huntington, "well known by his "Clash of civilizations" thesis," said that Turkey is in the "best position" to lead the Islamic world." There would be problems with some of the Ummah as long as Turkey was perceived as kowtowing to the U.S. and constantly begging to be accepted as European.

Permalink | No Comments

Huntington to Speak on 'Contemporary Dynamics of the World Politics'

Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard University, whose Clash of Civilization theories in international relations have been the source of academic and political controversy for years, "will give a conference titled "Contemporary Dynamics of the World Politics" on May 24th [2005] in Istanbul, Turkey," according to Zaman Daily Online. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Remembering Caribbean Scholar Walter Rodney

Highly regarded Caribbean Journalist Rickey Singh has a significant commentary in the May 22, 2005 edition of The Jamaica Observer headlined "Remembering Walter Rodney," a Guyana-born scholar and author who was assassinated on June 13, 1980 in Georgetown, the Capital of Guyana.

"Next month, a very significant political/cultural event will take place in Guyana to mark the 25th anniversary of the most sensational act of assassination of a Caribbean icon to have shocked governments in this region and Africa and peoples in many countries of the world," Mr. Singh told his readers.

"It was the murder of that outstanding Caribbean thinker and political activist, Walter Rodney on the night of June 13, 1980 by a bomb that was concealed in a walkie-talkie and delivered to him by an officer of the Guyana Defence Force, Sergeant Gregory Smith, acting as an agent of the then governing People's National Congress," headed by Linden Forbes Burnham, who ruled Guyana for decades until his death.

Mr. Rodney, who earned a PhD from from School of Oriental and African Studies in London, became an icon to Pan-Africanist with the publication in 1972 of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Here's more of Mr. Singh column, which analyzes the forces behind Mr. Rodney's assassination.

Permalink | No Comments

Zakaria: 'Can Humanity be Saved from American Fundamentalism?'

Yamin Zakaria of London, in an article published in Al-Jazeerah.Info, not to be confused with Al-Jazeera.Net, asked us to:

Imagine if there were reports of Muslim soldiers flushing a copy of the Bible down the toilet in order to torment Christian prisoners. The Western media would have gone into a frenzy employing words like fundamentalists, fanatics, extremists even before fully verifying the facts. This is a fair prediction based on past incidences like the media coverage given after the Oklahoma bombings; the Muslims were immediately blamed and the media employed the most vicious anti-Islamic diatribe at the time.
Mr. Zakaria said, "Since the current allegations are against the U.S. interrogators in Camp X-Ray desecrating the Qur'an, caution is exercised by the media. They do not probe into the source of such hatred and fanaticism exhibited by the U.S. interrogators. Like the torturers of Abu-Ghraib, the interrogators of Camp X-Ray are at most supposed to represent a few bad apples and we only came to know about these bad apples after their photos were embarrassingly catapulted into the public domain." See "Can Humanity be Saved from American Fundamentalism?" for more of Mr. Zakaria's commentary.

Permalink | No Comments

Despite a Elected Regime, U.S. Will Reportedly Help Run Iraq

Los Angeles Times Correspondents Paul Richter and Ashraf Khalil, in an article datelined Washington, reported May 22, 2005 that, "Facing an intensifying insurgency and a frail government in Baghdad, the Bush administration has reluctantly changed course to deepen its involvement in the process of running Iraq." They added.

U.S. officials are taking a more central and visible role in mediating between political factions, pushing for creation of an inclusive new government and helping resuscitate public services. At the same time, the Bush administration is maintaining pressure on Iraqi officials to upgrade the nation's fledgling security forces.
They said, "the change comes at a time when confidence in the government elected in January has been falling and U.S. officials have grown more pessimistic about how quickly Iraqi security forces will be able to take charge of the counterinsurgency effort." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Khalid and Ali Mashhandani's Motives for Fighting U.S. in Iraq

I found "In Brothers, Two Faces of the Iraq Insurgency," a Los Angeles Times report on the war in Iraq, quite revealing. Especially interesting are Ali and Khalid Mashhandani's motives for fighting the U.S. occupiers of Iraq.

Permalink | No Comments

Jack Englehard on 'Israel's Madonna Complex'

Jack Engelhard, in an article in the May 22, 2005 online edition of Israel Insider headlined Israel's Madonna Complex," said: "Finally, a crisis with star appeal, or, Israel's version of "Hollywood Wives," with Madonna smack in the middle." He added:

This is not the usual trouble, but wouldn't it be something if, instead of all the real tsouris, this is the one that totters the government? In this corner, we have Israel's foreign minister Silvan "Steve" Shalom, and in that corner, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Danny Ayalon. So what's the problem? Please don't ask. I can't figure it out. The scuffle isn't even between these two men; it's between their wives.
"I warned you," he continues. "This gets crazy. Let's keep it simple. According to reliable sources, the foreign minister's wife, Judy Nir Moses Shalom, well, she took a copy of my novel, Indecent Proposal, flushed it down the toilet, and this started rioting and stampeding all around the world." Here's more of his hilarious commentary.

Permalink | No Comments

Has Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom Fired Ambassador Ayalon?

Israel Insider reported May 22, 2005 that, "After a week of keeping quiet," Israeli Foreign Minister "Silvan Shalom told his side of the story on [Israel's] Channel 2's TV program "Meet the Press" regarding the controversy surrounding Danny Ayalon, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States.

Israel Insider said, "The foreign minister said that he would not extend Ambassador Ayalon's term in Washington."

"With all due respect, three years is more than enough," Mr. Shalom was quoted as saying. "The prime minister has the right to change the head of the Shin Bet; the defense minister can replace the IDF chief of staff, and the foreign minister has similar rights," M. Shalom said. Israel Insider said the firing is taking place "despite the fact that Ayalon was appointed by Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon, who would like to see Ayalon fulfill another term."

Associated Press Jerusalem Correspondent Ramit Plushnick-Masti reported May 22, 2005 that, Mr. Shalom and Mr. Ayalon "have long had tense relations as they jockey for power in Israel's most important diplomatic stage - Washington." The writer said, Mr. Shalom "feels the ambassador has sidelined him by reporting directly to the prime minister. He is also angered that he has been unable to get White House meetings, apparently because of his lukewarm support for a plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip this summer."

The New York Post reported May 22, 2005 that, "The heavyweight feud between Israel's two best-known diplomats flared after Ayalon refused Shalom's instructions to fire his secretary."

"Ayalon has said the secretary's only crime was that he failed to arrange a meeting and a photo-op with Madonna and Shalom's wife [Judy] when the Material Girl visited Israel in September," The Post said.

On May 22, 2005, Arutz Sheva said, "Ambassador Ayalon enjoys the total support of Prime Minister Sharon regarding the rising tensions with the foreign minister." Here's more. See also The Lesson of Danny Ayalon.

Permalink | No Comments

Haaretz: AIPAC to Turn Annual Policy Meeting Into a Display of Force

Nathan Guttman, Haaretz's Washington Correspondent, reported May 22, 2005 that, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), "America's pro-Israel lobby, opens its 2005 policy conference Sunday [May 22, 2005] in Washington with 5,000 delegates and dignitaries present, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Congressional leaders and [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon."

"This is AIPAC's first policy conference since a FBI investigation against two senior AIPAC officials was made public last summer," Mr. Guttman wrote. "The officials are being investigated for allegedly receiving classified information from Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin and conveying it to Israel."

Mr. Guttman added: "AIPAC is aiming to turn the conference into a display of force that will prove that the lobby was not compromised by the investigation. A great deal of attention, therefore, was placed on publicizing the conference and on bringing top-notch officials from the administration and from Congress to speak at the event. The organization claims the investigation is ongoing, and that the dismissal of the senior officials who were involved in the affair, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, did not affect the organization's work on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. administration. "AIPAC is focused on its one central mission - strengthening Israel-U.S. ties," AIPAC's spokesman Josh Block said last week," according to the Guttman report. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Sleiman: U.S. Turns Blind Eye to Israeli Espionage

Mounzer Sleiman, PhD, described by Al-Jazeera.Net as "an independent political-military analyst and expert in U.S. national security affairs, based in the Washington DC area," noted in a May 22, 2005 article headlined "U.S. turns blind eye to espionage" that,
Just a day after Defence Department official Larry Franklin was arrested on charges of passing classified information in the service of Israel, America's Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte was the guest at a pro-Israel event, where he praised Israel as an American ally.
"Such is the degree of America's blindness to Israel's espionage activities in the United States," he said. Here's more.
Permalink | No Comments

Lindorff on 'Newsweek and White House Hypocrisy'

Dave Lindorff at CounterPunch contends that, "the latest journalistic scandal, this one at Newsweek, says much more about the hypocrisy and double standards of the White House, the right-wing punditry and the establishment media than it does about a faded weekly holding of the Washington Post Company and a reporter who made his name stalking Bill Clinton girlfriends." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Was the Newsweek Affair Another Wake-up Call?

The Washington Post's Michael Getler opined on May 22, 2005 that:

For all of us who rely on, and want to trust, our newspapers, television networks and news magazines, this has been a tough couple of years. Some of our best (the New York Times and CBS News), some of our biggest (USA Today) and dozens of others have been caught up in various scandals and serious errors of journalistic procedure and judgment. They have weakened their credibility and public trust, tarnished a craft that is central to democracy and an informed citizenry and brought pain to thousands of journalists who believe strongly in what they do and how they do it.
"Now along comes Newsweek magazine with what may be the biggest and most comprehensive journalistic nightmare in a long time," he added. "But people emerge from nightmares, so maybe this one will wake up editors everywhere."

It will for a while then it will be back to business as usual. By the way, I still think Newsweek will be proven right in the long-run about Qur'an desecration at Gitmo, if not about references to it being part of a Pentagon report. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Alberta Sands Reportedly Hold Oil Reserves of 175 Billion Barrels

The Alberta's oil sands "just north of the oil boomtown of Fort McMurray," Alberta, Canada "are destined to be the main supply of foreign oil to the United States for at least the next century," according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Robert Collier. He said, "the sands hold proven reserves of 175 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia's 262 billion, and far more than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's estimated 10 billion." The environment destruction necessary to get to the oil is amazing and disheartening. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Chavez Says Foreign Oil Firms Owe Venezuela 2 Billion Dollars

An Agence France Press article in Gulf Times of Qatar says "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has turned up the pressure on foreign oil companies by adding a clause to their contracts that will allow his government to raise the royalties and taxes it levies on the crude oil extracted from Venezuela. The populist leader has already put the oil giants on notice that they owed his government a total of almost $2 billion in back royalties," the report notes. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Kazakhstan Ready to Join Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline

The State Telegraph Agency of Azerbaijan reported May 20, 2005 that, "Kazakhstan is ready to sign the agreement on joining the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan main export pipeline," an AzerTAj correspondent learnt from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

'Oil to be Pumped from Baku on May 25, 2005'

The Journal of Turkish Weekly reports that, "One of Turkey's long-dreamed about energy projects is finally coming true. On May 25, the first oil will be pumped to the start point of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline that will transport Caspian oil for the world market to Mediterranean," the publication said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Muslims in France and the EU Referendum

"France is home to Western Europe's largest Muslim community - about two million are citizens and two to three million more are residents who do not have French nationality - but analyzing anything from jobless figures to voting intentions of citizens of immigrant origin is difficult." according to Katrin Bennhold of the International Herald Tribune. She recently tried to find out how Muslims in France feel about the May 29, 2005 vote on the EU Constitution? Here's her analysis.

Permalink | No Comments

Will French 'No' on EU Constitution Help Tony Blair?

Andrew Rawnsley of The Observer of London contends in a May 22, 2005 article that "it will be one of the more piquant ironies of the "tempestuous relationship" between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacque Chirac "if the unpopularity of the mercurial French President in his twilight years at the Elysée Palace extends the life of Tony Blair at Number 10."

"France votes on the European constitution next Sunday," Mr. Rawnsley noted. "Should that vote be a non, gales of relief will gust through Downing Street. Ministers have been emitting mixed signals in public about would happen next, but their private assumption is that a victory for the French nonistes will kill the constitution stone dead. Tony Blair will be released from his promise to hold a referendum in Britain next year, removing the threat that this could hasten him into involuntary retirement." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

European Nations Drawing Up Plans to Keep EU Constitution Alive

David Cracknell, Political Editor of The Times of London, reported May 22, 2005 that, "Britain is working with other European states to draw up plans to keep the European Union constitution alive if there is a narrow non vote in France next week." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Assessing the EU Constitution's Chances in Paris and The Hague

The Independent of London said May 22, 2005 that, "When France and Holland vote on the new EU constitution they will shape the future of Europe, and of Tony Blair." The paper sent its "Foreign Editor, Raymond Whitaker, to walk "the streets of both capitals to assess the likely results of two historic polls". Read "From Paris to The Hague, the answer is definitely 'maybe'" for his opinion and analysis

Permalink | No Comments

Jamat-e-Islami Calls for World-wide Muslim Protest Against U.S.

On May 22, 2005, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of Pakistan's Jamat-e-Islami political party, called on "Muslims across the globe to stage protest on May 27 [2005] against the desecration of the Holy Qur'an by the U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay," according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Bush Cabinet Divided Over How to Treat Mahmoud Abbas?

Haaretz correspondents Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular reported May 22, 2005 that, "the U.S. administration is divided on what sort of gesture to make to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who is to meet with President George W. Bush on Thursday [May 26, 2005] at the White House, according to reports from Washington." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Jenkins: A French Yes Vote ( on EU) Lets Britain Go to Plan C

Simon Jenkins of The Times Online of London opined May 22, 2005 that,

We should all pray for the French to vote yes in next weeks European referendum. Britons should go down on their knees and beg for it. A French yes is vital if the British nation is to express a national view on the new constitution and throw it out. Only then might Europe get an economic treaty fit enough and lean enough for the new world economy.
Mr. Jenkins said, "whenever a politician says there is no plan B you can be sure he is lying. There is always a plan B, especially when plan A (a French yes) is plainly in trouble. The question for Britain is whether the plan B now being canvassed in Paris, Brussels and London is any good," he added. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Organization of Islamic Conference to Meet in Islamabad

The Indo-Asia News Service reported May 22, 2005 that, "Pakistan is to host an international meet" in Islamabad "next week on revitalizing the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to make it an effective interlocutor with the UN, the US and the rest of the world."

"The two-day second and final meeting of the Commission of Eminent Persons (CEP) will begin here [in Islamabad ] on May 28 to finalize recommendations for restructuring and revitalizing the 57-member OIC," the report said. "Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz will inaugurate the meeting, which Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar will chair. OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu will also participate in the meeting," the news service said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Arab News: 'Iraq Sunnis Form Alliance'

"Iraq's marginalized Sunnis yesterday [May 21, 2005] formed a nationwide alliance of tribal, political and religious groups and demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr," reports Naseer Al-Nahr in Arab News. He said, "the groups demand threatened to further fuel sectarian tensions following the recent killing of several Sunni clerics that they have blamed on Shiite-dominated security forces."

"A total of 10 clerics, both Sunni and Shiite, have been killed by gunmen in the past two weeks and Sunni mosques have been observing a lockout in protest since Friday [May 20, 2005]," he wrote. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Iran Still Wants Iraq to Pay Reparations for 1980-1988 War

Iran said May 20, 2005 "that it will continue to call on Iraq to pay reparations for the eight-year war of 1980-1988, saying that the issue will be raised at the due time," according to Arabic News.Com. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Karzai Demands Control of Afghan Prisoners Held by U.S.

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has an informative analysis of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's desire for more control over prisoners the U.S. is holding at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. He made his wishes known following The New York Times' May 20, 2005 report headlined "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmate's Deaths." I wonder whether Mr. Karzai knew about the deaths and atrocities at Bagram prior to The Times' report. Here's more of Mr. Gandelman's commentary.

Permalink | No Comments

'Hugh Hewitt's Support of the Military Does More Harm Than Good'

John Cole at Balloon Juice contends that blogger Hugh Hewitt's "so-called 'support' of the military does it far more harm than it does good." Today's entry is a classic example," he wrote. He cited this excerpt from Mr. Hewitt:

The combined volley of a fake story (Newsweek's) and an old story (the New York Times') underscore Terry Moran's assertion that there exists deep hostility to the military in the MSM, and Linda Foley's idiocy is proof positive of the existence of a lunatic fringe that will believe whatever they have to believe in order to justify to themselves their feverish hatred of George W. Bush. It is almost inevitable that more anti-military stories will surface, powered by more leaks, all designed to discredit a war effort that is all too obviously succeeding in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon and hopefully elsewhere in the Middle East...

Such a "leak" ended up leading to the death of innocents this week --though MSM seems uniquely disinterested in naming those dead in the Newsweek riots-- and the damage future scoops may cause can only be guessed.

Everyone repeat after me," Mr. Cole said, adding:
Reporting on abuses that have been committed by our troops, in our name, is not anti-military. While I am not arrogant enough to attempt to divine the motives of every journalist who reports on such abuses, Hugh appears to be up to the challenge. I find his attack on the reporting of the outrageous abuses detailed at length in the NY Times to be both disturbing and disingenuous."
I totally agree. Here's more of Mr. Cole's unflinching critique of Mr. Hewitt's post. I highly recommend this article.

Permalink | No Comments

May 21, 2005

Did the Pentagon Lie About Qur'an Desecration at Gitmo?

David Corn of The Nation contends that the International Red Cross' announcement that it told the Pentagon as early as 2002 that Muslims prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay prison camp had reported that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Qur'an undermines Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita's "assertions that there were no hints of any problems with the Koran in Gitmo except for a few log entries that raised the possibility the prisoners themselves had defaced their holy book." Mr. Corn asks: "Will there be pressure on Di Rita to retract his remarks? To apologize? Has he undermined US credibility abroad? Has he been caught in a fib?" Good questions, David. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Schwarzenegger Raising Money for a Special Election Campaign

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has embarked on a multistate fundraising swing to collect some of the estimated $50 million his advisers say he will need to wage a special election campaign in his own state," according to The Associated Press. Is he planning to terminate the power of labor unions and Democrat? Just asking. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Why No Attacks on Army for Doing Afghan Torture Investigation?

On May 20, 2005, Outside The Beltway told its readers "More reports of soldier abuse of prisoners is out today, and the source isn't Newsweek but the U.S. Army." Maybe that's why Newsweek's critics are keeping quiet. They can't make the army back down.Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Why No Attacks on The New York Times Over Afghan Torture Story?

Why hasn't there be a major outcry in the United States over The New York Times May 20, 2005 article headlined "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths"? Is it because the article is based on a leaked, 2000 page military investigative report that The Times could pullout in its defense if it is attacked by conservative bloggers or the Bush Administration? Just asking. The article is headlined "Army file details brutal deaths of Afghan detainees" in the International Herald Tribune, one of The Times' sister papers. I recommend it if you haven't read it.

Permalink | No Comments

The Diplomatic Times Review

If you are interested in international affairs, take a look at The Diplomatic Times Review, a blog I've spent most of my spare time on lately. An unintended consequence is that I've neglected this blog and The Opinion Gazette.

Permalink | No Comments

Balkanalysis.com: An Informative Blog

If you are interesting in the Balkans, visit Balkanalysis.com. I find it very informative and helpful.

Permalink | No Comments

The European Constitutional Law Review

The TransAtlantic Assembly notes that "the second issue ever of the European Constitutional Law Review, published by Cambridge University Press, has just been published on the web." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Eamon Fitzgerald Comments on 'Extreme Ugliness in Germany'

Eamon Fitzgerald's Rainy Day says, "The cover story in this week's Spectator is a deeply disturbing take on the current state of Germany by Wolfgang Munchau, the associate editor of the Financial Times. Titled "Anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism," the piece suggests that the country's economic difficulties have produced a disturbing German culture of bitterness, with politicians invoking hate-imagery from the Nazi era," contends Eamon Fitzgerald. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

How to be a Democratic Europe

Alex at The Yorkshire Ranter is "kicking off a series of blog posts on how to be a democratic Europe." I intend to follow the series. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

What's Missing in U.S. Reporting on Outsourcing to India?

I found Martin Stabe's "The two Indias" quite interesting. It's about how the western media covers India's emergence as a high-tech center. He wrote:

Inspired, no doubt, by reading Thomas Friedman's columns based on his new globalisation book Flat World (best demolished by Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias), I've become interested in the breathless tones with which the Western media has been reporting the emergence of Indias high-tech economy.
"What's missing in all the outsourcing-fuelled reporting is some context about how the investment flowing into Bangalore is spreading into the rest of India," Mr. Stabe added. "Short version: it isn't, much." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Davos Newbies Sees an 'Anxious Amsterdam'

Lance Knobel at Davos Newbies published an article on May 18, 2005 headlined "Anxious Amsterdam. It's about a visit he had with a " friend in Amsterdam" on May 17, 2005." He said "despite the enduring beauty of the city," the visit was "a rather disquieting experience." Why?

Partly it was the discussion I had with my friend. He's a distinguished economist, a friend from my Davos days. And he was gloomy about the current course of the world. He sees the US increasingly influenced by evangelical groups, wholly alien to a liberal European perspective. Latin America, after some signs of promise in the 90s, is slipping back to dangerous populism, personified by Hugo Chavez. Continental Europe is sclerotic. And Africa should be a scar on all of our consciences, but is hardly thought about by most of us.
Mr Knobel said, "Europe was a particular worry. I'd taken the metro to his neighborhood and been shocked by the '80s-era NY graffiti covering every carriage. It looked horrible and my friend told me he no longer feels safe taking the metro in his home city. Whats happened to easy-going, tolerant Amsterdam?" I could feel the despair in the article.

Permalink | No Comments

A Fistfull of Euros on 'The Euro And The Vote'

Edward Hugh at A Fistful of Euros reported May 21, 2005 that:

"the euro yesterday reached its lowest level against the dollar in seven months having dropped from a value of $1.311 against the dollar a month ago to $1.255 yesterday. This was the lowest level since last October. Undoubtedly there are a confluence of factors at work here: yesterdays French growth numbers, longer term stagnant growth in Germany and Italy, Sunday's elections in the Federal Republic, the up and coming referendum in France, rumourology about forthcoming ECB rate cuts etc.
Mr. Hugh said, "this downward pressure will in reality be welcomed in many quarters, since it could give some useful relief to hard pressed exporters, and it may help those (eg Spain) with serious balance of payments problems by offering some kind of corrective impetus." Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

'German Conservatives Seek Tougher Anti-Terror Laws'

Berlin Sprouts noted in a May 19, 2005 post that, "In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau, Wolfgang Bosbach, who is the opposition Christian Democratic Union's home affairs expert, said his party will seek tougher anti-terror legislation once it comes to power in 2006" in Germany. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Did Hizbullah Have a Role in Assassinating Rafik Hariri?

Tony at Across the Bay reports that Michael Young at Reason Online "noted a bombshell article in the Kuwaiti As-Siyasah suggesting the involvement of a "significant Lebanese party" in the assassination of [former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik]Hariri, [who was assassinated on February 14, 2005]. Michael points out that this "significant Lebanese party" is none other than Hizbullah," Across the Bay reported.This article is definitely worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Joshua Landis: 'Change is Coming (to Syria) - but How'?

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment.Com:

"Change is coming to Syria - there is no way to deny it. How it will happen and how controlled it will be, no one can say. As one Syrian friend said to me, "Will it be in five years, ten years, or next year? I cannot say, but it is coming."The signs are everywhere. One top Alawite official joked to a Sunni friend, "Will you treat us well in the future?" This kind of remark revealing the anxiety of regime figures about the future, but still couched in a joke to indicate insouciance, would not have been heard a year ago."
Here's more of this interesting commentary.

Permalink | No Comments

Is U.S. Public Confidence on Iraq Plummeting?

Juan Cole at Informed Comment reports that, "a new Harris Interactive poll shows that US public confidence in the Iraq venture is falling rapidly." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Crooked Timber: 'Revenge of the Snit'

Kieran Healey at Crooked Timber: "So when Newsweek publishes a story about the Koran being flushed away, its held responsible for riots in Afghanistan and Rumsfeld tells the press to watch what they say. When someone-- presumably a soldier or other coalition official-- leaks photos of Saddam in his underpants to the Sun, the President is confident that the photos will do nothing to provoke any backlash from insurgents. Now that's a flexible theory of media influence."

Permalink | No Comments

The Fields Report: How Safe is U.S. with Saddam in Custody?

The Fields Report,, May 21, 2005: "Remember back during the 2004 election campaign when Howard Dean delivered a speech before the Pacific Council and said that the U.S. wasn't any safer despite the recent capture of Saddam Hussein? He was roundly vilified by conservatives and even Democrats weren't so eager to embrace what he said. I wrote Dean was speaking the obvious truth and that terrorism experts seemed to agree with him. How far we've come since then. Iraq isn't even safer with Saddam in custody." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Washington Note's Update on the Bolton Nomination

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note reported May 20, 2005, that:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and Ranking Member Joseph Biden both sought from the administration the names, contextual information, and, if possible, the unedited actual intercept material that John Bolton [President George W. Bush's choice for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations] reviewed during his tenure as Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control.
Lugar's request was rebuffed by the White House, but thus far he seems not to have made any public comment about the fact that his evidence requests regarding John Bolton were not complied with.
"In addition," Mr. Clemons wrote, "it turns out that there is significant confusion about whether Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden did in fact show the intercept material to Senators Roberts and Rockefeller -- as previously reported." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Oil-for-Food Program Investigation

On January 13, 2005, Claudio Gatti, "a New York-based investigative reporter for Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily," reported in a Financial Times of London article headline "US Ignored Warning on Iraqi Oil Smuggling that

For months, the US Congress has been investigating activities that violated the United Nations oil-for-food programme and helped Saddam Hussein build secret funds to acquire arms and buy influence.

President George W. Bush has linked future US funding of the international body to a clear account of what went on under the multi-billion dollar programme. But a joint investigation by the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, shows that the single largest and boldest smuggling operation in the oil-for-food programme was conducted with the knowledge of the US government. Although the financial beneficiaries were Iraqis and Jordanians, the fact remains that the US government participated in a major conspiracy that violated sanctions and enriched Saddam's cronies, a former UN official said. That is exactly what many in the US are now accusing other countries of having done. I think it's pretty ironic.

Overall, the operation involved 14 tankers engaged by a Jordanian entity to load at least 7m barrels of oil for a total of no less than $150m (113m) of illegal profits. About another $50m went to Mr Hussein's cronies. In February 2003, when US media first published reports of this smuggling effort, then attributed exclusively to the Iraqis, the US mission to the UN condemned it as immoral.

However, FT/Il Sole have evidence that US and UK missions to the UN were informed of the smuggling while it was happening and that they reported it to their respective governments, to no avail. Oil traders were told informally that the US let the tankers go because Amman needed oil to build up its strategic reserves in expectation of the Iraq war.

In May 2005 the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, headed by Senator Norman Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, is still looking into the so-called oil-for-food scandal.

On May 17, 2005 witnesses Dan M. Berkowitz, counsel to the minority, U..S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Mark L Greenblatt, counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and; Steven A. Groves, counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent subcommittee on Investigations testified. Here's a LexisNexis link to their testimony.

Senator Coleman seems determine to expose foreigners who may or may not have profited from the Oil-For-Food food program. On May 17, 2005, he said:

Today the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will present evidence delineating how Saddam Hussein exploited the oil-for-food program for his own political purposes. Saddam utilized the same methodology time after time. Over the past week, the subcommittee has released a number of bipartisan reports detailing how the Hussein regime quickly manipulated the use of oil allocations to garner political influence around the globe.

As one Hussein regime official described the scheme, Saddam used oil to his geopolitical and strategic advantage. The plan was simple: rather than granting allocations to traditional oil purchasers, Iraq gave priority to foreign officials, journalists and even terrorist entities. The central purpose of this tactic, according to senior officials of the Hussein regime interviewed by the subcommittee, was to engender international support for the Hussein regime and against the U.N. sanctions.

By allocating the oil to favored people or entities, the regime forced oil purchasers to obtain allocations from those favored few. Those allocation holders essentially became gatekeepers to Iraqi oil. As gatekeepers, they demanded or earned a commission, which typically ranged from three (cents) to 30 cents per barrel. In light of the fact that most allocations consisted of millions of barrels of oil, such commissions were quite lucrative, reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars per allocation.

George Galloway, of Britain, the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, England, and his charity, the Mariam Fund, have been accused of benefitting from Mr. Hussein's efforts to buy influence.

But instead of running away from the charge he testified before the committee on May 17, 2005. He told Senator Coleman:

Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader, and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.
"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.
If the investigation into the program continues, official U.S. government involvement in subverting the program to aid its friends could be exposed.

So far, only U.S. businessmen have been indicted for violating the program. As ABC News noted on April 14, 2005, the Justice Department and FBI "announced the indictment of Texas oil tycoon David Chalmers and a South Korean who investigators tell ABC News is the key to learning more about how former U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and other U.N. officials may have illegally manipulated the Oil for Food Program. The South Korean, Tongsun Park, is alleged to have received Iraqi money from the only other American so far indicted in the Oil for Food program, Samir Vincent, with the intention of paying off U.N. officials to better the program," ABC said, adding: "The U.N. officials remain unnamed."

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Keep's Control Over 'Development Fund for Iraq'

On May 19, 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush renewed U.S. control over the so-called Development Fund for Iraq . He said,

Because the obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on May 22, 2003, and the measures adopted on that date, August 28, 2003, July 29, 2004, and November 29, 2004, to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond May 22, 2005. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency protecting the Development Fund for Iraq and certain other property in which Iraq has an interest.
Here's Continuation of the National Emergency Protecting the Development Fund for Iraq and Certain Other Property in Which Iraq Has An Interest. I wonder who really benefits from Iraqi oil and other resources. I'd welcome comments on this subject from Diplomatic Times readers.

Permalink | No Comments

International Conference on Iraq Set for June 22 in Brussells

"An international conference sponsored by the United States and the European Union on rebuilding Iraq will take place in Brussels {Belgium] on June 22, 2005 EU officials said Friday [May 20, 2005]," according to The Associated Press. The wire service said, "the one-day conference is expected to draw foreign ministers from the 25-nation EU, the United States, Iraq and its neighbors." The AP's source was "a senior EU diplomat." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Al Qaeda Denies Meeting in Syria to Plan Bombings

"Iraq's Al Qaeda [which is reportedly led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] has denied U.S. accusations that an upsurge in car bomb attacks in Iraq was ordered at a meeting of insurgents in Syria, according to an Internet statement posted on Friday [May 20, 2005]," reports Reuters. Al Qaeda reportedly said:

The enemies of God are floundering after the increase in attacks against them. Is there no longer any room on earth so that the mujahideen (holy fighters) have to meet in Syria? These attacks ... were planned in Iraq and your brothers are continuing their jihad (holy war) and fighting Gods enemies.
Al Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq reportedly made "the statement dated May 19 and posted on an Islamist Web site," Reuters said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai's Demands Carry No Weight in Washington, or Anywhere Else

President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. satrap in Afghanistan, said The New York Times article headlined In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths "...has shocked me thoroughly."

Agence France Presse quotes Mr. Karzai, who will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on May 23, 2005 in Washington, as saying:

All Afghan prisoners... in Bagram, Guantanamo, or elsewhere should be held in Afghan prisons and (the US) should help us with the building and formation of facilities for the prisoners.
He has also been quoted as telling Journalists:
We have conveyed to the US government in the past year, and in an increasing manner, demands that no operations inside Afghanistan should take place without the consultation of the Afghan government.
The question is: What government? A government is able to protect its own leaders and insure progress for its people. Mr. Karzai wouldn't survive without U.S. soldiers and mercenaries protecting him. And he certainly doesn't control anything outside of Kabul, the Afghan capital. The approximately 18,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan are the bosses in that landlocked country. Mr. Karzai said earlier this month that, "Without them, and without the international community, Afghanistan will immediately go back to chaos," according to Agence France Presse. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Bush Paints a Rosy Picture of U.S. Role in Afghanistan

During his May 21, 2005 Radio Address, U.S. President George W. Bush said:

On Monday, I will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House to discuss freedom's remarkable progress in his nation. Afghanistan now has a constitution, an elected President, and its citizens will return to the polls this September to elect provincial councils in the lower house of the National Assembly. We're helping Afghanistan's elected government solidify these democratic gains and deliver real change. A nation that once knew only the terror of the Taliban is now seeing a rebirth of freedom, and we will help them succeed.
Mr. Bush also said "In Afghanistan, we have brought to justice dozens of terrorists and insurgents. In Pakistan, one of Osama bin Laden's senior terrorist leaders, a man named Al-Libbi, was brought to justice. In Iraq, we captured two deputies of the terrorist Zarqawi, and our forces have killed or captured hundreds of terrorists and insurgents near the Syrian border."

In the long run, it will not matter how many fighters are captured or killed. The U.S. will eventually have to leave Afghanistan. History will record Mr. Bush's efforts as just another chapter in the long history of colonialism in which previous occupiers, including the British and the Russians, also said they were bringing civilization to a backwards Muslim country. In the end, their efforts to politically and culturally dominate the tribe-based, landlocked country were unsuccessful. It's all part of "The Great Game."

Here's a link to Mr. Bush's May 21, 200 5 Radio Address.

Permalink | No Comments

Bush Empasizes Close Ties With U.S. Controlled Afghanistan

"U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday [May 21, 2005] emphasized close ties with Afghanistan two days before he was to meet with an angry President Hamid Karzai, who has demanded control of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan after a report of prisoner abuse," according to Reuters. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Waiting for the Spin on Reports of Cruelty at Bagram POW Camp

The New York Times article headlined "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths" is one of the most disturbing reports of cruelty I've ever read. If the acounts of torture and murder at the U.S.' Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan are true, and I believe they are, Bagram is just as bad, or worse, than the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities. The Times' May 20, 2005 article is based on a 2,000-page U.S. military file on atrocities at Bagram. The paper said:

Sometimes the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom, cruelty, or both.
I wonder whether the Bush Administration and its supporters in the media and the Blogosphere will demand that The Times apologize for publishing the article. How will the administration spin this one?

For another report on the U.S.' use of torture on Muslims, see Mother Jones' "From Bagram to Abu Ghraib."

Permalink | No Comments

Deputy Sec. of State Zoellick's Speech to World Economic Forum

On May 20, 2005, Robert Zoellick, U.S Deputy Secretary of State, delivered what the World Economic Forum (WEF) called "a special message to participants in the World Economic Forum in Jordan 2005 meeting at the Dead Sea," which got under way May 20 and ends May 22, 2005. Here's the WEF transcript of Mr. Zoellick's speech.

Permalink | No Comments

Deputy Sec. of State Zoellick's Speech to World Economic Forum

On May 20, 2005, Robert Zoellick, U.S Deputy Secretary of State, delivered what the World Economic Forum (WEF) called "a special message to participants in the World Economic Forum in Jordan 2005 meeting at the Dead Sea," which got under way May 20 and ends May 22, 2005. Here's the WEF transcript of Mr. Zoellick's speech.

Permalink | No Comments

World Economic Forum Meeting in Amman

The World Economic Forum is meeting in Amman, Jordan, from May 20-22, 2005. Here's a list of programs conferees can participate in.

Permalink | No Comments

World Economic Forum Meeting in Amman

The World Economic Forum is meeting in Amman, Jordan, from May 20-22, 2005. Here's a list of programs conferees can participate in.

Permalink | No Comments

Laura Bush: 'You Can't Blame it All on Newsweek'

Associated Press correspondent Nedra Pickler, in a dispatch from Amman, Jordan reported May 21, 2005, that U.S. First lady Laura Bush said:

"In the United States, if there's a terrible report, people don't riot and kill other people. And you can't excuse what they did because of the mistake - you know, you can't blame it all on Newsweek.
The AP said Ms. Bush, who spoke May 21, 2005 at the World Economic Forum, in Amman, said "we've had terrible happenings that have really, really hurt our image of the United States. And people in the United States are sick about it." Here's more. And here's a brief summary of her speech on women's rights.

Permalink | No Comments

Laura Bush: 'You Can't Blame it All on Newsweek'

Associated Press correspondent Nedra Pickler, in a dispatch from Amman, Jordan reported May 21, 2005, that U.S. First lady Laura Bush said:

"In the United States, if there's a terrible report, people don't riot and kill other people. And you can't excuse what they did because of the mistake - you know, you can't blame it all on Newsweek.
The AP said Ms. Bush, who spoke May 21, 2005 at the World Economic Forum, in Amman, said "we've had terrible happenings that have really, really hurt our image of the United States. And people in the United States are sick about it." Here's more. And here's a brief summary of her speech on women's rights.

Permalink | No Comments

Sometimes You Have to Burn a Source

Why didn't Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and John Barry burn "the sources" that told them "interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects [at Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war camp] flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash"?

As most Americans probably know by now, demonstrations erupted in some Muslim nations--police trying to quell the demonstrations reportedly killed 17--and a political firestorm erupted in Washington, D.C. after the claims were published. Newsweek's sources suddenly weren't so sure that they got the facts right. Newsweek retracted its article, or did it? Then it succumbed to Bush Administration demands that it apologize. I wonder will Isikoff and Barry's source or sources for the article be able to look them in the eye again.

Finally, if I had reported the story based on anonymous sources, and later came under attack for it, while the sources remained under the radar, I would have published their names, ranks and work locations. Of course many sources would probably no longer talk to me. But that's the point. Maybe it's time to end the anonymous source rule. How would you have handled it?

Permalink | No Comments

Sometimes You Have to Burn a Source

Why didn't Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and John Barry burn "the sources" that told them "interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects [at Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war camp] flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash"?

As most Americans probably know by now, demonstrations erupted in some Muslim nations--police trying to quell the demonstrations reportedly killed 17--and a political firestorm erupted in Washington, D.C. after the claims were published. Newsweek's sources suddenly weren't so sure that they got the facts right. Newsweek retracted its article, or did it? Then it succumbed to Bush Administration demands that it apologize. I wonder will Isikoff and Barry's source or sources for the article be able to look them in the eye again.

Finally, if I had reported the story based on anonymous sources, and later came under attack for it, while the sources remained under the radar, I would have published their names, ranks and work locations. Of course many sources would probably no longer talk to me. But that's the point. Maybe it's time to end the anonymous source rule. How would you have handled it?

Permalink | No Comments

The Danger of Politicizing Media Mistakes

The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene, Oregon says Newsweek's "high-profile retraction" of its assertion that a military report will confirm "interrogators [at Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war camp] flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash," "has conservatives polishing their dancing shoes for a jig on what they hope is liberal journalism's grave. It's inevitable in a sharply divided nation that political hay is made by both sides whenever possible, but there is danger in the fashionable rush to politicize mistakes by the media," the paper said in a May 20, 2005 editorial. "People of all ideological persuasions need to be very careful what they wish for here." I agree. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Danger of Politicizing Media Mistakes

The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene, Oregon says Newsweek's "high-profile retraction" of its assertion that a military report will confirm "interrogators [at Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war camp] flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash," "has conservatives polishing their dancing shoes for a jig on what they hope is liberal journalism's grave. It's inevitable in a sharply divided nation that political hay is made by both sides whenever possible, but there is danger in the fashionable rush to politicize mistakes by the media," the paper said in a May 20, 2005 editorial. "People of all ideological persuasions need to be very careful what they wish for here." I agree. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Did Duffy Contradict Bush on Impact of Saddam Photos

Did President George W. Bush's deputy press secretary, Trent Duffy, contradict Mr. Bush's May 20, 2005 assertion that he didn't think photos published in the British tabloid, The Sun, of a half naked Saddam Hussein would inspire the insurgency in Iraq and further exacerbate tensions between the United States and many in the Islamic world?

Mr. Bush stated on May 20, 2005:

I don't think a photo inspires murderers. I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think.
According to The New York Times, "Less than two hours later, after White House officials discussed the possible repercussions of the images, Bush's deputy press secretary, Trent Duffy, said the release of the pictures violated American military regulations, and probably the Geneva Conventions.

"I think this could have a serious impact," Duffy said Friday afternoon [May 20, 2005], comparing it to the revelations of prisoner abuses last year," reported the The Times, adding: He promised "there will be a thorough investigation into this instance" and said President Bush was upset about the release and "wants to get to the bottom of it immediately."

The paper said, "Administration officials were clearly concerned that they would be accused of deliberately portraying Hussein in a humiliating light, a fallen emperor with few clothes."

"These photos were wrong; they're a clear violation of DOD (Department of Defense) directives, and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals," Duffy said. "And the multinational forces in Iraq, as well as the president, are very disappointed at the possibility that someone responsible for the security, welfare and detention of Saddam Hussein would take and provide these photos for public release."

I would think U.S. officials could come up with better explanation than "These photos were wrong" and the president is "very disappointed" that U.S. military personnel would take photos and give them to a newspaper. A better explanation would be this: We were wrong for invading and occupying Iraq. We've gone too far with the atrocities committed by U.S. officials at Abu Ghraib, the killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians, the destruction of Iraqi cities, etc, so we are pulling out in three months. We will pay reparations to Iraq and let Iraqis decide their own destiny. That would be a better explanation. Of course, it will not happen anytime soon.

Permalink | No Comments

Did Duffy Contradict Bush on Impact of Saddam Photos

Did President George W. Bush's deputy press secretary, Trent Duffy, contradict Mr. Bush's May 20, 2005 assertion that he didn't think photos published in the British tabloid, The Sun, of a half naked Saddam Hussein would inspire the insurgency in Iraq and further exacerbate tensions between the United States and many in the Islamic world?

Mr. Bush stated on May 20, 2005:

I don't think a photo inspires murderers. I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think.
According to The New York Times, "Less than two hours later, after White House officials discussed the possible repercussions of the images, Bush's deputy press secretary, Trent Duffy, said the release of the pictures violated American military regulations, and probably the Geneva Conventions.

"I think this could have a serious impact," Duffy said Friday afternoon [May 20, 2005], comparing it to the revelations of prisoner abuses last year," reported the The Times, adding: He promised "there will be a thorough investigation into this instance" and said President Bush was upset about the release and "wants to get to the bottom of it immediately."

The paper said, "Administration officials were clearly concerned that they would be accused of deliberately portraying Hussein in a humiliating light, a fallen emperor with few clothes."

"These photos were wrong; they're a clear violation of DOD (Department of Defense) directives, and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals," Duffy said. "And the multinational forces in Iraq, as well as the president, are very disappointed at the possibility that someone responsible for the security, welfare and detention of Saddam Hussein would take and provide these photos for public release."

I would think U.S. officials could come up with better explanation than "These photos were wrong" and the president is "very disappointed" that U.S. military personnel would take photos and give them to a newspaper. A better explanation would be this: We were wrong for invading and occupying Iraq. We've gone too far with the atrocities committed by U.S. officials at Abu Ghraib, the killing of thousands of Iraqi civilians, the destruction of Iraqi cities, etc, so we are pulling out in three months. We will pay reparations to Iraq and let Iraqis decide their own destiny. That would be a better explanation. Of course, it will not happen anytime soon.

Permalink | No Comments

What Ideology Are You Referring to, Mr. Bush?

Various news accounts say President George W. Bush was asked whether the pictures of a half naked Saddam Hussein published in Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, The Sun, might "further inflame tensions and fuel the insurgency in Iraq".

"I don't think a photo inspires murderers," Mr. Bush reportedly answered. "I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think."

What ideology was Mr. Bush referring to? Did he mean Islam? Just asking

Permalink | No Comments

What Ideology Are You Referring to, Mr. Bush?

Various news accounts say President George W. Bush was asked whether the pictures of a half naked Saddam Hussein published in Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, The Sun, might "further inflame tensions and fuel the insurgency in Iraq".

"I don't think a photo inspires murderers," Mr. Bush reportedly answered. "I think they're inspired by an ideology that is so barbaric and backwards that it's hard for many in the Western world to comprehend how they think."

What ideology was Mr. Bush referring to? Did he mean Islam? Just asking

Permalink | No Comments

May 20, 2005

Steele: 'A No Vote Could Be Just What Europe's Constitution Needs'

Jonathan Steele of The Guardian contends in a May 20, 2005 commentary that, "Panic is sweeping through the French elite over the looming referendum on Europe's draft constitution, but one wonders why. Jacques Chirac invited Poland's president and Germany's chancellor to France yesterday to warn voters not to vote no," he added, noting that, "Spain's prime minister, José Luis Zapatero, will be doing the same on a French socialist platform next week." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Steele: 'A No Vote Could Be Just What Europe's Constitution Needs'

Jonathan Steele of The Guardian contends in a May 20, 2005 commentary that, "Panic is sweeping through the French elite over the looming referendum on Europe's draft constitution, but one wonders why. Jacques Chirac invited Poland's president and Germany's chancellor to France yesterday to warn voters not to vote no," he added, noting that, "Spain's prime minister, José Luis Zapatero, will be doing the same on a French socialist platform next week." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

BBC Looks At News of Interest to European Press

The BBC noted May 20, 2005 that, "With the French referendum on the European constitution only nine days away, papers continue to speculate on the likely outcome and its wider implications. " See "European Press Review."

Permalink | No Comments

BBC Looks At News of Interest to European Press

The BBC noted May 20, 2005 that, "With the French referendum on the European constitution only nine days away, papers continue to speculate on the likely outcome and its wider implications. " See "European Press Review."

Permalink | No Comments

Will French Voters Back EU Constitutional Treaty?

"Europe's eyes are currently riveted on 29th May 2005, the day when project Europe could potentially start to unravel," reports Kilian Strauss in Newropeans magazine. Strauss said, "On that day, France will hold its referendum on the Constitutional Treaty whose authors had famously promised to bring Europe closer to its people. So far with little success." Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

Will French Voters Back EU Constitutional Treaty?

"Europe's eyes are currently riveted on 29th May 2005, the day when project Europe could potentially start to unravel," reports Kilian Strauss in Newropeans magazine. Strauss said, "On that day, France will hold its referendum on the Constitutional Treaty whose authors had famously promised to bring Europe closer to its people. So far with little success." Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

Erdogan Vows to Punish Nations That Recognize 'Armenian Genocide'

"Countries which have officially recognized the so-called Armenian genocide will face retaliation from Turkey, warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday," says an article in May 20, 2005 Journal of Turkish Weekly. Mr. Erdogan "added that these 15 countries which have made decisions against Turkey without proof will face similar treatment from Turkey's Parliament, albeit with proof on its side," the Journal said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Erdogan Vows to Punish Nations That Recognize 'Armenian Genocide'

"Countries which have officially recognized the so-called Armenian genocide will face retaliation from Turkey, warned Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday," says an article in May 20, 2005 Journal of Turkish Weekly. Mr. Erdogan "added that these 15 countries which have made decisions against Turkey without proof will face similar treatment from Turkey's Parliament, albeit with proof on its side," the Journal said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Turkey Opposes Expanding U.N. Security Council

"Turkey announced on Tuesday [May 17, 2005] that it is opposed to a proposal to enlarge the United Nations Security Council," according to an article in The Journal of Turkish Weekly.

The article, which was first published in The New Anatolian, noted that, "Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil, all of whom are seeking permanent membership on the council, late on Monday [May 16, 2005] began circulating a draft resolution that would expand the number of council seats from 15 to 25."

The report said, "according to Turkish diplomatic sources in New York, Turkey is acting together with a group led by Italy and Pakistan which is against increasing the number of permanent seats on the UN Security Council." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Turkey Opposes Expanding U.N. Security Council

"Turkey announced on Tuesday [May 17, 2005] that it is opposed to a proposal to enlarge the United Nations Security Council," according to an article in The Journal of Turkish Weekly.

The article, which was first published in The New Anatolian, noted that, "Germany, Japan, India, and Brazil, all of whom are seeking permanent membership on the council, late on Monday [May 16, 2005] began circulating a draft resolution that would expand the number of council seats from 15 to 25."

The report said, "according to Turkish diplomatic sources in New York, Turkey is acting together with a group led by Italy and Pakistan which is against increasing the number of permanent seats on the UN Security Council." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Japan and the U.N. Security Council

Asahi.Com opined on May 20, 2005 that, of the G-4 nations-- Japan, Germany, India and Brazil--that "made public their draft framework resolution calling for the expansion of the U.N. Security Council," Japan appears "most eager to win a permanent seat. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura summoned about 120 Japanese ambassadors from around the world to Tokyo and delivered a pep talk to urge them to secure votes," the paper said, adding:

The proper thing for Japan is to seek permanent membership with the backing of international society, particularly Asian countries. Actually, however, it is engineering to gather as many votes as possible while its relations with China and South Korea are strained. This shows Japan's poor diplomacy.
Asahi.Com acknowledged that, "Many hurdles remain for permanent membership." China, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, will have plenty to say about Japan obtaining a permanent seat on the Security Council. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Japan and the U.N. Security Council

Asahi.Com opined on May 20, 2005 that, of the G-4 nations-- Japan, Germany, India and Brazil--that "made public their draft framework resolution calling for the expansion of the U.N. Security Council," Japan appears "most eager to win a permanent seat. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura summoned about 120 Japanese ambassadors from around the world to Tokyo and delivered a pep talk to urge them to secure votes," the paper said, adding:

The proper thing for Japan is to seek permanent membership with the backing of international society, particularly Asian countries. Actually, however, it is engineering to gather as many votes as possible while its relations with China and South Korea are strained. This shows Japan's poor diplomacy.
Asahi.Com acknowledged that, "Many hurdles remain for permanent membership." China, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, will have plenty to say about Japan obtaining a permanent seat on the Security Council. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 19, 2005

Why Canada's Paul Martin Survived 'Confidence' Vote

Peter Milliken, speaker of the Canadian House of Common, saved the goverment of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on May 19, 2005 during a confidence vote. Why and How?

"The rule is that in the event of a tie, the speaker votes to maintain the status quo," The Globe and Mail of Toronto quotes Ned Franks, a professor emeritus from Queen's University and author of The Parliament of Canada, as saying. He aslo said:

In theory, the Speaker might vote any way he or she wanted, but the Speaker's actual discretion is tempered by precedent and the need for clear principles and practices. There need to be rules and guidelines to make procedure in the House, especially on something as important as the survival of a government, something less than random and whimsical.
The paper said, "Marleau and Montpetit's House of Commons Practice and Procedure, the bible of the Commons, also makes that clear." Read more here. Also see "Liberals Lead, Avert Snap Election in Canada."

Permalink | No Comments

Why Canada's Paul Martin Survived 'Confidence' Vote

Peter Milliken, speaker of the Canadian House of Common, saved the goverment of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on May 19, 2005 during a confidence vote. Why and How?

"The rule is that in the event of a tie, the speaker votes to maintain the status quo," The Globe and Mail of Toronto quotes Ned Franks, a professor emeritus from Queen's University and author of The Parliament of Canada, as saying. He aslo said:

In theory, the Speaker might vote any way he or she wanted, but the Speaker's actual discretion is tempered by precedent and the need for clear principles and practices. There need to be rules and guidelines to make procedure in the House, especially on something as important as the survival of a government, something less than random and whimsical.
The paper said, "Marleau and Montpetit's House of Commons Practice and Procedure, the bible of the Commons, also makes that clear." Read more here. Also see "Liberals Lead, Avert Snap Election in Canada."

Permalink | No Comments

Why Hugo Chavez Vexes the U.S.

The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at the relationship between Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an article headlined "A Castro ally with oil cash vexes the U.S." The subhead is: "Venezuela's Chávez is the new driving force for a left-leaning region." It's worth reading

Permalink | No Comments

Why Hugo Chavez Vexes the U.S.

The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at the relationship between Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an article headlined "A Castro ally with oil cash vexes the U.S." The subhead is: "Venezuela's Chávez is the new driving force for a left-leaning region." It's worth reading

Permalink | No Comments

Latin America, India, China and Western Corporate Interests

Balaji Reddy, writing in the May 18, 2005 edition of India Daily, said "India and China in recent years have opened the floodgate of Western companies coming into their countries looking for cheap labor and slack environmental pollution laws." At the same time," the writer added, "the Latin America[n countries] well known for accommodating Western companies for decades, if not centuries, have finally started closing their doors to these Western Corporate interests." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Latin America, India, China and Western Corporate Interests

Balaji Reddy, writing in the May 18, 2005 edition of India Daily, said "India and China in recent years have opened the floodgate of Western companies coming into their countries looking for cheap labor and slack environmental pollution laws." At the same time," the writer added, "the Latin America[n countries] well known for accommodating Western companies for decades, if not centuries, have finally started closing their doors to these Western Corporate interests." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

'Prosperity Theology' Reportedly Growing in Latin America

The Christian Post has an interesting article on "Prosperity Theology." It quotes Professor Martin Ocaña, of the Baptist Seminary of South Peru, as saying "that an inability to escape critical situations, coupled with a loss of hope results in many people in churches to take up" Prosperity Theology. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

'Prosperity Theology' Reportedly Growing in Latin America

The Christian Post has an interesting article on "Prosperity Theology." It quotes Professor Martin Ocaña, of the Baptist Seminary of South Peru, as saying "that an inability to escape critical situations, coupled with a loss of hope results in many people in churches to take up" Prosperity Theology. Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization

The Special Committee of 24 on decolonization held a Caribbean regional seminar May 17- 19, 2005 on Canouan Island, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Here is U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's message to the seminar. Here's a U.N. Information Officer's report on the meeting. And here is a press release summarizing the views of experts on the decolonization process in the Caribbean.

Permalink | No Comments

The Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization

The Special Committee of 24 on decolonization held a Caribbean regional seminar May 17- 19, 2005 on Canouan Island, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Here is U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's message to the seminar. Here's a U.N. Information Officer's report on the meeting. And here is a press release summarizing the views of experts on the decolonization process in the Caribbean.

Permalink | No Comments

Haiti Set to Become Member of Caribbean Development Bank

"Haiti is set to become an active member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), but only after several administrative arrangements have been finalized, CDB President Compton Bourne said Wednesday [May 18, 2005]," according to an Agence France Presse in Caribbean Net News. It will be interesting to see what kind of contribution Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, can make.. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Haiti Set to Become Member of Caribbean Development Bank

"Haiti is set to become an active member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), but only after several administrative arrangements have been finalized, CDB President Compton Bourne said Wednesday [May 18, 2005]," according to an Agence France Presse in Caribbean Net News. It will be interesting to see what kind of contribution Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, can make.. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Head of Caribbean Development Bank Worried over Slow Progress

Prensa Latina reported May 19, 2005 that, the " President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank, Professor Compton Bourne, expressed concern over the region´s social status, saying they were not on par with the Caribbean´s economic development." According to Prensa Latina, he was quoted by the Caribbean Media Corporation as saying:

There has been social progress but insufficient in its distribution across households and districts to cap the wells of discontent which threaten the sustainability of future economic growth.
"He made the remarks while "addressing regional and international delegates at the start of the two-day 35th annual meeting of the Bank´s Board of Governors" May 18, 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Head of Caribbean Development Bank Worried over Slow Progress

Prensa Latina reported May 19, 2005 that, the " President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank, Professor Compton Bourne, expressed concern over the region´s social status, saying they were not on par with the Caribbean´s economic development." According to Prensa Latina, he was quoted by the Caribbean Media Corporation as saying:

There has been social progress but insufficient in its distribution across households and districts to cap the wells of discontent which threaten the sustainability of future economic growth.
"He made the remarks while "addressing regional and international delegates at the start of the two-day 35th annual meeting of the Bank´s Board of Governors" May 18, 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Opinion on Newsweek's Qu'ran Story

Many words have been written on what UCLA professor and syndicated columnist Tom Plate calls "the embarrassing Newsweek climb-down on the now infamous Quran-stuffed-into-the-prison-toilet story." Some of the perspectives I've read have been downright ignorant and inflammatory while others were sober, thoughtful and skeptical. Here are links to some of that opinion and analysis.

Newsweek makes a deadly 6-word mistake--Billings Gazette
Story that might not be true paints a sadly accurate picture--By Tom Plate
Beyond Blame--Bangor Daily News
The Alleged Desecration of the Holy Quran--By Fargad Al-Madhi
Blaming the Messenger--By Anne Applebaum
Newsweek Was Right--By Ari Berman
Newsweek isn't only culprit in Middle East turmoil--By Art Levin
A gift for a White House set to pounce--Ellis Henican
Not just the media is to blame--By Mark Whittaker
Newsweek's Dilemma--By William F. Buckely, Jr.
Newsweek Debacle Might Have Been Avoided--By Georgie Anne Geyer
What false report did more damage?--Tahlequah Daily Press
Selective accountability--St Petersburg Times

Permalink | No Comments

Opinion on Newsweek's Qu'ran Story

Many words have been written on what UCLA professor and syndicated columnist Tom Plate calls "the embarrassing Newsweek climb-down on the now infamous Quran-stuffed-into-the-prison-toilet story." Some of the perspectives I've read have been downright ignorant and inflammatory while others were sober, thoughtful and skeptical. Here are links to some of that opinion and analysis.

Newsweek makes a deadly 6-word mistake--Billings Gazette
Story that might not be true paints a sadly accurate picture--By Tom Plate
Beyond Blame--Bangor Daily News
The Alleged Desecration of the Holy Quran--By Fargad Al-Madhi
Blaming the Messenger--By Anne Applebaum
Newsweek Was Right--By Ari Berman
Newsweek isn't only culprit in Middle East turmoil--By Art Levin
A gift for a White House set to pounce--Ellis Henican
Not just the media is to blame--By Mark Whittaker
Newsweek's Dilemma--By William F. Buckely, Jr.
Newsweek Debacle Might Have Been Avoided--By Georgie Anne Geyer
What false report did more damage?--Tahlequah Daily Press
Selective accountability--St Petersburg Times

Permalink | No Comments

Red Cross Says it Told Pentagon About Qu'ran Desecration

The Chicago Tribune reports in its May 19, 2005 edition that, "The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Qurans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003." The paper cited an ICRC spokesman who reportedly referred to the reports on May 18, 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Red Cross Says it Told Pentagon About Qu'ran Desecration

The Chicago Tribune reports in its May 19, 2005 edition that, "The International Committee of the Red Cross documented what it called credible information about U.S. personnel disrespecting or mishandling Qurans at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and pointed it out to the Pentagon in confidential reports during 2002 and early 2003." The paper cited an ICRC spokesman who reportedly referred to the reports on May 18, 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Zaman: Bush Admits 'Incompetent' Civilian Personnel Working in Iraq

Zaman Daily Online reported May 19, 2005 that, "U.S. President George W. Bush has admitted that the civilian U.S. personnel in charge of restructuring of Iraq after the war are incompetent, and that from now (on the) focus will be on training civilian American officials to be sent to region soon." If this is true, it means the intent is to send in officials capable of handling a colonial administration. I predict that it won't do any good. Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Zaman: Bush Admits 'Incompetent' Civilian Personnel Working in Iraq

Zaman Daily Online reported May 19, 2005 that, "U.S. President George W. Bush has admitted that the civilian U.S. personnel in charge of restructuring of Iraq after the war are incompetent, and that from now (on the) focus will be on training civilian American officials to be sent to region soon." If this is true, it means the intent is to send in officials capable of handling a colonial administration. I predict that it won't do any good. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Gregory Djerejian: 'Can't We All Just Get Along'?

Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch has thoughts on the feud between Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit Glenn Reynolds. Here's his opening paragraph:

There's an increasingly nasty spat brewing between Andrew and Glenn. As these are my two favorite bloggers, all told, I'm a tad saddened they are quarreling so. Andrew today calls Glenn a "shill" for the Bush Administration. Meanwhile, Glenn simply writes: "I find the question of what Andrew thinks less pressing than I used to." Ouch.
Mr. Djerejian added: "What's a pity here is that, deep down, I suspect Glenn still does value Andrew's opinions and that, similarly, Andrew doesn't view Glenn as a rank patsy for the Bushies. But here we are in this escalating war of words. What to make of this internecine blogospheric fracas?"

Nothing much. Bloggers are no different from anyone else when it comes to acting silly. Besides, a feud between two of better known bloggers makes things interesting. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Gregory Djerejian: 'Can't We All Just Get Along'?

Gregory Djerejian at The Belgravia Dispatch has thoughts on the feud between Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit Glenn Reynolds. Here's his opening paragraph:

There's an increasingly nasty spat brewing between Andrew and Glenn. As these are my two favorite bloggers, all told, I'm a tad saddened they are quarreling so. Andrew today calls Glenn a "shill" for the Bush Administration. Meanwhile, Glenn simply writes: "I find the question of what Andrew thinks less pressing than I used to." Ouch.
Mr. Djerejian added: "What's a pity here is that, deep down, I suspect Glenn still does value Andrew's opinions and that, similarly, Andrew doesn't view Glenn as a rank patsy for the Bushies. But here we are in this escalating war of words. What to make of this internecine blogospheric fracas?"

Nothing much. Bloggers are no different from anyone else when it comes to acting silly. Besides, a feud between two of better known bloggers makes things interesting. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Yes, the Bolton Nomination is Still in the News

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has more excellent coverage of the John Bolton confirmation battle. Mr. Bolton is U.S. President George W. Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United nations.

Permalink | No Comments

Yes, the Bolton Nomination is Still in the News

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has more excellent coverage of the John Bolton confirmation battle. Mr. Bolton is U.S. President George W. Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the United nations.

Permalink | No Comments

A Transcript of George Galloways Senate Speech

George Galloway, the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, England,and his charity, the Mariam Fund, have been accused of corruption by some members of the U.S. Senate. On May 17, 2005 the British subject appeared before Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's Subcommittee on Investigations, to combat charges that he benefitted from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, in collaboration with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. As Wikipedia states,

"The Oil-for-Food Programme was established by the United Nations in 1996 to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine and the like. The ostensible intent of the program was to help the Iraqi government provide for the needs of ordinary Iraqi citizens affected by international economic sanctions imposed on the government in the wake of the first Gulf War, without letting the country rebuild its military.
Thanks to Deep Blade Journal for pointing to a link to The Times of London's transcript of Mr. Galloway's statement to the senators.

Permalink | No Comments

A Transcript of George Galloways Senate Speech

George Galloway, the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, England,and his charity, the Mariam Fund, have been accused of corruption by some members of the U.S. Senate. On May 17, 2005 the British subject appeared before Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's Subcommittee on Investigations, to combat charges that he benefitted from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, in collaboration with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. As Wikipedia states,

"The Oil-for-Food Programme was established by the United Nations in 1996 to allow Iraq to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine and the like. The ostensible intent of the program was to help the Iraqi government provide for the needs of ordinary Iraqi citizens affected by international economic sanctions imposed on the government in the wake of the first Gulf War, without letting the country rebuild its military.
Thanks to Deep Blade Journal for pointing to a link to The Times of London's transcript of Mr. Galloway's statement to the senators.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Who Can Confirm Latest Statement Atrributed to al-Zarqawi?

The report that, "Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq yesterday defended the killing of "innocent Muslims" in suicide bombings against US forces, saying it was legitimate under Islam for the sake of jihad (holy war), according to an audio tape attributed to him," seems designed to put a damper on the furor surrounding Newsweek's "Gitmo:Southcom Showdown," which said, among other things, that:

Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash.
The report resulted in anti-American demonstrations in some countries and the killing of at least 15 Muslims by security forces trying to quell the demonstrations, according to various reports. Newsweek, under pressure from the Bush Administration and its supporters in the media, apologized for the report and said it could not verify the claims in it.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , according to news reports, said,

"The killing of infidels by any method including martyrdom (suicide) operations has been sanctified by many scholars even if it means killing innocent Muslims. This legality has been agreed upon ... so as not to disrupt jihad. The killing of infidels by any method including martyrdom (suicide) operations has been sanctified by many scholars even if it means killing innocent Muslims. This legality has been agreed upon ... so as not to disrupt jihad,"
He allegedly made the statement "on the tape posted on a website."

I have no way of knowing whether Abu Musab al-Zarqawi made the statement. And I doubt that 99.9 percent of the people in the West who attribute the statement to him can confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that he actually made it. While I'm no expert in psyops, this sounds like such an operation. What makes me suspicious is the portion that said the killing of innocent Muslims in order to kill infidels is sanctioned by many scholars. It did not say sanctioned by Allah. It's my belief that no authentic Islamic scholar would sanctioned acts that can't be justified in Qur'an and Hadith. And unless I've missed something, it can't be sanctioned using those sources. Yet the message will work because we have no way of proving or disproving whether it is al-Zarqawi or the CIA. What makes matters worse for me is that U.S. intelligence agencies have lied so much about Iraq that it is difficult to believe their analysis of events. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Who Can Confirm Latest Statement Atrributed to al-Zarqawi?

The report that, "Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq yesterday defended the killing of "innocent Muslims" in suicide bombings against US forces, saying it was legitimate under Islam for the sake of jihad (holy war), according to an audio tape attributed to him," seems designed to put a damper on the furor surrounding Newsweek's "Gitmo:Southcom Showdown," which said, among other things, that:

Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash.
The report resulted in anti-American demonstrations in some countries and the killing of at least 15 Muslims by security forces trying to quell the demonstrations, according to various reports. Newsweek, under pressure from the Bush Administration and its supporters in the media, apologized for the report and said it could not verify the claims in it.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi , according to news reports, said,

"The killing of infidels by any method including martyrdom (suicide) operations has been sanctified by many scholars even if it means killing innocent Muslims. This legality has been agreed upon ... so as not to disrupt jihad. The killing of infidels by any method including martyrdom (suicide) operations has been sanctified by many scholars even if it means killing innocent Muslims. This legality has been agreed upon ... so as not to disrupt jihad,"
He allegedly made the statement "on the tape posted on a website."

I have no way of knowing whether Abu Musab al-Zarqawi made the statement. And I doubt that 99.9 percent of the people in the West who attribute the statement to him can confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that he actually made it. While I'm no expert in psyops, this sounds like such an operation. What makes me suspicious is the portion that said the killing of innocent Muslims in order to kill infidels is sanctioned by many scholars. It did not say sanctioned by Allah. It's my belief that no authentic Islamic scholar would sanctioned acts that can't be justified in Qur'an and Hadith. And unless I've missed something, it can't be sanctioned using those sources. Yet the message will work because we have no way of proving or disproving whether it is al-Zarqawi or the CIA. What makes matters worse for me is that U.S. intelligence agencies have lied so much about Iraq that it is difficult to believe their analysis of events. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Arab News: 'Dulaimi Vows to Make Iraq Haven of Peace'

Naseer Al-Nahr of Arab News quotes Saadun Al-Dulaimi, "the newly appointed Sunni defense minister," as telling reporters in Baghdad:

We will work hard to make Iraq a haven of peace, We are going to meet commanders on the ground, resolve the problems they are facing and do everything to make sure they bring order back to Iraq. Within a few weeks or months, friendly forces will only have a support role.
Friendly forces are the U.S. occupation troops and their foreign supporters. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Arab News: 'Dulaimi Vows to Make Iraq Haven of Peace'

Naseer Al-Nahr of Arab News quotes Saadun Al-Dulaimi, "the newly appointed Sunni defense minister," as telling reporters in Baghdad:

We will work hard to make Iraq a haven of peace, We are going to meet commanders on the ground, resolve the problems they are facing and do everything to make sure they bring order back to Iraq. Within a few weeks or months, friendly forces will only have a support role.
Friendly forces are the U.S. occupation troops and their foreign supporters. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Abizaid Can't Confirm Insurgents Met in Syria to Plot Iraq Attacks

"The American General who commands all U.S. forces in the Middle East says he can not confirm a statement by one of his subordinates that the recent increase in violence in Iraq resulted from a meeting of leading insurgents in Syria," Al Pessin, the Voice of America's Pentagon correspondent reported May 18, 2005. "But the general, John Abizaid, says Syria should do more to ensure that insurgents do not use the country as a logistical base." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Is al-Zarqawi Given Too Much Credit for Iraqi Insurgency?

Mohammad Bazzi, Middle East Correspondent for Newsday, reports that, "U.S. officials Thursday blamed the recent wave of massive attacks by insurgents in Iraq on Islamic militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, saying his lieutenants met in Syria to plot the escalation."

"But some Iraqi security officials say former Baathists are playing a more central role than the U.S. military has acknowledged," he wrote. "And while Iraqi and U.S. forces have made important arrests in al-Zarqawi's network in recent months, that has done little to dampen the insurgency. The Iraqi officials say this highlights their assessment that al-Zarqawi is taking credit for more attacks than his network is actually carrying out."

"It was a mistake to portray al-Zarqawi as the overall leader of the insurgency," one Iraqi official, who has overseen the interrogations of dozens of insurgents, told Newsday last week," Mr. Bazzi wrote. "There are many small, militant groups that agree with him ideologically, but they don't necessarily take orders from him." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 18, 2005

Dr. Harith al-Dhari: Badr Forces Escalating Tensions in Iraq

Diala Saadeh of Reuters reported May 18, 2005 that, Dr. Harith Sulayman al-Dhari, head of Iraq's "influential Sunni Muslim Clerics Association," told a news conference May 18 that, "The parties that are behind the campaign of killings of preachers of mosques and worshippers are ... the Badr Brigades. Badr forces are responsible for the escalating tensions," he is quoted as saying.

Is an Iraqi civil war just a matter of time? If civil war occurs, which side will the U.S. join forces with? Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Straw Asks U.S. to Commit More Aid for Africa

On May 18, 2005 British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw "embraced President George W. Bush's vision of spreading freedom around the globe but urged America to extend the mission to Africa, a continent lower on Washington's list of priorities than on Whitehall's," reports news.telegraph of London.

Permalink | No Comments

Exercise Flintlock 2005 Gets Underway in Africa in June

American Forces Press Service (AFPS) reports that, "The Trans Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative will officially kick off in June with Exercise Flintlock 2005, according to Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs." AFPS said, "U.S. special operations forces will train their counterparts in seven Saharan countries, teaching military tactics critical in enhancing regional security and stability. At the same time, they will encourage the participating nations to work collaboratively toward confronting regional issues, Whelan said during an interview today [May 16] with the American Forces Press Service." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Pakistan's Special Envoy, Nasim Zehra, to Visit Latin America

"Nasim Zehra, Pakistan's Special Envoy on Security Council reform, is due to set out for Latin America on May 23 on an 11-day trip that will take her to three countries," reports Khalid Hasan of the Daily Times of Pakistan. "Ms Zehra, currently engaged in research at Harvard, was to have gone earlier this month but had to put off her mission because of indisposition," the report said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

World Bank: Indigenous Peoples in Latin America Still Lag Behind

The World Bank announced in a May 18, 2005 press release that, "Despite their increased political influence,indigenous peoples in Latin America have made little economic and social progress in the last decade, and continue to suffer from higher poverty, lower education, and a greater incidence of disease and discrimination than other groups, says a new World Bank study." Here's the press release.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Is There a Lesson for the Caribbean in the EU Referendum Debate?

Sir Ronald Sanders, a former diplomat representing Antigua and Barbuda, contends in a May 18, 2005 Caribbean Net News article that,

While organisations and individuals in the member states of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) are going through some soul searching over the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and, in particular, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the member states of the European Union (EU) have also been suffering anxiety over whether their proposed European Constitution will become a reality.
"The deciding moment will come on May 29th when the electorate of France votes in a referendum on the Constitution which was signed by all 25 governments of the Union on October 29th last year," he wrote. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Spain Start Negotiations with ETA?

The Spain Herald states in a May 18, 2005 report that, "Spain's lower house of Parliament, the Congress of Deputies, yesterday passed a resolution introduced by the Socialist Party (PSOE) which supports negotiating with ETA if the terrorist organization lays down its arms. The resolution was supported by all parties except the People's Party (PP)," the paper said, adding: "The victims of ETA insisted yesterday that prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had "definitively betrayed" them." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

'The Matador of Tumbledown': An Informative Commentary on Iraq

I found a May 15, 2005 article in The Yorkshire Ranter headlined "The Matador of Tumbledown" very informative. It's about the war in Iraq. I recommend it.

Permalink | No Comments

The Belgravia Dispatch Analyzes Kharrazi's Visit to Iraq

Gregory Djerejian, the proprietor of the always interesting Belgravia Dispatch, has an interesting commentary about Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi's visit this week to Baghdad. Is this the behavior of a "Vichy surrogate"? he asks. "Hosting the foreign minister of a charter axis of evil foe of the American Fuhrer himself? Methinks not" he answered in response to his own questions. Here's the entire piece.

Permalink | No Comments

Riverbend on 'The Dead and the Undead'

Riverbend over at Baghdad Burning states in a May 18, 2005 post:

The last two weeks [in Iraq] have been violent. The number of explosions in Baghdad alone is frightening. There have also been several assassinations- bodies being found here and there. It's somewhat disturbing to know that corpses are turning up in the most unexpected places. Many people will tell you it's not wise to eat river fish anymore because they have been nourished on the human remains being dumped into the river. That thought alone has given me more than one sleepless night. It is almost as if Baghdad has turned into a giant graveyard. The latest corpses were those of some Sunni and Shia clerics- several of them well-known. People are being patient and there is a general consensus that these killings are being done to provoke civil war. Also worrisome is the fact that we are hearing of people being rounded up by security forces (Iraqi) and then being found dead days later- apparently when the new Iraqi government recently decided to reinstate the death penalty, they had something else in mind.
Riverbend's post is headlined The Dead and the Undead. I recommend it.

Permalink | No Comments

Drezner: 'How Do You Code Uzbekistan?

Blogger Daniel W. Drezner, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, asked in a May 17, 2005 post: "Is the recent unrest in Uzbekistan an example of the Uzbeks yearning to join the burgeoning fourth wave of democratization, or is it something else altogether, an example of Islamic extremists threatening a secular state? I'm still not completely sure, but my hunch is the former." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The National Debate on the Newsweek Controversy

Robert Cox at The National Debate has an interesting perspective on Newsweek's alleged "retraction" of its claim that "Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash." The Newsweek article is headlined "Gitmo: SouthCom Showdown". Read Mr. Cox's post here.

Permalink | No Comments

Deep Blade Journal's Take on the Qur'an Desecration Controversy

The always informative Deep Blade Journal's take on Qur'an desecration is that, "There is plenty of it on the record. Newsweek backing off the story has more to do with the fallout than the truth," Deep Blade said. I agree. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

What Exactly Has Newsweek Retracted?

Brian Montopoli at CJR Daily contends that, "Newsweek made a serious error in relying on a single source for its story, and its subsequent report may (or may not) have spurred fatal riots. The magazine subsequently apologized, then retracted the part of the story in question and vowed not to make the error again," he wrote in a May 17, 2005 post, adding: "In contrast, most of the rest of the media, in reporting the story, has continued to stumble all over itself, making the same mistakes over and over again. And unlike Newsweek, none of them are showing any signs of remorse." Mr. Montopoli asks CJR Daily readers to:

Consider the central question of the story about the story: What exactly has the magazine retracted? Most reporters, particularly on television, are reporting that Newsweek has retracted the allegation that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay. But that's wrong: The magazine has said only that it no longer stands by its claim that allegations of Koran desecration appear in a forthcoming report from U.S. Southern Command. That's a very different point. There have been numerous other reports -- mostly from detainees -- suggesting that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo did abuse the Koran. We don't know exactly what happened, but we do know that there's a significant difference between what Newsweek said -- that its source can no longer be sure that the allegations appear in an upcoming military report -- and what the press is reporting the magazine said -- that no desecration of the Koran ever took place.
He said, "But since the press has largely ceded control of the story to the White House, administration spinners have been able to twist it." He asked readers to "Consider another central issue: whether Newsweek's premature report actually spurred the riots. Thanks to the White House spin, and the media's lazy reporting, the conventional wisdom is now that it did," Mr. Montopoli wrote. "But the reality is that it probably did not, at least in any significant sense." Read more here. I highly recommend it.

Permalink | No Comments

Juan Cole: Has Newsweek Retracted?

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment has a long list of articles and commentary on alleged Qur'an desecration by U.S. personnel. See "Has Newsweek Retracted?"

Permalink | No Comments

Jay Rosen's Interesting Take on the Newsweek Controversy

Jay Rosen at PressThink has an interesting take on the controversy surrounding Newsweek's controversial report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba desecrated the Qur'an by placing it in toilets to rattle Muslim prisoners of war held there. Mr. Rosen's post is headlined "Newsweek's Take-Our-Word-For-It World." It's definitely worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

May 17, 2005

Who Will Be Caribbean Losers in the Banana Wars?

Rebecca Rush, a researcher at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs asserted in a May 17, 2005 commentary at Caribbean Net News that, "Ever since the U.S. charged in 1999 that the European Union (EU) trade preferences given to developing African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries were not in accordance with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, the economies of many Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have been rendered incapable of competing on the world market and are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Here's more of "Banana wars continue: Likely big losers will be CARICOM's Windward Islands."

Permalink | No Comments

Africa is Also a land of Stock Markets, High Rises, Internet Cafes, etc

The Monitor of Kampala, Uganda, opined on Many 17, 2005 that, "Yes, Africa is a land of wars, poverty and corruption. The situation in places like Darfur, Sudan, desperately cries out for more media attention and international action. But Africa is also a land of stock markets, high rises, Internet cafes and a growing middle class. This is the part of Africa that functions. And this Africa also needs media attention, if it is to have any chance of fully joining the global economy." Read more of "How the Media Distorts Africa."

Permalink | No Comments

Mubarak: Foreign Intervention in Darfur Crisis Not Wanted

Egypt Election Daily News reports that "President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said any foreign interference or attempts to internationalize Darfur crisis will further complicate the situation." He reportedly made the statement during "the inaugural session of the six-way summit which opened in Tripoli last night," according to the publication. It said, " President Mubarak said successive development in Darfur makes it incumbent on the international community to provide more support for the African Union so that it may play its leading role in settling the crisis." Click here for more.

Permalink | No Comments

African Leaders' Fourth Round of Talks on Darfur Set For June 1, 2005

African leaders who wrapped up a seven-way mini-African summit on Darfur in Tripoli, Libya, on May 17, 2005 "have agreed to resume a fourth round of talks on the same issue" on June 1, 2005, Suleiman Awad, the Egyptian presidential spokesman, said on May 17, according to the Sudan Tribune. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Iran's Kharrazi Dismisses Link Between His Baghdad Visit and Rice's

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported May 18, 2005 that, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi dismissed on May 17, 2005 "any suggestions of a link between his trip to Baghdad and U.S. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's visit to Iraq."

"My trip to Iraq has been in planning for a long time and before the visit by Rice," Iraqi state Television quoted Mr. Kharrazi as saying, according to IRNA.

IRNA said Mr. Kharrazi "also brushed aside allegations that Iran is trying to use the Iraqi situation to settle difference with the U.S."

"We do not want to use Iraq as a springboard to iron-out our differences with U.S." Mr. Kharrazi is quoted as saying. "Iran is keen to assist Iraq not because of U.S. whims, but due to the long standing and historical relations with the Iraqi nation, Kharrazi underlined," according to IRNA. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Relatives Demand to See Officials Who Handled Beslan Crisis

On May 17, 2005, parents and relatives of the 330 people killed on September 3, 2004 in the Beslan school hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia stated at the trial of Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the only surviving hostage taker, that "they wanted to see officials who allowed the group of 32 rebels to reach the school face justice, not just Kulayev, who could be sentenced to life in jail if convicted," reports The Scotman's Mike Eckel from Vladikazkav. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Beslan Relatives Call for 'Real Justice' in School Siege Case

Nur-Pashi Kulayev, "the only Chechen militant to have survived the Beslan school siege in September last year has gone on trial amid calls from bereaved relatives that he be handed over to face 'real justice,'" reports Andrew Osborn, a Moscow correspondent for The Independent of London. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

China: G-4 Resolution Detrimental to Securiy Council Reform

"China on Tuesday [May 17, 2005] said the draft resolution circulated by Germany, Japan, Brazil and India on the U.N. Security Council expansion will be "detrimental" to the process of UN reform," according to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency.

"To take such a move hastily will only intensify contradictions," Xinhua quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan as saying. China said "great divergence remains among U.N. member countries." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Four Nations Make Pitch for U.N. Security Council Seats

"Japan, Brazil, Germany and India circulated a draft resolution Monday [May 16, 2005 that would expand the U.N. Security Council from 15 to 25 members and give the four countries permanent seats along with two African nations," reports Japan Times. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Are Bush, Putin and Karimov to Blame for Uzbek Turmoil?

Writer Angela Charlton asserts in a column published in Russia's RIA Novosti that, "As much as Uzbekistan could use a dose of fair governance, talk of a democratic revolution there sounds premature, even dangerous, after the unrest that has left the Fergana Valley bloodied and terrified in recent days." She added:

Even Washington sees little room for optimism in the harsh and clumsy conflict in Andijan. Despite conspiracy theories that one or all of them are behind the turmoil, George Bush, Vladimir Putin and Islam Karimov have all lost face since Friday's protests, and should be praying that the storm dies down soon. Each leader, in his own way, is to blame for allowing public discontent and lawlessness in Uzbekistan to reach such a volatile level.
Ms. Charlton said, "Karimov, the Uzbek president, is the clearest culprit. A decade and a half of nurturing his cult of personality left him little time to heed the poverty and desperation of his compatriots. Islamic groups that tried to address those problems were labeled terrorist cells, yet many of them only turned to extremism in frustration at Karimov's authoritarianism. Karimov's reputation as a strongman concealed his core weakness and failure to unify his country." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Uzbekistan's Free Peasants Party Says 745 Killed by State Forces

Nigara Khidoyatova, head of the Free Peasants Party in Uzbekistan, said May 17, 2005 that "her party had compiled a list of 745 people allegedly killed by government troops in Uzbekistan, the highest estimate so far, and that many were shot in the back of the head." according to The Associated Press. "But authorities contradicted the claim, saying the toll was far lower," the wire service said. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

CCR: Former Guantánamo Detainees Confirm Qur'an Abuse

Permalink | No Comments

Was U.S. Public Aware of Earlier Qur'an Desecration Claims?

Newsweek can apologize for publishing "Gitmo: SouthCom Showdown" for as long as the Bush Administration demands but it won't change the fact that there are Muslim former prisoners of war who've claimed for months that U.S. personnel at detention centers desecrated the Qur'an. However, the allegations went virtually unnoticed by the U.S. public until Muslims started holding anti-U.S. demonstrations in Pakistan and Afghanistan after Newsweek made reference to Qu'ran desecration at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in its May 9 issue.

Here are References to Earlier Reports
Probe into Holy Quran Desecration Comes After one Year of Allegations--Daily Times
Newsweek Report on Quran Matches Many Earlier Accounts--Bellacio
Britons Allege They saw U.S. Guards Desecrate Quran--The Peninsula
Prisoner Alleges Holy Quran Desecration--Daily Times

Permalink | No Comments

A Link to Ex Detainees' Suit Alleging Qur'an Desecration

“Repeatedly desecrating the Quran in the presence of Plaintiff Arkan M. Ali and other detainees to demean and degrade them, including having a military dog pick up the Quran in its mouth” is one of the allegations in a lawsuit filed by former detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The plaintiffs are seeking “declaratory relief and damages.

Arkan Mohammed Ali, Thahe Mohammed Sabbar, Sherzad Kamal Khalid, Ali H., Mehboob Ahmad, Said Nabi Siddiqi, Mohammed Karim Shirullah, and Haji Abdul Rahman also allege in the suit that, “Desecrating the Quran in the presence of Plaintiff Sabbar and other detainees to demean and degrade then, including throwing the book to the floor and stepping on it.”

The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), are described in the introduction to the complaint as “individuals who were incarcerated in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq or Afghanistan where they were subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including severe and repeated beatings, cutting with knives, sexual humiliation and assault, confinement in a wooden box, forcible sleep and sensory deprivation, mock executions, death threats, and restraint in contorted and excruciating positions.”

While no references to Qur'an desecration at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were found in the complaint on first reading, the suit alleges that techniques successfully used at Guantanamo were employed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A May 9, 2005 report in Newsweek headlined "Gitmo: SouthCom Showdown"? and the subsquent retraction of the report in an article in the May 23, 2005 issue has put the issue of Quran desecration into the international spotlight. See How a Fire Broke Out"

In the May 9 issue, Newsweek said U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had desecrated the Qur'an "in an attempt to rattle suspects" at the prisoner of war camp. Most of the 520 POWs at Gitmo, as the camp is called, are Muslims. They were taken prisoner in the so-called "War on Terrorism."

The report sparked widespread anti-U.S. protests in some Muslim nations including Pakistan and Afghanistan. Fifteen 15 deaths occurred as police tried to stop the protest, according to some news reports. The diplomatic and public relations firestorm that erupted forced the Bush Administration to vociferously deny that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Qur'an. Administration officials contend, as expected that such claims are without merit. They points to its policy against such behavior. The major question is: Would the administration admit the truth in such a volatile climate?

Meanwhile, according to James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News' Washington bureau, "White House officials have privately demanded heads roll" at Newsweek "while publicly expressing outrage over what they called an unproven allegation that sparked riots in Afghanistan that left at least 15 people dead,"

Mr. Meek noted that"Newsweek "bowed to intense White House pressure Monday [May 16, 2005] and retracted its report that Korans were thrown in toilets at the Guantanamo Bay terror prison." Here's more.

For readers interested in the lawsuit, The Diplomatic Times Review provides a a link to the 77-page complaint in which Qur'an desecration is alleged. It was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Permalink | No Comments

White House Reportedly Wants Heads to Roll at Newseek

James Gordon Meek of the New York Daily News' Washington bureau has reported that, "White House officials have privately demanded heads roll" at Newsweek "while publicly expressing outrage over what they called an unproven allegation that sparked riots in Afghanistan that left at least 15 people dead,"

Mr. Meek noted that"Newsweek "bowed to intense White House pressure Monday [May 16, 2005] and retracted its report that Korans were thrown in toilets at the Guantanamo Bay terror prison." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

BBC Looks at Press Reaction to Newsweek's Retraction

The BBC reported May 17, 2005 that, "There has been a strong press reaction in the Muslim world after the US magazine Newsweek retracted a report that the Koran had been desecrated by US interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. The article is headlined "Press unmoved by Newsweek retraction.

Permalink | No Comments

USA TODAY: Detainees' Lawsuits Also Allege Desecration

USA TODAY's Toni Locy reported May 16, 2005 that, "Current and former detainees have been alleging for more than a year that American soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have desecrated the Koran — but none of the allegations has been substantiated by military investigators."

The paper noted that, "The claims are made in some of the 65 lawsuits that have been filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of nearly 180 detainees, as well as in accounts given to human rights workers." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Robin Wright: U.S. Long Had Memo on Qur'an Handling

Robin Wright of The Washington Post reports that, "More than two years ago, the Pentagon issued detailed rules for handling the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, requiring U.S. personnel to ensure that the holy book is not placed in "offensive areas such as the floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas."

"The three-page memorandum, dated Jan. 19, 2003, says that only Muslim chaplains and Muslim interpreters can handle the holy book, and only after putting on clean gloves in full view of detainees," she wrote in a May 17, 2005 article.

Permalink | No Comments

The Effect of a Few Sentences

USA Today's Peter Johnson has an interesting article on the Newsweek retraction headlined "Even a few sentences can have a huge effect." He wrote, in part: "Given the explosive nature of the world today, journalism's latest black eye should serve as a warning to the media to exercise caution in reporting because certain sensitive stories "carry grave implications if you get it wrong," says Tom Fiedler, editor of The Miami Herald." I think that sums up the entire Newsweek ordeal. It's not whether the story is accurate, it's the impact that certain articles will have on the Islamic world.

Permalink | No Comments

Despite Retraction, Some Muslims Say Qur'an Was Desecrated

"Newsweek is backtracking, but it's not just their report," said Ghaffar Aziz, a top official of the Jamaat-e-Islami party," according to a report at Independent Online of South Africa, which was originally published in The Mercury. "All innocent people released from U.S. custody have said on the record that there was desecration of the Qur'an," he said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Foreign Minister Kasuri: Newsweek's Retraction Harms U.S. Image

Zaman Daily Online reports that, "Pakistani Foreign Minister Hurshid Kasuri has said since Newsweek magazine withdrew the story claiming that the U.S. Guantanamo Bay base interrogation officers had insulted Islam's holy book the Koran, it has harmed the image of the Washington administration." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Blame It On Imran

S. Rajagopalan, Washington correspondent for the Hindustan Times, told the paper's readers on May 16, 2005, that, "American magazine Newsweek on Monday apologized for errors in its report on the desecration of the Koran by U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, but sought to blame Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan for triggering the riots that led to 15 deaths in Afghanistan."

He quotes Newsweek as saying in its latest issue: "The spark was apparently lit at a press conference held on Friday, May 6, by Imran Khan, a Pakistani cricket legend and strident critic of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf."

Mr. S. Rajagopalan added: "Imran, it said, brandished a copy of the Newsweek issue and read out the report that U.S. interrogators had placed the Holy Koran on toilet seats and even flushed one. "This is what the U.S. is doing ... desecrating Koran," Imran was quoted as saying.
"His (Imran's) remarks, as well as the outraged comments of Muslim clerics and Pakistani government officials, were picked up on local radio and played throughout neighbouring Afghanistan," the magazine said, adding that radical Islamic foes of the pro-U.S. Hamid Karzai regime quickly exploited the issue." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Pakistanis Say Newsweek's Retraction Not Enough

Liaquat Baloch, deputy secretary general of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) told Agence France Presse (AFP) May 17, 2005 "Those who planned and flashed this story in Newsweek ((on the alleged desecration of the Qur'an at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prisoner of war camp) must be exposed and punished," according to an article published in Siffy News of India. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 16, 2005

Shireen M. Mazari: Have We Come to This?

Shireen M. Mazari, a Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan, opined in a May 11, 2005 article in the Jang Group of Newspapers that,

The desecration of the Holy Qu'ran in Guantanamo Bay simply to cause psychological torment to the incarcerated Muslims, with no thought to the sensitivity of innocent Muslims across the globe, certainly makes it clear how the US administration views Muslims. Add to this The Washington Times' portrayal of Pakistan as a pet dog obeying the commands of the US, in the wake of the arrest by Pakistan of al-Qaeda's Abu Farraj Al Libbi, clearly reflects the abuse the US media feels it can dish out to Pakistan at will. The cartoonist's explanation is absolute drivel and he should recall the British reaction to George Michael's video, "Wag The Dog".
She said, "Incidentally, on such a blatant abuse of Pakistan, why was it left to the Deputy Chief of Mission to take up the issue at the level of our embassy in Washington? Surely our ambassador should have made the public protest. Despite this continuous insult of Pakistan and Islam, we continue to live under the illusion that we are being seen as a partner in the war on terrorism!" Here's more of Mazari's column.

Permalink | No Comments

There Have Been Other Reports of Qur'an Abuse

Associated Press Correspondent Stephen Graham stated in a May 12, 2005 report that, "It was unclear why demonstrations [in Afghanistan protesting U.S. interrogators' alleged desecration of the Holy Qur'an at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prisoner of war camp,] broke out this week and not after previous media reports. In July 2004, for example," he wrote, "the Arab station Al-Jazeera ran an interview with a former Guantanamo detainee who claimed he saw a U.S. soldier stomp on the Qur'an and that another American soldier in the southern city of Kandahar [Afghanistan] threw a holy book into the toilet." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 15, 2005

PEJ: 'Newsweek Dives on Koran Desecration Story'

Chris Cook, a contributing editor at Peace, Earth & Justice News, said this about Newsweek's backtracking on its May 9, 2005 article headlined Gitmo: Southcom Showdown:

Rattled perhaps by the outrage reverberating around the Muslim world, the editors of Newsweek have thrown into doubt the veracity of a story they published last week detailing desecration of the Holy Koran as a tool to make reluctant prisoners talk.
Mr. Cook raises interesting points. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Reportedly Plans Shake-up Over Anti-U.S. Demonstrations

The Australian reports in its May 16, 2005 issue that, "Afghan President Hamid Karzai has blamed opponents of his plans for long-term ties with the U.S. for four days of riots in his country that have left at least 14 people dead and 120 wounded. He promised a shake-up of his administration in the wake of Afghanistan's worst unrest since the fall of the Taliban more than three years ago, with anti-U.S. protests across the country," the paper said.

"The question comes up the demonstrations began in Jalalabad and were peaceful but why later was it dragged into violence?" Mr Karzai said on the weekend, after returning from a European trip," according to The Australian. I think Mr. Karzai is embarrassed that Afghans would demonstrate against a country that supposedly liberated them. He is treading on dangerous ground and probably should let the matter play itself out. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

150-Member Shura Council Demands U.S. Apology

P.K. Abdul Ghafour reported in the May 16, 2005 issue of Arab News that, "The 150-member Shura Council [of Saudi Arabia] yesterday [May 15, 2005] strongly condemned the reported desecration of the Holy Qu'ran at the hands of US officials at Guantanamo Bay and asked the United States, if the incident was true, to apologize in order to avoid hatred and violence."

"The Shura urged the U.S. authorities to launch a prompt investigation into a May 9, [2005] Newsweek magazine report that investigators probing abuses at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay found that interrogators had desecrated the Qu'ran to rattle Muslim prisoners," the paper said. It quoted the Shura as saying:

If the report proved true, it would become important that an apology be issued and addressed to Muslims all over the world to avoid increasing the hatred between nations and followers of religious faiths as well.
The statement, reported by the Saudi Press Agency, said, "The council considers it as an attack on the feelings of Muslims and their sanctity... and a violation of international law and human customs." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Newsweek Doing the Bush Administration a Favor?

Is an article in the May 23, 2005 issue of Newsweek headlined How a Fire Broke Out" an attempt by Newsweek editors to help the Bush Administration cool growing anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world that erupted as a result of a Newsweek report headlined "Gitmo: SouthCom Showdown"? That report in the May 9, 2005 issue said U.S. interrogators at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had desecrated the Qur'an "in an attempt to rattle suspects" at the prisoner of war camp? Most of the 520 POWs at Gitmo, as the camp is called, are Muslims. They were taken prisoner during the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan and hunt for Usama bin Laden.

Imran Khan Niazi, a Pakistani cricket star from 1971 to 1992, and currently a member of Pakistan's National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, put the spotlight on the alleged desecration on May 6, 2005, according to PakTribune. He demanded that the U.S. apologize for it "during an emergency press conference at the PTI's (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf) Central Secretariat in Islamabad," Pakistan, according to the Tribune.

Because Mr. Khan's status in some parts of the Muslim world is akin to that of Michael Jordan in the U.S., people listen to him. Publications reported his demand for a U.S. apology. Since then, Muslims have condemned the alleged desecration and the U.S. has said that it can't find any evidence that it actually happened, and that it would continue to investigate the claim..

"How did Newsweek get its facts wrong? And how did the story feed into serious international unrest?" Evan Thomas asks in the issue of Newsweek dated May 23, 2005. He wrote:

While continuing to report events on the ground, Newsweek interviewed government officials, diplomats and its own staffers, and reconstructed this narrative of events: At Newsweek, veteran investigative reporter Michael Isikoff's interest had been sparked by the release late last year of some internal FBI e-mails that painted a stark picture of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. Isikoff knew that military investigators at Southern Command (which runs the Guantánamo prison) were looking into the allegations. So he called a longtime reliable source, a senior U.S. government official who was knowledgeable about the matter. The source told Isikoff that the report would include new details that were not in the FBI e-mails, including mention of flushing the Qur'an down a toilet. A SouthCom spokesman contacted by Isikoff declined to comment on an ongoing investigation, but Newsweek National Security Correspondent John Barry, realizing the sensitivity of the story, provided a draft of the NEWSWEEK PERISCOPE item to a senior Defense official, asking, "Is this accurate or not?" The official challenged one aspect of the story: the suggestion that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, sent to Gitmo by the Pentagon in 2001 to oversee prisoner interrogation, might be held accountable for the abuses. Not true, said the official (the PERISCOPE draft was corrected to reflect that). But he was silent about the rest of the item. The official had not meant to mislead, but lacked detailed knowledge of the SouthCom report."
But did the senior official really mislead Newsweek? If the portion about the Qur'an desecration was wrong, why did he not also correct it? Is it because he knew the remainder of the story was correct? Again, could it be that the senior official did not mislead? In trying to explain what happened, Newsweek has raised more questions than it answered. Besides, Newsweek noted that publications in Pakistan, Russia and the Middle East had already quoted released detainees as saying U.S. interrogators did desecrate the Qur'an. Here's more. Here's a link to The Editor's Desk

Permalink | 1 Comment

Is Probe of White House Leak on Valerie Plame About to Widen?

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, in a May 13, 2005 post headlined "A Leak's Wider Ripples," said "For journalists, the [Valerie Plame] case raises agonizing issues: Where is the dividing line between journalistic ethics, which demand that reporters protect their sources, and ordinary ethics, which say people should cooperate with law enforcement if they know about possible criminal activity? Do journalists have a special status that exempts them, in certain cases, from the normal responsibilities of citizenship? But this case should worry most of all any White House insider who may have talked with reporters about Valerie Plame and then lied about it under oath."

Time magazine's Matthew Cooper and The New York Times' Judith Miller are currently in a legal bind for refusing to disclose sources to U.S. Attorney Peter Fitzgerald , who is investigating a White House leak about Ms. Plame. It resulted in journalist Robert Novak disclosing that Ms. Plame was a CIA agent under non-official cover. See "Mission to Niger." Also See "A Question of Trust" and "A War on Wilson," about Ms. Plame's Husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. Mr. Cooper was subpoenaed because of these two articles.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Some Bloggers Get Subpoenas in Franklin Spy Case?

missed Justin Raimondo's "Israeli Spy Scandal: Bloggers in the Dock?" when it first appeared at Antiwar.Com on May 9, 2005. It's worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Journalists Reportedly Questioned in Franklin Spy Case

David Johnston of The New York Times reported May 14, 2005 that, "Federal agents have begun asking reporters about any conversations they had with a former Pentagon analyst [Larry Franklin]who has been charged with illegally disclosing military secrets [to Israel] , senior government officials said on Friday [May 13, 2005]. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Journalists Reportedly Questioned in Franklin Spy Case

David Johnston of The New York Times reported May 14, 2005 that, "Federal agents have begun asking reporters about any conversations they had with a former Pentagon analyst [Larry Franklin]who has been charged with illegally disclosing military secrets [to Israel] , senior government officials said on Friday [May 13, 2005]. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Will Some Bloggers Get Subpoenas in Franklin Spy Case?

I missed Justin Raimondo's "Israeli Spy Scandal: Bloggers in the Dock?" when it first appeared at Antiwar.Com on May 9, 2005. It's worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Columnist: Conyers Looks for News in the Wrong Place

Columnist Sylvester Brown, Jr. of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch opines in a May 15, 2005 column that, "Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, is peeved. He can't understand why an explosive story published early this month in England hasn't received more attention here." Here's more of Brown's column.

Permalink | No Comments

Are Most African-American Voters Leaning Toward Villaraigosa?

Washington Post staff writers Amy Argetsinger and Kimberly Edds reported May 15, 2005, that, "If Antonio Villaraigosa wins a runoff election Tuesday [May 17, 2005] to become the first Latino mayor here [in Los Angeles] in modern times, he will likely owe much of his victory to a surprising constituency: black voters." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Newsweek Editor Analyzes Bush's Perspective on Yalta

Jon Meacham, the managing editor of Newsweek and the author of Franklin and Winston, takes a look at President George W. Bush's perspective on Yalta in a Washington Post article headlined "Bush, Yalta and the Blur of Hindsight.

Permalink | No Comments

Do Conservatives Hate Roosevelt?

Barrie Dunsmore, a veteran diplomatic and foreign correspondent for ABC News, opines in a perspective piece in The Barre Montpelier Times Argus of Vermont that,

"American presidential historians, almost without exception, rate Franklin Delano Roosevelt among the top three or four presidents in the history of the country. But hard-line conservatives have always bristled at that. For them, Roosevelt was "a traitor to his class.
Mr. Dunsmore said, "this group, which historically opposed such things as income tax, child labor laws and trade unions, considered the New Deal and Social Security to be borderline communism." Is that so, conservatives? Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

It's a Legitimate Question

David Hardy at Of Arms & the Law asks: "Does gun control lead to erosion of other rights?" Although I'm not a gun enthusiast, his question is valid.

Permalink | No Comments

State Department Refuses to Release More Bolton Documents

The Seattle Times reported May 14, 2005, in its Capital Watch section that, a day after California Senator Barbara Boxer "threatened to delay a vote on John Bolton's nomination to be chief U.N. delegate until the State Department released certain records, the department said yesterday [May 13, 2005] it would refuse any requests for additional documents." What is the Department hiding? Is there something embarrassing being withheld? Just asking. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

How Did Bolton Get Through White House Screeners?

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note points to an article by Paul Light, "professor at New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and senior adviser to the Brookings Institution's Presidential Appointee Initiative," according to Newsday.Com, that "Asks the Right Question: 'How Did Someone Like John Bolton Get Through the Screeners?'" Read it here. Mr. Bolton is President George W. Bush's choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Permalink | No Comments

CARICOM Wants EU to Fund Diversification in Region's Sugar Indiustry

"Caribbean Community (Caricom) trade and agriculture ministers want the European Union to provide funds to diversify the sugar industry in the region and upgrade ageing factories," according to BBC Caribbean. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Taiwan's Tan Sun Chen Visits Two Caribbean Nations

Tan Sun Chen, Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, is on "a two-leg diplomatic tour" that will take him to "the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines." Wang Chien-yeh, deputy director of of Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affair's Information and Cultural Affairs department, described the nations as "two of the Republic of China's allies in the Caribbean." Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

'Hugo Chávez to Launch '24-hour Hemispheric TV News Network'

"On May 24, [2005] Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will launch a 24-hour hemispheric TV news network," with journalist Aram Aharonian "at the helm," The Christian Science Monitor reported May 13, 2005. The paper said, "the idea, Mr. Chávez has explained on several occasions, is to offer a "Southern" perspective, and combat what he calls "the conspiracy" by networks to ignore or "distort" information from and about this region." Mr. Chavez is not a favorite of the Bush Administration. Here's more on this important development.

Permalink | No Comments

What Went Wrong Between Hariri and al-Asad?

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment.Com wrote in a May 14, 2005 post that, "The most interesting and important article on Lebanese - Syrian relations has been published in two parts by al-Hayat in Arabic. It is an interview with Nihad al-Mashnouq, [the assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik] Hariri's advisor on relations with Syria. As one Lebanese friend wrote me:

Mashnouq was indeed in the "inner core" of the Hariri pantheon, and he has a score to settle with the army and [Emile] Lahoud, who forced him into exile, accusing him in a smear campaign, as I recall, of homosexuality. Whether there is any truth there, I don't know, but it was one of those accusations designed to blacken him, with no evidence.
Mr. Landis said his Lebanese friend "explains what went wrong, and why relations between Hariri and al-Asad collapsed well before the Lahoud extension. Already by 2000, "the door closed" between Hariri and [Syrian President Bashar] al-Asad, he writes, because the Syrians did not want Hariri to become Prime Minister again." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Helena Cobban's 'Open Thread' on Iraq

Helena Cobban at Just World News has an "open thread" on Iraq going. She welcomes your participation.

Permalink | No Comments

More War News From Iraq

Today in Iraq has interesting links to news about Iraq. Contrast it with coverage by Free Iraq.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Terms of Engagement in Iraq Worry Some British Officers

Juan Cole at Informed Comment reported May 15, 2005 that, "The British officers corps is continuing in its efforts to convince the U.S. military that its current rules of engagement are over-kill and result in the loss of many civlian lives (thus driving Iraqis to join or support the guerrillas). The British commanders feel that they learned lessons from Northern Ireland relevant to the U.S. in Iraq," Mr. Cole wrote. "Sean Rayment quotes a British officer (as saying):

I explained that their tactics were alienating the civil population and could lengthen the insurgency by a decade. Unfortunately, when we explained our rules of engagement which are based around the principle of minimum force, the US troops just laughed.
Mr. Cole said, "The British are concerned that the U.S. will eventually so alienate Iraqis as to endanger British troops, as well." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Deep Blade Journal Analyzes U.S. Corruption Iraq

On May 12, 2005, Deep Blade Journal posted a highly informative article on the widespread corruption practiced by some U.S. firms doing business in U.S. occupied Iraq. Hopefully, the mainstream media will abandon its cheerleader role and expose how U.S. taxpayers are being fleeced on Iraq. Deep Blade's post is headlined "Iraq corruption deflection." I recommend it.

Permalink | No Comments

Recommended Reading on Central Asia

If current events in Uzbekistan has prompted you to seek more information on the political upheaval in Central Asia, The Diplomatic Times Review highly recommends "Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia" by highly regarded Pakistan journalist Ahmed Rashid. Also see his "Taliban: Islam, Oil and the new Great Game in Central Asia".

Permalink | No Comments

Ex-Diplomat Warns of the 'Talibanization' of Central Asia

M. K. Bhadrakumar, described by Asia Times Online as "a former Indian career diplomat who has served in Islamabad, Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow, contends that:

Three successive waves of political Islam have swept over Central Asia during the 15-year period since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They might seem dissimilar. But they have common elements - the most important being that they all had extra-regional profiles, even as they sought a habitation and name in the region. To the naked eye, they appear as interpolators on a civilization that was historically eclectic.
"They are the monstrous progenies of "foreign devils on the Silk Road" - of Central Asia's globalization," he wrote. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Links to EurasiaNet.Org's Uzbekistan Archive

George Soros' EurasiaNet.Org has interesting headlines in its Uzbekistan Archive including this Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty report on the latest political upheaval and deaths in the landlocked Central Asian nation, which shares a border with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Afghan Scholars, Elders Meet Over Alleged Qur'an Desecration

The Associated Press (AP) reports that "About 500 Islamic scholars and tribal elders gathered in Faizabad, 310 miles northeast of the [Afghan]capital, Kabul, to pass a resolution calling for anyone found to have abused the Qur'an to be punished, said Maulawi Abdul Wali Arshad, head of the religious affairs department in Badakhshan province." Mr. Arshad "and the provincial police chief said the scholars demanded a ``reaction'' from U.S. authorities within three days, but they denied reports that the scholars threatened to declare a holy war if the deadline was not respected," the AP said. If any Diplomatic Times Review reader is interested in how insults, disrespect and efforts to impose foreign systems on Afghanistan can spark a jihad, please read Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001." Also see the late Artyom Borovik's "The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan." Here's more of the AP article.

Permalink | No Comments

Some Afghan Scholars, Elders Meet Over Alleged Qur'an Desecration

The Associated Press (AP) reports that "About 500 Islamic scholars and tribal elders gathered in Faizabad, 310 miles northeast of the [Afghan]capital, Kabul, to pass a resolution calling for anyone found to have abused the Qur'an to be punished, said Maulawi Abdul Wali Arshad, head of the religious affairs department in Badakhshan province." Mr. Arshad "and the provincial police chief said the scholars demanded a ``reaction'' from U.S. authorities within three days, but they denied reports that the scholars threatened to declare a holy war if the deadline was not respected," the AP said. If any Diplomatic Times Review reader is interested in how insults, disrespect and efforts to impose foreign systems on Afghanistan can spark a jihad, please read Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001." Also see the late Artyom Borovik's "The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan." Here's more of the AP article.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Blames 'Enemies' Of Afghanistan for Anti-U.S. Protests

Ayaz Gul, in a May 15, 2005 Voice of America (VOA) report from Islamabad, Pakistan, said "Afghanistan is peaceful, after days of bloody protests over a magazine report that U.S. interrogators in Guantanamo, Cuba allegedly desecrated the Qur'an. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has blamed "enemies" of Afghanistan's progress and its ties with the international community for the violence," the report says, adding: "The protest over the alleged desecration is not over." I wouldn't expect Mr. Karzai to blame anyone but internal 'enemies." Why would he blame Americans? They are the ones responsible for what little power he has, and for protecting him. Here's the VOA report.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Blames 'Enemies' Of Afghanistan for Anti-U.S. Protests

Ayaz Gul, in a May 15, 2005 Voice of America (VOA) report from Islamabad, Pakistan, said "Afghanistan is peaceful, after days of bloody protests over a magazine report that U.S. interrogators in Guantanamo, Cuba allegedly desecrated the Qur'an. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has blamed "enemies" of Afghanistan's progress and its ties with the international community for the violence," the report says, adding: "The protest over the alleged desecration is not over." I wouldn't expect Mr. Karzai to blame anyone but internal 'enemies." Why would he blame Americans? They are the ones responsible for what little power he has, and for protecting him. Here's the VOA report.

Permalink | No Comments

Syria Reportedly Builds Up Military at Iraq Border

"Syria launched a military build up on its Iraq border after the American Army began a wide-ranging military operation in a region in Iraq near the Syrian border," according to Zaman Daily Online. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Syria Reportedly Builds Up Military at Iraq Border

"Syria launched a military build up on its Iraq border after the American Army began a wide-ranging military operation in a region in Iraq near the Syrian border," according to Zaman Daily Online. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 14, 2005

Don't Blame the Media for Reporting Interrogator's Actions

Blogger News Network has an interesting analysis by Rick Moran headlined "Foreign Media Fans The Flames Of Anti-Americanism." It's about the anti-American protest that has hit some parts of the Muslim world since Newsweek reported in the May 9, 2005 issue that some interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp, where some Muslim prisoners of war are being held, put the Qur'an in toilets." The foreign media or Newsweek shouldn't be blamed for reporting this story or commenting on it. If Americans interrogators hadn't put the Qur'an in the toilet, there wouldn't have been a story. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Don't Blame the Media for Reporting Interrogator's Actions

Blogger News Network has an interesting analysis by Rick Moran headlined "Foreign Media Fans The Flames Of Anti-Americanism." It's about the anti-American protest that has hit some parts of the Muslim world since Newsweek reported in the May 9, 2005 issue that some interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp, where some Muslim prisoners of war are being held, put the Qur'an in toilets." The foreign media or Newsweek shouldn't be blamed for reporting this story or commenting on it. If Americans interrogators hadn't put the Qur'an in the toilet, there wouldn't have been a story. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Weighs in On Qur'an Descecration Controversy

"Afghan president Hamid Karzai urged the United States yesterday [May 14, 2005] to prosecute and punish anyone found guilt of desecrating the Qur'an as anti-U.S. protests flared for a fifth day in Afghanistan, " according to the Sunday Herald of Australia. Anti-American sentiment has risen in Afghanistan since Newsweek reported in the May 9, 2005 issue that some U.S. interrogators at the U.S. prisoner of war camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, put the Muslim holy book in toilets. POWs from Afghanistan, among others, are held at the camp. The Herald said, "Sixteen Afghans have been killed and more than 100 injured since Wednesday [May 11, 2005], in the worst anti-U.S. protests across Afghanistan since U.S. forces invaded in 2001 to oust the Taliban." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Weighs in On Qur'an Descecration Controversy

"Afghan president Hamid Karzai urged the United States yesterday [May 14, 2005] to prosecute and punish anyone found guilt of desecrating the Qur'an as anti-U.S. protests flared for a fifth day in Afghanistan, " according to the Sunday Herald of Australia. Anti-American sentiment has risen in Afghanistan since Newsweek reported in the May 9, 2005 issue that some U.S. interrogators at the U.S. prisoner of war camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, put the Muslim holy book in toilets. POWs from Afghanistan, among others, are held at the camp. The Herald said, "Sixteen Afghans have been killed and more than 100 injured since Wednesday [May 11, 2005], in the worst anti-U.S. protests across Afghanistan since U.S. forces invaded in 2001 to oust the Taliban." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Kasuri to U.S.: Don't Treat Qur'an Descration Like Abu Ghraib

Khurshid Kasuri, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, has demanded that the Bush Administration punish those responsible for desecrating the Qur'an at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prisoner of war camp. According to The Independent of London, Mr. Kasuri wants the U.S. to take "much stronger action" than it did after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq erupted in Iraq and embarrassed the U.S. Newsweek reported the desecration of the Qu'ran, which caused widespread protests by Muslims around the world despite claims by the U.S. that it was investigating the alleged desecration, in which interrogators a Guantanamo allegedly placed copies of the Qur'an on toilets, and flushed one down the toilet in order to humiliate and break Muslim POWs, most of whom were captured in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration said it has found no evidence so far that the acts occurred. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Kasuri to U.S.: Don't Treat Qur'an Descration Like Abu Ghraib

Khurshid Kasuri, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, has demanded that the Bush Administration punish those responsible for desecrating the Qur'an at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prisoner of war camp. According to The Independent of London, Mr. Kasuri wants the U.S. to take "much stronger action" than it did after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq erupted in Iraq and embarrassed the U.S. Newsweek reported the desecration of the Qu'ran, which caused widespread protests by Muslims around the world despite claims by the U.S. that it was investigating the alleged desecration, in which interrogators a Guantanamo allegedly placed copies of the Qur'an on toilets, and flushed one down the toilet in order to humiliate and break Muslim POWs, most of whom were captured in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration said it has found no evidence so far that the acts occurred. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

May 13, 2005

Are The Russians Right About Western NGOs?

Simon Saradzhyan and Carl Schreck, staff writers for The Moscow Times.Com, reported May 13, 2005:

U.S., British and other foreign nongovermental organizations are providing cover for professional spies in Russia, while Western organizations are bankrolling plans to stage peaceful revolutions in Belarus and other former Soviet republics bordering Russia, Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev told the State Duma on Thursday [May 12, 2005]. Patrushev said the FSB has monitored and exposed intelligence gathering activities carried out by the U.S. Peace Corps, the British-based Merlin medical relief charity, Kuwait's Society of Social Reforms and the Saudi Red Crescent Society. He said foreign secret services rely on NGOs to collect information and promote the interests of their countries.
The accused deny that organizations ran by their nationals are covers for spies. For years, I've often wondered whether some NGOs were fronts for spying. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Are The Russians Right About Western NGOs?

Simon Saradzhyan and Carl Schreck, staff writers for The Moscow Times.Com, reported May 13, 2005:

U.S., British and other foreign nongovermental organizations are providing cover for professional spies in Russia, while Western organizations are bankrolling plans to stage peaceful revolutions in Belarus and other former Soviet republics bordering Russia, Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev told the State Duma on Thursday [May 12, 2005]. Patrushev said the FSB has monitored and exposed intelligence gathering activities carried out by the U.S. Peace Corps, the British-based Merlin medical relief charity, Kuwait's Society of Social Reforms and the Saudi Red Crescent Society. He said foreign secret services rely on NGOs to collect information and promote the interests of their countries.
The accused deny that organizations ran by their nationals are covers for spies. For years, I've often wondered whether some NGOs were fronts for spying. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Chinese Students Reportedly Running ‘Spy Network’ in Europe

"A network of Chinese students coordinated from Belgium is believed to be carrying out industrial espionage in several northern European countries, according to a think-tank known as the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre," says an Agence France Press report in the May 12, 2005 issue of The Peninsula, "Qatar's leading English language daily. Here's more of this interesting story.

Permalink | No Comments

Chinese Students Reportedly Running ‘Spy Network’ in Europe

"A network of Chinese students coordinated from Belgium is believed to be carrying out industrial espionage in several northern European countries, according to a think-tank known as the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre," says an Agence France Press report in the May 12, 2005 issue of The Peninsula, "Qatar's leading English language daily. Here's more of this interesting story.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Soldiers and Non-Iraqi Guerillas Are All Foreigners in Iraq

James Janega, a Chicago Tribune correspondent reporting from al-Qaim, Iraq, reported May 11, 2005, that U.S. commanders say they believe they've "found strong indications that foreign fighters make up part of the resistance facing them as they conduct an offensive aimed at rooting out insurgents near the Syrian border." He quotes Colonel Stephen Davis, "commander of Regimental Combat Team-2, responsible for this corner of Anbar province," as saying:

I've always been skeptical of the amount of foreign fighters said to be out here. That skepticism is removed as of this operation.
American fighters and non-Iraqi Muslim fighters are all foreigners. So why are foreign Americans occupying Iraq making an issue out of foreign Muslims fighting the occupation? Just asking. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Soldiers and Non-Iraqi Guerillas Are All Foreigners in Iraq

James Janega, a Chicago Tribune correspondent reporting from al-Qaim, Iraq, reported May 11, 2005, that U.S. commanders say they believe they've "found strong indications that foreign fighters make up part of the resistance facing them as they conduct an offensive aimed at rooting out insurgents near the Syrian border." He quotes Colonel Stephen Davis, "commander of Regimental Combat Team-2, responsible for this corner of Anbar province," as saying:

I've always been skeptical of the amount of foreign fighters said to be out here. That skepticism is removed as of this operation.
American fighters and non-Iraqi Muslim fighters are all foreigners. So why are foreign Americans occupying Iraq making an issue out of foreign Muslims fighting the occupation? Just asking. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Myers Admits Iraqi Insurgency Could Last for Years

On May 12, 2005, General Richard Bowman Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged what is a truism of guerilla warfare and liberations struggles. He said the insurgency in Iraq could last for years.

"This requires patience," he said at a news conference," according to the AP. "This is a thinking and adapting adversary ... I wouldn't look for results tomorrow. One thing we know about insurgencies, that they last from three, four years to nine years."

"What we're seeing is really an attempt to discredit this new Cabinet and new government," Mr. Myers added. "This is, the most cases, Iraqis blowing up other Iraqis. And I don't know how they expect to curry favor with the Iraq population when we have Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence." Well, sir, it seems that Iraqis are throwing stones at U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies for failing to protect them. If the U.S. and Iraqi forces retaliate with deadly forces against the stone throwers, they risk creating more insurgents. Besides, the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence the general cites is an outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Those who fight invaders generally fight collaborators, too. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Myers Admits Iraqi Insurgency Could Last for Years

On May 12, 2005, General Richard Bowman Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged what is a truism of guerilla warfare and liberations struggles. He said the insurgency in Iraq could last for years.

"This requires patience," he said at a news conference," according to the AP. "This is a thinking and adapting adversary ... I wouldn't look for results tomorrow. One thing we know about insurgencies, that they last from three, four years to nine years."

"What we're seeing is really an attempt to discredit this new Cabinet and new government," Mr. Myers added. "This is, the most cases, Iraqis blowing up other Iraqis. And I don't know how they expect to curry favor with the Iraq population when we have Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence." Well, sir, it seems that Iraqis are throwing stones at U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies for failing to protect them. If the U.S. and Iraqi forces retaliate with deadly forces against the stone throwers, they risk creating more insurgents. Besides, the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence the general cites is an outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Those who fight invaders generally fight collaborators, too. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Aljazeera: Men Set to Fight U.S. In Qaim Say They're All Iraqis

Aljazeera.net reported May 14, 2005 that, "the fighters preparing to fight the U.S. forces in Qaim, Iraq, 320 kilometers west of Baghdad, insist there are no foreigners among them. "We are all Iraqis," declared one fighter, his face covered with a scarf," according to Aljazeera.net. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Aljazeera: Men Set to Fight U.S. In Qaim Say They're All Iraqis

Aljazeera.net reported May 14, 2005 that, "the fighters preparing to fight the U.S. forces in Qaim, Iraq, 320 kilometers west of Baghdad, insist there are no foreigners among them. "We are all Iraqis," declared one fighter, his face covered with a scarf," according to Aljazeera.net. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S.: Iraq's Cash Economy May Be Aiding Insurgents

Beth Potter, in an article in the Daily Times of Pakistan, notes that, "in Iraq, unregulated money transfers known as hawala are at the heart of the country's largely cash economy, but U.S. officials fear they also help fund the insurgency.The unofficial banking system is common to much of the Middle East where it helps smooth business dealings and sidesteps red tape," she wrote. "But U.S. officials want it regulated in Iraq to help choke off funds from abroad that might be helping to finance rebel operations, according to a U.S. Treasury official in Baghdad who declined to be named. "Insurgency financing in a cash economy like this is very easy. I want to detect and deter them," the official told AFP. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S.: Iraq's Cash Economy May Be Aiding Insurgents

Beth Potter, in an article in the Daily Times of Pakistan, notes that, "in Iraq, unregulated money transfers known as hawala are at the heart of the country's largely cash economy, but U.S. officials fear they also help fund the insurgency.The unofficial banking system is common to much of the Middle East where it helps smooth business dealings and sidesteps red tape," she wrote. "But U.S. officials want it regulated in Iraq to help choke off funds from abroad that might be helping to finance rebel operations, according to a U.S. Treasury official in Baghdad who declined to be named. "Insurgency financing in a cash economy like this is very easy. I want to detect and deter them," the official told AFP. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Can a Decisive Bolton Confirmation End Republican Disarray?

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, comments in the publication's May 25, 2005 issue that, "The way for the [U.S.] administration and the Republican Congress to deal with disarray is by winning a quick and decisive victory in the fight for John Bolton." Read "Bolton to the Rescue" for Mr. Kristol's thoughts on how Mr. Bolton winning confirmation as President George W. Bush's next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. will help the administration.

Permalink | No Comments

Can a Decisive Bolton Confirmation End Republican Disarray?

William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, comments in the publication's May 25, 2005 issue that, "The way for the [U.S.] administration and the Republican Congress to deal with disarray is by winning a quick and decisive victory in the fight for John Bolton." Read "Bolton to the Rescue" for Mr. Kristol's thoughts on how Mr. Bolton winning confirmation as President George W. Bush's next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. will help the administration.

Permalink | 1 Comment

The Guardian Newsblog on 'Bush, Political Capital and John Bolton

The Guardian Unlimited Newsblog said May 13, 2005, that, "The Bush administration had to fight hard to keep alive the nomination of John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN. The senate foreign relations committee voted along party lines - 10 Republicans and eight Democrats - took the unusual step of sending Bolton's nomination to the full senate 'without recommendation,'" the weblog said, adding: "It was an embarrassment for the administration, but their man survived." And the fight's not over. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Guardian Newsblog on 'Bush, Political Capital and John Bolton

The Guardian Unlimited Newsblog said May 13, 2005, that, "The Bush administration had to fight hard to keep alive the nomination of John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN. The senate foreign relations committee voted along party lines - 10 Republicans and eight Democrats - took the unusual step of sending Bolton's nomination to the full senate 'without recommendation,'" the weblog said, adding: "It was an embarrassment for the administration, but their man survived." And the fight's not over. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Poster Child for What a Diplomat Shouldn't Be

The Herald Sun of Sydney, Australia told its readers in the paper's May 14, 2005 edition that, John Bolton, President Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., "is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be. George W. Bush was humiliated last night when a powerful Senate committee refused to back his choice as the next US ambassador to the United Nations," the paper said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

The Poster Child for What a Diplomat Shouldn't Be

The Herald Sun of Sydney, Australia told its readers in the paper's May 14, 2005 edition that, John Bolton, President Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., "is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be. George W. Bush was humiliated last night when a powerful Senate committee refused to back his choice as the next US ambassador to the United Nations," the paper said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

The Washington Note's Bolton News and Views

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note (TWN) has his usual good round up of news and views about the Bush Administration's efforts to get John Bolton, President George W. Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., confirmed. He reported May 13, 2005 that, "Sources in the White House tell TWN that there is genuine shock and disbelief among the Executive Office ranks about the difficulties of getting Bolton confirmed for the U.N." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Washington Note's Bolton News and Views

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note (TWN) has his usual good round up of news and views about the Bush Administration's efforts to get John Bolton, President George W. Bush's choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., confirmed. He reported May 13, 2005 that, "Sources in the White House tell TWN that there is genuine shock and disbelief among the Executive Office ranks about the difficulties of getting Bolton confirmed for the U.N." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 12, 2005

Group of 77 to Meet June 15 and 16, 2005 in Qatar

"Some 60 heads of state and many prime ministers, including Britain's Tony Blair, will attend the second Group of 77 and China South Summit in Doha on June 15-16,[2005]," Mohammad Al-Rumaihi, Qatar's Assistant Foreign Minister, told reporters on May 12, 2005, according to Agence France Press. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Group of 77 to Meet June 15 and 16, 2005 in Qatar

"Some 60 heads of state and many prime ministers, including Britain's Tony Blair, will attend the second Group of 77 and China South Summit in Doha on June 15-16,[2005]," Mohammad Al-Rumaihi, Qatar's Assistant Foreign Minister, told reporters on May 12, 2005, according to Agence France Press. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

'From Fallujah to Qaim' is Worth Reading

Charles Recknagel and Kathleen Ridolfo have an interesting article in Asia Times Online headlined "From Fallujah to Qaim." It's worth reading

Permalink | No Comments

'From Fallujah to Qaim' is Worth Reading

Charles Recknagel and Kathleen Ridolfo have an interesting article in Asia Times Online headlined "From Fallujah to Qaim." It's worth reading

Permalink | No Comments

Is True Scope of Iraq Insurgency Being Acknowledged?

"The insurgent and terrorist threat in Iraq remains all too real and it is far from clear that the U.S. and Iraqi government will be able to decisively defeat the various insurgent groups," said Anthony Cordesman, a security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, in a new study titled "Iraq's Evolving Insurgency," reports Globe and Mail.Com of Toronto. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is True Scope of Iraq Insurgency Being Acknowledged?

"The insurgent and terrorist threat in Iraq remains all too real and it is far from clear that the U.S. and Iraqi government will be able to decisively defeat the various insurgent groups," said Anthony Cordesman, a security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, in a new study titled "Iraq's Evolving Insurgency," reports Globe and Mail.Com of Toronto. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Reuters: Students in Kabul Chant 'Death to America'

Reuters reported May 12, 2005, that, "Several hundred students in the Afghan capital [Kabul] held a protest on Thursday May 12, 2005] to denounce the United States over a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Qur'an."

"The students, chanting "Death to America", gathered in front of the Kabul University and marched towards the city center, a day after a similar protest in an eastern city degenerated into rioting and four people were killed and dozens wounded," the wire service said, adding: "Police watched the protest from a distance but made no attempt to block the students as they set off on their march, a witness said." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Reuters: Students in Kabul Chant 'Death to America'

Reuters reported May 12, 2005, that, "Several hundred students in the Afghan capital [Kabul] held a protest on Thursday May 12, 2005] to denounce the United States over a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Qur'an."

"The students, chanting "Death to America", gathered in front of the Kabul University and marched towards the city center, a day after a similar protest in an eastern city degenerated into rioting and four people were killed and dozens wounded," the wire service said, adding: "Police watched the protest from a distance but made no attempt to block the students as they set off on their march, a witness said." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Puts a Spin on Protest in Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai, the Bush Administration's caretaker in Afghanistan, was at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on a three-day visit when protests in Jalalabad erupted on May 11, 2005.

The Daily Times of Pakistan reported May 12, 2005 that: "At least four people were killed and dozens injured in the eastern city in a protest involving clashes with police sparked by a report that U.S. soldiers were desecrating the Qur'an at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The U.S. State Department said late on Tuesday [May 9, 2005] that the Pentagon was investigating a report in the U.S.-based Newsweek magazine that interrogators in Guantanamo kept copies of the Qur'an in toilets to annoy prisoners."

The paper quotes Mr. Karzai as saying, "It also shows that Afghanistan's institutions, the police, the army, are not ready to handle protests and demos." The paper said Mr. Karzai said the fact that people were demonstrating in the streets indicated that Afghan society had evolved considerably since the Taliban was removed by a U.S.-led military coalition at the end of 2001.

"The event this morning showed two things: one, that Afghanistan is a democratic state and two, that Afghanistan as a democratic state is not yet ready with institutions to handle it," Mr. Karzai said.

Mr. Karzai frequently begs Western nations to make long-term economic and military commitments in Afghanistan. That's why he was in Brussels. Without the West propping him up, he most likely wouldn't last long since the private militia leaders in Afghanistan have a bigger military than he does. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Karzai Puts a Spin on Protest in Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai, the Bush Administration's caretaker in Afghanistan, was at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on a three-day visit when protests in Jalalabad erupted on May 11, 2005.

The Daily Times of Pakistan reported May 12, 2005 that: "At least four people were killed and dozens injured in the eastern city in a protest involving clashes with police sparked by a report that U.S. soldiers were desecrating the Qur'an at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The U.S. State Department said late on Tuesday [May 9, 2005] that the Pentagon was investigating a report in the U.S.-based Newsweek magazine that interrogators in Guantanamo kept copies of the Qur'an in toilets to annoy prisoners."

The paper quotes Mr. Karzai as saying, "It also shows that Afghanistan's institutions, the police, the army, are not ready to handle protests and demos." The paper said Mr. Karzai said the fact that people were demonstrating in the streets indicated that Afghan society had evolved considerably since the Taliban was removed by a U.S.-led military coalition at the end of 2001.

"The event this morning showed two things: one, that Afghanistan is a democratic state and two, that Afghanistan as a democratic state is not yet ready with institutions to handle it," Mr. Karzai said.

Mr. Karzai frequently begs Western nations to make long-term economic and military commitments in Afghanistan. That's why he was in Brussels. Without the West propping him up, he most likely wouldn't last long since the private militia leaders in Afghanistan have a bigger military than he does. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 11, 2005

George H.W. Bush Was Right About Not Invading and Occupying Iraq

Joseph Britt, in a May 10, 2005 post at The Belgravia Dispatch, takes issue with President George W. Bush's suggestion that the the U.S. was partly to blame for the Soviet Union's domination of Central and Eastern Europe after World War II. This the passage that seems to have hit a nerve:

The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.
Specifically, Mr. Bush admitted that the U.S. under President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped cause ``one of the greatest wrongs of history'' -- when Mr. Roosevelt signed the Yalta Agreement in 1945 along with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin.

He also said: "We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others.'' He was referring to his attempts to impose democracy on the Middle East.

Before taking Mr. Bush to task, Mr. Britt prefaced it with, "I have nothing but praise for President Bush's visits to Latvia, Russia and Georgia this week and the statements he has made in each place -- especially for stating so forthrightly the truth about the postwar occupation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army -- with one exception." In the next paragraph, he asked:

Was the reference to Yalta, in Riga of all places, really necessary? An argument could be made -- not one I'm persuaded by at all, just a plausible argument -- that Roosevelt at Yalta and Truman afterward could have pressed Stalin harder, and successfully, to prevent the absorption of Poland into the Communist bloc. But the Baltic states? How exactly was Roosevelt supposed to prevent Stalin from keeping his armies in countries that far behind the lines and hundreds of miles from the nearest American army?

I dislike bad history, but frankly what bothers me more is this President's tendency to casually trash decisions made by his predecessors. He's already done this with respect to the Middle East, ascribing to American policy the lack of freedom in a part of the world where water has, historically, been more common than freedom and in which the least free states were almost all Soviet clients, not American ones. If he were going to apologize for anything a former President has done, he ought to have apologized for his father's historic loss of nerve and wretched judgment in unilaterally declaring an end to the Gulf War in 1991. So many of the problems we are having in Iraq now are traceable to what the elder Bush did then.

I disagree with Mr. Britt's contention that if President Bush "were going to apologize for anything a former President has done, he ought to have apologized for his father's historic loss of nerve and wretched judgment in unilaterally declaring an end to the Gulf War in 1991." I get the impression that Mr. Britt, like the Neocons behind the current War in Iraq, would have preferred that George Herbert Walker Bush had invaded Iraq during the first Gulf War, overthrew former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and established a puppet regime in Baghdad.

But as the elder Bush states in A World Transformed, which he wrote with Brent Scowcroft,

"trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guidelines about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances , there was no viable "exit strategy we could see, violating another of our principles."

Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations Mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish . Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different-and perhaps barren--outcome.

Declaring a cease-fire after 100 days was not "wretched judgment" as Mr. Britt suggests. If anyone should be declared as having "wretched judgment, it's the current president. That was reflected in the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses and without a U.N. Mandate. Not only that occupying Iraq is proving difficult and costly. It has spawned an insurgency that's growing daily and deadlier. Thousands of Iraqis have died during the occupation, whether at the hands of the U.S. and its coalition partners or the insurgents. Sadly, the U.S. doesn't care about Iraqis enough to keep count of Iraqi dead.

Finally, Mr. Britt asserts that, "many of the problems we are having in Iraq now are traceable to what the elder Bush did then." Wrong! The U.S. is having problems because it is occupying a foreign nation. No matter how many people welcome invaders, there will always be resistance. If some one invaded and occupied the U.S., many of us would become insurgents. I know I would. Read more of Mr. Britt's post headlined "Excuse me...Yalta."

Permalink | 1 Comment

George H.W. Bush Was Right About Not Invading and Occupying Iraq

Joseph Britt, in a May 10, 2005 post at The Belgravia Dispatch, takes issue with President George W. Bush's suggestion that the the U.S. was partly to blame for the Soviet Union's domination of Central and Eastern Europe after World War II. This the passage that seems to have hit a nerve:

The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.
Specifically, Mr. Bush admitted that the U.S. under President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped cause ``one of the greatest wrongs of history'' -- when Mr. Roosevelt signed the Yalta Agreement in 1945 along with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin.

He also said: "We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others.'' He was referring to his attempts to impose democracy on the Middle East.

Before taking Mr. Bush to task, Mr. Britt prefaced it with, "I have nothing but praise for President Bush's visits to Latvia, Russia and Georgia this week and the statements he has made in each place -- especially for stating so forthrightly the truth about the postwar occupation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army -- with one exception." In the next paragraph, he asked:

Was the reference to Yalta, in Riga of all places, really necessary? An argument could be made -- not one I'm persuaded by at all, just a plausible argument -- that Roosevelt at Yalta and Truman afterward could have pressed Stalin harder, and successfully, to prevent the absorption of Poland into the Communist bloc. But the Baltic states? How exactly was Roosevelt supposed to prevent Stalin from keeping his armies in countries that far behind the lines and hundreds of miles from the nearest American army?

I dislike bad history, but frankly what bothers me more is this President's tendency to casually trash decisions made by his predecessors. He's already done this with respect to the Middle East, ascribing to American policy the lack of freedom in a part of the world where water has, historically, been more common than freedom and in which the least free states were almost all Soviet clients, not American ones. If he were going to apologize for anything a former President has done, he ought to have apologized for his father's historic loss of nerve and wretched judgment in unilaterally declaring an end to the Gulf War in 1991. So many of the problems we are having in Iraq now are traceable to what the elder Bush did then.

I disagree with Mr. Britt's contention that if President Bush "were going to apologize for anything a former President has done, he ought to have apologized for his father's historic loss of nerve and wretched judgment in unilaterally declaring an end to the Gulf War in 1991." I get the impression that Mr. Britt, like the Neocons behind the current War in Iraq, would have preferred that George Herbert Walker Bush had invaded Iraq during the first Gulf War, overthrew former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and established a puppet regime in Baghdad.

But as the elder Bush states in A World Transformed, which he wrote with Brent Scowcroft,

"trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guidelines about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances , there was no viable "exit strategy we could see, violating another of our principles."

Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations Mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish . Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different-and perhaps barren--outcome.

Declaring a cease-fire after 100 days was not "wretched judgment" as Mr. Britt suggests. If anyone should be declared as having "wretched judgment, it's the current president. That was reflected in the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses and without a U.N. Mandate. Not only that occupying Iraq is proving difficult and costly. It has spawned an insurgency that's growing daily and deadlier. Thousands of Iraqis have died during the occupation, whether at the hands of the U.S. and its coalition partners or the insurgents. Sadly, the U.S. doesn't care about Iraqis enough to keep count of Iraqi dead.

Finally, Mr. Britt asserts that, "many of the problems we are having in Iraq now are traceable to what the elder Bush did then." Wrong! The U.S. is having problems because it is occupying a foreign nation. No matter how many people welcome invaders, there will always be resistance. If some one invaded and occupied the U.S., many of us would become insurgents. I know I would. Read more of Mr. Britt's post headlined "Excuse me...Yalta."

Permalink | No Comments

May 10, 2005

What If Hamas Wins Big in July 17 Elections?

Haaretz has a May 10, 2005 article that says, "The results of upcoming Palestinian Authority elections will not affect Israel's plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and portions of the West Bank, since the move is unilateral, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday [May 10, 2005], responding to a remark by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Mr. Shalom said on Monday [May 9, 2005] that if Hamas won in PA (Palestinian Authority) parliamentary elections set for July 17, Israel should rethink its plans for a withdrawal." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

What If Hamas Wins Big in July 17 Elections?

Haaretz has a May 10, 2005 article that says, "The results of upcoming Palestinian Authority elections will not affect Israel's plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and portions of the West Bank, since the move is unilateral, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday [May 10, 2005], responding to a remark by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Mr. Shalom said on Monday [May 9, 2005] that if Hamas won in PA (Palestinian Authority) parliamentary elections set for July 17, Israel should rethink its plans for a withdrawal." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Were Insurgents in Iraq Tipped-Off About Marine Operation?

James Janega of of the Chicago Tribune, in an article datelined al-Qaim, Iraq, made this observation about fighting May 9, 2005 in Ubaydi, Iraq:

The Marines who swept into the Euphrates River town of Ubaydi confronted an enemy they had not expected to find and one that attacked in surprising ways. As they pushed from house to house in early fighting, trying to flush out the insurgents who had attacked their column with mortar fire, they ran into sandbagged emplacements behind garden walls. They found a house where insurgents were crouching in the basement, firing upwards through slits hacked at ankle height in the ground-floor walls, aiming at spots that the Marines body armor did not cover.
Mr. Janega said, "The shock was that the enemy was not supposed to be in this town at all. Instead, American intelligence indicated that the insurgency had massed on the other side of the river. Marine commanders expressed surprise Monday [May 9, 2005] not only at the insurgents presence but also the extent of their preparations, as if they had expected the Marines to come." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Were Insurgents in Iraq Tipped-Off About Marine Operation?

James Janega of of the Chicago Tribune, in an article datelined al-Qaim, Iraq, made this observation about fighting May 9, 2005 in Ubaydi, Iraq:

The Marines who swept into the Euphrates River town of Ubaydi confronted an enemy they had not expected to find and one that attacked in surprising ways. As they pushed from house to house in early fighting, trying to flush out the insurgents who had attacked their column with mortar fire, they ran into sandbagged emplacements behind garden walls. They found a house where insurgents were crouching in the basement, firing upwards through slits hacked at ankle height in the ground-floor walls, aiming at spots that the Marines body armor did not cover.
Mr. Janega said, "The shock was that the enemy was not supposed to be in this town at all. Instead, American intelligence indicated that the insurgency had massed on the other side of the river. Marine commanders expressed surprise Monday [May 9, 2005] not only at the insurgents presence but also the extent of their preparations, as if they had expected the Marines to come." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Propaganda War and the Ground War in Iraq

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment raises interesting questions today about a U.S. operation in Iraq in which he notes that U.S. Marines are reportedly surprised by"the degree of preparation the guerrillas are showing." He wrote that the guerillas "also seem to have specialized knowledge of how best to fight the Americans." Mr. Cole added:

(This datum suggests that someone in the Iraqi army or government let them know the US was coming. Everyone knows that the police, national guards and security apparatuses are extensively infiltrated by the guerrilla resistance).The remarkable thing about the operation was the claim by the US to have killed 100 guerrillas, a new move in the propaganda wars. The US military had been deliberately avoiding announcements of numbers of guerrillas killed. But this strategy, which comes from the scandals about over-estimates of Viet Cong killed in the Vietnam War, had left the guerrillas free to generate headlines such as "300 killed in bombings during the past week."
Mr. Cole said, "Nothing the US had done could compete with that sort of number, which I believe explains why we now get a number. The problem with giving out such numbers, however, is that sooner or later there will be another scandal," he asserts. "For instance, are all 100 (a suspiciously round number) really guerrillas? Or are some innocent civilians who got caught in the crossfire? How would you tell, if all you have is a dead 16-year-old male body?" Good questions. Similar ones came to mind as I read accounts of the current U.S. operation near the Syrian border. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Propaganda War and the Ground War in Iraq

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment raises interesting questions today about a U.S. operation in Iraq in which he notes that U.S. Marines are reportedly surprised by"the degree of preparation the guerrillas are showing." He wrote that the guerillas "also seem to have specialized knowledge of how best to fight the Americans." Mr. Cole added:

(This datum suggests that someone in the Iraqi army or government let them know the US was coming. Everyone knows that the police, national guards and security apparatuses are extensively infiltrated by the guerrilla resistance).The remarkable thing about the operation was the claim by the US to have killed 100 guerrillas, a new move in the propaganda wars. The US military had been deliberately avoiding announcements of numbers of guerrillas killed. But this strategy, which comes from the scandals about over-estimates of Viet Cong killed in the Vietnam War, had left the guerrillas free to generate headlines such as "300 killed in bombings during the past week."
Mr. Cole said, "Nothing the US had done could compete with that sort of number, which I believe explains why we now get a number. The problem with giving out such numbers, however, is that sooner or later there will be another scandal," he asserts. "For instance, are all 100 (a suspiciously round number) really guerrillas? Or are some innocent civilians who got caught in the crossfire? How would you tell, if all you have is a dead 16-year-old male body?" Good questions. Similar ones came to mind as I read accounts of the current U.S. operation near the Syrian border. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 9, 2005

Is This a Reason to Vote Against EU Constitution?

Richard North at EU Referendum reported May 10, 2005 that, "According to a poll published today in the Belgian French-language daily Le Soir, 49 percent of respondents said they would "probably or certainly" vote for the EU constitution, compared to 12 percent who said they would definitely vote against it. Frankly, if the Belgians are in favour of the damn thing, what more reasons do you need to vote against it?" he asked.

Permalink | No Comments

Is This a Reason to Vote Against EU Constitution?

Richard North at EU Referendum reported May 10, 2005 that, "According to a poll published today in the Belgian French-language daily Le Soir, 49 percent of respondents said they would "probably or certainly" vote for the EU constitution, compared to 12 percent who said they would definitely vote against it. Frankly, if the Belgians are in favour of the damn thing, what more reasons do you need to vote against it?" he asked.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Will Australia Sign ASEAN's Amity and Cooperation Treaty?

ABC News Online of Australia quotes Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, Imron Cotan, as saying acceptance of the Association of South East Asian Nations' Treaty of Amity and Cooperation will make it easier to invite Australia to the East Asia summit in December 2005. Will Prime Minister John Howard accept the treaty? It remains to be seen.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Australia Sign ASEAN's Amity and Cooperation Treaty?

ABC News Online of Australia quotes Indonesia's ambassador to Australia, Imron Cotan, as saying acceptance of the Association of South East Asian Nations' Treaty of Amity and Cooperation will make it easier to invite Australia to the East Asia summit in December 2005. Will Prime Minister John Howard accept the treaty? It remains to be seen.

Permalink | No Comments

New Zealand Decides to Sign Friendship Treaty With ASEAN

"New Zealand has decided in principle to sign a friendship treaty with South-east Asian nations, Prime Minister Helen Clark says," according to Stuff, a New Zealand publication. Stuff noted that, "signing the agreement - or announcing an intent to do so - is a criteria set by Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) governments to participate in an East Asian Summit" in December 2005. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

New Zealand Decides to Sign Friendship Treaty With ASEAN

"New Zealand has decided in principle to sign a friendship treaty with South-east Asian nations, Prime Minister Helen Clark says," according to Stuff, a New Zealand publication. Stuff noted that, "signing the agreement - or announcing an intent to do so - is a criteria set by Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) governments to participate in an East Asian Summit" in December 2005. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Joong Ang Daily: 'Korean Firms Open a Digital ‘Silk Road'

Joong Ang Daily of South Korea reported May 9, 2005 that, "LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics are opening up something of a digital silk road in Central Asia, as their brands of digital appliances are market leaders in countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. A decade after it first entered the Kazakhstan market in 1994, LG Electronics grabbed the leading market share there in the markets for major household appliances such as air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens," the daily said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Joong Ang Daily: 'Korean Firms Open a Digital ‘Silk Road'

Joong Ang Daily of South Korea reported May 9, 2005 that, "LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics are opening up something of a digital silk road in Central Asia, as their brands of digital appliances are market leaders in countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. A decade after it first entered the Kazakhstan market in 1994, LG Electronics grabbed the leading market share there in the markets for major household appliances such as air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens," the daily said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Hamid Harzai Go the Way of His Predecessors?

Reports out of Afghanistan say that President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.' man in Afghanistan, persuaded more than one-thousand elders and officials from across Afghanistan to meet with him and endorse a "strategic partnership" with the U.S., which includes allowing the U.S. to establish military bases on Afghan soil. As Xinhua says, "The pact could cement a long-term American military presence in Central Asia."

Bahlol Lohdi of Afghanistan, in a commentary in the PakTribune, notes that Mr. Karzai's predecessors, "Nur Mohammed Taraki, Hafizullah Amin, Babrak Karmal, Najibullah, Mullah Rabbani all called for the gathering of Afghan Notables, attended by the usual rent a crowd, as stratagems to achieve dubious objectives. They all failed.The fact that Karzai and his clique have resorted to the same chicanery clearly demonstrates the desperation permeating their ranks, as they face an uncertain future. It is to be noted that, apart from Mullah Rabbani (so far at least!), all the occupants of the Damned Palace in Kabul have met inglorious fates," the writer said. "One can only wonder whether the witless Karzai can survive the apparent curse."

Mr. Karzai favors ties with the U.S. because he does not trust his own people to protect his administration.Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Will Hamid Harzai Go the Way of His Predecessors?

Reports out of Afghanistan say that President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.' man in Afghanistan, persuaded more than one-thousand elders and officials from across Afghanistan to meet with him and endorse a "strategic partnership" with the U.S., which includes allowing the U.S. to establish military bases on Afghan soil. As Xinhua says, "The pact could cement a long-term American military presence in Central Asia."

Bahlol Lohdi of Afghanistan, in a commentary in the PakTribune, notes that Mr. Karzai's predecessors, "Nur Mohammed Taraki, Hafizullah Amin, Babrak Karmal, Najibullah, Mullah Rabbani all called for the gathering of Afghan Notables, attended by the usual rent a crowd, as stratagems to achieve dubious objectives. They all failed.The fact that Karzai and his clique have resorted to the same chicanery clearly demonstrates the desperation permeating their ranks, as they face an uncertain future. It is to be noted that, apart from Mullah Rabbani (so far at least!), all the occupants of the Damned Palace in Kabul have met inglorious fates," the writer said. "One can only wonder whether the witless Karzai can survive the apparent curse."

Mr. Karzai favors ties with the U.S. because he does not trust his own people to protect his administration.Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Can Turkey Become a Major Power Again?

Haruhiko Kuroda, the Chairman of the Asian Development Bank, said on May 8, 2005 that,"Turkey has a big potential in the Central Asia, thanks to its historical and cultural ties. If Turkey realizes this potential, it will become a big power," he said, according to Turks.U.S. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Can Turkey Become a Major Power Again?

Haruhiko Kuroda, the Chairman of the Asian Development Bank, said on May 8, 2005 that,"Turkey has a big potential in the Central Asia, thanks to its historical and cultural ties. If Turkey realizes this potential, it will become a big power," he said, according to Turks.U.S. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Wall Street Journal's Asia, Europe Editions Going Tabloid

"The Wall Street Journal, moving to curb losses and attract new readers to its international editions, confirmed Sunday [May 8, 2005] that it planned to shift its Asian and European editions from broadsheet to tabloid format effective October 17. 2005," according to Top Tech News. Those publications are The Wall Street Journal Europe and The Asian Wall Street Journal. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

India Will Be Invited to Inaugural East Asia Summit

The Associated Press reported May 9, 2005 that, "India will definitely be invited to attend the inaugural East Asia Summit in December, but the participation of Australia and New Zealand remains conditional." Here more.

Permalink | No Comments

China Daily: 'Japan Should Reflect on its Foreign Policies'

China Daily's Wang Yusheng asserts in a May 10, 2005 article that, "There has emerged talk about Japan taking on the role as the "Britain of the Far East," copying the special relationship the United States has with the European country."

"Japan began to play the role of Washington's new partner in East Asia when the country signed with the United States the new guideline for US-Japan defence co-operation during the then US President Bill Clinton's Japan tour in 1996," Wang Yusheng writes. "Both sides stressed, in the new guideline, that the range of their defence co-operation should be extended to the "surrounding area," which included not only Japan's surrounding waters, but also the "events" aroused by possible civil wars or coup d'etat in other countries." See "Japan should reflect on its foreign policies" for more of Wang Yusheng's article, which reflects China's official policy.

Permalink | No Comments

The China- Japan Spat and U.S. Diplomacy in the Far East

Lawrence J. Korb and Peter Ogden, in an article that "originally appeared in the South China Morning Post on May 6, 2005," according to the Center for American Progress, contend that:

A new security dynamic has emerged in the Far East one in which an increasingly powerful China and a strong Japan must co-exist for the foreseeable future. Because of this," the argue, "the United States cannot afford to stand silently by as relations between these two nations deteriorate.
The writers said, "although it may be tempting to join the chorus of commentators who have dismissed the massive protests in China as simply the hypocritical posturing of a repressive communist country against its virtuous democratic neighbor, to do so would be dangerous for the United States." Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

Indonesia Reportedly Will End Emergency Law in Aceh

Reuters reported May 9, 2005 that, "A civilian emergency law imposed on Indonesia's Aceh (province) last year to deal with a simmering rebellion will be lifted this month," Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the tsunami-hit province's reconstruction agency said May 8, 2005. "The move could signal Indonesia's willingness to intensify efforts to strike a peace deal with rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) when a fourth round of peace talks is held in Helsinki from May 26-31, [2005]" Reuters reported. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Look for New Posts Later in the Day

Dear Readers: Look for new posts later in the day. It's off to work now.

Permalink | No Comments

May 8, 2005

'Bush's 'reform' Course Would Crash Social Security...'

Citizen-Times.Com of Ashville, North Carolina opined in a May 9, 2005 editorial that, "No matter how President Bush tries to manipulate either his proposal or the facts, the Social Security reform he is pushing so adamantly would destroy one of the most beneficial social programs of all time. The Bush scheme is based on two false premises," the publication said. "The first is that the Social Security system is facing a crisis that can be averted only by drastic action. The second is that diverting money into the stock market will help." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

WAPO: Tom DeLay is Used to Doing What He Wants

The Washington Post: "In the euphemism favored on Capitol Hill, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is "not staff driven." Translation: He is used to doing what he wants." The question is: How much longer will he get his way? Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

CSM: Struggle Over Voter IDs Evokes a Bitter Past in the South

Patrik Jonsson, a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor, writes in the May 9, 2005 issue that, the proposed voter ID is "a touchy proposal, especially in the South where many Americans still remember poll taxes and strong-arm techniques that kept blacks from voting." I can remember my father paying a poll tax in the 1960s. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

A Pattern of Deceit

Harvey Wasserman , author of Harvey Wasserman's History of the United States, says "The Bush Administration's lies about its rationales for attacking Iraq fit a pattern of deceit that has dragged America into at least three other unjust and catastrophic wars." Here's a llink to his article.

Permalink | No Comments

LA Observed Approaching Second Anniversary

Former Los Angeles Times reporter and editor Kevin Roderick's blog, LA Observed, marks its second anniversary on May 13, 2005. If you are interested, here's a Los Angeles Downtown News.Com profile on him

Permalink | No Comments

Media Matters: What is Media Coverage of Iraq War Good For?

Media Matters wants to know, "What is media coverage of Iraq war good for? Absolutely nothing," it concludes. It's good for something. It helped the Bush Administration pull the wool over Americans' eyes about the war. Some publications and media outlets are still doing it. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Andrew Rasiej's Online Political Ad Campaign

I found Shankar Gupta's May 3, 2005 report in Online Media Daily about Andrew Rasiej, "one of the challengers to New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum" quite interesting. What caught my attention is the fact that Mr. Rasiej, to use Mr. Gupta's words, "has turned to the Internet [instead of television] to promote his candidacy in the Democratic primary this September. His campaign went live Monday [May 2, 2005] on over 20 New York City blogs, NYTimes.com, New York Magazine's Web site, and a handful of influential progressive political blogs." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Congress Trying to Impede Political Speech?

Paul Jacobs at townhall.com says Congress is "working hard to regulate, burden, and impede your right to communicate about politics. About them." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Australian Sheikh on a Mercy Mission to Iraq

Imam Taj Aldin Alhilali, "the leader of Australia's Muslims," according to The Australian, "is flying to Iraq to try to save Australian hostage Douglas Wood."We are going to Iraq to help our Australian brother," the sheik was quoted as saying. "We feel for his family and we will do all the best to bring Douglas Wood home" Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Turks.US: Thousands Protest Bush's Visit to Netherlands

Turks.US reported May 8, 2005 that, "Thousands of anti-war activists protested on the streets of Masstricht, Netherlands in a reaction to the visits of .U.S President George W. Bush, who is in the Netherlands to pay his respects to those who died in World War II for Dutch freedom. Protesters said that the man responsible for the Iraq war had no business being in the country on such a day," Turks.US said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Why Not Have Churches Based on Political Beliefs?

Citizen-Times.Com of Ashville, North Carolina, reports that, the Reverend Chan Chandlerof Waynesville, North Carolina, claims nobody was ousted" from his church for their political beliefs. The nine members voted out seem to think they were. Maybe there should be Republican Churches and Democratic churches. What about it America? Most U.S. churches are divided along racial lines, so why not have churches based on political beliefs? Here's more of Citizen-Times.Com's article.

Permalink | No Comments

Welcome Back Gregory

I'm glad to see that Gregory Djerejian, the proprietor of the highly recommended Belgravia Dispatch , is back from his hiatus. While Joseph Britt , a Wisconsin free-lance writer, did a fair job of guest blogging for him, there is nothing like the real thing. Welcome back, Gregory. By the way, take a look at his Mail Bag. There's interesting reading there.

Permalink | No Comments

Nossel and Greenberg Guest Blogging at Daniel W. Drezner

Suzanne Nossel, a Senior Fellow at the Security and Peace Institute, and David Greenberg, a Journalism and Media Studies and History professor at Rutgers University and a columnist for Slate, is guest blogging for Daniel W. Drezner while he attends his brother's wedding in Hawaii. It's good of him to let two liberals guest blog while he is away.

Last week, Mr. Drezner, a conservative University of Chicago Assistant Professor of Political Science, guest blogged for Kevin Drum at Political Animal, hisWashington Monthly blog. Here's Mr. Drezner's note to his readers.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Tony Blair's reelection a Pyrrhic victory?

Christian Science Monitor Correspondent Sophie Arie asserts in an article in the paper's May 9, 2005 edition that, "Britain may still be America's strongest ally and Europe's healthiest economy, but in the past few days its leader, Tony Blair, has gone from mighty to meek." She pulls no punches. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Who's Telling the Truth: The U.S. or Somaliland?

"The Government of Somaliland in north-eastern Somalia has accused the United States of violating its air space," according to The ABCNewsOnline of Australia and various publications.

"But, according to the Voice of America, "Major General Samuel Helland Friday [May 6, 2005] called the reports a fabrication, and said Somali officials were probably confused by a military training mission that took place off the coast of neighboring Djibouti late last week "The accusation follows another that U.S. Marines landed in the area looking for terrorists last week."

The U.S. so-called "Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa" is located in Djibouti.

Permalink | No Comments

Somali Goverment Relocation Delayed

Xinhuanet, the official Chinese news agency, reported May 8, 2005, that, "The delay in deploying peacekeepers in Somalia by the seven-nation regional body, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is hampering the fledgling Somali government's relocation process," senior officials admitted. Uganda was supposed to deploy about 800 peacekeepers but has delayed them for a second time in less than a month.

"Divisions among Somalia's political leaders and warlords over where the Horn of Africa nation's administration should be based has complicated the matter further," Xinhua said, noting that, "While the interim constitution names Mogadishu as the capital, the city is considered the most dangerous place in Somalia."

Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Geddi was in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, on May 3, 2005 when "at least 14 people" died "following an explosion that rocked a soccer stadium" where he was addressing his supporters, according to the Voice of America. He went back to Nairobi on May 7, 2005. He recently announced that he would move his government to Somalia from Nairobi, Kenya, in May 2005. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Links to News About Somalia

Here is a link to what the United Nation's Integrated Regional Information Network calls "Some key actors in the transitional process" in Somalia, a barely functional country in the Horn of Africa. Also see Somali.Net for news about Somalia. Awdal News Network is also a good source.

Permalink | No Comments

Somalia's Prime Minister, Ali Geddi, Goes Back to Kenya: Why?

Somali.Net says reports out of Mogadishu, Somalia suggest that Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Geddi "left the country for Nairobi Kenya [on May 7, 2005]where his administration is temporarily located. What prompted Mr. Geddi's sudden departure is not known," the report said, adding:"His last known plans included visiting Kismayo, Somalia's third largest city before going back to Kenya."

According to the Voice of America, "at least 14 people" died "following an explosion that rocked a soccer stadium" May 3, 2005, in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, as the prime minister addressed his supporters. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that on May 6, as noted in a Somali.Net report,

Armed men stormed the residence of Mr. Barre Adan Shire Hirale who controls most southern part of the country including Somalias third largest city, Kismayo.
According to the report, " Mr. Shire, a former army colonel was in the house when attacked. One bodyguard and one of the assailants were wounded in the shootout. Here's more.on Mr. Geddi's decision to return to Nairobi.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Sunday Times: Suicide Bombers Stream Into Iraq

The Sunday Times of London says "A remarkable insight into the purpose and planning of suicide attacks" in Iraq "was given to The Sunday Times last week by an active insurgent commander who has co-ordinated assaults by diverse rebel groups scattered across the country." The paper said, "Amid signs of shifting insurgent tactics and a rapidly evolving coalition response Arab volunteers such as Abu Bakr are streaming into Iraq to carry out what senior British and U.S. officers refer to as spectaculars: headline-grabbing suicide assaults that produce dozens of casualties."

If the article is true, and at this point I have no reason to doubt it, it suggests that the U.S. invasion of Iraq is doing what the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 did for Muslim fighters. It gave them a cause. Here's more of this insightful article.

Permalink | No Comments

Abu Faraj al-Libbi Characterized as 'Flotsam and Jetsam" in Al-Qaeda

Christina Lamb and Mohammad Shehzad, writing from Islamabad, Pakistan for The Times of London, noted that "the capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W. Bush as a critical victory in the war on terror. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists' third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as "among the flotsam and jetsam" of the organization," they wrote. The article is rich in detail and provides the kind of perspective that suggests that at least one of the reporters knows the Pakistani political and intelligence terrain. Here is their article.

Permalink | No Comments

Arrest of Abu Farraj al-Libbi Won't Bring Down Al-Qaeda

Asia Times Online's Syed Saleem Shahzad says his analysis of the arrest of 40-year-old Libyan Abu Farraj al-Libbi in Pakistan by Pakistani intelligence agents suggest that it "will prove of little value in helping the U.S. or anyone else reach Osama bin Ladin, or in debilitating al-Qaeda." Initially, the U.S. thought Abu Farraj al-Libbi was Anas Al-Liby, considered by U.S. intelligence to be the third in Al-Qaeda. As The Times of London correspondents Christina Lamb and Mohammad Shehzad noted in a May 8, 2005 dispatch from Islamabad, Pakistan, headlined "Captured Al-Qaeda kingpin is case of mistaken identity":

The capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W. Bush as a critical victory in the war on terror. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as among the flotsam and jetsam of the organization.
One of the most important aspects of Syed Saleem Shahzad's article is his description of how Al-Qaeda uses operatives.
Al-Qaeda is a very different type of organization from, say, Palestinian groups that promote champions such as Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal, who carried out repeated acts of terror. Al-Qaeda does not encourage ``heroes'' in this manner. Instead, previously unknown people are picked for attacks, and only then do they come onto the radar of intelligence agencies.
"Take, for example, Ramzi Binal Shib, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and Mohammed Atta," Mr. Shahzad wrote, "all involved in 9/11, and dozens of others. They are set up for one event, and that's it. With al-Libbi's arrest, one cell is dead. Maybe it was already. But new teams comprising unknown faces have been assembled. Al-Qaeda's structure remains intact."

I think even if Osama bin Ladin is killed or captured it won't matter. Al-Qaida is just as much a movement as organization. Leadership will emerge on various fronts as is needed. We've seen in Iraq and will see it in other parts of the world. Here's a link to Syed Saleem Shahzad's informative article.

Permalink | No Comments

Looking for Al-Qaeda Supporters in Pakistan's Army

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's bureau chief in Pakistan, reported in a May 7, 2005 article that, "With the capture in Pakistan of Libyan Abu Faraj al-Libbi of al-Qaeda, wanted in connection with two assassination attempts against President General Pervez Musharraf in 2003, Pakistani authorities are stepping up investigations into al-Qaeda's investment in the Pakistan army. Information gleaned from well-connected military analysts suggests that army officials connected with the Afghan cell during the Taliban period in Afghanistan (1996-2001) are likely to be in the firing line," he said, adding, "action is expected soon against several serving and retired army personnel." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Hashim al-Shibli: 'Sectarian Identities Leads to Divisions...'

KurdishMedia, like many publications around the world, reported on Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's effort to fulfill the last six positions in his cabinet. The publication noted that, "Iraq's parliament has approved six new ministers to fill key contested cabinet posts, but one nominee immediately refused to join the government." That nominee was "Hashim al-Shibli, a Sunni Arab," who "turned down the post of human rights minister," according to KurishMedia.

The Associated Press quoted him as saying: "Concentrating on sectarian identities leads to divisions in the society and state, and for that reason I respectfully decline the post." He also said he was not consulted. Here's the Kurdish media report. Here's an interesting report in The Standard of of Hong Kong.

Permalink | No Comments

Australian Correspondent Asks Important Questions About Iraq

Nicolas Rothwell, Middle East correspondent for The Australian, contend in a May 7, 2005 article that, "the seizure of Australian hostage Douglas Wood, neatly marking the second anniversary of the U.S. takeover of Iraq, not only strips away the remaining shreds of innocence from Australia's Middle Eastern military support adventure, it also drives home the plight of the West's grand exercise in nation-rebuilding on the banks of the Tigris. He added:

Two years on, a Western contractor engaged in reconstruction projects can be snatched from his home and held by insurgents without coalition intelligence officers or Iraqi police having a clue as to his initial disappearance or his present whereabouts.

Two years on, after democratic elections held under conditions of surreal threat and background violence, it has taken three full months for an interim government to agree on a partial ministry.

Two years on, a splendid, Egyptian-provided mobile phone network covers much of the capital, but the US military is not able even to provide a reliable electric power supply.

Two years on, terrorists still roam freely and can devastate a national guard office in the heart of tranquil Kurdish Erbil, killing 50 would-be recruits in the back yard of new President Jalal Talabani. Since the swearing-in this week of the new Government, 250 Iraqis have died in violence.

He said, "This balance sheet seems bleak. The events of the past five days compel even the most enthusiastic supporter of the new Iraq to assess the state of progress. A place where Wood can be captured and where scores of less headline-worthy Iraqis with ransom funds are kidnapped monthly is not a functioning civil society. What, then, is it?" Read the full article here.

Permalink | No Comments

Farrah Hassen On 'The Obsession with Syria'

Farrah Hassen, associate producer of the 2004 documentary, "Syria: Between Iraq & And A Hard Place," contends in an article published at ZNet that:

The Bush Middle East foreign policy squad is shooting our country in its foot again, this time in Syria. After the release of a recent US report absolving the Damascus government from charges of accumulating WMDs and supporting terrorism, one would think that logic would dictate a rethinking of Syria policy. Instead, Washington officials have commenced another round of Syria bashing.
I think the article is interesting because of the observation Ms. Hassen makes about "the November 2003 Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act."." President George W. Bush renewed sanctions on May 5, 2005. Syrian Information Minister Mahdi Dakhlallah said "The main problem [with sanctions on Syria] is that the United States see Syria with an Israeli eye." Here's a link to Ms Hassen's article.

Permalink | No Comments

Arab, Latin American Leaders to Hold Summit in Brazil

Beginning May 9, 2005, leaders from 22 Arab and 12 South American nations will attend a first ever, four-day summit of Arab and Latin American leaders. Here's more on the historic event.

Permalink | No Comments

May 7, 2005

Tom DeLay Can Run But He Can't Hide

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank's May 5, 2005 article on U.S. Representative Tom DeLay of Texas headlined "DeLay Tries, Without Much Success, to Duck the Media Pack" reminds me of mobsters who do whatever they can to avoid television cameras. Consider this: "Tom DeLay sneaks around the Capitol like a fugitive these days, using back doors and basement passages to avoid television cameras. He skips meetings where reporters might get a chance to film his answers to their questions. He makes unscheduled appearances so he won't attract a media mob and disrupt colleagues' events.
And it still doesn't work." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Political Intolerance in the Pulpit

Kristin Collins, staff writer at the Raleigh News & Observer, wrote an insightful article about the Western North Carolina church that "expelled nine members this week because they refused to support their pastor's Republican views." She added: "The members, three of them deacons at East Waynesville Baptist Church, were voted out Monday night [May 2, 2005] at the church in Haywood County, just west of Asheville.
All nine walked out after Pastor Chan Chandler told them he expected them to sign forms supporting his political and moral beliefs. After they left, members who remained voted to boot the dissenters." I expect to read many more such stories as some Americans try to force others to accept their political beliefs. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

'Nothing Is Hate Speech When Directed Against Arabs'

Ihor Slissarenko, a journalist and scholar based in Kiev, Ukraine, had this to say about a diplomatic situation involving Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany:

To my deep satisfaction, I have learned that Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany was forced to apologize publicly and through diplomatic channels for his sick jokes about the Saudi football team as terrorists. I believe Gyurcsany personally has nothing against Saudi Arabia, Arabs or Muslims. Even more, as a former ruling Communist Party functionary, he was taught and used to teach the fellow Hungarians to respect other nations as parts of an international solidarity. It is sad that from the very beginning of the scandal he tried to justify himself telling he had made his comments in the context of a TV show parody, and blamed all who protested for political intolerance or even ill will.
Slissarenko said, "It seems Gyurcsany was really surprised that his jokes could lead to such negative consequences for him and his country, as though political correctness does not apply to the statesmen and politicians if they speak about or against Arabs and Muslims." Here's more of "Nothing Is Hate Speech When Directed Against Arabs."

Permalink | No Comments

'It's Not in the Interest of Global Security for U.S. to Win in Iraq'

Amr Al-Faisal, in an article in the May 8, 2005 issue of Arab News headlined "Follow the Leader" wrote:

I have been following the U.S. invasion of Iraq for some time ever since the Americans began their campaign to convince the world of the necessity for such an action until now. I have come to the conclusion that it is not in the interest of global security that the US succeeds in its mission in Iraq. There are certain principles that the US is trying to establish, through its adventure in Iraq, in the field of international relations that are of a highly dangerous and pernicious nature.
He said, "One of these is that the end justifies the means. This principle is one that has been rejected by most legal systems around the world; it is seen as the remnant of a barbarous past the world is trying to forget. The other principle is that might is right." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Juna Cole Speculates About Iran and Nuclear Weapons

Juan Cole at Informed Comment said in a May 7, 2005 post that:

It seems pretty obvious that Iran will get the nuclear bomb and there is not much anyone can do about it. I'm not saying it is a good thing. I'm just saying that I can't imagine what would stop it.One thing that might have stopped it was direct military action. But not all sorts of military action would likely be effective. A US or Israeli air strike on the centrifuges thought to be at Natanz is unlikely to be decisive. Centrifuges don't have to be kept all in the same place, and if Iran has 200 of them, they have almost certainly been spread around so that they could not be taken out with a single strike.
I'm still trying to understand why it is acceptable for Christian nations and a Jewish nation to have nuclear weapons but not Muslim nations, Africans or Asians. Here's more of Mr. Cole's commentary.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Syria's Kurds Seen as a Potentially Powerful Political Force

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment.Com reports that, "Ibrahim Hamidi, al-Hayat's bureau chief in Damascus, has written an excellent article on the growing force of the Kurds in Syrian politics. After Islamic fundamentalists, he considers the emerging Kurdish council to be one of the most effective political movements in Syria." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

The Economist and the Capitalism Debate in Germany

Henry Farrell over at Crooked Timber says The Economist is doing "its little bit to try to shut down the Capitalism debate that's starting to happen in Germany." The post is headlined "The Wreck of Modell Deutschland? It's worth reading.

Permalink | No Comments

Michael Aoun Returns to Lebanon After Long Exile

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters contends that, "The Cedar Revolution either gained a large amount of credibility or a giant headache this morning as exiled resistance leader Michel Aoun returned to Lebanon for the first time since Syria forced him to flee in 1990. Aoun wants to run for office in the newly-freed country, describing himself as the "grandfather, father and son" of the democracy movement," Captain Ed wrote. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Transcript of Bush's May 7, 2005 Remarks at Latvian Society House

Here is a link to a White House Press Office transcript of remarks made May 7, 2005 by President George W. Bush of the U.S., President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, President Arnold Ruutel of Estonia and President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania at the Latvian Society House in Riga, Latvia.

Permalink | No Comments

Transcript of Bush Interview With Russia's NTV

Here is a link to a White House Transcript of President George W. Bush's May 5, 2005 interview with NTV, Russian Television. The interview took place at the White House.

Permalink | No Comments

Bush Using Europe Trip To Celebrate 'End of Tyranny'

"President Bush says his trip to Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia and Georgia May 6-10 will be a chance to celebrate the end of tyranny and to talk with Europeans about "common values, common goals and the need for us to continue to work together" to advance freedom, democracy and tolerance," according The Washington File, a State Department publication. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Bush says U.S. Played a Role in Post-War Division of Europe

President George W. Bush said May 7, 2005 that the United States, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, played a role in the division of Europe after World War II when Mr. Roosevelt signed the Yalta Agreement at the end of a February 4 to 11, 1945
meeting with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill at Yalta, a town in the Crimea in southern Ukraine.

Mr. Bush called the agreement "one of the greatest wrongs of history'' because it led to Soviet domination of Central and Eastern Europe for decades.

``We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability,'' The Associated Press quotes Mr. Bush as saying. ``We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security and true stability depend on the freedom of others.''

Mr. Bush is on a four-day trip that culminates in the May 9, 2005 commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in 1945. Here's more.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Balkanalysis.com Analyzes Bush's Visits, to Rusia, Latvia

Balkanalysis.com Rapid Reactions has an informative commentary on President George W. Bush's trip to Russia, to commemorate the end of World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany. Mr. Bush also put a side trip to Latvia and Georgia on his schedule. The editor of Balkanalysis.com said, in part:

Things are heating up, er, cooling down, as yet another official WWII commemoration is about to get underway- this time marking the end of the war and the final defeat of Nazism. Presumably, this will be the last one on the calendar for another ten years, when we get to relive the ceremonies all over again.

Leave it to George Bush to ruin the party. Dubya is determined that this WWII memorial in Moscow will not be remembered for anything to do with the end of the war, but rather with how it instituted the Cold War- and that oh so evil empire of the Soviets.

The key strategy of this petty offensive seems to be in attacking Russia for invading the Baltic states. Until a few years ago, very few in America knew or cared anything about these three northern republics, except maybe for when the Grateful Dead donated jerseys to Lithuania's Olympic basketball team

Balkanalysis.com said, "But Bush is determined. And when Bush is determined, nothing can stop him. Now that almost all of Europe has turned its back on him, finding allies somewhere on the continent is vital. As usual, flattery helps. So when Bush swoops down on Latvia and incites the Baltics to demand an apology from Russia for their post-war inclusion in the Soviet state, while planning yet more grandiose democracy and freedom speeches, you just know things will get ugly." Here's more of "The Democracy Duel En Route to Russia."

Permalink | No Comments

Dominica's Prime Minister Calls for Unity Following Elections

Dominica's prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit has urged the country to unite behind his Labour Party government after it won eleven of the twenty-one seats" in general election held May 5, 2005, according to BBC Caribbean.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Who Will Be Iran's Next President?

Bill Samii, "regional analysis coordinator with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Online and editor of the "RFE/RL Iran Report." takes a look at Iranian politics in an article reprinted in the May 7, 2005 edition of Asia Times Online. He argues that, "Iran's next president will play a key role in shaping the country's domestic political climate as well as its relationship with the rest of the world. Will incumbent Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami's successor be a conservative isolationist? A conservative who favors some liberalization of foreign policy while loosening the social reins? Or will the next president be a reformer eager to ease social restrictions and accelerate Iranian involvement with the rest of the world?" he asks.Here's Mr. Samii's long but interesting article.

Permalink | No Comments

Ali Alatas: Reform of the Security Council Has Two Alternatives

As The Jakarta Post notes in a May 7, 2005 introduction to an interview with former Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, "United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed five special envoys," including Mr. Alatas, "to help promote his report on much-awaited U.N. reforms. Mr. Alatas "talked with The Jakarta Post's Kornelius Purba and Adianto P. Simamora about his new jobs and other foreign policy issues. Here's a link to excerpts from their interview. Here's a link to Mr. Annan's report titled "In larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All."

Permalink | No Comments

South Africa, Nigeria Join Forces on Security Council Seat for Africa

"South Africa and Nigeria will "work together" to secure the two permanent seats for Africa in the reformed United Nations Security Council," according to a report at allAfrica.Com.

Permalink | No Comments

Bulgaria, Serbia-Montenegro to Set Up Common Border Checkpoint

Svetla Dimitrova, writing in the May 5, 2005 issues of Southeast European Times, said "Bulgaria and Serbia-Montenegro signed an agreement last month that will establish the first common border checkpoint and railway station in the Balkans. The aim of the deal, signed on 15 April, is to reduce substantially the time passenger and freight trains currently need to cross from one country into the other," she wrote, adding: "It is also expected to boost cargo traffic along the Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul route." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Kharrazi: Iran Waiting for the EU's Reply to its Proposal

IranMania notes in a May 7, 2005 report that Islamic Republic of Iran "Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in a May 6, 2005 interview with the U.S.-based PBS TV" that, "Iran has proposed new ideas regarding its peaceful nuclear programs in talks with the EU3 (Germany, France and Britain) and is still waiting for (the) Europeans' reply." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

'Foreign Relations' Top Concern Among Influential Americans

"New data from NOP World's Roper Public Affairs" indicates that, "foreign relations ranks as the number one concern among "Influential Americans" -- the 10% of the population who drive what the other 90% think, do and buy," according to PRNewswire report on the findings. The report says:

More than half (52%) of Influential Americans say they are "personally concerned" about United States foreign relations, hitting an all time high, up from 45% in 2004, 40% in 2003 and 28% in 2002. In fact, Influential Americans are nearly twice as likely to be concerned about foreign affairs as the general population.
Brad Fay, Managing Director of NOP World's Roper Public Affairs, is quoted as saying,"Influential Americans are exactly the people who Senators and Congressmen hear from first, which could be one reason Senators are taking a closer look at the pending nomination of a US ambassador to the United Nations. In three decades of research, this is the highest level of concern about the state of our foreign relations we've seen among these vocal Influential Americans." Here's more on this important subject.

Permalink | 1 Comment

U.S. Encouraging Rapprochement Between Turkey and Armenia

Laura Kennedy, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said on May 4, 2005 that, the Bush Administration supported Turkey and Armenia's attempts at "rapprochement and reconciliation." The neighbors don't have diplomatic ties. Here's more on the subject

Permalink | No Comments

Gul says West Using 'Alleged Armenian Genocide' Against Turkey

"Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul has claimed that some countries are using the Armenian genocide allegations as an excuse to exclude Turkey from the European Union," Zaman Daily Online reported May 6, 2005. Mr. Gul said:

It is not only Armenians that do this. In some countries opposition parties use the this against the government, by misrepresenting the relations between the government and Turkey in the light of these allegations. There are 34,000 Armenian Germans, and 600,000 Turkish German citizens in Germany. It is beyond comprehension when you look from the political side also. They use it to attack the government. Some of them want Turkey to isolate itself and do not want to say 'no' directly to Turkey. There are countries including many in the European Union (EU) that want to make Turkey accept this.
Zaman Daily Online said Mr. Gul warned: "Everybody should ask himself 'What can I do in this situation? Because this case is a big trap before us." Zaman also reported that, Mr. Gul said "all the archives have been opened, and nearly 30 foreign scientists including one Armenian citizen have been doing studying these archives."

Permalink | No Comments

The Role of Cultural Diplomacy in Winning Friends for the U.S.

"Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program, will speak on "The Role of Cultural Diplomacy is Winning Back Friends for the U.S." at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) luncheon at noon Wednesday, May 11, 2005, according to I-Newswire.Com. Here's the press release.

Permalink | No Comments

India, Pakistan and Film diplomacy

The Economic Times of India reports that, "after cricket diplomacy, it's now film diplomacy that appears to be at the forefront" of Indian-Pakistani ties. "With the first Indian film Bullet, Ek Dhamaka running in theaters there, two other Indian distributors are negotiating with the Pakistan government to get approval for releases," the publication said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

China Refuses U.S. Request to Cut-off Oil to North Korea

On April 26, 2005 Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill asked Chinese officials ... to cut off North Korea's supply of oil as a way of pressuring the government to return to disarmament talks," reports The Washington Post in its May 7, 2005 edition. "But the Chinese rebuffed the idea, saying it would damage their pipeline, according to U.S. officials briefed on the talks," the paper said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 6, 2005

Vietnam's Prime Minister Scheduled to Visit Bush June 21, 2005

Phan Van Khai, the prime minister of Vietnam, will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on June 21, 2005, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick confirmed on May 6, 2005 in Hanoi. See Japan Today for more.

Permalink | No Comments

U.S. Supports Japan's Security Council Bid

"U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns reaffirmed U.S. backing of Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, saying Japan is the only nation that Washington supports," according to a Kyodo News report published in Japan Today. "Burns also underlined the U.S. wish to see progress on the council's reform by September." The U.S. has asked China not to block Japan's bid. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

RFE/RL Interviews Latvian Foreign Minister Andris Pabriks

In the introduction to a May 6, 2005 interview with Latvian Foreign Minister Andris Pabriks, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty told its listeners:

As Moscow prepares to host world leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, uncomfortable chapters from the past are being reexamined, casting a shadow over the celebrations. In recent days, senior U.S. and EU officials have called on Moscow to denounce the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, under which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union carved up Eastern Europe into spheres of influence. The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania paid a high price under the pact. They were annexed by the Soviet Union and only regained their independence upon the breakup of the USSR 50 years later
"Tens of thousands of their citizens were shipped off to the Siberian Gulag, where many perished," the station said. "But this week, Russia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the Soviet Union never occupied the Baltic states against their will and that Moscow has no reason to apologize." Here's the interview with Andris Pabriks. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is funded by the U.S. Congress and was used extensively by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War in its propaganda battles with the old Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Moscow to Bush: Keep Out of Our Back Yard

Jeremy Page, the Times Online of London's Moscow correspondent, reported on May 7, 2005 that, "Russia has lodged an official protest" over U.S. President George W. Bush's "decision to combine his trip to Moscow on Monday [May 9. 2005] with visits to Latvia and Georgia."

"Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, wrote a letter of complaint to Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, shortly after the new itinerary was announced, according to U.S. officials," The Times told its readers, adding: "The Russians are angry at what they see as the expansion of American influence in countries on their border. However, Dr. Rice, a former Russia specialist, is reported to have written back that Mr. Bush would visit whichever countries he pleased." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is there a 'new' George W. Bush?

Syndicated Columnist Georgie Anne Geyer opined in a May 6, 2005 column that, "After this next week of President Bush's travels through Russia and its increasingly hostile "outskirts," we will have an answer to the question, "Is there a 'new' George W. Bush?" Her thoughts on the question are quite interesting. Here's more of "Meet George Bush."

Permalink | No Comments

British Conservative Party Leader Michael Howard to Step Down

British Conservative Party leader Michael Howard "has announced that he is standing down as leader of the Conservatives in the "best interests" of the party," according to politics.co.uk. Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

Blair's Statement After Queen Elizabeth Approved His Cabinet

On May 6, 2005, the day after winning a third term, British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Queen Elizabeth. She approved his appointees. Afterwards, he addressed the media at 10 Downing Street. Here is a transcript of his statement.

Permalink | No Comments

Tony Blair's Cabinet as of May 6, 2005

Here is a full list of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet members as at May 5, 2005. Here's a link to Her Majesty's Government's website'

Permalink | No Comments

'If Conservatives Couldn't Beat Labor May 5, Then When'?

Brownie at Harry's Place writes that, Tony Blair has seen off 4 Conservative Party leaders and even at a time when British soldiers continue to die in a hugely divisive foreign war, he has led the Labour party to an unprecedented third-term with what would be considered, in any other circumstances, a more than healthy working majority. If the Conservatives could not beat Labour last night," Brownie wrote, "then when? As for the Lib Dems, a party so consumed by its own moral certitude that it is blind to the sick irony that saw them urging a British electorate to use their votes to give a bloody nose to a Prime Minister who had just delivered 8 million Iraqis theirs, they'd better hope Blair joins Bush in a preemptive war on Iran between now and 2008 if they are not to return to the political obscurity their nauseating opportunism deserves> Here's the entire post.

Permalink | No Comments

Stephen Pollard: 'God Save Us From PR'

British blogger and political columnist Stephen Pollard, commenting on the May 5, 2005 elections in Britain that gave Prime Minister Tony Blair a third term, said May 6 that, "the chatter has already started about the illegitimacy of a government with such a small share of the vote, and the need for an electoral system which better reflects the vote. Nonsense," he said. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Blair opponent, Reg Keys, Urges Him to Apologize for Iraq Foray

Reg Keys, who stood as an independent against [British Prime Minister]Tony Blair in the Sedgefield constituency, polling 4,252 votes in the British elections on May 5, 2005, wants Mr. Blair "to apologize to the families of those killed during the war," according to BBC News. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Chancellor Gordon Brown Britain's Real Prime Minister?

Bill Jacobs and Ian Swanson of Scotsman.com contend that Chancellor Gordon Brown emerged from yesterday's General Election [in Britain] as the real British Prime Minister. Although Tony Blair was celebrating a historic and unprecedented third successive Labor victory, it was clear that much of his power had ebbed to his Downing Street neighbour," the wrote. See "Brown's in charge."

Permalink | 1 Comment

May 5, 2005

Britain's Labour Party Vows to Listen and Learn

Jon Smith, Political Editor for Scotsman.Com reports that, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, "promised today that Labour will listen and learn as the party seemed set for an historic third term in power but with a reduced majority. His comments came as one prediction put the size of Tony Blair's Commons majority as low as 66, compared to the 161 with which he went into the General Election," Mr. Smith wrote. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Iraq Was a Key Issue in British Election

Guardian Unlimited of Britain said, "The Labour leadership last night continued to play down the significance of the Iraq war in the election campaign in spite of new evidence that it had been a key issue among floating voters." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Harry's Place is Open to Comments on British Election

The British blog Harry's Place has good comments about today's election in Britain. The comments box is open for your thoughts. Here's a link.

Permalink | No Comments

Cuthbertson to Readers: Please Vote Conservative

British blogger Peter Cuthbertson, proprietor of the always interesting and popular Conservative Commentary, encouraged his readers to "Do the right thing today. Please vote Conservative." It seems that the majority of British citizens who took time to vote wanted the Labour Party to continue ruling.

Permalink | No Comments

White House Said to Want Discussion of John Bolton to Stop

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note, whose coverage of Washington affairs is very informative, reported May 4, 2005 that, " The White House is apparently working over-time schmoozing the media and suggesting that there is nothing new out there on John Bolton," President George W. Bush's controversial choice for U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

You could have fooled me," Mr. Clemons said.

He added: "If swiping memos from Colin Powell's briefing materials, sabotaging Jack Pritchard and [Richard] Armitage on North Korea policy, keeping [Secretary of State Condoleeza] Rice and [former Secretary of State Colin] Powell in the dark on fundamental policy issues, being stricken from the Libya negotiating team -- and Iran team -- at the request of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, and harrassing intelligence analysts like Christian Westermann and Rexon Ryu is collectively not enough...."

"Well....wait for the NSA intercepts before making your mind up. . .and wait until we have more information on Mr. Matt Freedman," Mr. Clemons recommended. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 4, 2005

Syria Comment. Com Sees an Uprising in Syria's Baath Party

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment.Com says "an uprising is taking shape within the Damascus [Syria] branch of the Baath Party. A petition is being circulated among Baath members protesting the undemocratic nature of recent party elections," he said in a May 3, 2005 post. "Even cynics had hoped that 10% of the leadership would be new. What happened? Not one new candidate won!" Here's a link to Landis' post.

Permalink | No Comments

Syria Comment. Com Sees an Uprising in Syria's Baath Party

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment.Com says "an uprising is taking shape within the Damascus [Syria] branch of the Baath Party. A petition is being circulated among Baath members protesting the undemocratic nature of recent party elections," he said in a May 3, 2005 post. "Even cynics had hoped that 10% of the leadership would be new. What happened? Not one new candidate won!" Here's a link to Landis' post.

Permalink | No Comments

Some See War Between Ethnic, Religious Groups in Iraq

Sedat Laciner, director of the Ankara, Turkey-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO) says the May 4, 2005 suicide bombing at a crowded police recruitment center in the Kurdish city of Irbil (Erbil) in northern Iraq, in which " at least 60 people" were killed and "150 people wounded," is no surprise and new attacks against the Kurdish and Shia targets may be expected, reports The Journal of Turkish Weekly. He said:

The balance of power has not been considered in Iraq by the Americans and the Iraqi Government. The Kurds in particular have been perceived as opportunists by the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Arabs who governed the country for the centuries are ignored and this attitude has nourished the resistance in Iraq. The war was between the Americans and the Arabs till 2005, but now the war spreads and becomes a war between the ethnic and religious groups. Some Americans may prefer a civil war to a war between Americans and insurgents. However a Iraqi civil war would be more bloody and the American loses may increase in such a bloody war.
The Journal of Turkish Weekly noted that, "the Sunni Arab minority, which largely boycotted Iraq's historic elections in January, has lost power after the fall of Saddam Hussein."Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Some See War Between Ethnic, Religious Groups in Iraq

Sedat Laciner, director of the Ankara, Turkey-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO) says the May 4, 2005 suicide bombing at a crowded police recruitment center in the Kurdish city of Irbil (Erbil) in northern Iraq, in which " at least 60 people" were killed and "150 people wounded," is no surprise and new attacks against the Kurdish and Shia targets may be expected, reports The Journal of Turkish Weekly. He said:

The balance of power has not been considered in Iraq by the Americans and the Iraqi Government. The Kurds in particular have been perceived as opportunists by the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Arabs who governed the country for the centuries are ignored and this attitude has nourished the resistance in Iraq. The war was between the Americans and the Arabs till 2005, but now the war spreads and becomes a war between the ethnic and religious groups. Some Americans may prefer a civil war to a war between Americans and insurgents. However a Iraqi civil war would be more bloody and the American loses may increase in such a bloody war.
The Journal of Turkish Weekly noted that, "the Sunni Arab minority, which largely boycotted Iraq's historic elections in January, has lost power after the fall of Saddam Hussein."Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Kurds Return to Kirku Causes Arab Iraqi Displacement

"The Iraqi city of Kirkuk has been the scene of ethnic tension since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003," according to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization website.

"The recent return of Kurds who were forcibly removed by Saddam has added to the local problems and led to the displacement of Arab Iraqis sent there as part of the former governments Arabisation of the key oil city," according to the site. "Increasing numbers of the existing local population are now leaving according to officials and NGOs working in Kirkuk, which is 255 kilometers north of the capital, Baghdad." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Kurds Return to Kirku Causes Arab Iraqi Displacement

"The Iraqi city of Kirkuk has been the scene of ethnic tension since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003," according to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization website.

"The recent return of Kurds who were forcibly removed by Saddam has added to the local problems and led to the displacement of Arab Iraqis sent there as part of the former governments Arabisation of the key oil city," according to the site. "Increasing numbers of the existing local population are now leaving according to officials and NGOs working in Kirkuk, which is 255 kilometers north of the capital, Baghdad." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

If He Wins, Blair is Expected Keep the 'Big Three'

Philip Webster, Political Editor of The Times of London reports that, British Prime Minister "Tony Blair is expected to leave his "big three" ministers in their current jobs in a reshuffle on Friday if, as expected, he wins the general election. "Contrary to weekend suggestions," he wrote, "Jack Straw is believed by members of Mr. Blair's inner circle to be almost certain to stay on as Foreign Secretary in the event of a Labour victory.Mr. Blair has already announced that Gordon Brown will stay as Chancellor and it is understood that Charles Clarke, appointed as Home Secretary as recently as December, will keep that job." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

If He Wins, Blair is Expected Keep the 'Big Three'

Philip Webster, Political Editor of The Times of London reports that, British Prime Minister "Tony Blair is expected to leave his "big three" ministers in their current jobs in a reshuffle on Friday if, as expected, he wins the general election. "Contrary to weekend suggestions," he wrote, "Jack Straw is believed by members of Mr. Blair's inner circle to be almost certain to stay on as Foreign Secretary in the event of a Labour victory.Mr. Blair has already announced that Gordon Brown will stay as Chancellor and it is understood that Charles Clarke, appointed as Home Secretary as recently as December, will keep that job." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Roy Greenslade: 'No Vote for a Criminal

In a May 4, 2005 column headlined "No vote for a criminal," Roy Greenslade of Guardian Unlimited said, "everywhere around me people are announcing that they are about to vote Labour with the greatest reluctance. Forget the war, they say, that's all behind us now. So the Guardian's Polly Toynbee urges us to wear nose pegs as we vote for Blair while Tony Parsons, the Daily Mirror columnist, says he will vote Labour with a sigh. Meanwhile the Sun, perversely, wants us to vote Labour because of the war." Read other British opinion makers' suggestions on whom to vote for.

Permalink | No Comments

Roy Greenslade: 'No Vote for a Criminal

In a May 4, 2005 column headlined "No vote for a criminal," Roy Greenslade of Guardian Unlimited said, "everywhere around me people are announcing that they are about to vote Labour with the greatest reluctance. Forget the war, they say, that's all behind us now. So the Guardian's Polly Toynbee urges us to wear nose pegs as we vote for Blair while Tony Parsons, the Daily Mirror columnist, says he will vote Labour with a sigh. Meanwhile the Sun, perversely, wants us to vote Labour because of the war." Read other British opinion makers' suggestions on whom to vote for.

Permalink | No Comments

Anatole Kaletsky: Why British Labour Party Recovered in the Polls

Anatole Kaletsky, Economics Editor of The Times of London, in a long opinion column headlined "How a bit of lateral thinking solved my voting dilemma," said , "one of the fascinating ironies of this election [in Britain] ... is that Labour's recovery in the polls during the past month a recovery which, if confirmed in todays voting, will have far-reaching implications for British politics in the years ahead was largely due to the viciousness and intensity of the Tories negative campaign." His analysis of the election is quite interesting.

Permalink | No Comments

Anatole Kaletsky: Why British Labour Party Recovered in the Polls

Anatole Kaletsky, Economics Editor of The Times of London, in a long opinion column headlined "How a bit of lateral thinking solved my voting dilemma," said , "one of the fascinating ironies of this election [in Britain] ... is that Labour's recovery in the polls during the past month a recovery which, if confirmed in todays voting, will have far-reaching implications for British politics in the years ahead was largely due to the viciousness and intensity of the Tories negative campaign." His analysis of the election is quite interesting.

Permalink | No Comments

The Independent: Blair Fears 800,000 Voters Will Stay at Home

Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor of The Independent of London, opined on May 5, 2005 that British Prime Minister Tony Blair "was dogged by doubts surrounding his decision to invade Iraq throughout the last day of election campaigning. At his final campaign press conference," Mr. Brown wrote, "the Prime Minister warned wavering voters not to act against him over the war, saying: 'If people make a protest vote, they could end up with a Conservative government.'"

"Labour strategists fear the party's lead in the polls could be overturned in the marginals, where abstentions among 800,0000 disgruntled voters over the war could hold the key," Mr. Brown noted. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The Independent: Blair Fears 800,000 Voters Will Stay at Home

Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor of The Independent of London, opined on May 5, 2005 that British Prime Minister Tony Blair "was dogged by doubts surrounding his decision to invade Iraq throughout the last day of election campaigning. At his final campaign press conference," Mr. Brown wrote, "the Prime Minister warned wavering voters not to act against him over the war, saying: 'If people make a protest vote, they could end up with a Conservative government.'"

"Labour strategists fear the party's lead in the polls could be overturned in the marginals, where abstentions among 800,0000 disgruntled voters over the war could hold the key," Mr. Brown noted. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Haaretz Analyzes the Larry Franklin- AIPAC Affair

Nathan Guttman, Haaretz's Washington correspondent, reports that "ten pages of the indictment" of Lawrence Anthony "Larry" Franklin on espionage charges reveal that the Defense Department analyst "was under close surveillance and that every aspect of the case had been looked into: He was followed to meetings, his home and office were searched, and there were wiretaps," Mr. Guttman wrote, adding:"But the indictment still leaves three significant questions unanswered: What information was transferred, what, if anything, are the AIPAC people suspected of, and if and how is Israel involved in the case?" Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Haaretz Analyzes the Larry Franklin- AIPAC Affair

Nathan Guttman, Haaretz's Washington correspondent, reports that "ten pages of the indictment" of Lawrence Anthony "Larry" Franklin on espionage charges reveal that the Defense Department analyst "was under close surveillance and that every aspect of the case had been looked into: He was followed to meetings, his home and office were searched, and there were wiretaps," Mr. Guttman wrote, adding:"But the indictment still leaves three significant questions unanswered: What information was transferred, what, if anything, are the AIPAC people suspected of, and if and how is Israel involved in the case?" Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is FBI Laying Groundwork to Charge Former AIPAC Officials?

Haaretz Correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote on May 4, 2005 that, the charges against former Defense Department Analyst Lawrence Anthony "Larry" Franklin, who was arrested today and released on bail, made no mention of suspected espionage; that Franklin knowingly helped a foreign government,[ Israel] as originally reported when the scandal was revealed last summer; nor of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or the state of Israel."

"Nonetheless," he added, "official sources involved in the inquiry say that AIPAC officials are suspected of receiving the secret information. The Justice Department said that the investigation continues, which presumably means focusing on the two former AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who allegedly received the information, as well as on the activities of the lobbying group. That kind of probe could end with indictments against the two or a plea bargain. Rosen and Weissman were fired by AIPAC last month," Mr. Guttman noted. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Is FBI Laying Groundwork to Charge Former AIPAC Officials?

Haaretz Correspondent Nathan Guttman wrote on May 4, 2005 that, the charges against former Defense Department Analyst Lawrence Anthony "Larry" Franklin, who was arrested today and released on bail, made no mention of suspected espionage; that Franklin knowingly helped a foreign government,[ Israel] as originally reported when the scandal was revealed last summer; nor of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or the state of Israel."

"Nonetheless," he added, "official sources involved in the inquiry say that AIPAC officials are suspected of receiving the secret information. The Justice Department said that the investigation continues, which presumably means focusing on the two former AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who allegedly received the information, as well as on the activities of the lobbying group. That kind of probe could end with indictments against the two or a plea bargain. Rosen and Weissman were fired by AIPAC last month," Mr. Guttman noted. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Franklin's Arrest Puts Spotlight Back on Israeli Spying and AIPAC

The Jewish Week, which serves "the Jewish community of Greater New York, told its readers May 4, 2005, that, "The ongoing FBI investigation of employees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, took a dramatic turn Wednesday [May 4, 2005]with the arrest of the Pentagon Mideast analyst at the center of the controversy. Larry Franklin turned himself in after being charged with one count of disclosing classified information related to potential attacks upon U.S. forces in Iraq to individuals not entitled to receive the information, according to the Justice Department," wrote James D.Besser."He was scheduled to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court."

Mr. Besser reminded readers that, Mr. Franklin "came under suspicion after a June 2003 lunch meeting with two AIPAC officials. AIPAC recently fired the two senior staffers caught up in the investigation: Steve Rosen, the groups policy director, and Keith Weissman, deputy director of foreign policy," he noted. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Franklin's Arrest Puts Spotlight Back on Israeli Spying and AIPAC

The Jewish Week, which serves "the Jewish community of Greater New York, told its readers May 4, 2005, that, "The ongoing FBI investigation of employees at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, took a dramatic turn Wednesday [May 4, 2005]with the arrest of the Pentagon Mideast analyst at the center of the controversy. Larry Franklin turned himself in after being charged with one count of disclosing classified information related to potential attacks upon U.S. forces in Iraq to individuals not entitled to receive the information, according to the Justice Department," wrote James D.Besser."He was scheduled to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court."

Mr. Besser reminded readers that, Mr. Franklin "came under suspicion after a June 2003 lunch meeting with two AIPAC officials. AIPAC recently fired the two senior staffers caught up in the investigation: Steve Rosen, the groups policy director, and Keith Weissman, deputy director of foreign policy," he noted. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Somali Leader Calls it an Accident, Others Say Assassination Attempt

Mohamed Ali Bile reported in the May 4, 2005 edition of Independent Online (IOL) of Africa that, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi of Somalia, who escaped what he calls and accident on May 3, 2005 in Mogadishu and others call an assassination attempt, is trying to "end a rift in his government over the location of a future capital and the role of United Nations peacekeepers in the Horn of Africa country of about 10 million people" before he can effectively govern.

IOL said, "an explosion killed at least seven people at a soccer stadium on Tuesday [May 3, 2005], moments after the Somali prime minister had addressed hundreds of supporters, government officials and witnesses said."

Mr. Gedi was quoted as saying:"I am very sorry for what happened at the stadium. It is an unexpected accident and I send condolences to the relatives." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Somali Leader Calls it an Accident, Others Say Assassination Attempt

Mohamed Ali Bile reported in the May 4, 2005 edition of Independent Online (IOL) of Africa that, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi of Somalia, who escaped what he calls and accident on May 3, 2005 in Mogadishu and others call an assassination attempt, is trying to "end a rift in his government over the location of a future capital and the role of United Nations peacekeepers in the Horn of Africa country of about 10 million people" before he can effectively govern.

IOL said, "an explosion killed at least seven people at a soccer stadium on Tuesday [May 3, 2005], moments after the Somali prime minister had addressed hundreds of supporters, government officials and witnesses said."

Mr. Gedi was quoted as saying:"I am very sorry for what happened at the stadium. It is an unexpected accident and I send condolences to the relatives." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Alleged Al-Zarqawi Letter Part of a Disinformation Campaign?

The Associated Press notes that, "The U.S. military released on Tuesday [May 3, 2005] a letter it believes was addressed to terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from an underling complaining that incompetence of leaders in his al-Qaida in Iraq network is hurting morale among his fighters." It sounds like disinformation to me. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Is Alleged Al-Zarqawi Letter Part of a Disinformation Campaign?

The Associated Press notes that, "The U.S. military released on Tuesday [May 3, 2005] a letter it believes was addressed to terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from an underling complaining that incompetence of leaders in his al-Qaida in Iraq network is hurting morale among his fighters." It sounds like disinformation to me. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The New Yorker Describes a Neocon's Library

Jeffrey Goldberg describes the library of Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the current Bush Administration, in an article in the May 9, 2005 issue of The New Yorker. He describes it thusly:

It is apparent that he has devoted considerable care and money to its design and, in particular, to its collection, which numbers at least five thousand volumes. The floors and shelves are dark oak, and the walls are covered in hunter-green wallpaper. The library is not in the style of the high-station Washington bureaucrat who wants to telegraph his indispensability; there are few photographs of Feith in the company of potentates and prime ministers and presidents. Instead, Feith has filled the room with images of figures who have earned his admiration. Busts of Washington and Lincoln sit on the shelves; Churchill scowls in the direction of Feith's desk. A black-and-white portrait of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, hangs over a green leather couch. In his collection, history has displaced nearly every other subject; fiction--his favorite is Nabokov--has been exiled to the basement. The library is weighted disproportionately to the history of the British Empire, and Feith has spent many hours schooling himself in the schemes and follies of the British on the playing fields of the Middle East.
History serves another purpose, Feith suggests: it provides solace to leaders who are misunderstood by their peers.
Mr. Goldberg said Mr. Feith told him "When history looks back, I want to be in the class of people who did the right thing, the sensible thing, and not necessarily the fashionable thing, the thing that met the aesthetic of the moment." The article offers insights into one of the prominent neoconservatives in the Bush Administration. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The New Yorker Describes a Neocon's Library

Jeffrey Goldberg describes the library of Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in the current Bush Administration, in an article in the May 9, 2005 issue of The New Yorker. He describes it thusly:

It is apparent that he has devoted considerable care and money to its design and, in particular, to its collection, which numbers at least five thousand volumes. The floors and shelves are dark oak, and the walls are covered in hunter-green wallpaper. The library is not in the style of the high-station Washington bureaucrat who wants to telegraph his indispensability; there are few photographs of Feith in the company of potentates and prime ministers and presidents. Instead, Feith has filled the room with images of figures who have earned his admiration. Busts of Washington and Lincoln sit on the shelves; Churchill scowls in the direction of Feith's desk. A black-and-white portrait of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, hangs over a green leather couch. In his collection, history has displaced nearly every other subject; fiction--his favorite is Nabokov--has been exiled to the basement. The library is weighted disproportionately to the history of the British Empire, and Feith has spent many hours schooling himself in the schemes and follies of the British on the playing fields of the Middle East.
History serves another purpose, Feith suggests: it provides solace to leaders who are misunderstood by their peers.
Mr. Goldberg said Mr. Feith told him "When history looks back, I want to be in the class of people who did the right thing, the sensible thing, and not necessarily the fashionable thing, the thing that met the aesthetic of the moment." The article offers insights into one of the prominent neoconservatives in the Bush Administration. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Are the British Like Americans?

Diane Roberts, former editorial writer for The St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, "who lives in England several months a year," opined in a May 1, 2005 Perspective that, "Americans visiting Britain are secretly relieved, even delighted, to find that for a foreign country, things aren't so, well, foreign. There are Friends reruns on TV and Diet Coke in the vending machines," she wrote. "The British have the Gap and Starbucks. They have a born-again Christian running the country, and they have troops in Iraq. They're just like us."

"Or maybe not," she said. "Despite being the closest of allies, Britain and the United States are oceans apart on many of the central issues of the day. Capital punishment. The AIDS epidemic in Africa. Palestinian rights. The environment - especially the environment." Here's more of her perspective.

Permalink | No Comments

Are the British Like Americans?

Diane Roberts, former editorial writer for The St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, "who lives in England several months a year," opined in a May 1, 2005 Perspective that, "Americans visiting Britain are secretly relieved, even delighted, to find that for a foreign country, things aren't so, well, foreign. There are Friends reruns on TV and Diet Coke in the vending machines," she wrote. "The British have the Gap and Starbucks. They have a born-again Christian running the country, and they have troops in Iraq. They're just like us."

"Or maybe not," she said. "Despite being the closest of allies, Britain and the United States are oceans apart on many of the central issues of the day. Capital punishment. The AIDS epidemic in Africa. Palestinian rights. The environment - especially the environment." Here's more of her perspective.

Permalink | No Comments

Vo Nguyen Giap on 'The American War and its HistoricLlesson

Viet Nam News has an article by General Vo Nguyen Giap, in which he says, "Years will go by, but the great victory of our people in the war against the US for our national salvation will forever be entered into the annals of our nation as one of the most brilliant feats of arms and one of the brightest manifestations of the ultimate victory of revolutionary heroism and human wisdom in world history; a great exploit of the 20th century and an event of international importance that profoundly defines our times. The general led Viet Minh guerrilla forces against the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Here is a long excerpt from General Giap's article.

Permalink | No Comments

Vo Nguyen Giap on 'The American War and its HistoricLlesson

Viet Nam News has an article by General Vo Nguyen Giap, in which he says, "Years will go by, but the great victory of our people in the war against the US for our national salvation will forever be entered into the annals of our nation as one of the most brilliant feats of arms and one of the brightest manifestations of the ultimate victory of revolutionary heroism and human wisdom in world history; a great exploit of the 20th century and an event of international importance that profoundly defines our times. The general led Viet Minh guerrilla forces against the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Here is a long excerpt from General Giap's article.

Permalink | No Comments

Debate Over Accuracy of Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven Escalates

In "The Crusades: A wound that has lasted 900 years," Cahal Milmo of the Belfast Telegraph reviews Sir Ridley Scott's sand and sandals epic, 'Kingdom of Heaven', which premiered May 2, 2005 in Ireland. Here's the review.

Permalink | No Comments

Debate Over Accuracy of Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven Escalates

In "The Crusades: A wound that has lasted 900 years," Cahal Milmo of the Belfast Telegraph reviews Sir Ridley Scott's sand and sandals epic, 'Kingdom of Heaven', which premiered May 2, 2005 in Ireland. Here's the review.

Permalink | No Comments

May 3, 2005

The Washington Notes' Coverage of the Bolton Confirmation Battle

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note continues his informative coverage of the Bush Administration's seemingly futile effort to get John Bolton confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Here's a link to "Key quotes and passages in three interviews on John Bolton-Christian Westermann "Removal from Portfolio" Incident."

Permalink | No Comments

The Washington Notes' Coverage of the Bolton Confirmation Battle

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note continues his informative coverage of the Bush Administration's seemingly futile effort to get John Bolton confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Here's a link to "Key quotes and passages in three interviews on John Bolton-Christian Westermann "Removal from Portfolio" Incident."

Permalink | No Comments

Juan Cole Opposes Boycott of Israeli Universities

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment says "the American Association of University Professors has quite rightly come out against a recent resolution of the British Association of University Teachers (one of two main such organizations in the UK) that an academic boycott should be imposed on the University of Haifa and Bar Ilan University." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Juan Cole Opposes Boycott of Israeli Universities

Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment says "the American Association of University Professors has quite rightly come out against a recent resolution of the British Association of University Teachers (one of two main such organizations in the UK) that an academic boycott should be imposed on the University of Haifa and Bar Ilan University." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

CNN.Com: 'Most in U.S. Say Iraq War Not Worthwhile'

CNN.Com, in a May 3, 2005 article with a Washington dateline, said "A majority of Americans do not believe it was worth going to war in Iraq." A national poll reported Tuesday that "fifty-seven percent of those polled said they did not believe it was worth going to war, versus 41 percent who said it was, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,006 adults. That was a drop in support from February, when 48 percent said it was worth going to war and half said it was not," CNN.Com noted. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

CNN.Com: 'Most in U.S. Say Iraq War Not Worthwhile'

CNN.Com, in a May 3, 2005 article with a Washington dateline, said "A majority of Americans do not believe it was worth going to war in Iraq." A national poll reported Tuesday that "fifty-seven percent of those polled said they did not believe it was worth going to war, versus 41 percent who said it was, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,006 adults. That was a drop in support from February, when 48 percent said it was worth going to war and half said it was not," CNN.Com noted. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Guardian Unlimited's Election 2005 Blog

Guardian Unlimited's Election 2005 Blog is very informative reading. Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, has a post there today.

Permalink | No Comments

Guardian Unlimited's Election 2005 Blog

Guardian Unlimited's Election 2005 Blog is very informative reading. Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, has a post there today.

Permalink | No Comments

Will The U.S. Lose its 'Near Abroad'?

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, raising many important questions in a Mother Jones post headlined "Losing the American "Near Abroad." He noted that:

Of the two superpowers that faced each other down in an almost half-century-long Cold War, one -- the United States -- emerged victorious, alone in the world, economically powerful, militarily dominant; the other, never the stronger of the two, limped off, its empire shattered and scattered, its people impoverished and desperate, its military a shell of its former self. This is a story we all know, and more or less accept. Winner/loser, victor/vanquished. It makes sense. That's the way we expect matches, competitions, struggles, wars to end.
But what if, as I've suggested recently, the Cold War turned out to be a loser/loser contest? That may seem counterintuitive.
Mr. Engelhardt said, "in regards to the U.S., it would have been considered laughable not so long ago, except to a few scholars of imperial decline like Immanuel Wallerstein, and yet it may be an increasingly plausible thought." I highly recommend his article. It's time U.S. citizens start thinking the unthinkable. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will The U.S. Lose its 'Near Abroad'?

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, raising many important questions in a Mother Jones post headlined "Losing the American "Near Abroad." He noted that:

Of the two superpowers that faced each other down in an almost half-century-long Cold War, one -- the United States -- emerged victorious, alone in the world, economically powerful, militarily dominant; the other, never the stronger of the two, limped off, its empire shattered and scattered, its people impoverished and desperate, its military a shell of its former self. This is a story we all know, and more or less accept. Winner/loser, victor/vanquished. It makes sense. That's the way we expect matches, competitions, struggles, wars to end.
But what if, as I've suggested recently, the Cold War turned out to be a loser/loser contest? That may seem counterintuitive.
Mr. Engelhardt said, "in regards to the U.S., it would have been considered laughable not so long ago, except to a few scholars of imperial decline like Immanuel Wallerstein, and yet it may be an increasingly plausible thought." I highly recommend his article. It's time U.S. citizens start thinking the unthinkable. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Suriname's Parliamentary Elections Set for May 25, 2005

The South American nation of Suriname's May 25, 2005 parliamentary elections will be monitored by an observation team from the inter-American organization, according to the Organization of American States, reports the Washington File.

Permalink | No Comments

Suriname's Parliamentary Elections Set for May 25, 2005

The South American nation of Suriname's May 25, 2005 parliamentary elections will be monitored by an observation team from the inter-American organization, according to the Organization of American States, reports the Washington File.

Permalink | No Comments

Rice Says Latin America's Democracies Leading in Many Areas

During May 3, 2005 remarks at the State Department to the annual meeting of David Rockefeller's Council of the Americas, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said, "in just over two decades, the people of Latin America transcended what many assumed was an inescapable reality." According to a State Department transcript, she also said:

The democratic transformation of Latin America is part of a larger tide of liberty that is cascading throughout the world. In places like Georgia and Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, people's desire for freedom and dignity is redefining what many thought possible in these societies. The same is true of Latin America and today the region's democracies are leading much of the developing world in political and economic liberty, in state security and in social justice.
"Too often," she added, according to the transcript,"when people talk about Latin America they focus on how many hurdles of development still remain, problems like poverty and inequality and fragile democracies. And to be sure, in places like Ecuador and Bolivia and elsewhere in the region, these challenges are very real. And these challenges deserve our attention because they will take sustained effort over many years, even decades, to address successfully." Here's the entire transcript.

Permalink | No Comments

Rice Says Latin America's Democracies Leading in Many Areas

During May 3, 2005 remarks at the State Department to the annual meeting of David Rockefeller's Council of the Americas, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said, "in just over two decades, the people of Latin America transcended what many assumed was an inescapable reality." According to a State Department transcript, she also said:

The democratic transformation of Latin America is part of a larger tide of liberty that is cascading throughout the world. In places like Georgia and Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, people's desire for freedom and dignity is redefining what many thought possible in these societies. The same is true of Latin America and today the region's democracies are leading much of the developing world in political and economic liberty, in state security and in social justice.
"Too often," she added, according to the transcript,"when people talk about Latin America they focus on how many hurdles of development still remain, problems like poverty and inequality and fragile democracies. And to be sure, in places like Ecuador and Bolivia and elsewhere in the region, these challenges are very real. And these challenges deserve our attention because they will take sustained effort over many years, even decades, to address successfully." Here's the entire transcript.

Permalink | No Comments

For First Time in Nearly 60 years, U.S.' Man Won't Head OAS

"Chile's socialist Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza was elected May 2, 2005 to lead the Organization of American States, the region's main political forum, after the United States failed for the first time to get its candidate chosen," notes Agence France Press. Joel Brinkley and Larry Rohter of The New York Times reported that Mr. Insulza's selection marks "the first time in the organization's nearly 60-year history that the candidate supported by Washington did not win."

Permalink | No Comments

For First Time in Nearly 60 years, U.S.' Man Won't Head OAS

"Chile's socialist Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza was elected May 2, 2005 to lead the Organization of American States, the region's main political forum, after the United States failed for the first time to get its candidate chosen," notes Agence France Press. Joel Brinkley and Larry Rohter of The New York Times reported that Mr. Insulza's selection marks "the first time in the organization's nearly 60-year history that the candidate supported by Washington did not win."

Permalink | No Comments

Amnesty: Activists Persecuted in Europe and Central Asia

"The Russian Federation, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Turkey are among the countries in Europe and Central Asia with the poorest record of government harassment and persecution of people for peacefully exercising these rights," according to an Amnesty International press (AI) release dated May 3, 2005. AI said it "is concerned that the activities of human rights activists are being criminalized by the state, and that state officials are harassing, arresting and torturing them without fear of repercussions."

Permalink | No Comments

Amnesty: Activists Persecuted in Europe and Central Asia

"The Russian Federation, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Turkey are among the countries in Europe and Central Asia with the poorest record of government harassment and persecution of people for peacefully exercising these rights," according to an Amnesty International press (AI) release dated May 3, 2005. AI said it "is concerned that the activities of human rights activists are being criminalized by the state, and that state officials are harassing, arresting and torturing them without fear of repercussions."

Permalink | No Comments

Amnesty International Wants Pressure Put on Turkmenistan

"Amnesty International (AI) has requested that world leaders pressure Turkmenistan to follow human rights agreements by saying that spreading violations in this country are arousing concerns," reports Zaman Online.

Permalink | No Comments

Amnesty International Wants Pressure Put on Turkmenistan

"Amnesty International (AI) has requested that world leaders pressure Turkmenistan to follow human rights agreements by saying that spreading violations in this country are arousing concerns," reports Zaman Online.

Permalink | No Comments

Plans for an Israel University in the West Bank Condemned

The Palestinian Authority has comdemned the project establishing the first Israeli university in the West Bank," according to an Anadolu News Agency report at Zaman Online.

Permalink | No Comments

Plans for an Israel University in the West Bank Condemned

The Palestinian Authority has comdemned the project establishing the first Israeli university in the West Bank," according to an Anadolu News Agency report at Zaman Online.

Permalink | No Comments

Amir Mir Takes a Look at 'War and Peace in Waziristan'

Amir Mir, senior assistant editor of the Monthly Herald, one of the Karachi-based Dawn Group's newspapers, reported in a May 4, 2005 article in Asia Times Online that, "The American commander of the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General David Barno, stated on April 18 that terrorists were infiltrating into Afghanistan from Pakistan, and that Islamabad had been asked to begin a fresh operation against remnants of Taliban and al-Qaeda presently hiding in the Waziristan region of Pakistan."

"However," Mr. Mir wrote, "Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant-General Safdar Hussain was quick to dismiss Barno's claim on April 20, describing it as a highly irresponsible remark: "Lt Gen Barno should not have made that statement. It was a figment of his imagination. There is no bloody operation going on until we have the right intelligence." Safdar, while ruling out joint military operations with the US-led coalition forces, added, "My strategy is to achieve the end goal without firing a shot." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Amir Mir Takes a Look at 'War and Peace in Waziristan'

Amir Mir, senior assistant editor of the Monthly Herald, one of the Karachi-based Dawn Group's newspapers, reported in a May 4, 2005 article in Asia Times Online that, "The American commander of the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General David Barno, stated on April 18 that terrorists were infiltrating into Afghanistan from Pakistan, and that Islamabad had been asked to begin a fresh operation against remnants of Taliban and al-Qaeda presently hiding in the Waziristan region of Pakistan."

"However," Mr. Mir wrote, "Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant-General Safdar Hussain was quick to dismiss Barno's claim on April 20, describing it as a highly irresponsible remark: "Lt Gen Barno should not have made that statement. It was a figment of his imagination. There is no bloody operation going on until we have the right intelligence." Safdar, while ruling out joint military operations with the US-led coalition forces, added, "My strategy is to achieve the end goal without firing a shot." Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Arabic News.Com: Jafaari Gets Sunni Arabs for His Government

Arabic News.Com reported May 3, 2005 that, "the Iraqi interim Prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, completed the formation of his government by including representatives for the Arab Sunni who pulled out several days ago from the government under the pretext that they a have low profile in it." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Arabic News.Com: Jafaari Gets Sunni Arabs for His Government

Arabic News.Com reported May 3, 2005 that, "the Iraqi interim Prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, completed the formation of his government by including representatives for the Arab Sunni who pulled out several days ago from the government under the pretext that they a have low profile in it." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Riverbend on the Daily Bombings in Iraq

Riverbend at Baghdad Burning stated in a May 2, 2005 post that, "These last few days have been explosive- quite literally. It started about 4 days ago and it hasn't let up since," she wrote in a post headlined "Saved by the Carrots." They say there were around 14 car bombs in Baghdad alone a couple of days ago- although we only heard 6 from our area. Cars are making me very nervous lately," she added. "All cars look suspicious- small ones and large ones. Old cars and new cars. Cars with drivers and cars parked in front of restaurants and shops. They all have a sinister look to them these days. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Riverbend on the Daily Bombings in Iraq

Riverbend at Baghdad Burning stated in a May 2, 2005 post that, "These last few days have been explosive- quite literally. It started about 4 days ago and it hasn't let up since," she wrote in a post headlined "Saved by the Carrots." They say there were around 14 car bombs in Baghdad alone a couple of days ago- although we only heard 6 from our area. Cars are making me very nervous lately," she added. "All cars look suspicious- small ones and large ones. Old cars and new cars. Cars with drivers and cars parked in front of restaurants and shops. They all have a sinister look to them these days. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Jaideep Singh Reviews 'Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq'

Jaideep Singh, research editor at Foreign Policy, reviewed Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend (Feminist Press at the City University of New York; 320 Page; $14.95) in a May 1, 2005 article posted at SFGate.Com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The review starts with the question: "Who speaks for Iraqis?" The former editorial fellow at Mother Jones said, "The question finds its way into every torturous debate over the wisdom and morality of the war in Iraq. Nowhere is this clearer than in the world of blogging," he noted, adding:

The Fadhil brothers of Baghdad -- whose pro-America Web log, Iraq the Model, emphasizes the positive outcomes of the war in Iraq -- were hailed as heroes by the war's supporters on their December trip to Washington, D.C., and the brothers even met with President Bush. For many in the anti-war camp, the Iraqi blogger of choice is Riverbend, an anonymous 25-year-old Iraqi woman in Baghdad who misses no opportunity to criticize the war and its supporters on her blog, Baghdad Burning.

A congenital pessimist, Riverbend uses her blog to vent her anger -- at Bush, Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi Islamists, the Western media, U.S. soldiers and, occasionally, Halliburton. "Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq" includes a year's worth of her blog entries to offer the perspective of an Iraqi feminist. Prior to the war, argues Riverbend, "females in Iraq were a lot better off than females in other parts of the Arab world (and some parts of the Western world -- we had equal salaries!)." She later warns, "If I get any more e- mails about how free and liberated the Iraqi women are now thanks to America, they can expect a very nasty answer." The rise of Islamists in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, she fears, will roll back progress made on women's rights.

Jai Singh said, "for Riverbend and like-minded Iraqis, the United States can only be part of the problem, and will never be part of the solution." Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

Jaideep Singh Reviews 'Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq'

Jaideep Singh, research editor at Foreign Policy, reviewed Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend (Feminist Press at the City University of New York; 320 Page; $14.95) in a May 1, 2005 article posted at SFGate.Com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The review starts with the question: "Who speaks for Iraqis?" The former editorial fellow at Mother Jones said, "The question finds its way into every torturous debate over the wisdom and morality of the war in Iraq. Nowhere is this clearer than in the world of blogging," he noted, adding:

The Fadhil brothers of Baghdad -- whose pro-America Web log, Iraq the Model, emphasizes the positive outcomes of the war in Iraq -- were hailed as heroes by the war's supporters on their December trip to Washington, D.C., and the brothers even met with President Bush. For many in the anti-war camp, the Iraqi blogger of choice is Riverbend, an anonymous 25-year-old Iraqi woman in Baghdad who misses no opportunity to criticize the war and its supporters on her blog, Baghdad Burning.

A congenital pessimist, Riverbend uses her blog to vent her anger -- at Bush, Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi Islamists, the Western media, U.S. soldiers and, occasionally, Halliburton. "Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq" includes a year's worth of her blog entries to offer the perspective of an Iraqi feminist. Prior to the war, argues Riverbend, "females in Iraq were a lot better off than females in other parts of the Arab world (and some parts of the Western world -- we had equal salaries!)." She later warns, "If I get any more e- mails about how free and liberated the Iraqi women are now thanks to America, they can expect a very nasty answer." The rise of Islamists in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, she fears, will roll back progress made on women's rights.

Jai Singh said, "for Riverbend and like-minded Iraqis, the United States can only be part of the problem, and will never be part of the solution." Read why.

Permalink | No Comments

Rubin Sees a Comedy of Errors in U.S-Turkish Relations

Three years after the "Turkish Grand National Assembly voted 319 to 101 to send troops to Afghanistan to assist the United States in its Global War on Terror," U.S.-Turkish ties "are in disarray," contends Michael Rubin in an American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy article headlined "A Comedy of Errors: U.S.-Turkish Diplomacy and the Iraq War."

Mr. Rubin noted that, "In December 2004, Mehmet Elkatmis, head of the Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, accused the United States of “conducting genocide in Iraq.” Faruk Anbarcioglu, a Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, or AKP) deputy, suggested the dissolution of the Grand National Assembly’s Turkish-American Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group," he added,

"American officials, long friends of Turkey, also sounded alarm bells," Mr. Rubin asserts. "Despite frequent assurances from both Turkish and American diplomats that U.S.-Turkish relations were on the mend, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith acknowledged the problems during a February 17, 2005, speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. Responding to a question from a Turkish reporter, Feith said,

“It’s crucial that the appreciation of . . . relationships extend beyond government officials [and] down to the public in general, because otherwise the relationship is not really sustainable.”
Mr. Rubin said Mr. Feith "implied that the AKP was responsible for the rise of anti-Americanism, commenting,
“We hope that the officials in our partner countries are going to be devoting the kind of effort to building popular support for the relationship that we build in our own country.”
Mr. Rubin's article is worth reading. I value it because it provides a glimpse at the thinking of some of the players in U.S-Turkish relations.

Permalink | No Comments

William J. Luti Gets New Post in Bush Administration

On May 3, 2005, Stephen J. Hadley, Assistant to President George W. Bush for National Security Affairs, announced "the appointment of William J. Luti as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy and Strategy." Here's the White House press release on the appointment.

Permalink | No Comments

Indian Prime Minister to Monitor Trade Diplomacy

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [of India] has set up a new Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC) to coordinate economic and trade relations between India and other countries," according to Hindustan.Com. Read more here.

Permalink | 1 Comment

Drezner Guest Blogging for Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly

University of Chicago Assistant Political Science professor Daniel Drezer, who blogs at Daniel W. Drezner, is guest blogging for the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum. Mr. Drum is the proprietor of The Political Animal.

Mr. Drezner's first post went up May 2, 2005. The second post was May 3, 2005. "I'll be defending the Bush administration's grand strategy on democracy promotion here this week," Mr. Drezner told Political Animal readers. He's been getting good responses to his posts

Permalink | No Comments

U.S.' Abu Ghraib Prison Torture is Now a Subject for Iraqi Artist

Agence France Press reports that "since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, "the trauma" of the U.S. occupation of Iraq "has seeped even into Iraq's artistic production." This guarantees that the U.S. won't live down the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners. At least not in Iraq. Art has a way of preserving moments for ever, with each viewer taking away a different interpretation. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Nick Fealty on 'The Battle of South Belfast

Nick Fealty at the Irish blog Slugger O'Toole has an interesting take on what is called "The battle of South Belfast." "When asked by a journalist outside Sinn Fein's Belfast Headquarters this morning, Gerry Adams (standing in the rain) said "Alisdair McDonnell has no chance of winning South Belfast," Mr. Fealty wrote, adding: "It was something of a throwaway line. But he argued that McDonnell was motivating Unionists to come out and vote for their people. So it's a safe bet that Sinn Fein's hard core will not be backing McDonnell for this one."

"Butmuch against the trend elsewhere, they don't really figure in this run off," Mr. Fealty continued. "The SDLP in South Belfast has already calculated the margins discounting that Sinn Fein support. They think it's a three-way fight, with the winner taking it by less than 1000 votes. The idea that it is possible is motivating their activists to get out on the streets." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Reuters: 'Blair Stands Firm on Iraq as Poll Lead Grows

Reuter's reports that, "Prime Minister Tony Blair entered the final two days of Britain's election campaign on Tuesday [May 3, 2005] still under fire over Iraq but with polls showing him on course for an historic third straight term in office." What does this say about Britain's Conservative party? Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Belfast Telegraph: "Iraq Takes its Toll on Tony Blair

The Belfast Telegraph says, "What was expected to be a predictable, lack-lustre election, both in Northern Ireland and Britain, is suddenly becoming much more interesting. Here, more seats are likely to change hands than ever and in Britain, another Labour landslide may yet be averted, thanks to the growing unpopularity of the Prime Minister," the paper said on May 3, 2005.

The paper also said, "Because Labour's vote is more concentrated, the Conservatives would have to win by up to six per cent nationally to finish with more seats _ an unlikely event - but in the key marginals there is everything to play for. A swing against the government is inevitable, in the light of recent events, and the emergence of the Liberal Democrats as a third party threat could upset the predictions of the opinion polls," the paper predicts. Read more here.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Most Eligible British Muslims Vote Against Blair?

Zaman Online, a Turkish publication, reported May 3, 2005, that, "The attitude of British Muslims towards the current Prime Minister Tony Blair has become negative as a result of the Iraqi war and they might likely to reflect this attitude at the ballot boxes in the general elections that will be held in two days time." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Iraq Overshadows Blair's Final Hours of Campaigning

Simon Freeman of The Times Online reported May 3, 2005 that, "The war on Iraq continued to cast a shadow over the last 48 hours of the election campaign today as [British Prime Minister ]Tony Blair was blamed personally for the death of a young British soldier." Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

The AP Examines U.S., Italian Reports on Calipari

The Associated Press takes a a look at the differences between the U.S. and Italian reports on the death of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, who was killed on March 4, 2005 as he tried to escort Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to safety after she was released by kidnappers in Baghdad, Iraq. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi reportedly altered the Italian report to protect U.S.-Italian relations. The U.S. reportedly issued a version with some portions blacked out. An uncensored version is reportedly on the Internet. However, I've been unable to find it. Here's the AP Report.

Permalink | No Comments

Did Berlusconi Alter Italy's Report on Calipari's Death?

ABC News Online of Australia reported on May 3, 2005, that, "Reports have surfaced that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi intervened to ensure that a report on the killing of an Italian intelligence agent in Baghdad by US troops would not damage relations with Washington. An Italian report released on Monday [May 2, 2005] blamed the killing of Nicola Calipari, while he was escorting a freed Italian hostage, on the "inexperience" of US troops acting under stress and without proper rules of engagement," ABC said. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

John O'Sullivan Reviews The Interpreter: A Political Perspective

Chicago Sun-Times columnist John O'Sullivan, in a very interesting, May 3, 2005, review of The Interpreter, said, "Nothing half as good as "The Manchurian Candidate," which he calls "John Frankenheimer's great 1962 original, not last year's absurd re-make," has been produced in the political thriller "genre since 1962, in part because Hollywood writers have silly leftist political views and want, for instance, to portray the hapless, accident-prone CIA as a malevolently clever secret government."

"Hollywood's long string of misfires, however, has come to an end with Sydney Pollack's "The Interpreter," starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman," he wrote. "It is as convolutedly paranoid as "The Manchurian Candidate," brilliantly plotted, beautifully acted, and directed with terrific pace -- but somewhat more realistic in its portrayal of international and African politics than its predecessor was about the Cold War."

I wonder if Mr. O'Sullivan truly believes that all Hollwood writers have "silly leftist political views and want, for instance, to portray the hapless, accident-prone CIA as a malevolently clever secret government." Here's a link to his review.

Permalink | No Comments

'U.S.-China Trade and Economic Ties'

The Bush Administration regularly offers its spin on "U.S.-China Trade and Economic Ties." The Washington File has a list of such articles.

Permalink | No Comments

Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick to Visit Six Asian Nations May 2-11

"U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will review post-tsunami reconstruction efforts as well as bilateral economic and security issues in his upcoming trip to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore" May 2-11, 2005, according to the Washington File, a State Department publication. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

May 2, 2005

Writer Suggests Power Struggle May Be Behind Anti-Japan Protests

"Anti-Japan violence, statements and other developments in China suggest the recent political situation in Beijing has been less stable than outward appearances indicate and that a hidden power struggle may have occurred during the past few weeks of unrest," Bennett Richardson, a "Tokyo-based freelance journalist with a special interest in Japanese defense policy, politics and modern history," writes in the May 3, 2005 issue of Asia Times Online. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Will Wallstrom Lead Sweden's Social Democratic Party?

Margaret Wallstrom of Sweden, the European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication, is a blogger. In her latest post, which was on April 25, 2005, she reveals that her "oldest son called from Sweden to say that he doesn‘t understand the media reporting on an open letter that I sent to one of the Swedish daily newspapers."

“You declared black on white that you don‘t want to be part of speculations about a new leader for the Social Democratic Party and then they draw the conclusion that you want to become a new leader!" the son told her. "What is this?!"

"And I said that that was the proper question to ask from somebody studying political science," Ms. Wallstrom wrote. "The debate has a life of its own now and it does not seem to matter whatever I say.BUT I AM SERIOUS! I am committed and enthusiastic to fulfil my task as Vice-President of the European Commission. The task before me is not an easy one. I am responsible for Commission‘s actions to advocate and inform about the European Constitution. I have a full agenda of visits in Member States, meetings, speeches etc. I am preparing a new Communication Strategy for the Commission and actively working with national parliaments."

She couldn't have been more clearer about her intentions. yet, the speculation will continue. Here's more.

Permalink | No Comments

Sharansky Resigns Over Upcoming Gaza and West Bank Pullout

Natan Sharansky, "Minister of Diaspora and Jerusalem Affairs in the Israeli government, "submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this morning," according to IsraelInsider. "Sharansky decided to resign in objection to the upcoming Gaza Strip and West Bank pullout and apparently informed the PM of his intention to do so in a meeting during the Passover holiday," the daily magazine said. He's the sixth cabinet member to resign.

Permalink | No Comments

May 1, 2005

A Columnist Offers Views on Race and Politics in America

Rodney Foxworth, writing in The Baltimore Chronicle, has an interesting commentary called "The Color of Politics and the Idiocy of American Racism." Race is an issue we just don't like to talk about in America. I wonder why.

Permalink | No Comments

VOA: 'Vietnam War Still Influences American Politics'

The Voice of America tells its mostly foreign listener that the "Vietnam War Still Influences American Politics, Society. This post can also be found at The Opinion Gazette.

Permalink | No Comments