The American government continually casts issues of the world in terms of supporting democracy. This approach is in sharp contrast to post World War II diplomacy which was not based on issues of democracy, but on world security. The assumption was first consideration was to avoiding destructive wars, and secondly, to set in motion long term programs of having nations evolve into more democratic societies. The “Containment Policy,” popularly known as the Truman Doctrine, is in need of being revisited.
The reality is holding democratic elections in the Middle East at this point in time would result in radical groups gaining control of government. Morocco is considered a moderate Muslim nation, but its ruler King Mohammed VI runs a tight ship and imprisons those who fight for democracy. Mohammed Bougrine, age 72, was sentenced to jail last week for “attacking religious values.” He will join seven other activists who are fighting for human rights in Morocco.
President Bush, just about every leader you cite as heading a “democratic society” believes and acts the opposite. Tone down the democracy rhetoric because it is a rarity in the Middle East, and at this point, you should support stability and an end to terrorism. If you wish to play the democracy card it will result in losing support of King Mohammed, Mubarak in Egypt, the King of Saudi Arabia, etc…
The United States finally has achieved success in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is now the source of 92% of all opium production in the world. The southern province of Helmand, which is a center of Taliban activity, is undoubtedly a major source of opium. The ironic aspect of this story is opium production was literally wiped out under Taliban rule, but since the invasion, the Taliban have switched from opposing to supporting opium production because they need the money.
Let’s see if we can get this right. The Bush administration wants drug users to say “no.” So, they invade a country which has wiped out drug production in order to create chaos which allows that nation to resume drug production. What if the Bush administration simply said “no” to an invasion of Afghanistan? Or, suppose they said “yes” to concentrating American forces in Afghanistan to wipe out the Taliban and Osama bin Laden? If we had focused on the Taliban, we probably could have controlled drug production.
George Bush can place on his accomplishments as president that he presided over enabling opium production to soar to new heights.
At recent meetings of an Inter-Africa Group, there was extensive discussion concerning the possibility of creating a United States of Africa on the lines of the European Union. Historically, the Pan-Africa movement had three objectives: decolonization, creation of independent nations, and some form of unified Africa. Decolonization has been achieved, but creation of viable independent nations is still a source of turmoil and confusion.
Libyan leader Ghadaffi is pushing hard for the idea of a unified Africa, but there are many sceptics who regard poverty or need to peacefully resolve internal struggles as much higher on any list of priorities. Most probably, Ghadaffi is still wrapped up in his visions of glory and power to offer any meaningful direction for uniting disparate African nations.
Perhaps, a younger Nelson Mandela might have been a leader in working toward this dream, but at present, no African leader stands out to offer leadership. There are still grave concerns such as the mess in Zimbabwe where President Mugabe has wrecked his nation. At the same time, the continent of Africa needs a dream. Perhaps, at present, it must be a dream deferred.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict cries out for an impartial, fair minded person to serve as a mediator. Tony Blair does not fit that description. How about the reasons why he should not be given this task:
1. He backed the war in Iraq.
2. He has made public statements that offended Arabs and Muslims.
3. He refused to condemn the ill-fated Israel attack on Lebanon.
4. He has refused to admit making any mistakes. How can someone be a mediator who is unable to be reflective on past or present errors of judgment?
5. He immediately backed the boycott of Hamas rather than attempting to work with the new leaders who gained office in a free election.
6. He has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to do anything Bush desires. He has displayed a subservience, an obsequious and spineless attitude in dealing with Bush. Any mediation effort will require an American president to be firm with Israel.
7. Frankly, Blair is not an expert on the Middle East.
Here are a few suggestions for the mediator:
Jimmy Carter (he may, on occasion, be pretentious and pompous, but he has experience in mediating Middle Eastern problems.
An Israeli and Arab co-chair.
Laura Bush is on an African tour to combat HIV/AIDS. She insisted abstinence was a key to success of the program. “There are several ways in which we can reach young people. One of the effective ways is abstinence…it brings back dignity and self responsibility to young people.”
The issue, Mrs. Bush, is not your religious agenda, but the lives of millions of people. As a Christian, would you be willing to abandon your views on abstinence if it meant saving the lives of millions?
By the way, I assume since the president and you are firm believers in abstinence, both of you were virgins the day you were married. If not, then one of you abandoned abstinence.
Israel rejected an offer by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas to cease all terror attacks including curtailing rocket firing in exchange for reopening of the crossings into the Gaza Strip. He said Hamas is willing to implement this plan immediately and asked Israel to cooperate, but his offer was refused.
The Iran Daily reported today that a “senior Hamas Official” said his party was willing to withdraw from power and enter a Palestinian coalition government headed by an independent person not affiliated with either Fatah or Hamas. He said Hamas does not wish to control the Gaza Strip and will return all government facilities to a new government.
Israel, once again, has bought into the dictum of no negotiation with terrorists. So far, this policy has been a complete failure in assuring the people of Israel opportunities to live in peace and security. Ireland experienced a bloody civil war that raged for decades, but finally the English government sat down with terrorists and created the present peaceful coalition government.
We at The Impudent Observer are aware of the bloody record of Hamas. We do not consider its leaders to have engaged in peaceful protest, but, if they are ready to talk, take advantage of the offer and explore it. Frankly, Hamas has a mess on its hands in the Gaza Strip and wants to find a way out. The Gaza Strip can be a source of terrorism or it can move into a peaceful relationship with Israel.
Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey has urged the United States to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to do something about the thousands of rebels who belong to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) hiding in northern Iraq mountains. Thousands of Turkish troops are now on the border of Iraq itching to enter and wipe out the rebels. There are almost daily artillery barrages from Turkey into Iraq that go unreported in most American media.
The United States fears angering the Iraqi government, which depends on Kurdish votes to remain in office, by urging action to curtail military activities of the PKK. America is caught in the middle of a civil war in Iraq and may soon get caught in the middle of an Iraq-Turkish conflict. Is there anyone in charge at the Bush administration of developing a comprehensive policy dealing with this region of the world? We continue to make up Middle Eastern policy as we go along rather than thinking in regional terms and developing regional solutions.
Pollution threatens to mar the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, a city which periodically disappears into a brownish-yellow haze due to dust blowing in an area containing few natural elements such as mountains or large bodies of water. China has promised a “Green Olympics,” but most experts believe, at best, it will be more of a grayish hue of smog and pollution.
China is experiencing a tremendous economic expansion causing factories and coal power plants to spew out emissions more akin to the early years of the nineteenth century than to 2007. The Shanghai Star estimates pollution each year is partially responsible for the deaths of 50,000 newborns.
As China’s wild charge into economic success moves along, the world will have to confront what happens when 200 million Chinese citizens purchase cars. At present, China accounts for 14% of world gas emissions, but this figure will dramatically rise in the years ahead. The Chinese government promises to spend billions to clean up Beijing’s air, but dust particles come from neighboring cities, not the capital. We can expect some unusual occurrences as athletes chug their way through smog and dust.
Iren Karman, an investigative reporter working to expose the oil mafia in her country, was severely beaten, her arms and legs bound, and dumped on the banks of the Danube River in a manner that would have pleased Tony Soprano. She had uncovered evidence that oil companies were adding dye to heating oil and selling it as diesel.
The Hungarian prime minister expressed typical comments of his horror at the attack, but there is evidence Ms. Karman was under surveillance by the security police who must have witnessed the attack, but obviously did nothing. This goes to prove that all governments don’t like pesky reporters sniffing around and discovering things they would prefer remaining unknown.
An American tourist in Sweden, Ganna Dharmarajah, went to the US Embassy seeking an emergency loan. She was told it would take time and why not ask help from Swedish social services. While talking with someone at social services, the police entered, arrested her and placed her in a refugee camp. She was informed that her request for asylum in Sweden had been refused and she would be deported. She kept on saying: “I don’t want to live here. I don’t want to work here.” She just wanted to get home to Berkeley, California.
A silly story in one sense, but also a tragic episode in the madness which now prevails in so many countries who continually are searching for terrorists. I would bet anything it was her name which triggered off this crazy episode. I doubt if her name had been Kelly or Wadsworth that Swedish officials would automatically have assumed she was seeking asylum.