General Robert Cone, who is in charge of training and equipping Afghan forces, said violence was rising and it would take time to complete the task of pacifying Afghanistan. “You can say you defeated them in a single campaign… but again, given the complex nature of the environment, they might be back again the very next year.” The good news was that hundreds of former Taliban members have joined government forces, the bad news is the Taliban are increasing in size as new recruits flock to their side.
One can only wonder why voices like that of General Cone were not heard by the Bush administration when they began their crusades for freedom. Any expert on guerrilla warfare could have told Bush four years ago what Cone expressed — the enemy is out for the long haul, not short term victories.
Rep. Bob Finer, Chair of the House Veterans Committee, told the American Legion convention America must do better for Iraq veterans than was done for Vietnam vets. He urged re-opening many closed camps and transforming them in “Heroes Welcoming Camps” where returning Iraq/Afghanistan veterans could remain for a few months with their families getting readjusted to life at home. The “decompression” time would be part of their active service, but would provide a breather from stress. Counseling could be available to veterans and family members.
He also apologized to those who served in Vietnam saying, “we let you down” as a society and it was important not to repeat that mistake with current veterans of the Iraq war.
The International Criminal Court seeks the arrest and trial of Sudan militia leader Ali Kosheib and Ahmed Haroun, Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs, for instituting genocidal attacks upon the people of Darfur. Sudan President Omar al-Beshir rejected the demands stating: “I swear by God the great that we will never hand over a Sudanese to be tried abroad.” He claimed the Sudan judiciary was perfectly competent to handle any case involving killing of civilians. In fact, he noted that Ali Kosheib and Ahmed Haroun were investigated and found innocent of any charges they assisted in killing of civilians.
One might suspect if the Sudan judiciary handles war crime charges, no Sudan citizen will ever be convicted. Eventually, it will turn out the killings in Darfur were the work of outside forces. Who knows, maybe they will blame Israel for the killings.
President Musharraf has reached an agreement with exiled political leader, Mrs. Bhutto under which he will relinquish his role as head of Pakistan’s army and she will support his bid for the presidency. The agreement also allows her to return to Pakistan. Mrs. Bhutto undoubtedly expects to once again become a political power in Pakistan. This agreement enables Musharraf to avoid a confrontation with Pakistan’s Supreme Court which most probably have voided his ability to both serve as head of the army and be president.
In the coming days, those running for office, including president of Russia, will kickoff the campaign. Ever since Mikhail Gorbachev altered the Soviet Union and prepared the way for an elective democracy, the Russian people have gone from having one political party dominate elections to a different political party which dominates elections. President Putin is effectively in control of the Russian political process and his party and whomever he decides will succeed him shall gain victory. The tragedy of Putin is failing to recognize his historic opportunity — creating a vibrant and truly democratic Russia. Instead, he manipulates the system to stifle opposition voices and ensure his own political success.
Whoever becomes the new president of Russia still has that historic opportunity — move the nation toward true democracy.
Abdullah Gul was sworn in today as Turkey’s first president who represents a religious Muslim political party. It was noteworthy no member of the Turkish military attended the swearing in ceremony. General Buyukanit had warned earlier this week against religious leaders who threaten to subvert Turkey’s secular institutions. turkish military leaders will most likely monitor the actions of Gul, particularly when it deals with appointing new military officers. If he indicates any intention of ending secular control, it might result in military intervention against the government.
Malaysia is more prosperous than Indonesia resulting in the influx of over 1.5 million immigrants. The two nations are seeking to create friendship and cooperation in order to assert their influence in southeast Asia, but stereotypes separate the two nations. Indonesians complain about “arrogant Malaysians” while Malaysians view their neighbors as “incompetent Indonesians.” Most reports indicate widespread discrimination against Indonesian immigrants who frequently work long hours at low pay and encounter continual physical abuse.
It is fascinating how the power of stereotypical thinking separates rather than unites people. It is also interesting how similar stereotypes emerge in the world. Some group is always castigated as being inferior while another is viewed as being arrogant.
President Robert Mugabe insisted Zimbabwe is doing OK and will survive despite criticism from nations throughout the world about his inept dictatorial policies which have driven a once prosperous nation onto the brink of complete economic collapse. He thanked African nations for supporting him in his hour of crisis.
Mugabe is a symbol of what is wrong in Africa. After fighting for years to achieve independence, African leaders allow incompetent, dictatorial rulers like Mugabe to do whatever they desire even if proves disastrous to people in their nation. Zimbabwe has an inflation rate of about 4000%, its unemployment is nearly 80% and at least one-fourth of the population has fled, mainly to South Africa. But, no African leaders will speak out against this tragedy. That is the African tragedy.
The recent trip by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Iraq not only symbolized the first visit to that nation by a French diplomat in years, but signified the determination of President Sarkozy to play a key role in Middle Eastern affairs. Sarkozy has openly expressed friendship for Israel but he also has indicated support for Muslim interests. Sarkozy seeks to end American hostility towards his nation without embracing American policy in Iraq. He believes it possible for France to play a mediator role in Middle Eastern events, one which no longer is possible for America to display.
Sarkozy may well be a key player in helping Middle Eastern nations to reach compromises. It is unfortunate George Bush never grasped the importance of working both sides of the fence, the only approach which enables a mediator to achieve success.
The brutal military dictatorship which has ruled Myanmar(formerly Burma) for nearly three decades continues its oppression of the Burmese people. It now releases prisoners and recruits them into a shadowy group known as Swan Aah Shin–capable strong persons– and unleashes them against peaceful protestors seeking to obtain basic human rights. There are also reports of military forces being directed into the capital to halt any attempt at protest.
Burma is one of those quiet places which does not capture the interests of liberals. It lacks the dramatic effect of being in the Middle East. Burma is just off the beaten track of liberal causes. Its people suffer tremendously, thousands have been killed or imprisoned, but it is doubtful if any liberal group will makes statements about those suffering.