The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, argued in a new report that US forces could be withdrawn in Iraq could be withdrawn in about three months if they left without their equipment or in 10-12 months if everything was taken out. The report claimed: “if the United States does not set a specific timetable, our military forces and our overall national security will remain hostage to events on the ground in Iraq.”
The report raises an important issue –is the United States, in effect, a hostage to what transpires in Iraq? The Bush administration does not control events, but is guided by events in Iraq. This creates a dynamic in which American leaders are not deciding what is best for the national interests of their nation, but those decisions are always guided by daily events in Iraq.
It was a rather minor incident when US troops halted an Iranian diplomatic car and arrested two officials. They were charged with possession of weapons — two pistols and an assault rifle. After a few hours of trying to intimidate the Iranians, the troops released them to Iraqi authorities. A rather minor, unimportant incident, but one that highlights problems in the Middle East.
The Iranian government has “detained” four western academics on charges of trying to forment revolution. Bush wants our troops to “detain” Iranians on charges they are formenting violence. Prime Minister Mailiki has visited Iran and praised its government and thanked it for supporting him. Bush denounces Iran for not supporting Iraq. We can detain Iranian diplomats, we can shout to the world of their support of terrorism, but the bottom line is that Iran must be part of any solution. What Bush refuses to admit, is that Iranian support is for the current Shiite government. They share Iraqi hatred of Sunnis, that is the problem, not Iran.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI report a significant rise in gang related activities in the armed forces. In 2007, 7.9% of recruits received moral waivers due to prior criminal records while in 2003 only 4.6 received such waivers. The FBI has identified gangs operating at many posts.There are 40 members of the Folk Nation gang at Ft. Bliss while the Gangster Disciples have a large contingent at Ft. Hood. These gangs are involved in robberies, assaults drugs, and other illegal activities.A spokesperson for the CID said: “It’s a low threat, but it’s a serious problem.”
President Bush continues emphasizing we must fight over there to prevent violence over here. It appears due to the nature of a volunteer army stretched thin, the armed forces are now witnessing the presence of violent men and women who bring their gang activities along with them.
China’s National Development Reform Commission which has been charged with leading the fight against pollution reports both encouraging and discouraging news. They closed down 12 projects worth $44 billion due to lack of proper pollution controls and delayed approval for over a 100 other projects until standards are met. Ma Kai of the Commission indicated overall there has been progress “but the energy consumption and pollution” continue being ongoing problems.
China is near the end of its initial two decade drive to become an economically advanced nation and like others in the past, it has rushed forward at the expense of conserving natural resources.
Several countries in southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia have created the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons organization to deal with the enslavement of at least 800,000 people due to slave trade activities in the region. Australia will launch a program for training Indonesian police, judges, and prosecutors to assist in halting the trafficking in people. Many efforts at apprehending violators of human rights are able to get off due to laxity on the part of those in charge of enforcing the law.
For the first time in modern Turkish history, a religious conservative became president of the nation. His election also signifies that conservative Muslims now control Parliament, the prime minister position and the presidency. Gul formerly was a member of the conservative party of Necnettin Erkbakan whose government was overthrown by the military. After that incident, Gul formed the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and has watched it gain complete control of the Turkish government.
Gul is a complex man. His wife wears the traditional conservative headscarf and he espouses conservative ideas. He refused to accept Prime Minister Erdogan’s compromise solution of having someone else become president. Although conservative and stubborn, he still seeks Turkish entry into the European Union. Gul understands imposing strict Muslim values upon Turkey dooms entry into the EU as well as threatens an Army seizure of power. The next challenge he faces is the appointment of head of the Turkish army which lies within the power of the president. If he selects someone who is known as a conservative Muslim it most probably will lead to the army seizing power.
Iranian Speaker of Parliament, Gholan Ali-Haddad Adel,accused the Bush administration for attempting to blame other nations as the cause of the current Iraq situation. He argued the quagmire was created by ineptness of Bush and now the president is seeking elsewhere for someone to blame. “The Americans who always try to accuse others… are now blaming a government which has come to power through a vote of the majority.”
The reality is Iran has attempted to avoid war since its religious leaders tend to be conservative. Bush is working nonstop to place blame on Iran for all Iraq ills. He forgets it was Bush who ignored advice from US military leaders to rely on a larger army, it was Bush appointees who disbanded the Iraq army, and it was Bush who refused to consider alternative political solutions in Iraq. As Shakespeare put it: the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves.
The Democratic Party pledged to take swift action in order to assist fighting men who had been denied benefits due to Republican party actions. There are two versions of the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act –one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. It appears some Democratic senators want to use the act to include their opposition to the war in Iraq. This is a mistake. The wounded soldiers need aid now. Let the Iraq war issues be resolved elsewhere.
Gordon Hahn, writing in the Moscow Times blasted the United States for its ill-conceived policies of insulting and demeaning Russia. He argues since the end of the Cold War, American political leaders have treated Russia as a second class power and now are reaping the results of such an attitude. Hahn notes there was no reason to expand NATO into Poland except for frighten Russia. Bush’s recent decision to place missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland has only served to anger the Russian government and people.
Recent surveys indicate a majority of Russians now regard the US as a major threat to world peace. Putin has responded to American military moves in east Europe with revamping the Russian airforce, making claims to Arctic regions, and playing a forceful role in Middle Eastern affairs. American hostility has been met with Russian anger.
Bush never had a firm grasp of the intricacies of Russian attitudes and feelings. He has plunged ahead with ill conceived ideas to establish missile bases close to the Russian border without ever contemplating how Russians might react. As usual, Bush does not understand effective diplomacy looks through oth