Monthly Archives: December 2007

US Forces In Africa– Friends To Whom?

In2002, the Bush administration first sent US troops into Africa in search of terrorists, a search that expanded after the notorious bombing of the American Embassy in Kenya. The United States has now established a Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa which supposedly is engaged in humanitarian efforts to help people. There is no question many American military personnel are engaged in important activities ranging from building schools or providing children with vaccination to ward off diseases. According to Admiral Jim Hart, who commands the forces, “this is the way to put an American face on what we are doing” to help people.

Unfortunately, the central questions are which people are being aided and why? The United States encouraged and then provided military support for Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia several months ago. The invasion force threw out an Islamic fundamentalist government which had established some semblance of order in a chaotic area of the world that had long since been functioning as an organized nation. The invasion has produced anger among Muslims because Ethiopians are Christians who now dominate a Muslim nation. Over 300,000 Somalians have fled the capital of Mogadishu in which terror now reigns. The bottom line is increased hatred toward the United States in areas like Somalia and that anger will not be lessened by building a few schools. It is time to re-evaluate the rationale for the African expedition of the Bush administration.

Christmas Spirit-Hindus Attack Churches

Hundreds of federal police were deployed in India’s eastern state of Orissa as Hindu hard-liners burnt an damaged 12 churches while clashing with Christians. It is believed at least one Christian died in the attack. Ostensibly, the Hindus outburst came because some Christian injured a local Hindu leader, but most observers believe it stems from conversion by low-cast Hindus into the Christian religion. Local TV stations showed films of wrecked churches with all windows smashed and furniture strewn around. Archbishop Raphael Cheenath charge police with turning blind eye to the Hindus mob behavior. Barik, a local Hindu leader, responded that Christians had placed religious statues on a Hindu site. Some Christians believe low-cast Hindus convert because of the treatment they receive in the Hindu religion.

It is ironic, that in Muslim Indonesia, the Christmas holidays passed without a single incident of violence against Christians, but in predominantly Hindu India, there were clashes. Naturally, the American media ignores the peaceful behavior of Muslims just as it ignores the violent behavior of Hindus. Violent Hindus this year are not of great interest to the media which only focuses on terrorism by Muslims.

The Liebrman Factor For John McCain

The recent endorsement of John McCain for the presidency by Senator Joseph Lieberman raises many issues for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Joe Lieberman, although losing the Democratic nomination last fall, ran as an Independent but promised Democrats he would vote and serve as a Democrat if elected. The decision to back his good friend, John McCain will undoubtedly doom any chance for his re-election, but he most probably has already accepted that reality. Senator Lieberman regards himself as a spokesperson for Israel in the American Senate and blindly follows what he regards as needed by that nation even though many Israelis have other goals such as peace and two independent nations.

A recent poll by Fox News reveals that a Lieberman nod only resonates with about 15% of Independents, but attains a 25% approval rating from Republicans. The religious right still has warm feelings for Lieberman who denounced Bill Clinton’s “immoral conduct” and has fervently supported Bush anti-terrorism policies. There is something sad in an old liberal warrior who fought for civil liberties now in the twilight of his career assuming the mantle of a die hard advocate of right wing conservative policies. It is also doubtful if the Orthodox Jew’s stature is that strong to overcome the hatred many religious right folk feel toward John McCain’s support for immigration reform or for his attacks on religious leaders like Jerry Falwell. Say it ain’t so, Joe, say you are not completely abandoning liberal views.

Basra In Security Crisis As British Depart

The police force charged with maintaining law and order in Basra are no match for the militia groups which now, essentially, are in control of the city. Lt. Gen. Jaleel al-Shuwaili claimed militia forces controlled the main ports and terminals in the province and which Basra is the capital, and his forces were incapable of challenging their power. The British military which until recently “controlled” Basra never really interfered with the militia groups and allowed them to run wild and lawless. the police are powerless to even investigate the rise crime and move away from even taking action against militia faction which kill women for “improper un-Islamic dress.” Provincial Council leader, Mohammad Saadoun, supported this view of reality noting that militia groups have carved out “fiefdoms” in which they impose law and order according to their own interpretations. He believes Basra is facing a “security crisis” with an ineffectual police and no ability on the part of the Iraqi army to impose its will on the militia groups.

General Petraeus and President Bush are boasting about the surge’s success in reducing violence in Baghdad. They are correct on that point, but, in the meantime lawlessness is increasing all over Iraq and the southern region which is centered around Basra has lost all semblance of control by the national government. Perhaps, surge troops will be sent south.

Barack Obama Promises Health Benefits To Veterans

Retired Air Force veteran, Andrew Hampton, grew emotional when he rose in an Iowa meeting to ask Senator Barack Obama about his plans to make certain veterans obtained health benefits they needed. Hampton was wearing an Obama T-shirt and the senator asked him to pose a tough question. The crowd laughed but then grew quiet as the military veteran spoke. He said he joined the Air Force in 1956 and retired in 1988 and initially did not receive the health benefits he had been promised due to a “political decision.” Eventually he received a pace-maker. The concern he expressed to the senator was ensuring that those returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive full medical benefits. “We can’t desert them,” he cried. Obama promised if elected president that he would do all in his power to ensure every veteran obtained needed medical benefits as long as such assistance was necessary.

It has taken a Democratic Congress to finally force the Bush administration to carry out the nation’s obligations to those who have served in the armed forces.

Thailand Leader Threatened With Arrest By Government

The People Power Party of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra swept to an overwhelming victory in last week’s parliamentary election, but Thaksin still faces problems if he attempts to return from his self-imposed exile in London. The Thai Attorney General warned that, “As soon as he sets foot in Thailand which he claims will be sometime between February and April of next year, he will face police arrest. An arrest warrant has already been issued for him a long time ago.” The billionaire Thai leader is charged with corruption, but he fears there would not be a fair trial if he returns. His party’s victory has definitely given new life to him even thought Thaksin told the press he was abandoning the political arena. That is probably the best course of action for this controversial figure who is expert at arousing passions among the poor people of Thailand.

Thaksin is loved by many poor people but he is hated by the military, and, most probably by the King of Thailand. It is perhaps to lay low for a few years and allow his political party a shot at governing before trying to return.

Egyptian President Mubarak Offers Mediation To Israel-Syria

Egypt’s President Mubarak told visiting Israel Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak of his willingness to assume the role of mediator in the dispute between Israel and Syria over the Golan Heights according to a report from the United Arab Emirates’ newspaper, Al-Bayan. Under the proposed Mubarak plan, Israel forces would withdraw from the Golan Heights over a 10-15 year period and when they have departed a force comprising soldiers from Russia, the US and Egypt would assume the role of ensuring there was no violence. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Olmert told visiting US Senator Arnold Spector who was headed to Damascus of his own desire to begin negotiating with Syria over outstanding disputes.

The Mubarak offer is fair and can be implemented without any difficulties. It also guarantees Israel security from any future outbreak of violence. This writer would prefer that American forces not be involved in any Middle Eastern compromise and they be replaced by soldiers from Turkey which has excellent relations with Israel. There is no need at this point in time to get American soldiers involved in any Middle Eastern problem.

Ciivil Liberties Rebellion Grows In British Parliament

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s problems continued to foster growing resentment against his leadership. his proposal to extend from 28 to 48 the number of days a suspected “terrorist’ might be detained without any charges being filed has run into a stone wall of opposition from members of his own party. Labor has a 67 seat majority in Parliament, but at least 38 of its members have already indicated a desire to vote against the prime minister on this issue. His idea suffered a blow when Sir Ken Macdonald, Director of Public Prosecutions, blasted the idea of extending the length of time suspects could be held without the filing of charges. “I think the basic point,” he stated, “is whether you want to legislate on the basis of hypotheticals or whether you want to legislate on he basis of evidence that we have acquired from practice.” Macdonald pointed out there was no evidence the current 28 day limit had failed to do the job of bringing charges against suspects.

More and more Labor MPs are becoming disgusted with the erosion of civil liberties that the war on terrorism has produced. They regard themselves as protectors of the historic rights of Englishmen and see no reason to alter a system that has and is working because of some hypothetical “maybe” claimed by the government. Unless Gordon Brown becomes more sensitive to the aspirations of his own party members his days as prime minister are numbered.

Benazir Bhutto Killed By Gunman In Pakistan!

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto escaped an attempted assassination the day she arrived home, but her luck ran out yesterday when she was killed by an assailant as she left her party’s headquarters. A man apparently began firing at her and when she ducked, he blew himself up killing Bhutto together with about twenty of her supporters. An angry crowd chanted loudly, “Dog, Musharraf, Dog” blaming the nation’s president for the killing. Earlier in the day terrorists tried killing Bhutto’s ally, Nawaz Sharif but only succeeded in murdering four of his supporters. Sharif was furious and bluntly stated: “This all happened at the behest of the government. They are 100% responsible, but we are not scared of such actions.”

The situation is now at a critical stage in Pakistan. Musharraf’s inept declaration of a state of emergency and removal of prominent supreme court judges who opposed his rule, has now placed the president in an awkward dilemma. His main opponent is dead at the hands of an unknown man and Sharif and Bhutto’s pakistan Muslim League will be blaming him. A victory for supporters of the president in the upcoming parliamentary election will not be accepted by the vast majority of Pakistanis. What happens in that scenario? Who will step up to assume leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League which has been advocating a more secular approach to government under Bhutto’s leadership? There are many questions and few answers.

Income Gap Continues Widening In China

Although the media continues reporting the phenomenal economic growth of China, it still remains a nation containing about 900,000,000 people who live in rural areas. Latest figures indicate rural Chinese earn an average of about $546 compared to the approximate $1800 earned by urban workers. There continues to be growth in rural incomes, but even as they increase, the gap continues to widen. But, inability to create a more dramatic rural growth adds other burdens to China. More and more rural people migrate to urban areas in search of a better life which increases demands for farm products although fewer and fewer people are farmers. China’s greatest deficit is in the amount of money allocated for farm production, it lags behind the effort made by many other societies.

An effective strategy that would aid China is pouring massive amounts of money to improve education and medical facilities in rural China. That, together with allocating much more funds for science and technological developments for the agricultural sector might reduce the flow of migrants to urban areas which are growing at a dramatic rates and raising ecological and human problems.