Monthly Archives: January 2008

A Pause To Regroup Or Reduce?

The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in iraq will be slowed down or halted in the coming months, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended Americ an commitment in Iraq. This move is in response to pressure from military commanders in Iraq who fear any further reduction in the size of their forces would reverse the success they have achieved over the past few months in dealing with terrorism. General Petraeus is to report to the president and Congress in April about his recommendations regarding the size of US forces in the coming year. There are indications he believes it is best to halt further reduction and consolidate success. Bush emphasized in the State of the Union address he will base his decisions on recommendations of Petraeus.

A major problem is the uncertainty as to what will happen once the size of American forces in Iraq are cut back. Will the Sunni-led Awakening Movement be a factor in reducing insurgent attacks or will it become involved in fighting with Shiite troops who are loyal to the government?

An unknown factor in the coming year is the attitude of an incoming president in January, 2009. A President John McCain will undoubtedly continue the Bush policy of relying on recommendations of General Petraeus. A president Obama is probably the most difficult to gauge in terms of troop reductions.

Bush Says Faith Saved His Life

President Bush, while visiting a community service project, told the group he once had been an alcoholic but found God which helped him overcome his problems. “As you might remember, I drank too m uch at one time in my life.. I undersdtand addiction, I understand how a changed heart can help you deal with addiction.” The president’s words could also be interpreted another way. Ordinarily, a person who drinks may get into fights in which another person might be injured. Once Geroge Bush ended his drinking addiction, he now seeks to get other people involved with fighting while he stands off to the corner. His decision to cease drinking may have been a live saver for him, but it certainly has led to a new addiction — having the American people fight in just about every corner of the globe. I guess when he drank, he had images and fears that so many drinkers obtain, now, his images and fears get the entire world in trouble. Heck, the man thinks there are WMD where none exist!

At points, one almost wishes George Bush took a drink or too and kept the rest of the world out of his personal problems.

Improved GI Bill Will Result In Improved Economy

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, urged the president and Congress to incorporate a new version of the GI Bill of Rights that is closer in content with the WWII bill that stimulated America’s economy by enabling millions of veterans to obtain college education. He noted the original GI Bill, “resulted in higher national productivity, consumer spending and tax revenue. Every dollar spent sending the Greatest Generation to college added seven dollars to our national economy.” The Congressinal Research Service estimates the World War II GI Bill resulted in a $5 to $12 increase in tax revenues for every $1 spent on sending veterans to college.

The Bush administration has been hesitant to make dramatic changes in veteran benefits due to the estimated $5.4 billion cost. Of course, President Bush sees no problem in spending over a trillion dollars in search of WMD and costing the lives of thousands of soldiers and Iraq civilians. There is something fundamentally wrong when a president hestiates about spending $5 billion to improve the nation, then again, President Bush opposed extending medical care to children.

Building Rockets In Gaza-Nonstop!

Ulrike Putz, correspondent for the German publication, Der Spiegel, made contact with Palestinian militants who spend each evening making Kassam rockets. He talked with several young men connected with the Islamic Jihad who are dedicated to risking their lives making the bombs. “It’s a long journey,” says the German newspaperman, “through the pitch-deark night as the taxi heads towards he secret rocket factory in the Gaza Strip. Since Abdul(not real name) and his two friends got in, it has become a life-threatening trip. The young men prodfuce rockets for the Islamic Jihad. Day after day, their rudimentary bombs land on Israel villages, fields and kibbutzum.” Israel ordinarily retaliates by attempting to kill leaders of the group by targeting cars. The men claim they get supplies from the Sudan or eastern Europe which go through secret tunnels from the Egyptian border and they are receiving money, but they would not reveal the sources of those funds.

The team claimed they could make up to a 100 rockets each night. They send rockets to unknown destinations and blame Israel for the misery of the people of Gaza. At no point in this story is their any recognition on the part of these young men how they are creating misery for the people of Gaza. Their minds simply block at their connection to chaos in Gaza since they refuse to blame any other party but Israel.

Their continued existence will most probably at some time result in an Israel invasion to ensure the end of rocket attacks.

UN Watch Urges UNHRC To Reject Arab League Charter

The UN Watch, which is associated with the American Jewish Committee, urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, to clearify a recent endorsement of the Arab Charter of Human Rights because it “contains several provisions that promote classically anti-Semitic themes.” For example, it contains a sentence which states, “rejecting all forms of racism, Zionism and foeign occupation and domination constitute an impediment to human dignity.. such practices must be condemned and efforts must be deployed for their elimination.” The Arab charter supposedly serves as the basis for guiding how Arab nations will behave.

Perhaps, if Arab nations actually implemented human rights within their own societies it might be the first step towards establishing peaceful relations with Israel. The nation of Israel has made mistakes and has abused human rights regarding Palestinians, but overall it remains the most democratic society in the Middle East. Arab nations simply lack credibility in discussing human rights until they first ensure their own people enjoy such freedoms. It is unfortunate that a UN body would go along with blatant anti-semitism and ignore those making the statements are the embodiment of dictatorial rule and abuse of human rights.

Kenya’s Human Tragedy Continues

A human tragedy continues unfolding in Kenya that was brought on by President Kibaki’s blaltant stealing of the last election. According to Kenya’s Standard newspaper, “most parts of the country were on the verge of paralysis last night as another 32 people were killed in a new wave of bloodletting.” There are signs the entire nation is grinding to a halt as violence between tribal groups acclerates rather than declines. Fighting between tribal members has opened the door for thugs and criminals to use this cover in order to kill, rape, and steal. Two German tourists were killed and robbed by criminals. Kenya’s Finance Minister, Amos Kimunya, has up to this point expressed some guarded optimism, but even he now admits the economy is headed for a major collapse unless the death and destruction can be halted. He noted damage done to tourism, a major source of revenue, will take months, if not years to reapair.

Trains, trucks and movement of goods has been slowed. Even neighboring nations are impacted since Kenya is the source of about 40% of the Sudan’s supplies. City after city is witnessing people begin by protesting and wind up with looting and killing. The police and army appear unable to halt the devastation of this unleashed fury which up to this point in Kenya’s history has never emerged. As chaos reigns in his nation, the only major concern of President Kibai is holding on to his position.

Musharraf Urges Brown To Be Tougher On Terrorists

Presdient Pervez Musharraf sharply rejected any criticism of his record in fighting terrorism in the northwest region of his nation. He turned the tables on his host, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, by claiming Great Britain has no long-term strategy of fighting terrorism and pointed out there have been dramatic failures in the country in being able to integrate its Pakistani immigrant population. He challenged Brown to take action in Great Britain against terrorism. “We have banned them in Pakistan, yet we are blame we are doing nothing. You haven’t banned them yet. So why blame us?” President Musharraf insists the Taliban are holed up on border areas because the United States did not do its job in Afghanistan. He has asked America to take back these Taliban extremists and let them live in Afghanistan.

President Musharraf raises some interesting points but it is apparent he still doesn’t understand the nature of a democratic society. Musharraf dismissed Pakistan Supreme Court judges because they opposed his ideas, he has instituted a state of emergency that effectively interfered with the political process and there are still lingering questions concerning his possible role in the death of Benazir Bhutto. Great Britain is a nation in whic free speech is allowed, they do not go around banning people because of speech, a concept that apparently is difficult for the autocratic ruler of Pakistan to grasp. If he really believes the northwest region of his nation is being brought under control it might pay him to check with Pakistani soldiers fighting in the area.

Like Mother Like Son In Iraq

The extensive dependence on reservists in fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars frequently results in rather bizarre encounters between members of the same family. Sgt. Tammi Johnson, a reservist, was deployed to Kirkuk Air base in Iraq only to discover she was taking over work tasks presently being done by her son, Derrrick. “This is all just a big coincidence,” said Derrick, “When I found out that she was coming to replace me, my jaw dropped just wondering what the chances were of this occurring.”

The nonstop deployment and redeployment of members of the military adds considerablly to family pressures and results in such a strange situation. A basic problem is the American military has been too long overseas and the same people have for too long been entrusted with responsibility for fighting wars the vast majority of this nation does not want fought. It would be preferable if the Johnsons could spend time together in America.

Toronto’s Afrocentric Approach-Does It Work?

Toronto’s school authorities are attempting to enage students whose ancestry can be traced to Africa by enfusing an Afrocentric approach in teaching various subjects. For example, students in math develop graphs to trace the origins of Canada’s immigrants, the hope being all students will gain greater awareness if they learn about the backgrounds of other people. If the American experience has anything to offer, it suggets an Afrocentric approach to education is the “means,” not the end. If studying about one’s heritage entices students to learn, it is a successful approach. But, if Afrocentrism entails obtaining data for data sake, there is scant hope it will transform a student who is tuned out to school to tune in.

A problem with all such programs which endeavor to stimulate pride in one’s heritage is how one teaches. If the approach is information rather than stimulating critical and creative thinking, there simply is not enough evidence to suggest students doing poorly will suddenly love school. A “talking teacher” is boring regardless if the teacher is talking about Africa or Canada. There is need in any Afrocentric approach to include activities and materials that engage students with important concepts and challenge them to become critical thinkers.

China’s New Strategy For The Future

China’s top think tank, the Chinese Academcy of Social Science(CASS) has published a report which outlines a potential new foreign policy strategy for its nation. The report, “China’s Modernization 2008″ suggest pushing a brand new concept called, “Peace Dove Strategy” that is linked to the UN Charter and would endeavor to foster world peace. This approach seeks to build an Asian-Pacific economic Cooperation alliance which would dove tail with an Asia-Europe Economic alliance. South America, Oceana and Africa would bring up the rear in having China be a proactive leader in developing economic relations throughout the world.

The strategy certainly fits into China’s economic drive which presents witnesses their involvement in developing resources throughout the world including significant investments in Africa, South America and Asian nations. It is interesting the strateg makes scant reference to the United States or to North America. There is more focus on areas like Australia and southeast Asia than on dealing with America in the future. Perhaps, the Chnese recognize that as the United States becomes bogged down in the Middle East it enables an active player such as China to become dominant in other areas of the world. This is merely another fall out from Bush’s disastrous engagement in Iraq. Apparently, Bush would rather be triumphant in Iraq and allow China to exert its influence in the rest of the world.