Monthly Archives: January 2008

Return To Fallujah

Patrick Cockburn returned to Fallujah after being absent for a few years in order to examine what has happened to the Iraqi city in its fight against terrorism. There was definitely an absence of bombings and random killings, and although he counted 27 manned checkpoints, it was clear al-Qaeda and other militants had lost their ability to dominate the city. Cockburn spoke with the police chief who had previously been in the Saddam Hussein army. Col. Feisal’s brother controlled a 13,000 man which is part of the Sunni Awakening Movement. In visits to hospitals, Cockburn repeatedly was told about lack of medicine, clean water and electricity. The doctors also complained “The American provide us with nothing. They bring only destruction.”

There is little doubt the surge has lessend the ability of militants to proceed with their bombings and murders at the same rate as previously. But, as Fallujah indicates, the struggle for peace in Iraq is far from over. The United States has poured immense money into military development and far less to economic assistance. People lack jobs, they lack access to clean water, and they have sporadic use of electricity.

Good News-Sudan Upset At US For Darfur Comments

The government of the Sudan summoned the top Ameican diplomat in Khartoum in order to complain about what they alleged was interference in their nation’s internal affairs. They rejected US criticism of the appointment of Musa Hiial to a top government post. The American government regards Hilal as the chief coordinator of the infamous Janjaweed militia which has killed and raped its way across Darfur. US Charge D’Affairs, Alberto Fernandez, was told “these kind of comments are a flagrant intervention in domestic affiars” and the Sudan government has the right to appoint anyone it so desires.

The United States has rather tense relations with the thugs and murderers who presently are in charge of the government of the Sudan. They are responsible for the deaths of at least 200,000 people and the displacement of another 2.5 million due to actions by Mr. Hilal’s janjaweed criminal murderers. It is time for every nation to express its condemnation of the Sudan brutality and to impose severe economic sanctions about this roge government which believes it can kill without receiving any criticism.

Gulf War Veterans Furious At Bush Veto

American veterans of the Gulf War who were captured and tortured by Iraqi forces are furious at the decision of President Bush to veto a proposed bill that would have allowed them to pursue damages against the Iraqi government that were awarded them by a federal court. Bush vetoed the 2008 defense authorization bill over a proviso allowing former prisoners of war to sue Iraq for damages for their torture while in captivity. President Bush claimed the proviso would “allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to tie up billions of dollars in Iraqi hands for reconstruction that our troops in the field depend on to maintain security gains.” American POWs were granted damages by a U.S. federal court in July, 2003.

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, is supporting efforts by POWs for their legal action against Iraq. “I was stunned and shocked and outraged and ashamed when I read why the president was choosing to veto this important bill. this is outrageous, and we’re going to do something about it.” He is introducing a bill tentatively entitled, “The Justice for Victims of Torture and Terrorism Act” which will protect the rights of the former POWs. Some critics of the POWs claim it is all about money, on the other hand, one can say it is all about justice. If past history runs true, George Bush will always come down on the side of money, not justice.

Canada Debates Torture Issue

The United Nations definition of torture entails “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental”of an individual has always been the international norm. But, in 2002, White House leegaladviseers insisted the limits of what is considered to be torture could be pushed in the name of national security. For the most part, Canada has stood by the side in the debate, but the inadvertent disclosure this month of a Department of Foreign Affairs training manual on torture has heated up discussion concerning its nation’s attitude toward torture. The Canadian government was embarrassed when contents of “Torture Awaeness Workshop Reference Matrials” was released and included Israel and the United States as among countries engaged in torture of prisoners. Traditionally, Canada has given America the benefit of the doubt but the case of Canadian Omar Khadr who was sent to Guantanaomo Bay has aroused controversty.

The israeli and American ambassadors were infuriated at inclusion of their nations being cited for torture and Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine Bernier has promised to review the manual and promised revisions. However, her comment about revisions has now sparked a debate among Canadians charging it is not so simple as to remove two names as to totally revise the Canadian definition of torture in order to placate America and Israel. Amnesty Inernational is urging Bernier not to back down but to maintain the maual and its definition of torture even if that upsets the United States.

Of course, another road to take is asking the United States and Israel to cease and desist from employment of torture tactics and that would instantly lead to removal of their names from the list of torturing nations.

Gaza-Confusion At Border-And In UN

Egytpian troops continue establishing a semblance of order in the tumultous area around its border with Gaza. The huge crowds that tore through openings in the fence a few days ago in order to secure goods are no longer present, but Egypt is still furious that over two dozen of its soldiers were injured in the melee. The Palestinian Aurhority has made it clear to Hamas there would be no assistance until Hamas relinquishes control over Gaza that it assumed several months ago. President Abbas met with Israel Prime Minister Olmert about the issue and both are in accord there will be no compromise with Hamas.

At the United Nations, a Syrian proposal to condemn Israel for its actions in Gaza has been replaced by one which not only condemns Israel but calls for an end to Kassam rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas and other militants. Syria and Qatar refuse to go along with the new proposal even though most members of the Arab League have agreed to come out against attacks on Israel.

The interesting aspect of these developments is a new sense of realism among most members of the Arab League. They seek some form of accomodation with Israel and are tired of the ongoing refusal on the part of Hamas to end violence. This is the perfect time for the Israel government to make a dramatic announcement such as being willing to withdraw from West Bank settlements. In the meantime, there is need for a UN force to control Gaza. This blog believes the force should be drawn from Muslim nations like Turkey or Morocco or Egypt.

Oh Billy Boy-Get Some Sleep!

Senator Hillary Clinton admitted on Face the Nation that her husband’s hard-hitting campaign tactics had gone overboard but chalked up his erratic behavior to love and lack of a good night’s sleep. “You know, my husband has such a great commitment to me and to my campaign, he loves me just like, you know, husbands and wives get out there and work on each other’s behalf.” She admitted tensions of the tight race for the candidacy of the Dmocratic party had resulted in “maybe he got a little carried away.” She blamed “sleep deprivation” for his comments concerning Barack Obama and defended Bill Clinton’s role in working for the rights of African Americans.

Barack Obama’s victory speech in South Carolina, responded to the attacks of Bill Clinton by noting relics of the past are “fighting back with everything its got, with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face.” Bill Clinton simply has lost contact with the world of 2008. Democrats today want someone with a vision for America that unites rather than separates people. They are no more interested in the skin color of a person anymore than who people sleep around with in the privacy of their homes.

All Quiet On Eastern European Union Front-Momentarily

Two people have died and thousands of trucks are stuck at the border between Poland and the Ukraine this week after custom officials went on a wildcat strike. They are complaining about bad pay, overwork, and lack of preparation for dealing with the new Schengen zone borders. The Schengen zone or passport-free travel was expanded to include ten more nations. As part of participating in the Schengen zone, these countries had to tighten border security. There are now an estimated 3,000 Polish trucks stuck at the Ukraine-Polaish border and another thousand are on their way.

The European Union is experiencing growing pains as it expands the scope and breadth of its free zone area. Polish custom officials believe they were not provided sufficient training nor did anyone anticipate the additional work entailed in moving from checking all passports to having in place an effective security system.

There is a new world goliath being created as the European Union continues its eastward expansion. One can only wonder if the coming years will witness a southeast movement towards Turkey and other nations of the Middle East.

Female Iraq Vet Aims At Republican Seat

Jill Morganthaler, a 30 year Army veteran, has decided to sift from fighting on the fields of Iraq to zeroing in on a Repulican congressman who ran a dirty campaign in 2006 to defeat a former female Iraq war veteran.If the 53 year-old suburban mother wins the Demcoratic nomination for congress, she will take on conservative Republican Rep. Petr Roskam who defeated Tammy Duckworth in 2006 by a few hundred votes. During her tour in Iraq, Morgenthaler served as a military spokesperson and got caught in the tragedy of Abu Ghraib scandal. “I would never apologize what those seven(US soldiers) did. Not only what they did was totally wrong to the prisoners, it was wrong for our nation. It really hurt the good we were doing.”

Morgenthaler believes the Iraq government has to assume more responsibility for safety because it is important to get our troops back home. Morgenthaler has received the enthusiastic support of Duckworth who joins in seeking the defeat of a conservative
Republican supporter of the Iraq war.

Clinton Strategy-Marginalize Obama-Recipe For Victory?

Senator Hllary Clinton and her mate, former president Bill Clinton, undoubtedly have a strategy of seeking to transform Barack Obama into a “black candidate” and in the process endeavor to ruin his run for the presidential nomination. Obama gained a victory in South Carolina but it came mainly through efforts of black voters, he only obtained abou 20% of his vote from white South Carolinians. On the other hand, Senator Clinton was not an overwhelming favorite of white males, an issue that continues to haunt her quest for victory in the primaries. There is a broader issue for the Clintons–is a strategy based on creating racial tensions one that befits the American people? Will Americans grow weary of the Clintons for their divisiveness? Will the strategy backfire in the coming election if Hillary Clinton gains the nomination but so angers black Americans voters and liberals they vote with their feet by not showing up in November to cast ballots?

It increasingly is becoming evident Senator Clinton will go to any length in her quest to come across as “tough” even if it results in defeat for her party in November. She has put aside what is important for the nation because of what is important for herself-winning a nomination. What price salvation, Senator Clinton? Is it worth it to obtain a nomination but in the process lose your soul?

Election Fraud=Blood, Hate, Violence In Kenya

President Kibaki stole an election by manipulating vote counts. Undoubtedly, he assumed opposition parties would scream but eventually allow his actions to be accepted. Unfortunately, his theft has resulted in an outburst of tribal anger as opponents and defenders of his theft clash over a dispute that has escalated from anger over a vote count to unleashing of dromant tribal fears. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been desperately attempting to persuade Kibaki and Raila Odinga to come together for the greater good of all Kenyans even if it means temporarily suspending their own goals. Annan made a trip around the country meeting people who were beaten and driven from their homes by bands of armed youth. Thousands are now displaced because they fear returning to homes located in areas where there are rivel tribal groups.

Kofi Annan captured the essence of what is happening today in Kenya when he said, “The crisis has mutated from an electoral dispute into much deeper probelms with a high potential for recurrence.” Is this what Kibaki wants for his nation? Is he willing to sacrifice his lust for power over the aspirations and needs of millions of people? The future only knows the answer to those questions.