Monthly Archives: February 2008

Al-Qaida Growing Stronger Says US Inteligence

Michael McConnell, Director of National Intelligence, told Congress al-Qaida has reconstituted its leadership over the past two years and regained the “core operational capabilities” needed to launch attacks within the United States. He regards al-Qida as still the number one threat to the security of this nation. “Al-Qaida is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S. The identification, training and positioning of operatives for an attack on the homeland.” McConnell noted his agency has identified a growing influx of recruits from the Western world in tribal areas of the northwest area of Pakistan. A continuing problem is the safe haven affored al-Qaida in these regions.

McConnell emphasized that several key al-Qaida leaders had been killed in the past year, but their deaths have not impaired the ability of its organization to conduct terrorist activities. The current situation is a vivid reminder of Bush blunders in not pursuing al-Qaida and the Taliban in 2001-2002 when the opportunity was ripe to wipe out those organizations. The president got side tracked into diverting resources to an ill-fated invasion of Iraq which has been disaster. One can only wonder if al-Qaida would still be an operational force today if Bush had pursued another course of action?

Medvedev To McCain-You’re Senile!

Dimitry Medvedev, the for certain victor in next week’s Russian election for president, made a not so veiled attack on Senator John McCain. Medvedev said his country “will work with any administration that will be chosen as a result of the election. Although, of course, it is easier to work with people who have modern positive positions and not with those who have the glints of the past in their eyes and frequently simply profess semi-senile views.” The Russian leader’s comments were apparently in reference to a statement made last December by McCain in which he paraphrased the famous Bush remark about looking into the eyes of Putin and getting “a sense of his soul.” McCain commented, “I looked into Putin’s eyes and saw three letters, a K, a G, a B.”

An issue with the candidacy of John McCain is his inability to free himself from politics of the past and confront new power arrangements of the modern world. An American president has to deal with Russian leaders and insulting the man behind Medvedev is hardly intelligent diplomacy. Barack Obama has told the world he will speak with any leader without preconditions. That is an example of politics of the future.

Why Kenya Peace Talks Collapsed!

The Kenya Daily Standard reported a member of President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity engaged in a heated exchange with the Panel of Eminent Persons led by Kofi Annan. As a result of the apparent Kibaki refusal to compromise, Kofi Annan has suspended any further discussions to resolve the impasse arising from the fraudulent election for president. The Daily Standard says the Kibaki minister exploded when Annan tried to steer discussions towards what was already drafted in the report of the Legal Working Group. In the ensuing exchange of words, accusations and epithets were hurled around the room as the PNU and the Orange Democratic Movement confronted one another in a slinging match. Both Annan and former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa found themselves attacked and questions raised about their integrity.

The Kibaki rejection of a fair election has resulted in 1000 people dead in Kenya and over 500,000 displaced. Annan was sad that neither party appeared able to grasp the enormity of the situation and the importance of compromise. A major stumbling block is refusal on the part of President Kibaki to surrender some of his power to a prime minister who would come from the ODM.

Secretary of State Condi Rice told the Kenyan leaders, “we will draw our own conclusions about who is responsible for lack of progress and take the necessary steps. We will also exert leadership with the United Nations.”

Obama And Clinton–Is The Curtain Descending?

In a sense, last night’s Clinton-Obama debate was probably a final scene in the politics of despair and hope. The play is coming to a conclusion, the denouement will allow the audience to learn who is the victor and that, most probably, will be Senator Barack Obama. There is little sense arguing about Senator Clinton’s tactics for the simple reason she may not be on stage after next week’s primaries. Future political analysts will have a field day examining the Clinton strategy of emphasizing “experience” over “hope.” The American people justifiably grasp they are entering an historic period in their nation’s history and the past must serve as a prelude to a new future. Barack Obama has understood from day one of his campaign the importance of advocating the “politics of hope” to a fatigued society. Americans have been “Iraqued out” and have become frightened other powers are passing them by in the race for economic supremacy.

Hillary Clinton’s performance merely reflects death of politics of the past in which personal attacks are the foundation of victory. Americans don’t care who received the first or the last question, they are not concerned over which words must be used to denounce or reject an evil person’s support. Senator Clinton is correct that Barack Obama uses lofty words to express his goals, but so did Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Each of those great Democratic Party leaders reassured a nation wracked by fear a new world was a’borning. FDR told Americans in 1933 the only thing to fear was fear itself and John Kennedy asked not what the country could do for you but what could you do for the country.

John McCain has the same problem that Hillary Clinton faced –he offers the experience of passed failure, but no hope for a new future. America does NOT wish continuation of current policies, it desires a new opening into the future.

Top Iran Cleric Slams Ahmadinejad

Critics of Iran insist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks for the Iranian government and people and frequently cite his comments such as attacks promising to wipe out Israel as proof Iran is threatening the security of the Israeli people. A top Iranian cleric on Wednesday criticized Iran President Ahgmadinejad for his ongoing “coarse” verbal assaults against Israel. Hassan Rowhani, a former top nuclear negotiator who still holds influential posts in the Iranian power structure, complained: “Does foreign policy mean expressing coarse slogans and grandstanding?” Rowhani said Iran “needs an accomodating way to decrease threats and assure the interests of the country. If the international community thinks that a country wants to play troublemaker and eliminate others, it will not let the country do this and will confront it.”

There is most probably increasing concern within the clerical group that actually runs Iran over the eratic behavior of Ahmadinejad. This suggests the possibility exists for an accomodation with Iran’s leaders. A first step might be a cease fire on the part of the United States and Israel over their threats to Iran. Perhaps, behind the scene contacts with Iranian leaders could be a first step in moving forward on the path toward peaceful relations with that nation. If Iran can become a partner in peace, Israel will benefit by removing the main supplier of weapons to Hizbullah and Hamas.

Bangladesh Women Power Economic Surge

The women of Bangladesh are a force to be recokoned with given they now represent a majority of the workers in the garment industry. The female workers are known for their hard work and efficiency and add in the millions of village women, many illiterate, who are developing businesses. Rasheda Choudhury, adviser to the Minstry of Women and Children, describes a “silent revolution” in which women now constitute a major source of labor and are generating an economic upsurge. However, according to the Gener Equality Index compiled by Social watch, equality between women and men during the period 2004-2007 fell faster in Bangladesh than in almost any other nation in the world.

It is e stimated Asian women wages are 40% to 60% less than men doing the same job. However, in an interesting twist in Bangladesh, education for women is now free until grade 12 although it is only free for boys through elementary school. POlicies favoring women are not new in Bangladesh since the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League are boh led by women. Choudhury hopes changes in education will translate over the coming years in women playing a more important role in higher levels of the economic sector.

Choudhury points out about a decade ago, demands for an increased role for women in politics resulted in 13,000 seats being set aside at lower government levels and the nation was amazed when 39,000 women applied for the positions. However, she expressed disappointment demands for one-third seats in Parliament being reserved for women have not borne results.

Myanmar-In Name Of Democracy–Shut Up!

Myanmar’s military junta is in the process of submitting a new constitution for their nation which supposedly will allow democracy to flourish. As first step in the move toward Myanmar style democracy the government stated anyone who distributes lelaflets or makes speeches against the new constitution can be imprisoned for three years. The Constitutional Referendum to be submitted to the nation allows for voting to be postponed or canceled in places affected by a “natural disaster, security breach, or other harm that could endanger the holding of a free and fair referendum.” The new constitution contains a provision that will prevent opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for public offices.

In the wonderful world of Myanmar democracy, anyone who makes speeches or hands out leaflets opposing the new constitution is guilty of a crime. Among guidelines for voting, any Monks, nuns, high-ranking Christian and Hindu officials or the mentally ill are not eligible to vote in the upcoming free election. Ballot boxes will be counted at polling stations and no outside observers will be allowed to monitor the process in order to ensure that democracy is in full operation. Actually, why bother to hold a “referendum” when the result of it is already known? The farce of what goes for “democracy” in Myanmar is an insult to the intelligence of the Burmese people.

Britain Concerned Over Iraq Hostages

The United States continually insists things are going better in Iraq, but there still remain mny unanswered questions about issues that have been thrust to the side. Prime Minister Gordon Brown communicated his concerns to Prime Minister Nuri-al-Maliki over recently released footage of one of five Britons still being held by militants in Iraq. The Britons, a computer expert and four bodyguards, were seized while inside an Iraqi Finance Ministry building by Shiite militants last May. In the new footage one of them asks for release of Shiite prisoners so he can be freed.

Militants insist they will kill one of the five unless something is done to meet their demands. The story, in itself, is not dramatically important in the scheme of things about what is happening in Iraq. It is simply another of the human aspects of a tragic war which began for the wrong reasons and has resulted in the wrong people getting punished. Most probably one or two of these innocent men will die. Those responsible for their deaths will go on to pleasant lives in Texas and elsewhere.

Turkey Defends Invasion Of Iraq

The Turkish invasion of Iraq is now in its fifth day with no sign soldiers will soon be leaving the territory of their neighbor. Yesterday, Iraq condemned Turkey’s incursion of their land in search of Kurdish rebels and demanded an immediate withdrawal. The Iraq government statement said: “The cabinet expressed its rejection and condemnation of the Turkish military interference, which is considered a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.” Prime Minister Erdogan immediately responded claiming “Turkey’s cross-border operation is the result of its legitimate right to self-defense.” Ironically, the Turkish argument is close to that of the Bush administration which claimed the right to invade Iraq due to alleged threats from Saddam Hussein’s infamous weapons of mass destruction.

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek responded to criticism by American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who advised Turkey to deal with terrorism not soley through military means by arguing his nation had a right of self defense. President Bush, and other Republican leaders like John McCain, simply do not grasp how the invasion of Iraq has destabilized the entire region. The United States used the argument it was responding to terrorism by launching an invasion. Why should Bush now be surprised if other nations use his “right of defense” in order to pursue their own anti-terrorism pursuits? It is somewhat ironic that Gates is suggesting avoiding military action and use of other means to fight terrorism. Perhaps, he should reprimand Bush and the Republican party which continues supporting war instead of peaceful means of resolving issues.

Barack Obama Tells Truth Says Army Chief

General George Casey, the Army’s Chief of Staff admitted there was no reason to doubt the assertion by Senator Barack Obama’s recent account which quotes an Army captain that a rifle platoon n Afghanistan didn’t haveenough soldieres or weapons. “I have no reason to doubt what is is the captain said,” stated Casey. “This was 2003 and 2004, about four-and-a-half years ago. We acknowledged and all worked together to correct the deficiencies that we saw in that period not only in Afghanistan but in Iraq. It was a period that we worked our way through.” According to the Obama account, American soldiers were actually capturing Taliban weapons because it was easier getting them than obtaining weaponry from America.

Republican Senator John Warner demanded the name of the captain but Obama declined on the need to protect the captain from damage to his career. Casey admitted there might have been troop shortages in some units and “there may have been some spot shortages in spare parts and ammunition.” It makes no difference if this happened four years ago or yesterday. This story reflects the dereliction of duty on the part of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces who sent men into battle without proper equipment. President Bush had a responsibility to ensure that every soldier was properly equipped if they were being asked to risk their lives in combat. Of course, George Bush doesn’t have a clue as to the meaning of being in combat since his knowledge comes from the movies.