The United States expanded its economic sanctions against the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe in an effort to tighten the screws of outside pressure. President Bush made clear the determination of the United States to support aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe for their right to decide who is their president. Mugabe, after losing the March election for president, undertook a campaign of violence and murder in order to ensure victory in subsequent election. There are currently talks underway between Mugabe and his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, which supposedly are aimed at creating a new government which has shared power.
President Bush acknowledged the discussions which are being mediated by President Mbeki of South Africa. He said, “should ongoing talks n South Africa between Mugabe’s regime and he Movement of Democratic Change result in a new government that reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people, the United States stands ready o provide a substantial assistance package.”
As an ongoing critic of George Bush, we admit this is one time he has taken a stand FOR democracy.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a surprise visit to Afghanistan where he will spend four days examining the situation. The trip was made hours after he spent time with Senator Barack Obama discussing the topic of Afghanistan. The government of President Karzai has come under increasing criticism as the Taliban grows in strength, corruption is rampant, and the military appears uncertain how to deal with the Taliban. Both Obama and his opponent, John McCain have pledged to send additional troops to the beleaguered country. The German government is concerned it will be called upon to supply more troops and the foreign minister wants to find out if additional troops are the issue or does change require rethinking who leads Afghanistan.
Steinmeier is considering dispatching more troops but first he wants assurances President Karzi will deal with corruption and bring a greater sense of stability and vigor to the fight against the Taliban. A few years ago, Steinmeier referred to Kabul as a stable city, but this time he will be forced to ride in an armored car and even wear a bullet proof vest.
German politicians are confronted by the reality their nation does not want more troops in Afghanistan. Perhaps, it is time to rethink what is happening in Afghanistan and develop a new strategy that encompasses both economic and military reform.
During the past few years the Church of England has been divided over issues such as allowing gays and females to become bishops with traditionalists threatening to leave the church and either create a new branch or become affiliated with the Catholic Church. The Windsor Continuation Group which analysis tensions within the communion, has proposed creating an Anglican version of the Catholic “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” which decides on faith issues and identifies examples of heresy. The document was critical of attitudes both of those supporting gays and female bishops and those opposed to that perspective. It has resulted in “fragmentation as well as to confusion among our ecumenical partners.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury indicated his support for such a body in his effort to reconcile warring factions of his church. “Thee is a strong feeling we need another structure that would be a clearing house for some of these issues…I’m actually quite enthusiastic about that.” The Archbishop made the normal comments one does when there is divisiveness by urging groups to work together.
One can only wonder if creating a central office which would wind up deciding what was faith would do to those finding themselves on the wrong side of such a body’s decision. The Archbishop of Canterbury should beware that many Catholics who fight for female and gay rights are not pleased by the Vatican Holy Office.
One of the ongoing myths among most Western police and military organizations is their belief terrorist groups are composed of individuals who are united in hatred toward the United States or Israel. A perennial problem is our inability to grasp the nuances existing within terrorism and thus enhancing the power of these groups. Unknown assailants set off bombs early today in Gaza City outside a cafe that previously has been the scene of violence. The explosions were not caused by Israeli agents, but arose from internal disputes within Hamas. Gaza has been the scene of internal Palestinian violence, some of it carried out by fundamentalists who oppose what they see as signs of Western cultural encroachment. In recent years, unknown groups have firebombed internet cafes, music stores and Christian institutions. The bombings typically come late at night.
It is important for Israel and those who seek peace in the Middle East to acknowledge all organizations have internal disputes. There are people within Hamas or Hizbullah who most probably seek some sort of reconciliation with the West and want to end violence. It is important to reach out to these groups because they may well represent an important factor in achieving peace in the region.