Monthly Archives: August 2008

North Korea Wants Out Of Nuclear Agreement!

The North Korean government said it will halt efforts to disable it nuclear facilities and consider restoring the Yongbyon reactor that can make material for atomic bombs. It charges the United States with violating a disarmament deal. “We have decided to immediately suspend disabling our nuclear facilities,” the KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. According to Lee Dong-bok, of the CSIS think tank, “this is a last-ditch effort trying to somehow influence U.S. presidential politics.” The announcement came days after China’s President Hu Jintao left South Korea where he promised to get tough with the North if it did not move toward giving up its nuclear weapons.

As usual, President Bush’s “get tough policy” of threatening other nations unless they fulfill his requirements played a role in the North Korean decision. Instead of offering support and encouragement to North Korea for its actions in working toward nuclear disarmament, he made clear that nation’s name would not be removed from the list of terrorist enemies. Professor Koh Yu-hwan, of Seoul’s Dongguk University believes it is “another card at the negotiation table to urge the U.S. to remove it from the terrorism blacklist as soon as possible.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged nations to remain calm and continue effort to work for nuclear disarmament.

In June, North Korea toppled the cooling tower at its plutonium producing reactor in a symbolic gesture to show its commitment to the nuclear deal. The Bush reaction was not to respond with a symbolic gesture such as removing North Korea from the terrorist list. Instead, he made known the U.S. would play tough. Isn’t this always the Bush approach?

Foreign Journalists Abducted In Somalia

The entry of Ethiopian troops into Somalia at the end of 2006 helped to destabilize a nation that already was in a form of chaos. The Christian Ethiopian forces invaded with the encouragement and support of US naval and air units because President Bush was determined to crush a Somalia Islamist government. In the midst of chaos and confusion, rebel forces constantly kidnap foreign journalists in order to obtain ransom money. A few days ago, three foreign journalists who were on their way to examine refugee camps were abducted and their families are awaiting new of the ransom amount. All the Somalia Interior Ministry can report is they know the men have been captured.

Even as the abductions were taking place, fierce fighting broke out in the port of Kismayo where Islamist forces actually captured a part of the city and held it for days. Perhaps, it is time to once again undo Bush mistakes and have the African Union organize a coalition government whose initial task will be removing foreign Ethiopian forces from the country. Bush always claims he sends troops into crush terrorism, and, invariably, their entry increases terrorist forces.

Diplomacy Not Guns To Solve Turk Problems With Kurds!

Ahmet Turk, leader of Turkey’s Democratic Society Party(DIP), urged his nation to move away from the current focus on military action and consider the possibility of employing other strategies in order to end the conflict with Kurdish militants. He told the Turkish Daily News neither guns nor violence are effective means of dealing with nationalistic desires of Kurds. He shared his views in light of recent bombing attacks in Turkey which many analysts attribute to Kurdish followers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) who were sending a message related to recent bombings in Kurdistan by the Turkish air force. Turk and his party have been criticized for their refusal to label the PKK as a terrorist organization. Turk has told leaders of the PKK their resort to violence will never achieve aims of Kurds in Turkey to equal treatment and he believes the Turkish government should undertake a new dialogue with the PKK.

Turk welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister Erdogan of extensive investment of money to develop Kurdish areas of Turkey but he does not believe money alone will resolve issues between Kurdish national feelings and Turkey. He wants a major effort to further democracy in those areas of Turkey as well as providing Kurds a sense they have an equal voice in what happens in their nation.

Turk fears that efforts to close down his party will send a message to Kurds their views are not respected and they are an unwanted people living under an occupation by outsiders. Turk’s common sense approach to issues of Kurds living in a nation which does not afford them a voice in government is simply common sense.

Transgender Veterans Claim Discrimination

A new study by a California research center finds veterans who changed their sex after getting out of the military encountered considerable prejudice when trying to use Veteran Administration facilities. They report being repeatedly asked questions concerning their sexual orientation from staff who appear quite hostile to their decision to change sex. The survey spoke with more than 600 individuals who changed sex after leaving the service although many said they had made the decision for a change while still in the armed forces. The VA does not cover sex changes, but the individuals claim when they go to the VA for normal medical issues they are harassed and asked embarrassing questions. They are not asking for special treatment, only equal treatment.

Monica Helms, president of the Transgender American Veterans Association points out, “we did our time” and whatever we did once leaving the service should not interfere in the quality of treatment by the VA we deserve. Eighty six percent of the survey participants obtained honorable discharges and there is no excuse for annoying those who have served in the military.

Poland Wants Bases Despite The Cost To Security

The Polish government is playing a dangerous game by linking its interests close to those of the United States. The decision to agree with President Bush’s desire for building missile bases in Poland may have solidified relations with America, but it has opened the Pandora’s box of anger with Russia. Twice in the 20h century, foreign nations used Polish territory to launch major invasions of Russia which resulted in the loss of over thirty million people. Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, is besides himself with joy as he entertained visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and when questioned about Russian remarks his nation was now a target of Russian missiles, he defiantly responded: “No one can dictate to Poland what it should do.” Brave, but most probably, foolish words.

The Polish government has forced the United States to station Patriot interceptor missiles on its territory, ostensibly for defensive purposes. Poland is now open for numerous Russian counter-attacks such as through means of cyber weapons or economic sanctions. John McCain may well shout expressions such as “we are all Georgians,” but few Americans believe that “we are all Poles.”

Russia To USA- How About Cuba Bases For Us!

The imperial presidency of George Bush and his heir apparent, John McCain believes it has the right to impose American will anywhere in the world at anytime and if a nation dares question a US presence near their territory, so much the worse for them. Russia has begun discussions with communist Cuba regarding the possibility of establishing a military base on its soil. According to Cuba expert, Ph il Peters of the Lexington Institute, “Russia is clearly irritated at what it perceives as US meddling in its neighborhood. It seems to be sending a message that if you play on our periphery, we will play in yours.” The Bush decision to establish a missile base in Poland was a provocative action that not only was regarded by Russian authorities as a challenge, but as an insult.

During the Cold War, Cuba received billions of dollars in aid from the Soviet Union, and depended upon such money to maintain its economic vibrancy. Perhaps, Putin talk about bases is merely bluster since Cuba itself might not enjoy becoming caught in a fight between Russia and the United States, but it high lights the danger of a Bush foreign policy that enjoys threatening other nations. We can assume John McCain will soon be shouting, “we are all Cubans!”

Is Saakashvili Winning Over European Leaders?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quite skeptical about the performance of President Saakashvili in the initial stages of the war in Georgia, but there are some signs he is winning over European leaders. The Georgian president has portrayed himself as a “victim,” as the fighting leader of democracy against the evil brutal Prime Minister Putin of Russia and as a hero to all Europeans. He insists all European leaders who visited him like President Sarkozy of France or Chancellor Merkel of Germany “all perfectly understand the situation here.” Is his evaluation an accurate one?

Chancellor Merkel followed events on CNN and other TV channels and her initial reaction was Saakashvili had blundered by attacking South Ossetia and that he was an impulsive man who took bold risks that were out of place in modern times. However, once Russian troops entered the war, her attitude changed. She flew to Georgia and was soon photographed with the president and uttered warm words of support. Somehow, Saakashvili used his charm or his intelligence to win over the German chancellor who has no become a leading advocate of Georgia membership in NATO.

In the end, Chancellor Merkel is supporting Georgia’s membership in NATO but not until the nation is a true democracy and he agrees to behave more rationally and avoid future war actions in the region.

Japan Insists Racism Is Ending

The Japanese government in a new report to the United Nations claims it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past seven years to rid the nation of any form of racial discrimination. Human rights groups, and Doudou Diene, the UN special rapporteur on racism, have called for passage of legislation which would make clear racism and xenophobia are against the law. However, the government has insisted that Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution makes it illegal to engage in racist activities so there is no need of any new legislation.

The Japanese report focuses intently on the situation of the Ainu, Korean residents, and other foreigners. Of the 23,782 Ainu, 93.5% of youth to on to high school and 17.4% on to college. However, about 30% of Hokkadio’s Ainu claim they experience discrimination at school, in job interviews or when getting married. It does not appear passing a law would be that onerous an event in Japanese society.

Rice Visit To Israel-Much Ado About Nothing

Nine months have passed since President Bush and Secretary of State Condi Rice convened a meeting at Annapolis which allegedly was supposed to hammer out a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Words were spoken, meetings held in which both sides postured and planted invisible lines in the sand beyond which they would not go, and, in the end, as all political analysts predicted, nothing was ever accomplished. Secretary of State Rice is once again winging her way to Jerusalem in hope of getting some sort of agreement so the Bush administration, prior to leaving office, can claim credit for some sort of Middle Eastern agreement. Both sides have significant differing views about Jerusalem and the West Bank which relate to the final boundary lines of a Palestinian state.
John McCain would love going into the campaign being able to tell Jewish voters the Republican party accomplished something in the way of dealing with Israel’s problems.

The reality is Prime Minister Olmert is stepping down under a cloud of suspicion about dealing with charges of corruption. Foreign Minister Livni, who hopes to succeed him, is in no way ready to grant anything substantive to the Palestinians while she strives to become the new prime minister, and President Abbas is determined to obtain certain goals related to the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Rice is under heavy attack for her inept performance in the Georgia crisis where she came across as lost and without any sensible ideas. She wants some figment of success before she heads home. Unfortunately, Rice will leave Jerusalem as she arrived — no deal.

Release Prisoners Or No Peace, Says Abbas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the release by Israel of 198 prisoners but vowed there could be no peace until all those held in Israel jails are sent home. “There will be no peace without the release of all Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. We will not rest until the prisoners are freed and the jails are empty.” He cited the example of
Ahmed Saadat, who helped organize the killing of Israel Tourist Minister Rehavam Ze’evi who he termed “our brother.” Palestinian authorities regard the release of prisoners, regardless of their crimes, as an essential component of any peace agreement. Of course, from the Israel perspective, it is difficult to release individuals who committed murder of innocent civilians.

Israel courts now confront an unusual situation in which an individual was convicted of a crime and is being released due to political factors. Several Israel organizations are petitioning the courts to intervene to halt the release of convicted felons. There is a difference between releasing those imprisoned for political offenses as those who are in jail for murder. Of course, as Palestinian prisoners are being released, Israel prisoners held by terrorist organizations still remain as prisoners.