Monthly Archives: August 2009

Good News–Turkey And Armenia Talking!

For nearly a hundred years Armenians and Turks have argued about numerous issues and although the two nations did have diplomatic relations for a while they ceased ten years ago. Swiss, Turkish, and Armenian Foreign Ministries have just announced that Turkey and Armenia are prepared to enter into negotiations which could lead towards the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. At the core of their disagreement is the issue of whether or not Turkish forces engaged in a genocide against Armenians in 1915.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played a behind the scene role in urging both sides to enter into negotiations. Hopefully, the people of Israel can learn from the decision to enter into legitimate negotiations that even conflict which has endured for generations can still lead to compromise. The past is over, today we have the opportunity to recast the future. Try it Prime Minister Netanyahu, you might find success.

Can Private Security Firms Protect USA?

Throughout the history of the United States its military handled dealing with prisoners and by World War II, it created the initial secret intelligence outfit, the OSS. The Bush era ushered in use of private firms such as Blackwater which were provided authority to deal not only with spies but with insurgents. For some reason, the CIA believed it necessary to contract out work dealing with captured terrorists to Blackwater. The CIA allowed Blackwater to contract with foreigners in order to deal with interrogation tactics. Charles Faddis, a former CIA official raises the question, “why did we need Blackwater? I remain mystified. This is quintessential CIA work. You wonder what it means that the CIA has to rely on Blackwwarter? Why are we still funding the CIA?”

I remain mystified. For example, during WW II, Army and Navy intelligence dealt with captured prisoners. Both did outstanding jobs and it was our intelligence which uncovered the secret Japanese strike at Midway Island that became one of America’s great naval victories. if we fund the CIA with billions, why in heaven are they subcontracting any work?

It is time for President Obama to announce all ties with private security firms will end when it comes to dealing with interrogation and treatment of prisoners.

Unanswered Questions On Libya Deal!

A mystery still remains concerning the extraordinary “compassion” shown by the Scottish government in releasing a mass murderer who was dying of cancer. Justice Secretary Jack Straw wrote letters to his counterpart in Scotland, Kenny MacAskill, which emphasized that it was in the UK’s “overwhelming interests” not to exclude Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from any prisoner exchange program. Two years ago during discussions between the UK and Libya over oil, Straw noted that “wider negotiations are reaching a critical stage” and the name of the Lockerbie bomber entered discussions between the UK and Scotland.

The United Kingdom needs a thorough investigation into this matter. Was oil the driving point in securing the release of this two bit muderer or was concern about “compassion” for a dying man the reason? Of course, it would be interesting to uncover how many murderers over the past decade were released from a lifetime sentence due to “compassion” on the part of the government. There is something smelly in the ancient kingdom of Scotland.

A Stranger In One’s Homeland-Afghanistan!

The Bush Wars of the Middle East have created a new generation of refugees ranging from Christians forced to flee Iraq to Afghans compelled to seek safety from the Bush “freedom and democracy” Afghanistan. Sahar Jahish, who lives in the Netherlands, recently returned to her native Afghanistan and was surprised to see women in the streets, a far cry from the land she left. The piercing looks from men impacted a woman attired in western dress and she even considered putting on a burqa. “They say women have been kept at home for a long time and men are not used to seeing women in the streets. It’s impossible for me to comprehend. This may sound stranger, but after experiencing this, I can understand why Afghan women wear a burqa.”

There is no question Afghanistan has changed due to the invasion. The real question is the depth of this change and how quickly the old ways will return once the Taliban gain power. It appears, despite billions spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, the change may be cosmetic. Is Afghanistan ready for Democracy, a la Bush style?

Israel’s Policy Of Isolation Destroys Its Image

Over the past several years there increasingly is evidence both the government and people of Israel have lost concern that the remainder of the world does not agree with its policies in the Middle East. The entire nation has retreated into a cone of silence in which the same ideas are circulated as the only ones worthy of consideration in order to achieve peace. Perennial views are that Israel is always correct, no Palestinians can be trusted, “we have tried to negotiate and it failed, and it is much nicer living in a cave that is separated from the world outside. No doubt, this is comforting and peaceful, but hardly the manner in which a society should interact with the world.

The British Jewish Chronicle blasted Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who ignored the British people on a recent trip. “The truth is that for all they moan about coverage of the Middle East, they don’t actually care. They don’t care if the Brits wind up thinking they are warmongers. They don’t care if they are losing the PR war. And they don’t care if those of us who do care are left fuming at their refusal to do anything to help us counter Israel’s appalling image.”

Unfortunately, this attitude is slowly but surely resulting in loss of confidence among Americans that Israel has any desire for peace in the Middle East.

Shakespeare expressed clearly the current Israel attitude toward problems in the world: “the fault lies not in the stars but in yourselves.” Israel has created the current media anti-Israel attitude.

What Does America Want In Afghanistan?

From day one of the Bush invasion of Afghanistan there has been lack of clarity concerning what are American foreign policy goals in that nation. Bush repeatedly spoke about his dream of “democracy” but it was never clear what that meant. The current presidential election in Afghanistan again raises issues about US foreign policy goals. Despite over 2,000 complaints about the election and widespread evidence of fraud including stuffing of ballot boxes, ‘President Karzai” insists he won a fair election. The Obama administration says it made no attempt to influence the outcome and did not urge creation of a coalition government.

Any sensible government in Afghanistan must include a coalition. The first prerequisite for a new government is to include those of differing viewpoints. It is time for Karzai to end his reliance on local warlords and drug traffickers and reach out to his major opponent Abdullah Abdullah and ask him to participate in the government. Democracy in a nation without such a heritage will best be advanced if divergent viewpoints are respected in government.

Money For Health Care–Decriminalize Drugs!

Ironically, there is money available to pay for health care in America without the necessity of increasing taxes. Step one in obtaining that money is to decriminalize the use of drugs. There were no national drug laws in America until the first decade of the 20th century so it is only appropriate in the first decade of the 21st century to allow the use of drugs. We could readily free the 700,000 currently in jail for drug offenses and save the equivalent of $40,000 per prisoner. Savings in building jails, allocating of police to catch someone in the act of using drugs would save billions.

Portugal has decriminalized drugs and according to a report by the libertarian Cato Institute, “none of the nightmare scenarios” claimed by opponents of the action, ‘from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for drug tourists” has occurred. The Portuguese model retains possession of drugs as a crime, but if a person is halted by police, the drugs are confiscated and the individual compelled to seek counseling by psychiatrists, social workers and legal advisers.

The Portuguese model or a variation of it might be an interesting model for America. Shift from jail to education of those who use drugs makes sense.

Obama Sanity– End European Missile Plan?

Former President George Bush hit upon the inane idea of establishing anti-missile bases on the border of Russia, a nation which had been invaded twice during the twentieth century causing the death of nearly forty million. For some reason, he thought Russian leaders would not be upset to have missiles directed at their nation from a few hundred miles away. Of course, when the Soviet Union provided Fidel Castro with missile systems a few hundred miles away from the American coast, that was viewed as literally a declaration of war.

The establishment of missile bases by Bush was a provocative act and Russia rightly was furious. Bush insisted the bases were there to prevent “rogue nations” from launching missiles toward Europe. Obviously, the “rogue nations” could only have been North Korea or Iran. Why would they send missiles towards Europe? Then again, if the object was Europe, why didn’t European nations assume leadership in constructing missile bases? Actually, during initial stages of the idea, the Russian government even offered to establish joint missile bases with the US. If anyone still worries about missiles from “rogue nations” contact Russia and build missile bases.

Hopefully, latest reports suggest the idea of missile bases will not be pursued by the United States.

HEADLINES FROM WORLD PRESS

Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Turkey, Hurriyet: “Mixed Signals For Kurdish Initiative”
“Poll Shows Kurdish Initiative In Tune With Most
Turks And Kurds”
No comment.

US, NY Daily News: “Robber Cites Obama Health Plan As Ruse”
Obama is attempting to divert attention to health in order to
disguise his plans to set up death camps for Republicans.

UK, The Independent: “Funniest Football Chants”
Lose, Lose, tie, yea!

South Africa, Argus: “Police Connect Dots”
They wind up pointing to the police station.

Sweden, The Local: “Every Other Doctor In Sweden From Abroad”
See, it’s true immigrants take away jobs from Swedes!

Denmark, Copenhagen Post: “Doctor Error Legislation”
From now on, after the eighth death, you will be compelled to write a thousand times, ” I am sorry for killing people.”

UK, The Independent: “Testing Time For Liverpool”
If they fail, they become Bristol.

Nepal, Himalayan Times: “Cabinet Appoints New Faces”
The clown, the joker, and poker face.

Thailand, Bangkok Post: ‘Police Seek Warrants For Car Bombers”
Before or after the explosion?

Saudi Arabia, Saudi Gazette: “Mosques Get Tough On Stylish Worshippers”
To hell with them.

Real Inglourious Bastards!

Qunetin Tarantino’s new film, ‘Inglourious Bastards” depicts a fictional group of American Jewish soldiers who are dropped into France where they conduct the killing of numerous German soldiers including taking their scalps. In fact, there was a real life squadron of Jewish soldiers who hunted down SS officers in Austria right after the war ended in an operation called “Nakam” (vengeance in Hebrew). According to the last survivor, 88 year-old, Chaim Miller, “we operated in the south of Austria in the days just after the war ended. We were soldiers in the Jewish Brigade group of the British army stationed in Tarvisio, Italy.” He said Yugoslav partisans provided the names of Nazi war criminals and they went in groups of three to secretly get them.

The Germans soldiers initially thought British police were questioning them, but they soon realized their mistake when the soldiers showed them their Stars of David. “We took them to some woods on the Italian side, gave them a ‘hearing,’ for half an hour and then explained to them they’d pay. They remained in the woods forever.” He estimates these Inglourious Bastards killed anywhere from 100 to 300 Nazi officers.