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Patriotism-Last Refuge Of Scoundrels And Republicans

The summer season of politics is alive and well in America as citizens devour hot dogs and hamburgers and wave flags in parades to celebrate the nation’s birth. Senator Barack Obama, is making certain one and all recognize that he is a patriot just like Bush or McCain or Ron Paul or any other of the men and women who have spent the past several months attempting to seize the high ground on patriotism. Obama made certain he stopped in Independence, Missouri, home of Harry Truman where the senator expressed his deep love for America. Unfortunately, he really didn’t grasp the meaning of Harry Truman who was vilified and threatened with impeachment for defending American values and refusing to allow the military to dictate foreign policy.

In the 1950s, Republicans went after Adlai Stevenson, who twice ran for president. He made the outrageous comment that patriotism was about loving America, not hating Russians. In 2004, a genuine war hero experienced the Republican smear campaign which transformed one who fought into the coward while the coward in the White House came across as the all American boy wonder.

Senator Obama does not have to abandon his principles in the name of patriotism. Americans respect a man who stands up for his principles. Catering to the moral majority by espousing faith based initiatives not only will not gain votes, but will result in loss of enthusiasm among his supporters. The way to stand tall for America is fighting for policies that restore economic health, ending a disastrous war, and respecting the intelligence of American voters.

Marine Casualties Rise In Afghanistan, Drop In Iraq

Republican party leaders like Senator John McCain and President Bush are proclaiming the drop in violence in Iraq after five years of war, but even as those figures decline, there has been a steady rise in the number of dead and wounded American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. During the past week, seven Marines attacked to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, died in combat. They were either killed while on military operations against the Taliban or by roadside bombs. The Marines are doing an outstanding job in Helmand province which surely raises questions as to why they were not sent there in the fall of 2001 when the Taliban were on the run and Osama bin Laden was fleeing for his life.

President Bush wants to take “credit” for the drop in Iraq casualties, but, of course, he forgets that Chief of Staff Shinseki told him in 2003 the American armed forces lacked sufficient numbers to control Iraq. For his bluntness, the general was shown an early retirement. The rise in Afghanistan casualties is a result of incompetent policies of the past and the lack of any long-term goals in the present. We will witness in the coming months more Americans dying in Afghanistan. Of course, by then Bush would have left the presidency and will go around the country blaming high Afghan casualty rates on whoever is the current president.

African National Congress Leader Jacob Zuma An Enigma

Helen Zille, leader of the South African Democratic Alliance party, blasted Jacob Zuma, the candidate for president under the banner of the African National Congress. Ms. Zille charged Zuma was unfit to become president because of his refusal to guarantee the nation he will respect and abide by the South African constitution. She stated there were considerable concerns regarding his views on treatment of HIV/Aids patients, his refusal to guarantee the integrity of the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s right to air controversial programs, the charges he currently is facing regarding alleged corruption, and his failure to support the right of authorities to conduct corruption investigations.

A major concern for Ms. Zille are statements made by Zuma about elections. She challenged him: “Will you publicly acknowledge that all political parties are equally legitimate before the law and that the results of any free and fair elections must be respected?” Ms. Zille termed the ANC leader an “enigma,”

A persistent tragedy for South Africa is that none of its leaders who followed the administration of Nelson Mandela are individuals with that man’s concern for constitutional rights.

Ethiopian Soldiers Brutalize Somalis In Ogaden Region

Ethiopia has been used by the Bush administration as its chief ally in the fight against terrorism in east Africa. The Ethiopian army was encouraged by Bush to invade Somalia in order to defeat Muslim fundamentalists. As part of the anti-Somali stance, the Ethiopian army has been engaged in destroying any Muslim opposition in the region of Ogaden in its own nation. The area is inhabited mainly by Somalis some of whom are part of the Ogaden National Liberation Front(ONLF). Human Rights Watch has uncovered evidence of a systematic campaign by the Ethiopian army to destroy villages and drive people away from their homes in order to deprive the ONLF of support. Civilians have been forced to fight and the Ethiopian army is killing livestock, driving people from their homes, burning over 80 villages and publicly executing people it deems to be part of enemy forces.

Human Rights Watch representative in Africa, Georgette Gagnon, said, “We don’t like to rank abuses in the world, but what is happening in the Ogaden is up there with the worst.” She added there were numerous examples of women being raped by Ethiopian soldiers.

Is Medvedev Serious About Corruption In Russia?

President Medvedev made it clear in many of his early speeches as head of the nation that issues of corruption in government were high on his agenda of reform. The Kremilin is now focusing on the issue of corruption by posting xcerpts of letters written by ordinary citizens regarding encounters with corrupt officials. The Kremilin web site occasionally posts summaries of letters to the president related to social issues and foreign policy. The letters posted on corruption Wednesday were the first to be published in 2008 and represented the initial time a roundup on letters has specifically focused on corruption issues. A spokesperson said the Medvedev sometimes identifies a theme from the website that he wants highlighted.

Vldadmir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank commented that although he had not read the letters they probably were “just another PR stunt.” He believes Medvedev is using the letters to give the impression there will be a crackdown on corruption but nothing serious will be implemented against corrupt officials. Most of these top officials were appointed by Putin and firing them might be interpreted as a slap in the face of his mentor.

India Jolted By Chinese Nuclear Bases

The Indian Defense establshment was shocked by satellite pictures which reveal the existence of a large area in central China which contains 58 launch pads for nuclear-capable missiles which appartently target north India and south Russia. This news comes shortly after the discovery of the incredible extent of China’s underground nuclear submarine base at Hainan Island in the South China sea. The head of India’s navy is upset at the large number of nuclear submarines which are operating in close proximity to the Indian nation.

An analysis of the photos done by the Federation of American Scientists concldes, “the sites are for targeting Russia and India.” India, of course, has her own nuclear capability and has a vigorous and expanding trade relationship with China. Russia still retains the vast nuclear armament that was developed by the old Soviet Union. Perhaps, it is time for all nations with nculear capability to get back to the table of negotiation.

Arab Summit Never Left Ground Zero

As expected, the Arab summit meeting in Damascus came and went without any result other than a nice trip to an interesting city. Due to US pressure only half the members of the Arab League even bothered to attend and, in most cases, the others sent low-level officials. According to Ahmed Moussalli of the American University in Beirut, “Most likely what we’re seeing is the end of the Arab initiative. Now what we will be seeing is the stagnation of the Lebanese situation and this could deteriorate into further negative interaction between the two groups in Lebanon.” Both sides in the deadlocked Lebanon government situation have agreed that Michel Suleiman should become president, but Hizbullah insists on one-third of Cabinet positions and a veto on any attempt to disarm Hizbullah or grant naturalization rights to Palestinian refugees in the country.

Professor Moussalli expects “more riots and clashes–the whole area is going through a very troubled time, not only Lebanon, but Iraq, Pelestine and with the US-Iranian and Syrian-Saudi tensions.” The problem in trying to have an “Arab initiative” is that Arabs are never in charge of their own desires because they are controlled by outside factors.

Most Americans have scant understanding how the Bush invasion of Iraq has completely destablized the entire region. The Bush failure to go south to Iraq instead of focusing on the Israel-Palestinian conflict will rank among the worst foreign policy decisions in American history.

Good News And Bad News For Putin

President Putin arrived in Bucharest to attend the NATO meeting only to encounter a mixtue of good and bad news. The aggressive actions of President Bush were both supported and rejected by NATO members. NATO nations rejected the application for membership by the Ukraine and Georgia due to fear such action would only anger the Russian government. The Russian people fear the presence of hostile forces on their borders due to the reality of twice in the twentieth century being invaded by forces from the West. However, it appears NATO will support attempts by President Bush to establish missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush, and some politicians in Georgia and the Ukraine, warned it would be dangerous to allow Russian concerns to become influential in determining what is done by NATO.

NATO was born at a time when real threats were present from the Soviet Union but that era is long since past. There is no indication Russia contemplates any military action aganist the West despite the rantings and warnings by George Bush. The American leader needs “enemies” in order to continue justifying laws that threaten the rights and liberties of the American people and right now Russia serves his hysterical political agenda. The claim that bases are needed in Poland and the Czech Republic against “Iranian missiles” makes absolutely no sense. Why would Iran ever contemplate attacking western Europe? Bushism is the voice of fear, not reality.

Muslim Brotherhood In Egypt Now Faces Military Court

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been facing continual harrassment by the government of President Mubarak which seeks to crush a group that offers firm opposition to the current administration of the country. Forty members of the Musim Brotherhood after being exonerated by a civilian court, had their cases transfered to a military tribunal on orders of President Mubarak. Abdel Maqsoud, swpeaking for the MB, “the decision to try the 40 members in a military court is an unfair decision and is an indication of how unjust and provocative our political system is.” He believes the case may once again be postponed to ensure none of the men would be able to stand in the upcoming elections. Several human rights activists are coming to Cairo to monitor the trialsand the Egyptian Organizaiton for Human Rights (EOHR) stated “we are completely against civilians being tried in military courts.”

Neither press nor media will be allowed in the court to witness the trial. The 40 men were acquitted of all charges by the Egyptian Administrative Court but Murbarak intends to crush the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt is cited by the United States as an ally in the fight for democracy but those who oppose the rule of Mubarak more commonly face court action to silence their voices. This blog may disagree with the views of the Muslim Brotherhood but their right to express opinions must not be stifled because the only other recourse is violence.

Multculturalism-German Style-Stay Home Turks!

A controversial textbook passage which appears to justify the killing of Turks living in Germany will be deleted from future editions according to the German Embassy in Anakara. Families and students in the German town of Schleswig-holstein, are furious that seventh graders were given a book which apparently explains the reason a German murderer may be have been justified in killing Turks in his country. Markus Buchholz was one of four young men who set afire a house containing a Turkish family and killed some of its inhabitants. According to the passage, “Marcos wanted to teach them a lesson. They should learn that they weren’t wanted here. He just wanted to consternate tham a little so that they would go back to Anatolia…,In any case, their parents are guilty. If they had stayed n Anatolia, nothing would have happened to the two children who died in the fire.”

If the purpose of the author was exploring the mind set of Markus, that might be justified, but it would also entail other views and explanations so a seventh grader could understand the context of the passage. Somehow, we doubt if passages would be published in this manner which explain the thinking of a Turk who murdered Germans.

What next, a passage from Hitler explaining Jews never would have died if only they behaved in the correct manner?