Tag Archives: Bush Policies

US Court Hears Rendition Case

Maher Arar was a Canadian citizen who was on his way home when his plane landed at JFK airport in order for him to catch a plane bound for home. Somehow, his name showed up on the computer as the name of a terrorist and he was seized. He was told it was impossible for him to enter America and the police made certain he had no access to a lawyer. Within hours, Mr. Arar was on his way to Syria which had well developed methods of torturing prisoners. He spent ten months in a small cell and was denied access to any contact with relatives let alone legal advice. An earlier case was thrown out by an American court on grounds to hold a trial would “threaten national security.” The court also ruled he had not met conditions of the time period required to request a review of what happened to him. Of course, the Syrian government was not in the habit of allowing anyone access to a court.

The case is now being reviewed by the US Court of Appeals. Judge Sonia Sotomayer asked the government if threats to national security allowed torturing of prisoners and was told by the government not to rule on the case and allow Congress to pass legislation. The evidence is clear, high level government officials knew all about the rendition program and allowed it to proceed. No one in the Bush administration has apologized to Mr. Arar for what he experienced since, most probably, they believe it was his fault for having the same name as a terrorist. At least, his parents should have known better than to give him such a name.

The real tragedy of this case is the wrong man was sent to be tortured instead of those who agreed with torture.

HIV Now Impacts Over 33 Million People

A UN r eport issued yesterday said an estimated 33.2 million people in the world are infected by the HIV disease as of December, 2007. However, the UN report believes “the annual rate of new HIV infections appears to have decreased over the last decade.” The report believes there is increasing evidence “progress in containing the HIV epidemic is now being seen in nearly all regions of the world” which it attributes to heavy investment in new drugs and treatment programs. In 2007, about 2.5 million people were newly infected which is down from 3.2 million n 1998 and the annual rate of AIDS deaths has declined from 3.9 m ilion in 2001 to 2.1 million in 2007.

There is no doubt progress is being made in combating the debilitating effects of HIV in the world. But, there is much more needed in the way of low cost drugs for people in low income nations and preventive care to ensure people do not get infected. The disastrous Bush policy of refusing to support condom use programs is illustrative of how ignorance and bigotry lead to the deaths of millions of people.

Admiral Fallon Resigns–Disgust With Bush Policies?

Admiral William Fallon, the top American commander in the Middle East announced his decision to retire after apparently angering Bush administration officials with his comments that appear to contradict policies of the president. He apparently aroused considerable anger when an aritcle appeared in Esquire magazine entitled: “The Man Between War and Peace.” Bush was most probably upset after Fallon last fall told Al-Jazeera, the “constant drumbeat of conflict” from Washington was “not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions.”

Adminstration officials offered the usual regrets at his departure, but there was a sense of relief the Admiral was gone particularly since he disagreed with some conclusions of General Petraeus about how to pursue the war in Iraq. In his statement announcing retiement, Fallon said: “Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president’s policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the Centcom region.”

The reality is that Fallon understood much better than the Bush administration the importance of working for peace with Iran and the necessity of developing a plan for the gradual withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. In a sense, Fallon’s views may well have been closer to those advocated by Barack Obama than those being urged by Senator McCain.

New Breed Of Taliban Leaders In Pakistan

A new generation of Taliban fighters has taken over in Pakistan’s tribal regions near the Afghan border. Their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, is believed to be the master mind behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. If a subordinate disobeys him, Mehsud, gives him some money, sends him home with needle and thread and tells him to sew his own shroud within 24 hours– before time elapses, the man is dead. No known photos of the phantom leader are available and he shuns visitors. An ally of al-Qaeda, he has transformed the remote valleys of South Wazirstan into safe havens for terrorists.

Toward the end of last year, a council of high-ranking Taliban leaders appointed Mehsud the leader of the newly formed “Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan.” The new leader is not a person who is versed in religion, war is his speciality. His aliance is creating anger among the more conservative tribal chieftains who are more concerned over their own feudal areas and are much more religious minded.

Ironically, American bombing drove the Taliban into Pakistan where they found a new refuge. Turning away from creating a safe Afghanistan in order to delve into the madness of war in Iraq enabled the Taliban, not merely to regroup inside Afghanistan, but to establish safe bases in Pakistan and now turn that nation into a war zone. As one reviews what has transpired over the past six years, it is clear Bush policies in Afghanistan and the Middle East have proved to be the greatest recruiting drives for terrorism in modern history.

New Bush Legacy– The Opium Man

American troops came charging into Iraq four years ago anxious to spread the benefits of democracy to the benighted inhabitants of that far off land. George Bush has repeatedly announced his opposition to all forms of drugs, but, it now appears the president has become the godfather of opium growers in Iraq. The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading raidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops. Drug lords, who were suppressed by the Taliban, got a new taste of democracy when that group was driven from power. Ironically, once defeated, the Taliban has switched to opium production as a means of obtaining financial resources to support its terrorism. Drug production is now centered in Diyala where al-Qaeda is strong. Farmers discovered they could not compete with imports of fruits and vegetables so they have switched to the poppy fields of fortune.

Al-Qaeda has strong influence in the area and is facilitating poppyt production. The harvest is taken by drug smugglers to Basra from where it is exported to the rich markets of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states– all alies of the United States in the fight to end al-Qaeda terrorism. The presence of militias all over Iraq simply means it will be extremely difficult to halt the growth of new poppy fields. George Bush is the patron saint of terrroism in the Middle East and he can now add to his acolades the growth of heroin production in the region.

Turkish Meeting Charges Bush Ignores Their Nation

At a recent roundtable discussion held at Instabul’s Bilgi University, a group of Turkish academics and the former US Ambassador to Turkey s well as American government experts examined Bush’s policies toward Turkey. The participants described Bush’s policies toward Turkey as “I want what I want when I want” was very counterproductive to establishing trusting bilateral relations between the two nations. The group felt Bush had an attitude that could best be described as “Turkey will always be there since Turkey has always been there.” Participants felt the Bush approach was a sharp divergence from Clinton’s policy of making Turkey a key player in strategic issues within the Middle East, and that channels of communication were always open to Clinton and Gore. A consensus was that Turkey must accept the reality that a Kurdish entity was now on its border because Bush will not back away from clamping down on Kurdish rebels. The group explored long term policy changes that might emerge if Turkey is denied entry into the European Union such as turning toward forging close relations with either Russia or Iran or the emergence of a new tripartite alliance of this group.

One of the major failures of Bush foreign policy is being immediate centered and not considering long term projections. The invasion of Iraq was an emotional reaction to some immediate conclusions without any consideration as to its impact on the Middle East. Hopefully, a new Democratic Party led government in 2009 will begin to make long term foreign policy decisions such as the famous Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine which set in motion US foreign policy for half a century.