Tag Archives: US policy

Wither Pakistan-Fundamentalism Or Democracy?

Cleric Abdul Aziz was released from jail in Pakistan and returned to his famous red mosque in order to preach radical fundamentalism to adoring crowds. In his sermons, the cleric calls for imposition of Islamic sharia law across the nation and organizing Muslims in the world to fight against non-Islamic beliefs. The Pakistan government freed him in order to once again appease the forces of hatred in the nation. They already gave the Taliban control over the Swat Valley as part of the Zardari solution which is based on the concept if you empower the Taliban and other radical Islamists, then somehow you have furthered the cause of peace in the nation.

There is no policy to fight fundamentalism in Pakistan. The government has lost the will to fight for democratic principles which, most probably, most Pakistanis seek to have in their nation. Instead, a weak government is fostering fundamentalism in the name of confronting it. And, how will the United States and other western nations deal with this reality?

Israel Trying To Influence US Policy Towards Iran

Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned the United States to have a short time interval in its negotiations with Iran and not wait until Iran has developed its nuclear program. “There is a serious Iranian effort to make swift achievements, and time is running out.” He urged Obama to tighten sanctions and force Iran to the bargaining table. Barack also emphasized that his nation is not taking “any options off the table” and hinted there was a possibility of an Israel air attack. “We mean what we say” was his refrain.

The last people to offer suggestions concerning policy towards Iran are members of the Israel government which has repeatedly blundered due to its policy of “toughness” and “threats” and “warnings.” What exactly are the fruits of the current government of which Barak is a member? Has the process toward peace moved forward or is Israel worse off today than it was in 2001 when their beloved George Bush became president?

President Obama should proceed quietly, cautiously and with due regard for the integrity of the Iranian people. Shouting threats will only doom any chance for peaceful negotiations.

Will Barack Obama Alter American Policy Toward Russia?

Fyodor Lukyanov, writing in the Moscow Times, notes the current American presidential campaign has witnessed both Obama and McCain spouting anti-Russian rhetoric aimed at voters whose ancestors came from east European nations and who hate and fear Russia. “But,” he writes, “that does not mean the heated rhetoric the candidates use on the campaign trail will necessarily translate into actual foreign policy later.” He blames George Bush for developing a foreign policy based on an American right to do as it desired as a factor in creating tension between Russia and the United States. The building of missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic has frightened Russia and Bush’s encouragement of the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia led to the current anger between the nations.

Barack Obama has an opportunity to venture in new directions with Russia. An important first step would be to cancel the missile bases and sit down with Russian leaders in an effort to deal with issues such as Iranian development of nuclear power. A second step would be to encourage Georgia to work with South Ossetia by recognizing their right to autonomy. A third step would be to halt any further expansion of NATO eastward. Russia would then be prepared to cooperate with the EU and the United States on many foreign policy needs.

US Expands Sanctions Against MUgabe

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.

US Intends To Strike N. Korea From Terrorist Nation List

The United States government has informed Japan it intends to strike the name of North Korea from its list of nations that support terrorism provided North Koreans file a statement describing its nuclear facilities and activities. The government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is pleased and not pleased with the American decision. Japan has been insisting that North Korea must provide information concerning Japanese citizens who were abducted and brought to North Korea, but there has not been adequate response to Japanese requests for information.

Prime Minister Fukuda is in a difficult position, as he noted to the press, “if the nuclear problem will be resolved, isn’t that something desirable also for our country? It’s something we should welcome.” But, accepting the North Koreans without obtaining information about the kidnapped Japanese citizens is a political hot potato.

The decision by America to go it alone on this issue simply makes it more likely Japan will find its own foreign policy for Asia and cease always trailing behind that of America.

In 2001, upon assuming office, President Bush made it clear he would not follow the ideas of Bill Clinton who negotiated with North Korea. Early this year, Bush told the Israel parliament, it was appeasement to negotiate with terrorist nations. How times have changed.

US Dodges Timor Tragedy By Accepting Official Version

Ameican officials have decided to accept the report of the Indonesian Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship(CTF) and the release of a former Timor Leste militia leader in an effort to resolve a tricky problem without angering the government of Indonesia. University of Indonesia Professor Hariyadi Wirawan noted: “these are face-saving efforts by Indonesia and the United States, By saying the incidents were by default, they mean to say,’there’s no one to blame,’ so let’s forget it and move on.” US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told the Indonesian government last week, his nation was prepared to accept the commission’s report about the alleged massacre by Indonesian troops of innocent people during the violence in Timor.

Perhaps, the process of ignoring death and destruction enables nations to move on, but there may also be need for acknowledgement of what transpired in order to confront the needs for those who were oppressed to attain a sense of personal peace.

Turkish Offense Continues In Iraq

On the third day of the Turkish military operation in Iraq to crush the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, fighting intensified between both parties. An estimated 113 terrorists and fifteen soldiers have died as troops battled in northern Iraq. The Turkish military warned the local populace not to provide assistance to Kurdish rebels. “What we expect from the local groups is not to protect the terrorists escaping to the sourthern parts of Iraq.” Air raids continue even as ground forces are attempting to crush the Kurdish rebels. Prime Minister Erdogan emphasized to Iraqis there was no intention of trying to take over their land and the object was Kurdish camps.

Ncchirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq lowered his rhetoric and acknowledged Turkey had a right to defend itself against rebel attacks. However, he expressed concern “that the infrastructure of the region ws targeted.” Barzaini called on President Bush to assist efforts to restore peace to the region. The Iraq government also agreed Turkey had a right of self defense, but also was worried the attack might result in further destabilization of a destablized society.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded Turkey cease its invasion of Iraq terriroty and withdraw. The unknown factor in this invasion equation is how militant Shiites will react to an invasion of their nation. What will be Turkey’s reaction if large numbers of the PKK escape to southern Iraq– will they be pursued?

State Department Foot And Mouth Disease On Kenya

The Bush adminisltration constantly proclaims its commitment to democracy and the rights of nations to pursue their own destinies because our beloved president does not wish to repeat the failed policies of Bill Clinton’s nation building. Kenya is in the midst of a crisis and former UN Secretrary General Kofi Annan is hard at work to find a compromise solution. However, Jendayl Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa recently commented: “We’ll find an international mechanism if they can’t find it internally(within Kenya).” Of course, the US embassy in Kenya, immediately contradicted the Frazer comment. T.J. Dowling bluntly stated, “The U.S. has no plan B and an intervention plan will certainly not come from us. However, the UN and the African Union will intervene if major problems occur, but that is a very long shot.”

The only certainty about a Bush foreign policy in any area of the world is that at some point contradictions regarding his goals will emerge. One is left with the impression no one is ever in charge at the State Department. Annan is handling the situation, the least Bush people can do is to remain silent and let the man do his work. If George Bush had a brain he would have invited Annan to the Annapolis Conference and tried to use his talents in resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Of course, one must always remember George Bush promised, if elected, not to follow the Clinton nation building approach to foreign policy.

Six Years In Afghanistan- Deep Six!

Six years after the world celebrated the defeat of Taliban forces, the U.S. military suffered deaths, encountered suicide bombings, and opium production hit record levels in Afghanistan. US officials insist things are looking up, but southern regions of Afghanistan are not under control of the government. Civilian deaths caused by NATO and American forces reached high levels causing many Afghans to turn away from supporting the opponents of terrorists. The Taliban basically employed guerrilla warfare tactics of ambushes and suicide bombings rather than engage in head on attacks. As Lt. Col. Dave Johnson noted, “The Taliban attack whom theyr perceive to be the most vulnerable, and in this case it’s the police. They don’t travel in large formations like the army does. That puts them in an arm of vulnerability.” More than 925 Afghan police died last year.

Afghanistan in 2007 witnessed the death of 6,500 people, including 110 US troops– the highest level of any year. About 4,500 militants were killed as were 41 British soldiers. Seth Jones, an an alyst with the Rand Corporation raised several issues about Afghanistan: “The thing that concerns me the most is the general perception in Afghanistan that the government is not capable of meeting the basic demands of its population. But, it’s involved in corruption–that it’s unable to deliver services in key rural areas and that it’s not able to protect its population, especially the police.”

A key question is: does the Bush administration have either a short or long term plan for success in Afghanistan? Does NATO have a plan on ways to most effectively utilize its forces in Afghanistan. A few months ago, several British diplomats raised the issue of how to cease antagonizing Afghan farmers who raise opium. They suggested purchasing the entire crop. It’s time for innovative strategies in Afghanistan. Most probably such changes must await the arrival of a new president.

January Elections, Says Musharraf, Come Hell Or High Water!

President Musharraf of Pakistan told ABC news that he might consider the possibility of resigning if conditions after the January 8 elections do not result in a significant improvement regarding the needs of his nation. He denied making any deal with the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto who was allowed to return from exile a few months ago and promised that he would not support any political party during the electoral process for a new parliament. Musharraf placed a great deal of blame for the current situation on failures of American governments over the past decades to take any decisive action against the growth of terrorism. When questioned about the reality of an election, he responded: “Come hell or high water, elections will be held on January 8.” Although he gave this assurance, many Pakistan political leaders and parties fear the election is being rigged causing them to consider the possibility of boycotting the electoral process. Bhutto fears a boycott would simply allow Musharraf’s Muslim League political party to gain an overwhelming victory.

There is considerable woe is me in Musharraf’s comments concerning not receiving support from the United States. Pakistan has obtained at least $10 billion in military and economic assistance since 2001. He fails to make any reference to the fact that Pakistan Intelligence was the group that provided military aid to the Taliban and helped it take over Afghanistan. Musharraf ignores the close cooperation between Pakistan military leaders and insurgent groups in northwest regions until fairly recently. There is no question that Bush made a terrible mistake by withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan in order to use them in the Iraq invasion, but Musharraf is also a guilty party in allowing al-Qaeda and the Taliban to become powerful.