Foreign Policy

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  Nuclear Chicken with IranJanuary 31, 2006 00:00 Is Bush bringing us to the brink of nuclear (or nucyular) winter?

In the past weeks, media reports have speculated that Washington is "thinking the unthinkable", namely, an aggressive, preemptive nuclear bombardment of Iran, by either the United States or Israel, to destroy or render useless the deep underground Iranian nuclear facilities.

The possibility of war against Iran presents a geostrategic and geopolitical problem of far more complexity than the bombing and occupation of Iraq. And Iraq has proved complicated enough for the US. We try to identify some of the main motives of the main actors in the new drama and the outlook for possible war.

  US Military Bases in BulgariaJanuary 30, 2006 19:54 Bulgaria is likely to sign a deal at the end of April to establish two U.S. military bases on its territory, Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov said in an interview published on Monday.

Washington has been in talks with its new NATO ally to set up training facilities at the Bezmer airfield and Novo Selo shooting range near the country's southern border with Turkey.

  No Venezuelan OilJanuary 30, 2006 18:35 New Hampshire is looking into getting cheaper oil from socialist Venezuela, a move Sen. John Sununu calls a disgrace.
Gov. John Lynch s office acknowledges reaching out to Venezuela, weeks after Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York City began buying oil at a 40 percent discount from Citgo, which is owned by Venezuela s nationalized oil company.

Maine received a donation of about $5.5 million from Citgo, and Vermont is expected to announce a donation this week.

  US, EU, UN may Cut Aid to HamasJanuary 30, 2006 00:00 The U.S., European Union, United Nations and Russia said Hamas officials must form a Palestinian government that accepts Israel's existence or risk a cutoff of international aid.

The diplomatic group, known as the Quartet, threatened late yesterday in London to review all aid should Hamas maintain its violent opposition and refusal to endorse peace efforts. The Quartet's statement set a deadline on demands that European leaders and President George W. Bush made after Hamas's surprise election victory.

  Canada's New Leader Takes On U.S. Over ArcticJanuary 27, 2006 19:51 Political pundits who declared that Stephen Harper, Canada s next prime minister, would move quickly to patch up ties with the United States were having to regroup Friday after Harper used his first post-election press conference to tell the United States to mind its own business when it comes to territorial rights in the Arctic North.

Testing the notion that he would kowtow to the Bush administration, Harper, whose Conservative Party won general elections on Monday, said Thursday he would stand by a campaign pledge to increase Canada s military presence in the Arctic and put three military icebreakers in the frigid waters of the Northwest Passage.

  Does US Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism?January 27, 2006 16:30 George W. Bush, in his global war on terror, has specifically avoided the clash of civilizations hypothesis, holding that the United States is not waging a war against the religion of Islam. However, the president has backed into the hypothesis by saying that terrorists hate us because we are free. The president, that is, has essentially made the argument that they hate America for what it is. We are not, Bush once said, facing a set of grievances that can be soothed or addressed. After September 11, this argument proved extremely seductive to the American political classes, media, and public, all of whom perceived that American values were under attack by the alien and villainous values of the Islamists. The argument has provided, for four years, the entire philosophical basis for how the U.S. government is fighting terrorism.

Yet the argument is wrong. Had people bothered to scratch below the surface, they would have seen warning signs that Bush s aphorism was false and even dangerous. To start with, public opinion polls in Islamic nations repeatedly show that people in those countries actually admire America s political and economic freedom. They also admire American wealth, technology, and even culture. So some other factor must be generating anti-U.S. hatred in these parts of the world.

  Iraqi Oil Output Fell In '05; Prospects GrimJanuary 25, 2006 00:00 Iraqi oil production fell by 8 percent last year, with a sharp decline near year's end that left average daily production at half the 3 million barrels envisioned by U.S. officials at the outset of the war in 2003.

Prospects for improvement this year are slim, according to many experts, calling into question Iraq's ability to support itself and fund reconstruction efforts as U.S. assistance is scaled back.

Reasons for the shortfall include the poor state of the nation's oil fields, a creaky infrastructure, poor management and ongoing insurgent attacks, particularly to pipelines in the north-central region meant to export oil through Turkey.

  Audit: Cash For Iraqis WastedJanuary 25, 2006 00:00 A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that was improperly certified as safe.

The audit, released Tuesday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, expands on its previous findings of fraud, incompetence and confusion as the American occupation poured money into training and rebuilding programs in 2003 and 2004. The audit uncovers problems in an area that includes half the landmass in Iraq, with new findings in the southern and central provinces of Anbar, Karbala, Najaf, Wasit, Babil and Qadisiya.

  War On Terror: Cia May Have Retainers In PakistanJanuary 24, 2006 00:00 More than a week after the US bombing of a Pakistani village killed 13 people, including possibly four Al-Qaida terrorists, it appears that the CIA undertook the mission with help from American loyalists and retainers within the Pakistani intelligence establishment.
  Iraq: Insurgent Attacks Rose In 2005, Says US Military ReportJanuary 24, 2006 00:00 Violence in Iraq rose dramatically in 2005 compared with the year before, noted a report released by the US military on 23 January.

According to US military statistics, 34,100 insurgent attacks mostly targeting US and Iraqi troops were recorded last year, up from about 27,000 in 2004, representing an increase of almost 30 percent.

Instances of pedestrian suicide bombing also rose, from seven in 2004 to 67 in 2005. Similarly, suicide attacks using car bombs rose in numbers from 133 to 411 for the same period.

  Army Interrogator Reprimanded In Iraqi's Death without Jail TimeJanuary 24, 2006 00:00 A military jury in Colorado issued a reprimand last night to an Army interrogator who was convicted of negligent homicide for using an aggressive technique on an Iraqi general who died during questioning. Jurors decided not to impose any prison sentence for what originally was charged as a murder.

The lenient sentence for Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr., 43, implies that jurors thought the interrogator should not face serious punishment in connection with the death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a high-ranking Saddam Hussein loyalist who was believed to have engineered insurgent attacks in northern Iraq along the Syrian border.
Welshofer was also fined $6,000.

  Swiss Investigator Struggling with Evidence in CIA Secret Prisons CaseJanuary 24, 2006 00:00 The United States flew detainees to other countries where they would be tortured and European governments probably knew about it, the head of a European investigation into the controversy said on Tuesday.

But Swiss senator Dick Marty said in a preliminary report for the Council of Europe human rights watchdog that he had found no irrefutable evidence to confirm allegations that the CIA operated secret detention centers in Europe.

  Japan Halts U.S. Beef Imports Due To Fears Of Mad CowJanuary 20, 2006 00:00 Japan has halted shipments of US beef only a few weeks after reopening the trade in beef with the US. The government detected meat in a shipment that it claims is at risk for Mad Cow disease. Why is the Japanese government more careful than the US government?
  Britain Further Implicated in 'CIA Torture Flights'January 19, 2006 00:00 The dispute over the Government's possible involvement in CIA "torture flights" reignited last night following a leak of a top-level memo which admitted that people captured in Iraq or Afghanistan by British forces could have been sent illegally to interrogation centres.
  Diplomats Will Be Shifted To Hot SpotsJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy."
  Clinton Calls For Sanctions Against IranJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 Sen. Hillary Clinton called for United Nations sanctions against Iran as it resumes its nuclear program and faulted the Bush administration for "downplaying" the threat.

In an address Wednesday evening at Princeton University, Clinton, D-N.Y., said it was a mistake for the U.S. to have Britain, France and Germany head up nuclear talks with Iran over the past 2 1/2 years. Last week, Iran resumed nuclear research in a move Tehran claims is for energy, not weapons.

  US vs. BrazilJanuary 19, 2006 00:00 For over fifty years, retired professor Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira has studied the United States. In an exclusive Ag ncia Brasil interview he talks about the 6,300 American soldiers he says undertook operations in the Amazon region between 2001 and 2002. The details are in the professor's most recent book, "Building the American Empire: From the Spanish-American War to Iraq"
  U.S. Imposes Economic Penalties on Syrian for Support of TerrorJanuary 18, 2006 00:00 The U.S. has imposed economic penalties on the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad for what was described as his support for the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
  Rice: Iran Can't Have Nuclear Weapons CapabilityJanuary 18, 2006 00:00 Momentum is building to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions. Britain, France and Germany, the three countries that make up the European Union-3 that has been negotiating with Iran, have drafted a resolution that seeks a Security Council referral.
  Iraqis Threaten to Kill US JournalistJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 In Iraq, the abductors of a female journalist have threatened to kill her if the United States does not meet their conditions. The threat was made in a brief video aired by the television, showing the U.S. journalist speaking to the camera, without broadcasting her voice.

  Bush Senior Hopes Pakistan Still Sees US As HelperJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 Former U.S. President George Bush, in Pakistan as a U.N. earthquake relief envoy, said on Tuesday he hoped Pakistanis would continue to see Washington as a helper despite civilian deaths in an American airstrike.
  Supreme Court Asked To Intervene In GitmoJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 The U.S. Supreme Court may be asked to intervene in the case of a group of Chinese Muslims held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  Secret Fax On Cia Sites Not A Secret, Egypt Says - Africa & Middle EastJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 In the week since a Swiss newspaper published a secret Egyptian fax about clandestine CIA detention centers, the revelation has ignited a diplomatic uproar, two special criminal investigations and a round of finger-pointing in the Swiss government about the source of the leak. But on Tuesday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry insisted that the fax was nothing more than a tempest in a fondue pot - a mundane press summary of dated news.

  'War On Terror' Continues To Create TerroristsJanuary 17, 2006 00:00 The CIA's recent botched attempt to kill al Qaeda s number two man, Ayman Zawahiri, in Pakistan illustrates why the Bush administration s overly aggressive 'war on terror' actually motivates terrorists to attack the United States. Certainly, capturing or killing the brains behind al Qaeda is an important goal. Unfortunately, in the U.S. method of warfare which unduly emphasizes attrition, heavy firepower and sophisticated weaponry, even against guerrillas and terrorists the technology of killing has outstripped the quality of human intelligence needed to hit the correct targets. The CIA's unmanned Predator drone fired missiles that killed many Pakistani civilians, including women and children, but apparently not Zawahiri.
  Bush And Merkel Promise To Work Together On Iran CrisisJanuary 13, 2006 00:00 U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday vowed to work together to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran and declared Tehran's ambitions unacceptable.
  Iraq War Costs Could Top $2 TrillionJanuary 12, 2006 00:00 A new study by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001, and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes concludes that the total costs of the Iraq war could top the $2 trillion mark ($2,000,000,000,000). Reuters reports this total, which is far above the US administration's prewar projections, takes into account the long term healthcare costs for the 16,000 US soldiers injured in Iraq so far. My question is... Into whose pockets is the money going?
  Venezuelan Oil Deal Accepted by MaineJanuary 11, 2006 00:00 The government of the state of Maine has accepted a deal with the Venezuelan national heating oil producer to offset high energy prices. This deal and other's like it have come as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has made an end run around the Bush administration by offering cheap oil to US states who need it most. This is not unlike Fidel Castro's attempts at pitting his grain buying power against Republican legislators by purchasing grain and food from their districts.
  Us Military Opposed Bremer Call For More Iraq TroopsJanuary 10, 2006 00:00 Paul Bremer, former top US civilian administrator of occupied Iraq, has written a new book in which he details some of his frustrations with the Bush team, including a refusal to requisition more troops. The book is called 'My Year in Iraq, The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope.'
  Two To Face CourtJanuary 10, 2006 00:00 Two men are to appear in a London court on Tuesday to face charges over the leak of an official memo revealing that US President George Bush discussed bombing Aljazeera.
  Bloody Thursday for US MilitaryJanuary 06, 2006 00:00 Thursday was one of the bloodiest days for U.S. forces in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, with 11 soldiers dying in a fresh spasm of violence that also killed 130 Iraqis, the U.S. military said on Friday. Some are wondering if this is a lead-in to real civil war in Iraq.
  Robertson Says Sharon's Stroke the Wrath of GodJanuary 05, 2006 00:00 Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for 'dividing God's land.' What a compassionate conservative.
  End Of American Dream? Why Americans Are Leaving Their CountryJanuary 05, 2006 00:00 It seems that a variety of Americans who can do so are voting with their feet and leaving the country. The US government does not keep statistics on expats, so it's hard to say how many are out there and, given some shenanigans in the last election, if their votes even count.
  Uncle Dick And Ate GloJanuary 04, 2006 00:00 Even the Phillipines are concerned at the interference of the US neo-Conservative political movement in the US. What's at the root of it? Oh yes... oil.
  Let's Rejoin The WorldJanuary 04, 2006 00:00 A letter from Australia spurs the author to make these insightful comments

'We are fools to pretend we have no need to partner with the world community and, where prudent, to compromise in the interest of a greater good. It is in our interest to lead, not spurn, the global campaign for human rights, human dignity and a healthy standard of living.'

  Let The Drilling Begin!January 04, 2006 00:00 The IMF has granted Iraq a US$685M loan, which may allow the West to have a hold on Iraq long after the US -- oh, excuse me -- the coalition forces have pulled out.
  Us Welcomes Early Release Of Chinese JournalistJanuary 04, 2006 00:00 The US is welcoming China's early release of a jailed journalist for 'good behavior' and State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack claimed that the US is concerned about free speech and free press in China. Perhaps the Bush administration has been so quiet about the Abramoff scandal because they support free press as well! Right.
  White House Ponders Making Terror War's 'Legal Limbo' PermanentJanuary 02, 2006 00:00 The White House has created a Catch-22 scenario in Guantanamo where they cannot release the enemy combatant prisoners, but they can't keep them. International and domestic pressure is mounting to make operations at the prison more transparent and to investigate allegations of torture.