Foreign Policy

  Iraqi Forces Can Take Over By June 2007November 30, 2006 13:36 Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said his government's forces would be able to take over security command from US troops by June 2007 - a move which could allow the United States to start withdrawing.

"I cannot answer on behalf of the US administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007," Maliki told ABC television after meeting US President George W Bush in Jordan.

Bush offered him strong backing in their talks and said Iraqi forces would be trained more quickly to take over but rejected suggestions he was seeking a "graceful exit" for US troops.

According to a transcript released by ABC, the Iraqi leader said: "At the beginning of next year we will increase the training of our forces ... when they reach an acceptable level, we can talk about transferring power from multinational forces to Iraqi forces.

"I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready."
  Bush Guilty Of `High Crimes' In Terror WarNovember 30, 2006 10:09 US President George Bush is guilty of "high crimes under international law" in the war on terror, says one of Britain's most eminent judges.

Former law lord Steyn also accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of complicity in war crimes, saying Blair backed Bush "however lawless and outrageous the means adopted."
In a speech to the UK Bar Council, the representative body for barristers, Steyn cited the creation of the US Guantanamo prison camp, secret CIA prison camps, CIA `extaordinary rendition' flights of prisoners, and the invasion of Iraq as examples of the Bush administration's crimes.

"The Bush administration set out to undermine international institutions and re-fashion international law," he said in his address to the council's annual Law Reform Committee gathering in London on Wednesday night.

"In this endeavor, President Bush found in the present British Prime Minister an ever compliant ally," said the former Lord of Appeal judge, who was elevated to the House of Lords in 1995 as an independent peer.

Steyn suggested that it was the US example had led many countries to adopt similar repressive policies, believing them now to be justified.
  Rice Makes The Rounds In The Mideast, Secretary Of State Meets With Palestinians' Abbas, Israel's OlmertNovember 30, 2006 09:51 After the defeat of the Bush strategy in the last elections, they're sure to turn their efforts to foreign policy where Congress has less play. But is this stuff a day late and a dollar short or what?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expected to focus on reviving long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Her visit to Jerusalem followed a meeting in the West Bank town of Jericho with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. After that meeting, Rice expressed support for the creation of a "viable and contiguous" Palestinian state.

Rice is hoping to build on an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire that began in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, reports CBS News correspondent Robert Berger (audio). The U.S. sees this a window of opportunity to revive peace talks, that collapsed after the election of the Islamic militant group Hamas in January. America's key Arab allies, including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are pushing the U.S. to take a more active role in the peace process, hoping that this will help calm the situation in Iraq.
  U.S. Plans To Send More GIs To IraqNovember 29, 2006 15:15 As President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki flew to Amman for talks aimed at finding ways to quell rising violence in Iraq, the United States on Wednesday announced a concrete step that seemed designed to underscore its unwavering commitment: the deployment of four additional combat battalions to Baghdad.

But the deployment, announced by Pentagon officials, came on the heels of new political ferment in Baghdad, continuing violence in Iraqi streets, and a conflicting message about Washington's confidence in Maliki that may have led to a temporary postponement of his meeting with Bush.

In Baghdad, the fragility of Maliki's situation was underscored when Iraqi legislators and cabinet ministers loyal to the anti-American cleric Moktada al- Sadr suspended their participation in the Parliament and government to protest the Amman meeting. The move was seen as a step to paralyze the government and make Sadr's influence clear.

And the confidence of the United States in Maliki was called into question when The New York Times printed the text of a memo from a top White House adviser expressing doubts about the prime minister's ability to rein in the sectarian violence.

  German MPs Urge Probe Of US Military's Illegal Transport Of Terror SuspectsNovember 29, 2006 11:09 German opposition lawmakers called for an inquiry into the role of the Germany-based US European military (EUCOM) headquarters in the illegal transport of terror suspects to the notorious American Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported Wednesday.

The legal affairs spokesman of the radical leftist Linke Party, Wolfgang Neskovic announced he would raise the issue in the parliamentary control panel.

A senior legislator of the Green Party, Hans-Christian Stroebele said there have been 'strong indications' that EUCOM was involved in the transfer of alleged terrorists.

German television reported earlier that the EUCOM headquarters, located in the southern city of Stuttgart, played a major role in the in the 2002 transport of terror suspects.

Germany's ARD public television network said that the US European Command headquarter was used to organize the January 2002 transfer of six Algerian prisoners from Bosnia to the US air base in Incirlik, Turkey.

ARD quoted what it said was a secret EUCOM report.

German prosecutors announced Monday they were investigating a report that US officials used a military headquarter in Stuttgart to help coordinate the transfer of terror suspects.
  White House On Defensive As US Media Breaks Taboo To Declare Conflict 'Civil War'November 29, 2006 11:03 The Bush administration appeared yesterday to be losing its fight to stop the US media calling the escalating violence in Iraq a civil war after one of the main television networks formally announced it would break the taboo.
The New York Times and Los Angeles Times have been using the phrase for a while without fanfare, but on Monday NBC News used one of its best-known presenters, Matt Lauer, to declare the network's semantic defiance of the White House. "After careful consideration, NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted, that the situation in Iraq, with armed, militarised factions fighting for their own political agendas, can now be characterised as civil war," Lauer, the host of the Today show, said.

Bill Keller, the New York Times' executive editor, said: "It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war."

With rival sectarian militias fighting over Baghdad district by district, other US news organisations have said they were reconsidering their policies on the highly politicised issue, but the administration stuck to its position. Speaking at the opening of the Nato summit in Latvia yesterday, George Bush refused to accept the "civil war" label, arguing that the conflict was being artificially stoked.
  Hadley Expressed Doubt about Maliki in MemoNovember 29, 2006 10:57 The New York Times today published a classified, five-page memo written by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley assessing the situation in Iraq. This is the published text:

"We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq. Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so.

"Maliki pointed to incidents, such as the use of Iraqi forces in Shia Karbala, to demonstrate his even hand. Perhaps because he is frustrated over his limited ability to command Iraqi forces against terrorists and insurgents, Maliki has been trying to show strength by standing up to the coalition. Hence the public spats with us over benchmarks and the Sadr City roadblocks.
  US 'May Need To Increase Marines'November 22, 2006 22:17 The new commandant of the US marines says the force may need to increase in size to meet its commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Gen James Conway said the size of the increase would depend on current strategic reviews.

He said the peacetime force of 180,000 had to be more "variable" in wartime.

Gen Conway also warned the timeline for training Iraq's security forces could be years - longer than "we probably feel... our country will support".
  US 'May Need To Increase Marines'November 22, 2006 22:17 The new commandant of the US marines says the force may need to increase in size to meet its commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Gen James Conway said the size of the increase would depend on current strategic reviews.

He said the peacetime force of 180,000 had to be more "variable" in wartime.

Gen Conway also warned the timeline for training Iraq's security forces could be years - longer than "we probably feel... our country will support".
  Huge Spike in Civilian Deaths in IraqNovember 22, 2006 15:03 Iraq's civilian death toll reached a new monthly high of more than 3,700 in October, according to a UN report released Wednesday.

It came as US President George Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki prepared to meet next week to review the situation in the country.

The United Nations says the figure of 3,709 people, including women and children, killed in October is the highest since the US-led invasion.

The figures, based on data provided by the Iraq Health Ministry and morgues, compared with a previous high of 3,590 in July, which the UN had then termed "unprecedented."

The report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said: "The influence of armed militias is growing and torture continues to be rampant. Hundreds of bodies continued to appear in different areas of Baghdad handcuffed, blindfolded and bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing.
  War On Terror Increasingly Expensive for USANovember 22, 2006 14:29 Whether troop levels increase, decrease, or stay the same in the coming months, U.S. war efforts in Iraq will become more and more expensive, The Christian Science Monitor reported on Tuesday.

The cost of the war in Iraq has now surpassed 300 billion U.S. dollars, according to government estimates, said the report.

Add in activities in Afghanistan, and the total price of the global war on terror is 507 billion dollars, making it one of the most monetarily costly conflicts in which the country has ever engaged.

Now the Pentagon is in the process of drawing up its follow-on request for the remainder of fiscal year 2007.

Reports indicate that the Pentagon could ask for 120 billion to 160 billion dollars, which would be its largest funding request yet for the global war on terror.

  US Military Victory In Iraq Impossible: KissingerNovember 20, 2006 13:52 Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said on Sunday it was impossible for the United States to achieve military victory in Iraq.

''If you mean by clear military victory an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control ... I don't believe that is possible,'' he said.

''An international conference should be called that involves neighbours of Iraq, perhaps the permanent members of the Security Council and countries that have a major interest in the outcome, like India and Pakistan,'' he told BBC television.
  War On Terror 'Could Last 30 Years'November 20, 2006 13:47 There is "every prospect" of the "War on Terror" lasting for 30 years or more, a global security think tank has said.

The Oxford Research Group report said recent political changes in the US would make "very little difference" to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the US midterm elections, the Democrats seized control of both house of Congress from the Republicans. The report said the United States was now faced with a dilemma. If it withdraws from Iraq, jihadist groups could operate "without restraint" in this "important oil-bearing region".

But if it decided to stay, US soldiers could become an increasing "magnet" for radical groups, with Iraq turning into a training ground for new generations of paramilitaries.

Written by Professor Paul Rogers, ORG's global security consultant and professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, the report analysed the past year of events in Iraq and the Middle East, looking at how the war on terror had transformed into what has been called the "Long War" by the Bush Administration.
  India Cautiously Welcome Us Nuclear VoteNovember 17, 2006 14:26 The wonderful legacy of the Bush administration... Nuclear proliferation.

The US moved a step closer to adopting a landmark nuclear cooperation deal with India, but New Delhi was guarded, saying key conditions still needed to be addressed.

The US legislature gave an overwhelming 85-12 approval to the controversial deal late on Friday, which Washington's envoy to New Delhi said was "perhaps the most important day" for relations between the once-estranged democracies.

India applauded the long-awaited Senate approval - a major but not final step in a process that will help it meet the soaring energy needs of its booming economy - but insisted the final version needed to stick to the original pact.

"We still have a long way to go before nuclear cooperation between India and the US becomes a living reality," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a leadership conference.

The Senate and House of Representatives versions of the bill were "not identical" and the process of reconciling them would "have to take on board our concerns", Singh said.
  The Realists Take Charge In WashingtonNovember 12, 2006 20:50 This was a big deal. Certainly, it was the end of George W. Bush's radical experiment in partisan governance. It might have been even bigger than that: the end of the conservative pendulum swing that began with Ronald Reagan's revolution.

Not only did the Democrats lay a robust whupping on the Republicans in the midterm elections, but -- far worse -- the president was forced into a tacit acknowledgment that the defining policy of his administration, the war in Iraq, was failing.

In 1994, when Bill Clinton lost both houses of Congress, he merely replaced his consultants and, liberated from the liberal wing of his party, sailed into the enforced moderation of divided government.

Last week Bush replaced Donald Rumsfeld, the blustery symbol of American arrogance overseas -- and, after six years of near total control at home, had to adjust to a situation in which his vision had been rejected by the voters and his power seriously truncated.

Rumsfeld was replaced by Robert Gates, who had been a junior associate on the foreign policy team of President George H.W. Bush and was well schooled in the cautious "realism" that marked the reign of Bush the Elder.

In fact, if there was a common strand in last week's Democratic victories and Republican defeats, it was the ascendancy of realists. The architects of the Democratic victory, Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, had calculated with cold-eyed efficiency which candidates the party would support, regardless of the extent of their orthodoxy.
  Bush Replaces Rumsfeld... FinallyNovember 08, 2006 20:19

President Bush introduced Robert Gates on Wednesday afternoon as his nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, saying the country needs a "fresh perspective" on Iraq.

Gates, a former CIA chief, was a member of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel that is making recommendations to Bush on how to proceed in Iraq.

Gates traveled with the panel to Iraq earlier this year, an experience, Bush said, that will enable Gates to come up with "new ideas on how America can achieve our goals in Iraq."

Gates, 63, said Wednesday he accepted the nomination because "the United States is at war" and the president called.

"I believe the outcome of these conflicts will shape our world for decades to come," Gates said.

Bush announced Rumsfeld's departure earlier Wednesday.

  No Joke, Worst Offense On Iraq Is Botched StrategyNovember 02, 2006 11:21 With an election at hand, Republicans and even Democrats can flay Sen. John Kerry all they wish for his admittedly stupid attempt at humor that bumbled out as an insult to American forces in Iraq. The White House especially must have welcomed the distraction from the actual situation those forces are facing.

Unfortunately, nothing Kerry said, mis-said or meant to say will change that.

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate's "botched joke" was offensive to a lot of people, but the botched aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq should be offensive to many more. Republicans were almost gleefully overreacting Wednesday to Kerry's political gift. The Massachusetts senator even canceled campaign stops on behalf of Democrats, knowing they would surely have been disasters.

But Americans should remember that the real disaster goes on in Iraq, where 105 U.S. military personnel and thousands of Iraqis died during October as a low-grade civil war raged through the country's midsection with no peace in sight.
  Defence Report Suggests U.S. Rules Could Threaten Military PurchasesNovember 01, 2006 13:23 The U.S. government is forcing Canada's military to violate the charter rights of its personnel through onerous export controls on sensitive military technology, a threat to the Harper government's plan to buy $17-billion worth of military hardware, says an internal Defence Department memo.

The leaked memo, a copy of which was obtained by CanWest News Service, has been making the rounds among military and defence industry players as top U.S. State Department officials began two days of negotiations in Ottawa on Tuesday to find solutions to a simmering military trade dispute that is delaying the purchase of tactical lift helicopters, transport planes and other equipment for Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

Canada's military and defence industry are screaming loudly about restrictions under the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, known as ITAR, which regulate who in Canada can see classified U.S. military data, such as repair manuals and other written specifications on American-made weapons and other high-tech combat systems.

Access to such materials is crucial if Canadian companies are to profit from lucrative industrial spin-offs of government purchases of foreign military hardware, particularly American.

The U.S. arms rules require Canadian companies vying for industrial benefits to submit detailed paperwork on their employees, which binds those companies in red tape that lasts for months. They also prevent dual-national Canadian citizens, such as those who were born in Lebanon, Venezuela or Cuba, from working on sensitive defence projects because of restrictions by the U.S. State Department.