Foreign Policy

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  Bush Ally Defeated In AustraliaNovember 24, 2007 13:45 Australia’s prime minister, John Howard, one of President Bush’s staunchest allies in Asia, suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of the electorate on Saturday, as his Liberal Party-led coalition lost its majority in Parliament.

Prime Minister John Howard conceded defeat.
He will be replaced by Kevin Rudd, the Labor Party leader and a former diplomat. “Today Australia looks to the future,” Mr. Rudd told a cheering crowd in his home state of Queensland. “Today the Australian people have decided that we as a nation will move forward.”

Mr. Howard’s defeat, after 11 years in power, follows that of José María Aznar of Spain, who also backed the United States-led invasion of Iraq, and political setbacks for Tony Blair of Britain.

Mr. Howard conceded nearly two hours after the last polling booths closed in the west of the country.

 
  Iran Leader Dismisses Us CurrencyNovember 19, 2007 07:25 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suggested an end to the trading of oil in US dollars, calling the currency "a worthless piece of paper".
The call came at the end of a rare Opec summit, and was opposed by US ally Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian president had wanted to include the attack on the dollar in the summit's closing statement.

The communique made little mention of the dollar, however, focusing instead on energy security and the environment.

The summit in Saudi Arabia was only Opec's third in 47 years.

During the talks, Opec members revealed differences about the future direction of the exporters' group.

But Opec leaders ended with a pledge to provide the world with reliable supplies of oil.

 
  Japan'S Opposition To Stall 'War On Terror' BillNovember 16, 2007 12:14 Japan's opposition said Friday it will hold up legislation to resume support for the US-led "war on terror" as it probes a growing scandal that has hit the finance minister.

The feud comes as Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visits Washington, where he is expected to tell President George W. Bush of his hopes to restart a naval mission in the Indian Ocean providing fuel to coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The opposition, which argues that officially pacifist Japan has been too close to the Bush administration, won one house of parliament in summer elections.

The naval mission ended this month due to the legislative deadlock. The lower house, where Fukuda's coalition still enjoys a majority, sent a bill this week to the opposition-led upper house to restart the deployment.

Senior opposition lawmaker Kenji Yamaoka rejected Fukuda's calls for the upper house to take up the legislation quickly, saying that it would first probe bribery allegations levelled at the defence ministry.

"We have to clear up the scandal at the defence ministry first. Unless the issue is resolved, we can't start discussion on the legislation," he said.

He added the opposition would demand sworn testimony in front of a parliamentary committee from Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, who was defence chief in a previous government.

The scandal erupted last month when the defence ministry's recently retired top bureaucrat, Takemasa Moriya, admitted that a military contractor treated Moriya to fine dining, gifts and more than 200 golf trips.
  Losing The War On Terror — EverywhereNovember 07, 2007 21:55 It's worth reading the whole article in its entirety at the source...

You know there's trouble ahead when Iraq, in its present state, is the good news story for Bush Administration policy. While various civilian and military officials from the president on down have been talking up "success" in Iraq and beating the rhetorical war drums vis-a-vis Iran, much of the remainder of foreign policy in what the neocons used to call "the arc of instability" began to thoroughly unravel.

In the Horn of Africa, U.S.-backed Ethiopian troops are bogged down in a disastrous occupation of the Somali capital, harried by a growing Islamist insurgency. Despite endless shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the administration's Middle East peace conference, to be held at Annapolis, is already being dismissed as a failure before the first official invitations are issued. Meanwhile, the Turks are driving the administration to distraction by threatening to invade and destabilize the only moderately successful part of the new Iraq, its Kurdish region (while the Iraqi government in Baghdad calls on Iran for help in the crisis).

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently landed
in Tehran and brazenly indicated that any U.S. attack on Iran would be considered an attack on Russia. He then convened a local "mini-summit" and formed a regional Caspian Sea-based alliance with Iran and three energy-rich former SSRs of the departed Soviet Union implicitly directed against the United States and its local allies. On the day Secretary of State Rice announced new, tough sanctions against the Iranians, Putin commented pointedly: "Why worsen the situation by threatening sanctions and bring it to a dead end? It's not the best way to resolve the situation by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand."

Meanwhile, one country to the east, the resurgent Taliban has, against all predictions, just captured a third district in Western Afghanistan near the Iranian border -- and, as the most recent devastating suicide bomb indicates, attacks are spreading north. And then, of course, there's the president's greatest ally in the Muslim world, Pakistan's ruler Pervez Musharraf.
  Military Action Still An Option With Iran, Cheney Says In DallasNovember 03, 2007 19:19 Vice President Dick Cheney said Friday that peaceful measures to prevent Iran from menacing the Middle East and developing a nuclear weapons program have not yet worked, leaving military action as a possible solution.

"Nobody wants to resolve this in any means other than peacefully, if it's at all possible," Mr. Cheney told the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.

"But in the final analysis, the worst outcome would be a situation in which Iran is sort of let loose, if you will, in that part of the world with an inventory of nuclear weapons prepared to be used against other nations in the region or to dominate that part of the globe and to threaten not only the United States, but many of our friends and allies out there as well."
  Rice To Urge US Diplomats To Go To IraqNovember 01, 2007 14:35 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to cable all U.S. diplomats urging them to serve in Iraq, the State Department said on Thursday, a day after a furor erupted over plans to order some of them there.

At an emotional town hall meeting on Wednesday, U.S. diplomats bitterly complained about the State Department's decision to identify "prime candidates" who may have to accept compulsory one-year tours in Iraq or risk losing their jobs.

One said it was a "potential death sentence" to serve in Baghdad, where mortar rounds land in the heavily fortified "Green Zone" where the U.S. embassy is located.

"The secretary is going to send out a cable worldwide to people talking about this decision as well as encouraging people to serve in Iraq," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

More than 200 diplomats have been told they are in a pool who may be forced to go to Iraq to fill 48 positions for which no qualified candidates have volunteered.