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  U.S. Suffers 3,000Th Casualty With New YearDecember 31, 2006 19:09 U.S. troops began the New Year with news their 3,000th comrade had died since a 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in weeks but pitched them into a war that has riven Iraq and raised increasing alarm at home.

With Saddam's hanging on Saturday polarising the country, there is no sign that the sectarian bloodletting will slow.

The death toll milestone was reported on Sunday by the Web site, www.icasualties.org. It listed the death of Specialist Dustin Donica on Dec. 28 together with a soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Saturday, bringing the total to 3,000.

December was the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the past two years, with 111 dead, according to the site. There was no immediate official confirmation of the 3,000 figure, likely to be seized on by critics of George W. Bush's conduct of the war.

But Bush's spokesman Scott Stanzel said the president "grieves for each one that is lost".

"He will ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain."

Yeah... right...
  Ford Had Problems With Bush Iraq PolicyDecember 28, 2006 09:54 Former President Gerald R. Ford questioned the Bush administration's rationale for the U.S. invasion and war in Iraq in interviews he granted on condition they not be released until after his death.

In his embargoed July 2004 interview with The Washington Post, Ford said the Iraq war was not justified, the Post reported Wednesday night.

Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously, the Post's Bob Woodward wrote. The story initially was posted on the newspaper's Internet site.

"I don't think I would have gone to war," Ford told Woodward a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion.

In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney - Ford's White House chief of staff - and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his secretary of defense.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
  Biden Warns Against Troop Surge In IraqDecember 27, 2006 08:56 Delaware's Joe Biden, incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adamantly rejected sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, a move President Bush is considering as part of what's expected to be a major strategy shift he will announce early next year.

"We've already broken Iraq," the presidential hopeful said Tuesday. "We're about to break the United States military."

Biden said a surge of 15,000 to 30,000 troops, which Bush is reportedly considering, would only serve as a Band-Aid and give Baghdad's frail government a false sense that American forces are a bottomless resource.

Biden said he backs an approach structured in part on the recommendations of the independent Iraq Study Group and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Both have called for drawing down the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to prod the paralyzed Iraqi government into making the tough political decisions needed to stem the sectarian violence.

Biden said he does not believe a troop surge is inevitable.
  US Troop Deaths In Iraq Pass September 11 Death TollDecember 26, 2006 11:23 The death toll of US soldiers in Iraq on Tuesday reached 2,975—a macabre milestone in the midst of the Christmas season, surpassing the toll from the September 11 attacks that sparked the US war on terror.

Three US soldiers were killed around Baghdad on Tuesday, bringing the number of US fatalities in Iraq since the 2003 invasion to two more than the number killed in the attacks in the United States in 2001.

Though tens of thousands of Iraqis have also perished, many in a murderous wave of sectarian violence wracking their country, the landmark US death toll represents another political body blow for President George W. Bush.

“People will be aware of the fact that that milestone [has passed], the press will point it out and people will make that connection,” said Eric Davis professor of political science at Middlebury College, Vermont.
  It’s Still Down To George BushDecember 26, 2006 11:11 IT IS hard to be optimistic about 2007. That is not just because the world faces a daunting array of problems—from a nuclear-armed North Korea to growing Islamic militancy to the wreck of global trade talks—but also because of the likely dearth of political leadership. Two veterans of the world stage, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair, will step aside, leaving Europe even more introverted. Japan’s Shinzo Abe will be concentrating on Upper House elections. In China, Hu Jintao’s main attention will remain focused on his country’s extraordinary economy.

Nowhere, however, is the sense of drift and weakness felt more keenly than in Washington, DC. George Bush, after all, was a president who wanted to change things. At home he pushed through huge tax cuts and tried to create a period of conservative hegemony. Abroad, after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, he set about reordering the world, sending troops into Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to establish a Bush doctrine based on pre-emptive force and exporting democracy. Millions of people around the world may have loathed Mr Bush for his actions, but it was hard to accuse him of a lack of ambition.

Yet what has he to show for the blood, treasure and political capital he has spent? Not only has the world turned out to be a little more complicated than Mr Bush presumed; his administration has hitherto proved woefully incompetent at executing his dreams. As a result, Mr Bush’s prospects in 2007 look, at first sight, pretty glum. Having deservedly lost the Republicans’ grip on Congress, the president would seem to have given up the chance of any big domestic initiative. Abroad, things look even grimmer, with American troops bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and the unappetising issues of North Korea and Iran to deal with.

So it would not be surprising if Mr Bush chose to bunker down in 2007, treating the rest of his presidency as a damage-limitation exercise. But it would be deeply wrong for him to do so—for two reasons. First, his position is not as weak as it seems. And second, he still has a chance to establish a more useful legacy.

 
  Security Council Approves Iran SanctionsDecember 23, 2006 23:00 The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose economic sanctions on Iran for refusing to end a uranium enrichment program that the United States says is aimed at building nuclear weapons. Iran immediately rejected the resolution.

The result of two months of negotiation, the resolution orders all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs. It also would freeze Iranian assets of key companies and individuals related to those programs.

If Iran refuses to comply, the resolution warns Iran that the council will adopt further nonmilitary sanctions.
  N Korea Nuclear Talks FailDecember 22, 2006 10:10 The six-party talks aimed at peacefully dismantling North Korea nuclear weapons programmes broke down on Friday.

Pyongyang stuck to its stand of removal of sanctions before it disarmed and envoys failed even to set the date for the next round of negotiations.

Top envoys from North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and host China had gathered since December 18 for the second phase of the fifth round of six-way talks after a 13-month hiatus after Pyongyang boycotted the parleys, demanding lifting of US sanctions for alleged money laundering.

At the resumed negotiations, North Korea stuck to its stand that Washington must revoke the sanctions if nuclear disarmament talks have to move ahead.

The US maintained that the issue of sanction was unrelated to the nuclear disarmament talks, diplomats said.
  Islamist EconomicsDecember 20, 2006 13:43 Although I'm unsure of the motive, the author offers some interesting discussion...

My goal today is to put you into the mind of an Islamist — to think like an Islamist. It is only possible to understand the events occurring by understanding their thinking and what it would mean to live under Shariah law. There is a well-worn Cliché “It’s the economy stupid” that appears around election times. So it is with Islamic Economics and the Clash of Ideologies we are witnessing today.

 
  Genius... Bush Says Insurgents Prevented Iraq StabilityDecember 20, 2006 09:52 Sometimes this guy just amazes me with his powers of deduction and observation. Maybe my dog could even be president some day...

President Bush says insurgents in Iraq have thwarted U-S efforts at ``establishing security and stability throughout the country'' this year. The president also says he has asked new Defense Secretary Robert Gates to report to him as quickly as possible on plans to enlarge the size of the Army and Marine Corps.

In the year-end White House news conference, the president said the U-S will ``ask more of our Iraqi partners'' next year. However, the president sidestepped a question as to whether he would order a so-called surge of troops in Iraq as a first step toward gaining control there.
  Ethanol Use Can Strengthen U.S.-Latin America RelationsDecember 19, 2006 14:07 Ethanol holds great promise for America. Greater use of ethanol can increase protection for our environment and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil. While the price of gas at the pump has dropped in re- cent months, the ''ethanol exuberance'' has not subsided. Most Americans -- along with government and business leaders -- recognize ethanol's tremendous promise for energy security and a cleaner environment.

Reports on the U.S. ethanol industry estimate that American production will reach about 4.7 billion gallons this year and, considering announced investments in new ethanol plants, will likely meet the 7.5 billion gallon annual requirement by 2012 stipulated in The Energy Policy Act of 2005. While this increased production and use of ethanol is laudable, a far more ambitious goal should be set that is worthy of the American character of achievement.

Increased ethanol consumption can strengthen the United States' relationship with Latin America, serving as a catalyst to remove barriers to free trade within the region. Ethanol can be a powerful catalyst for poor nations to ''grow their own energy'' and capitalize on trading partnerships to boost economic opportunity.

To accomplish those far-reaching objectives, Brazil's former minister of agriculture and president of the Superior Council of Agrobusiness, Roberto Rodrigues; Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank; community leaders and I gathered in Miami yesterday to launch the Interamerican Ethanol Commission.
  Attacks In Iraq At Highest Levels EverDecember 19, 2006 09:06 Nearly 1,000 insurgent and sectarian attacks were carried out against American and Iraqi targets every week over the last three months, the highest level ever recorded, according to a Pentagon report on security trends in Iraq that was issued Monday.

The report, which covers the period from early August to early November describes a worsening security environment in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

The rise in attacks, to a weekly average of 959, was a jump of nearly 200 compared with the previous three months. As a consequence, civilian casualties reached a record high, more than 90 a day, the report said. While the majority of attacks were directed at U.S. forces, most of the casualties were suffered by the Iraqi military and civilians.

The Pentagon report, "Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq," is mandated by Congress and issued quarterly. It covers a broad range of subjects, including the economy, public attitudes, security and the training of Iraqi security forces.
  Gates Takes Oath Of OfficeDecember 18, 2006 12:40 Former Texas A&M University President Robert Gates was already on the job as secretary of defense when he was sworn in during a ceremony Monday afternoon at the Pentagon.

Gates had taken the oath of office first thing Monday morning privately at the White House.

During the public ceremony Monday, President Bush called Gates "the right man" to take on the multiple challenges of war and military reform.

Vice President Dick Cheney administered the oath of office as Gates’ wife looked on.

Since his confirmation, Gates said he has participated in most National Security Council meetings on Iraq and a number of briefings at the Pentagon.

He said he has also discussed the situation in depth with the president.

He said he intends to go to Iraq soon to meet with US military leaders in search of honest assessments of the situation there and advice on how best to proceed.
  Special Forces Teams Clash With CIA On MissionsDecember 18, 2006 12:38 U.S. Special Forces teams sent overseas on secret spying missions have clashed with the CIA and carried out operations in countries that are staunch U.S. allies, prompting a new effort by the agency and the Pentagon to tighten the rules for military units engaged in espionage, according to senior U.S. intelligence and military officials.

The spy missions are part of a highly classified program that officials say has better positioned the United States to track terrorist networks and capture or kill enemy operatives in regions such as the Horn of Africa, where weak governments are unable to respond to emerging threats.

But the initiative has also led to several embarrassing incidents for the United States, including a shootout in Paraguay and the exposure of a sensitive intelligence operation in East Africa, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. And to date, the Special Forces espionage effort has not led to the capture of a significant terrorism suspect.

Some intelligence officials have complained that Special Forces teams have sometimes launched missions without informing the CIA, duplicating or even jeopardizing existing operations. And they questioned deploying military teams in friendly nations -- including in Europe -- at a time when combat units are in short supply in war zones.
  France To Pull Elite Troops From AfghanistanDecember 17, 2006 22:57 France will withdraw its 200 special forces troops from Afghanistan within weeks, authorities announced Sunday.

The elite soldiers have been serving under U.S. forces in the southeast, battling Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

The rest of France's contribution in Afghanistan — about 1,100 troops — have been under NATO leadership and stationed in the relatively safe capital, Kabul. French authorities have resisted repeated calls from NATO leaders and individual countries in the coalition, including Canada, for the troops to be deployed in more volatile areas.

News of the withdrawal came amid growing militant strength despite the efforts of NATO's 32,800-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
  Study Leaves Impression It's Still About OilDecember 15, 2006 13:40 The Iraq Study Group report has produced a comprehensive and informed repudiation of President Bush and his administration's failed Iraqi invasion and occupation. It took three and a half years for the irrefutable evidence of George Bush's lies and deception to be absorbed by a majority of Americans (the latest count at 73 percent), culminating in the November election loss of GOP control of both houses of Congress.

The 10-member group and its 30-some advisers are to be commended for a job well done. Unfortunately, President Bush still insists on "success" and "victory" when no credible witness sees either in sight.

None of the Iraqi war rationales pushed by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powell-Rice cabal have stood the test of time. The smoke rising from Iraq's inferno has increasingly carried a wisp of suspicion that oil was the unspoken reason for the pre-emptive invasion.

The neocons and their Project for a New American Century failed to persuade the Clinton administration that a pre-emptive war to overthrow Saddam Hussein was imperative and that hesitation would put "a significant portion of the world's oil supply" at risk.
  White House Criticizes Senate Trip to SyriaDecember 14, 2006 14:47 The White House criticized on Thursday Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's trip to Syria, saying it was not only inappropriate, but that it also gave undue legitimacy to a government that is thwarting democratic reform in the Middle East.

The trip by Nelson, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, and future visits to Syria expected by Senators John Kerry and Christopher Dodd, both Democrats, and Arlen Specter, a Republican, send an unhelpful, mixed message to the Syrians, White House spokesman Tony Snow said at a news briefing.

"We want to make sure that they understand that just because they have visitors does not mean that the position of the United States government has changed," Snow said.

Nelson, who traveled to Syria on Wednesday, defended his trip. He told National Public Radio on Thursday that despite White House objections to his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he believed his outreach to Damascus was in keeping with recommendations of Iraq Study Group on forging the way forward in Iraq.
  Saudi Ambassador To U.S. ResignsDecember 12, 2006 16:58 Why would the Saudi ambassador resign so suddenly? Curious...
  Oil Exporters Cut Dollar DepositsDecember 12, 2006 13:31 Oil exporting countries deposited fewer dollars in the second quarter in the international banking system and increased euro and yen-denominated deposits, according to a report by the Bank for International Settlements.

The BIS data, often seen as a clue to how oil-rich governments invest windfall revenues, showed the share of dollar liabilities to oil exporting countries fell to 65 per cent from 67 per cent in the first three months of 2006.

The euro's share rose by 2 percentage points to 22 per cent.

In the three months to June, residents of Opec member states placed a total $8 billion in international banks reporting to the Basel-based BIS, a forum for central banks around the world.

Within this, deposits of US dollars fell by $5.3 billion in the second quarter, while euro and yen denominated deposits rose by $2.8 billion and $3.8 billion respectively.

 
  Kofi Annan's Final SpeechDecember 11, 2006 16:58 Full text: Kofi Annan's final speech
Kofi Annan has delivered his final speech as United Nations Secretary General at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri. The following is the text of the speech; subheadings inserted by the BBC.
Thank you, Senator [Hagel] for that wonderful introduction. It is a great honour to be introduced by such a distinguished legislator.
And thanks to you, Mr Devine, and all your staff, and to the wonderful UNA chapter of Kansas City, for all you have done to make this occasion possible.
What a pleasure, and a privilege, to be here in Missouri. It is almost a homecoming for me. Nearly half a century ago I was a student about 400 miles north of here, in Minnesota.
I arrived there straight from Africa - and I can tell you, Minnesota soon taught me the value of a thick overcoat, a warm scarf and even ear-muffs!
When you leave one home for another, there are always lessons to be learnt. And I had more to learn when I moved on from Minnesota to the United Nations - the indispensable common house of the entire human family, which has been my main home for the last 44 years.
Today I want to talk particularly about five lessons I have learnt in the last 10 years, during which I have had the difficult but exhilarating role of Secretary General.
I think it is especially fitting that I do that here in the house that honours the legacy of Harry S Truman. If FDR [Franklin D Roosevelt] was the architect of the United Nations, President Truman was the master-builder, and the faithful champion of the Organisation in its first years, when it had to face quite different problems from the ones FDR had expected.
Truman's name will for ever be associated with the memory of far-sighted American leadership in a great global endeavour. And you will see that every one of my five lessons brings me to the conclusion that such leadership is no less sorely needed now than it was 60 years ago.
Collective responsibility
My first lesson is that, in today's world, the security of every one of us is linked to that of everyone else.
That was already true in Truman's time. The man who in 1945 gave the order for nuclear weapons to be used - for the first, and let us hope the only, time in history - understood that security for some could never again be achieved at the price of insecurity for others.
He was determined, as he had told the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco, to "prevent, if human mind, heart, and hope can prevent it, the repetition of the disaster [meaning the world war] from which the entire world will suffer for years to come".
He believed strongly that henceforth security must be collective and indivisible.
That was why, for instance, he insisted, when faced with aggression by North Korea against the South in 1950, on bringing the issue to the United Nations and placing US troops under the UN flag, at the head of a multinational force.
But how much more true it is in our open world today: a world where deadly weapons can be obtained not only by rogue states but by extremist groups; a world where Sars or avian flu can be carried across oceans, let alone national borders, in a matter of hours; a world where failed states in the heart of Asia or Africa can become havens for terrorists; a world where even the climate is changing in ways that will affect the lives of everyone on the planet.
Against such threats as these, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. We all share responsibility for each other's security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves.
And I would add that this responsibility is not simply a matter of states being ready to come to each other's aid when attacked - important though that is.
It also includes our shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity - a responsibility solemnly accepted by all nations at last year's UN summit.
That means that respect for national sovereignty can no longer be used as a shield by governments intent on massacring their own people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing when such heinous crimes are committed.
But, as Truman said, "If we should pay merely lip service to inspiring ideals, and later do violence to simple justice, we would draw down upon us the bitter wrath of generations yet unborn."
And when I look at the murder, rape and starvation to which the people of Darfur are being subjected, I fear that we have not got far beyond "lip service".
The lesson here is that high-sounding doctrines like the "responsibility to protect" will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively - by exerting political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle - are prepared to take the lead.
And I believe we have a responsibility not only to our contemporaries but also to future generations - a responsibility to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us, and without which none of us can survive.
That means we must do much more, and urgently, to prevent or slow down climate change. Every day that we do nothing, or too little, imposes higher costs on our children and our children's children.
Global solidarity
My second lesson is that we are not only all responsible for each other's security. We are also, in some measure, responsible for each other's welfare.
Global solidarity is both necessary and possible. It is necessary because without a measure of solidarity no society can be truly stable, and no one's prosperity truly secure.
That applies to national societies - as all the great industrial democracies learned in the 20th century - but it also applies to the increasingly integrated global market economy we live in today.
It is not realistic to think that some people can go on deriving great benefits from globalization while billions of their fellow human beings are left in abject poverty, or even thrown into it.
We have to give our fellow citizens, not only within each nation but in the global community, at least a chance to share in our prosperity.
That is why, five years ago, the UN Millennium Summit adopted a set of goals - the "Millennium Development Goals" - to be reached by 2015: goals such as halving the proportion of people in the world who do not have clean water to drink; making sure all girls, as well as boys, receive at least primary education; slashing infant and maternal mortality; and stopping the spread of HIV/Aids.
Much of that can only be done by governments and people in the poor countries themselves. But richer countries, too, have a vital role.
Here too, Harry Truman proved himself a pioneer, proposing in his 1949 inaugural address a program of what came to be known as development assistance. And our success in mobilising donor countries to support the Millennium Development Goals, through debt relief and increased foreign aid, convinces me that global solidarity is not only necessary but possible.
Of course, foreign aid by itself is not enough. Today, we realise that market access, fair terms of trade and a non-discriminatory financial system are equally vital to the chances of poor countries.
Even in the next few weeks and months, you Americans can make a crucial difference to many millions of poor people, if you are prepared to save the Doha Round of trade negotiations.
You can do that by putting your broader national interest above that of some powerful sectional lobbies, while challenging Europe and the large developing countries to do the same.
The rule of law
My third lesson is that both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Although increasingly interdependent, our world continues to be divided - not only by economic differences, but also by religion and culture.
That is not in itself a problem. Throughout history human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learnt from each other.
But if our different communities are to live together in peace we must stress also what unites us: our common humanity, and our shared belief that human dignity and rights should be protected by law.
That is vital for development, too. Both foreign investors and a country's own citizens are more likely to engage in productive activity when their basic rights are protected and they can be confident of fair treatment under the law.
And policies that genuinely favour economic development are much more likely to be adopted if the people most in need of development can make their voice heard.
In short, human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity. As Truman said, "We must, once and for all, prove by our acts conclusively that Right Has Might."
That is why this country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism.
When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.
And states need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens. That can sometimes be inconvenient, but ultimately what matters is not convenience. It is doing the right thing.
No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose - for broadly shared aims - in accordance with broadly accepted norms.
No community anywhere suffers from too much rule of law; many do suffer from too little - and the international community is among them. This we must change.
The US has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level.
As Harry Truman said, "We all have to recognise, no matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the licence to do always as we please."
Mutual accountability
My fourth lesson - closely related to the last one - is that governments must be accountable for their actions in the international arena, as well as in the domestic one.
Today the actions of one state can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other states.
So does it not owe some account to those other states and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.
As things stand, accountability between states is highly skewed. Poor and weak states are easily held to account, because they need foreign assistance. But large and powerful states, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people, working through their domestic institutions.
That gives the people and institutions of such powerful states a special responsibility to take account of global views and interests, as well as national ones.
And today they need to take into account also the views of what, in UN jargon, we call "non-state actors". I mean commercial corporations, charities and pressure groups, labour unions, philanthropic foundations, universities and think tanks - all the myriad forms in which people come together voluntarily to think about, or try to change, the world.
None of these should be allowed to substitute itself for the state, or for the democratic process by which citizens choose their governments and decide policy. But they all have the capacity to influence political processes, on the international as well as the national level.
States that try to ignore this are hiding their heads in the sand.
The fact is that states can no longer - if they ever could - confront global challenges alone. Increasingly, we need to enlist the help of these other actors, both in working out global strategies and in putting those strategies into action once agreed.
It has been one of my guiding principles as Secretary General to get them to help achieve UN aims - for instance through the Global Compact with international business, which I initiated in 1999, or in the worldwide fight against polio, which I hope is now in its final chapter, thanks to a wonderful partnership between the UN family, the US Centers for Disease Control and - crucially - Rotary International.
Multilateralism
So that is four lessons. Let me briefly remind you of them: First, we are all responsible for each other's security. Second, we can and must give everyone the chance to benefit from global prosperity. Third, both security and prosperity depend on human rights and the rule of law. Fourth, states must be accountable to each other, and to a broad range of non-state actors, in their international conduct.
My fifth and final lesson derives inescapably from those other four. We can only do all these things by working together through a multilateral system, and by making the best possible use of the unique instrument bequeathed to us by Harry Truman and his contemporaries, namely the United Nations.
In fact, it is only through multilateral institutions that states can hold each other to account. And that makes it very important to organize those institutions in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong.
That applies particularly to the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Developing countries should have a stronger voice in these bodies, whose decisions can have almost a life-or-death impact on their fate.
And it also applies to the UN Security Council, whose membership still reflects the reality of 1945, not of today's world.
That is why I have continued to press for Security Council reform. But reform involves two separate issues.
One is that new members should be added, on a permanent or long-term basis, to give greater representation to parts of the world which have limited voice today.
The other, perhaps even more important, is that all Council members, and especially the major powers who are permanent members, must accept the special responsibility that comes with their privilege.
The Security Council is not just another stage on which to act out national interests. It is the management committee, if you will, of our fledgling collective security system.
As President Truman said, "The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world."
He showed what can be achieved when the US assumes that responsibility. And still today, none of our global institutions can accomplish much when the US remains aloof. But when it is fully engaged, the sky is the limit.
These five lessons can be summed up as five principles, which I believe are essential for the future conduct of international relations: collective responsibility, global solidarity, the rule of law, mutual accountability, and multilateralism.
Let me leave them with you, in solemn trust, as I hand over to a new Secretary General in three weeks' time.
My friends, we have achieved much since 1945, when the United Nations was established.
But much remains to be done to put those five principles into practice.
Standing here, I am reminded of Winston Churchill's last visit to the White House, just before Truman left office in 1953. Churchill recalled their only previous meeting, at the Potsdam conference in 1945.
"I must confess, sir," he said boldly, "I held you in very low regard then. I loathed your taking the place of Franklin Roosevelt." Then he paused for a moment, and continued: "I misjudged you badly. Since that time, you more than any other man, have saved Western civilisation."
My friends, our challenge today is not to save Western civilisation - or Eastern, for that matter. All civilisation is at stake, and we can save it only if all peoples join together in the task.
You Americans did so much, in the last century, to build an effective multilateral system, with the United Nations at its heart.
Do you need it less today, and does it need you less, than 60 years ago? Surely not.
More than ever today Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world's peoples can face global challenges together.
And in order to function, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership, in the Truman tradition.
I hope and pray that the American leaders of today, and tomorrow, will provide it. Thank you very much.

 
  Annan's Final Speech To Take Aim At Bush's U.S. PoliciesDecember 11, 2006 10:18 Outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan planned to deliver a tough critique of the Bush administration's policies Monday in his last major speech before he leaves office.

In remarks prepared for delivery at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, the secretary general was expected to accuse the White House of trying to secure the United States from terrorism in part by dominating other nations through force.

He was also expected to say the Security Council should be expanded.

"Human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity," Annan's text said.

When the U.S. "appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused," he said.

Annan, who leaves the United Nations on Dec. 31 after 10 years as secretary-general, has become an increasingly vocal critic of the war in Iraq.
  Irritant Words Diluted, Not GoneDecember 08, 2006 23:00 So the Republican House wants to give away nuclear material without restrictions... how brilliant.

The final version of the US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act still contains the clauses that India had found unacceptable—but in a more diluted form. New Delhi feels that the draft legislation contains ``certain extraneous and prescriptive provisions.’’

Words like certifications and determinations, which had legal ramifications, have now been changed to a milder ``description’’ and ``assessment’’ of steps. The language of the clauses is more conciliatory and positive. For example, the president’s annual certification on India’s non-proliferation record has now been changed to an assessment.

The Iran clause, the one major political irritant, still finds a place in the act—not once but twice— but again in a more conciliatory tone. The wording has been reworked from the Congress’ seeking a presidential determination, to the Senate version seeking a ``description and assessment of the specific measures that India has taken to fully and actively participate in US and international efforts to dissuade, isolate and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction,”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in her letter to the legislators before the reconciliation process started, had said that in the senate version, the Iran reference would be viewed by India as an imposition of conditions. New Delhi had wanted the clause to be dropped altogether, and taken the stand that no foreign country can take away a nation’s sovereign right to conduct foreign policy.
  Judge Weighs Torture Claim Vs. RumsfeldDecember 08, 2006 16:41 A federal judge on Friday appeared reluctant to give Donald H. Rumsfeld immunity from torture allegations, yet said it would be unprecedented to let the departing defense secretary face a civil trial.

"What you're asking for has never been done before," U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan told lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.

The group is suing on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lawsuit contends the men were beaten, suspended upside down from the ceiling by chains, urinated on, shocked, sexually humiliated, burned, locked inside boxes and subjected to mock executions.

If the suit were to go forward, it could force Rumsfeld and the Pentagon to disclose what officials knew about abuses at prisons such as Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and what was done to stop it.

Rumsfeld, who leaves the Defense Department on Dec. 18, told Pentagon employees and reporters Friday that the day he learned about abuses at Abu Ghraib was his worst day in office.

"I remember being stunned by the news of the abuse at Abu Ghraib," Rumsfeld said. "And then watching so many determined people spend so many months trying to figure out exactly how in the world something like that could have happened, and how to make it right."

 
  Weapon Test Will End U.S. Civil Nuclear DealDecember 08, 2006 15:53 This is reassuring, at least...

The "conference report" from the U.S. Senate-House of Representatives makes it clear that in case of a future nuclear test by India an American President "must terminate" all export and re-export of U.S.-origin nuclear materials, equipment and sensitive nuclear technology to New Delhi.

"This legal condition is further strengthened in the Conference agreement beyond Section 129 of the AEA [Atomic Energy Act] by a provision that the [U.S. President's] waiver authority in this legislation terminates with any Indian test," the text of the report, posted on a Congress website, said.

"Already stipulated"

The report revealed that the Bush administration had "already stipulated" that "full civilian nuclear cooperation" would not include enrichment or processing technology. This, they said, was consistent with President George W. Bush's February 11, 2004 speech that "enrichment and reprocessing are not necessary for nations seeking to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

According to the conferees, the "true test" of the (draft) legislation, which will be the effectiveness of India's new commitments and obligations regarding nuclear non-proliferation, can be "judged only over time".

"India is determined to secure a more prominent role in world affairs. This agreement will provide it with enhanced incentives to use its rapidly expanding influence to promote regional and international stability... " the conference report said.
  Bush Expresses Caution On Key Point In Iraq Panel’s ReportDecember 07, 2006 14:57 President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain on Thursday welcomed the new bipartisan report on Iraq, but the president seemed to resist the idea of withdrawing most combat troops, saying that if the United States fails to establish a stable and secure Iraq, it will haunt Americans for years.

The Iraq Study Group's Conclusions Appearing at an hourlong news conference with his closest ally in the Iraq war, President Bush was largely noncommittal about the group’s 79 recommendations — which include withdrawing most combat units by early 2008.

He called the report “very constructive” and “worthy of study,” but said that neither Congress nor the administration would accept all of the panel’s proposals. His policy going forward, Mr. Bush reiterated, would rely not just on the study group’s recommendations but on those being formulated by the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council.

 
  U.S. Envoy Optimistic On India Nuclear BillDecember 07, 2006 11:20 We still think this is a ridiculous proposition...

The U.S. administration is optimistic a landmark civil nuclear cooperation deal with India will be passed by Congress this week in a form acceptable to both governments, a senior official said on Thursday.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said he had not yet seen a final version of bill which both Houses of Congress are expected to vote on, but was expecting a positive outcome.

"Based on my interaction with members of Congress and their staff over the last two weeks, I anticipate a very successful and supportive bill ... well within the parameters of the agreement that we made between our two leaders," Burns told a news conference in New Delhi.

India has expressed concerns that amendments would be attached to the bill which would run counter to agreements reached by President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July 2005 and March 2006.
  Read the Iraq Study Group ReportDecember 06, 2006 17:12 Read the report at the link below.
 
  Iraq Study Group Report A Blueprint For ChangeDecember 06, 2006 17:05 In 142 devastatingly stark pages, stuffed with adjectives like "grave and deteriorating," "daunting," and "dire," the Iraq Study Group report is an impassioned plea for bipartisan consensus on the most divisive foreign policy issue of this generation. Only one person - President George W. Bush - can make that happen.

The commissioners - five Democrats and five Republicans - tried to be kind to Bush, adopting his language when they accepted the goal of an Iraq that can "govern, itself, sustain itself and defend itself."

But gone is the administration's talk of Iraq as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Gone is any talk of victory.

Instead, the report forces the president to accept the painful truth that cost Republicans control of Congress: his policy in Iraq is not working, and it the American people do not support it. If Bush embraces the report's blueprint for changing course, he himself will have to reverse course - and meet Democrats more than halfway.

 
  US Losing Iraq War, Admits US Defence Secretary NomineeDecember 05, 2006 10:57 Robert Gates, the Bush administration's choice to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary, today admitted the US was not winning the war in Iraq and warned of the risk of conflagration in the Middle East because of the conflict.
Mr Gates, who was named by President George Bush because of the need for "a pair of fresh eyes" on Iraq, told a Senate confirmation hearing that all "options were on the table" and that developments in Iraq would determine geopolitics for years to come.
  Turkey Objects to US Military Presence in N. IraqDecember 04, 2006 14:02 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan objected to recommendations in a U.S. administration report referring to partial deployment of U.S. troops from central Iraq to the country’s north.

Talking to reporters on the return flight from a one-day official visit to Iran, Erdogan commented that the deployment of U.S. troops in Northern Iraq would be a mistake.


Erdogan was in Teheran discussing a wide range of issues, including natural gas trade, the nuclear issue, Iraq, Lebanon and bilateral relations.



Recalling his meeting with the U.S. President George Bush in Riga, Erdogan said: “The Baker Plan should be waited upon. All resistant groups in Iraq want the United States to pull out. When you look at the number of casualties during the war, you see 3,000 US troops dead and a loss of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis and Shiites. All are Muslim and Iraqi. Turkey and Iran should seek to prevent a Sunni-Shiite conflict. There is a great chance that such a conflict would spread to Lebanon. This risk should be eliminated by resolving the Lebanese crisis immediately.

 
  Manila Court Finds U.S. Marine Guilty Of RapeDecember 04, 2006 11:40 A Philippine court found one of four U.S. Marines guilty of raping a Filipino woman inside a van at a former U.S. navy base last year, sentencing the 21-year-old sailor to life in prison for "bestial acts."

The three other Marines were acquitted on Monday after a seven-month trial, which had prompted small protests against U.S.-Philippine military ties and intense local media interest.

The Philippine government hailed the result but said the verdict would do nothing to harm close relations with the United States, which provides funding, equipment and training to Filipino troops fighting Muslim and communist rebel groups.

"The court is morally convinced that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith committed the crime charged," a clerk said, reading the decision of Judge Benjamin Pozon to a hushed, packed courtroom.

 
  US Report Derides Afghan PoliceDecember 04, 2006 11:37 Afghanistan's police force is incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement duties, a US government report says.
The report blames corruption, illiteracy, low pay, bad equipment, the insurgency and failings in a $1bn training programme.

It comes five years after Afghanistan's former Taleban rulers were driven from power by a US-led coalition.

The report, by the state department and the Pentagon, says long-term assistance and more than $600m a year is needed.

The Afghan government told the BBC it had not seen the report.
  World's Youth Believe 'War On Terror' CounterproductiveDecember 04, 2006 09:09 Young people overwhelmingly believe the US-led "war on terror" is not making the world safer, according to a poll conducted in major cities across the globe.
The survey of youngsters aged 15 - 17, which was conducted for the BBC in New York, Nairobi, Cairo, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, Baghdad, Delhi, Jakarta, Moscow and London, found that only 14% of respondents thought US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan was making the world a safer place, while 71% said it was not. The remaining 15% did not know or declined to answer.

Negative views of the "war on terror" were strongest in Baghdad (98%) and Rio (92%).

Asked if they "would consider taking action that could result in innocent people dying if they felt very strongly about a cause", 17% said they would. The figure was highest in Baghdad (34%), followed by Jakarta (31%) and London (25%).
  Bolton To End Tenure At UN: White HouseDecember 04, 2006 09:06 United Nations -- In what amounts to its first concession to the incoming Democratic majority in the United States Senate, the White House announced today (Monday) that it will abandon attempts to re-appoint John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

U.S. President George W. Bush had hoped to re-install the outspoken official after circumventing the Senate in August 2005, when he named Bolton UN ambassador during a Congressional recess to avoid senatorial opposition at that time.

But although Bolton had won over some who planned to oppose him last year, the new make-up of the Senate virtually assures he would not receive Senate confirmation this time around either.

Without a Senate confirmation for his candidate, Bush could have made a new recess appointment when the term of the current one expires in early January, but Bolton would have had to work for no salary.

 
  Rumsfeld Had Floated Different Options In IraqDecember 02, 2006 23:33 Two days before he resigned as secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld sent a rambling memo to the White House in which he acknowledged that the current U.S. strategy in Iraq was not working and offered several diverging scenarios for reversing course.

In the classified, three-page document, Rumsfeld offered several options for reducing troop presence in Iraq, including some that were similar to proposals by Democratic critics of the war in Iraq and that have been sharply opposed by the Bush administration.

And he suggested one potentially controversial plan of action that had been used in a different form by deposed dictator Saddam Hussein -- paying off "key political and religious leaders" so they would be more compliant with U.S. occupying forces in the war-torn country and its capital, Baghdad.

"In my view it is time for a major adjustment," Rumsfeld wrote in the Nov. 6 memo. "Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough."
  Levin To Push for New Iraq PolicyDecember 01, 2006 10:15 Four years ago, as U.S. lawmakers debated going to war in Iraq, Senator Carl Levin offered a measure that would have forced President George W. Bush to either win United Nations blessing for an invasion or return to Congress for a second vote authorizing force.

The Michigan Democrat's proposal got only 24 votes, not even a majority within his own party, as lawmakers granted Bush open- ended power to launch military action.

Today, Iraq has devolved into a bloody debacle, Bush is reeling from the political fallout -- and Levin, 72, is poised to become his party's most influential figure in the debate over Iraq and other national-security matters as the incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

``I think on a number of issues where I've taken a lead position, it's turned out to be the right position in terms of history,'' Levin said in an interview this week. Those who supported his 2002 Iraq proposal are ``glad they voted for it,'' he said, and many of those who didn't, ``looking back, probably would have liked to have voted for it.''

Levin said he intends to use his new authority to press for a rapid windup of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, even if the country continues to be wracked by violence. He also plans to push hard for greater access to information about the administration's national security policies, and work with Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona to heighten scrutiny of military-spending programs.
  Japan, U.S. Discuss Military Reshuffle PlansDecember 01, 2006 10:13 U.S. and Japanese security officials on Friday discussed plans for a sweeping realignment of American troops that will give Japan greater responsibility for security in Asia and lighten the burden on local communities.

Washington and Tokyo agreed on the realignment — the largest of the 50,000 U.S. troops based in Japan since World War II — in April, but have been bogged down in the details and the cost.

Richard Lawless, U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, met with National Security Adviser Yuriko Koike in Tokyo to discuss how to implement the move.

"It was a very productive discussion," Lawless told reporters following the meeting. "I think we can work very productively and very positively," he said.
  White House Leak Does Dirty Work On Iraq PolicyDecember 01, 2006 10:12 It was proven again this week that, all claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the White House is a vessel that leaks from the top.


While the president was on his way to Jordan for a summit meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, a New York Times reporter was shown a National Security Council document marked "secret." The resulting Times story, headlined "Bush Adviser's Memo Cites Doubts About Iraqi Leader," ricocheted around the world and reshaped the summit. When the history of America's withdrawal from Iraq is written, this episode will merit a chapter all its own.
Let's walk back the cat for a moment. In June, President Bush traveled to Baghdad for his first meeting with the second prime minister of Iraq's new, democratically elected government. The first, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was considered ineffective and disposable. At the time, Bush said that he wanted to look Maliki in the eye and see if America had a reliable partner. Since that meeting, however, events both in Iraq and America have run off the track for both partners.
In Iraq, the security situation has deteriorated so badly that the daily body counts are rising at an astonishing rate. Even the government is at war with itself. At the Ministry of Education, there was a mass kidnapping of Sunni civil servants, followed by the murder of many. The kidnappers wore uniforms of the Iraqi army. In retaliation, the Shiite-run Ministry of Health was attacked a few days later. Caught in the middle are U.S. troops with both sides shooting at them.