Foreign Policy

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  What Are U.S. Special Forces Doing In The Saharan Wilderness?February 28, 2006 15:39 Interesting article about the presence of covert US Special Forces in the Saharan desert.
  Bush Demotes India's StatusFebruary 23, 2006 20:11 Is Bush backtracking on his Indian nuclear technology commitments?

On the eve of his visit to South Asia, United States President George W. Bush has demoted India from the ranks of "leading countries with advanced nuclear technology" the phrase used in the July 18, 2005 India-U.S. agreement to those who merely have a "developing nuclear energy programme."

This unilateral reclassification is not a minor issue. For, only countries that have "advanced civilian nuclear energy programmes" will have the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel under Mr. Bush's proposed `Global Nuclear Energy Partnership' of which the India-U.S. deal is "an integral part."

  U.S. military paper warns about losing "war on terror"February 21, 2006 16:20 A U.S. military paper warned about losing the "war on terror" to al-Qaida if "traditional allies prefer accommodation" to the terrorists, The Washington Times reported Monday.

U.S. military planners are worried that "Islamic extremists maybe supported by 12 million Muslims worldwide," the report quoted a27-page briefing made by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff planners as saying.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the document states, "is absolutely committed to his cause. His religious ideology successfully attracts recruits. He has sufficient population base from which to protract the conflict. ... Even support of 1 percentof the Muslim population would equate to over 12 million 'enemies.'"

  US Threatens To Cut Iraq Aid Over Tehran LinksFebruary 20, 2006 18:09 In a bizarre, blunt two-way warning aimed at stemming both ethnic divisions and growing Iranian influence in Iraq, the US Ambassador in Baghdad threatened to cut American aid to the country unless its new government moved away from sectarian agendas.

"Sectarian and ethnic conflict is the fundamental problem in Iraq,"said Zalmay Khalilzad after talks to form a new government again stumbled today over disagreements between Shias, Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

"American taxpayers expect their money to be spent properly. We are not going to invest the resources of the American people into forces run by people who are sectarian."

  U.S. Religious Group Condemns Iraq WarFebruary 19, 2006 17:17 The U.S. Conference for the World Council of Churches condemned the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday for "raining down terror" on helpless Iraqis, and criticized Washington's policies on the environment and poverty.

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," the Conference said in an emotional letter released during the World Council of Churches Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The World Council of Churches represents Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and other Christian churches in more than 100 countries.

  Annan: Shut Guantanamo Prison CampFebruary 19, 2006 17:15 U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is backing a U.N. report calling for the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be closed, saying he hoped it would happen "as soon as is possible."

In a report out Thursday, U.N. experts said the United States should shut the Guantanamo Bay camp "without further delay" and either try the roughly 500 detainees held there or release them.

"There's a lot in the report, and I cannot say that I necessarily agree with everything," Annan said. But he said the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay can't be held "in perpetuity" and need to be "given a chance to explain themselves."

  Fresh U.S. Trade Warning To ChinaFebruary 19, 2006 16:45 A senior US trade official has warned that China could face punitive "trade measures" if it does not adequately open up its market to American firms.
  US Officials Decry Un Report On Guantanamo And Latest Abu Ghraib PicturesFebruary 17, 2006 19:46 U.S. officials have dismissed a United Nations human rights report calling on the United States to either bring to trial or release all detainees in its prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. officials also have deplored acts of Iraqi prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers as shown in a series of newly-released pictures taken more than two years ago at the notorious prison of Abu Ghraib.

Investigators for the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva wrote the report, which concludes the United States is violating the rights of detainees imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay by not bringing them to trial before an independent tribunal. The report says the United States should either bring the detainees to trial or free them.

At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed the report.

  Is the War on Terror Winnable?February 17, 2006 15:54 Are we losing the war on terrorism? Not according to President George W. Bush, who keeps telling us we are making progress in Iraq and in the war on terror. In what turned out to be a case of premature jubilation, the president had declared "major combat operations over." Several analysts whose business is to closely monitor terrorist trends tell us this is hardly the picture they see. Almost three years later, the fighting continues.

What is really worrisome is that we are on completely different galaxies when it comes to understanding the other side's mindset. Mao Zedong wrote in one of his little red books, "The first step in defeating your enemy is to know him." I'm not sure how much we know him. I very much doubt we understand what makes an Iraqi insurgent tick, no pun intended. Or what motivates the anger directed at the West.
  Bush Wants to Spend Another $72 Billion on IraqFebruary 17, 2006 15:49 The Bush administration today asked Congress for $72.4 billion more this year to prosecute the war on terror, according to Pentagon and congressional officials.

The supplemental funding request sent to Congress today includes a total of $65.3 billion for the Defense Department, including about $33.4 billion for operations and maintenance, $15 billion to buy weapons, $5.9 billion to train Iraqi and Afghan troops and $1.9 billion for continued research on devices to counter roadside bombs, the officials said.

  U.N.: Gitmo Detainees Should Be Freed Or TriedFebruary 16, 2006 16:15 The U.S. government should release all enemy combatants it's holding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or try them, the United Nations said Thursday.

Although the authors of the U.N. report declined to visit the military facility to gather information, they did base some of their conclusions on interviews with former detainees and attorneys.

The 54-page report also recommends closing the jail "without further delay."

  U.S. Iraqi Military Strategy Aids Radicals, Critique SaysFebruary 15, 2006 20:51 The United States should rely more on indirect propaganda and allies in the Middle East, because the current military strategy is only helping radical Muslims, according to a West Point critique of U.S. terror policy.

"Direct engagement with the United States has been good for the jihadi movement," said the report by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. military academy. The United States needs to emphasize indirect action more skillfully and extensively, the report said.

Last year, the U.S. Special Operations Command issued $300 million in contracts for three companies to spread pro-American messages without revealing the U.S. connections.

  Galloway Celebrates Final Libel WinFebruary 15, 2006 20:04 British MP George Galloway is celebrating after the Daily Telegraph dropped their appeal of a verdict in which he was awarded a large sum of money surrounding the Telegraph's claim that Galloway profitted oil sales by Saddam Hussein. Galloway has maintained that he has never profitted from, or been involved with, the regime, and no unimpeachable proof of his involvement has been presented.

The decision by the Telegraph to drop their appeal should put another dent in the Republican-led US Senate's attempt to frame Galloway as a corrupt politician. In all likelihood, the Senate's actions were attempts to shield Tony Blair, a key White House ally, from the verbal assaults of a key British opposition MP, Galloway.

  Rice Says Hamas-Led Government Will Not Get US AidFebruary 15, 2006 19:54 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says no U.S. aid will go to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, but the United States will still contribute to humanitarian programs like immunizing children in the Palestinian territories.

In testimony to a Senate committee Wednesday, Rice repeated the U.S. position that Hamas must meet international demands to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.

  Rice To Ask For $75M For Democracy In IranFebruary 15, 2006 19:53 The Spend and Spend Republicans are at it again.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is asking Congress for $75 million in an emergency spending bill to support U.S. efforts to build democracy in Iran, Bush administration officials said Wednesday.

The money, to be included in a supplemental 2006 budget request the White House is expected to send to Congress as early as this week, will be used for radio and satellite television broadcasting and for programs to help Iranians study abroad, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because Rice had not yet announced the request.

  US Deal Said To Let India Expand Nuclear ArmsFebruary 15, 2006 16:53 A landmark new U.S.-India nuclear agreement would enable New Delhi to expand atomic weapons production and encourage Pakistan and China to do likewise, according to critics of the controversial deal.

In analyses to be made public on Wednesday, non-proliferation experts expressed grave concerns about a proposed "separation" plan that would open India's civil nuclear facilities to U.N. inspections, while permitting military facilities to remain off-limits.

  New 2003 'Abu Ghraib Abuse' Images ScreenedFebruary 15, 2006 16:49 Previously unpublished images showing the apparent abuse of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 were broadcast today by an Australian television station.

Still and video images were broadcast on Dateline, a current affairs programme on SBS television, which appeared to show dead Iraqis and detainees being tortured by US troops.

In one piece of footage an Iraqi prisoner was seen slamming his head repeatedly into a metal door. A still image showed a naked detainee with multiple injuries to his buttocks. There was also film of naked male prisoners being forced to masturbate in front of a camera.

  Bush Promises Tougher Stance On Chinese Trade, But May Not DeliverFebruary 14, 2006 19:02 The Bush administration said in a report released today that it would exert more pressure on China to adhere to global free trade rules.

But the report issued by the United States Trade Representative Rob Portman, dubbed a "top-to-bottom review," did not ask for or threaten any specific sanctions against the Chinese, an omission that will not escape the notice of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Washington who have been calling for the administration to take a far tougher line against China particularly as it relates to the value of its currency, the yuan.

  Musharraf Hails US Led War On TerrorFebruary 14, 2006 19:00 Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf stood by his alliance with the US in the war on terror.

He blamed Pakistanis who were harbouring al-Qaida militants for the deaths of women and children in a US missile strike last month.

He also urged US President George W Bush, who is due to visit the subcontinent next month, to help nuclear rivals India and Pakistan settle their bitter dispute over the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.

  Report: US Is Abusing CaptivesFebruary 13, 2006 15:37 A draft United Nations report on the detainees at Guantanamo Bay concludes that the U.S. treatment of them violates their rights to physical and mental health and, in some cases, constitutes torture.

It also urges the United States to close the military prison in Cuba and bring the captives to trial on U.S. territory, charging that Washington s justification for the continued detention is a distortion of international law.

The report, compiled by five U.N. envoys who interviewed former prisoners, detainees lawyers and families, and U.S. officials, is the product of an 18-month investigation ordered by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The team did not have access to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

  Moviegoing Turks Meet New Enemy, And It Is U.SFebruary 13, 2006 00:00 As a friend said... "Perfect..."

Lovely how well we are looking around the world.

  US-Mexico Border Patrol Union Says Needs US Military SupportFebruary 08, 2006 22:52 Speaking before a Congressional Homeland Security committee on Tuesday, the president of the National Border Council TJ Bonner said that it needs US military personnel to take up strategic positions along the US-Mexico border. The National Border Council represents 10,500 Border Patrol Agents.
Bonner told the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Investigations: "If the Mexican military is coming into the United States, our law enforcement agents do not have the training to deal with that. Although Mexico continues to deny that the Mexican military has engaged in incursions into the US and has said they are drug smugglers posing as the Mexican military, the Daily Bulletin reports that Texas officials believe that it may be both.
  Saudi Questions Bush Oil PlanFebruary 08, 2006 18:37 Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Naimi on Tuesday challenged President Bush's call to reduce the nation's dependence on Middle Eastern oil, warning that such talk could discourage further expansion of his country's production capacity.

Responding to the White House's push to replace 75 percent of the oil that steams here from the Middle East with alternative "homegrown" fuels like ethanol, Naimi said the Saudis will have to keep Bush's message in mind when considering whether to boost their production capacity beyond an already-planned expansion.

  Britain Challenges US On Abortion Funds PolicyFebruary 06, 2006 18:03 THE British Government is to defy the United States by giving money for abortion services in developing countries to organisations that have been cut off from American funding.

Nearly 70,000 women and girls died last year because they went to backstreet abortionists. Hundreds of thousands of others suffered serious injuries.

Critics of America's aid policy say some might have lived if the US had not withdrawn funding from clinics that provide safe services, or tell women where to find them.

The "global gag" rule, as it has become known, was imposed by US President George Bush in 2001.

  Bush Told Blair We'Re Going To War, Memo RevealsFebruary 04, 2006 05:56 Tony Blair told President George Bush that he was "solidly" behind US plans to invade Iraq before he sought advice about the invasion's legality and despite the absence of a second UN resolution, according to a new account of the build-up to the war published today.
A memo of a two-hour meeting between the two leaders at the White House on January 31 2003 - nearly two months before the invasion - reveals that Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme.

  Britain Hires GreenspanFebruary 04, 2006 05:55 British Chancellor Gordon Brown has begun assembling what may become his prime ministerial back-up team by appointing Alan Greenspan, the man he has called the greatest economist of his generation, as an adviser.

Dr Greenspan, who retired as chairman of the US Federal Reserve only on Tuesday, agreed to become an honorary adviser to the Treasury. He will offer Mr Brown advice on global economic change.

Although much of their discussion will be by telephone, they will meet regularly on trips to London and Washington.

  Venezuela Eject US Diplomat for SpyingFebruary 04, 2006 05:52 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expelled a US Embassy military attache on Thursday after authorities accused him of espionage for trying to persuade Venezuelan officers to hand over state secrets.

The expulsion aggravated already rocky relations between the United States and the world s No. 5 oil exporter, as Chavez aggressively promotes his socialist revolution to counter US influence in South America. We have decided to declare persona non grata, or as we say here, to throw out of the country, a military officer in the US mission because of espionage, Chavez said during a ceremony to celebrate seven years in power.

We have declared persona non grata US naval Captain John Correa, who must leave the country immediately, he said.

  Bush Urges US Congress To Lift H-1B Visa LimitFebruary 03, 2006 17:22 Making a strong pitch for America to stay competitive in the face of emerging economies such as India and China, President George W Bush has urged the Congress to raise the number of H-1B visas that allow companies to hire foreign workers for scientific and high tech jobs.

"Congress needs to understand that nations like India, China, Japan, Korea and Canada all offer tax incentives that are permanent. In other words, we live in a competitive world. We want to be the leader in this world," Bush said in a speech in Minnesota on Thursday.

To fill vacant jobs in the US, Bush urged the Congress to lift current limit on H-1B visas that allow foreign workers to get jobs in the United States. The Congress in 2005 capped at 65,000 the number of H-1B visas, a third of the 195,000 allowed during the technology boom.

Of course Bush doesn't care that this would undercut a large part of his upper middle class tax base.

  BHP Engaged in Unethical Practices in the Pursuit of OilFebruary 03, 2006 16:27 In the years following the first Gulf War in 1991, BHP's then head of petroleum, Irish-born John O'Connor, found himself in a tricky position on account of the small, but precious, green card in his wallet.

Two of the biggest oil cherries in the world, Iraq and Iran, were official pariahs as far as the US government was concerned. But like almost any non-US oil major, BHP was itching to get a slice of the action, whether it be currying favour with Iraqi oil officials or making progress on grand plans for a gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan.

According to former company insiders, O'Connor's solution was that he didn't want to know. Instead he left the development of new market opportunities in Iraq and Iran for such Middle Eastern enthusiasts as Englishman Norman Davidson Kelly, and Australian Liberal Party blue blood Tom Harley.

  Iraq: 100 British Soldiers DeadFebruary 01, 2006 05:58 Britain suffered its 100th fatality in Iraq on Tuesday after a soldier was killed in an explosion in the southern Basra province, said a ministry of defence spokesperson.

The soldier, whose identity had not been released, was a member of 7th Armoured Brigade and died from his injuries in the blast in Um Qasr. Three other soldiers were injured and were receiving treatment.

The fatality came after another British soldier from the 1st Battalion - The Highlanders - also part of 7th Armoured Brigade - was killed while on patrol in the southeastern Maysan province on Monday.