Foreign Policy

  Canadians Disappointed With Bush Re-ElectionMarch 30, 2006 16:29 Many Canadian adults regret the outcome of the 2004 United States presidential election, according to a poll by The Strategic Counsel released by CTV and the Globe and Mail. 69 per cent of respondents consider the re-election of Republican George W. Bush as a bad thing.

In November 2004, Bush officially visited Canada for the first time. Ottawa was the site of a mostly peaceful protest with an estimated 5,000 demonstrators. During a press conference, Bush said he wanted to "thank the few Canadians who came out to wave with all five fingers for their hospitality."

The Bush administration has often been publicly critical of some of Canada s policies, especially during the Liberal governments headed by Jean Chr tien and Paul Martin. Canadian soldiers are currently participating in the war on terrorism, but the federal government headed at the time by Chr tien did not back the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. 70 per cent of Canadian respondents say they value and respect the U.S. and its citizens, but disagree fundamentally with their government.

  Guest Worker Plan Okd By Senate PanelMarch 28, 2006 16:41 The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Monday a sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration law that provides a way for the 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the country illegally to become citizens and creates a guest worker program for future immigrants.

The legislation, backed by four Republicans and eight Democrats, goes to the Senate beginning today and sets up a showdown with the House, which last December passed a crackdown on immigration that for the first time would make it a felony to live in the United States without proper documents.

  Iraq On Its OwnMarch 28, 2006 16:33 Last week's announcement that Iraq will now have to pay for its own reconstruction has left some observers wondering whether the country's yet-to-be-formed government will be up to the task.

Iraq's Deputy Finance Minister Kamal Field al-Basri said it was "reasonable" for the United States to sharply cut back its reconstruction efforts after spending about US$21 billion. "We should be very much dependent on ourselves," al-Basri said in an interview with USA Today.

That will prove to be a very tall order. In 2003, the World Bank estimated the total rebuilding cost would be $60 billion. Current estimates put the bill at $70-100 billion. The new estimate comes at a time when little progress has been made in increasing Iraq's oil production - which represents more than 90% of the country's income. Slowed to a near halt by insurgent attacks, Iraq now spends about $6 billion annually to import oil.

  US and ImmigrationMarch 27, 2006 21:56 THERE is no phenomenon more important in shaping American policy, at home or abroad, than the huge tide of immigration rolling in across its borders.
In the home stretch of George W. Bush s presidency, a vast amount of attention is still given to the analysis of his inclinations. As the imminence of his departure begins to drain the interest from that exercise, the same attention will be transferred to Hillary Clinton and John McCain. That is wilfully blind. The scale of immigration that the US is facing is so large that the subject will come to dominate all of its politics.

The past fortnight has given us a taste of the future. Aerial photographs of the sea of people demonstrating in Los Angeles on Saturday suggested the crowd was half a million strong. There were 300,000 in Chicago on March 10, 50,000 in Denver, 20,000 in Phoenix, and 10,000 in Milwaukee.

Their immediate target is the Bill to clamp down on illegal immigration, which the Senate will begin considering today. The House of Representatives has already passed a version that would make it a crime to be in the US illegally; impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants; demand that churches check the legal status of those they help; and put up a security fence along a third of the US-Mexico border.

  Memo's Continue to Show Bush Had Early Interest in Invading IraqMarch 27, 2006 20:41 In the weeks before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second U.N. resolution condemning Iraq, President George W. Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made it clear to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by David Manning, Blair's top foreign policy adviser, and reviewed by The New York Times.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."

Stamped "extremely sensitive," the five-page memorandum, which was circulated among a handful of Blair's most senior aides, had not been made public.

  Senate Struggles To Craft Immigration Reform CompromiseMarch 27, 2006 20:40 The Senate Judiciary Committee today attempted to craft an immigration reform bill that would stave off attempts by the Republican leadership in Congress to punish businesses for hiring undocumented workers.

With clergymen rallying on the steps of the Capitol to protest another bill already passed by the House that could criminalize church aid programs for poor immigrants, President Bush urged fellow Republicans in Congress today to "move beyond the tired choices and harsh rhetoric of the past" in the debating immigration reform.

"No one should play on people's fears, or try to pit neighbors against each other," said Bush, addressing a naturalization ceremony for 30 new citizens from 20 countries. "No one should pretend that immigrants are threats to America's identity, because immigrants have shaped America's identity."

Bush favors a guest-worker program for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers now in the country, and has called for "a civil and dignified" debate.

  Excite News - Britain Helped Cia Capture Two NationalsMarch 27, 2006 00:00 British officials helped the CIA capture two British nationals in Africa who were later taken to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the BBC said Monday, citing secret telegrams it reportedly obtained.

Iraqi-born Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna are alleged to have been associated with al-Qaida through their connection with the London-based radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada. Al-Rawi had lived in Britain since 1985, and el-Banna was granted refugee status in Britain in 2000.

Al-Rawi and el-Banna were arrested several years ago in Gambia while trying to return to Britain with electronic equipment authorities described as suspicious. The men's lawyers claim it was a battery charger.

Their lawyers have said the two men were arrested after British intelligence passed on information about their travel plans to U.S. intelligence.

  Finger pointing at U.S. over Iran SituationMarch 23, 2006 14:36 There is no one to blame for the Iranian nuclear belligerence but the US itself for arming Israel with nukes, as claimed by an Israeli spy last year. In the eyes of the Arabs, this in itself sanctifies and justifies their moves and forces them towards nuclear armaments, by hook or by crook, to achieve an equalizer in the name of self-preservation.

The US, in fact, may cook in its own nuclear fat if it eventually is forced into a nuclear confrontation. The US is inadvertently and indirectly proliferating nuclear arms in the Middle East by arming Israel. If the US wanted Iran not to have nukes, it must dismantle Israeli nukes. If not, no amount of sanctions or superpower pressure will stop the Arabs from defending themselves. If the US wanted to avoid nuclear terrorism, it must do its part in nuclear non-proliferation. Arming an ally and disarming an enemy is a double standard.

  Those war drums have a familiar beat;March 17, 2006 14:28 To paraphrase Ronald Reagan in his 1980 debate with President Jimmy Carter: There they go again.

In this case I'm referring to the Bush administration's just-released update of its National Security Strategy statement. In it, the administration reaffirms its belief in war to stop a nation from acquiring nuclear weapons. The review gives almost no indication that the administration has learned anything from the debacle that has resulted from the invasion of Iraq. There is no recognition of the difficulties that come after the strike - the task of nation building, which has been utterly bungled in Iraq. This is mind-bogglingly bad.

There is also an alarming sense of deja vu in this report when it comes to Iran. Combine the review's defense of preventive war - which it terms "pre-emptive war," though there is an important difference - with the recent warning statement from Vice President Dick Cheney that "we will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," and you can't help but feel that this administration is ready to go to war again, this time against Iran. It was that same combination of a bellicose National Security Review and saber rattling from Cheney that set the stage for the invasion of Iraq.

  Spending Terrorists out of Existence... $65 Billion More for Iraq???March 10, 2006 21:04 Top U.S. officials are asking Congress to give the White House even more money to fight the War on Terror.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are asking lawmakers to pass a $91 billion spending bill to help ongoing efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the rebuilding effort along the Gulf Coast.

However, in Rumsfeld's testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) asks how Iraq "only narrowly missed descending into all-out civil war."

Rumsfeld says, "The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the from a security standpoint have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to."

  Bush Making New Push To Bolster Support For IraqMarch 10, 2006 16:35 Amid rising sectarian violence in Iraq, President George W. Bush will make a new push to bolster support for his Iraq policy in a series of speeches that begin on Monday.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Friday the objective would be to update Americans on "our strategy for victory in Iraq," to talk about progress on the ground and "the lessons we have learned and how we are acting and adapting to fix what was not working."

Bush has been hampered by low public approval ratings caused in part by American dissatisfaction with his handling of the Iraq war.

  Dubai Firm Departs US PortsMarch 09, 2006 21:04 We believe this is a good thing.

Bowing to ferocious opposition in Congress, a Dubai-owned company signaled surrender Thursday in its quest to take over operations at U.S. ports.

"DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity," the firm's top executive, H. Edward Bilkey, said in an announcement that capped weeks of controversy.

Relieved Republicans in Congress said the firm had pledged full divestiture, a decision that one senator said had been approved personally by the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

  Russia-Iran Plan Blocked By U.S.March 07, 2006 18:22 A Russian proposal to allow Iran to enrich a small amount of uranium on its soil has been shot down by U.S. officials, diplomats close to the International Atomic Energy Agency told CNN.

The proposal was floated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is in Washington and is scheduled to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House later Tuesday.

After a meeting with his Canadian counterpart in Ottawa on Monday, Lavrov said a uranium enrichment joint venture between Iran and Russia was still on the table, but would require Tehran returning to a moratorium of its own testing, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

  Mideast Investment Up In U.S.March 07, 2006 13:21 Middle Eastern investment in the United States is once again picking up steam, showing big gains since the tense period following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And while some takeovers are triggering alarm -- most famously, the purchase by a Dubai-owned company of a seaports management firm -- others are evoking warm welcomes.
Spearheading the trend is Dubai's Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktum (popularly known as "Sheik Mo"), ruler of the freewheeling city-state, which is part of the United Arab Emirates. The ports deal is just one of a series of recent purchases by companies he controls.
Other acquisitions include a $1 billion portfolio of 21,000 apartments in U.S. Sun Belt cities; a 2.2 percent stake in the automotive giant DaimlerChrysler AG that cost another $1 billion; and a Manhattan landmark building, 230 Park Ave. The emirate also made major purchases in other countries over the past year, notably a $1.5 billion takeover of Britain's Tussauds Group, which owns the famous waxworks, along with theme parks, roller coasters and other entertainment-oriented businesses.
  Iraq Violence Recasts Views On U.S. PresenceMarch 05, 2006 07:38 The US has triggered a devastating combination of insecurity and tribal warfare in Iraq that leaves even former US enemies begging for help. Can we officially call this a quagmire?
  Bush May Face Fight in Congress Over Nuclear Accord With IndiaMarch 05, 2006 00:00 President George W. Bush returned to Washington from South Asia facing the task of selling the trip's centerpiece -- a nuclear accord with India -- to a Congress increasingly willing to challenge him on foreign policy.

The five-day journey to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan encompassed three of the president's top priorities: the war on terrorism, spreading democracy abroad and expanding U.S. economic opportunities.

The nuclear agreement, which gives India access to U.S. technology and fuel to build up a civilian atomic power industry, touches on all three areas by drawing the U.S. closer to a country that is the world's most populous democracy, a key ally against terrorism and a growing market and competitor for U.S. companies.

  Okinawans Rally In Opposition To Us Military BasesMarch 05, 2006 00:00 Thousands of people have rallied Sunday on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to express continuing opposition to the presence of U.S. military bases there. The event was held just weeks before a base realignment plan, negotiated by Japan and the United States, is to be finalized.

Okinawans on Sunday expressed their feelings about the U.S. military presence here through music, rather than marches.

After singing two anti-war songs, the veteran activist musician-politicianShokichi Kina, who represents Okinawa in the Upper House of Parliament, again took the stage to criticize both Washington and Tokyo for their failure to remove the U.S. military presence from the island.

  Bush says, "U.S.India Trade Will Help Workers"March 03, 2006 18:39 "I will meet with President Musharraf to discuss Pakistan's vital cooperation in the war on terror and our efforts to foster economic and political development so that we can reduce the appeal of radical Islam," Bush said. "I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbor for India and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world."

Later, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that Bush meant to say Pakistan would be a force for freedom and moderation in the Muslim world. Pakistan is not an Arab country.

  Arab Ports Deal Is Delicate Situation For ClintonsMarch 03, 2006 18:15 Former President Clinton coached United Arab Emirates officials on how to handle the Dubai ports controversy two weeks ago but didn't tell his wife about that conversation, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday.
The telephone chat, which took place while President Clinton was traveling in Pakistan last month, ended with the former president advising state-owned Dubai Ports World to submit voluntarily to a 45-day investigation, informed sources said.
That puts Clinton publicly in line with his wife's position that the ports deal could compromise national security, even though his close relationship with Dubai officials is a political embarrassment to New York's junior senator.
  US Military Mulls Whether Iraq Troop Cut PossibleMarch 02, 2006 17:29 A spike in violence in Iraq that has heightened worries about civil war has the Pentagon discussing the wisdom of further cutting American forces there, defense officials said on Wednesday.

Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, said Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, planned to make a recommendation this spring to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush on future U.S. troop levels.

"Spring starts this month. And clearly the commanders will be looking at that (future force levels) and whether or not they'll be recommending any force adjustments to the secretary and the president," Whitman said.

  President Agrees on Illegal Nuclear Sharing Deal with IndiaMarch 02, 2006 16:52 US President George Bush got a victory on his first visit to India, securing a landmark nuclear energy agreement that he said could help ease energy prices. The agreement currently violates US law and the President's next efforts will be at changing the law to allow the deal.

Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the deal, which will open most Indian reactors to international inspections and provide the growing nation with US nuclear technology, during a joint news conference after meeting privately to hammer out details.

The agreement between the world's oldest and largest democracies was a political coup, too, for Singh. "We made history," he said, standing alongside Bush in a sunwashed palace courtyard.

  Thousands Join Indian Anti-Bush ProtestsMarch 01, 2006 17:42 Tens of thousands of Indians have joined demonstrations across the country against the visit by US President George Bush.

Groups representing Muslims, communists and survivors of the Bhopal disaster in 1984 held protests hours before Bush's arrival in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Bush's three-day visit to the world's largest democracy, which is also Asia's third-largest economy, has raised expectations in India as it sheds its socialist baggage and turns to the West to help it become a regional power.

  60% Say U.S. Invasion Increased Terror ThreatMarch 01, 2006 17:20 An unprecedented poll of citizens in 35 countries released Tuesday by the British Broadcasting Corp. found a pervasive belief that the United States-led invasion of Iraq has increased the threat of terror attacks worldwide.

The survey of more than 41,000 people said 60 percent believed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein had actually made terror attacks more likely, while only 12 percent believed the invasion had made the world safer from terror-related atrocities.

The BBC poll also found that 45 percent of the people felt it had been a "mistake" to remove Saddam while only 36 percent thought it had been a good decision to oust the Iraqi dictator.

  Troops Want Out of IraqMarch 01, 2006 17:16 The U.S. should pull out of Iraq "within the next year," said 72% of the 944 U.S. military personnel in Iraq who were surveyed for a LeMoyne University/Zogby International project, which was published today. Just under a quarter - 23% - said U.S. forces should stay "as long as they are needed."

At the Pentagon, spokesman Bryan Whitman told The Financial Times that U.S. personnel in Iraq are not unhappy about the way things are going in Iraq. That conclusion is certainly not born out in our recruiting and retention statistics, he said.

Columnist Nicholas Kristof, who previewed the poll today in The New York Times (available to Times Select subscribers), disagreed. He called the 72% result "one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed."