Foreign Policy

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  5 Lawmakers Arrested Protesting Darfur ViolenceApril 29, 2006 23:12 Five members of Congress were among 11 people arrested during a protest Friday outside the Sudanese Embassy, staged at a critical moment to call attention to genocidal violence in the Darfur region.

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Burlingame), a Holocaust survivor and human rights advocate, was one of the lawmakers who were willingly arrested. Lantos was taken into custody by the U.S. Secret Service along with Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern and John W. Olver of Massachusetts, James P. Moran of Virginia and Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas. Also arrested were six members of religious and humanitarian aid organizations.

The 11 protesters, who face fines on charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, were trying to focus attention on the Sudanese government, which they said had not cooperated with international efforts to stop the killing, attacks and rapes in Darfur.

  Lt. Colonel Charged with Abu Ghraib AbusesApril 29, 2006 17:11 The former head of the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison was charged with abusing detainees and lying to investigators about it, making him the highest- ranking U.S. military officer accused in the prisoner-abuse case.

Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, an Army intelligence officer, was charged with 12 counts under seven articles of military law, including dereliction of duty, cruelty, fraud, making false statements and interfering with an investigation. He was also accused of failing to comply with the guidance of Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez regarding interrogation procedures by using military working dogs.

In late 2003, Jordan abused Iraqi prisoners "by subjecting them to forced nudity and intimidation by military working dogs,'' court documents said.

  US Admits Iraq Is Terror 'Cause'April 29, 2006 17:06 Three years after its invasion of Iraq the US Administration acknowledged yesterday that the war has become “a cause” for Islamic extremists worldwide and there is a risk of the country becoming a safe haven for terrorists hoping to launch fresh attacks on America.

According to CIA data released yesterday, there were 11,111 terrorist incidents last year, killing more than 14,600 non-combatants, including 8,300 in Iraq. Of the 56 American civilians killed by terrorists in 2005, some 47 of them were in Iraq.

The figures in the State Department’s annual report on terror represented a fourfold rise compared with 2004, partly because it has adopted a broader definition of such incidents since having to withdraw data used two years ago on the ground that it was grossly understated. Officials conceded yesterday that the rising violence in Iraq was a factor in last year’s figures, saying that fatalities from terrorism there had “probably doubled”.

  Will High Energy Prices Affect The War On Terror?April 27, 2006 22:11 It's possible, in the increasingly cost-conscious War on Terror, that high gas prices may be just the thing to rein in US reach and activity in the Middle East and beyond. While the Irans and Hugo Chavez's of the world are getting rich, the US taxpayer is being bankrupted by overzealous spending on tanks and hummers.
  Japan Wants U.S. To Explain Military CostApril 27, 2006 18:42 Surprised by the cost, Japan will ask the United States to explain its estimate that Tokyo will pay some $26 billion for the realignment of the U.S. military here, a top government official said Thursday.

U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard Lawless made the estimate on Tuesday, shocking some Japanese officials.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Japan would seek a clarification from Washington. The Lawless comment came days after the two countries agreed that Japan would pay some $6 billion to help move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

"We need to ask the U.S. side which items are included," Abe said. "This amount is not the result of any agreement, and we have not received any request from the U.S. to shoulder this amount."

  US To Return 4 Bases to Japanese ControlApril 26, 2006 14:45 Four U.S. military facilities in southern Japan's Okinawa will be returned to Tokyo by the end of fiscal 2013, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Wednesday, citing government sources.

The plan is to be listed in a final report on the realignment of the U.S. military in Japan, which will be complied early next month, it said.

The facilities are the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, Naha Military Port, Makiminato Service Area in Urasoe and Camp Kuwae in Chatancho. Their combined area is around 880 hectares, accounting for near 4 percent of the total area of U.S. bases in Okinawa, which holds the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan.

American troops have been stationed in Japan since the end of World War II in 1945. Currently, there are about 50,000 U.S troops located in Japan.

  $2.4B Halliburton Pipeline Never BuiltApril 26, 2006 14:43 A no-bid Halliburton project in Iraq could cause nightmares for President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney after the failed project receives front page treatment in Tuesday's New York Times... The article begins by describing an Army Inspector's view of a gargantuan trench which was supposed to be a glimmering achievement in the US rebuilding of Iraq's oil infrastructure.

The project, called the Fatah pipeline crossing, had been a critical element of a $2.4-billion no-bid reconstruction contract that a Halliburton subsidiary had won from the Army in 2003. The spot where about 15 pipelines crossed the Tigris had been the main link between Iraq's rich northern oil fields and the export terminals and refineries that could generate much-needed gasoline, heating fuel, and revenue for Iraqis.

  Europe MPs Damn Secret CIA FlightsApril 26, 2006 14:36 The CIA ran more than 1,000 secret flights into and out of Europe, often flying terror suspects for questioning overseas, a new report has concluded.
The interim European Parliament probe into allegations of "extraordinary rendition" flatly accused the US agency of kidnapping terror suspects.

Air safety regulators revealed flights with irregular flight paths heading to and from European airports from 2001.

The report's author suggested some EU governments knew about the flights.

  US Military To Take Greater Role In 'War On Terror': ReportApril 25, 2006 17:24 Editor's question: How is it possible for the US to take a greater role in the US-led 'War on Terror?' Seems like a non-issue to me...

The US military will take an expanded role in the US global "war on terror" under new plans which the Washington Post said Sunday have been approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The plans call for a significantly expanded role for Special Operations troops in operations to combat terrorism outside of war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said quoting unnamed officials.

A Defense Department spokesman refused to comment on the report Sunday.

The plan, developed over three years by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, Florida, increases military involvement in areas traditionally handled by the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department, the report said.

  Chinese Take Lead In War On TerrorApril 25, 2006 17:20 The US is increasingly being marginalized in the Asian sphere as China's buying power, and political and military supremacy, are gradually asserted.
  Pushed to the Brink: Iran Leader Hints At Exiting Nuke TreatyApril 24, 2006 20:27 Iran ‘s hard-line president said Monday he is thinking about withdrawing from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty if the U.N. atomic agency tries to prevent his country from enriching uranium.

In a rare news conference with foreign journalists, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also predicted the U.N. Security Council U.N. Security Council will not impose sanctions on Iran, which is facing a Friday deadline to halt enrichment because of suspicions it is trying to develop atomic weapons.

The United States, Britain and France maintain Iran also wants enriched uranium for atomic bombs, which would violate its commitments under the treaty. Iran denies the charge, but Washington is pressing fellow members of the Security Council to impose economic sanctions.

  Cleland: Bush Iraq Handling 'Immoral'April 22, 2006 00:00 Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm in the Vietnam War, on Saturday blasted the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq as immoral.

Cleland and retired Gen. Wesley Clark appeared together at the Arkansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the state Capitol as part of a tribute to residents of the state who served in the military. The event was part of the Arkansas Young Democrats state convention, being held at the Arkansas Education Association state headquarters across the street from the Capitol.

Cleland uses a wheelchair to get around, after he was badly injured by a grenade in the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968 during the Vietnam War.

In his remarks, Cleland noted a major difference between the soldiers who served with him in Vietnam and those serving in Iraq -- those in Vietnam were mostly drafted, while the soldiers in Iraq have volunteered to wear a uniform.

"It is immoral to abuse the good nature of our young people, and send them back and back and back (into combat) ... with no strategy to win, and no strategy to end" the war, Cleland said.

  Hu Vows To Cut Trade SurplusApril 21, 2006 15:56 President Hu Jintao moved to ease trade tensions with Washington yesterday, promising George W. Bush further reforms to reduce China's massive trade surplus with the US.
The Chinese leader held talks with Mr Bush at the White House and told reporters afterwards he understood US concerns over the trade imbalance, and acknowledged the thorny issues of piracy of intellectual property rights and access to China's huge markets.

"We have taken measures, and we'll continue to take steps to properly resolve the issues," Mr Hu said. And he promised further reform of China's currency, which Washington says is undervalued and enables Beijing to sell exports to the US and the rest of the world too cheaply.

After announcing last July it would introduce a flexible exchange rate, China has continued to manage the rate tightly, and Washington is making no secret of its disappointment.

  Trade Gap And Currency Top Bush, Hu AgendaApril 20, 2006 16:23 President Bush greeted Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House on Thursday with direct appeals for more help on easing nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea and for easing trade imbalances. Hu promised to work for closer U.S. ties on a host of issues, particularly economic problems.

The South Lawn welcoming ceremony for Hu's first visit as Chinese leader was briefly marred by the screams of a woman critical of Hu. And hundreds of demonstrators massed outside to protest Beijing's human-rights policies.

Reciting a specific list of U.S. concerns, Bush emphasized "the importance of human rights," said that China should do more to make its currency more flexible, and urged those on both sides of the Taiwan Straits "to avoid confrontational or provocative acts."

  Democrats Press Bush To Act As Energy Prices IncreaseApril 20, 2006 03:38 New Jersey's US senators asked President George W. Bush to initiate dispute proceedings against the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries through the World Trade Organization in response to dramatically climbing retail gasoline prices.

The complaint could allege that OPEC members violated the WTO's prohibition of export quotas, Democrats Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez indicated in a press conference at a Fort Lee, NJ, gasoline station.

"This year, you inexplicably made reform of OPEC a condition of Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO, despite the OPEC cartel's harmful impact on the US market," they said in a letter to Bush.

  British Military Families Protest Iraq WarApril 16, 2006 15:50 The parents of British troops on active service in Iraq are to stage an unprecedented protest about the conflict, signalling growing discontent over the conflict in military circles.

They are to lobby Downing Street next week, making Tony Blair the first serving Prime Minister of modern times to be lobbied by military families for the withdrawal of British troops from action overseas.

The protests on 26 April are expected to involve more than 40 close relatives of soldiers posted to Iraq and Afghanistan and relatives of the 103 British personnel killed in Iraq, as well as four Iraq veterans. Among them will be 11 parents and children of men serving or about to be deployed in the Gulf, in Guards regiments, the infantry regiments, special operations forces and airborne units.

  War Talk Lands Bush In CraterApril 16, 2006 15:41 THERE is something unreal about the bellicose statements coming from some sources in the Bush administration towards Iran.
On their face, they make a kind of sense. In terms of pure military force, the US probably could do a great deal of damage to Iran's malevolent attempt to gain nuclear weapons. But so what? The same could have been said about Iraq in 2002.

Yes, the US military did have the capacity to destroy Saddam's regime. And it did so in three weeks. The salient question was and is: what then? It appears that the Bush administration never seriously asked that question in advance of war in Iraq and never made serious plans for the post-invasion period.

I don't think even Donald Rumsfeld is nuts enough not to ask that question this time with respect to Iran. The military option is much more difficult, of course. Iran learnt from Saddam's Iraq and has dispersed its nuclear research and development sites across the country. The US cannot invade and occupy two huge countries at the same time.

  Iraq: Women Were More Respected Under Saddam, Say Women's GroupsApril 13, 2006 21:58 According to the findings of a recent survey by local rights NGOs, women were treated better during the Saddam Hussein era – and their rights were more respected – than they are now.

"We interviewed women in the country and met with local NGOs dealing with gender issues to develop this survey, which asked questions about the quality of women's life and respect for their rights," said Senar Muhammad, president of Baghdad-based NGO Woman Freedom Organisation. "The results show that women are less respected now than they were under the previous regime, while their freedom has been curtailed."

According to the survey, women's basic rights under the Hussein regime were guaranteed in the constitution and – more importantly – respected, with women often occupying important government positions. Now, although their rights are still enshrined in the national constitution, activists complain that, in practice, they have lost almost all of their rights.

  Deaths Of U.S. Soldiers Climb Again In IraqApril 12, 2006 14:46 The death toll for American troops is rising steeply this month, with the military today announcing the deaths of two more soldiers, bringing the number of troops killed this month to at least 33. That figure already surpasses the American military deaths for all of March, and could signal a renewed insurgent offensive against the American presence here.

Wissam al-Okaili/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A bomb hidden in a minibus exploded Tuesday in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, killing three people.
When 31 service members died last month, it was the second lowest monthly death toll of the war for the Americans, and the fifth month in a row of declining fatalities, according to statistics from the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an independent organization.

But deaths have begun to rise quickly. Many of the fatalities this month have taken place in the parched Anbar Province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency. The province was rated "critical" in a confidential report written recently by the American Embassy and the military command in Baghdad.

  Scoop For Sioux Falls Paper: Newt Gingrich Wants U.S. Out Of IraqApril 11, 2006 00:00 The Argus-Leader of Sioux-Falls, S.D. was on the scene Monday to report that Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, had told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave only a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany.

"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during an informal question-and-answer session at the school, according to the newspaper. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."

Gingrich was greeted with a standing ovation when he appeared at the school for the inaugural Edmund Burke Lecture, named after a man who is often called the father of modern conservatism.

"We are at one of those great intersections in history when we as a people are going to have to have a great conversation with each other," Gingrich said.

  President's Poll Numbers Scrape Bottom on WarApril 11, 2006 00:00 President Bush will give another war on terror speech today, with his poll numbers for handling the war at an all-time low.

The president speaks to a Johns Hopkins University crowd in Washington, a day after the third anniversary of Baghdad's fall.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll shows just 40 percent approval for his handling of the war on terror. The number dips to 35 percent for his handling of Iraq.

  UN Looks For Us Backing For Human Rights Council Despite Election DecisionApril 09, 2006 16:14 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said he hoped the United States would continue to play an active role in defending universal human rights and support the new Human Rights Council, despite its decision not to take part in next month’s elections for the body that replaces the much-criticized Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Annan’s spokesman told reporters that the Secretary-General was “disappointed” by the US decision but said he hoped that Washington would take part in elections for the 47-member Council next year, a move that General Assembly President Jan Eliasson said the US was already considering.

In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Eliasson welcomed confirmation that the United States would “work cooperatively to make the Council as strong and as effective as possible, and that it will support and fund the Council.”

  German Lawmakers Begin Probe Into Iraq Spying, Cia RenditionsApril 09, 2006 16:13 A German parliamentary committee began work on a full probe into the role of German spies in the Iraq war and the country's alleged involvement in the CIA rendition of terror suspects.

Its main task is to answer questions from three opposition parties unhappy with an internal government inquiry that cleared the German intelligence services of any wrongdoing in supplying information to the United States during the invasion of Iraq.

Germany, under the then government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, was officially opposed to the war.

  Chavez Threatens To Expel U.S. AmbassadorApril 09, 2006 00:00 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the U.S. ambassador was "provoking the Venezuelan people" and threatened Sunday to expel the American diplomat, whose convoy was chased by pro-government protesters.

"I'm going to throw you out of Venezuela if you continue provoking the Venezuelan people," Chavez said in a nationally televised speech addressed to U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield.

“Start packing your bags Mister, if you keep on provoking us, start packing your bags, because I’ll kick you out of here,” Chavez said in the speech, part of his regular Sunday television program.

  U.S. Steps Up War Plans For IranApril 09, 2006 00:00 The Bush administration is studying options for military strikes against Iran as part of a broader strategy of coercive diplomacy to pressure Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear development program, according to U.S. officials and independent analysts.

No attack appears likely in the short term, and many specialists inside and outside the U.S. government harbor serious doubts about whether an armed response would be effective. But administration officials are preparing for it as a possible option and using the threat "to convince them this is more and more serious," as a senior official put it.

According to current and former officials, Pentagon and CIA planners have been exploring possible targets, such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan.

  Immigration Overhaul Obstacle May Be FatalApril 07, 2006 21:50 Landmark legislation offering eventual citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants suffered a potentially fatal blow Friday in the Senate, the latest in a series of election-year setbacks for President Bush and the Republicans who control Congress.

"Politics got ahead of policy on this," lamented Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. an evenhanded assessment that belied the partisan recriminations from all sides.

Hailed as a bipartisan breakthrough less than 24 hours earlier, the bill fell victim to internal disputes in both parties as well as to bewildering political maneuvering. On the key vote, only 38 senators, all Democrats, lined up in support. That was 22 short of the 60 needed, and left the legislation in limbo as lawmakers left the Capitol for a two-week break.

Supporters of the measure expressed hope for its resurrection, particularly with large public demonstrations planned over the next several days. "We have an agreement. It's not going away," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who earlier had estimated more than 60 senators favor the measure. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pledged to have legislation ready for debate in the Senate within two weeks of the lawmakers' return.

  Bush Admits Mistakes in IraqApril 07, 2006 21:49 President George W. Bush admitted on Thursday the U.S. military made mistakes in Iraq but defended his domestic eavesdropping program, insisting to a hostile questioner he had no reason to apologize for it.

Beset by low approval ratings dragged down by pessimism over Iraq, Bush also signaled impatience with Iraqi leaders and urged them to break their deadlock and form a national unity government seen as crucial to averting sectarian civil war.

Trying to rally sagging U.S. support for the war, Bush went to a Republican Southern stronghold for the latest in a series of speeches meant to convince an increasingly skeptical public that he has a winning strategy in Iraq.

In some of his frankest language so far, Bush responded to a question on what he could have done differently in Iraq by acknowledging the United States could have moved faster in training Iraqi troops and police.

  U.S. Attitude To Hamas Mirrors NicaraguaApril 06, 2006 04:42 What is currently transpiring in the Occupied Territories is by far a worst-case scenario, ironically one made possible with the direct help of many Palestinians themselves. The democratically elected Palestinian government is now officially isolated, as many Palestinians cannot see beyond their own narrow -- and frankly irrelevant -- ideological differences and immaterial factionalism.

Others cannot resist their total reliance on foreign, mostly European funds to run their mostly self-exalting NGOs, whose tangible contribution to Palestinian life is still disputed.

The final outcome is that turning Palestine into another Nicaragua is working. That was the intent from the moment Hamas was declared victorious in the Parliamentary Elections last January. U.S. mainstream media conveyed the over-all feeling that an utter miscalculation in U.S. foreign policy took place. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice charged back, leading a campaign of defamation and coercion aimed at politically and financially isolating the democratically elected Palestinian legislators, further solidifying with the former corrupt political elite.

  Dna - World - Rice Seeks Congress' Support For N-DealApril 05, 2006 16:59 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has appeared before the US Congress to promote the illegal, civilian nuclear technology sharing agreement that President Bush wants with India. On the surface, the deal proposes to help India reduce its dependence on foreign oil. In reality, the deal is one more such tool that the Conservative Bush administration is using to drive instability into foreign politics.
  US To Fly Solo In War On Terror?April 04, 2006 14:56 Even the Right seems nervous about the position of the US in international politics...

With Tony Blair’s days coming to an end and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi trailing in the Italian polls, America could soon find itself without a significant European ally. Both men look to be replaced with men unfriendly to America. The American Thinker is not optimistic about the outlook.

  Bush, Blair Had No Evidence Of Iraq WmdsApril 03, 2006 15:43 Interview and discussion about the lead up on intelligence and predetermination going into the Iraq war.
  India Nuclear Deal: Hurdles Before Congressional ApprovalApril 03, 2006 15:40 The US-India civilian nuclear deal, seeking Congressional approval in the President Bush administration, has almost been cold-shouldered by some lawmakers, many of whom feel more amendments need to be incorporated before it being ratified.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times Sunday, some of the amendments that the Congress might seek are to get assurances that India will vigorously enforce its export controls on nuclear technology.

But India, which is building a nuclear arsenal in part as protection against China, has signaled that an attempt to impose such limits "would be a deal breaker", the Times report said.

If Congress doesn't act before the summer recess, the administration could face a tougher challenge because of the difficulty of pushing through such a controversial agreement just before a mid-term Congressional election. Then the deal, which aides consider one of the most important accomplishments of the Bush presidency, could be put on hold until next year, the Times said.

  Venezuela Training Civilians For Militias against US InvasionApril 03, 2006 15:33 Now we do believe that Chavez is taking advantage of a mythical enemy to keep his people confused... much like Bush and his buddies are doing in the US, UK, and Italy. Read on...

The women, some trembling, grasped the assault rifles handed to them and awkwardly lowered themselves spread-eagled into sniper positions as they took aim and fired at white targets in the distance.

These women - jeans-and-sneaker clad homemakers and students - are the unlikely heart of a new civilian militia being trained as President Hugo Chavez warns his country must be ready for a "war of resistance" against the United States.

"Those who come here have never fired a shot in their lives," said Lt. Col. Rafael Angel Faria Villalobos, who led training for the Territorial Guard volunteers Saturday in Charallave, west of Caracas.