Foreign Policy

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  Clash between US, G8 partners loomsMay 27, 2007 21:44 The prospect looms of a major clash between the US and its G8 partners over global warming, with Washington's view threatening to block agreement at next month's summit of the leading industrial nations.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Saturday criticized the US climate policy in a newspaper interview, saying it "was going to [be] difficult to achieve success" at the June 6 to June 8 session hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has made climate change a priority during Germany's presidency of the G8.

The environmental protection group Greenpeace on Saturday published a leaked document showing that the US had raised serious new objections to a proposed global warming declaration prepared by the German hosts.

It looked to observers as though the objections from the US in the form of amendments had drained the substance from the German statement.

"The United States still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," the document stated.

Washington rejects the idea of setting mandatory emissions targets, as well as language calling for G8 nations to raise overall energy efficiencies by 20 percent by 2020.

Merkel's proposed climate statement calls for limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to 2oC and cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

"The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple `red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to," the US document said.

Sources close to negotiations said the US amendments seek to remove any idea of an urgent problem of climate change requiring a firm international response.

"The preliminary sessions clearly indicate the American desire to minimalize [the draft]," one European diplomatic source said.
  World Bank Crisis Bares Chasm Between Europe, USMay 20, 2007 10:10 The crisis that brought down Paul Wolfowitz from the presidency of the World Bank has laid bare a chasm existing between the United States and European countries since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Wolfowitz (63) was deputy defence secretary and one of the principal architects of the Iraq war in the administration of US President George Bush before he took the helm of the World Bank in June 2005.

Even at that time, European countries opposed to the war felt badly about the choice made by Bush, but resigned themselves and went along with it.

"Wolfowitz's departure may have been justified, but his leaving had more to do with the bureaucracy's resentment of his role in the Iraq war and his internal reform initiatives than about his lapse of ethics," said Ian Vasquez, director of the Centre for Global Liberty and Prosperity at Cato Institute, a Washington think tank.

Wolfowitz himself felt he was a victim of an urge for revenge that fired up some of his opponents.

As early as April 12, when the crisis sparked by charges of favouritism first erupted, he declared to his critics that he did not work for the US government any more and represented only the bank and its 185 members.

 
  GAO Report: More Than $300 Billion Spent On Iraq So FarMay 18, 2007 17:11 A report by the Government Accountability Office says the US has spent more than $$300 billion on military operations in Iraq so far.

The report was released on the same day the White House rejected a war-funding deal from Congressional Democratic leaders, who said they offered to grant the president the authority to waive deadlines for withdrawal.

Democrats also said they suggested they would drop billions of dollars in proposed domestic spending in exchange for the president's acceptance of identifying a withdrawal date. But the president's chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, who rejected the deal, said timelines can't be the basis for funding the troops.

At stake is more than $$90 billion the president says is needed to cover the costs of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan through September.
  House Oks Partial Iraq FundingMay 11, 2007 08:14 The House pushed through its second plan to fund the Iraq war and reshape war policy, approving legislation Thursday night that would provide partial funding for the conflict but hold back most of the money until President Bush reports on the war's progress in July.

Coming only a week after the Democrats' first war-funding bill was vetoed, the House's 221-205 vote defied a fresh veto threat and even opposition from Democrats in the Senate.

"The president has brought us to this point by vetoing the first Iraq Accountability Act and refusing to pay for this war responsibly," declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "He has grown accustomed to the free hand on Iraq he had before Jan. 4. Those days are over."

The final tally came just an hour after anti-war Democrats mustered 171 votes for far tougher legislation that would all but end U.S. military involvement in Iraq within nine months. The 255-171 vote against that measure meant that nowhere close to a majority backed it, but the fact that 169 Democrats and two Republicans voted for it surprised opponents and proponents alike.
  Bush In Accord With Democrats On Trade DealsMay 10, 2007 23:37 The Bush administration reached agreement on Thursday with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other Democrats to attach environmental and worker protections in several pending trade accords, clearing the way for early passage of some pacts and improving prospects for others.

The unusual agreement, which came after weeks of negotiations, would guarantee workers the right to organize, ban child labor and prohibit forced labor in trading-partner countries. It would also require trading partners to enforce environmental laws already on their books and comply with several international environmental agreements.

While the understanding was a victory for Democrats, it also represented a shrewd compromise by the White House. The agreement is the first major bipartisan economic deal to emerge since Democrats took control of Congress in January. It has immediate importance for four countries — Colombia, Panama, Peru and South Korea — that are seeking to enter into trade pacts with the United States.

But officials in Washington predicted that the agreement's effect would go beyond those countries and could be a template for all trade deals, including a possible worldwide accord.

 
  Clinton Announces Effort To Revoke President's War PowersMay 03, 2007 20:23 Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Thursday that she's joining forces with one of the Senate's most skilled parliamentary infighters to try to rescind President Bush's authority to wage war.
Clinton, a New York Democrat seeking her party's presidential nomination, and Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who is the Senate's longest-serving member, said they will seek a vote to rescind the authority Congress granted Bush to use force in Iraq in October 2002. If approved, the measure would require congressional reauthorization for troops to remain in Iraq, Clinton said.

"We're going to force a debate on the whole war," she told reporters outside the Senate chamber. "We want to force the Congress to look at whether the president's authority, which comes from Congress, should be rescinded."

The Bush administration accused Clinton of playing presidential politics.