Foreign Policy

  'War On Terror' Spawns New Patterns Of Enforced DisappearanceAugust 31, 2006 11:17 New patterns of enforced disappearance related to the "war on terror" have emerged in South Asia alongside the long-standing problems in countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka. In all cases, the families of the victims suffer emotionally, socially and financially, said Amnesty International on International Day of the Disappeared.

Amnesty International believes that several hundreds of people have become victims of enforced disappearances in Pakistan in the context of the "war on terror". Whilst many of those have eventually been acknowledged as being held in Guatanamo Bay, others are believed still to be held in Pakistani detention although their precise whereabouts remain unknown. Some people were released after receiving threats not to reveal details about their detention, while others were subsequently criminally charged. In at least one case, the body of a victim of enforced disappearance was found six months after he had been captured. The fate or whereabouts of many others remain unknown

Meanwhile, there are fears that a pattern of enforced disappearance by state agents is re-emerging in Sri Lanka following the introduction of new Emergency Regulations in August 2005 that granted sweeping powers to the security forces. Sixty-two cases of enforced disappearance in the north of the country have been registered by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka over the past year. The Commission is also investigating the status of 183 other individuals who are still missing under unknown circumstances.

"South Asia has a history of enforced disappearances, with tens of thousands of people going missing over past decades in countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is very disappointing to see countries such as Pakistan join in a trend that one would hope would be declining," said Catherine Baber, Deputy Asia Pacific Director at Amnesty International.
  Bush Says U.S. In 'Ideological Struggle'August 31, 2006 11:07 Don't be fooled. These people will say anything. For example, many of 'Saddam's former henchmen' gassed, shot, and mutilated thousands of Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, so I hardly think they're on the same side as Iran.

President Bush on Thursday predicted victory in the war on terror at a time of increasing public anxiety at home, likening the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the fight against Nazis and communists.

With just over two months until Election Day, Bush said opponents of the war in Iraq who are calling for a plan to bring home troops would create a disaster in the Middle East.

"Many of these folks are sincere and they're patriotic but they could be - they could not be more wrong," the president said. "If America were to pull out before Iraq could defend itself, the consequences would be absolutely predictable, and absolutely disastrous. We would be handing Iraq over to our worst enemies - Saddam's former henchmen, armed groups with ties to Iran, and al-Qaida terrorists from all over the world who would suddenly have a base of operations far more valuable than Afghanistan under the Taliban."
  Slaughter Challenges Claims Of Progress In IraqAugust 28, 2006 20:52 Fierce street fighting between Iraqi troops and militiamen loyal to a populist Shiite cleric killed 25 soldiers yesterday, military and hospital sources said.

US aircraft circled over Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, as clashes in which nine civilians were also reported killed continued between troops and Mahdi Army fighters who support the nominally pro-Government cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, witnesses said.

In Baghdad, a suicide car bomber killed 13 policemen and injured 62 other people outside the Interior Ministry in one of the capital's deadliest attacks since US and Iraqi troops began a security clampdown three weeks ago.

Six US soldiers were among more than 60 people killed on Sunday, a challenge to assertions by Iraqi and US officials that their forces were gaining the upper hand.

  Iran Should Name A Street After BushAugust 28, 2006 20:36 Iran should name a street after Bush.

If US President George W. Bush ever found time between biking, jogging, tree-felling, sleeping and ordering around British Prime Minister Tony Blair to read the papers, he may have said "a curse on British intellectuals" or, at least, a more colourful Texan version.

There he was thinking he was a good fairy sprinkling democracy and freedom all over the Middle East, while trying to wrest the region from "evildoers", when the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) puts a major spoke in the wheel.

In a report titled Iran, its neighbours and the regional crises Chatham House's high-profile team of analysts conclude, "Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the Middle East." Oops!

Their reasoning boils down to this: "The wars and continued weaknesses in Afghanistan and Iraq" have strengthened Iran by knocking out two of Iran's major adversaries, the Taliban and Saddam Hussain's Ba'athist regime.
  Hezbollah Winner in Israeli-Lebanon ConflictAugust 23, 2006 14:33 Violence begets... violence!

Leading U.S. military analysts have determined that Hezbollah achieved major gains in its 33-day war with Israel.

The analysts, including some who serve as consultants to the Defense Department, have concluded that Israel's military failed to significantly weaken Hezbollah. They said the military was surprised by Hezbollah's acquisition of and skills in anti-tank missiles and surface-to-surface rockets.

The most far-reaching assessment was issued by retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Hoar. Hoar sent a letter to President George Bush signed by 21 retired military commanders and national security consultants that called for U.S. negotiations with Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran.
  Iran 'The Real Winner' In War On TerrorAugust 23, 2006 08:45 IRAN has been the main winner of the West's war on terror, an influential foreign policy think tank concluded today.

And it warned the extremist Islamic republic could get more powerful rather than less unless the US, UK and their allies tread carefully.

London's Chatham House - one of the world's leading experts on international affairs - said the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had boosted Iran's power.

Eliminating Saddam Hussein and the Taliban had taken out Iran's main regional rivals.
  Bush Administration'S Pushing Of Coca-Cola In India Smacks Of Economic ImperialismAugust 22, 2006 14:00 In the run up to the 2004 election, the George W. Bush presidential campaign received more than $380,000 from the Coca-Cola company and its affiliates. That "investment" of influence seems to be paying off nicely for Coca-Cola today as the Bush Administration is going to bat for the American company which is under fire in India for the pesticide content of its products.

Researchers at India's Center for Science and Environment have repeatedly detected alarmingly high levels of residues in Coca-Cola products sold there, and several Indian states have thoughtfully decided to ban the drinks from public institutions such as schools and government offices. The U.S., in response, is now engaged in a campaign of pro-business bullying that can only be called, "economic imperialism."

In this campaign, the goal of U.S. trade authorities under the Bush Administration is to force India to reinstate the selling of Coca-Cola products to its people, regardless of the pesticide content. The basis for this demand is not founded in science, but rather politics: The products are safe because we say they are!

  2610 US Military Dead in IraqAugust 22, 2006 09:05 As of Monday, Aug. 21, 2006, at least 2,610 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,072 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
  Iran Vows To Pursue Nuclear ProgramAugust 22, 2006 09:02 Iran's supreme mullah vowed yesterday to ignore U.S. threats and forge ahead with a secretive nuclear program, setting the clock ticking on a showdown between Tehran's radical Islamic regime and the United Nations Security Council.

"Arrogant powers, led by the United States, are fearful of [the] progress of Islamic countries," said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's most senior leader. "In the nuclear issue, even though they know Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, they are piling on the pressure to prevent our scientific progress."

Oil prices rose above $72 (U.S.) a barrel after the Iranian statement.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush was quick to denounce Tehran's defiance. "There must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations Security Council," he said, referring to the Islamic republic that, along with North Korea and the former Iraqi regime, he once dubbed the "axis of evil."
  McCain: U.S. Not Winning In IraqAugust 21, 2006 09:56 U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and he still thinks more troops are needed on the ground.

McCain, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2008, appeared Sunday on NBC News' "Meet the Press."

Asked whether the United States was winning the war, McCain said, "I don't think so, but I'm not sure that it's turned into a civil war ... I think it's been well documented now that we didn't have enough (troops) there from the beginning, that we allowed the looting, that we did not have control, particularly ... (in areas such as) the Sunni Triangle, which led to us paying a very heavy price."

McCain said U.S. troops must be able to deal with the insurgency, particularly Shiite militias.
  Bush-Coke-Pepsi Triumvirate Under Fire In IndiaAugust 21, 2006 09:41 The Bush administration is facing fierce criticism across India for backing the Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola companies in their fight with local authorities and consumer groups.

Last week, the two multibillion-dollar soft drink giants were forced to wind up their operations in the state of Kerala over charges of selling substandard products that could pose health risks.

The cola companies are already facing full or partial bans in six other Indian states as a result of a growing nationwide campaign by environmental groups and local communities.

Researchers at the Center for Science and Environment, an independent group, say they have conducted various studies that clearly show pesticide residues in Coca Cola and Pepsi products in India were 24 times higher than European Union standards.

  U.S. Attorney Protects Mexican InvadersAugust 17, 2006 09:16 So this is pretty ridiculous...
I thought I was hallucinating. Two accomplished Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, were convicted by a U.S. court for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, that worked for Mexican drug cartel, I presume, and are facing 20 years to life in prison for doing their job. The smuggler and the main witness in a trial against the agents has been granted by the U.S. Attorney Office full immunity from the prosecution for the crimes he committed, and is already suing the U.S. Border Patrol for five million dollars, which exorbitant amount must include his loss of profit from the sales of illegal drugs he wasn't able to deliver to his American collaborators, I guess. The agents who deserved to be commanded for their superb job of enforcing the American border and the law are headed to jail, instead, and although numerous petitions to pardon them have already been sent to President Bush, I don't expect the Commander in Chief and the main “defender of the American border” to be nearly as merciful in this case as he is for the millions of illegal aliens that gained notoriety for making mockery of the American border and the law.

When I looked into the details of the case and the events that led to agents' convictions, I found the bases on which the charges were brought and the guilty verdict pronounced even more absurd than the outcome of the trial itself. Per Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer (see [1]), Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof said that Ramos and Compean had no business chasing someone in the first place. "It is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing," she said. "The Border Patrol pursuit policy prohibits the [high speed] pursuit of someone." (So, how can one apprehend and intruder, I ask, if they run away as quickly as they can?) "Agents are not allowed to pursue. In order to exceed the speed limit, you have to get supervisor approval, and they did not," Attorney Debra Kanof said, as if breaking the speed limit by the agents was the main thing to worry about when determined, and often violent, foreign criminal that couldn't care less about the posted speed limit made hostile incursion into the U.S. territory. (To make it even more difficult, many state and local law enforcement agencies have been instructed to not interfere with violations of the U.S. border and the immigration laws that, arguably, are federal domain and not within state and local jurisdiction.)

  Ditch Us In Terror War, Say 80% Of BritonsAugust 16, 2006 21:41 A majority of British people wants the Government to adopt an even more "aggressive" foreign policy to combat international terrorism, according to an opinion poll conducted after the arrests of 24 terrorism suspects last week.

However - by a margin of more than five to one - the public wants Tony Blair to split from President George W Bush and either go it alone in the "war on terror", or work more closely with Europe.

Only eight per cent of those questioned by YouGov said Mr Bush and Mr Blair were winning the battle against Muslim fundamentalism.

A majority also wants tougher domestic legislation that would allow police more time to detain suspects while they investigate complex terrorism plots.
  Analysts Say Lieberman Defeat Indicates Iraq Will Be Major Issue In Us ElectionsAugust 09, 2006 12:45 It was only six years ago that Joe Lieberman was Al Gore's vice presidential running mate in the 2000 presidential election.

After three terms in the Senate, Lieberman had built a reputation as one of the leading moderates in the Democratic Party, an advocate for a strong defense and an aggressive approach to the war on terror.

But Lieberman angered liberal Democrats in his home state with his strong support for the war in Iraq and what they perceived as closeness to President Bush.

Larry Sabato directs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

"This is a big deal," said Mr. Sabato. "Rarely do senators lose their own party primaries and it is extremely rare for a national Democrat, who has been the party's vice presidential nominee, to be ousted."

  Iraq Civil War Warning For BlairAugust 03, 2006 15:20 Civil war is a more likely outcome in Iraq than democracy, Britain's outgoing ambassador in Baghdad has warned Tony Blair in a confidential memo.
William Patey, who left the Iraqi capital last week, also predicted the break-up of Iraq along ethnic lines.

He did also say that "the position is not hopeless" - but said it would be "messy" for five to 10 years.

Mr Blair said the violence was designed to put extremists in charge rather than leaders committed to democracy.
  Probe Backs Allegations Against MarinesAugust 02, 2006 22:15 An initial U.S. military probe supports allegations that American Marines deliberately shot 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

The Marine Corps and Navy prosecutors are now reviewing the evidence to determine whether to recommend criminal charges. That decision may be weeks away, and the lawyers may ask investigators to probe further, two officials said.

They discussed the matter on condition they not be identified because the case _ among the most sensational of several involving Iraqi civilian deaths _ has not yet produced charges.