Category Archives: Foreign Policy
A quick spine check of the Democratic Party has revealed Jell-O once again…
Reprinted fron the Washington Post
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A03
Facing increasing evidence of military progress in Iraq, some Democratic congressional leaders are eyeing a shift in legislative strategy that would abandon a link between $50 billion in additional war funding sought by President Bush to a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Instead, they would tie the measure to political advances by the Iraqi government.
For nearly a year, Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to use war funds to push timelines for troop withdrawals, troop-training requirements, and prescribed periods of rest for weary soldiers and Marines.
Now, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is examining a new approach, releasing war funds in small increments, with further installments tied to specific performance measures for Iraq’s politicians. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also is searching for a new approach and has been briefed on the idea of more explicitly tying funds to political progress.
The new thrust has divided Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, some of whom say they will never approve additional funding for the Iraq war without troop-withdrawal timelines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) remains skeptical, House Democratic leadership sources said, and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has vacillated between seeking compromise with Republicans and holding firmly to troop-withdrawal language.
“We’ve been through all that,” Reid said yesterday of the new approach, suggesting the war-funding issue will wait until January. “I just think we need to figure out some way to fund a government and move on to next year.”
The new approach contains considerable political risks for Democrats. If they choose to adopt realistic measurements of political progress, they would be signaling a willingness to leave U.S. combat troops in Iraq far longer than Democratic voters want, said Michael O’Hanlon, a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution.
None of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination is likely to embrace that, said O’Hanlon, who suspended his ties to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) after he wrote that Bush’s troop buildup was yielding positive results.
On the other hand, the year-long struggle to mandate troop withdrawals shows no sign of progress. War funding will begin running dry by mid-February, leaving Democrats with the choice of withholding money for the war, providing the money without strings attached, or finding a new approach that can win bipartisan support.
The House approved a $50 billion war spending bill last month that would have tied additional funding to a goal of removing all combat troops from Iraq by December 2008, but it fell to a Republican filibuster in the Senate. Bush had promised to veto it anyway.
A separate war funding bill approved in the spring laid out political benchmarks for the Iraqis and demanded that the Bush administration return to Congress in September with an update on progress toward them. It showed that the Iraqi government was woefully short of meeting those goals.
The new approach will get an airing today when USA Todaypublishes an opinion piece by O’Hanlon. He argues that Democrats should receive more credit for the positive changes in Iraq and lays out a fresh set of benchmarks linked to the provision of funds.
O’Hanlon shook up the Iraq debate earlier this year when he co-wrote an opinion piece hailing the progress that has resulted from Bush’s troop buildup. It also suggested that Gen. David H. Petraeus‘s counterinsurgency strategy could stabilize Iraq.
He suggests, for instance, that Congress should judge political progress by how much money the central government in Baghdadis sharing with Iraq’s provinces, and should recognize the ongoing de facto amnesty that Iraq’s government is offering political opponents with the hiring of former insurgents as police officers and soldiers.
Emanuel suggested yesterday that the Bush administration’s diplomatic outreach to Syria, its engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the new intelligence estimate on Iran‘s nuclear capabilities stem in part from the changing political climate brought on by the Democratic Congress.
“Our troops at every step of the way have done an incredible job,” he told reporters. “And at every step of the way, the people that are responsible for a political strategy for Iraq have failed to deliver one. And our views on the funding is that what we need and what we’ve asked for from Day One is a set of benchmarks the Iraqis have to meet for Iraq.”
Business as usual huh? The Democrat’s position and strategy on the war in Iraq has been a disgrace. I am finished with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
Family members were left stunned in Hong Kong on Thursday (November 22) after a Chinese decision denying the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier entry into Hong Kong.
The decision was later reversed by Beijing.
Hundreds of families poured into Hong Kong to greet servicemen from the aircraft carrier and fleet, which holds 8,000 of United States’ servicemen, airman and sailors, only to find out Thursday morning that the carrier would not come port-side.
The Kitty Hawk is not expected to make it back to Hong Kong by the end of the Thanksgiving day in Asia, according to the
U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is home to thousands of U.S. expatriates, with many gathering at midday for special Thanksgiving day service at the city’s oldest church, St. John’s Cathedral. Hong Kong is also a favoured stopping point for U.S. warships in the Pacific region.
There are several issues which may have prompted Beijing’s action, including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $490 million U.S. dollar upgrade to its missile system and last month’s meeting between George Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing considers a traitor.
The State Department and Defense Department said it remained unclear why the aircraft carrier strike group had been denied access at the last moment just as the crew of some 8,000 sailors and airmen were to celebrate the annual US holiday on Thursday.
“At present, it appears the USS Kitty Hawk strike group will not be making a port call in Hong Kong as previously planned as a result of a last minute denial by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.
“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give an explanation for its denial. The United States is pressing the Chinese Foreign Ministry for an explanation and for a reconsideration,” she stated.
A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Commander John Daniels, said, “We don’t know the reason the Chinese have done this.”
It is no secret that China has an array of industrial spies roaming the planet. It freely pirates US technology with no regard for intellectual rights, and has used that technology to cyber attack countries like Germany, blast a satellite out of orbit and demonstrate that it can cripple US defenses if need be.
It was only a few years ago that China could barely make a stable rocket launch. Now the Chinese turned that program around with purchased and stolen American technology.
So why did China bar the Kitty Hawk?
They barred it because they are an aspiring global super power, and they want everyone to know that they could – a demonstration of diplomatic bullying.
China is a quasi capitalist/communist super state that is rapidly expanding with a carefully controlled, state run ideology. The curious thing is, unlike the old Soviet Union, it is working. They believe in what they are doing, because their approach is producing tremendous wealth which conveniently for the Chinese, is driving the world’s fastest growing economy at the expense of U.S. workers. There is no period in history where so much wealth and economic power has been created in such a short period of time. In turn, from that wealth and industrial power, the Chinese are building military might. They are rapidly militarizing, and in a few short years, will be able to control events in Asia, without any interference from the U.S.
Taiwan will become whatever China wants it to be, the U.S. economy will continue to suffer, and the United States will simply have to accept that, because we continue to cow-tow to a country that is run by Communist thugs and continues to ignore international law.
To neutralize, or at the very least, attempt to check this coming military might that China will undoubtedly exploit to its full advantage, the U.S. must begin to respond in kind to such diplomatic slaps in the face. Our current policy of bending but not breaking, in the name of an apparantly failed mutually beneficial economic relationship with the Chinese, must be halted immediately. That is to say, scrap globalism…it isn’t working as intended.
We must begin to rebuild from within, and that includes rigorous education reforms that focus on science and technology including medicine, a wholesale change in our international economic policy with regards to China, and a renewed push in the area of space exploration, as well as advanced defense technologies.
Shoring up what little manufacturing we have left here might not be a bad idea either.
Anything short of this is suicide, and it can be done in as little as twenty years.
More to come on this.
People seem to think Ron Paul has a Jewish problem…and maybe he does.
At an event on September 11, 2007 at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies, Paul argued for withdrawing from the Middle East, telling his audience that “Israel is quite capable of taking care of itself” — though interestingly adding that US policy has “hurt Israel tremendously.” Paul also downplayed the threat Iran poses to Israel, saying that even if Iran does develop nuclear arms, that it would not be a serious danger to Israel.
His subtlety is what bothers me.
Given that Israel is armed as Paul suggests, really doesn’t seem to present a problem…or does it?
Paul’s position towards Israel is not innately anti-Jewish, nor is it necessarily outwardly anti-Israel. In fact, Paul’s position is not particularly uncommon, especially within conservative circles. Pat Buchanan led the charge in March of 2003, writing in The American Conservative that neoconservatives participating in and advising the Bush administration were steering the United States into wars that were not in America’s interests, but rather Israel’s.
Yet, much to his supporters’ dismay, Paul’s willingness to speak out against U.S. policy regarding Israel has effectively made him the sweetheart among those whom Presidential candidates would typically not desire support: white supremacists and anti-semites.
The Internet is filled with data that indicates Ron Paul has become the most popular candidate among right-wing extremists, including white separatists, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists who believe that “the Zionists” were behind 9/11. Among these people are Frank Weltner, creator of the anti-semitic website JewWatch.com, who in a YouTube video, accuses the “Zionist-controlled media” of attacking Paul’s candidacy.
Of course, Congressman Paul cannot be held accountable for the views of his extremist supporters. Yet, he isn’t exactly doing anything to distance himself from them. For instance, when his extremist supporters began providing a substantial amount of campaign funds, his campaign has a habit of not returning the funds.
According to the Lone Star Times, White Nationalists like Don Black have become high profile donors to the Paul campaign. Black, the founder of Stormfront, and one of the most notorious neo-Nazis in America, has personally contributed $500 to Paul’s campaign.
To date, there is no conclusive evidence showing the Paul campaign has returned the money.
Paul’s campaign has no control over who sends them money. However, wouldn’t it make sense that if you do not wish to be identified with neo-Nazism, that you would send the money back?
Paul’s spokesman Jesse Benton told the Lone Star Times back in May:
At this time, I cannot say that we will be rejecting Mr. Black’s contribution, but I will bring the matter to the attention of our campaign director again, and expect some sort of decision to be made in coming days.
I believe any other candidate would unequivocally reject that money as soon as its donor’s identity was known. Why not return the money immediately?
On October 26, nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Medved posted an open letter on TownHall.com that read:
Dear Congressman Paul:
Your Presidential campaign has drawn the enthusiastic support of an imposing collection of Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Holocaust Deniers, 9/11 “Truthers” and other paranoid and discredited conspiracists.
Do you welcome- or repudiate – the support of such factions?
More specifically, your columns have been featured for several years in the American Free Press-a publication of the nation’s leading Holocaust Denier and anti-Semitic agitator, Willis Carto. His book club even recommends works that glorify the Nazi SS, and glowingly describe the “comforts and amenities” provided for inmates of Auschwitz.
Have your columns appeared in the American Free Press with your knowledge and approval?
As a Presidential candidate, will you now disassociate yourself, clearly and publicly, from the poisonous propaganda promoted in such publications?
As a guest on my syndicated radio show, you answered my questions directly and fearlessly.
Will you now answer these pressing questions, and eliminate all associations between your campaign and some of the most loathsome fringe groups in American society?
Along with my listeners (and many of your own supporters), I eagerly await your response.
Respectfully, Michael Medved
Medved received no response to the letter from the Paul campaign.
There is even evidence that suggests Ron Paul is anti-semitic on Shadow Democracy’s comment threads. A person by the name of Eric Dondero, who identifies himself as a former Ron Paul staffer wrote:
Ron Paul, my former boss, is not an explicit Anti-Semite, but he is most certainly anti-Israel and one could make a strong case – outright anti-Jewish.
During my 6-year stint with him, I served as his only Jewish staffer. He regularly touted me as proof against allegations that he wasn’t an Anti-Semite, even one time ordering me to wear Jewish clothing and attend a press conference of his Democrat opponent who was exposing his links to Anti-Semitic groups. I felt used.
(For the record, Ron did not know I was Jewish until I had already been hired.)
Ron and I finally departed ways, partly because I was ashamed to work for such an explicitly anti-Israel advocate.
If you still doubt his anti-Jewish/anti-Israel views, ask yourself this question:
Why is it that when Ron Paul talks about the evils of taxpayer dollars going overseas for foreign aid, he only singles out Israel as a recipient? Why does he never mention the billions we send each year to Egypt for foreign aide? Turkey, the Palestinians, other Nations? Never a peep out of Paul about those dollars. It’s just always the “Jews.”
Eric Dondero, Fmr. Senior Aide
US Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)
In fairness, the comments about Blacks being “fleet-footed” were written for Ron, though published under his name in his Ron Paul Newsletter, by his Top behind the scenes aide Lew Rockwell.
But the other comments about Israel being the most powerful lobby, were definitely Ron Paul’s words. In fact, I’ve heard him say similar comments on numerous occasions, some far more explicit, to private quasi-Anti-Semitic groups… the Jewish comments are very accurate.
Check out Eric Dondero’s website here: http://mainstreamlibertarian.com/_wsn/page5.html
So what are we left with? Is Ron Paul anti-Jew? The facts posted in the article seem to suggest that. How extreme are his views and can the nation take a chance on electing him to find out? His fundraising is on the up-swing and his poll numbers are climbing. Some polls have him as high as 16% in New Hampshire.
I contend that Ron Paul is merely being coy regarding his racism towards Jewish people and indeed, people of color. Couple this with his many other extremist views, as well as massive support among racists of various stripes, and you are left to ask yourself – is this a guy who we should be considering on any level for the Presidency?
Based on this information, I say absolutely not.
At a meeting with reporters last week, President Bush said that “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” These were not the barbs of some neoconservative crank or sidelined politician looking for publicity. This was the president of the United States, invoking the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon.
The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is “like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism.” For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.
Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?
When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear button yet and won’t for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)
In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can’t be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a “residual rationality,” he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history’s greatest mass murderers.
If I had to choose whom to describe as a madman, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il or Ahmadinejad, I do not think there is really any contest. A decade ago Kim Jong Il allowed a famine to kill 2 million of his own people, forcing the others to survive by eating grass, while he imported gallons of expensive French wine. He has sold nuclear technology to other rogue states and threatened his neighbors with test-firings of rockets and missiles. Yet the United States will be participating in international relief efforts to Pyongyang worth billions of dollar.
We’re on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about. The United States government has had no diplomats in Iran for almost 30 years. American officials have barely met with any senior Iranian politicians or officials. We have no contact with the country’s vibrant civil society. Iran is a black hole to us—just as Iraq had become in 2003.
The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan, in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that “the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the final concessions that we asked for.” Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, “looked down and rustled his papers.” No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They’re mad.
Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world. The date, he explained, “is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to ‘the farthest mosque,’ usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world” (my emphasis). This would all be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.
© Newsweek, Inc.
Commentary from MJ “revoltingpawn”…
I had to post this article since felt there has been a lack of common sense and reporting of facts from the media in regards to Iran. Fareed Zakaria you are breath of fresh air on the Iranian situation and I am hoping more people will read this article. My questions are… Are the American people gullible enough to believe another set of lies from the Bush administration as we beat the war drum once again? Will the mainstream media again be a willing accomplice for another possible Bush manufactured war? Let’s hope we have different outcome with Iran then what happened in Iraq.
Next summer’s Olympics will showcase a China as a modern country of skyscrapers, and Western culture. However the government behind this facade, the same government that has built China into what it is, has acheived modernization by imprisoning political activists, restricting religious freedoms, tightly controling the media and Internet, exposing it’s citizens to deadly pollution, unsafe food and consumer products, and violating international trade treaties with the U.S.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), consisting of nine U.S. Senators and nine members of the House, noted Communist Party leaders authorize political and religious persecution “Against persons the Party deems to pose a threat to its supremacy…” and that party “officials wield the legal system as a harsh and deliberately unpredictable weapon…”
Here is their overview…
The Commission observed ongoing human rights abuses and stalled development of the rule of law in China during 2006-2007. The Commission also observed increased repression in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and Tibetan Autonomous areas of China, stepped-up harassment of legal advocates, and increased restrictions on Chinese reporters. In addition, across the areas the Commission monitors, the following general themes emerged: (1) Chinese leaders’ increasing intolerance of citizen activism and greater suppression of information on urgent matters of public concern (including food safety, public health, and environmental emergencies); (2) the instrumental use of law for political purposes; (3) the localization of dispute resolution in order to insulate the center from the backlash of national policy failures; and (4) the influence that China’s linkages with the rest of the world have had on some aspects of its domestic rule of law and human rights development.
With the 2008 Olympic Games only months away, China is is under intense pressure from foreign activists to comply with international standards across a broad spectrum of issues. from the workplace to air quality. The CECC not only cited recent issues including food and product safety, which also affects foreign consumers of Chinese exports, but also complained of “inadequate and inconsistent implementation, corruption and a lack of regulatory incentives.” Moreover, the panel found that the Chinese government discourages consumer organizations and harasses people for reporting problems with consumer products. Environmental reforms have been hampered by uncooperative local authorities and outright suppression of green activists that demand the free flow of information.
Human rights also came under fire by the CECC. Chinese communists continue to detain and imprison democracy activists as well as those attempting to organize workers in labor unions not approved by the government. Police routinely detain people for days without formal charge.
2006 saw a tightening of the screws on religion, with communist officials continuing a “campaign of persecution” against the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Protestant church gatherings that didn’t register with the government were shut down, and Catholics were blocked from contact with the Vatican. Independent clergy were also detained, while Tibetan Buddhists faced greater repression.
Foreign reporters were granted greater freedoms, however Beijing have increased government restrictions on domestic journalists in the interest of preserving order and control before the games. The CECC concluded that, “Developments during 2007 suggests that the prospects for a free press in China remain dim.”
The Internet has also threatened the Communist Party’s monopoly of information.
In response, it has restricted access to many websites and imposed licensing requirements aimed at curbing politically sensitive data, with the goal of tracking and arresting online government critics. Chinese officials also continue to impose prior restraints on publishing, and publication of critical books.
Senator Byron L. Dorgan, the commission’s chairman, said the 360-page study was “sober reading,” a sign that repression is getting worse in China”, despite promises of reform. He called the report a “wake-up call” as well.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington was called for a comment, but officials did not respond to it.
Western journalists know full well what China is really about as do our political and business leaders. The latter choose to ignore human rights abuses in the name of economic expansion on the backs of Chinese peasants, using their belief in the need for a global economy to cleanse their collective conscious.
Our actions and reactions as a nation are unconscionable.
I call for a protest and boycott of the 2008 Olympics in China as an act of solidarity and demonstration of support for Chinese people, who are suffering under the yoke of opressive and deadly Communist rule. For humanity sake, we must take a firm stand.