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LIVNI, KADIMA AND CHRISTMAS TIMES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 29, 2008

 

 

LIVNI, KADIMA AND CHRISTMAS TIME

 

CHARGE BY DAVE BROWN – © Copyright 2008 – All Rights Reserved

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

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Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

NATIONAL GUARD UNIT DEPLOYING TO AFGHANISTAN – 174TH AIR DEFENSE ARTILLERY BRIGADE TO TRAIN COUNTRY’S ARMY (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008 9:46 PM

by Marla Matzer Rose – The Columbus Dispatch

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

IS WAR A SOLUTION TO GLOBAL RECESSION? (India)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

26 Dec 2008, 18:45 hrs IST

by Mandar Nimkar & Saikat Das

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (MILF) SPURNS COMMUNISTS’ OVERTURE (Philippines)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

December 27, 2008 01:45:00

by Jeoffrey Maitem – Mindanao Bureau

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER – SOUTHERN CAMPAIGN BLOG’ (Philippines)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER – SOUTHERN CAMPAIGN BLOG’ (Philippines)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

U.S. WARNING ON SOUTH ASIA TENSION – THE UNITED STATES HAS URGED INDIA AND PAKISTAN TO AVOID UNNECESSARILY RAISING TENSION AMID REPORTS OF TROOP MOVEMENTS TO THE BORDER

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

20:10 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

BBC News

PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

PHILIPPINES COMMUNISTS MARK 40TH

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

10:47 GMT, Friday, 26 December 2008

by Vaudine England – BBC News

PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, INTERNATIONAL, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY | Leave a Comment »

MR. BEARBULL – BUSH BOOTED OUT OF IRAN

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 24, 2008

06:34:00 12/23/2008

by Ron Nathan – Philippine Daily Inquirer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

BRAZIL TO BOOST TROOPS IN AMAZON, REBUILD WEAPONS INDUSTRY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 22, 2008

10:17 PM EST – December 18, 2008

by Marco Sibaja – Associated Press Writer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HARTFORD COURANT’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HARTFORD COURANT’ (USA)

Posted in A QUESTÃO AGRÁRIA, AC, AM, AS FORÇAS ARMADAS, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, DEFESA DO MEIO AMBIENTE - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, INTERNATIONAL, NATIVE PEOPLES, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, RECESSION, RO, RR, THE ARMS INDUSTRY | Leave a Comment »

SARKOZY TO SIGN ARMS DEAL IN BRAZIL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 22, 2008

December 20, 2008

by Stan Lehman – The Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘TOPIX.NET’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘TOPIX.NET’ (USA)

Posted in A PRESIDÊNCIA, AS FORÇAS ARMADAS, BRASIL, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, LUIS INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, MILITARY CONTRACTS, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RELAÇÕES COMERCIAIS INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

NO RECESSION IN U.S. ARMS TRADE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 20, 2008

12/10/2008 11:19:00 PM MST

Denver Post Wire Report

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DENVER POST’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DENVER POST’ (USA)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: MURR EXTRACTS PROMISED GIFT OF 10 FIGHTER-BOMBERS – MIG-29S WOULD SUBSTANTIALLY BOOST POWER OF LEBANESE AIR FORCE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

by Nicholas Kimbrell – Daily Star staff

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LEBANON, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

RUSSIA WARNS WEST NOT TO MEDDLE IN EX-SOVIET UNION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 11, 2008

December 11, 2008

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia’s foreign minister warned the West on Wednesday against meddling in its backyard, saying the U.S. and Sergey LavrovEuropean countries must not advance their interests in the former Soviet Union at Russia’s expense.

Sergey Lavrov told a group of foreign business leaders that Russia has no monopoly on relations with neighboring former Soviet republics, and said Moscow understands that the United States and European Union have legitimate interests in the region.

But, he said, the U.S. and EU must forge relations with former Soviet republics “through legal, understandable and transparent methods,” Lavrov said. “Behind-the-scenes meddling only creates a crisis situation. One must respect the people of these nations and give them the right to choose their own fate.”

Already long-deteriorating ties between Moscow and the West were badly damaged by Russia’s August war with Georgia, a small ex-Soviet republic that has enjoyed strong U.S. backing and is seeking NATO membership.

Lavrov gave no examples of alleged meddling. But the U.S. and Europe have been courting ex-Soviet republics as they vie with Russia for access to Central Asian and Caspian Sea energy resources and seek ties with nations close to sources of concern such as Iran and Afghanistan.

Also, Russian leaders have suggested the U.S. encouraged Georgia to launch an offensive that sparked the five-day war, and say Washington has pressed to bring Ukraine closer to NATO despite significant opposition among its people.

Lavrov stressed Russia’s opposition to U.S. missile defense plans and NATO expansion but indicated that Russia is eager for improved ties with the U.S. He suggested that it would be up to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama to make the first move.

“We are counting on the future administration of Barack Obama to confirm what he is now saying about the need to cooperate with Russia in fighting common threats — international terrorism and weapons proliferation,” Lavrov said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘TEHRAN TIMES’ (Iran)

Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, GEORGIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, UKRAINE, USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

U.S. ARMS SALES UNDERMINE HUMAN RIGHTS, GROUP SAYS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Dec. 10, 2008, 1:31PM

by Barry Schweid – Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. arms trade is booming — sales reached $32 billion last year — and more than half of the purchasers in the developing world are either undemocratic governments or regimes that engaged in human rights abuses, a private think tank reported today.

Timed to the 60th anniversary of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the report by the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan policy institute, named 13 of the top 25 arms purchasers in the developing world as either undemocratic or engaged in major human rights abuses.

The 13 listed in the report were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Yemen and Tunisia.

Sales to these countries totaled more than $16.2 billion over 2006 and 2007.

The total “contrasts sharply with the Bush administration’s pro-democracy rhetoric,” the report said.

Also, the report said that 20 of the 27 nations engaged in major armed conflicts were receiving weapons and training from the United States.

“U.S. arms transfers are undermining human rights, weakening democracy and fueling conflict around the world,” the report said.

William D. Hartung, the lead author of the report, said, “The United States cannot demand respect for human rights and arm human rights abusers at the same time.”

U.S. arms sales grew to $32 billion in 2007, more than three times the level when President Bush took office in 2001, the report said.

The United States is the world’s largest arms supplier. U.S. exports range from combat aircraft to Pakistan, Morocco, Greece, Romania and Chile to small arms and light weapons to the Philippines, Egypt and Georgia.

In 2006 and 2007, the United States sold weapons to more than 174 states and territories.At the beginning of the Bush administration there were 123 arms clients, the report said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

Posted in BAHRAIN, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EGYPT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FORMOSA - TAIWAN, GEORGIA, GREECE, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, ISLAMIC BANKS, ISRAEL, JORDAN, KUWAIT, MILITARY CONTRACTS, MOROCCO, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PHILIPPINES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, ROMANIA, SAUDI ARABIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, YEMEN | Leave a Comment »

NO POLITICAL CONDITIONS ON RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES FOR LEBANON – Officials: ‘There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army’

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

by Andrew Wander – Daily Star staff

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

BEIRUT: Russia will not attach political conditions to any future supplies of military hardware to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), senior defense officials said over the weekend. Speaking after a meeting on Saturday with Mikhail Dimitriev, Russia’s military co-operation chief, Defense Minister Elias Murr said: “There are no obstacles in terms of equipping the army. We prepared for my visit to Russia next week.”

Murr said the path was clear for discussing with his Russian counterpart in Moscow “what could be provided to the LAF.”

A senior Defense Ministry source told The Daily Star the types of weapons that could be supplied have not yet been discussed, but insisted there would be “no political conditions” attached to any arms deals between Russia and Lebanon.

The source said LAF commanders are currently deciding what weapons they would like to obtain from Russia, and said they will meet with Murr before his trip to Moscow, scheduled for December 15, to make him aware of their requests.

Speaking on Saturday, Dimitriev said Russia is keen to encourage regional stability and considers “it very important to see a strong LAF.”

He said that Moscow wishes to “provide a new pulse to our bilateral relations in the military and technical field.”

Dimitriev also met with parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri, whose own visit to Russia in mid-November sparked controversy. Hariri was reported by Russian media to have offered Lebanese recognition for the Russian-backed breakaway Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Hariri as saying that US support to the LAF was limited to light weapons and that Lebanon needed a supplier of more powerful military hardware, including “tanks and artillery.”

The US says it is seeking to bolster Lebanese state forces so that they can establish their authority throughout Lebanon’s territory. Washington considers Hizbullah, which has a strong presence in parts of the country, a “terrorist organization” and believes the best way to undermine it is to build up the power of central state authority.

The Pentagon insists that policy is designed to strengthen the LAF within the country, not to create a “juggernaut” that could challenge regional stability. In particular, Washington does not supply weapons that would challenge Israel’s “qualitative edge” in military hardware, a Pentagon official said last week.

Lebanon is courting several potential arms suppliers apart from the US. Last week, President Michel Sleiman asked the German defense minister, Franz Josef Jung, for alternative tanks but German officials have said the request is unlikely to be granted because of a national law preventing the sales of arms to conflict zones.

On a trip to Iran at the end of November, Sleiman was reported to have struck a deal with defense officials in Tehran that could involve the supply of medium-range rockets and other heavy weapons to the LAF.

Murr is expected to visit Syria soon to discuss defense issues. His trip will come after Jean Kahwaji, the commander of the LAF, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus to discuss military co-operation, but unlike Kahwaji’s trip, Murr said an agenda would be agreed on in advance and submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

Analysts say that the current round of LAF rearmament is the most substantial since the 1980s, and that the range of potential suppliers demonstrates the fine balance of power in the region.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LEBANON, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

IRAN TESTS NEW MISSILE FROM WARSHIP: REPORTS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Sun Dec 7, 1:52 am ET

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari, writing by Edmund Blair

PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’ (USA)

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s military test-fired a new surface-to-surface missile from a warship as part of exercises along a strategic shipping route, state media reported on Sunday.

Iran launched six days of naval war games on Tuesday in the Sea of Oman and the Gulf region amid tension with the United States and Israel, which have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end a row over Tehran’s nuclear work.

Iran has said that, if pushed, it could close the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf and through which about 40 percent of the world’s traded oil passes.

“The surface-to-surface Nasr-2 missile was tested in the (Sea of) Oman operational region,” state radio reported, adding that the test took place on Saturday.

“The Nasr-2 was fired from a warship and hit its target at a distance of 30 km (19 miles) and destroyed it,” the official news agency IRNA said, adding it was the first test of the new, medium-range missile.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear warheads, a charge Tehran denies. It insists that it wants to master nuclear technology to generate electricity so that it can export more of its huge oil and gas reserves.

Washington, which has its navy Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf Arab state of Bahrain, has pledged to keep shipping lanes open. Experts say Iran’s navy would be no match for U.S. technology but could still create havoc in the waterway.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘YAHOO NEWS’ (USA)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR EXERCISES | Leave a Comment »

INDIA-RUSSIA NUCLEAR DEAL SIGNED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Friday, 5 December 2008, 11:35 GMT

FOLHA ONLINE

PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a key deal to build four nuclear power plants in India.

President Medvedev signed the accord in the Indian capital, Delhi, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The deal follows the landmark civilian nuclear accord between India and United States earlier this year.

In September, the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted a ban that had stopped India from getting access to the global nuclear market.

The Russian agreement is part of a series of deals, including ones on space and defence sales.

Third country

Russia will now build four nuclear energy reactors at Kudankulam in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Russia is already building two other reactors at the Kudankulam site.

Russia becomes the third country to sign a nuclear deal with India after the signing of the India-US agreement which allows India access to civilian nuclear technology and fuel.

France has also signed a co-operation pact with Delhi.

Moscow and Delhi also signed a deal under which Russia will assist India in its space programme, including sending Indian astronauts into space.

And India will buy 80 military helicopters from Russia, cementing a relationship that dates back to the Cold War.

President Medvedev also pledged to support India’s fight against terrorism following last week’s Mumbai attacks.

The Russian president is on a three-day visit. On his arrival in Delhi, he was welcomed with a full military salute at the presidential palace.

Later, he visited the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation.

India and Russia have been traditional allies and around 70% of India’s military hardware comes from Russia.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NUCLEAR ENERGY, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA | 1 Comment »

ARMS SALES AND THE FUTURE OF U.S.-TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

November 24, 2008 05:01 PM – Age: 13 days

by Jau-shieh Joseph Wu

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION’ (USA)

Publication: China Brief Volume: 8 Issue: 22

Category: China Brief, Featured, Military/Security, China and the Asia-Pacific

The outgoing Bush Administration made an 11th hour decision to notify the U.S. Congress on GEORGE WALKER BUSHOctober 3—a day before Congress went into recess ahead of the groundbreaking November presidential election in the United States—that a raft of arms and weapons systems, which have been effectively frozen since December 2007, will be released for Taiwan. The passage of the arms package provided a temporary reprieve for Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, whose approval rating since assuming office in May has plummeted to 23.6 percent in October (Global View, November 2008). The items released by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, at the value of $6.4 billion, includes: 182 Javelin anti-tank missile; 30 Apache helicopters; four PAC-3 anti-missile batteries; 32 submarine-launched Harpoon missiles; and four E-2T radar plane upgrades. But more noticeable than the items released is the absence of the first phase of 8 diesel-powered submarines, Black Hawk helicopters, and two additional PAC-3 batteries that had been originally sought (United Daily News [Taiwan], October 5, 2008; Defense News, October 6). Taipei also requested 66 F-16 C/D jet fighters to add to its current inventory, but the Bush Administration has not received the letter of request for the reason that it would only process the above-mentioned package at the current stage.

The passage of the arms package was received with a sigh of relief in Taipei, which is concerned about the island’s strained relations with the United States,and, had a decision lapsed to the next U.S. president, weary that the package would be approved at all. As expected, Beijing complained bitterly and suspended unspecified military exchange programs with the United States (United Daily News, October 8, 2008), but overall the sale did not upset Sino-U.S. relations, nor did it interrupt the momentum of reconciliatory gestures between the Kuomintang (KMT), the ruling party on Taiwan, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, the scaling-down of the arms package signifies subtle changes in the geopolitical landscape in East Asia, where the shifting center of gravity may affect the long-term interests of the United States and its relations with the nations in the region.

Arms Sale and Taiwan’s Defense

Although the items approved only represent a fraction of Taiwan’s request and the value is half of what was originally sought, the package nonetheless improves Taiwan’s defense capability and reduces Taiwan’s widening military disparity vis-à-vis China. However, China’s military is rapidly modernizing, with its military defense budget has increased by double digit for more than 15 years while Taiwan’s defense budget has remained low. Therefore, the arms package will be unable to offset the strategic changes in the depth projection of China’s military in the region and encirclement of Taiwan’s sovereignty. Among Taiwan’s most cited threats is the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) deployment of more than 1,000-1,400 short-ranged ballistic missiles (SRBM), which have increased at the rate of 100 per year since 2001. These missiles have been aimed at Taiwan from six missile bases in Lepin, Santow, Fuzhou, Longtien, Huian, and Zhangzhou, spanning three southeastern coastal provinces of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Fujian [1] (Liberty Times [Taiwan], March 30, 2008). In addition, China has also acquired an estimated 50 advanced submarines, which is more than what military analysts state the PLA needs to blockade the Taiwan Strait. The PLA has also engaged in military exercises and deployments designed to sharpen its defensive capabilities so that even with limited offensive capabilities, China would be able to subdue Taiwan’s defenses in a limited amount of time by denying the access of other maritime powers that may come to Taiwan’s defense [2]. Furthermore, China has—in recent years—ratcheted up its computer-hacking activities against the Taiwanese government’s national security-related agencies and has stolen countless sensitive materials (United Daily News, April 8, 2007), so much so that some Taiwanese security officials describe that a “silent war” has already begun.

Friction between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the CCP in the Taiwan Strait was to be expected for two parties whose visions for Taiwan and its relationship with China are diametrically opposed. That the result of Taiwan’s presidential election on March 22 was embraced by the embattled U.S. leadership came as no surprise. The KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou appears more conciliatory toward China than his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian of the DPP. Chen stoked tensions in cross-Strait relations prior to the election by advocating that Taiwan join the United Nations as a new member, promoted a national referendum on the issue during the recent presidential election. These tensions have since eased following President Ma’s inauguration. Bush Administration officials—in pubic and in private—conveyed satisfaction to see Taiwan’s KMT government and the CCP re-engaged in cross-Strait dialogue, particularly the resumption of the Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF) – Association for the Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) channel, severed by the CCP after former President Lee Teng-hui stated in a major policy speech in 1999 that Taiwan-China relations are “special state-to-state relations.”

Cross-Strait Politics and China’s Legal Warfare against Taiwan

From November 3 to 7, the head of ARATS, Chen Yunlin, serving as China’s special envoy to Taiwan, participated in an unprecedented visit to Taiwan to negotiate cross-Strait aviation, shipping, and food safety agreements. Chen Yunlin’s visit has attracted international attention on the warming relations between a democratic Taiwan and an authoritarian China, and also on a deepening divide in Taiwanese society.

A closer examination of ongoing cross-Strait shuttle diplomacy between the KMT and CCP, and public announcements made by President Ma raises legitimate questions about whether the current trend is in Taiwan’s national interest or for that matter U.S. long-term security interest.

The issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty has always been the focal point of cross-Strait tension, since the PRC claims that Taiwan is a part of China under its interpretation of the “one-China principle.” The Chinese government has engaged in what some analysts call a diplomatic “full-court press,” using a carrot and stick strategy in the form of financial and monetary incentives, to legalize the “one-China principle” in major international organizations and thereby legitimize its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan (Javno, November 16, 2007).

The first such step came in May 2005, when the Chinese government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the World Health Organization (WHO) Secretariat requiring the WHO to seek Chinese approval before Taiwan, under the name “Taiwan, China,” could participate in any WHO-related activities. The second came in the United Nations, which in March 28, 2007, issued a letter from the Secretariat to Nauru stating that, in compliance with the 1972 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, “the United Nations considers Taiwan for all purposes to be an integral part of the People’s Republic of China.” The third incident was with the OIE (World Organization of Animal Health). In May 2007, Beijing attempted to pass a resolution “recognizing that there is only one China in the world and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China which includes Taiwan,” changing Taiwan’s membership into “non-sovereign regional member,” and using “Taiwan, China” or “Taipei, China” as Taiwan’s official title in this organization.

As these three examples demonstrate, the “one-China principle” has been used by the PRC as a means of waging its “legal warfare” to incorporate Taiwan and to accomplish its bottom-line goal of de jure unification, as explicitly stated by its CARCEL PARA POSADAdeclared intent to use military force if necessary under the “anti-secession law” of 2005 to “reunify” Taiwan. The examples also illustrate how, if Taipei agrees to the “one-China principle,” it may be interpreted as accepting China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. Under such pretexts, the government under the DPP had to avoid and even repel the “one-China principle” as the precondition for the resumption of cross-Strait talks. The DPP did this by seeking international support for its counter-position, which led to the standoff in cross-Strait negotiations and showed the world that the “one-China principle” effectively became a non-starter.

These efforts notwithstanding, Ma Ying-jeou in his inaugural address reversed the previous administration’s position and accepted the so-called “1992 consensus” as the foundation for cross-Strait reconciliation in spite of the fact that the PRC officially stated that the “1992 consensus” was a consensus realizing (ti-xien) the “one-China principle.” In several private meetings with foreign visitors, Ma even went on to say that he accepted the one-China principle with or without any elaboration on what he meant by it. In addition, Ma stated in September during an interview with a Mexican journal that the relations between Taiwan and China are “non-state to state special relations,” and his spokesperson Wang Yuchi further qualified that statement of policy by saying that relations should be characterized as “region to region” (diqu dui diqu) relations (September 3, 2008, news release, http://www.president.gov.tw). In the effort to participate in international organizations, Ma announced that there is no better title for Taiwan other than “Chinese Taipei” (United Daily News, April 5, 2008). During the August/September effort to participate in the United Nations, the KMT government gave up on the membership drive and pursued only “meaningful participation” in UN-affiliated organizations. Even so, the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Wang Guang-yia, stated that Taiwan was not qualified to participate in major international organizations, and Taiwan’s participation in the WHO had to follow the MOU signed between the Chinese government and the WHO Secretariat (Liberty Times, August 28, 2008). The Ma administration made no attempt to repudiate the Chinese claim, and Ma’s spokesperson stated that it was not a “non-goodwill” (Liberty Times, August 29, 2008). In addition, when in the negotiations for cross-Strait chartered flights the Ma administration decided to open up six domestic airports in addition to two international airports, the decision apparently fell into the Chinese claim that the cross-Strait flights are domestic flights. In short, the official statements and policy actions by the KMT government on relations between the two sides of the Strait thus put Taiwan within the description of the “one-China principle,” with Taiwan being part of China.

Inner Politics and Arms Sales

In another interview by India and Global Affairs, Ma stated that HOMELESS - USAhe wanted to pursue full economic normalization with China, and that he also wanted to reach a peace agreement within his term (Liberty Times, October 18, 2008). If Ma’s concept on the relations between Taiwan and China falls within the description of the “one-China principle,” a full economic normalization will mean an arrangement similar to the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and China. A peace agreement between Taiwan and China within the timetable of his four-year term may necessitate that the United States prepare for an eventual termination of arms sales to and security cooperation with Taiwan. Ma’s statements may be welcomed by the international community as gestures toward peace, but it is actually putting Taiwan’s security in jeopardy. If Taiwan were to sign a peace agreement under the KMT where the conditions are defined by the KMT and CCP, the resulting equation, influenced by a much more powerful China at the other end of the negotiating table, may forfeit Taiwan’s freedom to repudiate China’s claim over Taiwan. Taiwan may be moving dangerously too close to the PRC and may not be able to maintain its current de facto independent status any longer.

The United States has for decades held a policy of refuting the PRC’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, as stated in the “six assurances” provided by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and other private communications with Taiwan (Fredrick Chien Memoir, vol. 2, 2005, 215-6). When China manipulated the UN Secretariat to issue a letter in March 2007, which stated that Taiwan is considered by the UN an integral part of the PRC, the United States protested to the UN Secretariat, arguing that such a declaration is against U.S. policy (Liberty Times, September 6, 2007). But if Taiwan itself accepts one-China principle, the foundation for this U.S. policy may be jeopardized. In other words, Ma’s effort of reconciliation is a short-term relief for the United States at a time when it is not capable of addressing simultaneous international conflicts. However, such efforts may prove to be against U.S. long-term interests, especially if the United States continues to view China’s rapid military modernization with suspicion.

Taiwan’s domestic politics are severely divided over the course of the government’s ongoing rapprochement with China. President Ma has not made any efforts to seek domestic reconciliation or attempt to communicate with the opposition over his intentions on cross-Strait policy. In fact, Ma’s statements and actions angered many people who believe that Taiwan should keep China at arm’s length. Taiwan appears to be more divided than before in the months since Ma’s inauguration, as evidenced by several large-scale, anti-government/anti-China demonstrations. Consequently, Taiwan’s status has been relatively weakened in facing the subtle and not so subtle threats from authoritarian China. A divided and weakened Taiwan severely threatens Taiwan’s national security, and is, by extension, not in the interests of the United States or Japan, its key ally in East Asia. All interested parties should therefore encourage the KMT to engage the opposition DPP in formulating its policy across the Taiwan Strait.

Conclusion

The changes occurring within the strategic landscape of East Asia are quite subtle indeed. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are one of the most important means LOADING BOMBSfor the United States to demonstrate its security commitment to its key allies and ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. In order for the United States to continue to maintain peace and stability in the region, the United States has long held the position, as prescribed by the Taiwan Relations Act, that arms sales to Taiwan are evaluated on the merit of Taiwan’s defense needs, not political judgments or as a result of consultations with the PRC. However, the U.S. decision to scale down the volume of weapons that had already been promised may make Taiwan feel uncomfortable about the U.S. commitment at a time when Taiwan needs a strong defense in order to ward off China’s possible aggression. A continued U.S. commitment is also integral in permitting Taiwan to resist China’s political pressure, however remote it may seem, and most importantly enable Taiwan to negotiate with China from a position of strength. The unfinished issue of arms sales to Taiwan thus becomes another pressing matter for the new U.S. administration to address in order to safeguard American interests in reinforcing peace and stability in East Asia.

Notes

1. Tseng Shiang-yin, “The Enhancement of Taiwan’s missile defense,” Taiwan Defense Affairs (Vol 5, No. 3, Spring 2005) pp. 88-117, www.itdss.org.tw/pub/05_3/05_3_p088_177.pdf.

2. Ling Chang-sheng, “Research, Development and Deployment of China’s Cruise Missiles,” Defence International Issue 213 (Taiwan: April 12, 2003), www.diic.com.tw/comment/06/06930412.htm.

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Posted in BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CHINA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FORMOSA - TAIWAN, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | 1 Comment »

SHARING THE RESPONSABILITY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

DECEMBER 3-8, 2008

by Michael Levitin

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ – Print Edition – (USA)

He was Chief of Staff to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the leading voice behind 'A BIGGER BREAK' - Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the crisis forced the U.S. to leave behind its traditions - Photo by Hans-Christian Plambeck (Laif-Redux)Germany’s refusal to fight in Iraq. Now German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is the Social Democratic Party candidate for chancellor in next year’s elections, running against the popular Christian Democrat incumbent, Angela Merkel. In his first major interview with the U.S. press, Steinmeier sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Michael Levitin to discuss German troop engagements in Afghanistan, Russia’s recent aggression, the global financial crisis and how Germany might work alongside the United States. Excerpts:

LEVITIN: The day after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to install missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington did not “rethink” its deployment of a NATO missile shield in Eastern Europe. Did Moscow’s latest show of aggression shift the dynamic between Russia and Europe? How should you respond- and what should Europe’s response be?

STEINMEIER: Medvedevs announcement the day after the elections was clearly the wrong signal at the wrong time. We have no illusions about Russia. In the last few years it has often proved itself a difficult partner. The question remains how to deal with this huge country in Europe’s immediate neighborhood; having to choose between containment versus engagement, I advocate the latter. We must try to develop relations with Russia that go beyond economic interests and contribute to increased stability and security. After all, it is in our own interest to make sure that a Russia that is looking for its own identity is politically and culturally anchored in die West.

LEVITIN: Do you see Germany as a middleman, acting as a buffer between Russia and the rest of Europe-perhaps at the moment even Russia’s closest EU ally?

STEINMEIER: Russia is aware of our uniquely close relationship with the United States. We are firmly embedded in NATO and the EU and thus we don’t aspire to play the role of a middleman. Together with our European partners we showed a strong and outspoken response to Russia’s role in the conflict in Georgia. I think Europe’s united voice no doubt contributed to the military conflict ending. Now the stabilization of the region as a whole has to continue, and for genuine stability we need Russian cooperation. As for energy links between the EU and Russia, the answer depends on which European country you talk to. But in general, Russia depends as much on Europe and America buying its goods as we rely on Russia supplying us with natural gas and oil. As far as Germany is concerned, it is little known in the United States that we have worked successfully for decades to diversify our suppliers of various forms of energy and fuels, with Russia but also Norway and Africa being important suppliers.

LEVITIN: You mentioned the conflict In Georgia. Should that country and Ukraine be Invited to Join NATO?

STEINMEIER: This is not a simple yes-or-no decision. With national elections looming, the domestic situation in Ukraine has changed, as has the situation in the Caucasus since the conflict broke out this summer. Yes, we remain committed to supporting and assisting these countries on the road ahead. But concerning the Membership Action Plan, Germany and other European governments continue to stand by their position.

LEVITIN: The most urgent U.S. foreign-policy question involving Germany, which Obama raised many times during his campaign, is Afghanistan and whether Germany will contribute more troops there to stabilize the south. How much is your country willing to sacrifice for this partnership, putting its soldiers into harm’s way?

STEINMEIER: I have spoken to Barack Obama twice, and from these exchanges I know that he sees Afghanistan in a very nuanced way. I feel we see eye to eye in our assessment that we’re facing a very difficult security situation, but that military means alone cannot bring about the necessary changes. Our approach has to be a comprehensive one, and contrary to what some people may say, Germany has played its part.

LEVITIN: In the north, certainly. But It’s in the south where the greatest violence has taken place, and where Obama’s asking for greater German participation.

STEINMEIER: We have shouldered our share of the military responsibility and we have also enlarged our engagement. We are about to increase our troops by 30 percent, to 4,500. We are participating in aerial surveillance across the whole of Afghanistan, including the south, and German radio engineers are also stationed in Kandahar. The German Air Force runs flights for all NATO countries throughout Afghanistan, again including the south. We took over the lead of the Quick Reaction Force in the north. And let us not forget that circumstances there have also changed; the north, too, has seen its share of armed opposition activities increasing in the last month. But our engagement in Afghanistan is about much more than military action. We have always said that we will only be successful if we succeed in helping rebuild the country and its economy. Civil reconstruction is the second important pillar of our engagement on the ground, and we’ll continue to increase our contribution in this area next year.

LEVITIN: Given the turmoil in Pakistan, what do you think the next steps forward ought to be?

STEINMEIER: The security of the whole region strongly depends on Pakistan. If we want to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, we have to succeed in stabilizing Pakistan politically and economically. This calls for a strengthened Pakistani commitment to combat terrorism, but it also calls for international assistance for this country. It needs a substantial loan from the IMF. We also need to be ready to help stabilize the country in a lasting way.

LEVITIN: On Iran, what realistic hopes do you see of bringing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the table and persuading him to give up Tehran’s nuclear ambitions? And how far will you be willing to push?

STEINMEIER: No doubt there is hope in the international community that after 29 years of standstill, a new approach may be possible. We all remember the reasons for the break-off of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Since then, U.S.-Iranian relations have also been a story of missed opportunities: when Washington signaled openness, Tehran wasn’t willing or able to respond in kind, and vice versa. I think it would be worthwhile trying to have direct talks, but the Iranians have to know it is up to them to prove they do not aspire to nuclear weapons-and that they’re willing to play a constructive role in the region. I have to admit I am skeptical, and can only express my hope that the leaders in Iran seize this opportunity.

LEVITIN: Turning to the financial crisis, the banks got a bailout. Now the automobile manufacturers are seeking the same thing. How do you see EU countries regaining their competition policy-and their legitimacy-after this?

STEINMEIER: I believe the politicians would have lost their legitimacy if they hadn’t acted. What we’re facing here is the very visible failure of the market. We had to make sure that the crisis in the financial markets does not lead to a total breakdown of the financial system as a whole. On both sides of the Atlantic, unconventional means were applied to manage the crisis. Honestly speaking, many of the measures taken in the U.S. seemed a bigger break with American tradition than can be said about European measures.

LEVITIN: How important is it that developing countries play a greater decision-making role In the future? For example, we saw hints of the G8 expanding into a G20 several weeks ago in Washington.

STEINMEIER: What is the most fundamental challenge the world is facing today? To my mind, it consists of integrating the emerging powers of the 21st century into a system of shared global responsibility. I am talk ing about countries like China and India, but also Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia. Can any of the global challenges we face be tackled without them? I don’t think so. That is why we have to make them stakeholders, and in that respect the recent financial summit in Washington was historic. To me it is obvious we cannot stop there.

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RUMSFELD NEMESIS SHINSEKI TO BE NAMED VA SECRETARY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 7, 2008

Posted on Sat, Dec. 6, 2008

by Hope Yen – The Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILLY.COM’ (USA)

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy.

Obama will announce the selection of Shinseki, the first Army four-star general of Japanese-American ancestry, at a news conference Sunday in Chicago. He will be the first Asian-American to hold the post of Veterans Affairs secretary, adding to the growing diversity of Obama’s Cabinet.

“I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” to be broadcast Sunday.

NBC released a transcript of the interview after The Associated Press reported that Shinseki was Obama’s pick.

Shinseki’s tenure as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 was marked by constant tensions with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which boiled over in 2003 when Shinseki testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion.

Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, belittled the estimate as “wildly off the mark” and the army general was forced out within months. But Shinseki’s words proved prophetic after President George W. Bush in early 2007 announced a “surge” of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating the numbers needed to stem sectarian violence.

Obama said he selected Shinseki for the VA post because he “was right” in predicting that the U.S. will need more troops in Iraq than Rumsfeld believed at the time.

“When I reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and, I think about how so many veterans around the country are struggling even more than those who have not served , higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate , it breaks my heart,” Obama told NBC.

Shinseki, 66, will take the helm of the government’s second largest agency, which has been roundly criticized during the Bush administration for underestimating the amount of funding needed to treat thousands of injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thousands of veterans currently endure six-month waits for receiving disability benefits, despite promises by current VA Secretary James Peake and his predecessor, Jim Nicholson, to reduce delays. The department also is scrambling to upgrade government technology systems before new legislation providing for millions of dollars in new GI benefits takes effect next August.

Obama’s choice of Shinseki, who grew up in Hawaii, is the latest indication that the president-elect is making good on his pledge to have a diverse Cabinet.

In Obama’s eight Cabinet announcements so far, white men are the minority with two nominations , Timothy Geithner at Treasury and Robert Gates at Defense. Three are women , Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security, Susan Rice as United Nations ambassador and Hillary Rodham Clinton at State. Eric Holder at the Justice Department is African American, while Bill Richardson at Commerce is Latino.

Shinseki is a recipient of two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries in Vietnam.

Upon leaving his post in June 2003, Shinseki in his farewell speech sternly warned against arrogance in leadership.

“You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader,” he said. “You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it. And without leadership, command is a hollow experience, a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance.”

Shinseki also left with the warning: “Beware a 12-division strategy for a 10-division army.”

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Posted in AL QAEDA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), DEFENCE TREATIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATO, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | Leave a Comment »

SWIMMING UP STREAM

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 6, 2008

Friday, Dec 05, 2008

REFLECTIONS BY COMRADE FIDEL

PUBLISHED BY ‘PORTAL CUBA’

REFLECTIONS BY COMRADE FIDEL

Following Obama’s speech, on May 23 this year, to the Cuban American National Foundation established by Ronald Reagan, I wrote a reflection entitled “The Empire’s Hypocritical Policy”. It was dated on the 25th of the same month.

In that Reflection I quoted his exact words to the Miami annexationists:

“[…] together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba; this is my word and my commitment

[…] It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.

[…] I will maintain the embargo.”

I then offered several arguments and unethical examples of the general behavior of the Presidents who preceded the one who would be elected to that position on the November 4 elections. I literally wrote:

“I find myself forced to raise various sensitive questions:

1 – Is it right for the President of the United States to order the assassination of any one person in the world, whatever the pretext may be?

2 – Is it ethical for the President of the United States to order the torture of other human beings?

3 – Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

4 – Is an Adjustment Act, applied as punishment on only one country, Cuba, in order to destabilize it, good and honorable, even when it costs innocent children and mothers their lives? If it is good, why is this right not automatically granted to Haitians, Dominicans, and other peoples of the Caribbean, and why isn’t the same Act applied to Mexicans and people from Central and South America, who die like flies against the Mexican border wall or in the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific?

5 – Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for Americans? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

6 – Are crackdowns on illegal residents fair, even as they affect children born in the United States?

7 – Are the brain-drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

8 – You state, as I pointed out at the beginning of this reflection, that your country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, aerial and spatial forces distributed across the planet. I ask: is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

9 – Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on sixty or more dark corners of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

10 – Is it honorable and sound to invest millions upon millions of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on earth several times over?”

I could have included several other issues.

Despite the caustic questions, I was not unkind to the African American candidate. I perceived he had greater capacity and command of the art of politics than his adversaries, not only in the opposing party but in his own, too.

Last week, the American President-elect Barack Obama announced his Economic Recovery Program.

Monday, December 1st, he introduced his National Security and Foreign Policy teams.

“Vice President-elect Biden and I are pleased to announce our national security team […] old conflicts remain unresolved, and newly assertive powers have put strains on the international system. The spread of nuclear weapons raises the peril that the world’s deadliest technology could fall into dangerous hands. Our dependence on foreign oil empowers authoritarian governments and endangers our planet.”

“…our economic power must sustain our military strength, our diplomatic leverage, and our global leadership.”

“We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships […] American values are America’s greatest export to the world.”

“…the team that we have assembled here today is uniquely suited to do just that.”

“…these men and women represent all of those elements of American power […] they have served in uniform and as diplomats […] they share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.”

“I have known Hillary Clinton…,” he says.

I am mindful of the fact that she was President-elect Barack Obama’s rival and the wife of President Clinton, who signed the extraterritorial Torricelli and Helms Burton Acts against Cuba. During the presidential race she committed herself with these laws and with the economic blockade. I am not complaining, I am simply stating it for the record.

“I am proud that she will be our next Secretary of State,” said Obama. “[she] will command respect in every capitol; and who will clearly have the ability to advance our interests around the world. Hillary’s appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment…”

“At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense…”

“[…] I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office: responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control.”

It strikes me that Gates is a Republican, not a Democrat. He is the only one who has been Defense Secretary and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, that is, he has occupied these positions under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. Gates, who is aware of his popularity, has said that first made sure that the President-elect was choosing him for as long as necessary.

On the other hand, while Condoleezza Rice was traveling to India and Pakistan under Bush’s instructions to mediate in the tense relations between these two countries, two days ago, the minister of Defense from Brazil gave the green light to a Brazilian company to manufacture MAR-1 missiles, but instead of one a month, as it had been the case until now, it will produce five every month. One hundred of these missiles will be sold to Pakistan at an estimated cost of 85 million euros.

In a public statement, the minister said that “these missiles that can be attached to planes have been designed to locate ground radars. They allow the effective monitoring of both the ground and air space.”

As for Obama, he continued unflappable his Monday statement: “And going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.”

On Janet Napolitano, he indicated: “[she] offers the experience and executive skill that we need in the next Secretary of Homeland Security…”

“Janet assumes this critical role having learned the lessons – some of them painful – of the last several years, from 9/11 to Katrina […] She understands as well as anyone the danger of an insecure border. And she will be a leader who can reform a sprawling Department while safeguarding our homeland.”

This familiar figure had been appointed a District Attorney in Arizona by Clinton in 1993, and then promoted to State Attorney General in 1998. Later on, in 2002, she became a Democratic Party candidate and then governor of that bordering state which is the most common incoming route used by illegal immigrants. She was elected governor in 2006.

About Susan Elizabeth Rice, he said: “Susan knows that the global challenges we face demand global institutions that work… We need the UN to be more effective as a venue for collective action – against terror and proliferation; climate change and genocide; poverty and disease.”

On National Security Advisor James Jones he said: “[…] I am convinced that General James Jones is uniquely suited to be a strong and skilled National Security Advisor. Generations of Joneses have served heroically on the battlefield – from the beaches of Tarawa in World War II, to Foxtrot Ridge in Vietnam. Jim’s Silver Star is a proud part of that legacy […] He has commanded a platoon in battle, served as Supreme Allied Commander in a time of war, (he means NATO and the Gulf War) and worked on behalf of peace in the Middle East.”

“Jim is focused on the threats of today and the future. He understands the connection between energy and national security, and has worked on the frontlines of global instability – from Kosovo to northern Iraq to Afghanistan.”

“He will advise me and work effectively to integrate our efforts across the government, so that we are effectively using all elements of American power to defeat unconventional threats and promote our values.”

“I am confident that this is the team that we need to make a new beginning for American national security.”

Obama is somebody we can talk to anywhere he wishes since we do not preach violence or war. He should be reminded, though, that the stick and carrot doctrine will have no place in our country.

None of the phrases in his latest speech shows any element of response to the questions I raised last May 25, just six months ago.

I will not say now that Obama is any less smart. On the contrary, he is showing the mental faculties that enabled me to see and compare his capacity with that of his mediocre adversary, John McCain, who was almost rewarded for his “exploits” merely due to the traditions of the American society. If it had not been for the economic crisis, television and the Internet, Obama would not have won the elections against the omnipotent racism. It also helped that he studied first in the University of Columbia, where he graduated in Political Sciences, and then in Harvard where he graduated as a lawyer. This enabled him to become a member of the modestly rich class with only several million dollars. He is certainly not Abraham Lincoln, nor are these times similar to those. That society is today a consumer society where the saving habits have been lost while the spending habit has multiplied.

Somebody had to offer a calm and serene response even though this will have to swim up the powerful stream of hopes raised by Obama in the international public opinion.

I only have two more press dispatches left to analyze. They all carry news from everywhere. I have estimated that only the United States will be spending in this economic crisis over $6 trillion in paper money, an amount that can only be assessed by the rest of the peoples of the world with their sweat and hunger, their suffering and blood.

Our principles are the same as those of Baraguá. The empire should know that our Homeland can be turned to dust but the sovereign rights of the Cuban people are not negotiable.

Fidel Castro Ruz

December 4, 2008 – 5:28p.m.

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FIRST SIGNATURES ON TREATY TO BAN CLUSTER BOMBS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 4, 2008

December 04, 2008 Edition 1

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MERCURY’ (South Africa)

OSLO: About 100 nations began putting their names to a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs yesterday, amid calls for major arms producers such as China, Russia and the United States to join them.

Norway, which played a key role in hammering out the worldwide ban on using, producing, transferring and stockpiling cluster munitions, was the first country to sign the convention.

“The world is a safer place today,” said Richard Moyes of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, an umbrella group that comprises some 300 non-governmental organisations.

“This is the biggest humanitarian treaty of the last decade,” he said.

Dropped from warplanes or fired from artillery guns, cluster bombs explode in mid-air and scatter hundreds of bomblets, which can be just 8cm long.

Many bomblets fail to explode, littering war zones with de facto landmines that can kill and maim long after a conflict ends.

Worldwide, about 100 000 people have been killed or maimed by cluster bombs since 1965, 98% of them civilians.

More than a quarter of the victims were children, who mistook the bomblets for toys or tin cans. – Sapa-AFP

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IRAN STAGES WAR GAMES IN PERSIAN GULF

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 3, 2008

News number: 8709131608 18:12 – 2008-12-03 – Defence

PUBLISHED BY ‘FARS NEWS AGENCY’ (Iran)

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian naval forces started five days of war games in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

“The aim of this maneuver is to increase the level of readiness of Iran’s naval forces and also to test and to use domestically-made naval weaponry,” Admiral Qasem Rostamabadi said.

The maneuver started yesterday with the deployment of troops in and around the strategic Straight of Hormoz and the troops officially started their drills on Wednesday.

The naval maneuvers would cover an area of 50,000 square miles, including the Sea of Oman off Iran’s southern coast.

“In this six-day long maneuver there will be more than 60 combat vessel units,” Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the navy, said.

They would include destroyers, missile-equipped battleships, submarines, special-operations teams, helicopters, and fighter planes, he said.

Iran often stages exercises or tests weapons to show its determination to counter any attack by the United States or Israel against its nuclear sites.

Israel and its close ally the United States accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Both Washington and Tel Aviv possess advanced weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads.

Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Speculation that Israel could bomb Iran has mounted since a big Israeli air drill in June. In the first week of June, 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters reportedly took part in an exercise over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.

Iran has, in return, warned that it would target Israel and its worldwide interests in case it comes under attack by the Tel Aviv.

A US attack on the Syrian village of Sukkariyah on October 26, has also raised speculation about the likelihood of a US unilateral strike on the Islamic Republic.

The United States has also always stressed that military action is a main option for the White House to deter Iran’s progress in the field of nuclear technology.

Iran has warned it could close the strategic Strait of Hormoz if it became the target of a military attack over its nuclear program.

Strait of Hormoz, the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf waterway, is a major oil shipping route.

An Iranian naval commander last week said the country’s navy could strike an enemy well beyond its shores and as far away as Bab al-Mandab, the southern entrance to the Red Sea that leads to the Suez Canal.

Meantime, a recent study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a prestigious American think tank, has found that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “is unlikely” to delay the country’s program.

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THE KILLING WINDS – THE MENACE OF BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Chapter 2

by Jeanne McDermott (Arbor House – 1987 – Hardback – 322 pages – ISBN 0877958963)

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

“Armis Bella Non Venenis Geri” (War is waged with weapons, not with poisons). — Roman condemnation of well poisoning

Identical copies of the BIOCHEMICAL WARFAREtreaty banning biological weapons reside in Moscow, London, and at the mammoth State Department building in Washington, D.C. The United States stores its treaties in a dim, almost shabby room, behind a massive, electronically controlled bank vault door, filled with scores of musty manila folders crammed together on rows of gray metal shelves. Here, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction is nothing special, just one of thousands of international agreements on everything from wheat to whaling, seabeds to outer space.

Genevieve Bell has been the treaty librarian since 1969, the year Nixon renounced biological weapons. Dressed in a green corduroy suit and a green blouse for Saint Patrick’s Day, she welcomes the infrequent visitor. In the age of instant Xerox, few people care to see the originals anymore. “It’s not too often at all that I bring out the Biological Weapons Convention,” she says. “If a party wants to see it, yes, sure, we have an obligation to show it. But I can’t say I’ve had many requests.”

The Biological Weapons Convention, or BWC, as it is usually abbreviated, has the feel of a noteworthy and honorable modern document. It is bound with a simple, blue leather, folio-size cover; typed on creamy, gold-edged paper; decorated with a delicate red and blue ink border; held together with a red, white, and blue ribbon that threads through punched holes in the paper and binder.

The treaty itself is written in five languages: English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian, and followed by thirty-five pages of official and often ornate signatures. To date, over a hundred countries have signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the most recent being China, which the State Department welcomed with a small ceremony.

The text of the treaty has fifteen articles, but the first and second express the heart of the agreement. The first says:

Each State Party to this convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain 1) microbial or other biological agents or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2) weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

The second article reads:

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes to destroy or to divert to peaceful purposes, as soon as possible, but no later than nine months after the entry into force of the Convention, all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery specified in Article I of the Convention, which are in its possession or under its jurisdiction or control.

The treaty specifically bans biological weapons, those made Ayith disease-causing germs such as anthrax, and toxin weapons, those made with poisons produced by living organisms such as botulinum. It does not ban chemical weapons, those made with synthetic chemicals such as nerve gas. (Another treaty, the Geneva Protocol, bans the use but not the production or stockpiling of chemical weapons.) Despite the differences in their legal status, chemical and biological weapons are often lumped together, abbreviated in discussions within military circles as CBW. What the weapons have in common is the fact that they are invisible killers that travel through the air.

For historians, as well as students of arms control, the Biological Weapons Convention represents a daring landmark and a milestone in detente. It was the first treaty, and remains the only one in existence, to ban outright an entire class of weapons, prohibiting not only the use, but also the manufacture and stockpiling of the weapons. No other arms control treaty has aimed to be so comprehensive or ambitious, and in the last few years, no other treaty has found itself at the center of so much controversy. With the passage of time, the State Department retires some international agreements to the National Archives, simply to make room for newcomers. But those treaties that provoke accusations and counteraccusations — such as the Biological Weapons Convention—stay inside the vault.

The Biological Weapons Convention bans one of the oldest and least respected forms of warfare—the use of poison and disease. Since Greco-Roman times, poisons have figured not so much as weapons of war but as tools for assassination. Although the use and preparation of poison was a shrouded, clandestine art, it seems clear that the Greeks and Romans knew about the toxic qualities of hemlock, hellebore, rhubarb, the castor bean, and the amanita mushroom. In the imperial courts, professional poisoners tried to outsmart the cup bearers and food tasters, and often succeeded, the best-known example being Agrippina, who is thought to have poisoned her husband, the Roman emperor Claudius. Some historians claim that Pope Alexander poisoned his way to power, that during the Italian Renaissance, the powerful Borgias picked off their rivals with poison, and that the plotting in the courts of Louis XIV and the Russian czars involved tainted potions.

Until the invention of the microscope and the germ theory of disease, diseases could not be spread in the sophisticated ways that poison was. One technique was to dump a corpse in the enemy’s well or water supply. But then, as now, the attacker ran the risk that the disease would strike his own troops.

Possibly the earliest, and one of the few, recorded accounts of biological warfare took place in the spring of 1346 when the Mongols laid seige to Kaffa, a walled city on the Crimean coast. After three unsuccessful years in which their own soldiers were dying of the plague, the Mongols tried something new. According to an eyewitness, “The Tatars, fatigued by such a plague and pestiferous disease, stupefied and amazed, and observing themselves dying without hope of health, ordered cadavers placed on their hurling machines and thrown into the city of Kaffa so that by means of these intolerable passengers, the defenders died widely. Thus there were projected mountains of dead, nor could the Christians hide or flee or be freed from such a disaster.” While Kaffa filled with plague, some of the survivors fled, carrying the disease with them to Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, and other European ports. Within three years, the Black Death (spread by less heinous activities as well) swept Europe, killing a quarter of the population.

In another often recounted case, the British commander-in-chief in the American colonies, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, set out to destroy the American Indians with disease after an Indian rebellion in 1763. “You will do well to try to innoculate the Indians by means of blankets,” Amherst told his subordinates, “as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” At his request, two blankets and a handkerchief from a smallpox hospital were given as presents to an Ohio tribe. A few months later, smallpox broke out, and, lacking immunity, the Indians were ravaged by disease.

By the twentieth century, disease ceased to be explained by mysterious miasmas or elemental imbalances of humors. Microscopic organisms—bacteria, fungi, and viruses—were gradually identified as the culprits, isolated, cultured, and studied. At the same time, the molecules responsible for the toxicity of so many plants ANTHRAX SPORESand animals were extracted, concentrated, and purified by methods more reliable than making incantations under a full moon. During World War II, scientists around the world began to devise ways to incorporate invisible germs and poisons into conventional military hardware.

To the modern soldier, the various types of biological weapons developed since then do not look like anything very special. In fact, they look like conventional weapons—a bomb dropped from an airplane, a canister and shell fired from a rocket launcher or howitzer, a missile, a drone, and even bullets. The weapons are designed to be hurled, fired, or dropped. The weapons can also be in the form of a spray, spread by a low-flying airplane like a crop-dusting pesticide. While the bomb and the spray tank became standards, a few unusual efforts also emerged—like long-range balloons carrying feathers infected with anticrop spores, bombs filled with disease-carrying insects, and a deadly aerosol spray can shaped like a whisky hip flask.

What distinguishes one biological weapon from another is not so much the hardware but the fillings, which contain the ANTHRAX THRU AN ELECTRONIC MICROSCOPEdeadliest organisms nature ever concocted, all too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some are bacteria and fungi, living creatures only one cell big. Others are viruses, even tinier, ephemeral entities on the threshold of life, made of chunks of DNA, which replicate only by invading and taking over a cell. And finally, some are toxins, the poisonous molecules secreted by plants and microbes, sprayed by insects, or injected by snakes to destroy their own enemies.

In nature, the microbes, viruses, and toxins that cause disease are everywhere, lurking in the soil, the water, the air, your food. Physicians battle these primordial public enemies daily, trying to prevent their growth, treating those people who fall prey. The creation of a biological weapon, in fact, begins with the knowledge gained by doctors of medicine in the process of treating disease. Instead of applying that knowledge to save life, the practice of medicine is perverted, turned inside out, upside down, in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.

From the enormous roster of the world’s diseases and toxins, which grows each year as new diseases evolve or are discovered, almost all have been considered as potential biological weapons. But many have not been seriously studied because they are not hardy, swift-acting, reliably infective, or easily spread through the air—qualities that a weapon designer wants. From 1943, when the United States launched its biological weapons program, until 1969, it experimented with the following human and animal diseases and toxins: anthrax, botulinum, brucellosis, chikungunya, cholera, coccidiosis, dengue, dysentery, food poisoning toxin, influenza, melioidosis, plague, psittacosis, Q-fever, Red Tide poison, Rift Valley Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Russian spring-summer encephalitis, shigellosis, smallpox, tularemia, typhoid, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and yellow fever.

It also experimented with the following crop diseases: wheat rust, rice blast, tobacco mosaic, corn stunt, potato yellow dwarf, Fiji disease (which attacks sugar cane), hoja blanca (which attacks rice), rice blight, corn blight, sugar cane wilt, coffee rust, maize rust, rice brown-spot disease, late blight of potato, powdery mildew of cereals, stripe rust of cereals.

Of all the countries in ANTHRAXthe world, only the United States admitted to amassing a stockpile of biological weapons, and when the Biological Weapons Convention was signed, only the United States publicly destroyed its arsenal. It had had an active biological warfare program for twenty-five years and had produced and/or standardized ten different biological and toxin weapons, selecting them for a constellation of practical characteristics. The list included:

Anthrax: The renowned bacteriologist Robert Koch first cultured the single-celled bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, in 1877, which under the microscope looks like a football. It lives in the soil in many parts of the world, where it forms an almost indestructible spore resistant to disinfectants, rapid freezing and thawing, even boiling. Anthrax infects goats, sheep, horses, cattle, elephants, hippos, and many other animals, including people. If you touch the spores, the bacterium can enter through a wound in the skin and form a small lesion or pustule that eventually turns coal black. (Anthrax is from the Greek word for coal.) Fever, chills, malaise, nausea, and vomiting follow. Even without adequate treatment, almost everyone recovers.

While the cutaneous form of anthrax is the most common today, in nineteenth-century England the inhalation form of anthrax was widespread. It was known as wool-sorter’s disease because factory workers fell sick after reaching into bins full of wool and shaking the wool out. The motion unleased a cloud of anthrax spores into the air which the workers then inhaled. Within two to three days, they died from suffocation, the result of a toxin released by the anthrax bacterium.

The spores clung not only to sheep wool but to many other animal products as well. A vaccuum cleaner assembler caught it from revolving horsehair brushes, a man who cut piano keys from an elephant’s tusk, and a tourist from a hide-covered bongo drum brought back from a Caribbean vacation. If untreated, the inhalation form of anthrax kills almost everyone exposed to it. While anthrax remains a negligible livestock concern in this country, cases of inhalation anthrax have all but disappeared since the passage of stricter sanitation laws. The military concentrated on the inhalation form of anthrax as a weapon, particularly during World War II. But the spore is so indestructible that once unleashed it permanently contaminates an area, denying it to both defender and attacker. Despite these drawbacks, the United States continues to view anthrax as a potential biological weapon.

Botulinum: Botulinum is a toxin that takes its name from the Latin word for sausage because it was first identified in 1793 when thirteen people in a small German town fell sick after eating the same sausage. The bacterium, which secretes the toxin, was isolated a hundred years later when band members in a small Belgian town fell sick after eating a ham. Shaped like a stout rod, Clostridiwn botulinum commonly and harmlessly grows in the oxygen-free surface layers of the soil, particularly in California, and for reasBACTERIAons unclear, produces botulinum, the most potent neurotoxin known. The microbe only causes problems in improperly canned or cooked food, of which a mere nibble can kill. The toxin takes effect within twelve to seventy-two hours, leaving the victim headachy, dizzy, and (if the dose is sufficient) ultimately dead from respiratory paralysis. About a hundred people succumb to botulinum each year worldwide, and of these 30 percent die. The U. S. Army produced twenty-thousand botulinum-tipped bullets and also planned to spread the toxin as an aerosol until it became clear that sunlight degrades it and destroys its potency.

Brucellosis: Found in wild animals like antelope, reindeer, caribou, and hares, brucellosis was a common livestock disease in the United States until eradication programs began in the 1960s. Today, this country has about one hundred-fifty cases each year, mostly among abattoir workers, farmers, and veterinarians who are exposed to the blood of the infected animals. The disease is caused by several strains of the Brucella bacterium. After a four- or five-day incubation period, the infected person has a low-grade fever, and a tired, rundown feeling that gets progressively worse. Over the next two to three months, he or she loses weight, feels depressed, and suffers an intermittent fever. Once diagnosed, brucellosis is treated with tetracycline. Explored by the army as a weapon in the early days of the program, it was dropped in the 1950s in favor of diseases that act and incapacitate more quickly and more uniformly.

Q-fever: Q-fever is short for query fever. When first discovered among abattoir workers in Queensland, Australia, no one BOTULISMknew what it was. The disease hits suddenly, triggering severe headache, stiff neck, chills, sweats, and a lack of appetite, like a severe case of the flu. Within seven to ten days, it subsides. Nobel laureate F. McFarlane Burnet isolated the cause, a single-celled microbe that changes from the shape of a rod to that of a bead, and named it Coxiella burnetii. C. burnetii is highly infective and very persistent, able to survive in sheep’s wool for seven to nine months. It spreads by aerosol, ticks, mice, bedbugs, and fleas. In Italy, the passage of a flock of sheep through a narrow street was enough to start an infection. Employees at a commercial laundry caught it from handling the unsterilized clothes of lab workers who studied it. Only one to ten microbes are needed to infect. Q-fever strikes sheep, goats, and cattle worldwide, but the infection often escapes notice in both animals and people. Doctors in the United States see one hundred to two hundred cases a year in people, but suspect that a milder form is more common and probably mistaken for the flu. For the military, Q-fever was attractive because it is stable, infective, and quick to act. The army continues to research it today.

Saxitoxin: Throughout many of the world’s oceans, single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates bloom in the summer months, tinging the water red, creating what coast-dwellers call Red Tide. Clams, mussels, oysters, and other filter-feeding bivalves eat the dinoflagellates. People eat the molluscs and occasionally die as the result of ten or more deadly and paralyzing toxins, including the extraordinarily powerful saxi-toxin, produced by the dinoflagellates. In 1974, there were 1,600 cases worldwide of paralytic shellfish poisoning and 300 deaths. Death, when it occurs, takes place within thirty minutes after the meal, as the lips, tongue and face start to burn and tingle. As the feeling spreads to the legs and arms, paralysis sets in. The throat closes up. Until the respiratory muscles cease all movement and suffocation occurs, the victim stays calm and conscious. There is no specific antidote. In the 1950s and 1960s, Detrick scientists prepared over 30 grams of shellfish toxin by harvesting, collecting, and grinding up a vast number of Alaskan butter clams and other shellfish. The toxin was used in the suicide pill carried by Francis Gary Powers, the pilot who flew the secret U-2 plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Staphylococcus YERSINIA PESTISenterotoxin: Staphylococcus is a ubiquitous, beach ball-shaped bacterium that comes in many strains. Some are harmless and some, like those that cause toxic shock syndrome and food poisoning, are not. The food-poisoning strain wreaks havoc by secreting an enterotoxin. Although the organism is killed by normal cooking temperatures, it can multiply very rapidly, producing enough toxin to make you sick in two to three hours. Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea hit within half an hour to four hours after eating and last for one to two days. The CIA chose the toxin for its immediate and fierce action and stockpiled a form resistant to the chlorine in city water supplies. Since the freeze dried form of the toxin is stable and can be stored for up to a year, the military planned to spray it over large areas.

Tularemia: Tularemia resembles the plague. Discovered in Tu-lare County, California, in 1911, tularemia is carried by squirrels, rabbits, field voles, mice, shrews, and ticks. The disease exists in all countries north of the equator. In Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, it occurs most frequently during rabbit-hunting season. Caused by the bacterium Pasteurella tularensis, it strikes two to seven days after exposure—usually in the course of skinning the rabbit. The victim starts to feel achey, with chills and a fever as high as 105 ° F. If inhaled, which happens infrequently in nature but would be the case in a biological war, it causes a cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. If untreated, 5 to 8 percent of the people who get tularemia die. For inhalatory tularemia, as many as 40 percent may die. Doctors treat it with antibiotics, but the U.S. military developed a strain of tularemia that was resistant to streptomycin. There are 250 to 300 cases in the United States each year. At the time of the arsenal’s destruction, the government had a large stockpile of tularemia and considered it a useful weapon.

Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE): VEE is a mosquito-borne virus first found in horses in Venezuela, and later across South and Central America, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. In 1970, the mosquito harboring VEE crossed over the Rio Grande River into Texas, but the feared spread of the disease was contained by eradicating the insect. Within twenty-four hours of injection, the virus produces a headache and fever from which most recover in three days. The virus spreads to the nervous system in 10 percent of the cases and is fatal in 1 percent. The United States was increasing its stockpiles of VEE in the late 1960s.

Yellow fever: Yellow fever is a disease with a notorious legacy, responsible for killing the slaves on the slave ships and probably for destroying the crew and passengers of the legendary Flying Dutchman. It is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes found in a belt just above and below the equator. It strikes three to six days after the mosquito bite, with a fever and often liver damage, which brings on a yellow color—hence the name. As part of an “entomological warfare” program started in the early 1950s, Detrick labs produced half a million mosquitoes a month, and in tests, planes dropped infected mosquitoes over a residential area in Georgia and Florida. In addition to yellow fever-infected mosquitoes, Detrick grew mosquitoes infected with malaria and dengue; fleas infected with plague; ticks infected with tularemia; flies infected with cholera, anthrax, and dysentery. By the late 1960s, yellow fever was not considered a weapon of choice.

The United States also stockpiled two anticrop diseases:

Wheat rust: In April of each year, the Romans held a ceremony, sacrificing a red dog to keep the gods from unleashing the YERSINIA PESTISred rust disease on their wheat crop. Like fire, the rust streaks the leaves and stems, sometimes even reddening the soil. Once it takes hold, the rust can destroy more crop in less time than any other disease. It is caused by a fungus, Puccinia graminis, which forms a tough, windblown spore that grows under humid conditions. Rust can kill the plant outright or shrivel and stunt it.

Rice blast: Caused by the fungus Piricularia oryzae, rice blast also spreads as a windblown spore, growing under humid conditions. If it attacks during an early stage of the plant’s growth, the plant fails to produce rice. Some American planners considered dropping rice blast on Vietnamese rice paddies during the war but the plan was never approved by senior officials. It would have proved difficult to implement since the Vietnamese planted so many different strains, each becoming susceptible at slightly different times.

Outside of isolated sabotage incidents, biological and toxin weapons have seen remarkably little use in the twentieth century, or rather, remarkably little use that everyone can agree on. No one disputes that the Japanese used germ warfare against the Chinese during World War II. But opinions are divided on two notorious and widely publicized incidents. Did the United States wage germ warfare against North Korea and China during the Korean War? Did the Laotians and Cambo-dians use Soviet-made toxin weapons in Southeast Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Pound for pound, and penny for penny, biological weapons excel in packing the deadliest punch of any weapon. According to an army field manual written in 1966, a single fighter plane spraying a lethal biological agent could cause 50 percent mortality over an area of 300 square miles; that is, it could kill half the people in a city the size of Dallas or New York. That is ten times the area that would be devastated by the same amount of nerve gas.

Biological weapons come relatively cheap. A panel of experts told the United Nations in 1969 that in a large-scale operation against a civilian population, casualties might cost $2,000 per square kilometer for conventional weapons; $800 for nuclear; $600 for nerve gas; $1 for biological weapons. For the price, one gets a brutally versatile weapon. Biological weapons can be weapons of mass destruction, capable of wiping out huge civilian centers; they can blight a country’s breadbasket while leaving the industrial infrastructure intact; they can be sprayed on people ill-equipped to defend themselves in order to drive them off the land; they can be spread in unconventional ways—on the wings of birds, through infected ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and tourists. They are, however, most uniquely suited to sabotage, terrorism, and covert operations since they are invisible, small enough to carry in a pocket, and, without careful monitoring, can be indistinguishable from natural occurrences.

Why, then, did President Richard Nixon, a political realist who approached foreign policy as if it were a chess game, give up such a good thing? The reason is simple: Biological weapons provoke far more trouble than they are worth. In the modern theater of geopolitics, their very attributes create horrendous liabilities. Consider this fact: biological weapons are so cheap and powerful that they have been dubbed “the poor man’s atomic bomb.” By condoning and furthering the development of biological weapons, the United States created an arms race that would only hurt it in the long run.

The United States is a rich and powerful country, one of the richest and most powerful in the world. One way it maintains military superiority is by spending money on the development and stockpiling of weapons. Very few countries are wealthy enough to keep up. It is in the best interest of the United States and the other superpowers to keep war expensive. The more expensive it is, the fewer countries that can pose threats. It was, therefore, not in the best interest of the United States to develop a cheap and powerful weapon like biological weapons. That was the fundamental logic behind Nixon’s decision.

Other factors contributed to the American renunciation of biological weapons. There is no credible defense against TULAREMIAan all-out biological attack. No devices will even give reliable advance warning. Even if such devices existed, what steps could be taken? People can be vaccinated against some diseases, but these work only if taken weeks before the attack. Even then, experts doubt their protective value against the onslaught of aerosol germs in a biological weapon, or that an attacker would choose a weapon for which the country had prepared an effective vaccine. Gas masks would help, but few civilians have their own. Lacking genetic resistance to a particular disease, crops and livestock are defenseless.

In 1969, the U.S. military was reluctant but willing to give up biological weapons. Troop commanders had never heartily approved of them, in part because they had a disreputable air that never quite fit the military’s self-image of what an honorable warrior should be asked to do. For battlefield operations, the advocates of biological weapons never proved them superior to conventional or even chemical weapons.

A host of practical problems bedeviled biological weapons. They did not behave in a straightforward way. In the field, commanders found them too complicated, too demanding, too quirky. They spread like killing winds. For each disease, the symptoms, incubation, duration, and treatment varied. Coupled with the way the vagaries of the wind, temperature, and terrain influenced the weapon’s stealthy drift, the commander had a lot of variables to juggle and few guarantees. Although the army subjected biological weapons to hundreds of tests, it never had enough data—for the obvious ethical reasons—on what real weapons do to real people. What good is a weapon that you can’t test? In the end, the military decided it wasn’t good enough to keep.

In 1969, three years before the two superpowers signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the United States gave up BW, as biological weapons are usually abbreviated, altogether. Nixon renounced not only biological weapons but also toxin weapons, which occupy a gray area, somewhere between biological and chemical weapons. Although the two had been developed in tandem at Fort Detrick, the U.S. center for biological warfare research in Frederick, Maryland, toxins behave more like chemical weapons on the battlefield. The only difference between a toxin and a chemical weapon is that one is synthesized by nature and the other concocted by man. Both are inert molecules, acting in minutes to hours, and toxic in micrograms or milligrams, not picograms like biological (or germ) weapons. By contrast, germ weapons are living creatures that grow and multiply, taking their toll in days.

Nixon did not renounce chemical weapons, nor did the subsequent international ban include them. Chemical weapons are deployed like biological weapons—in bombs, from spray tanks—but instead of spreading live organisms, they disperse toxic chemicals, such as nerve gas, tear gas, herbicides (like Agent Orange), mustard gas, and other harassing and incapacitating chemicals. The United States, the Soviets, and now a number of other countries continue to stockpile chemical weapons, and the Iraqis are currently using them in their war against Iran. The Reagan administration lobbied hard to build a new generation of nerve gas weapons, but the Congress consistently blocked appropriations for that purpose until September 1986, when Congress finally gave its okay.

While it is illegal to produce and use biological weapons, it is not illegal to produce chemical weapons. (It is illegal to use them.) Chemical weapons remain a legal component of the world’s stockpiles in part because they are not as cheap, potentially powerful, nor as unpredictable as their biological counterparts. They draw on a longer, more successful tradition within the military, and have a more powerful constituency than biological weapons. After all, they had been used in World War I and the Vietnam War, with arguable success. They have also served a useful function as a deterrent: the United States could give up biological weapons with an easy conscience because it could always retaliate with chemical weapons.

But chemical weapons also raise a prickly question from an arms control perspective. How can you distinguish between industrial chemicals and chemicals of war? What if you ban one but not the other? Since World War II, the creation of insecticides and nerve gases have marched hand in hand. Gerhard Schrader, a German scientist working at I. G. Farben, discovered an organophosphorus compound in 1936 that killed insects in seconds. Under a law that decreed that any industrial invention with military potential should be shared with the Wehrmacht, Schrader’s finding led to the development of nerve gases. Today, a plant that produces the pesticides ma-lathion or parathion could be used to produce nerve gas.

Many other chemicals are Jess toxic, but just as lethal and widespread as organophosphate pesticides. When a 1984 The Living Weapon - As America's germ warfare program expanded during the Cold War, scientists began to conduct their own covert tests on human volunteers. The United States continued the development and stockpiling of biological weapons until President Nixon terminated the program in 1969. This American Experience production examines the international race to develop biological weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, revealing the scientific and technical challenges scientists faced and the moral dilemmas posed by their eventual success.accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released methylisocyanate into the air, five thousand people died. In a magazine interview, the Bhopal mayor said, “I can say that I have seen chemical warfare. Everything so quiet. Goats, cats, whole families—father, mother, children—all lying silent and still. And every structure totally intact. I hope never again to see it.”

When the Biological Weapons Convention officially went into effect in 1975, it left the impression that every trace or consideration of biological weapons utterly disappeared from the world’s military establishments. That was not the case. By keeping chemical weapons legal, military establishments maintained an institutional infrastructure familiar with the equipment, training, doctrine, and insidious action of invisible weapons. While the United States burned its germs and toxins, scrapped its weapon hardware, dismantled and converted its mass production facilities, it retained the books, reports, studies, and test data accumulated over the twenty-five-year existence of the biological-warfare program. According to one Pentagon official, it would take the United States (or any other country that dismantled its full-fledged offensive program) two to three years to get back into the biological weapons business IF the president of the United States renounced the treaty.

As allowed by treaty, research continues around the world. The systematic study of nasty germs and toxins has not stopped. In the United States, it takes place on a largely unclassified basis and in the name of defense. Fifteen years after the renunciation, the list of germs and toxins studied at Fort Detrick bears little resemblance to those studied in 1969. These new agents have been identified, grown, studied, analyzed, assessed, evaluated, and, if Dugway builds the BL-4 lab, will be tested. But they have not been developed into weapons, that is, mass produced or loaded into hardware—two steps that would clearly violate the treaty.

Since the Reagan administration took office in 1980, the budgets for both biological and chemical weapons have skyrocketed. Compared with the cost of building an F-16 fighter plane, the budgets dedicated to the subject of biological warfare still look small, but it is important to bear in mind that biological research costs relatively little. In 1987, the total budget for biological warfare defense was $71.2 million. Compare that with what was spent on research and development at Fort Detrick at the height of the Vietnam War in 1969. Then, it was $19.4 million—or if you adjust for inflation, $55.6 million. In other words, the United States is spending more on BW research than it did when it had an offensive program.

What this jump in budgets means is that the military is again talking about biological warfare. “Up until three or four years ago, we weren’t talking on the subject [of biological weapons] at all,” says Major Dick Ziegler, a Pentagon spokesman. According to the Department of Defense, the Dugway lab is essential for preparing a defense against the mounting Soviet threat. The Pentagon and the Reagan administration point to a mysterious outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk and to Yellow Rain in Southeast Asia as evidence of the Soviet’s disregard for and violation of the treaty.

In conservative circles throughout the nation, the two events are already taken as proof that the Biological Weapons Convention has failed. Like the clock in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the treaty is an anachronism, some say, out of step with the times. But others vehemently disagree with that conclusion. They stress that the evidence for treaty violations at Sverdlovsk is open to question and that cited for Yellow Rain has failed to stand up to scrutiny.

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US MILITARY CHEM-BIO WARFARE EXPOSURES WEBSITE UNVEILED

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

by Justin Palk – Frederick – News-Post

Posted by Meryl Nass, M.D. at 10:18 AM

From World War II through 1975, thousands of service members and veterans were potentially exposed to chemical or biological weapons as subjects or observers of tests carried out by the Department of Defense.

The department unveiled a new website Monday to provide information about what happened during those tests.

The data on the site is broadly grouped into three sections: chemical agent tests during World War II; chemical and biological agent tests of Project 112 and its naval component, Shipboard Hazard and Defense or Project SHAD; and Cold War-era chemical and biological weapons testing.

The site provides details about specific incidents, such as the release of mustard agent in the Italian port of Bari in 1943 when a U.S. ship carrying the agent to use in response to theoretical German gas attacks was destroyed during a German air raid on the port.

Overview sections give broad outlines of what types of testing were performed at what points in history.

The biological warfare research at Fort Detrick and the Operation Whitecoat disease immunity experiments are listed under the Cold War section of the site, as are Dugway Proving Ground and Edgewood Arsenal, both sites where chemical weapons research was done.

The site does not list the names of service members who might have been exposed to chemical or biological agents. It does, however, include contact information veterans can use to seek help in verifying any potential exposure they may have had, or to provide information they may have about tests the Defense Department conducted.

For information, visit fhp.osd.mil/CBexposures/index.jsp

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CHAGOS ISLANDS – STEALING A NATION – THE CORRUPTION THAT MAKES UNPEOPLE OF AN ENTIRE NATION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

28/11/2008

CHAGOS ISLANDS – STEALING A NATION – by John Pilger

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The native islanders of the Chagos archipelago were forcibly removed from the CHAGOS' FLAGislands by the British Government at that time to make way for an American military airbase during the Cold War. They were forgotten about and left to wither in poverty in the slums of Mauritius. They have been fighting to be allowed to return home ever since, and despite the British courts ruling in favour of this the Government has managed to block that decision, and the Chagossians remain in their enforced purgatory to this day.

STEALING A NATION (John Pilger, 2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean – secretly and brutally expelled from their homeland by British governments in the late 1960s CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGOand early 1970s, to make way for an American military base. The base, on the main island of Diego Garcia, was a launch pad for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Stealing a Nation has won both the Royal Television Society’s top award as Britain’s best documentary in 2004-5, and a ‘Chris Award’ at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival. A brochure of the film is available at http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/guides/stealguide.pdf. On April 8, 2008, the Chagos Islanders have launched a national Campaign for Resettlement of their islands – go to www.letthemreturn.com. For more information and updates on the plight of the Chagossians, visit the website of the UK Chagos Support Association at www.chagossupport.org.uk.

Other references and articles on the story are as listed below: CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

http://www.chagos.org/home.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politic…

Islanders who wait in vain for justice and a paradise lost
Evicted from their tropical idyll in a military deal, victorious in three legal hearings, they now face another battle to be allowed home – From The Times – November 9, 2007

THE CORRUPTION THAT MAKES UNPEOPLE OF AN ENTIRE NATION

27 Nov 2008

In his column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the latest chapter in theCHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO extraordinary story of the ‘mass kidnapping’ of the people of the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean, British citizens expelled from their homeland to make way for an American military base. On 22 October, Britain’s highest court of appeal, the Law Lords, demonstrated how British power words at its apex by handing down a transparently political judgement that dismissed the Magna Carta and banned an entire nation from ever going home.

I went to the Houses of Parliament on 22 October to join a disconsolate group of shivering people who had arrived from a faraway tropical place and were being prevented from entering the Public Gallery to hear their fate. This was not headline news; the BBC reporter seemed almost CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING IN LONDONembarrassed. Crimes of such magnitude are not news when they are ours, and neither is injustice or corruption at the apex of British power.

Lizette Talatte was there, her tiny frail self swallowed by the cavernous stone grey of Westminster Hall. I first saw her in a Colonial Office film from the 1950s which described her homeland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as a paradise long settled by people “born and brought up in conditions most tranquil and benign”. Lizette was then 14 years old. She remembers the producer saying to her and her friends, “Keep smiling, girls!”. When we met in Mauritius, four years ago, she said: “We didn’t need to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in Diego Garcia. My great-grandmother was born there, and I made six children there. Maybe only the English can make a film that showed we were an established community, then deny their own evidence and invent the lie that we were transient workers.”CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING - STANDING IN FRONT OF THE ROYAL COURT OF JUSTICE IN LONDON

During the 1960s and 1970s British governments, Labour and Tory, tricked and expelled the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago, more than 2,000 British citizens, so that Diego Garcia could be given to the United States as the site for a military base. It was an act of mass kidnapping carried out in high secrecy. As unclassified official files now show, Foreign Office officials conspired to lie, coaching each other to “maintain” and “argue” the “fiction” that the Chagossians existed only as a “floating population”. On 28 July 1965, a senior Foreign Office official, T C D Jerrom, wrote to the British representative at the United Nations, instructing him to lie to the General Assembly that the Chagos Archipelago was “uninhabited when the United Kingdom government first acquired it”. Nine years later, the Ministry of Defence went further, lying CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING - Louis Olivier Bancoult, (2nd L) Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, holds his grandson Julien aloft outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home Wednesday. The decision upholds two previous rulings in favour of the islanders, granting them rights of abodethat “there is nothing in our files about inhabitants [of the Chagos] or about an evacuation”.

“To get us out of our homes,” Lizette told me, “they spread rumours we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs. The American soldiers who had arrived to build the base backed several of their big vehicles against a brick shed, and hundreds of dogs were rounded up and imprisoned there, and they gassed them through a tube from the trucks’ exhaust. You could hear them crying. Then they burned them on a pyre, many still alive.”

Lizette and her family were finally forced on to a rusting freighter and made to lie on a cargo of bird fertiliser during a voyage, through stormy seas, to the slums of Port Louis, Mauritius. Within A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islanders the right to return to their archipelago, from where they were forcibly removed in the 1960s and '70s to make way for an American airbase on Diego Garcia.months, she had lost Jollice, aged eight, and Regis, aged ten months. “They died of sadness,” she said. “The eight-year-old had seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. The doctor said he could not treat sadness.”

Since 2000, no fewer than nine high court judgments have described these British government actions as “illegal”, “outrageous” and “repugnant”. One ruling cited Magna Carta, which says no free man can be sent into exile. In desperation, the Blair government used the royal prerogative – the divine right of kings – to circumvent the courts and parliament and to ban the islanders from even visiting the Chagos. When this, too, was overturned by the high court, the government was rescued by the law lords, of whom a majority of one (three to two) found for the government in a scandalously inept, political manner. In the weasel, almost flippant words of LordChagos Islanders look on while Louis Olivier Bancoult (R), Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, addresses the media outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home Wednesday. The decision upholds two previous rulings in favour of the islanders, granting them rights of abode Hoffmann, “the rightof abode is a creature of the law. The law gives it and the law takes it away.” Forget Magna Carta. Human rights are in the gift of three stooges doing the dirty work of a government, itself lawless.

As the official files show, the Chagos conspiracy and cover-up involved three prime ministers and 13 cabinet ministers, including those who approved “the plan”. But elite corruption is unspeakable in Britain. I know of no work of serious scholarship on this crime against humanity. The honourable exception is the work of the historian Mark Curtis, who describes the Chagossians as “unpeople”.

The reason for this silence is ideological. Courtier commentators and media historians obstruct our CHAGOS ISLANDERS IN FORCED EXILE - Dervillie Permal and his wifeview of the recent past, ensuring, as Harold Pinter pointed out in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, that while the “systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought” in Stalinist Russia were well known in the west, the great state crimes of western governments “have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented”.

Typically, the pop historian Tristram Hunt writes in the Observer (23 November): “Nestling in the slipstream of American hegemony served us well in the 20th century. The bonds of culture, religion, language and ideology ensured Britain a postwarLouis Olivier Bancoult, Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, celebrates outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. The High Court on Wednesday upheld a ruling letting families return to their Indian Ocean island homes, from where they were forced out 30 years ago to make way for a US military base. The Court of Appeal backed a High Court ruling in May last year that allowed the families to return to the Chagos Islands, except for Diego Garcia, a launchpad for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain expelled some 2,000 people from the Chagos Islands, 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of the Maldives, to Mauritius and the Seychelles in the 1960s and 1970s, allowing it to lease Diego Garcia to Washington for 50 years economic bailout, a nuclear deterrent and the continuing ability to ‘punch above our weight’ on the world stage. Thanks to US patronage, our story of decolonisation was for us a relatively painless affair…”

Not a word of this drivel hints at the transatlantic elite’s Cold War paranoia, which put us all in mortal danger, or the rapacious Anglo-American wars that continue to claim untold lives. As part of the “bonds” that allow us to “punch above our weight”, the US gave Britain a derisory $14m discount off the price of Polaris nuclear missiles in exchange for the Chagos Islands, whose “painless decolonisation” was etched on Lizette Talatte’s face the other day. Never forget, Lord Hoffmann, that she, too, will die of sadness.

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WEAPONS COME SECOND (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

Middle East – Nov 27, 2008

by Frida Berrigan

Even saddled with a two-front, budget-busting war and a collapsing economy, Barack Obama may THE PENTAGON FROM WITHINbe able to accomplish a lot as president. With a friendly Congress and a relieved world, he could make short work of some of the most egregious overreaches of the George W Bush White House – from Guantanamo to those presidential signing statements. For all the rolling up of sleeves and “everything is going to change” exuberance, however, taking on the Pentagon, with its mega-budget and its mega-power, may be the hardest task he faces.

The mega-Pentagon

Under Bush, military spending increased by about 60%, and that’s not including spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eight years ago, as Bush prepared to enter the Oval Office, military spending totaled just over US$300 billion. When Obama sets foot in that same office, military spending will total roughly $541 billion, including the Pentagon’s basic budget and nuclear warhead work in the Department of Energy.

And remember, that’s before the “war on terror” enters the picture. The Pentagon now estimates that military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost at least $170 billion in 2009, pushing total military spending for Obama’s first year to about $711 billion (a number that is mind-bogglingly large and at the same time a relatively conservative estimate that does not, for example, include intelligence funding, veterans’ care, or other security costs).

With such numbers, it’s no surprise that the United States is, by a multiple of nearly six, the biggest military spender in the world. (China’s military budget, the closest competitor, comes in at a “mere” $120 billion.) Still, it can be startling to confront the simple fact that the US alone accounts for nearly half of all global military spending – to be as exact as possible in such a murky area, 48% according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. That’s more than what the next 45 nations together spend on their militaries on an annual basis.

Again, keep in mind that war spending for 2009 comes on top of the estimated $864 billion that lawmakers have, since 2001, appropriated for the Iraq war and occupation, ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, and other activities associated with the “war on terror”. In fact, according to an October 2008 report by the Congressional Research Service, total war spending, quite apart from the regular military budget, is already at $922 billion and quickly closing in on the trillion dollar mark.

Common sense cuts?

Years late, and with budgets everywhere bleeding red, some in Congress and elsewhere are finally raising questions about whether this level of spending makes any sense. Unfortunately, the questions are not coming from the inner circle of the president-elect.

Democratic Representative Barney Frank drew the ire and consternation of hardline Republicans and military hawks when, in October, he suggested that Congress should consider cutting defense spending by a quarter. That would mean shaving $177 billion, leaving $534 billion for the US defense and war budget and maintaining a significant distance – $413 billion to be exact – between United States and our next “peer competitor”. Frank told a Massachusetts newspaper editorial board that, in the context of a struggling economy, the Pentagon will have to start choosing among its many weapons programs. “We don’t need all these fancy new weapons,” he told the staff of the New Bedford Standard Times. Obama did not back him up on that.

Even chairman of the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Defense, Democrat John Murtha, a Congressman who never saw a weapons program he didn’t want to buy, warned of tough choices on the horizon. While he did not put a number on it, in a recent interview he did say: “The next president is going to be forced to decrease defense spending in order to respond to neglected domestic priorities. Because of this, the Defense Department is going to have to make tough budget decisions involving trade-offs between personnel, procurement and future weapons spending.”

And now, Obama is hearing a similar message from the Defense Business Board, established in 2001 by secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld to give advice to the Pentagon. A few weeks ago, in briefing papers prepared for president-elect Obama’s transition team, the board, hardly an outfit unfriendly to the Pentagon, argued that some of the Defense Department’s big weapons projects needed to be scrapped as the US entered a “period of fiscal constraint in a tough economy”. While not listing the programs they considered knife-worthy, the board did assert that “business as usual is no longer an option”.

Desperate defense

Meanwhile, defense executives and industry analysts are predicting the worst. Boeing chief executive officer Jim McNerney wrote in a “note” to employees, “No one really yet knows when or to what extent defense spending could be affected, but it’s unrealistic to think there won’t be some measure of impact.” Michael Farage, Sikorsky’s director of air force programs, was even more colorful: “With the economy in the proverbial pooper, defense budgets can only go down.”

Kevin G Kroger, president of a company making oil filters for army trucks, offered a typical reaction: “There’s a lot of uncertainty out there. We’re not sure where the budgets are going and what’s going to get funded. It leaves us nervous.”

It’s no surprise that, despite eight years of glut financing via the “war on terror”, weapons manufacturers, like the automotive Big Three, are now looking for their own bailout. For them, however, it should probably be thought of as a bail-up, an assurance of yet more good times. Even though in recent years their companies have enjoyed strong stock prices, have seen major increases in Pentagon contracts, and are still looking at boom-time foreign weapons sales, expect them to push hard for a bottom-line guarantee via their holy grail – a military budget pegged to the gross domestic product (GDP).

“We advocate 4% of the GDP as a floor for defense spending. No question that has to be front and center for any new president’s agenda,” says Marion Blakey, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group representing companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Listening to defense industry figures talk, you could get the impression that the Pentagon’s larder was empty and that the pinching of pennies and tightening of belts was well underway. While the cuts suggested by the Defense Business Board report got a lot of attention, the Pentagon is already quietly laying the groundwork to lock the future Obama administration into a possibly slightly scaled-down version of the over-the-top military spending of the Bush years.

Business as usual?

At the beginning of October, the Pentagon’s latest five-year projection of budget needs was revealed in the Congressional Quarterly. These preliminary figures – the full request should be released sometime next month – indicate that the Pentagon’s starting point in its bargaining with the new administration and Congress comes down to one word: more.

The estimates project $450 billion more in spending over those five years than previously suggested figures. Take fiscal year 2010: the Pentagon is evidently calling for a military budget of $584 billion, an increase of $57 billion over what they informed Bush and Congress they would need just a few months ago.

Unfortunately, when it comes to military spending and defense, the record is reasonably clear – Obama is not about to go toe-to-toe with the military-industrial-complex.

On the campaign trail, his stump speech included this applause-ready line suggesting that the costs of the war in Iraq are taking away from important domestic priorities: “If we’re spending $10 billion a month [in Iraq] over the next four or five years, that’s $10 billion a month we’re not using to rebuild the US, or drawing down our national debt, or making sure that families have health care.”

But the “surge” that Obama wants to shift from Iraq to Afghanistan is unlikely to be a bargain. In addition, he has repeatedly argued for a spike in defense spending to “reset” a military force worn out by war. He has also called for the expansion of the size of the army and the marines. On that point, he is in complete agreement with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. [1]

They even use the same numbers, suggesting that the army should be augmented by 65,000 new recruits and the marines by 27,000. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these manpower increases alone would add about $10 billion a year – that same campaign trail $10 billion – to the Pentagon budget over a five-year period.

The word from Wall Street? In a report entitled “Early Thoughts on Obama and Defense”, a Morgan Stanley researcher wrote on November 5, “As we understand it, Obama has been advised and agrees that there is no peace dividend … In addition, we believe, based on discussions with industry sources that Obama has agreed not to cut the defense budget at least until the first 18 months of his term as the national security situation becomes better understood.”

In other words: Don’t worry about it. Obama is not about to hand the secretary of defense a box of brownie mix and order him to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.

Smarter, not more, military spending

Sooner rather than later, the new administration will need to think seriously about how to spend smarter – and significantly less – on the military. Our nose-diving economy simply will no longer support ever-climbing defense budgets.

The good news is that the Obama administration won’t have to figure it all out alone. The contributors to Foreign Policy In Focus’s new Unified Security Budget have done a lot of the heavy lifting to demonstrate that some of the choices that need to be made really aren’t so tough. The report makes the case for reductions in military spending on outdated or unproven weapons systems totaling $61 billion. The argument is simple and straightforward: these expensive systems don’t keep us safe. Some were designed for a geopolitical moment that is long gone – like the F-22 meant to counter a Soviet plane that was never built. Others, like the ballistic missile defense program, are clearly meant only to perpetuate insecurity and provoke proliferation.

To cut the military budget more deeply, however, means more than canceling useless, high-tech weapons systems. It means taking on something fundamental and far-reaching: America’s place in the world. It means coming to grips with how we garrison the planet, with how we use our military to project influence and power anywhere in the world, with our attitudes towards international treaties and agreements, with our vast passels of real estate in foreign lands, and, of course, with our economic and political relationships with clients and competitors.

As a candidate, Obama stirred our imagination through his calls for a “new era of international cooperation”. The United States cannot, however, cooperate with other nations from atop our shining Green Zone on the hill; we cannot cooperate as the world’s sole superpower, policeman, cowboy, hyperpower, or whatever the imperial nom du jour turns out to be. Bottom line: we cannot genuinely and effectively cooperate while spending more on what we like to call “security” than the next 45 nations combined.

A new era in Pentagon spending would have to begin with a recognition that enduring security is not attained by threat or fiat, nor is it bought with staggering billions of dollars. It is built with other nations. Weapons come second.

Note

1. According to media reports on Wednesday, Gates on Tuesday night accepted Obama’s offer to remain as defense secretary.

Frida Berrigan is a senior program associate at the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative (ASI). She is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and a contributing editor at In These Times. In early December, ASI will release “Weapons at War 2008: Beyond the Bush Legacy”, co-authored by Berrigan and William D Hartung, an examination of US weapons sales and military aid to developing nations, conflict zones and nations where human rights are not safeguarded. Email berrigan@newamerica.net if you would like a copy of the executive summary.

(Copyright 2008 Frida Berrigan.)

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IMF TERMS PACKAGE A STRONG SIGNAL TO DONORS: $3BN TO BE RELEASED INITIALLY, $13BN NEEDED FOR ‘STABILISATION’ (Pakistan)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

November 26, 2008 Wednesday Ziqa’ad 27, 1429

by Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON, Nov 25: The executive board of the International Monetary Fund has approved a $7.6 billion loan for Pakistan under a programme that also requires Islamabad to reduce its fiscal deficit to 3.3 per cent of the GDP and bring down inflation to six per cent.

“By providing large financial support to Pakistan, the IMF is sending a strong signal to the donor community about the country’s improved macroeconomic prospects,” said IMF Deputy Managing Director Takatoshi Kato. The programme was approved at a board meeting at the IMF headquarters in Washington on Monday.

“The programme aims to restore the confidence of domestic and foreign investors with a tightening of fiscal and monetary policies, while maintaining social stability through targeted spending,” the IMF said.

Hours after the approval, IMF’s mission chief to Pakistan, Juan Carlos Di Tata, told a news briefing on Tuesday that most of the adjustments for reducing fiscal deficit would come from eliminating fuel and electricity subsidies and from eliminating exemptions on income and agriculture taxes.

The government has already withdrawn fuel subsidies, while its efforts to increase electricity rates caused widespread protests this summer. Any measure that leads to an increase in fuel prices or electricity rates is bound to cause more violent reactions and may further reduce the already depleting popularity of the current government.

But the IMF assured the people of Pakistan that “expenditure on the social safety net will be increased to protect the poor through both cash transfers and targeted electricity subsidies”.

While many in Pakistan questioned the government’s wisdom in going to the IMF, the Fund’s mission chief for the country warned that Pakistan was not out of the woods yet. He said the country needed as much as $13 billion during the current financial year to stabilise its economy.

Mr Di Tata spelled out some of the conditions attached to the loan, but said the IMF had not asked Pakistan to reduce defence spending because it was for the government to determine how it wanted to bring down its expenditure.

He said that out of the $7.6 billion pledged on Monday, Pakistan would get a total of $4.7 billion during the current fiscal year. The rest will be disbursed after quarterly reviews during the next 23 months.

“The regular monitoring of the economy … will show how the macroeconomic objectives set by the government are being met and whether they need to be adjusted in the light of changing circumstances,” the IMF said.

Besides the IMF, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank will also give $3.8 billion to Pakistan during the current fiscal year, while $4.5 billion will come from the Friends of Pakistan club and other donors.

Earlier, the IMF issued a statement saying that Pakistan would get immediate access to $3.1 billion from the $7.6 billion pledged and this amount may be deposited into Pakistan’s account at the US Federal Reserve in New York as early as Thursday.

The IMF expects Pakistan’s economic growth to slow to 3.4 per cent in the current fiscal year from 5.8 per cent the previous year. It is forecast to recover to five per cent next fiscal year.

The Fund expects the country’s budget deficit to be reduced to 4.2 per cent of gross domestic product in the current fiscal year and 3.3 per cent the following year — from 7.4 per cent at the end of June.

“The reduction will be achieved primarily by phasing out energy subsidies, better-prioritising development spending and implementing tax policy and tax administration reforms,” Mr Kato said.

The State Bank of Pakistan, which recently conducted a two-percentage point hike in the discount rate, is expected to bring down inflation and shore up reserves, the IMF said. The central bank is also expected to stop financing the government.

The programme includes measures to improve monetary management and enhance the SBP’s bank resolution capacity, and avoid the use of public resources to support the stock market.

Mr Di Tata noted that the reduction in expenditures would create room to increase spending on the social safety net.

The fiscal programme for 2008-09 envisaged an increase in spending on the social safety net of 0.6 percentage points of GDP to 0.9 per cent of GDP, the IMF said.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, CENTRAL BANKS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, GASOLINE, IMF, INTERNATIONAL, ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK, MACROECONOMY, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, WORLD BANK | 1 Comment »

MILITARY CONTRACTS OF $5 MILLION OR MORE – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE – Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) – Contract

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 25, 2008

November 24, 2008

FOR RELEASE AT 5 p.m. ET No. 978-08

CONTRACTS

NAVY

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney, Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $98,894,306 modification to a previously awarded cost plus incentive fee contract (N00019-07-C-0098) to exercise an option for the procurement of one Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) propulsion system, one STOVL initial spare module, initial spare parts, and associated sustainment efforts for the U.S. Navy. In addition, this modification provides for special tooling and test equipment and a low rate initial production proposal and planning effort for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (70 percent); Bristol, United Kingdom (19 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (11 percent) and is expected to be completed in February 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., being awarded a $52,328,604 modification (#P00124) to previously awarded cost plus award fee contract (M67004-99-C-0002) to incorporate funds for the exercise of an option for the Maritime Prepositioning Ships Program, the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway, and other logistics support which includes logistics services that cover maintenance, supply support, inventory management, IT support, preservation, packing and packaging, organic support, and shipping and receiving, both in CONUS and OCONUS. This modification increases the basic value of the contract to a new total of $810,234,260. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Fla. (75 percent); various locations in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan (17 percent); aboard 16 MPS ships (7 percent); in six locations in Norway (1 percent); and work is expected to be completed by July 13, 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The United States Marine Corps, Blount Island Command, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, Norfolk, Va., is being awarded a $15,977,851 modification to previously awarded contract N00024-05-C-4403 for the USS Nassau (LHA-4) FY09 planned maintenance availability. There are 30+ work items that are repair, replace, preserve, install, clean in nature. In addition, the contractor will perform support services for several alteration installation teams and Norfolk Naval Shipyard work. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be completed by February 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $15,905,566 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Services, Inc., Greenville, S.C., is being awarded an $11,822,675 not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for Special Structural Inspection Kit (SSIK) Revision 7 inspection/ installation on five P-3 aircraft. Work will be performed in Greenville, S.C., and is expected to be completed in June 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-05-D-0013).

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded an $11,276,395 modification to previously awarded contract to exercise an option for technical engineering support for the ESSM. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (45 percent); Camden, Ark. (2 percent); Andover, Mass. (10 percent); Australia (11 percent); Canada (7 percent); Denmark (1 percent); Greece (1 percent); Germany (8 percent); The Netherlands (6 percent); Norway (5 percent); Spain (3 percent); and Turkey (1 percent), and is expected to be completed by November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $349,968 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-07-C-5432).

AIR FORCE

The Air Force is modifying a firm fixed price and cost plus fixed fee contract with Thales-Raytheon Systems, Fullerton, Calif. for $6,604,990. This contract will provide sector/systems sustainment, engineering support, and materials to support sustainment of the Battle Control System-fixed system, which provides NORAD and PACOM commanders with a viable, interoperable, open architecture air defense and control platform in support of NORAD’s Homeland Defense. At this time, all the money has been obligated. HQ Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. is the contracting activity. (FA8722-06-C-001, Modification P00017).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Foster-Caviness Company, Inc., Colfax, N.C.* is being awarded a maximum $14,100,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, total set aside contract for fresh fruit and vegetable support. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and USDA School Lunch Participants. This proposal was originally Web solicited with 2 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising first option period. The date of performance completion is May 29, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM300-08-D-P002).

Produce Source Partners, Newport News, Va.* is being awarded a maximum $10,350,000 fixed price with economic price adjustment, total set aside contract for fresh fruit and vegetable support. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy and Marine Corps. This proposal was originally Web solicited with 3 responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising first option period. The date of performance completion is May 29, 2010. The contracting activity is the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP), Philadelphia, Pa. (SPM300-08-D-P001).

ARMY

Summa Technology Inc, Huntsville, Ala., was awarded on Nov 21, 2008 a, $39,999,694 five-year firm fixed price contract for a container Roll In/Out Platform. The estimated Five Year total was 3,270. Work will be performed in Cullman, Ala., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2012. Bids solicited were via the Web and six bids were received. US Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-06-D-0269).

Thales-Raytheon Systems Co., LLC, Fullerton, Calif., was awarded on Sept 25, 2008, a modification for $22,316,182.00 with the total of %75,510,390.00 firm fixed price contract for 264 Radar Processors and 47 Radar Processors Spare Kits in support of the Firefinder AN/TPQ-36 Radar Processors replacement program. Work will be performed in Fullerton, Calif., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2010. This was a sole source contract. Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-06-C-M207 P00020).

Rolls-Royce Corporation, Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded on Nov 20, 2008 a, $11,050,725 firm fixed price contract, to analyze, test, repair and overhaul of 117 each T63-A-720 Gas Turbine Engines applicable to the OH-58 Kiowa Helicopters. Work will be performed in Neosho, Mo., and Oakland, Calif., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. US Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-09-C-0001).

Mississippi Limestone Corp, Friars Point, Miss., was awarded on Nov 20, 2008 a, $9,802,332 firm fixed price contract for flood control, Mississippi River & Tributaries, Articulated Concrete Matter Castings, Delta, La. Work will be performed in Vidalia, La., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 10, 2009. Bids solicited were via the FedBizOpps and two bids were received. Corp of Engineers, Vicksburg Contracting Office, Vicksburg, Miss., is the contracting activity (W912EE-09-C-0001).

BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Nashua, NH was awarded on Sept 25, 2008, a fixed price contract for $11,221,000.00 with a not to exceed total of $22,900,000.00 firm for 73 Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure/Common Missile Warning Systems A-Kits for the CH-47 aircraft. Work will be performed in Nashua, N.H., with an estimated completion date of July 25, 2009. This was a sole source contract. Communications-Electronics Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-08-C-T213).

T.W. LaQuay Dredging, Inc, Port Lavaca, Texas, was awarded on Nov 20, 2008 a, $10,796,000 firm fixed price contract. Gulf Intercostals Waterways, Texas in Nueces, Kleberg, Kennedy, Willacy, and Cameron Counties, Texas, Corpus Christi Bay to Port Isabel, Pipeline Dredging. Work will be performed in Nueces County, Texas, Kleberg County, Texas, Kennedy, Texas, Willacy County, Texas and Cameron County, Texas, with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2009. Eighteen bids were solicited and two bids were received. US Army Engineer District, Galveston, Texas, is the contracting activity (W912HY-09-C-0005).

*Small Business

On the Web:

http://www.defenselink.mil/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=3910

Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132

Public contact: http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/comment.html or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1

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PUBLISHED BY ‘U.S. Department of Defense’

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

WORKERS, MANAGEMENT OF BULGARIA’S MILITARY FACTORY VMZ STRIKE DEAL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 24, 2008

21 November 2008, Friday

The workers of one of Bulgaria’s largest military factories, VMZ, which is located in the central Bulgarain town of Sopot, called off their strike on Friday after they reached an agreement with the management.

Several hundred workers led by the Podkrepa Labor Confederation stopped work as planned Friday morning in order to stage a protest rally.

A fight almost broke out at one point, when the protesting workers blocked the central entrance of the factory in order to prevent some of their colleagues, who did not support the strike, to reach their working places.

Later on Friday, however, the management of the factory agreed to fulfill all of the workers’ demands including the payment of salary increases of BGN 22 since July 1, the payment of transport allowances, the crafting of a production program for the next six months, and the termination of the sale of recycled factory equipment.

According to the Podkrepa trade union, a total of 1000 workers stopped work on Friday in protest. Many of the protesting workers stated they demanded a monthly salary of BGN 700. However, no such demand had formally been made by the trade unionists, and no such deal was included into the agreement that the syndicates and the management signed on Friday.

During the warning protests earlier this week, Georgi Katsarov from the strike committee of the Podkrepa Labor Confederation, said the actual average monthly wages in the plant were between BGN 320 and BGN 340. Katsarov also announced the claims of the VMZ Sopot Director Ivan Ivanov that the monthly salary in the plant was BGN 700 were not true.

The strike organized by Podkrepa was not supported by the other major trade union – the Confederation of the Independent Bulgarian Syndicates (KNSB).

KNSB representatives have stated the Podkrepa Union did not want to cooperate with them, and that the workers’ salaries were paid regularly, and the arms factory had enough orders to work properly.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘NOVINITE’ (Bulgaria)

Posted in BULGARIA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE WORKERS | Leave a Comment »

ISRAELE: ATTACCHI DI RAZZI SU SDEROT E ASHQELON

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 22, 2008

22-11-2008 – 19:26

(ANSA) – TEL AVIV, 22 NOV – Alcuni razzi palestinesi sono stati lanciati stasera dalla striscia di Gaza in direzione delle citta’ israeliane di Sderot e Ashqelon.Lo affermano fonti locali secondo cui si sono udite quattro deflagrazioni. In diversi insediamenti ebraici a ridosso della striscia sono risuonate la sirene di allarme e la popolazione e’ andata nei rifugi. Fonti palestinesi aggiungono che alcune persone sono rimaste ferite a Beit Hanun,nel nord di Gaza,da una cannonata sparata da un carro armato israeliano.

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Posted in FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MIDDLE EAST, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

IN LATIN AMERICA, MEDVEDEV WILL TAKE FIGHT TO US DOORSTEP

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 21, 2008

11/20/2008

MOSCOW — President Dmitry Medvedev embarks this week on a Latin American tour crafted to slake MEDVEDEV'S LATIN TOURRussia’s thirst for respect as a serious global power and carry its message of US defiance to Washington’s doorstep.

Medvedev’s four-nation trip kicks off Friday in Peru, where he will meet at the weekend with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, including outgoing US President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The Kremlin leader then heads to Brazil to meet its leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva before traveling to Venezuela, whose maverick President Hugo Chavez is famous for his virulent broadsides against Washington.

For the grand finale, Medvedev rounds off his tour in Cuba, the flagship Cold War ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the United States’ communist arch-foe in the western hemisphere since the late 1950s.

The Russian navy, keen to prove that reports of its death a decade ago were exaggerated, will flex its muscles under Washington’s nose by conducting joint maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, officials said.

The extensive trip expands a Cold War-era strategy revived by Medvedev’s mentor Vladimir Putin of raising Russia’s profile globally and taking rivalry with the United States to Washington’s doorstep in Latin America, analysts said.

But it also comes as Russia has taken a battering in the global economic crisis, while calls by the new Kremlin leader for a reshaping of international financial and military structures have met little response.

The tour will demonstrate Russia’s “increasing interest in expanding its global influence, particularly on the continent Washington believes to be a traditional sphere of American influence,” said Yevgeny Volk, Moscow representative of the US Heritage Foundation, a research center.

In comments to RIA Novosti on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Russian ties with South America and the Caribbean region were not aimed at “third countries” — a clear reference to the United States.

But Russian media have portrayed the naval exercises and recent Russian air force exercises in Venezuela as a direct response to US plans to extend a missile shield close to Russian borders in central Europe.

Venezuela’s purchase of a slew of Russian weapons have already prompted concern on the part of neighboring Colombia and the United States about the dangers of a South American arms race.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper has reported that negotiations will be pursued during Medvedev’s visit on new Venezuelan arms purchases from Russia, possibly including air defense systems and fighter jets.

His visit to Cuba is sure to revive memories of Cold War rivalry, although the daily Kommersant reported in August that Cuba had reacted badly to Russian suggestions the island might host Russian bomber planes.

Hailing warm bilateral relations this month, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said that defense ties with Russia were aimed at “reinforcing the defensive potential of Cuba.”

Amid the Russian-US tensions, Medvedev’s encounter with Bush in Peru may prove chilly.

Moscow has all but written off coming to terms with the outgoing US administration on its missile defense plans, which Washington insists do not threaten Russia and are directed against “rogue states” such as Iran.

As well as pursuing military ties, Medvedev’s tour is sure to be aimed at expanding economic ties with South America, where Russian energy firms Gazprom, Lukoil and the British-Russian joint venture TNK-BP have been pushing projects in Venezuela.

But analysts remain sceptical about Russia’s goals in both Latin America and Asia.

Melbourne-based Asia specialist Damien Kingsbury said that Russia, despite its vast territory in the far east, was not seen as a significant Asian power and had damaged its cause by its military surge into Georgia in August.

Russia’s alliance with China remains “short-term”, said Kingsbury, of Deakin University, adding that after the August war, “states in the Asia-Pacific region would view Russia with a degree more caution.”

Reflecting on Russia’s dependence on energy exports to finance its ambitions, Volk concluded: “With the decrease in oil prices it will be much more difficult for Russia to play the role of superpower.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY TRIBUNE’ (Philippines)

Posted in BRASIL, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CUBA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LATIN AMERICA, PERU, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, VENEZUELA | Leave a Comment »

GADHAFI VISITS MOSCOW TODAY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 31, 2008

GADHAFI VISITS MOSCOW TODAY

date: 31 10, 2008

MOSCOW, OCT 31 (BNA) THE LIBYAN LEADER MOAMMAR GADHAFI IS SET TO ARRIVE IN RUSSIA FOR Mu'ammer Muhammad al QaddafiTALKS EXPECTED TO FOCUS ON BOOSTING ENERGY TIES AND THE ARMS TRADE BETWEEN THE TWO COLD WAR ALLIES REVEALED AP TODAY.

THE KREMLIN SAYS GADHAFI WILL ARRIVE ON A THREE-DAY VISIT TODAY.

RUSSIA HAS MOVED EARLIER THIS YEAR TO BOLSTER RELATIONS WITH LIBYA, AGREEING TO WRITE OFF 4.5 BILLION IN LIBYA’S DEBT FOR SOVIET-ERA ARMS SUPPLIES IN EXCHANGE FOR LUCRATIVE BUSINESS DEALS.

VLADIMIR PUTIN VISITED LIBYA IN APRIL WHEN HE WAS STILL RUSSIAS PRESIDENT.

PUTIN, NOW PRIME MINISTER, PRESIDED OVER THE SIGNING OF A 2.2 BILLION EURO CONTRACT FOR STATE-OWNED RUSSIAN RAILWAYS IN LIBYA.

RUSSIAS STATE GAS MONOPOLY GAZPROM HAS ALSO STRUCK A DEAL TO DEVELOP SIX OIL AND GAS FIELDS IN LIBYA.

HS/ 31-OCT-2008 12:26

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BAHRAIN NEWS AGENCY’

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LYBIA, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NATURAL GAS, PETROL, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS | Leave a Comment »

SPEAKING FREELY – FORGET BUSH’S WARS AND WORK WITH ASIA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 29, 2008

Oct 24, 2008

by Zhiqun Zhu

John Hay, the 37th United States secretary of state, said in 1889, “The Mediterranean is the ocean of the past, the Atlantic, the ocean of the present, and the Pacific, the ocean of the future.”

The future is now. The “Asia-Pacific century” is not a prediction any more; it’s reality. Based on purchasing power parity, three of the four largest economies in the world are in Asia – China, Japan and India. And if the United States is included, then all the top four economies are in the Asia-Pacific region.

The United States has longstanding interests in Asia. Two of the world’s potentially most explosive places are located in East Asia: the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait, where the United States has significant economic, geopolitical and strategic interests. Since the end of World War II, the US has had extensive economic interactions with Asian nations. It played an instrumental role in Japan’s post-war recovery and the economic takeoff of the four Asian “tigers” – South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Since the early 1980s, China has also benefited enormously from America’s huge investment and its insatiable consumer market. It is not an exaggeration that East Asia is of critical importance to America’s future.

One wonders whether the fact that Asia has not been a major foreign policy issue in the 2008 US presidential election is good news or bad news. The new US president must move beyond President George W Bush’s preoccupation with the “war on terror” and pay more attention to Asia.

Mixed legacy

On the positive side, US alliances with Japan, South Korea and Australia remain strong. In the past eight years, Japan, South Korea and Australia all had leadership changes, and in Japan’s case there have been four different prime ministers. All these Asian leaders have firmly supported America’s “war on terror”. They have all visited Washington to show solidarity with Bush.

One of the rare bright spots in Bush’s foreign policy is China. A stable and strong relationship between the United States and China is probably Bush’s greatest foreign policy achievement. Bush and his family are now considered “friends” by the Chinese government and Bush’s decision to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, though controversial at home, was welcomed by China where members of the Bush family were warmly received.

Prodded by the United States, the new Kuomintang (KMT) government in Taiwan headed by Ma Ying-jeou has abandoned the pro-independence policies of his predecessor Chen Shui-bian and has endeavored to improve cross-strait relations. As a result, military conflict in the Taiwan Strait is becoming much less likely now.

However, Bush has also failed miserably in East Asia overall, most notably with regard to the unresolved issue of North Korea’s nuclear program. Opportunities to denuclearize North Korea have come and gone during the eight years of the Bush administration.

An agreed framework was reached between the US and North Korea in 1994. Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula seemed to be within reach. President Bill Clinton sent his secretary of state Madeline Albright to North Korea in October 2000 to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il directly. Clinton was even prepared to visit North Korea himself to improve relations.

After Bush came to office in January 2001, he refused to honor the 1994 agreement and rejected direct talks with North Korea directly. After the September 11, 2001, bombings he labeled North Korea as part of the “axis of evil”. North Korea was outraged and felt cornered; it hardened its position on the nuclear issue and decided to proceed with nuclear technology. Even many South Koreans felt offended: North Korea is poor, but it is not evil.

Eventually China launched the six-party talks in 2003. The US accepted this multilateral forum for discussion but still refused to deal with North Korea directly. After tough negotiations, North Korea finally agreed, in February 2007, to shut down its main nuclear reactor in exchange for food and aid from the other five parties.

In June 2008, North Korea blew up the cooling tower of its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and handed over to the US a declaration of its nuclear activities. However, by August, the US had not removed North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list, as it had promised earlier, while insisting that it wanted independent verification of North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. Accusing the US of breaking its promise, North Korea then announced it had suspended disabling its nuclear facilities.

In a dramatic development, on October 11, Bush decided to remove North Korea from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. This was an encouraging step, but it may have come too late.

As a result of Bush’s policies, the new US president will face several serious challenges in East Asia.

The immediate security challenge is a nuclear-capable North Korea. Recent reports about Kim Jong-il’s poor health added complexity and uncertainty to the nuclear issue and security in East Asia.

For Washington, the shortest diplomatic route to Pyongyang is through Beijing. China has a strong interest in preventing the nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, in part because it does not want to give Japan an excuse to go nuclear.

North Korea has not accounted for dozens of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, and the new US president needs to explain to Tokyo that as important as the matter is, it should not be linked to North Korea’s denuclearization. Japan can seek to resolve the abduction issue through other channels, preferably by engaging with North Korea directly. The United States must coordinate its policy closely with China and other nations in the region in order to break North Korea’s nuclear stalemate.

Asia also poses tough economic challenges to the new president. The US must become actively involved in economic integration with Asian nations, otherwise it risks being marginalized in Asia. It cannot afford to continue to stand on the sidelines as the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and northeast Asian nations discus a regional free-trade zone.

The United States had been the dominant economic power in Asia, but now China has become the largest trading partner of almost every country in Asia. Economically, the US is already playing second fiddle. Asian economies are some of the biggest holders of US Treasury bonds with Japan and China together holding about half of all Treasury bonds sold abroad.

China has become America’s third-largest export market after Canada and Mexico, and its foreign exchange reserve is quickly approaching US$2 trillion. The recent financial crisis in the US makes it imperative for the new president to work more closely with East Asian nations. Shortly after the US Congress passed the $700 billion financial rescue package in September, the People’s Bank of China (central bank) reportedly expressed interest in purchasing $200 billion worth of US Treasury bonds. Undoubtedly, East Asia will be part of the solution to the current financial problems in America.

The biggest challenge for the US and its new president is China. The challenge from the re-emerging power of the Middle Kingdom is on all fronts. China’s economy continues to gallop forward, despite the impact of the financial crisis in the West. For many developing countries, China’s development model, the so-called “Beijing Consensus” of economic liberalization under tight political control, offers an attractive alternative to the “Washington Consensus” of the US.

After Beijing passed the Olympic test with flying colors, and after Chinese astronauts successfully conducted their first space walk, the Chinese people have every reason to celebrate. As a result, nationalism has grown even stronger in China. Dealing with this increasingly powerful and proud nation of over 1.3 billion people is no easy task – and China-US relations have become increasingly complex.

From issues ranging from trade imbalances to independence protests in Tibet, the two countries have many differences. The recent US sale of $6.5 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan certainly does not bode well for bilateral ties. The rise of China – a nation that does not share core values with the United States – will be the most pressing foreign policy challenge for the next American president.

Bush has preferred unilateralism in foreign policy, and in Asia he has preferred strong bilateral alliances built upon historical ties with key allies. But this bilateral alliance structure is rooted in Cold War ideology and is outdated today. The new American president must go beyond unilateralism and bilateralism and move towards multilateralism on a wide range of issues.

In Asia, the new American president must be a uniter, not a divider. In addition to resolving North Korea’s nuclear dilemma, fighting infectious diseases, piracy on the high seas, global warming, and financial crises all require multilateral cooperation between the United States and the nations of Asia and the world.

Zhiqun Zhu, PhD, is MacArthur Chair in East Asian Politics and associate professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at zhiqun.zhu@bucknell.edu

(Copyright 2008 Zhiqun Zhu.)

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.

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