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Archive for the ‘WAR IN AFGHANISTAN’ Category

U.S. BUSINESS CLIMATE WORST IN 27 YRS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 26, 2009

13:17:00 01/26/2009

by Lucia Mutikani – Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER’

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Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLICIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SCAMS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FRAUD, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, STATE TERRORISM, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR CRIMES, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

ANALYSIS: HARD TIMES HELP GEITHNER’S TREASURY BID

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 25, 2009

Sunday January 25, 2009

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STAR’ (Malaysia)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE STAR’ (Malaysia)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

OBAMA’S ECONOMIC PLAN MEETS GOP PUSHBACK – PRESIDENT SHOWS BIPARTISANSHIP HAS CLEAR LIMITS; ‘I WON. I TRUMP YOU,’ HE TELLS GOP (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 24, 2009

Jan. 23, 2009

by Jake Tapper, Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl

PUBLISHED BY ‘ABC NEWS’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘ABC NEWS’ (USA)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - LEGAL, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

OBAMA FIRMA LA ORDEN DE CLAUSURA DE GUANTÁNAMO (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 22, 2009

22.01.09 – 21:50

Diario Vasco – AGENCIAS – WASHINGTON

PUBLISHED BY ‘DIARIO VASCO’ (Basque Country)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DIARIO VASCO’ (Basque Country)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

WALL ST. SINKS ON OBAMA INAUGURATION DAY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 21, 2009

Wednesday, 21 Jan, 2009 – 05:53 AM PST

Agence France-Presse

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

THE NUMBERS ARE HORRIFYING (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 20, 2009

Jan. 26, 2009

Mohamed A. El-Erian

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ – print edition -(USA)

NEWSWEEK – Jan. 26, 2009

GLOBAL INVESTOR

By Mohamed A. El-Erian

THE NUMBERS ARE HORRIFYING

On Tuesday, President-elect Barack Obama inherits an economic calamity, and the situation will get worse in the first few months of his presidency regardless of what he does. How quickly it improves thereafter is not just a matter of which policies he decides to pursue; importantly, it is also a function of how he pursues them. Investors need to pay close attention lest they experience yet another challenging and, in some cases, devastating year.

No one should doubt that we are still in the midst of a historic economic crisis. Having incurred massive losses, individuals and companies around the world are, not surprisingly, saving more—some by choice as they attempt to restore balance to their finances and others by necessity as their credit lines are cut by beleaguered lenders. As detailed elsewhere in this edition of NEWSWEEK, the world has entered an Age of Thrift. Less spending by individuals will mean even lower demand, and the production of goods and services will be cut, again.

The latest economic data vividly illustrate the self-fulfilling nature of this global phenomenon. The numbers are horrifying, and increasingly so. There’s been a violent collapse in industrial production in Europe; the latest monthly data now show annual contractions of 17 percent in Spain, 13 percent in the U.K., 9 percent in France and Italy, and 6 percent in Germany. Emerging economies are now on the same course, with contractions of 9 percent in Russia and 4 percent in Brazil.

At the same time, the labor market is deteriorating dramatically in both Europe and America. The United States has now registered 12 consecutive months of job losses, including more than half a million in December, bringing the 2008 total to 2.6 million—a level not seen for more than 60 years. The crisis continues to catch people by surprise, suggesting that too few people sufficiently understand its dynamics. The U.S. Commerce Department reports that December retail sales declined at more than twice the rate expected by most forecasters, and further extended the record for consecutive monthly declines, now six .and counting. President elect Obama faces the prospect of more corporate defaults, pension losses and personal bankruptcies in the coming months. Fortunately, he has already shown that he has a good understanding of the need for an aggressive fiscal stimulus, and Congress seems to be onboard.

Without massive public stimulus, there is little chance of countering the highly disruptive consequences of a too sudden and too prolonged ascent of the Age of Thrift.

Yet there is a risk that this consensus could break down in quibbling over the details. Specifically, we should stop the bickering over whether to cut taxes or raise spending. Both are required. The tax cuts should work mainly through employment channels, including a cut in the payroll tax as this will directly help employment and limit the fall in consumption. Government spending should focus on sectors that will quickly raise resource productivity, like infrastructure, which helps lower production costs, and social services, which raise human productivity overtime.

Obama also needs to step up efforts to alleviate the credit crunch. This is not about an immediate recovery in the banking system. It won’t happen. The sector is too damaged to act as a conduit of funds to the general economy. Instead, the government must come up with more imaginative ways to provide direct financing, particularly for mortgages and some areas of consumer finance.

Obama’s economic appointments suggest that he understands how important it will be to get the design and implementation of these policies right. The highly capable Larry Summers and Tim Geithner should focus on coming up with a master plan to lead the country out of the crisis. This will ensure that the immediate measures implemented are consistent over time with a resumption of economic growth and rising productivity.

Managing expectations is also more important than ever. In his remarks on the financial crisis in November and December, Obama came across as informed, committed and careful not to over-promise. Yet his efforts have been largely negated by recent talk out of Washington of regulatory clampdowns, potential abrogation of property rights and other non-market solutions. The president-elect will have to step up quickly to the challenge of consistently better communication if he is to instill the confidence that is critical for a meaningful economic turn later this year.

Finally, Obama should signal clearly that he knows a global dislocation requires a global response. What was a U.S. financial crisis has morphed into a challenge to the international market system. An effective solution will not materialize unless the United States takes a policy leadership role on the global stage. It’s a role no other country can credibly play. With Obama as president, the world is exceptionally welcoming to U.S. leadership. He must seize this opportunity for the economic good of America, and the world.

ELERIAN is CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO and author of “When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change,” winner of the 2008 FT/Goldman Sachs business book of the year award.

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ – print edition -(USA)

Posted in AGRICULTURE, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FARMING SUBSIDIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, STATE TARIFFS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

ISSUES CANNOT BE RESOLVED IMMEDIATELY: OBAMA (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 19, 2009

0600 PST, Monday, January 19, 2009

The International News

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL NEWS’ (Pakistan)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INTERNATIONAL NEWS’ (Pakistan)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLICIES, DOLLAR (USA), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SCAMS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FRAUD, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, PENSION FUNDS, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, STATE TERRORISM, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR CRIMES, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

200,000 WAR VETERANS HOMELESS IN US – 300,000 IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WAR VETERANS FILE DISABILITY CLAIMS WITH US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 16, 2009

2009-01-16

Middle East Online

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST ONLINE’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST ONLINE’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HEALTH CARE - USA, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

MILIBAND REGRETS ‘WAR ON TERROR’ – THE IDEA OF A “WAR ON TERROR” IS A “MISTAKE”, PUTTING TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON MILITARY FORCE, FOREIGN SECRETARY DAVID MILIBAND HAS SAID (UK)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 15, 2009

04:52 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

BBC NEWS

PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BBC NEWS’ (UK)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLICIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WAR CRIMES, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

THE BUSH LEGACY OUT OF AMERICA: AS BARACK OBAMA PREPARES FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, A REVIEW OF HIS PREDECESSOR’S EIGHT YEARS IN POWER SHOWS HE WAS THE LEAST SUCCESSFUL PRESIDENT EVER. HOW DID IT GO SO WRONG?

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 12, 2009

Sunday, 11 January 2009

by Rupert Cornwell

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, DOLLAR (USA), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

U.S., IRAN SHARE INTERESTS IN AFGHANISTAN: PETRAEUS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 11, 2009

January 10, 2009 Saturday – Muharram 12, 1430

Agence France-Presse

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAN, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

THE CHANGING ECONOMIC EPICENTRE OF THE WORLD – ON THE DEMISE OF SOVIET UNION 18 YEARS AGO, US PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH ANNOUNCED THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW WORLD ORDER. HE SAID: ‘A HUNDRED GENERATIONS HAVE SEARCHED FOR THIS ELUSIVE PATH TO PEACE, WHILE A THOUSAND WARS RAGED ACROSS THE SPAN OF HUMAN ENDEAVOUR’

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 7, 2009

Saturday, 03 Jan, 2009 – 01:34 PM

by Shahid R. Siddiqi

PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

HOW HYPOCRISY ON ‘TERRORISM’ KILLS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 4, 2009

2009-01-01 10:45:56

by Robert Parry

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST ONLINE’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST ONLINE’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

WAR PASSES: THE CLIMATE IS FOR EVER – WE HUMANS ARE BETTER AT DEALING WITH CRISES THAN LONG-TERM PROBLEMS. THE FUTURE COULD JUDGE US HARSHLY

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 4, 2009

Sunday, 4 January 2009

by Tom Burke (Co-founder of E3G and a visiting professor at Imperial and University colleges, London)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, GLOBAL WARMING, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, ISRAEL, MACROECONOMY, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, POLLUTION, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

HARSH DOSE OF REALITY TO HIT AMERICA AFTER INAUGURATION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 2, 2009

January 3, 2009

Ian Munro in New York

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE SIDNEY MORNING HERALD’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE SIDNEY MORNING HERALD’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, AL QAEDA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EDUCATION, ELECTIONS 2008 - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HEALTH CARE - USA, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, NATO, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, STATE TARIFFS, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | 1 Comment »

24 FINED OR SCOLDED FOR HELPING NOE WITH FUNDRAISING SCHEME

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 28, 2008

2Saturday, December 27, 2008 9:08 PM

by Mark Niquette – The Columbus Dispatch

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FRAUD, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, RECESSION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | 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 »

CAPITALISM FAILED? OR DID WE FAIL CAPITALISM? (wagging a middle finger at us)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

Dec. 25, 2008 – 6:21PM

by Loren Steffy – Houston Chronicle

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE’ (USA)

Posted in AL QAEDA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EMPLOYMENT, ENERGY, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HEALTH CARE - USA, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES, STOCK MARKETS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

WISDOM SERIES: EDWARD SONSHINE WOULD SPEED UP INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Garry Marr – The Financial Post

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL POST’ (Canada)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL POST’ (Canada)

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E TOME SAPATO NA CABEÇA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 26, 2008

16/12/2008 – 08:17

Redação Diário de Natal – G1

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CHARGE BY IVAN CABRAL (Brazil) – 16/12/2008 – © Copyright 2008 – All Rights Reserved

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IS THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION CRIMINALLY LIABLE FOR ITS LAWLESSNESS? – THE CULPABILITY FOR FLOUTING NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AGAINST TORTURE AND SPYING IS SHARED AND IS BEING ADDRESSED BY THE PROPER INSTITUTIONS

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

December 24, 2008

L.A. TIMES – Editorial

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BUSH A CATALYST IN AMERICA’S DECLINING INFLUENCE – THE PRESIDENT OVERSAW A PERIOD OF ERODING ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL POWER, IN WHICH THE RISE OF CHINA, INDIA AND OTHERS WAS A MAJOR FACTOR, BUT ASSISTED BY AN AVERSION TO HIM AND HIS POLICIES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

December 25, 2008

by Paul Richter

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE L.A. TIMES’ (USA)

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THE RETURN OF REALPOLITIK IN ARABIA – Bush’s ‘diplomacy of freedom’ gives way to Obama’s caution and reticence. The Middle East may test our fatigue

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 16, 2008

DECEMBER 15, 2008, 11:42 P.M. ET

by Amy R. Remo

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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

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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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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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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.

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ (USA)

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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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PUBLISHED BY ‘PHILLY.COM’ (USA)

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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PUBLISHED BY ‘PORTAL CUBA’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMERCIAL PROTECTIONISM, COMMODITIES MARKET, CUBA, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - ILLEGAL, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

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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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MERCURY’ (South Africa)

Posted in CHINA, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, NORWAY, RUSSIA, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

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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PUBLISHED BY ‘ASIA TIMES’ (Hong Kong)

Posted in AL QAEDA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE WORK MARKET, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

CABRISAS: LA ECONOMÍA NO PODÍA SEGUIR FUNCIONANDO COMO UN CASINO – Cabrisas en su participación en la cumbre del Alba, resaltó la incapacidad de los países de Europa y Estados Unidos de contribuir con las solicitudes de los organismos internacionales, para la ayuda de los países en vía de desarrollo, pero ”en pocos días fue capaz de invertir más de 30 millones de millones para salvar a los banqueros”

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

TeleSur – Hace: 01 hora

El primer vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros de Cuba, Ricardo Cabrisas indicó con relación a El primer vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros de Cuba, Ricardo Cabrisasla crisis económica mundial que “la economía no puede seguir funcionando como un casino”.

Según Cabrisas el sistema económico funcionaba “para el beneficio de unos pocos especuladores y el sufrimiento para el 80 por ciento de la población del planeta”.

Las declaraciones fueron emitidas durante su participación en la reunión de los países del ALBA que se realiza este miércoles en la capital de Venezuela y donde se realiza un debate para buscar la respuesta de esta organización regional a la crisis financiera mundial.

Sobre la crisis destacó que “se trata de la crisis del orden económico mundial injusto, sin equidad alguna, sobre el cual se apoya en buena medida el orden social y político más injusto de nuestra época”

Asímismo indicó que esta crisis no es la repetición de otras anteriores, “ni siquiera de aquella que, en los años 30 del siglo 20, se conoció como la gran depresión, en la actualidad la crisis económica se acompaña de otros variados rostros de crisis, como la energética, la alimentaria, ecológica y por supuesta la social”

Cabrisas explicó que “La crisis actual tiene lugar cuando la globalización de la economía mundial es más extensa e intensa que nunca antes.”

Calificó la crisis como un reto a la capacidad de los humanos: “Ésta va más allá del neoliberalismo y de la crisis misma, para convertirse en un reto a la capacidad de los humanos para salvar la especie – mediante la construcción de un mundo mejor que éste – de las recurrentes y devastadoras crisis económicas, de la suicida destrucción del medio ambiente, de la guerra global del exterminio”.

De igual manera denunció que “el plan de rescate del Gobierno de Bush y el plan de rescate europeo priorizan el de los especuladores y banqueros que fueron declarados fracasados por el mercado. En pocos días han destinado unos tres millones de millones de dólares para salvar la estructura especulativa fracasada, pero durante décadas no fueron capaces como grupo de cumplir siquiera el compromiso contraído de destinar el 0,7 por ciento del Producto Interno Bruto para la ayuda oficial del desarrollo”.

” Y el país más rico de todos retrocedió en los años del gobierno de Bush hasta apenas el 0,2 por ciento en pocos días han destinado unos tres millones de millones de dolares para salvar la estructura especulativa fracasada pero durante décadas” enfatizó el Cabrisas.

De igual manera denunció la falta de cooperación económica para atender los reclamos de la FAO en el intento de mejorar la producción agrícola en el tercer mundo.

“Ni fueron capaces de reunir entre todos 20 mil millones para cumplir con el programa de educación para todos de la UNESCO o apenas 10 mil millones para resolver los problemas de salud reproductivas de las mujeres de los países pobres solicitada por la OMS”, destacó

Enfatizó que el reto requiere de un amplio y bien preparado debate, con la participación de todos los países sin exclusiones, el sistema monetario internacional surgido en Breton Woods “basado en el papel privilegiado del dólar de EE.UU es un factor central en el nudo de contradicciones de la actual crisis económica”

En cuanto a los conflictos que mantiene EE.UU. reflexionó: “Hacer fabulosos gastos militares sin aumentar impuestos es como una aspiradora que absorbe alrededor de tres mil millones de dólares diarios del resto del mundo para sostener sus déficit y consumismo”.

Realzó el papel de los países miembros del ALBA y su propuesta a la crisis, “hemos optado por una formula avanzada de relación basada en la solidaridad, en la cooperación, en las ventajas compartidas y en la sensibilidad para encontrar solución a la deuda social acumulada en contra de los pueblos”.

“La más importante contribución de América Latina y los países del caribe pueden hacer a la comprensión de la naturaleza de esta crisis global y reducir su impacto es la efectiva integración regional no basada en el lucro del mercado no atrapada por la especulación financiera no diseñada para que los países de menor desarrollo queden rezagados”.

El vicepresidente cubano, Ricardo Cabrisas, relató que ” Durante casi 50 años, sucesivos gobiernos norteamericanos intentaron ahogar a la Revolución Cubana imponiéndole el bloqueo económico más largo, intenso y con mayor desproporción de fuerzas entre el bloqueador y el bloqueado que registre la historia. Pretendieron imponerle al pueblo cubano una situación económica tan severa que lo asfixiara y obligara a rendirse”.

Destacó la contribución de Cuba en base a su dura experiencia por el bloqueo económico ejercido por Estados Unidos contra la Isla “nuestra modesta experiencia de resistencia y creación y nuestra sincera voluntad de trabajar por el ALBA y por una América Latina y el Caribe integrados y unidos”.

TeleSUR / fc / PLL

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ANALYSIS: THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 18, 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Written by IM Mohsin

History also bears out that the Afghans can’t tolerate ‘occupation’. No AFGHANISTANwonder since 2006 the Taliban have been on the rampage. Even Kabul remains tentatively safe. During my last visit home to Peshawar, I was met by a few Afghans who told me of the reign of terror prevailing in Jalalabad, Paktia and Kabul etc as the state machinery/ foreign forces could not cope with prevailing mayhem. The spill-over effect of Afghan ‘insurgency’ is widely felt in Pakistan; more so in NWFP/ Baluchistan. History and geography combine to create challenges which the elected Govt and its armed forces have to face daily.

The situation gets vitiated by the US drone-attacks on ‘suspects’ from across the border. Such tactics tend to swell the numbers of Taliban as per the local culture of the binding nature of Revenge. As per the Pashtun code of honour, border becomes besides the point in chasing the ‘killers’. Hence the clandestine movement of the ‘insurgents’ across the border which NATO troops plus about 80 thousand Pakistani troops can’t eradicate,

Pretty much like the Mexican border for the US.

The above menacing milieu makes Pakistan most important in the current BUSH SEES NOTHING context. Firstly, it blocks the spread of insurgency. Secondly, it ensures the maintenance of the life-line/ supplies for the foreign forces in Afghanistan. Thirdly, it alone can provide cheapest transportation of aid-wares across the border. Fourthly, despite our ambivalent role, most Afghans still have more goodwill for Pakistan than any other country because of history/ culture etc.

The seizure of a 13-truck convoy on 10th Nov in Khyber Pass and subsequent action, including the use of air-power, by Pakistan created considerable complications and alarm among the people. However, the trucks were abandoned but the eatables were seized by the insurgents along-with 2 new humvees. I learnt in Peshawar that some of the wheat was distributed by the Taliban among the locals while the rest was sold at lower rates. They also displayed the seized vehicles as the ‘war booty’. As almost 400 trucks daily cross Torkham in to Afghanistan carrying supplies for the foreign troops, Pakistan had to suspend the traffic till a new strategy was put in to force. The traffic resumed Nov 17 as Pakistan deployed a bigger number of forces to escort the supply-convoys besides soliciting the cooperation of the locals.

A report in The Washington Post of 16th Nov indicates that the US/ Pakistan have reached a deal in Sept about the predator attacks on AN AMERICAN SNIPERsuspected targets on the basis of “don’t-ask- don’t-tell policy”. Pakistan has not changed her policy of condemning such attacks which, invariably, involve civilian casualties. Better collaboration between ISAF and Pak forces may prove more useful. This was proved by the Pakistani intervention on 16th Nov in Pakitika which relieved a base of the former under attack.

US have been pursing a way-out of the Afghan quagmire lately. It has launched the Saudi King in to the process. Karzai has been trying to come to terms with the Taliban led by Mullah Umar despite the fact that the latter has a $ multi-million as head-money a la US. He committed to go all out to provide “Protection” to the Taliban leader as per by BBC. He further emphasized that “If I say I want protection for Mullah Omar, then the international community has two choices: remove me, or leave…”. In this context, trying to win ‘the hearts of minds of the people’ is the best option which collateral damage inflicted by drone/ missile attacks can’t cause.

The end of 2001 heralded a dangerous change in the ground realities in the subject countries. Afghanistan got ‘occupied’ by the foreign forces while the Taliban regime collapsed, militarily despite the fierce resistance US AIR FORCE PERSONELit offered, and politically as its political capital was nominal. Pakistan, under Musharraf, due to sympathy/ inducement, joined hands with the US in waging its ‘war on terror’ a la neo-con agenda. Due to the Geography and pro-US sentiments, Pakistan proved to be the linchpin in such operations.

Subsequently the ‘victors’ realized that it was crucial to keep Pakistan onboard their bandwagon. It is no coincidence that this arrangement also eminently suited Musharraf who had seized power by ousting an elected Govt earlier on. Prior to 9/11, he was treated as a pariah by Bill Clinton as well George w. However, the neo-con game-plan took effect with the fall of the Twin Towers. Musharraf got rehabilitated in the US corridors of power under a ‘threat’ from, as he claimed, Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State insisting that he if did not join then Pakistan would be ‘bombed in to stone age’. The concerned official denied the same after leaving the office.

The Bonn Conference of 2002 laid down the blueprint of a surrogate regime under Karzai. Flush with success against the Taliban, and wanting to impress the public opinion at home, the US Administration/ allies made prolific promises. As per the Bonn Charter a ‘Democratic’ Afghanistan under the new dispensation was to get fabulous amounts of aid for ‘Reconstruction’ etc. This again underlined the importance of the Pakistan-link as Afghanistan is a landlocked country and the most feasible trade etc route for her is through Pakistan. Moreover as Pakistan shares long porous border with the western neighbor along the Durand Line, its whole-hearted support was worth any cost, particularly in early days of Karzai regime.

The US first assessed Pakistan’ indispensability in the pursuit of its adventure in the area which led to the revival of her military aid etc as there is no free- lunch in their culture. Initially the quick cessation of hostilities bolstered the neo-cons at home which also encouraged them to attack Iraq on the pretext of ‘WMD’. This slogan together with the stated-objective of removing a ‘hated-dictator’ after a dazzling victory in Afghanistan must also have yielded high political dividends at home. In the aftermath of 9/11, the people in the US lived under a fear-complex which was aggravated by media-hype, let loose by the official agencies etc, to bolster the image of the incumbent Administration. This process appears to have got particularly animated before the 2004 Presidential elections.

By 2005, Afghanistan started experiencing considerable insecurity. This was due to the persecution-complex among the Pashtuns in the South-East who faced a famine-like situation. Moreover, the Taliban started making their presence felt by attacking softer targets. As Karzai could not establish his writ all over the country, the warlords appeared to have taken over, particularly in the North/ South. The Northern warlords started making a fortune by exporting drugs from the massive cultivation of opium. Moreover the development program projected by the Bonn Conference could not be kept up by the donors. They spent lavishly on military operations which, together with the resistance from the Taliban, relegated reconstruction to the backburner and provoked anger. Such factors created a monstrous situation for the majority of local people who started feeling sick of the proxy-rule which bred insecurity and hunger etc.

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FIRST UNOFFICIAL OBAMA POSITIONS ON NEW WAR STRATEGIES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 18, 2008

Published: November 14, 2008

by Walid Phares

As the transition in the United States between the administrations of Usama bin LadinGeorge W. Bush and Barack Obama is moving forward feverishly while world crises escalate, observers of conflicts are focusing on the messages emanating from the next foreign policy team in Washington.

The smooth passing of the torch from one leadership to another in the middle of unfinished wars and gigantic counterterrorism efforts is critical, especially if a strategic change of direction is on its way.

Analysts wonder about the nature of change to come: is it about managing battlefields or reducing them?

The first post election statements made by Obama sources – incorporated into a Washington Post article by Karen DeYoung published on Nov. 11, “Obama to Explore New Approach in Afghanistan War” – are very revealing.

Although these “conversations” with aides are still unofficial positions at the formal level, one must read them as the first salvo in setting the tone and guidelines for early 2009.

Thus, and in order to engage in a national discussion on what seems to be the near future, we must analyze these propositions one by one and contrast them with the intensity of the evolving threat.

Therefore, the following are early comments on the emerging new policies.

The Washington Post article began by stating that the Obama administration is planning on “exploring a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan including possible talks with Iran.” Citing Obama national security advisers, the Post added that the new strategy “looks favorably on the nascent dialogue between the Afghan government and ‘reconcilable’ elements of the Taliban.”

These two so-called strategic components of the forthcoming administration’s plan to end the conflict in central Asia deserve a high level of attention and thorough examination. In a post Sept. 11, 2001 environment – meaning seven years into a confrontation with jihadist forces – not only experts but a large segment of the American public has developed a higher awareness of the threat of the enemy and of its long-term objectives. Arguments in foreign policy analysis are not as alien as they were to citizens prior to the 2001 attacks. Many Americans know who the Taliban are and what their goals are, and they know as well of the dangerous fantasies of the mullah regime in Tehran.

A new strategy in the region covering Pakistan and Iran is indeed needed to achieve advances in defeating the jihadis and in empowering the democracy forces in Afghanistan.

If the Bush administration was too slow in reaching that conclusion, then one would expect the Obama foreign policy team to bridge the gap and quickly arrive at a successful next stage.

But the “regional” proposition unveiled by the Washington Post defies logic, instead of consolidating it.

For I wonder on what grounds the Iranian regime would shift from a virulent anti-U.S. attitude to a favorable team player in stabilizing Afghanistan? Even the gurus of classical realism would wonder.

If a deal is possible with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it cannot be on establishing a democratic government in Kabul. It simply doesn’t add up knowing the essence of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its oppressive nature.

Therefore, and before the new administration even begins to sell the idea, it is important for all to realize that any Afghan deal cut with Iran must assume that the next regime in Kabul will satisfy the agenda in Tehran: meaning non-democratic. This is the first hurdle.

Amazingly, the second proposition simultaneously would invite the Taliban (postulating that a milder wing indeed exists) to share power in the country as a way to end the conflict. More problems emerge here: first, if the “good” Taliban are brought to the deal (assuming this is even feasible), what happens with the “bad” Taliban? Will the latter just “go away” or will there be a fight between the “good and the bad” factions? And how can the new strategy end the new Afghan war and will we come to the rescue of the nice jihadists against the ugly ones? Obviously, it doesn’t add up either.

Second, assuming there would be a partial re-Talibanization of Afghanistan, how could this co-exist with the Iranians? The same Washington Post article quoted the same advisers, underscoring that “The Iranians don’t want Sunni extremists in charge of Afghanistan any more than we do.”

How can the architects reconcile bringing in the Iranians for help and, at the same time, inviting the “Sunni extremists” to be sitting in Kabul? This construct doesn’t fly on mere logic.

As I wondered in an interview with Fox News the same day, are the new foreign policy planners talking about changing the strategy or changing the enemy?

The most logical ally against most of the Taliban should be the democratically-elected government in Pakistan, which is already waging a campaign against al-Qaida and its Taliban allies. Why would Washington replace this potential ally (regardless of all mishaps) with two foes: the non-democratic regime of Iran and a faction of the totalitarian Taliban?

In this dizzying maze a la 1990s, one begins to wonder if we are flipping the enemy into an ally, and vice versa, merely so that the slogan of “change” is then materialized. My feeling is that post electoral political pressures are so intense that it may produce a recipe for greater confusion and even disaster.

The problem is not the idea of “talking” to any of the players, including the current foes; engaging in contacts is always an option and has always been practiced. The problem is the perception by the new U.S. officials (and even current ones) that we can simply and naively “create” the conditions that we wish, regardless of the intentions of the other side. When reading these suggestions, one concludes that they were conceived on paper as unilateral designs lacking any strategic understanding of the enemy.

Take two examples as a starter: first, if you want to engage the so-called “acceptable” Taliban into a national unity government in Kabul (which is not an impossible idea theoretically), did you incorporate what their minimal demands are? And can your analysis of the jihadis’ long-term strategy produce a projection over four to six years of a return of these jihadis to power? I don’t think so.

Second, if you wish to enlist Iran as a partner in Afghanistan, will you be able to continue with the sanctions over its nuclear program? Obviously not. Thus the bottom line is that the price for befriending Tehran in Kabul is to allow it to reach its nuclear military ambitions. If it is otherwise, the upcoming foreign policy team has a lot of explaining to do.

Another interesting statement made by an adviser, according to the Washington Post, was that “the incoming administration intends to remind Americans how the fight “against Islamist extremists” began – on Sept. 11, 2001, before the Afghanistan and Iraq wars – and to underscore that al-Qaida remains the nation’s highest priority. “This is our enemy,” one adviser said of Bin Laden, “and he should be our principal target.”

Although as a reader I am not sure if DeYoung was discussing the new strategies in the war with the same “source,” the latter, stronger sentence is of great value for future inquiries. For if indeed the incoming administration intends to remind U.S. citizens that the fight is “against Islamist extremists,” then this would be a good bridge to the Bush administration’s bold rhetoric, which ended in 2006.

If the Obama administration “change” in strategy is to redefine the confrontation in the precise manner the adviser did, then we will be lucky. If that is the case, then we would hope and expect the new administration to repel the irresponsible “lexicon” disseminated by bureaucrats within the Bush administration and instead issue a strong document identifying the threat as stated in the Washington Post article, explaining once and for all the ideology of bin Laden so that indeed we can understand “our principal target.”

These early remarks are aimed at helping the Obama administration from its inception to clearly strategize and target so that the next four, and maybe eight years, will be a leap forward in protecting this country and in defending democracy worldwide.

This is only a glimpse of conversations to come about America’s national security and the hope to see a real qualitative change for the best.

(*) – Dr. Walid Phares is the director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of “The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad”.

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SEN. CLINTON’S VIEWS ON U.S. FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 17, 2008

Saturday November 15, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sen. Hillary Clinton has emerged as a candidate for U.S. secretary of state – SENATOR HILLARY CLINTONthe top diplomat in the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, who defeated her for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Here are some views on foreign policy issues expressed by Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton.

IRAQ

“Ending the war in Iraq is the first step toward restoring the United States’ global leadership,” Clinton wrote a year ago in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine. U.S. troops had to be brought home safely and stability restored to the region, she said.

But on the campaign trail, Clinton was more reluctant than Obama to commit to a firm timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. She refused to apologize for her 2002 Senate vote authorizing the war, but did say she would like to have that vote back to do over.

AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN AND AL QAEDA

During the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the United States should focus more on improving security in Afghanistan. She has called for greater U.S. troop deployments there. She also has suggested a U.S. envoy who could shuttle between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan to help them in their efforts against a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda presence in their countries.

IRAN

A big question for Obama’s secretary of state will be how to approach Iran. The Bush administration, which accuses Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb and helping militant groups in Iraq, has generally HILLARY RODHAM CLINTONshunned contacts with Tehran.

During the Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton charged that Obama’s willingness to meet leaders of Iran, Syria and North Korea was evidence of his naivete about foreign policy. She has threatened to “obliterate” Iran if it uses nuclear weapons against Israel.

But Clinton also has argued for engaging Iran, Syria and other countries of the region in talks about the future of Iraq. And one of her top foreign policy advisors, Richard Holbrooke, a former assistant secretary of state, suggested recently that U.S. contacts with Iran should start through private and confidential channels to determine if there is a basis for continuing.

MIDDLE EAST

Clinton stresses the need for Arab-Israeli peace, but is considered a favorite of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. She says the fundamentals are a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank in return for a declaration that the conflict is over, recognition of Israel’s right to exist, guarantees of Israeli security, diplomatic recognition of Israel and normalization of its relations with Arab states.

“U.S. diplomacy is critical in helping to resolve this conflict,” she said in her article in Foreign Affairs in November-December 2007. She said the United States should help get Arab support for a Palestinian leadership that is willing to engage in a dialogue with the Israelis.

RUSSIA AND ARMS CONTROL

“I think she would probably be tough-minded toward Russia,” said Kim Holmes, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the Heritage Foundation. “She has a reputation of being tough-minded generally, she is known and respected for that.”

Clinton has however criticized the Bush administration’s “obsessive” focus on “expensive and unproven missile defense technology” — one of the major points of contention recently in the U.S. relationship with Russia.

She favors further reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, and also favors U.S. Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

CHINA AND NORTH KOREA

Clinton has said the U.S. relationship with China will be the most important bilateral relationship in the world this century. Noting China’s support was important in reaching a multilateral deal to disable North Korea’s nuclear facilities, she says “we should build on this framework to establish a northeast Asian security regime.”

TRADE

Like Obama, Clinton has said the United States should either renegotiate or “opt out” of the North American Free Trade Agreement that was reached with Canada and Mexico during her husband’s administration. She also has called for a “timeout” from new trade agreements and a top-to-bottom review of trade policy.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

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THE SHAME OF GITMO – In allowing prisoner abuse in the name of national security, the U.S. sinks to the level of the world’s most barbarous regimes

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 17, 2008

November 14, 2008

Neil Steinberg - Sun-Times Columnist by Neil Steinberg – Sun-Times Columnist

THE COMPANY WE KEEP

It is 8,386 miles, as the crow flies, from a filthy solitary confinement cell at Burma’s infamous Insein Prison to the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on East Pearson Street in Chicago.

The moral distance is even further, from a freedomless police state whose official name — Myanmar — decent people hesitate to utter because of the illegitimacy of the government, to the United States of America, where the police don’t put a hood over your head and drag you off to years in solitary confinement for asking inconvenient questions, as happened to Burmese dissident Bo Kyi.

Yet Bo Kyi calmly bridged this enormous gap Tuesday, when he quietly addressed the Human Rights Watch dinner honoring him for his role in founding the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.

The room gasped as he told of learning that some of his friends in Burma had just received 65-year prison sentences for activities that any college sophomore in the United States does out of habit — attending protests, distributing leaflets.

I was gratified to see this news the next day in the New York Times. One of the most vital roles the United States plays is to keep tabs on the wrongs of the world. While appeals to justice and decency usually mean nothing to tyrants, they can be embarrassed, eventually.

Our own government has proved hard to shame. Several Human Rights Watch speakers mentioned Guantanamo Bay, and how they look forward to Barack Obama closing this blot on America’s reputation.

Too many Americans don’t see the stain. They view reluctance to allow our nation to run a quasi-torture confinement center for foreign nationals as some kind of squishy “reading rights to terrorists” bleeding-heart liberalism.

They don’t understand the company we’re keeping, don’t realize just how frequently torture is used around the world. Nor do they grasp that their excuse — national security —is the exact same rationale offered up by every barbarous regime for the confinement and abuse of heroic champions of justice such as Bo Kyi.

They don’t grasp the specialness of the United States in historically avoiding this kind of behavior, nor the endangerment not only to our own rights — because what the military does today to foreign detainees in Cuba, the police could do to you tomorrow in Chicago — but also Guantanamo’s undermining of our moral authority to push back against regimes in places such as Burma. Guantanamo Bay made it easier for every tin-pot dictator who hangs his enemies on basement meat hooks to claim moral equivalency.

And for what? For the TV fantasy of the smirking terrorist who tells us where the bomb is hidden after Jack Bauer does what he has to do? That might work in “24.” But in the real world, we get hapless goat herders turned into hardened enemies after being subjected to years of abuse.

The truth is, in times of peril, our nation’s overreactions — from Lincoln suspending habeas corpus to the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II to Guantanamo Bay — never make us safer, never improve the situations they were meant to confront.

Never.

The United States is not strong because it crushes all who challenge it. We are strong because our laws and our principles are strong, and to the degree that we adhere to them — even when that is difficult, even when we are afraid — we will remain a beacon to the world, the whispered hope for every political prisoner in every cell around the globe.

Give us the good cookies!

“Did you know that Oreo cookies aren’t as sweet in China as they are here?” I told my wife.

She asked me how I came to this news, and I told her that the Wall Street Journal selected my pal Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO of Kraft, as one of its “50 Women to Watch.” (A tad condescending, isn’t it? Is the head of a $34 billion company, a woman Forbes magazine listed as being more powerful than Oprah Winfrey or Queen Elizabeth II, really just “poised to have an impact on the world of business”? I’d say she’s there.)

The article uses the Chinese Oreo as example of Rosenfeld’s nimble leadership.

“Marketers there learned the cookie was too sweet for Chinese tastes, so they reformulated it.”

My wife’s reaction mirrored my own.

“Why do they get the good ones?” she asked. Indeed. Sweetness is far overrated. I prefer my chocolate like my life — bittersweet.

And since Kraft is already wildly experimenting with Oreo — double-stuffed, mint filling, you name it — I think they owe us over-sugared Americans the Oreo: Special Refined Chinese Version. At least have an executive bring back a package from Beijing, and we’ll open up a branch of the Chicago Sun-Times Test Kitchen at Kraft, pour the cold milk and see what the Chinese know that we don’t.

Today’s chuckle . . .

My brother Sam is a sharp guy. I don’t write about him much — he oils the gears of the Cook County government money machine — because I don’t want to sully him by association.

But we share that rarest of fraternal qualities, mutual affection, and have lunch as often as we can.

We had just finished polishing off two big platters of raw fish at Sushi Sai and stepped out into the surprisingly sunny November afternoon. Talk had been of the accelerating economic doom, and I was prattling on about how scary and incomprehensible it all is.

“I don’t WANT to go through five years of recession!” I whined, tot-like.

We were nearing the County Building.

“My only solace is that all the financial experts predict a long and protracted recession,” my brother said.

I took me half a second to grasp his meaning; his humor can be very dry. Then I got it.

“Ahhh . . . ” I said, grinning, and holding up a finger

“Ahhh . . . ” he answered, holding up one in reply. We shook hands, and I toddled up the street, my heart swelled with love and joy.

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TALIBAN LEADER: WE HAVE NO FAITH IN OBAMA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 14, 2008

November 14, 2008 – updated 1 hour, 53 minutes ago

From Reza Sayah and Janullah Hashimzada

“For us, the change of America’s president – we don’t have any good faith in him,” said Muslim Khan, a Barack Hussein Obamagrizzled Taliban spokesman who is one of the most wanted men in Pakistan, in a rare interview with CNN. “If he does anything good, it will be for himself.”

With an assault rifle on his lap, Khan answered 10 written questions, sharing his view on a range of topics from slavery to Obama’s middle name – Hussein.

He spoke in the remote Swat Valley of northwestern Pakistan, the site of frequent and fierce clashes between Pakistani troops and Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

There was no opportunity for follow-up questions.

Khan said Obama’s election may change conditions for black Americans.

“The black one knows how much the black people are discriminated against in America and Europe and other countries,” he said. “For America’s black people, it could be that there will be a change. That era is coming.”

He said he doubted Obama’s victory would lead to changes in relations between the United States and the Taliban.

U.S. forces dislodged the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

America and its allies have battled the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan ever since, with fighting spreading across the border into Pakistan.

“American should take its army out of the country,” Khan said. “They are considered terrorists.”

Obama has minced no words in describing how he would administer U.S. policy toward the Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in August, Obama pledged to “finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

And the president-elect included a blunt warning in remarks on the evening of his election victory: “To those who would tear the world down,” he said, “we will defeat you.”

Khan noted that Obama’s middle name was fairly common in the Muslim world, referring to him at times as “Hussein Barack Obama.”

“If he behaves in the way of a real Hussein, then he has become our brother,” he said. “If Barack Obama pursues the same policies as Bush and behaves like Bush … then he cannot be Hussein. He can only be Obama.”

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PUBLISHED BY ‘CNN’ (USA)

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, ELECTIONS 2008 - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, PAKISTAN, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

US EMBARRASSED AS TALIBAN STEAL HUMVEES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 12, 2008

November 12, 2008

by Bruce Loudon, South Asia correspondent

Article from: The Australian

TALIBAN militants were driving around in captured US army Humvee armoured vehicles in Pakistan’s U.S. Marines, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, take positions on a berm during a fire fight with Taliban positions near the town of Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan Friday May 2, 2008tribal region close to the historic Khyber Pass last night after hijacking more than a dozen supply trucks travelling along the vital land route that supplies coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The capture of the Humvees – these days the symbol of US intervention in Iraq and elsewhere – is a serious embarrassment to US commanders of the coalition forces.

Pakistani reporters in the area said the militants unloaded the Humvees from shipping containers on the backs of the trucks and drove off in them, after decorating them with flags and banners of the banned umbrella organisation Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which is led by Baitullah Mehsud. Mehsud is closely allied to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The reporters said the hijackings had taken place “in clear view of (Pakistani) paramilitary personnel” deployed at the nearby Jamrud Fort, who “did not take any action”.

“All this happened on the international highway (linking Pakistan with Afghanistan) and you can imagine the implications this can have for us,” an official told Pakistan newspaper Dawn.

Pakistan army helicopter gunships were later sent to the area, but by then the trucks had been released by the militants, who had decamped with the Humvees as well as bags of wheat.

The hijacking of the supply trucks – and the embarrassment of seeing the militants driving around the area in the Humvees – came amid fast-mounting concern about the security of thevital land route through Pakistan that serves the 35,000-strong coalition force fighting in Afghanistan.

The supply trucks were seized by the militants along a 35km stretch of the narrow, switchback road through the Khyber Pass, the main gateway for essential supplies shipped under cover to the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

More than 350 trucks travel through the perilous pass each day, carrying supplies to Afghanistan, many of them with consignments destined for the coalition forces.

More than 24 transport trucks and oil tankers have reportedly been attacked in the area in the past month as militants have stepped up their assaults on the road convoys, causing serious concern to NATO commanders.

Last weekend, two coalition warplanes, backed by ground artillery from gun emplacements across the border in Afghanistan, crossed into Pakistani territory to attack militants seen in the Tirah valley, close to the Khyber Pass, in what appeared to be a pre-emptive strike against possible attacks on the vital road link.

Pakistani forces have also launched major offensives around the North West Frontier Province’s capital, Peshawar, in an attempt to drive back militants threatening the road.

The militants have responded by launching rocket attacks on Peshawar airport, which is regularly used by civilian aircraft.

Concern about security in the Khyber Pass has recently led US commanders to seek alternative land routes through Central Asia.

Adding to the concerns are mounting fears about the situation in Karachi, which is now a major target for infiltration by militants.

Officials said the trucks had been hijacked without a shot being fired.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, ASIA, PAKISTAN, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

US WILLING TO HOLD TALKS WITH TALIBAN, SAYS REPORT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 29, 2008

October 29, 2008

by Anwar Iqbal and Masood Haider

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Oct 28: The US is willing to hold direct talks with elements of the Taliban in an effort to quell unrest in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified Bush administration officials.

The Washington Post reported that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had shown openness to the idea of repudiating Al Qaeda, which encouraged the Bush administration to explore the possibility of holding direct talks with the militia.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the Taliban had conveyed this message to representatives of the Afghan government during a meeting in Saudi Arabia last month.

Amid these reports of a possible breakthrough in the search for a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict, Christian Science Monitor noted that on Monday the Taliban militia showed “a new potency” in the fight against coalition forces, bringing down a US military helicopter near Kabul, while a suicide bomber struck and killed two Americans in northern Afghanistan.

The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday highlighted the significance of the attack, noting that “choppers are a crucial mode of transport for troops and supplies” in Afghanistan.

Speculations about a possible breakthrough in the talks with the Taliban follow a series of meetings last month in Saudi Arabia between representatives of the Afghan government and the militia.

But even before the Saudis initiated the talks, the Karzai government had been putting out feelers to the Taliban for negotiating an end to its insurgency in exchange for some sort of power-sharing deal.

Though the US has so far been on the sidelines but at a recent news conference Gen David McKiernan, the commander of US troops in Afghanistan, grudgingly said he would support the Afghan government if it chose to go down the path of negotiations.

And now the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US might get involved in those negotiations directly. “Senior White House and military officials believe that engaging some levels of the Taliban — while excluding top leaders — could help reverse a pronounced downward spiral in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan,” the report said.

Both countries have been destabilised by a recent wave of violence.

Senior Bush administration officials told the Journal that the outreach was a draft recommendation in a classified White House assessment of US strategy in Afghanistan. The officials said that the recommendation called for the talks to be led by the Afghan central government, but with the active participation of the US.

The US would be willing to pay moderate Taliban members to lay down their weapons and join the political process, the Journal cited an unidentified US official as saying. The Central Intelligence Agency has been mapping Afghanistan’s tribal areas in an attempt to understand the allegiances of clans and tribes, the report said.

WSJ noted that joining the talks would only be a first step as the Bush administration was still in the process of determining what substantial offer it could make to persuade the Taliban to abandon violence. “How much should (we) be willing to offer guys like this?” asked a senior Bush official while talking to the Journal.

Gen David Petraeus, who will assume responsibility this week for US military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan as head of the Central Command, supports the proposed direct talks between the Taliban and the US, the WSJ said.

Gen Petraeus used a similar approach in Iraq where a US push to enlist Sunni tribes in the fight against Al Qaeda helped sharply reduce the country’s violence. Gen Petraeus earlier this month publicly endorsed talks with less extreme Taliban elements.

Gen Petraeus also indicated that he believed insurgencies rarely ended with complete victory by one or the other side.

“You have to talk to enemies,” said Gen Petraeus while pointing to Kabul’s efforts to negotiate a deal with the Taliban that would potentially bring some Taliban members back to power, saying that if they were “willing to reconcile” it would be “a positive step”.

US Afghan experts outside the Bush administration have also been urging the White House to try to end violence “by co-optation, integration and appeasement”, as one of them said.

They urge the Bush administration to give the Taliban a positive reason to stop fighting. This, they argue, would allow Washington to separate hardcore militants from others within the Taliban and would also expose the extremists before the Afghan people.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DAWN’ (Pakistan)

Posted in AFGHANISTAN, ASIA, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

GUNFIRE BRINGS DOWN U.S. HELICOPTER IN AFGHANISTAN – Chopper crew rescued. Elsewhere, bomber kills two Americans

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 28, 2008

Published on Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008

by Fisnik Abrashi – Associated Press

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Insurgents exchanged fire with U.S. troops aboard a Black Hawk helicopter in central Afghanistan on Monday before the aircraft was hit and forced to land. The crew was rescued, but in the north, a suicide bomber killed two U.S. soldiers.

Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a U.S. military spokesman, said there were no U.S. casualties as a result of the crash in a province neighboring Kabul.

“The helicopter crew exchanged fire with the enemy before the damage brought the helicopter down,” Matthews said.

At least four militants were killed in the exchange, said Fazel Karim Muslim, the chief of Sayed Abad district.

Another helicopter hovered as the U.S. troops secured the area around the downed chopper, which didn’t appear to sustain major damage, Muslim said.

The U.S. and other foreign forces rely heavily on helicopters for transportation around Afghanistan, which is covered by rough mountains and long stretches of desert and has few decent roads. Insurgents rarely bring down military helicopters, though they have hit several in recent years.

Wardak province has seen an increase in insurgent activity the last two years, and its main highway is now extremely risky to travel on, particularly at night. In mid-October, a U.S. Special Forces raid freed a kidnapped American working for the Army Corps of Engineers who had been held captive in Wardak for two months.

Also Monday, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up at a police station in northern Afghanistan, killing two American soldiers and wounding five other people, including an American, officials said.

The bomber entered a police station in Pul-e-Khumri, capital of Baghlan province, while Afghan officials were meeting with U.S. troops advising a police training program, provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Rahman Sayed Kheil said.

Meanwhile, the number of Afghans who think they are more prosperous today than under the Taliban regime has dropped significantly over the last two years, a U.S.-funded survey released today found.

More than half the Afghans surveyed in 2006 believed they were more prosperous than at any time under the hard-line Islamic regime’s rule in the late 1990s. But only 36 percent of 6,600 Afghans surveyed this year felt the same way.

The results mirror the deteriorating security and economic situation in the country.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Insurgents exchanged fire with U.S. troops aboard a Black Hawk helicopter in central Afghanistan on Monday before the aircraft was hit and forced to land. The crew was rescued, but in the north, a suicide bomber killed two U.S. soldiers.

Lt. Cmdr. Walter Matthews, a U.S. military spokesman, said there were no U.S. casualties as a result of the crash in a province neighboring Kabul.

“The helicopter crew exchanged fire with the enemy before the damage brought the helicopter down,” Matthews said.

At least four militants were killed in the exchange, said Fazel Karim Muslim, the chief of Sayed Abad district.

Another helicopter hovered as the U.S. troops secured the area around the downed chopper, which didn’t appear to sustain major damage, Muslim said.

The U.S. and other foreign forces rely heavily on helicopters for transportation around Afghanistan, which is covered by rough mountains and long stretches of desert and has few decent roads. Insurgents rarely bring down military helicopters, though they have hit several in recent years.

Wardak province has seen an increase in insurgent activity the last two years, and its main highway is now extremely risky to travel on, particularly at night. In mid-October, a U.S. Special Forces raid freed a kidnapped American working for the Army Corps of Engineers who had been held captive in Wardak for two months.

Also Monday, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up at a police station in northern Afghanistan, killing two American soldiers and wounding five other people, including an American, officials said.

The bomber entered a police station in Pul-e-Khumri, capital of Baghlan province, while Afghan officials were meeting with U.S. troops advising a police training program, provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Rahman Sayed Kheil said.

Meanwhile, the number of Afghans who think they are more prosperous today than under the Taliban regime has dropped significantly over the last two years, a U.S.-funded survey released today found.

More than half the Afghans surveyed in 2006 believed they were more prosperous than at any time under the hard-line Islamic regime’s rule in the late 1990s. But only 36 percent of 6,600 Afghans surveyed this year felt the same way.

The results mirror the deteriorating security and economic situation in the country.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘OHIO.COM’ (USA)

Posted in USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »