January 25, 2006

Two Views of One Phonecall

Monday's recent election, in which Steven Harper's Conservative Party ended the 13-year rule of the Liberals, continues to dominate headlines in Canada. The two major national papers - the right-leaning, Calgary-based National Post and the center-left Globe and Mail of Toronto - offer telling differences in their coverage of the election's aftermath.

The Globe and Mail leads with a cover story on a 20-minute phone call between George W. Bush and the Prime Minister-designate. No details of the conversation are availible, but the paper runs a photograph of a smirking Bush talking into the phone, obviously pleased with what he's hearing. This picture dominates the front page and, given the unpopularity of Bush in Canada, can't but be interpreted as a provocative gesture. In some ways, this is an oblique reference to the Liberal campaign's strategy of trying to link Bush and Harper, with the suggestion that a Conservative victory will serve to bolster the un-Canadian Bush, and may lower resistance to such unpopular, US-backed initiatives as national missile defense, the war in Iraq and domestic surveillance.

How does the right respond? What is the National Post's take on the phone conversation between the two leaders? We don't know - the Post runs an inoccuous wire version of the story, without picture, stuffed in the back pages of its print edition.

Posted 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2006

La Paz Effect in Pakistan

The ripple effect of Evo Morales’s stunning presidential win in Bolivia is being felt – and closely watched – as far away as Pakistan, as shown by a recent op-ed in The News, one of Pakistan’s leading English dailies.

The recent sweep of left leaning presidents in Latin America (referring to the election of anti-neo liberal candidates in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela and Chile, as well as Bolivia, over the past year) is instructive for Pakistan, writes Farooq Sulehria: “Latin America was the first continent turned into a laboratory for neo-liberal experiments. Ironically, it also is the first to stand up in rebellion.” While Pakistani President Musharraf is “busy implementing…come what will” the free trade and privatization directives of the World Bank and IMF, Sulehria argues that there are lessons to be learned for Pakistan about the rising of Latin resistance to this model:

“By opening up economies to ‘market forces’, Latin American countries were promised significant poverty reduction. In fact, what happened was a significant increase in the hold exercised over Latin American economies by multinationals, especially US corporations. Between 1990, and 2002, multinational corporations acquired 4,000 banking, telecommunications, transport, petrol and mining interests in Latin America.”

Sulehria closes with this warning:

“For the last two decades, Washington has forced neoliberalism (read poverty) down third world throats in order to make the world better for US business. To many the US economic empire, spreading at gunpoint, seemed unassailable. But now, unable to defeat rag-tag Iraqi militias and rapidly losing allies in Latin America, the empire stands exposed to others on the globe. Others, including Pakistan, are watching and learning.”


DAVID MONTERO reports from Islamabad, Pakistan for the Christian Science Monitor.

Posted 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2005

Yellowcake goes mainstream

The Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI Bureau has decided to reopen the inquiry into the Yellocake case:


The FBI's decision to reopen the investigation reverses the agency's announcement last month that it had finished a two-year inquiry and concluded that the forgeries were part of a moneymaking scheme — and not an effort to manipulate U.S. foreign policy.

Joshua Marshall on TalkingPointsMemo keeps posting on the topic:

That sounds like a good idea since there are so many signs that the original investigation was all but non-existent.


Posted 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

US Senate criticizes Siberian exile

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza picks up a Russia news story concerning a US Senate resolution about the imprisonment of the two former oligarchs of now-defunct Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. Having been charged and convicted of tax evasion, they are serving out their sentences in Siberia and on the Yamal Peninsula, above the Arctic Circle. This is in violation of Russian penal law, which indicates that convicts serve their sentence either in the area where they reside or where they were convicted - in the case of the Yukos chiefs, this would be Moscow. The prisons that house Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are among the most notorious in Russia. The US Senate has therefore passed a resolution calling on their transfer out of these remote penal colonies back to the Moscow area.

The Senate resolution, of course, has no authority over the Russia government, and it taken as a symbolic gesture. These resolutions are not altogether uncommon - they are seen by US senators as easy ways of placating domestic constituencies. US newspapers do not take such resolutions particularly seriously, and none have reported on this case. But this story in the flagship Polish paper is suggestive of a number of things. First, Poles care much more about the US Senate taking a hard line on Russia than Americans seem to. Second, Poland still grants the US a measure of moral authority, something unlikely in the rest of Europe. Third, it turns out that Khodorkovsky has a certain level of organization and political support in the US. And finally, perhaps this is a sign that US lawmakers are resigned to their own bad reputation concerning detainees, and rather then defending their own record prefer to point out abuses elsewhere.

Posted 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2005

Terminator IV: Massive Political Impact (as pitched by Matt Ogdie and Keli Dailey)

"If I would do another 'Terminator' movie, I would
have 'Terminator' travel back in time to tell Arnold not to have a
special election," Schwarzenegger told reporters.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/11/MNGFMFMNV21.DTL

--

Let's make another Terminator movie, send the Terminator back in time and tell Ghandi and Neru that the Great Migration was going to cost ~30 million lives. The Terminator strongly advises them to take the necessary precautions!

Or

Let's make another Terminator movie, send the Terminator back in time and inform Lloyd George and the political aristocracies of Europe that the Treaty of Versailles would lead to the rise of Nazi Germany and so predominate the historical landscape of the 20th century that it is impossible to separate the Cold War from it's ill-effects.

Or

Let's make another Terminator movie, send the Terminator T-1000 back in time and tell that stupid jerk Reagan that he could engage the Soviets in a catastrophic financial contest without actually spending trillions of dollars on nuclear warheads that we are currently spending trillions of dollars dismantling and tracking as they inevitably bleed into the black market.

Or ...and this could already be in production…

Let's make another Terminator movie, send the Terminator back in time and send him to Iraq, where he would kick some serious Al-Qaeda ass, befriend a little Kurdish boy who brings out the human spirit in his Terminator source code, which emerges in time for him to sacrifice his cyborg life in order to kill Osama bin Laden in some FANTASTIC way that has lots of explosions..more explosions than anybody's ever seen on film!!!!

Why not just have the Terminator arrest Osama before 9/11? Or inform the authorities? It's a Jerry Bruckheimer film, for chrissake.

Posted 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2005

Yellowcake timeline

Joshua Marshall posted a detailed timeline of the "yellocake case" on his website.


October 15, 2001:

US intelligence agencies receive reports from the Italian intelligence service SISMI of a supposed agreement between Iraq and Niger for the sale of yellowcake uranium. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research considers the report “highly suspect” because the French control Niger ’s uranium industry. The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Energy consider a uranium deal “possible.”

October 18, 2001:

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research issues a report stating that there is no corroborative evidence that there was any agreement on uranium transfer between Iraq and Niger, or that any uranium was actually transferred.

February 5, 2002:

The CIA’s Directorate of Operations–the clandestine branch that employed Valerie Wilson–issues a second report including “verbatim text” of an agreement for the sale of 500 tons of uranium yellowcake per year that was supposedly signed July 5-6, 2000.

[...]

You can also send additions and corrections to the timeline by sending an email to talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

Posted 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2005

Italian Yellowcake

On the Italian newspapers much has been made about the “yellowcake case”.
On the 24th of October the national daily newspaper La Repubblica, a strong Berlusconi opponent, published an investigation revealing that the SISMI (the Italian intelligence agency) made a strong contribution to the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The article accuses the Italian spymaster, General Nicolo Pollari, of knowingly passing forged documents to the United States suggesting that Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Niger, claims that helped justify the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. La Repubblica also reported that General Pollari had acted at the behest of Mr. Berlusconi, who was said to be eager to help President Bush in the search for weapons in Iraq.
On the 27th of October the Italian Government categorically denied any involvement in the Niger Fraud, denying any "direct or indirect involvement in the packaging and delivery of the false dossier on Niger's uranium". But nobody seems to really believe that and the debate is still heated in Italy, even after Pollari’s hearing in Rome on the 3rd of November.
While La Repubblica is keeping investigating on the SISMI contribution to the Iraqi war, other right-wing newspapers and blogs are trying to emphasize the errors and the contradictions of its investigation.
In order to have a complete and objective overview of the case, you can look at the Italian blog Paferrobyday.

Posted 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2005

US-Japan, Evolving Alliance, Deepening Isolation?

Former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage called US-Japan Alliance "the most important one" in the world.
There is no doubt that Japan is one of America's staunchest allies and is a key strategic partner in Northeast Asia.

Japanese and U.S. government officials last Saturday put together an interim report on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. The report not only details the relocation of U.S. military bases, but its content is aimed at expanding and strengthening the security alliance between Japan and the United States.

The news was greeted by majority of Japanese politicians and Yomiuri Shimbun welcomed this with Monday's editorial "Major turning point in deepening of alliance".

In February, both nations confirmed their common strategic targets. In the Asia-Pacific region, both countries will work to maintain peace and stability in Japan and the whole region, in light of China's buildup of its military capabilities and North Korea's development of nuclear arms. Both countries will also team up in such areas as international peace cooperation activities and the prevention of terrorism in the pursuit of world peace.

While called an alliance by both sides, much remains to be done in working out concrete action programs for cooperation between the SDF and U.S. forces.

In line with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan as part of the United States' global reorganization, the two nations agreed on their respective roles and missions as part of efforts to fill the vacuum in the Japan-U.S. security arrangements.

However, Asahi Shimbun warned "the interim report is a source of concern " in Tuesday's editorial.

The United States attacked Iraq in the name of "the fight against terror." It proved, however, that the supposed threat of weapons of mass destruction, the casus belli, was in fact nonexistent. If a similar situation arises, Japan must avoid being automatically dragged into U.S military action.

In its grand strategy, the United States views China as a country that could pose a threat to America's hegemony. But shouldn't Japan ease the possible tension that could build up between Washington and Beijing? Even if Japan takes action in accordance with a U.S. strategy, there should be limits and constraints. Japan should think of its own national interests.

Indeed, there are some concerns within small opposition parties that evolving US-Japan Alliance would be increasing US and Japan's isolation in the world.

Recent online poll conducted by Real time public opinion survey@internet showed almost 60 percenr of Japanese thought the alliance is "essential not only for Japanese security but also for economy, trade, industry and everything".

However, 21.4 percent of Japanese thought "US is untrustworthy as an alliance partner ", and 8.5 percent of Japanese answered "Japan should break up Japan-US alliance and strengthen the alliance between Asian coutries."


Posted 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2005

Tai Shi, a small village, big trial for democracy

Tai Shi, a small village not far from my home in Guangzhou, is the capitial city of Guangdong Province, one of the most developed provinces in southern China. What happened there in recent months is a struggle, by the Chinese people and the Central government leaders, also of the corrupted officials dominating that village.

Things became drastic since last week when a Chinese Legistator Lu Bang LIe and an reporter of the Guardian Benjamin Joffe-Walt who were trying to enter the village, was beaten, and then Joffe-Watt wrote an article just before the deadline on Sunday. This is the link to the original report of his.

Later, the Guardian reporter found out Lu Bang LIe, the legislator, also a pro-democracy activist was not dead, so the editor of the Guardian made an annoucement and correct a few flaws in the original report. This is the link.

If you want to know more about the whole Tai Shi incident, in which villagers were following suggestions of lawyers and legislators (deputies of People's Congress, which is a legilative institution of China according to the Constitution of People's Republic of China), trying to get a corrupted chief of the village out ot office, you can go to this webpage http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20050919_1.htm, where you will find what was going on before a western journalist was beaten up.

This article comment on the Joffe-Walt beaten incident, based on the author's own experience as a western journalist covering mainland China.

Posted 08:24 PM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2005

Public opposed to extending Japan's mission in Iraq: poll

From Mainichi Shimbun

A whopping 77 percent of pollees were opposed to an extension of Japan's noncombatant mission in Iraq while 18 percent were in favor, a Mainichi weekend poll has found.

In December last year when Japan decided to extend the dispatch of the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to Iraq by one year, 62 percent of pollees opposed the move while 31 percent were in favor. The SDF mission expires on Dec. 14 this year.

Several Japanese politicians even from the ruling coalition say the dispatch of the SDF should be reconsidered if British and Australian forces withdraw from the country in May 2006.

The Mainichi polled 1,068 people on Saturday and Sunday and found that 66 percent of pollees who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were in opposition to extending the SDF dispatch.

More than 80 percent of those who support the Democratic Party of Japan, Japanese Communist Party or Social Democratic Party were opposed to the extension.

Posted 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2005

Rumsfeld will bypass Japan amid relocation stalemate

Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has canceled a visit to Japan planned for later this month because of a stalemate in talks on where to relocate a U.S. military base in Japan.

Bloomberg said Rumsfeld's decision not to visit Japan reflects U.S. frustration over the pace of negotiations on relocating a military heliport in Okinawa quating Koji Murata, a professor of diplomacy at Doshisha University in Kyoto, ``Washington expects Tokyo to take prompt action to promote better U.S.-Japan relations. There's likely to be some disappointment.''

Professor Murata analyzed ``Bush's domestic political situation is quite tough, while Koizumi's domestic situation is quite favorable. The U.S. waited and put off pressing Koizumi until the postal issue was resolved. Now, ashington expects action.''

Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese conservative paper, worried it might cloud the future of U.S.-Japan alliance.

The two allies had planned to draft an interim report on the realignment by the end of October so it could be approved at a summit between Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush expected in mid-November. But Sankei said this summit might be cancelled because of realignment issue.

Koizumi, who has been busy with domestic issue such as nation's postal system, has made very few statement on this military realignment issue. Sankei quoted a former Cabinet official as saying that "Koizumi sits on a good personal relationship with Bush," and concluded that it might be difficult to resolve this issue with Koizumi's time.

The current discussions on base realignment are also aimed at improving U.S-Japan military cooperation and giving Japan a bigger role as a strategic hub from which U.S. forces can respond to regional and global threats.

Posted 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Living in 2001

By Elena Favilli

From The Spiegel online:

Bush’s speech of yesterday gives the Spiegel an opportunity to talk about his political inability. With the threat of bombing in New York subway, it seemed to be a perfect moment to talk about terrorism, "but his talk was not about the nation's current challenges. He delivered a reprise of his Sept. 11 rhetoric that suggested an avoidance of today's reality that seemed downright frightening […] Yesterday, it seemed like the President was still trying to live in 2001”. It was an ideal moment for Bush to demonstrate that he was really in control of his administration: “For instance, he could have addressed the crisis facing the overstretched military due to the endless demands made by Iraq on both the Army and the beleaguered National Guard”, but he didn’t. He just used again the same rhetoric of 9/11: “The president's inability to grow beyond his big moment in 2001 is unnerving. But the fact that his handlers continue to encourage him to milk 9/11 is infuriating”.

Posted 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2005

Time for amending Japan's pacifist Constitution??

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday that lawmakers began deliberations at the Diet on a bill stipulating procedures to conduct a national referendum to amend the top law in a significant step toward revising the Constitution in Japan.

According to the Yomirui, representatives of most parties--including the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito as well as the opposition Democratic Party of Japan and New Party Nippon--said they were in favor of such a law. Only the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party expressed opposition to creating such a law, which paves the way to amending the Constitution.

Both of the ruling and opposition parties has been apprehensive about revising the Constitution, especially war-renouncing Article 9, which also bans the threat or use of force to settle international disputes.

However, Japanese people in general appear much more aware of the value of Article 9 than government ministers and lawmakers.

Wednesday's Mainichi Shimbun reported over 60 percent of those surveyed by the Mainichi had said they are opposed to revising Article 9 of the Constitution, even though a majority of the pollees expressed support for constitutional amendment in general. Only 30 percent responded that the clause should be revised.

The article said "The results clearly demonstrate that the majority of people think the pacifist clause should be retained even though the public is increasingly in favor of constitutional amendment amid ongoing discussions in the Diet on such changes."

Asahi Shimbun's poll conducted last April showed the similar result. According to that poll, 51 percent of the respondents said Article 9 should not be changed, in contrast with 36 percent who said it should be revised.

However, the article headlined "Playing the Constitution as a diplomatic card" continued that "the overwhelming majority of those polled also say they support Japan's alliance with the United States."

In fact, 76 percent of respondents to that poll said they approve of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, with only 12 percent disapproving.

Given many influential U.S. politicians including former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, have argued for a revision to Article 9 to allow the Self-Defense Forces to engage in collective self-defense, the article concluded " we can expect the forces urging the amendment to gather momentum by emphasizing the importance of Japan's alliance with the United States."

Posted 10:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2005

Reaction to one-year extension for law on terrorism in Japan

Japanese Cabinet on Tuesday decided to extend a special measures law on assisting the U.S. military in its battle against terrorism-but for only a year.
This will be the second time Japanese government has decided to extend the special measures law.
Even though Foreign Ministry and Defense Agency officials in Japan wanted another two-year extension, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi insisted that the time period be for just one year.
In response to this extension, Japanese two major newspapers showed two different editorials.

Asahi Shimbun, which is known liberal, said in their October 5th's editorial "We are not surprised at Koizumi's caution. The fighting has ceased in Afghanistan. The country has an elected president and parliamentary elections were held last month. The nation is on its way to reconstruction, at least after a fashion, and these developments certainly warrant a close re-examination of how Japan should help Afghanistan. Is the MSDF(Maritime Self-Defense Force) presence in the Indian Ocean really necessary? If it is effective, how so? How long should this continue? Is this the best form of cooperation for Japan to offer? The Diet must address these questions when it starts deliberations on the government bill."

On the other hand, the Yomiuri Shimbun, which is supposed to be relatively conservative, said in the same day's editorial that "We would like to stress again that a permanent law should be enacted on international peace cooperation activities conducted by the Self-Defense Forces."
In their editorial, Yomiuri even referred to Article 9 and said "MSDF ships have been dispatched to the Indian Ocean since December 2001 based on the Antiterrorism Law. They have been refueling British, French and U.S. aircraft carriers, frigates and other naval vessels that stop and inspect suspicious ships in international waters. From an international viewpoint, refueling such ships effectively means exercising the right to collective self-defense.
If the SDF helps troops of another country in danger, it may be considered as exercising the right to collective self-defense or the kind of use of arms prohibited by the Constitution.
The government is responsible for making clear rules on the right to collective self-defense and the use of arms.
Japan must try to release itself quickly from the spell of the constitutional interpretation of Article 9. "


Posted 06:51 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2005

Conservatives in turmoil

In European press, much is being made of the Conservative scandal after the indictment of Tom DeLay, majority leader of the House of Representatives.

According to The Economist, “A conservative crack-up may be going too far; but a conservative realignment is definitely in the works.” Mr DeLay’s indictment is not the only ethical problem hampering the Republicans. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, is being investigated about a stock sale and Karl Rove, President George Bush’s chief strategist, is fighting accusations that he leaked the name of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent. The Conservative movement is in turmoil and long-standing tensions are coming out.

The Spanish El Pais points out how the indictment of Tom DeLay is only the last crack of an already assailed White House: the hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, the increasing price of oil barrels, the public deficit. Will be able the Democrats to win 2006 elections?

Posted 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2005

Sino-US ties to progress well if handled with care

By Elena Favilli

From People's daily online (official newspaper of the Communist party of China):

"China's attitude towards the United States is an important part of its foreign policy. The basic tenets of this policy are: On the basis of the three joint communiques, China will strengthen co-operation, reduce differences, avoid confrontation, develop a constructive co-operative partnership between the two countries, and ensure long-term stability and development in bilateral relations.

This policy is founded on a very deep understanding of the Sino-US relationship.

First, the United States is the only superpower with the greatest national strength in the world. This state of affairs is not going to change for a long time. China, in its effort to strive for an environment that is conducive to its peaceful development, regards the cultivation of a positive co-operative relationship with the United States as most important.

Second, there are a vast number of common interests and a high level of effective co-operation in the areas of commerce, trade and security - including regional security, and non-traditional security areas such as prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and counter-terrorism.

However, the two countries have different social systems and ideologies, and both must handle the relationship with each other well if they want to develop their mutual interests and resolve such matters as human rights.

Third, in recent years, the Sino-American relationship has evolved to one between a superpower and a major rising power. Improvement or deterioration of this relationship is increasingly influencing regional and international arenas. China is worried that the United States, in order to sustain its dominant position, is bent on obstructing China's development. This has helped heighten the importance, complexity and sensitivity of the relationship between the two countries. "

Continue reading the article.

Posted 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2005

“No society is immune”

Most of the stories published about Katrina and its aftermath in the foreign media are very critical of the U.S., and in particular of President Bush and his Administration.
Some notable stories, though take a much more careful approach.

Early on, The Irish Examiner told its readers:

“The first thing worth remembering is that, in the chaos and the looting, we are seeing not just America in crisis, but the drama of humanity everywhere.
A special case can be made that New Orleans, at the best of times, is a sad and lawless place. [...]
No society is immune. Once disaster strikes, two things happen. The survival instinct gets the better of some people and they do all sorts of things to make it through alive.”

Conservative essayist Guy Sorman ran a more analytical piece in the French Le Figaro.

“Bad news for the anti-Americans: the United States are not the Atlantis and they will not be more engulfed by hurricane Katrina that they have been wiped out by the 9/11 attacks.”

The reason, he says can be found in its history and in today’s vibrant civil society and market forces.

According to Sorman, local and State authorities are as responsible as the Federal Government for the failures in Katrina’s aftermath.

Republicans, he writes, have already chosen a “minimal State”. But, with Francis Fukuyama they think that “a free society requires a strong state.”

Is this the whiff of a contradiction?

Not at all. Sorman calls for a “Security State” that leaves social, cultural and educational issues to charitable foundations, local institutions and the market. He then concludes:

“The hurricane strengthens this neoconservative vision of the State: at the center heightened security, while everything else goes to civil society and to market.”

This is one example of how perceptions of what goes on and what is said in the U.S. can be part of the political and ideological debate in Europe… and elsewhere.

Posted 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2005

Californian Democracy

“Who runs your world?” is a BBC's season examining the nature of power in the world today. The first of a series of five articles by Robin Lustig analyses democracy in California.

It focuses on Orange County, one of the richest place on the planet, and takes as example the city of Santa Ana. A third of its residents entered the US illegally, most of them across the border of Mexico. So they have no papers, no official identity and no right to vote. They are politically invisible. Yet their presence is crucial for Santa Ana. Because they are the gardeners, the nannies, the cleaners, the cooks, the waiters.

So the question asked is: “When President Bush talks of spreading democracy and freedom across the world, is Californian-style democracy what he has in mind?”.

Posted 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2005

Bomb attacks in London : A tribute to Blair’s policy in Iraq.

by Pierre Langlais

Taking a look at some blogs on Newspapers sites give some indications about French’s reaction to 7/7 bomb attacks in London. On the website of L’Express, a weekly, one can find those very different points of view: First, this tough stance along the war of civilizations line:

“We have to bring war in Pakistan inside of the “tribal” zones, in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia. Anywhere islamism is not fought, we must fight. Our civilization is concerned. Our ancestors fought proudly during the crusades. We must follow their example.”

Then this call for unity: “We must stay all united again terrorism: American, British, French, European from all political borders.” And, this accusation:
“ Mr. Bush, thanks for this so peaceful world you built for us. You were right, the world is safer without Saddam Hussein. The truth is that your “surgical” actions created uncontrollable metastases like in London.”

Some media underline the importance of Tony Blair’s position on the war in Iraq. The friendship between the British prime minister and George W. Bush and the presence of British soldiers in Iraq are probably two major reasons why London was chosen by the terrorists, writes L’Humanité, a left wing newspaper who is one of the rare written media to take such a stance (radio columnists are more likely to do so).

“It’s impossible not to talk about Iraq. That seems to be the malediction of a prime minister who finally forgot about the war and followed George W. Bush’s quarrelsome position.”
Writes Bernard Duraud who concludes :
“The choice of London can be explained by the alliance between the United Kingdom and the USA and also by the support given by Blair’s government to Israel. In this context, the British secret services estimated that the British capital was a potential target for terrorists attacks. Iraq: a forgotten war ?”

Another daily, Le Figaro, is giving a balanced point of view, and try to separate the conflict about the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism.
Pierre Rousselin writes:
“On March 11, 2004, Al-Qaida had chosen Madrid and had come to its ends: three days later, José Maria Aznar, allied of George W. Bush, was beaten by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero which repatriate the Spanish soldiers from Iraq. This time, the terrorists will not obtain such a result. The British public opinion can reproache Tony Blair for having misled her to engage the country in an unpopular war, the attacks will do nothing but reinforce his determination. The British soldiers will remain in Iraq. Nobody can doubt about it.
The explosion of violence in the heart of London had for effect to precipitate Tony Blair in the forefront of the antiterrorist fight. George W Bush itself changed his speech : he places his second mandate under the sign of the fight against tyranny in the world, rather than on his "crusade" against Ben Laden. It is necessary to go further and to find a true political solution in Baghdad, condition without which terrorism will never be overcome. It is an objective which everybody share, whatever the past dissentions on the war in Iraq. Tony Blair has the occasion to weigh on the debate. One must help him.”

Posted 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2005

From Giacomo Chiozza on Anti-Americanism

Giacomo Chiozza is a post-doctoral fellow at Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University. He will join the faculty in the Department of Political Science at UC-Berkeley in the Fall of 2005. In this letter, Chiozza answers three questions posed by Worldandus.

WorldAndUS: Why is it interesting to study perceptions of the US in the world (or anti-Americanism)?

GC -- Anti-Americanism appears to be a pervasive phenomenon of our times. But despite all the attention that it receives in the media, in the statements of political leaders, and among policy pundits, it still remains a poorly understood phenomenon. We should first acknowledge that anti-Americanism subsumes patterns of behavior and attitudinal stances that span the entire spectrum from the murderous hatred of the 9/11 hijackers to the fleeting and superficial opinions of ordinary people captured in opinion polls. And we should also acknowledge that when we say America, we evoke a large array of images, sentiments, aspirations, and ideals. This combination of competing and contradicting feelings makes the study of anti-Americanism particularly interesting.

A second set of reasons should also be considered. When we study international politics, we focus on the distribution of power and the patterns of interests. These two variables indeed help us understand a great deal of what happens in the international arena. But, as we try to understand the features and characteristics of the American world order, we very well observe that such an international order entails more than power and interests. It entails a normative and ideational dimension. The study of foreign attitudes towards the United States allows us to grasp such an ideational and normative dimension insofar as it tells us what is accepted and what is rejected, under what political conditions, by ordinary people.

-- WorldAndUs: Which effects might be expected from rising anti-Americanism?


GC -- We don't really know much about the political consequences of anti-Americanism. Conjectures abound about how popular opposition to the United States would affect the ability of the United States to pursue major policy initiatives and how such an opposition would create an international political context detrimental to American security. Several scholars have pointed out how the exceptional position of the United States in the current international system is buttressed by a special feature of America's, its soft power, to use Joseph Nye's catchy expression. If popular anti-Americanism is mounting, it might very well undermine American soft power, one of the pillars of the American world order. But, I think, we should avoid the temptation to draw immediate and linear connections between mass level negative attitudes towards the United States and the state choices in the international arena.

-- WorldAndUs: How is it possible to study the evolving nature of this phenomenon in a way so that it can be used as a policy tool?

GC -- When we think of the policy-implications of the scientific and academic research on anti-Americanism, we have to keep two aspects into consideration.

On the one hand, we have the aspiration to a "Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind," which is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

On the other hand, we have the statements of policy makers in the realpolitik tradition, such as Dean Acheson, who argued about 40 years ago that American political leaders should disregard any infatuation with the image of America abroad and, instead, place the course of America's foreign policy on the firm ground of the pursuit of American national interest. In more recent times, the neoconservative intellectuals who have framed American foreign policy under the reign of George W. Bush have made a similar argument and claimed that America should be "unapologetic" and not concerned about the views of foreign publics.

In other words, the policy implications of the study of anti-Americanism are indeed a politically contested battleground. But, regardless of the view we adopt, the knowledge produced by systematic analyses of anti-Americanism would have much more relevance if it followed from well-crafted research design. All too often the treatises on anti-Americanism simply "sample on the dependent variable," that is, select only instances of opposition to America for their analysis. In so doing, they do not show how mass attitudes vary over space and time and over the infinite features of the United States.

Once we start to analyze the rich variation in how America is perceived and appreciated abroad, we can start having a more realistic understanding of the phenomenon. We can start understand what exactly riles opponents and detractors of America, and what about America appeals to so many people. No sound policy advice can follow from analyses that only focus on the "hate" part, and miss out that America is also much loved as well.

Posted 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

Hands Across the Ocean

Supposedly, the gap between the United States and Europe has never been bigger. But for anyone who’s spent any time talking to anti-immigrant activists in the U.S. these days, the parallels with the attitudes of the French and Dutch “no” voters are striking.

Low-wage competition, cultural subversion, Third-World criminality…the fears resound in an echo chamber that stretches from Utrecht to Raleigh, from Denver to Nancy.

It would be as big a mistake to exaggerate the resemblances as it is to ignore them. Jean-Marie Le Pen’s closest U.S. equivalent, Patrick Buchanan, is a marginal figure and will remain one. And the North Africans of Holland and France are pushed to the edge of those societies in a way that America’s Latinos, even the illegal ones, are not.

And yet…when a politician as shrewd and determined as Hillary Clinton makes clear that she has zero sympathy for illegal immigrants, when George W. Bush all but abandons his plans for comprehensive immigration reform ( “I'll continue working on it. You don't have my pledge that Congress will act, because I'm not a member of the legislative branch,” he said at a meeting with Mexico’s Vicente Fox last March), and when the anti-immigrant “real ID” bill sails through Congress, it’s fair to conclude that the politicians are getting nervous.

The idea that the rich favor illegal immigration because it provides cheap labor, including nannies and gardeners is heard frequently in the U.S. these days. It is just true enough that the argument can’t be dismissed out of hand – much like the view that the French political class is out of touch with ordinary people.

Posted 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2005

Is everything okay between the US and the EU?

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If you believe this summary of the EU-US meetings in Brussels last week, it is. Published in Die Welt, Germany's third-largest, and conservative, non-tabloid newspaper, this article looks at some points of contention between the US and the EU. For something that is not an opinion piece, it expresses a surprisingly strong belief in the unity between the US and the EU on a number of foreign policy issues. This is a word-for-word translation of the article.

Convergence or Differences?


The bridge across the Atlantic is strong again – at least the US and the EU are giving this impression. In Brussels, George Bush and the European Union demonstrated united forces. Washington and the EU members have officially buried their disagreement over Iraq, but there are still differences of opinion on bigger political questions. However, in some points there is a move towards consensus.

China

The EU wants to lift the weapons embargo on China, which was put into place fifteen years ago as a result of the suppression of the democracy movement there. Germany and France lead this charge, and only Ireland and Sweden still have reservations. The US is against the removal of sanctions on the grounds of human rights issues. From Washington’s standpoint, the end of the arms embargo would endanger the stability of the region, especially the relationship between China and Taiwan. A possible compromise could come through an agreement to determine which goods are allowed to be exported, and which ones not.

Iran

Both the EU and the US are denying Iran’s right to develop nuclear weapons. However, beyond this, there are differences of opinion. Great Britain, Germany and France have been trying to practice diplomacy for months, to convince Tehran to give up its uranium enrichment program. The EU asks proof from Iran that their program is for a peaceful use of the energy. So far, the US has shown no readiness to accept the EU’s line of negotiating. Bush said multiple times in Brussels that the military option is not on the table. Bush called the assertion ridiculous that concrete plans for an attack are ready.

Iraq

The European Union wants to arrange an international Iraq conference together with the US. At the meeting, aid for Iraq should be coordinated. The EU is ready to organize this conference. From this, Brussels wants to open an EU office in Baghdad. Bush has signaled acceptance that Germany didn’t send any soldiers into Iraq.

Syria

The US and the EU share the viewpoint that Syria should be called on to reduce its security forces in Lebanon. The EU – led by France – wants to achieve this goal without imposing trade sanctions. Both the US and EU support a jointly sponsored UN resolution to investigate the murder of former Lebanese president Rafik Hariri.

The Middle East

The EU and the US want to undertake a joint effort to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East. The chance for peace has never been this apparent as now, Bush pointed out. EU council President Jean-Claude Juncker said it is clear “that we’re not going to move forward, unless Americans and Europeans pull together.”

NATO

On the question of NATO-reform, Americans and Europeans demonstrated extensive unity. Bush praised NATO as the “most successful alliance in the history of the world” and called for an intensive political dialogue between Europe and the US. On the issue, Gerhard Schroeder has expressed agreement for the most part, over the form there “will be discussions.” In the closing discussions, it appeared that the strategic partnership with the EU should be further developed. Schroeder recently made the suggestion of NATO reform and a strengthening of the direct dialogue between the US and the EU. While the European NATO states are for the idea of direct dialogue, the US rejects this request. In the final communiqué reads – “NATO remains the decisive forum for political security consultations between Europe and America.”

Transatlantic Relationships

“The US and the EU are again bound to each other,” EU Commission president Jose Barroso said. Bush spoke of a “new era of transatlantic relations.” Belgian host Guy Verhofstadt said, a new understanding should arise out of the disputes of the past. And all political observers are of the opinion that the meeting between the US and the EU has ended the transatlantic ice age.

Bilateral Relations

Bush and French President Jacques Chirac renewed their relationship at a communal dinner. A relationship that suffered during the Iraq war. A California wine and French fries were served at dinner as a sign of reconciliation. Chirac wants to visit the US this year. The bilateral relations to Bush’s second antagonist on the question of Iraq, Gerhard Schroeder, will be at the center of discussions during Bush’s visit to Germany.

Posted 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2005

Why many Iranians are pro-Americans and pro-Bush

Nicholas Kristof, Thomas Friedman, and many others keep saying that pro-American feelings are very strong in Iran. A presidential Poll organized by the BBC last year even showed that 52% of Iranians favored Bush over Kerry.

There are many reasons to these feelings that differ from perceptions elsewhere in the world: access to satellite television, opposition to the anti-American regime, and support for a peaceful transition in Iran by Republicans, among others.

They are well explained in an entry titled “Persians Push for Bush” published on two Iranian opposition sites (Regime Change Iran, and Persian Journal.

Posted 03:50 PM | Comments (0)