:: Article nr. 66275 sent on 24-may-2010 02:47 ECT
:: Article nr. 66275 sent on 24-may-2010 02:47 ECT
Ukraine’s President Yanukovich listens to his Russian counterpart Medvedev during VII Ukrainian-Russian Economic Forum in Kiev.
Since then, high-level meetings have taken place almost weekly, culminating in Mr. Medvedev’s state visit to Kiev this week.
Mr. Medvedev has even taken to advertising his part-Ukrainian grandmother from Belgorod.
Mr. Yanukovich has now signed a huge number of agreements with Russia, most notably the deal to swap an extra 25 years for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea for a 30 percent reduction in the price of gas.
Ukraine has also agreed to big deals on cooperation in the nuclear industry and in aviation, a 10-year economic cooperation plan, and common positions on Transnistria and security in the Black Sea region that have disturbed neighbors like Moldova and Georgia.
And Mr. Yanukovich has backed Mr. Medvedev’s pet European Security Initiative and its goal to “eliminate the dangerous dividing lines that have appeared in the European region over the past decade.”
A recently leaked strategy paper written by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, defines Russia’s overall aim as nothing less than “to actively draw Ukraine into an orbit of economic cooperation with Russia.”
This new Ukrainian foreign policy is something of a mystery. Even some old hands are wondering why Ukraine is huddling so close to Russia, and why it has conceded so much so quickly.
Four possible explanations suggest themselves:
One is that Ukraine is still in economic trouble and the rapprochement with Russia is all about cheap gas.
The gas discount obviated the need for harsh spending cuts, and Kiev thinks a budget deficit under 6 percent of gross domestic product will bring the International Monetary Fund back to the table. Standard & Poor’s has upgraded Ukraine’s credit rating from B- to B.
In the short term, the gas deal is also the one thing that pleases both competing wings of Mr. Yanukovich’s Party of the Regions. The Dmitry Firtash group runs several chemical plants; Rinat Akhmetov’s main business is steel. Together, they consume almost half of all Ukraine’s gas imports.
However, the I.M.F. is well-aware that hard choices and fiscal retrenchment have been postponed, possibly only for a matter of months. Moreover, Ukraine is still paying $230 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas – the price may have fallen, but only to levels common elsewhere in Europe.
So if economic trouble is the explanation, Russia cannot bail out the whole economy. Ukraine will come back to the Western table soon enough.
The European Union in particular should reiterate that the deal that Ukraine signed but never implemented in 2009, promising substantial Western investment if Ukraine reformed its gas sector, can still be revived.
The second possibility is that Mr. Yanukovich’s priority is to strengthen himself internally.
Playing closer to Russia makes this easier, as Russia is not likely to object to recent moves to chip away at media freedom and pack the judiciary. But a stronger Yanukovich might be a more prickly partner in the long run – not just for the West but for Russia as well.
If this is the case, the West should avoid giving the impression that it is so fed up with the years of chaotic “Orange” government that it will allow Mr. Yanukovich to undercut freedoms won by the Orange Revolution in 2004 in the name of restoring “stability.”
The third possible explanation is corruption.
Local elites are quick learners. The main current scam involves Ukraine’s internal gas distributors buying cheaper “gas for households” and selling it to higher-paying industrial customers.
The cut in the overall Russian gas supply price reduces the pressure from the European Union for market pricing across the board, which would close these gaps.
But the world is paying more attention since the gas crisis in January 2009. And some of Ukraine’s oligarchs may split from Mr. Yanukovich soon enough if the “gas lobby” gains too much power in the new government.
The Ukrainian oligarchs are also interested in concessions from the Russian side, such as opening up access to Central Asian gas.
The fourth possibility is that Ukraine shares some of Russia’s analysis of rapidly changing world events.
Mr. Yanukovich’s team may also think that the United States is preoccupied with other things, and that the E.U. is in long-term decline and is too busy with the euro crisis in the short-term to pay much attention to Eastern Europe.
Ukraine might also believe that the global economic crisis will replace flat “globalization” with lumpy “regionalization,” and Ukraine should throw in its lot with Russia as it seeks to consolidate “its” region.
If that is the case, encouraging the Ukrainian pendulum to swing Westward again will be much harder this time.
Source: European Council on Foreign Relations
Though Turkey’s rising influence in the Middle East is indisputable, it may not be sustainable, according to academics who met May 17 to discuss the applicability of the “Turkish model” throughout the Arab world.
The way Turkey’s role will affect Middle Eastern politics also remains uncertain, said participants in the panel “Turkey and the Arab World: Are They Rediscovering Each Other?”
The event was hosted by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, or TESEV, at the Grand Hyatt Istanbul Hotel.
The degree to which Turkey can make use of its “soft power” – including the popularity of its TV series in the Arab world – was one key topic of discussion, as was its secularism, which differentiates Turkey from some other nations in the region. Some panelists said it might be a partial explanation for Turkey’s success and that the country might serve as a model for the Middle East.
Turkey is the only successful nation-state in the Middle East, according to Paul Salem from the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center, who called Turkey’s gradual transition from authoritarian government to participatory democracy something unseen in the Arab world.
Salem said Turkey has been more successful than other countries in striking a balance between Islamists and secularists and dealing with issues of religion, secularism and gender equality. The resonance of popular Turkish TV series in the Arab world is also due to the interest shown in seeing Turkish families dealing with issues of day-to-day life.
According to Salem, the Middle East has proved incapable of developing secularism as a concept and Arab-Islamist secularists are marginalized in their countries.
“Beginning in the 1990s, ‘secularism’ became a word with a negative connotation,” said Professor Meliha Altunışık, who wrote a report last year on the perception of Turkey in the Arab world. “I understand that ‘democratization’ has also become quite unpopular as the region sees it as part of a Western ideology. The preferred term seems to be ‘democratic process.’”
Turkey’s secular nature has become an issue of debate between the three forces – Arab liberals, Islamists and leftists – that currently dominate the Middle East’s political scene. Unlike Islamists, liberals emphasize Turkey’s secularism as an important element in explaining its relative success in achieving modernity and democracy. What one Arab academic has called its “faithful secularism” is particularly important, according to Altunışık, in deconstructing the prevailing view in the Arab world since the 1970s that secularism is synonymous with a lack of faith.
The ascent to power of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in Turkey has been seen as example that not only demonstrates the compatibility of Islam and democracy, but also the ability to integrate Islamists into the system, Altunışık said.
Most liberals in the region sided with their countries’ regimes in the early 1990s out of fear that Islamists would benefit from any political liberalization and that secular authoritarianism would transform into religious rule. This perspective has been changing in recent years. The creation of alliances between some liberals and leftists and Islamists since the establishment of the AKP has been seen as evidence that Islamist movements can become moderate and learn to accept the principles of democracy.
A battery of U.S. surface-to-air Patriot-type missiles arrived Sunday at a Polish military base, the first such deployment on Polish soil, the US embassy in Warsaw said Monday.
“An American Patriot Air and Missile Defense Battery arrived on Sunday at Morag, home of the 16th Mechanized Battalion of the Polish Land Forces, located in north-east Poland,” said a statement published Monday on the embassy’s website. “The U.S. 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, also known as the Rough Riders, will unload 37 train cars of equipment on Monday,” it said.
Some 100-150 US troops based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, are to service the battery in Poland and train Polish soldiers to operate it, the statement said. Polish officials are to unveil the Patriots, which are designed to intercept incoming surface-to-surface missiles, on Wednesday, a Polish defence ministry statement said last week.
The Polish military base at Morag, in the Mazurian Lakes region, is some 250 kilometers north of Warsaw and just 60 kilometers from the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad territory. In February, Poland ratified the so-called SOFA deal on the stationing on its soil of U.S. troops who will crew the Patriot battery and train Polish soldiers to use the system.
Poland has repeatedly insisted that the base close to Kaliningrad was not chosen for political or strategic reasons, but simply because it already has good infrastructure. In September 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped a plan agreed a year earlier by his predecessor George W. Bush to install a controversial anti-missile shield system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Under that now-shelved deal, the United States also pledged to help upgrade Poland’s national air defences with Patriot missiles and has stuck to that part of the agreement. The anti-missile shield plan had enraged Russia, which dubbed it a menace to its security on its very doorstep, although Washington insisted it was meant to ward off a potential long-range missile threat from Iran.
Warsaw and Prague were part of Moscow’s Soviet-era sphere of control, but became solid U.S. allies after breaking from the crumbling communist bloc in 1989, and joined NATO in 1999. The Obama administration has since come up with a new plan aimed at parrying short- and medium-range missile attacks.
Australia Monday said it would expel an official from the Israeli embassy, after finding the Jewish state was behind fake Australian passports linked to the killing of a Hamas operative.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia remained a “firm friend” of Israel but that no government could tolerate the abuse of its passports. “The government has asked that a member of the Israeli embassy in Canberra be withdrawn from Australia,” Smith told parliament, without identifying the official. “I have asked that the withdrawal be effected within a week.”
An investigation into how four Australian passports were used by the team that carried out the January killing of Hamas operative Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a luxury Dubai hotel found the documents were forgeries, Smith said.
He said the high quality of the forged passports pointed to the involvement of a state intelligence service. “These investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports,” he said.
Smith said this was not the first time that Israel had misused Australian passports, but he declined to comment on the other occasions. “This is not what we expect from a nation with whom we have had such a close, supportive relationship,” he said. “These are not the actions of a friend.”
“The government takes this step much more in sorrow than in anger,” he added. The Israeli foreign ministry expressed disappointment. “We are sorry for the Australian step, which is not in line with the nature and importance of the relationship,” between the two nations, said foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmore.
‘Intolerable’ use of fake passports
Suspects in the killing of Mahmud al-Mabhuh used the identities of 12 Britons, as well as those of people from France, Germany and Ireland along with the four Australians, Dubai police have said.
In March, Britain kicked out an Israeli diplomat over the “intolerable” use of fake British passports also used in the killing. The British government declined to specify the position of the expelled diplomat, but local media reported the individual was a senior operative in Israel’s spy agency Mossad.
Mossad has been widely blamed for the killing of the Hamas operative but Israel maintains there is no proof for this claim. At a later news conference, Smith said he would not identify the person asked to withdraw. But he said: “Our response on any measure is comparable to the British response.”
Asked whether Israel had offered an explanation, Smith said: “In terms of the substance of these matters Israel has not been drawn in those conversations or drawn on those matters.” The minister said the development would impact Canberra’s ties with Tel Aviv but Australia wanted to have a good relationship with Israel, believing it was in the best interests of both countries.
He said contact on intelligence sharing and security matters may now suffer. “Clearly, as a result of today’s events there will be something of a cooling-off period so far as relevant agencies are concerned,” Smith said. “We would want very much for those cooperative relationships to proceed but there does require a rebuilding of trust and confidence.”
By Patricia Hess
In considering what influences youth to become people who contribute to peace, rather than people who cause conflict or commit crimes, it is essential to evaluate the social dynamics that shape their hearts – their capacity to love, to have good ethics, and to show concern for others. In countries where school attendance is compulsory, schools are the most significantly influential social environment that shape young hearts. Unfortunately, though, in America, as well as other nations, there is a downward trend in the quality of character among school students. This is evidenced by the rash of school violence and problems associated with crime and immorality that have often been seen in the news.
Therefore, it is vitally important to re-evaluate the traditional education system from a sociological perspective. These are some of the questions that could be asked: 1) How do the social groups of the classroom and school affect individual students? 2) How do the social groups of schools affect families and communities? 3) How does the school environment contribute to the downward trend of students’ ethics and morals? And, 4) How could the education system be changed in a way that would affect the development of students’ characters?
Qualities of heart begin forming in early childhood and often become concrete by young adulthood. That means the school years are the most important period for developing character, and, thus, the main factor that will decide whether a person lives an altruistic life in harmony with others or a self-centered life in conflict with others. A significant part of that formative process is a child’s own motivation and will, but even how youth challenge themselves is tied in with their school experiences. One of the most destructive forces upon our future generations is the loss of motivation to learn. When an educational environment degrades to the point that students give up making effort, then that education system should be dismantled and a new system should be made that will stimulate students to challenge themselves and actively work toward their educational goals.
Is it time for a new paradigm?
At the beginning of the history of education, the system of a teacher lecturing to a classroom of students was the most efficient method of learning. Of course, back then, they did not have advanced media technologies, and published information was limited. For example, if a teacher’s personal research was included in the course, then the individual teacher was likely the only source from which to obtain it. With teachers as the main source of information, rather than media, then it was necessary for the students to come to the teacher.
From there, institutions sprang up as a venue for students’ access to teachers. However, the social culture that has developed in schools and colleges has become antithetical to the goal of education. For example, in America, some students might have the ability to make high grades but will purposely make average grades because they might be persecuted by their peers. In a group, the majority make average grades, and the majority controls the social atmosphere, so the ‘socially correct’ behavior of the group will be to make average grades – those who don’t will be outside of the norm and, therefore, at risk of ostracism.
This same phenomenon happens with the morality of the group. When students from different family backgrounds are put together, those with high ethical standards are in the minority, so they tend to compromise their own values to adopt those of the group majority. When this takes place generation after generation, the ‘average’ that defines the majority gets lower and lower.
Also, with the onset of media technology over the past century, the effect of this group dynamic has been multiplied. Through media, companies compete to appeal to the most people possible, so they target the majority, or the ‘average’ person. Therefore, because the ‘average’ behavior in the classroom is echoed through the media, the students in the minority are even more pressured to conform.
Social conformity among youth has contributed to the current situation of education and has affected society as a whole. In developed countries that provide free, compulsory primary education and reasonably easy access to higher education, there are severe problems with student apathy and moral behavior. Students who grow up in an educational system that indirectly perpetuates sexual immorality and substance abuse become the next generation of citizens and pull down the level of the nation’s social integrity. Despite schools providing education directly against sex, drugs and alcohol, they have not been able to control the group social dynamics that will naturally occur in any institutional setting where the ratio of adults to students and the effectiveness of adult supervision is small.
Another effect of institutionalizing education has been the need to establish requirements for diplomas or degrees. This also contributes to student apathy when courses are not useful for life goals (such as employment) and if the courses have content that is repetitive. For example, from primary school through college, students may have to take five or more national history classes – although each class may provide more detail than the previous one, the same basic information is repeated. Students sometimes continue to submit the same reports with only a few facts added. The repetition is boring for both students and teachers, and it wastes a great deal of educational resources, including staff time, use of facilities and curriculum materials.
Inefficiency is compounded by the expense of education, which burdens students and their parents, and even the whole society, in the case of America and other nations that have government funded public schools and college subsidies. Since most college textbooks, including the curricula used by famous universities, can be purchased for a small fraction of the cost of tuition, then the price is not for the information – it’s a money game about obtaining a high social status and getting a well-paid job.
The greatest waste is from falsely inflated college tuition, housing and meal services. When colleges require first and second year students to live on campus, they are keeping a monopolized micro-economy in place. And, when the tuition of famous universities are five to ten times higher than the lowest priced schools, then the expense is less about educational quality and more about taking advantage of the economic principle of ‘supply and demand’ in regard to admissions.
Notice the self-feeding loop: only wealthy people can afford the schools on the high-end of the tuition scale, so those who already have high social status add to the reputation of the university while they are students and again, later, when they get good jobs through their circle of wealthy friends and relatives. That is, once a university is able to attract wealthy students, educational quality does not need to be the deciding factor for tuition rates. The ‘supply’ of sought-after universities will always remain low as a natural result of social behavior: Given a choice of many boxes in different sizes and styles, everyone will choose the box with the most money in it.
The side-effect of this practice is a major reduction in the amount of time children have to interact with their parents, siblings, other relatives, and people in the community. Therefore, it should not be assumed that the institutional style of education is the best option. In traditional tribal and agricultural lifestyles, children were important contributors to the stability and cohesiveness of families and social groups. They cared for younger siblings and did work to help provide for their family’s needs; in so doing, they developed their abilities and skills, sense of responsibility, bonds of heart, and the capacity to relate to others of different ages and generations.
Many of the qualities of character and interpersonal relationships that naturally developed from those lifestyles have diminished because of the amount of time students are separated from their families. Over time, families and communities adapted to children being in school; now, in countries with industrialized economies, often both parents work – so they depend on schools to raise their children, but when the schools fail to instill values, their communities are troubled by juvenile delinquency.
Society as a whole has been negatively affected by the system of education in institutions, and social pressures often prevent students from achieving the benefits of education that would be expected from the amount of time and they spend for school. When students are not motivated to learn, but are required to be in classrooms (either by compulsory attendance laws or social norms), the situation creates a group mind-set similar to that of people in prison. Not only do their thoughts wander far outside the classroom walls, but, also, their hearts develop resentment, which can affect their behavior and emotional development – in turn, that echoes to family and community relationships.
This situation is especially true in South Korea, where high school students often stay at public schools or go to private academies to study until 10 pm at night; extra time is put in on Saturdays and during vacation times as well. In fact, a Korean student, whom I personally know, described his experience as “like being in prison” because he had to stay at school, but the social atmosphere was not conducive to studying and there was nothing else to do. Despite all the hours and money invested, few public school students attain the academic level required for entrance to the main Korean universities, and Korean employers have indicated that, generally, graduates are not well prepared for the workforce.
There are specific factors that contribute to the ‘wheel-spinning’ effect of education in South Korea – caused by a mix of policy, culture and student motivation. For example, it is a standard practice to use a ‘curve’ in grading that limits the number of ‘A’s’ (grades of 90/100), and students are ranked within their classes, so there is only room for one student in each place (first, second, third, etc). If a student’s grade or rank falls, his or her parents storm into the school and yell at the teacher; they are viciously competitive, and instances of bribery and cheating are often in the news. (This is because only the top students have a chance to go to the famous universities, and education is a major determinant of social status.)
Furthermore, if a whole class makes low grades, the teacher is blamed for either not teaching effectively or making the test too hard. And, regardless of students’ grades, they pass and get their diplomas. Therefore, students know they can get through school without really making effort, and they also know that – even if they make a lot of effort – there is no room at the top of the class. The biggest effort is made by parents, who spend a fortune on private education to keep up the hope, or at least the appearance, that their children are headed for the most esteemed university.
When the culture is such that the social pressure is on the teachers and school administrators to give students passing grades and allow them to graduate, then rigid standards of educational quality cannot be held in place. Schools are forced to accommodate both the demands of parents and the requirements of governing organizations that provide funding. With teachers adapting their tests to the level of students and schools adopting graduation policies that keep their statistics level, the lowering of educational standards over time is hidden.
The change in standards, however, is obvious to those who are old enough to remember the way schools used to be. I once had an elderly American college teacher express to me her shock and frustration over apathetic students who did not study or complete their assignments; in the forty or so years since she had attended college, the standards of students’ motivation and effort – as well as the course requirements – had drastically declined. Returning to the standards of schools several generations ago would not be an answer to the problem and may not even be possible, given the changes that have occurred in social attitudes. The authoritarian atmosphere of schools could only be supported by strong family unity and discipline in homes.
Taking all this into account, it is clear that a new paradigm for an educational system is needed for the sake of maintaining and improving the social integrity of future generations. It is needed for the sake of liberating students to reach their full potential. And, it is needed for the sake of the poor in nations that don’t have resources for building and maintaining institutions.Underdeveloped nations have often copied the examples of wealthy western nations with the hopes that duplicating their social systems will bring them the same kind of success. They have tended to overlook the fact that the economies of the leading countries flourish only because they can take advantage of comparatively cheap resources and labor from the poor countries. Thus, they should carefully scrutinize the results of western education practices before making decisions about the future of their own education systems.
Patricia Hess is an American living in Korea. Her husband, 고여익, was born and raised in the Gimpo area and is currently campaigning for a Gyeonggido council position on a no-party ticket. They have 4 children and 3 grandchildren. Patricia is an English professor at Gimpo College.
|ccupied Baluchistan: NCRI – Abdolhamid Rigi, a political prisoner who endured a long period of pressure and torture in Iranian regime’s jails, was hanged this morning in Zahedan prison accused of “moharebeh and instigating corruption on earth.” Fars news agency, affiliated to the regime’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and a number of other state-run media published photos of his corps hanging from a noose in an attempt to create an atmosphere of terror and fear among people and especially youths in Baluchistan.
On July 14, 2009, a month after the start of the nationwide uprising, 13 political prisoners from Baluchistan were hanged together after suffering torture. They were deprived of fair trial or defense. Hamidi, mullahs’ chief of justice in Sistan and Baluchistan province announced on that day that Abdolhamid was not executed along with the 13 upon the request of the mullahs’ Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). The delay in his execution was a clear indication of the regime’s intention to put him under more severe torture to break him and extract more information.
The Pakistani ambassador to Tehran in an interview on February 26 admitted that Abdolhamid Rigi had been arrested by Pakistani forces and handed over to the religious dictatorship by his government.
Execution of political prisoners, especially in Kurdish and Baluchistan regions, on the brink of the first anniversary of the nationwide uprising, reveals the criminal rulers’ weakness and fear in face of growing public anger and hatred toward the regime.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
The Guardian says the documents provide the first ever official documentary evidence that Israel actually possesses nuclear weapons.
Israel has long followed a policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” meaning it neither confirms nor denies that it has the atom bomb.
The policy is aimed at enjoying the deterrence of a bomb, without the likely consequences of international inspections or even sanctions or a regional arms race.
The documents published in the Guardian include the “top secret” minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 and show that South Africa’s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads, while Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them “in three sizes.”
Peres’ signature can be seen under a letter dating from 1975.
The papers were uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow- Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries.
Peres’ office told the German Press Agency dpa that a reaction would be forthcoming.
The Iranian Sistan-Baluchestan Province Prosecutor’s Office reported that head of the Jundallah Organization Abdolmalek Rigi’s brother Abdolhamid was executed in Zahedan.
The Sistan-Baluchestan Revolutionary Court declared Abdolhamid Rigi a “muharib,” or an individual who spoke out against Allah, the prophet, or the Islamic government. The Iranian Constitution envisages exile and death for an individual convicted of being a “muharib.”
Jundallah has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks in Iran. The group has carried out mass murders, armed robberies, kidnappings, acts of sabotage and bombings, the Iranian government reports.
In an attack Oct.18, over 40 Iranians died in Pishin, located in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
The Iranian intelligence service arrested Abdolmalek in February 2010.
The leadership of Tajikistan signed for his own impotence
According to international organizations, the lack of an integrated trust reform program, a severe shortage of funds and the accumulated weight of unresolved social problems in Tajikistan have led to falling living standards and social protection of population.
As the result of reduced access to basic services, particularly in housing and communal services and public health in the country is marked outbreak of infectious diseases.
Recall that the other day at 130 Tajik children were diagnosed with polio, 10 of whom have already died. Among adults, the disease struck so far only seven people.
For your information: Polio – a child’s spinal paralysis, an acute infectious disease caused by a lesion of the gray matter of the spinal cord and is manifested mainly in the form of pathology of the nervous system. Infection occurs by airborne droplets, when hit in the mouth via contaminated hands and food of active virus.
Today, in the central hospitals in Khujand, B. Gafurov and the northern province of Khatlon region are trying to make at least some measures to prevent the rapid spread of the disease.
But , due to lack of budget guidelines by administrators of the Office of Social Welfare Sughd remain on paper.
And yet, according to Russian doctors “to date, poliomyelitis was associated with African countries and Afghanistan. Now it was added to Tajikistan.”
In this situation, leaders of Tajikistan, demonstrating a failure, hoping the international community, has not taken any steps to resolve the situation.
Fortunately, there are still good people. UNICEF introduced in Tajikistan of 4 million doses of oral polio vaccine for immunization of children under 5 years.
We note that the situation in Tajikistan’s health system is defined by one word – dismal. Over the years, the independent development of the Republic of funding in this sector declined from 4.5% of GDP in 1991 to 1,1% – in 2009.
As a consequence, the Tajik medicine and doctors increasingly are detrimental reliance on informal private payments for services rendered and foreign aid. To date, private payments cover 70% of all expenditures, budgetary funds – 16%, and donor assistance – 14%.
Vice-President of the World Bank Shigeo Katsu said that 50% of Tajikistan’s population does not have access to health services. Indicators in this area have dropped to sub-Saharan Africa “, – said Mr. Katsu.
|Source - CentrAsia|
|№ 18 (479) on 24.05.2010
Curious audiotape appeared on the Internet, the server Youtube. Ostensibly this is a conversation son deposed president of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev Maxim and brother of former President Janysh. It is of anything else, as a new revolution, or rather the restoration of the old regime.You can certainly talk a lot about how reliable this record or not, but one thing is clear – in the country and abroad there are forces who want to return all full circle. So in a 35-minute conversation the interlocutors discussed the possibility of making his own supporters, after which the family Bakiyev will regain power. For this purpose, as suggested by Maxim Bakiyev, just 500 “scumbags” who will storm the Government House. Maxim Bakiev, while noting that the attack aircraft would be no more legitimate than those that led to the Provisional Government, but the problems he sees this. It is possible, he says, simply to seize power, to issue several decrees, thus “delete these” apparently refers to the Provisional Government, and leave. A different version: the rebels handed over the reins of legitimate authority, under which the conversation assumed family Bakiyev. Maxim also assumes the funding of all possible events and convinces his uncle to abandon the idea of a participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections, over which he apparently thought or thinks.
- You know, – said Maxim – we currently do not have to think about the parliamentary elections. Because we then get into their field, we start to play by their rules. And there we all lose. Possible restorers are well aware that in a democratic way of coming to power will not work because people will not support them, and therefore offer a military solution. A “rogues” who are also well paid, there will always be.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyz political scientist Nur Omarov believes that the risks faced by today, the Provisional Government, lie in another plane.
In an interview published on the site svobodanews.ru, he, inter alia, said: “The main thing – is the problem of the legitimacy of the interim government … In my opinion, the interim government allowed at the beginning of a serious mistake by dismissing the willful decision of the parliament, which could at least formally legitimize him for a transitional period. In these conditions the threat probakievskih speeches increases: family deposed president has considerable financial resources and the large number of supporters. And that is especially dangerous in law enforcement, because over the past five years is their deliberate makeup Bakiyev. I think that this factor will play a very important role, at least until the autumn of this year. Another round of tension, of course, will begin after the parliamentary elections, since many will disagree with their results, and this will, of course, a new wave of disturbances, rallies and civil conflict. As for plans Bakiyev stated in a conversation with my uncle, I think it is, of course, wishful thinking. In April and early May, the order in Bishkek provide about six or seven thousand people vigilantes, not counting the official forces of law and order. Therefore, I think that 500 people would not be able to arrange something radical. This requires a much greater number of Bakiyev supporters.
And if those supporters there? This raises the question: is not it too early for Kazakhstan opened the border, giving way to the insistent demands of the Kyrgyz Interim Government? If more and southern borders of the breakaway republic is not less than transparent, it is possible to assume that to us is not expected to throng the flow of food and drugs and weapons, which, according to eyewitnesses, is sold in Kyrgyzstan on every step. “Kalash” with one horn loaded cartridges can be purchased for only $ 700.
In Kazakhstan, of course, are closely watching the developments from neighbors. We have already resigned to the fact that this summer will not be able to go to tender Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyz but now can complain to us themselves. And not all with peaceful intentions. Who can guarantee that none of them will be those “scumbags” in the words of Maxim Bakiyev.
As for the conversation, lined on the Internet, to me personally it seems strange. Especially his own character. Having lived his entire life in Kazakhstan, I am used to the fact that representatives of indigenous peoples with a great deal of piety are to elders. Here we hear something different. Maxim Bakiyev, behaves as if speaking to a younger companion, in extreme cases, the same age, almost every sentence, use an offensive language. My uncle is all agreed with his nephew, performs the role of passive listeners. Perhaps Janysh Bakiyev behaves, because in any action and does not intend to participate and simply a relative agrees to all proposals nephew.
Meanwhile, the Internet becomes more Kirghiz. A few days ago, according to “Moskovsky Komsomolets”, on the same YouTube have been posted audio recordings of telephone conversations of suspected members of the Provisional Government. The two rollers – voice, similar to Beknazarov and Sarieva, as well as Beknazarov and Atambayev, lead the conversation in the Kyrgyz language.
However, the deputy chairman of the Provisional Government, the Minister of Finance Temir Sariev confirmed that the recording is really his voice and that such a conversation had taken place. Topic of conversation – the urgent allocation of money power structures involved in the suppression of the revolt Bakiyev supporters in the south of the republic.
You have not created the impression that someone is playing with Web users in an incomprehensible game called Kyrgyzstan? And who is this game on hand?
What can I do to Kazakhstan in this situation is not clear. But surely not something that suggested the end of April in the TV channel TANG president of the Independent Association of Entrepreneurs Talgat Akuov. But he offered nothing but how to turn Kyrgyzstan into the Kazakhstan. It seems that the Kirghiz themselves from such offers are not delighted, but if the people of the neighboring country asks for help up to protect its southern borders, help needed. Been left alone …
A top Kyrgyzstan official has accused foreign secret services of wiretapping the interim government, after audio recordings this week implicated officials in corruption scandals.
Almazbek Atambayev, first deputy prime minister of the administration that took power last month after an uprising against president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, said US, Russian and Central Asian agencies were behind the bugging.
“Special services of the whole world are now listening in on Kyrgyzstan,” Almazbek Atambayev, first deputy prime-minister of the interim government, told a news conference.
Kyrgyzstan has been in disarray since Bakiyev was toppled in April amid protests that left nearly 90 people dead.
(Reuters) – Russia’s top drugs official gave a list of Afghan and Central Asian drug barons to U.S. anti-drugs tsar Gil Kerlikowske Sunday, but criticized U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan for failing to stem opium output.
Russia is the world’s biggest per capita user of heroin — all of it flowing from Afghanistan — and President Dmitry Medvedev has called drug abuse among the country’s youth a threat to national security.
“I handed him (Kerlikowske) over a list of nine … people living in Afghanistan or elsewhere in Central Asia and involved in drug trafficking by supplying wholesale batches of narcotics,” Russia’s drug enforcement chief Viktor Ivanov told a news conference.
Moscow is willing to prosecute the suspects.
Ivanov said he met Kerlikowske, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, at a Moscow airport during Kerlikowske’s stopover en route to Stockholm — their fourth meeting in less than a year.
He said Russia had earlier supplied the names of around 25 other people involved in drug trade, as well as data on 175 drug laboratories operating in Afghanistan.
“To destroy these drug laboratories is the most urgent task, because these are already well-established cartels, with a stable hierarchy and structure, funding sources and technological equipment to produce narcotics,” Ivanov said.
Ivanov said Russia annually consumed 35 metric tones of heroin alone. If counted with other Afghan-made opiates, Russia’s per capita consumption of opium was the biggest in the world.
However, while praising Moscow’s cooperation with Washington in some aspects of the anti-drug fight, Ivanov criticized the U.S.-led coalition of NATO states fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for failing to eradicate opium output there.
He said Afghanistan accounted for 95 percent of the world’s heroin output. The country now produces each year twice as much heroin than the entire world produced 10 years ago, he said.
In March, NATO rejected Russian calls for it to eradicate opium poppy fields in Afghanistan and urged Moscow to give more assistance against the insurgency.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said at the time that it was impossible to remove the only source of income for Afghan farmers without being able to provide them with an alternative.
“Where is the logic here? To destroy a plant is much cheaper than … catching it later on the streets of Berlin, Rome, London, Moscow and so on,” Ivanov said.
Opiates flow to Russia across Central Asia’s often porous borders. Up to 2.5 million Russians are drug addicts, and some 90 percent of them use heroin. Each year 30,000 Russian drug users die and 80,000 people try narcotics for the first time.
Ivanov said Russia accounted for a fifth of the world’s market of opiates estimated at a total of $65 billion.
He said Moscow would host an international forum on June 9-10 sponsored by the Kremlin where Russia would raise its concerns and call for the creation of an anti-drug coalition.
(Editing by Alison Williams)
Paul Le Blanc
Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009), 356 pages, $26.95, hardcover, $16.95, paperback.
Kim Phillips-Fein has provided us with a very fine account of how we got where we are—in a stranglehold of big business conservatism that has by no means been broken by the liberal electoral victory of 2008. She has not only absorbed a considerable amount of secondary literature, but has also combed through the archives, combining her impressive research and insights with a well-paced narrative populated with a variety of interesting personalities—all quite well-to-do, all white, almost all male, and yet a very diverse and interesting lot.
This is hardly the only good book on the creation and triumph of the conservative movement in the United States. George Nash’s informative and utterly sympathetic The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945; Godfrey Hodgon’s coolly analyticalThe World Turned Right Side Up: A History of the Conservative Ascendency in America; and Alan Lichtman’s bristling, massive, seemingly exhaustive White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement are among other valuable sources for those wanting to understand what has happened in our country since the Second World War. Each tells the story of marginalized intellectual and political elements crystallizing over a thirty-year period into a powerful political presence that shifted the nation’s center of gravity far to the right, creating a massive popular base and taking control of the state, with profound impacts on our cultural and economic life.
Invisible Hands does not pretend to be a comprehensive account of the intricacies of right-wing politics in the United States. Instead, it focuses sharply on the interplay of ideology, organization, and economic interest that drove the process forward to ultimate, devastating (though perhaps temporary) triumph. In a sense, the author is guided by the adage “follow the money.” An essential aspect of the story involves the intellectual and political mobilization of the business community—particularly such huge corporations as AT&T, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Exxon, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, B.F. Goodrich, Greyhound, Gulf, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Mobil, Pepsi, Sears & Roebuck, Sun Oil, and U.S. Steel. As the author shows us, they bankrolled small conservative publications, right-wing institutes, foundations, think tanks, educational campaigns, cultural offensives, political mobilizations, and massive electoral efforts. But, in addition to what must ultimately add up to billions of dollars in contributions from 1935 to 2000, these scions, executives, and well-paid representatives of big business intervened in increasing numbers with hearts and minds and hands in the struggle to win their power back, with a vengeance.
Not that big capital had ever completely lost its power in the United States. But as Phillips-Fein shows, the mass mobilizations from the left end of the political spectrum during the Great Depression and again in the wake of the Second World War resulted in a momentous power shift—with radical implications for the working class and other oppressed layers in our society. The militant insurgencies encompassed by, but sometimes bursting beyond, an organized labor movement, which ultimately represented more than a third of the labor force, found reflection in the political arena, particularly in the far-reaching social programs, economic regulations, and Keynesian perspectives represented by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. All of this horrified and enraged a class whose immense wealth and power, while hardly destroyed, were curtailed and “trespassed” upon by what they saw as unruly and insolent employees, union bosses, red- and pink-hued “do-gooders,” and a swelling legion of government bureaucrats. They denounced these government reforms and regulations over and over and over again, as “socialistic.”
Of course, while a militant minority among the insurgencies of the 1930s and mid-1940s had set its sights on replacing capitalism with some variety of cooperative commonwealth, the intention of the Roosevelt administration and its successors—whether Democratic or Republican—up to 1980 was to mitigate mass discontent for the very purpose of preserving the capitalist system. After 1946 this was done within a Cold War context in which anti-Communism served to clip the wings of those with radical aspirations.
But the new orthodoxy predominating in both the Republican and Democratic parties, among mainstream social scientists, and within the population at large, was that government, in the words of pro-business Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, should “prevent or correct abuses springing from the unregulated practice of the private economy.” Eisenhower articulated that common, “middle of the road” wisdom when he proclaimed: “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear from that party again in our political history.”
Going against this dominant outlook, the goal of business conservatives was to uproot all manifestations of “collectivism,” no matter how mild. As economist Ludwig von Mises, advocate of unrestrained free market forces, emphasized to Leonard Read (Chamber of Commerce executive and founder of the Foundation for Economic Education), “the only thing that really matters is the outcome of the intellectual combat between the supporters of socialism and those of capitalism.” For Mises and his followers, there was no middle way.
Phillips-Fein introduces us to a small, initially beleaguered corps of “free market conservatives” (those who want to conserve traditional power relations benefitting big business) who organized the utterly unsuccessful Liberty League, the more durable but often thwarted National Association of Manufacturers, and the marginal Foundation for Economic Education, which published the small, Monthly Review-type journal (with quite different politics, to be sure) called The Freeman. Throughout this study, we see that even modest efforts at cultivating right-wing publications and public forums—while sometimes demoralizing—had the effect of building up networks and providing experience that would come into play in later efforts, ultimately contributing to victories in the future. And, as Phillips-Fein points out, “at a time when leading liberal intellectuals like Daniel Bell and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. argued that the rise of fascism and Soviet communism had shattered the capacity for faith in ideology in the West, insisting that most conservatives and liberals alike agreed on the welfare state and the limits of government power, these free-market activists understood, in a way that the liberal thinkers did not, the importance of ideas and the need to shape the terms of debate.”
By 1955 National Review on the right appeared as an increasingly influential rival to the mainstream liberal New Republic and the left-liberal Nation. Edited by brash, aristocratic William F. Buckley (whose widely read books accused his alma mater, Yale University, of being too liberal and secular, and defended Senator Joseph McCarthy as an anti-Communist hero), this weekly journal fused the conservative traditionalism of academics such as Russell Kirk, who glorified the likes of Edmund Burke and John C. Calhoun with the acid anti-Communism of such ex-leftist Cold Warriors as James Burnham, and with the free-market libertarianism of such economists as von Mises. Buckley’s magazine held immense appeal, Phillips-Fein notes, for the rising business conservatives, denouncing “labor union monopolies” and “the Big Brother state.” She adds: “In addition to articles on the ‘atomic disarmament trap,’ essays on the South that extolled white southerners as the ‘advanced race,’ and cultural critiques of such institutions as The New Yorker, the magazine in its early years published articles on the labor movement, detailing scandals and malfeasance in the worlds of organized labor as well as the politically dangerous plans of the unions.”
DuPont executive Jasper Crane, in the forefront of pioneering business conservatives, emphasized the necessity of the “intellectual foundation” that would guide the “leadership of perhaps the relatively few men who know the truth and won’t compromise with evil,” to “follow that up with an emotional presentation of the blessings and advantages of our system.” A 1944 polemic in defense of “free-market” capitalism, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek, a disciple of von Mises, saw Nazism, Communism, socialism, and welfare-state liberalism as all part of an anti-capitalist continuum that would destroy freedom. (Hayek regarded freedom as distinct from the notion of rule by the people—he and von Mises fretted over “the fashionable concentration on democracy.”) Hayek’s book was embraced as a holy text by people such as Crane, who helped to make it a best-seller, with an abridged version in Readers Digestattracting a million readers. They also bankrolled Hayek’s Mont Perelin Society, an international gathering of pro-capitalist academics and intellectuals, who met in secret beginning in 1947, to forge a global cadre and pool of ideas whose influence would gradually permeate the larger culture.
As Invisible Hands documents, the array of business corporations already cited made it their business to educate their managerial staffs, their employees, and the larger public (including politicians) in the free-market gospel. Not all efforts were successful—some were clumsy and crude—but neither were they wasted and without impact. In addition to the tried and true Foundation for Economic Education, the American Enterprise Association (which later morphed into the influential American Enterprise Institute, soon followed by other conservative think tanks, such as the even more right-wing Heritage Foundation) helped provide increasingly sophisticated materials and perspectives.
But developing theory and disseminating ideological perspectives were, by themselves, not enough. It was essential to engage in the class struggle. Leading the way in smashing strikes, undermining, and, where possible, destroying or preventing the establishment of unions, were such people as Lemuel Boulware of General Electric, who conducted a victorious struggle against the International Union of Electrical workers; Herbert Kohler, who carried out a protracted war against the United Auto Workers; and Roger Milliken, who closed down his textile mills in South Carolina to prevent them from being unionized. Such men have become icons of the business conservatives as well as active and generous supporters of right-wing causes.
The crucial right-wing effort to build up broad membership organizations is also addressed by Phillips-Fein. The John Birch Society (named after a U.S. missionary killed by Communists during the Chinese civil war) was formed by candy manufacturer Robert Welch and eleven like-minded industrialists “to start a disciplined, secretive organization committed to protecting American institutions against the Communist threat,” with “Communist” defined to include even the “collectivist” impulses of Republican moderates such as Eisenhower. The Birch Society published much material, sent twenty full-time staffers door-to-door in a successful effort to recruit tens of thousands of members, and focused on working outside the arena of electoral politics—urging its members instead to “join your local PTA [Parent-Teacher Association] at the beginning of the school year, and go to work and take it over!” Despite some successes, its extreme positions (“It is realistic to be fantastic,” Welch explained) caused some business conservatives to give it wide berth and more “respectable” elements such as National Review to criticize it publicly.
Phillips-Fein generally does not give more than fleeting mention to such groups as the college-based conservative group, Young Americans for Freedom. In the tumultuous 1960s, the civil rights, antiwar, student, feminist, and other upsurges swept the nation. The Young Americans for Freedom sought, rather ineffectually, to pose a right-wing alternative to the more vibrant “new left,” which swamped the hopes of the “new right.” The radicalization of the 1960s and early 1970s, with its anti-capitalist orientation, shocked the business conservatives and generated a well-orchestrated backlash. In this tumultuous context, Phillips-Fein zeroes in on Richard Viguerie, the one-time executive secretary of Young Americans for Freedom, whose fund-raising efforts for the rightist youth organization led to his becoming “the self-made man of conservatism. Viguerie was a direct-mail innovator who made a fortune selling his famous list of names of conservative donors to activists eager to dip into the money well.” Phillips-Fein continues: “He exercised so much control over the funding base that some critics dubbed him the ‘godfather of the right.’”
No less important was the movement-building vision that he helped to propagate in the early 1970s, which she summarizes in this way:
Viguerie believed that the real base for the conservative movement needed to be blue-collar white people, the descendants of Irish or Italian or Eastern European immigrants, with “traditional” social values. Such voters could, he thought, be wooed away from their support for social and economic programs and labor unions through an appeal to them as individuals concerned about protecting their families, their neighborhoods, and their homes from the dangers posed by radicals.
A popular (if simplistic) notion from the 1930s to the 1970s had been that the Democratic Party was the party of labor, while the Republican Party was the party of business. Both have always been, in fact, pro-capitalist organizations with shifting differences on appropriate directions and policies of our capitalist society. In the late nineteenth century both presented themselves as the party for working people—but Roosevelt’s New Deal had forged a more durable working-class base. Right-wing strategists such as Patrick Buchanan proposed a future that would make the Republican Party “the party of the working class, not the party of the welfare class.” Playing the race card, often making the necessary points with code words (such as opposition to “forced busing” designed to create racially integrated schools), was interlarded with tough and angry rhetoric against “tax-and-spend liberals,” whom the business conservatives had been fighting since the 1930s. M. Stanton Evans of the American Conservative Union explained: “The important thing…is not that some…reach their political positions by reading Adam Smith while others do so by attending an anti-busing rally, but that all of them belong to a large and growing class of American citizens: those who perceive themselves as victims of the federal welfare state and its attendant costs.”
As Invisible Hands demonstrates, business conservatives of the 1970s “sought to create a movement that would be capable of bringing together employees and executives, blue-collar workers and the men who employed them.” And “abortion, busing, pornography, gun rights, and crime were exactly the kinds of morally charged and dramatic issues that were capable of galvanizing public support.” In the words of Richard Viguerie, “The New Right is looking for issues that people care about, and social issues, at least for the present, fit the bill.” This led inexorably to an alliance with the rising current of evangelical Protestant fundamentalism.
Broadening the conservative base by reaching out to Christians had, Phillips-Fein notes, been a goal of business conservatives for many years. In the 1950s the head of the National Association of Manufacturers stressed that “the Christian faith itself offers a tremendous incentive to its followers—the profit which they can hope to attain—the eternal salvation in the world to come.” One pro-capitalist minister in the same period undoubtedly spoke for others in concurring, “The blessings of capitalism come from God.”
Yet, as one of the key organizers in this effort to wed free enterprise with Jesus later confessed, “Fighting the forces that wanted to abolish the free enterprise system was my mission, not promoting Christ.” The influence of Social Gospel (and, some might argue, of the Jesus who preached the Sermon on the Mount)—eloquently articulated by Walter Rauschenbusch in the early 1900s and by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1950s and 1960s—was an obstacle partially worn away by the 1970s, through the hard work of well-financed right-wing pastors such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who played on a religious revival sweeping through much of the United States. “The evangelical leaders of the 1970s,” Phillips-Fein notes, “sought to connect the idea of the market and opposition to the power of government to the war over American culture.” Richard Viguerie—who helped to facilitate the connections and finances to make this happen (even though he was not even a Protestant)—exulted: “The next real major area of growth for the conservative ideology and philosophy is among evangelical people.”
Another important dimension in the political transformation involved the “whites only” Democrats who had dominated the South since the late 1870s, but who, under the impact of the civil rights legislation passed by the modern-day Democratic Party, had migrated to the Republican Party. Phillips-Fein focuses on North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, “who became known as a strident political leader for the cultural right,” but whose political career “had really begun in the world of business conservatism.” Helms showed “how the language of the free market could be used in the fight against racial integration.” Enormous quantities of money poured into Helms’s campaign coffers—not only from Southern textile magnate Roger Milliken, but also from Los Angeles businessman Henry Salvatori, Colorado’s Joseph Coors, Pittsburgh’s Richard Mellon Scaife, and others. “With the support of such businessmen, Helms used the ideas of individualism, free choice, and property rights to attack any policies that promised greater racial equality and integration.” The result was to “create a new kind of southern conservatism—one that could speak to conservatives not only in the South but across the country.”
When the political right captured the 1964 Republican Party convention and nominated business conservative Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater for President, all of these pieces were far from being securely in place, and Goldwater went down in a devastating defeat. The mainstream media, liberal Democrats, and moderate Republicans all agreed: Goldwater was a nut, the conservative movement had ruined itself, and the far-right was forever discredited. Yet the forces drawn together by the business conservatives continued to organize. And by the presidential election of 1980, a right-wing “perfect storm” swept Ronald Reagan into the presidency. As Reagan wrote to Lemuel Boulware, his mentor, and General Electric’s most prominent class warrior early in his long march to the Oval Office, “I promise you I’ll be trying to stir up the business world, including the exhortation to fight back against government’s increasing lust for power over free enterprise.”
The so-called Reagan Revolution was continued not only by George H.W. Bush, but also—as Phillips-Fein observes—by Democratic President Bill Clinton, who “accomplished much of what Reagan could not: the dismantling of welfare, the deregulation of Wall Street, the expansion of free trade.” Organized labor, ravaged during the Reagan years, continued to decline, and economic inequality continued to grow. “He’s a Democrat, but I do admire him,” Barry Goldwater wrote of Clinton. “I think he’s doing a good job.”
The once-marginal perspectives of the late 1940s and 1950s that business conservatives had, by the final decades of the twentieth century, become the new political and economic orthodoxy of the United States. The demolition of the assumptions and programmatic vestiges of the New Deal, and of the once-powerful labor movement, seemed to have been largely a “mission accomplished,” even before George W. Bush took office. The extent to which President Barak Obama will end up doing the same kind of “good job” as the previous Democratic President remains to be seen. But the story told inInvisible Hands suggests that the electoral arena is not, in and of itself, the place to look for major political changes.
If the Phillips-Fein account is accurate, genuine socialists need to avoid pragmatic adaptations to the status quo. Instead, a strong intellectual foundation must be developed, and there must be persistent education, agitation, and organizing. Over a period of decades it is possible for marginalized intellectual and political elements, if they do their job right, to crystallize into a powerful political presence that shifts the nation’s center of gravity far to the left, creating a massive popular base and taking control of the state, with profound impact on our cultural and economic life.
|By Adrien Veczan for USA TODAY|
|Iraq war deserter Kimberly Rivera, with one of her children, attends a war resisters support meeting in Toronto with Charlie Diamond, center, a Vietnam War objector and Phil McDowell, who went AWOL after being ordered back to Iraq under the Army’s “stop-loss” policy.|
By Judy Keen, USA TODAY
Hart, 36, knows that some people think he is a traitor, but he has no regrets. “I’ve bled for my country, I’ve sweated for my country, I’ve cried myself to sleep for my country — which is a lot more than some people who are passing judgment on me have done,” he says. “I would rather go sit in prison than go to Iraq.”
Deportation, court martial and prison are imminent threats to Hart and about 200 other U.S. troops seeking sanctuary in Canada. Despite being members of an all-voluntary military, some oppose the war in Iraq so strongly they are willing to leave their country behind — much like Americans of an earlier generation who crossed the border in the 1960s and ’70s to avoid serving in Vietnam and built new lives here.
Some of the draft dodgers and deserters of the Vietnam era, most of them now graying Canadian citizens, are helping the young deserters fight legal battles and find work and housing.
“They understand,” Hart says.
In Canada today, the political climate and immigration policies are less hospitable for the new deserters than during the Vietnam era. The conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to give asylum or refugee status to those U.S. troops seeking sanctuary here, although Parliament on Tuesday will debate a bill that would let them stay.
Charlie Diamond was 23 when he fled to Canada from Connecticut in 1968 to avoid going to Vietnam. By then, the war was unpopular in both countries. Americans were marching in the streets in protest and young men were burning their draft cards.
Now 64 and a Canadian, he is reciprocating for the welcome he found here.
“I want my country once again to be a refuge from militarism,” says Diamond, who has joined others who refused to fight in Vietnam — they prefer the term “resisters” — in the War Resisters Support Campaign.
Canada did not support the American invasion of Iraq, and polls show that most Americans also believe the war was a mistake. Today’s deserters enlisted “in good conscience,” Diamond says, “thinking they were defending America when in fact the whole thing was a lie.”
Young men who left the USA to avoid serving in Vietnam were widely accepted by Canadians and a network of fellow war opponents who helped them find shelter and jobs. Under Harper, Canada’s government has tightened immigration policies, and every Iraq deserter who has applied for refugee status has been turned down. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that “being a deserter from voluntary military service in a democracy does not, in any way, meet the … definition of a refugee.”
In March, Kenney proposed more limits: Immigration appeals for people from countries with good human rights records would be heard only by the Federal Court, ending deserters’ chances of winning in lower courts, and failed claimants would be deported in a year instead of the current four years.
Most of the Iraq war deserters in Canada are in hiding, says Michelle Robidoux, spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign. The group is in touch with more than 40 of them. Two others were deported, tried and sentenced to prison in the USA. Some returned home voluntarily.
More than 50,000 Americans old enough for military service came to Canada to avoid the draft and the Vietnam War, says John Hagan, a Northwestern University sociology and law professor who was among them and wrote a 2001 book, Northern Passages, about the exodus. About half remain in Canada today, he says, despitePresident Carter‘s 1977 amnesty offer, which applied to draft dodgers but not deserters.
U.S. military officials have little sympathy for those who abandon their posts.
“Desertion places an undue burden on the unit, it sets a poor example for others, but worst of all it cuts to the very root of military virtue — mutual support and confidence,” says Air Force Col. Kenneth Theurer, chief of the military justice division.
Few soldiers desert or go AWOL, says Army spokesman Wayne Hall, but those who do take part in “self-centered acts that not only affect the soldier but also in a time of war may put other soldiers’ lives at risk. Soldiers serve in an all-volunteer Army because they chose to.”
Since the Iraq war began in 2003, the Army has convicted 693 soldiers of desertion and 2,657 of being absent without leave. From fiscal 2003 through 2008, the Marine Corps had 6,448 deserters. From fiscal 2003 through March 29 the Air Force had 260 deserters. From 2003 through the end of March, 9,869 people deserted from the Navy.
The War Resisters Support Campaign — formed when Jeremy Hinzman, an Army paratrooper, deserted in 2004 and went to Canada — raises money for deserters’ legal bills, holds rallies and collects signatures of support across the country.
It’s a deeply personal cause for many of those who refused to go to Vietnam. Working with Iraq deserters “breaks your heart,” says Bill King, 63, a musician and producer who came to Canada in 1968 to avoid being sent to Vietnam. “You flash back to when you were that age.”
‘Human nature question’
Jeffry House, a lawyer who represented Iraq deserters before Canada’s highest court, came here in 1970 after he was drafted for service in Vietnam. He believes the arguments he made in court are valid: “A soldier ought not to have to participate in an illegal war, even a soldier who has joined up voluntarily.”
At their first meeting, House says, Hinzman said he joined the military because he wanted to defend his country, but called the Iraq War bogus. “That’s a word we would have used,” House says. “I started to think, you know what? This guy is right.”
Gerard Kennedy, a Member of Parliament, is the sponsor of the bill that would make U.S. troops who had a “crisis of conscience” in Iraq eligible for Canadian citizenship. “There’s a basic moral, human nature question here,” he says. “Do we always, under all circumstances, want our military personnel to follow orders or do they have some rights?”
Kennedy believes most Canadians agree with him. Non-binding resolutions urging that U.S. military deserters be allowed to stay in Canada were approved by Parliament in 2008 and 2009. A 2008 poll found that 64% of Canadians favored giving deserters a chance to become permanent residents of Canada.
Toronto lawyer Alyssa Manning, who represents about 20 U.S. troops, says judges often are receptive to evidence that those who come to Canada face tougher punishment by the U.S. military when they return to the USA. But Harper’s government, she says, is “adamantly and actively opposed to the war resisters being able to stay in Canada.”
That’s ominous news for Phil McDowell. He joined the Army in 2001, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and served in Iraq for a year. A few weeks after he was discharged in 2006, he was notified that he would be sent back to Iraq under the Army’s “stop-loss” policy — an involuntary extension of his active-duty service. He rejoined his unit, but he couldn’t go back to Iraq. He came to Canada instead.
It was a wrenching decision, one McDowell, 29, at first considered “an outrageous thing to do.” But he had soured on the Iraq war: There were no weapons of mass destruction there, as the Bush administration had claimed, and McDowell hated the way average Iraqis were treated by coalition forces, as well as the reports of abuse of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. troops.
“No matter what, I was not going back to Iraq,” he says.
McDowell found the War Resisters Support Campaign online and sought its help when he arrived. He regrets missing family weddings and funerals, but he has a job installing solar panels and says he could make his life here, even if it means never going home to Rhode Island.
He’s also “absolutely” prepared for deportation and prison, he says. To McDowell, those who came to Canada instead of going to Vietnam are a source of reassurance that “something’s going to work out. … Life goes on, and they’re a good example of that.”
Kimberly Rivera feels the same way. She went to Iraq with her Army unit in 2006. Three months later when she was home on leave, she decided she couldn’t return. In 2007, she came to Canada. Rivera, 27, who is from Mesquite, Texas, lives here with her husband, Mario, and their three children. She has received two deportation notices; those are being challenged in court.
Rivera says it’s hard to live with the knowledge that some people think she’s a coward. Coming to Canada “was very, very hard. Not only am I giving up everything that I know and love — everything — but there’s a possibility I would never be able to go back.”
If she’s forced to return, she says, “I’ve prepared myself mentally to take whatever punishment they have in store for me.”
Different eras, same choices
Dennis James never went back. He was drafted in 1969 and moved to Canada when his medic training shifted to rifle drills to prepare him for deployment to Vietnam. If he were to return, even now, he would have to report to military officials and face desertion charges, he says.
Like many Americans who stayed in Canada after Vietnam, James, 64, says its “atmosphere of welcoming and respect for people” made him feel at home.
James is deputy clinical director of the addictions program at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and is not active in politics. Even so, when he’s asked whether he feels a kinship with the former U.S. troops who have come here to avoid Iraq, he replies, “I do.”
Others from the Vietnam era are helping Iraq deserters. Tom Riley, 63, is from Baltimore but was living here when he received his induction notice in 1970. He refused to report for duty.
Today, the longtime social worker feels an obligation to help troops who don’t want to fight in Iraq, and they’re eager to hear his story. “It’s quite interesting for them to know that there was a former generation that made the same choices,” Riley says.
Carolyn Egan, 60, president of the Toronto Steelworkers Area Council, came here in 1970 with a partner who was ducking the draft. She believes men and women who refuse to fight in Iraq “had the courage to say no” to an unjustified war, she says.
Diamond, a Quaker who works with Toronto’s homeless, hopes his adopted country “will have the courage to do what we’ve historically done. … I see what war and violence does. It’s made the United States a very ugly country. I don’t want Canada to go that route.”
If Canada accepts this generation of deserters, it will be because of the efforts of Diamond and others who refused to go to Vietnam, says Jesse McLaren, 31, a doctor who belongs to the War Resisters Support Campaign.
The older activists, he says, “add historical and moral force to the campaign.”
- Indo-Pak relations continue to frustrate the US agenda in Afghanistan
The unimportance of Hamid Karzai is a fact of life. Civilities still need to be maintained. India’s prime minister, therefore, politely accepts the Afghan head of State’s assurance that fullest security would be provided to Indian citizens temporarily resident in the Taliban-infested country. Karzai is in no position to ensure even his own security or that of his regime. For both, he has to depend upon American grace. Afghanistan, for all purposes, has been reduced to a colony of the United States of America, just as Iraq has been.
Unfortunately, for the Americans, again, as in the case of Iraq, the newly acquired property too has a fragile quality about it. The writ of the administration presided over by Karzai and shored up by US military prowess runs only in Kabul; its hold on the rest of the country is tenuous, the Taliban are swarming practically all over the rocky hills and valleys; it is a vast stretch of no man’s land. In Kabul, too, the Islamic fundamentalists have their underground cells and often launch sniper attacks, targeting foreign embassies and government buildings. So, apropos of the concern expressed by New Delhi, all that President Karzai is capable of doing is pass it on to the top brass of the US joint special operations command in Kabul for whatever action or non-action is deemed fit.
Indians generally love the colour of money; whatever the shade of that colour. Americans are making huge outlays in Afghanistan aimed at setting up a solid defence infrastructure against the Taliban. They are building airstrips, helipads and army barracks, widening highways and laying new ones and installing sophisticated communications networks, apart from constructing structures for hospitals and schools. Technologists and technicians of diverse backgrounds, civil and mechanical engineers as well as skilled and unskilled workers from India have crowded in Kabul and sometimes fanned out from there, under military protection, to the outlying provinces to participate in such works in progress. When the Taliban strike, they have no particular programme to spare Indians; it would not be logistically possible to do so either. There is, of course, also the theory that whoever supports the heathen Americans deserve to perish along with the Americans. Casualties are therefore mounting among Indians, a development New Delhi cannot afford to ignore. India’s prime minister communicated his government’s sense of disquiet over the matter to the Afghan president, who in turn will, it is expected, convey the substance of it to the American authorities.
The Americans will be full of sympathy, but will also be ready with a riposte. Yes, adequate security must be provided to the Indian personnel who are, in their own manner, offering ground support in the war against global terror in Afghanistan soil. To attain full success in that war, it is however necessary to induct troops and more troops. The bulk of the forces fighting the Taliban are Americans. The US administration is also contributing enormous funds and rendering strategic advice. Certain collateral issues nonetheless deserve consideration. A pre-election half-pledge apart, President Barack Obama is currently under intense domestic pressure to bring the boys back home from the minefields of West Asia, including from Afghanistan. The Indian government should appreciate the predicament the US is in and kindly do a bit more to assist in the fight against their common enemy. In addition to sending workers, technicians, doctors and scientists to Afghanistan, could not India despatch some troops too? India’s armed forces could then directly assume responsibility for the security of Indian citizens at work there.
The Americans, in fact, have been at it for several months, but without success. New Delhi has continued to be evasive on the proposal to deploy army units against the Taliban. Indian public opinion is not yet broad-minded enough. In its reckoning, armed infiltrators in Kashmir from Pakistan across the line of control are the principal, if not the only, terrorists who are candidates for confrontation and liquidation. The jingo fringe in the country would love the idea of teaching Pakistan a proper lesson by ordering troops to cross the LoC and chase would-be infiltrators all the way to Islamabad. Enthusiasm is pronouncedly much less when US diplomats suggest deployment of Indian army contingents in the rocky wilderness of Afghanistan. The mismatch between Indian and American concepts of the war on terrorism fails to dissolve.
The Americans, besides, have to negotiate another awkward roadblock. The Pakistani establishment are already most unhappy with the large Indian presence in Afghanistan. They would, of course, love to see the total extermination of the Taliban. But if the price to be paid for that were arrival of Indian troops in large numbers, they would have intense second thoughts.
This, then, is the great American dilemma. Foggy Bottom’s several initiatives have paid off, India has abandoned its pretensions about non-alignment and is now as loyal a camp-follower of the US as Pakistan has always been. The common ground of fealty to the US cause notwithstanding, the animosity between these two major south Asian nations refuses to wither away, thereby thwarting the dream of a combined US-India-Pakistan offensive against the Taliban.
The India-Pakistan imbroglio has a number of other dimensions as well impinging on US policy planning. For one, the American administration would dearly love the Pakistan army to move the bulk of its forces, currently posted along the long stretch of the Indian border, to the Afghan front. As long as the Kashmir issue keeps boiling, Pakistan would flatly refuse to comply with this request. American diplomacy is at the moment focused on persuading Islamabad and New Delhi to be ‘practical’ and agree to a permanent solution of the seemingly intractable Kashmir problem. The formula the Americans have in mind is for both sides to accept the LoC as the permanent border, shake hands and devote their energy and resources to other issues of equally grave, or even graver, import, specifically, the war on global terror.
Pakistan, weighed down by many other troubles, will conceivably not be averse to a compromise along these lines. India, however, will have problems; decision-makers in New Delhi will have to worry about adverse domestic reaction, given the fact that for more than half a century, the country’s politicians have been claiming Kashmir, the whole of it, to be an inalienable part of India. There is also very much the crucial reality: militants in the valley will hardly endorse an India-Pakistan entente that leaves them in the lurch. They will stay adamant in their demand for Azad Kashmir; turbulence in the valley may actually intensify. And the furore in the valley could rekindle dormant pro-Kashmir emotions in Pakistan too. Quiet American intermediation will be infructuous, internal developments in both India and Pakistan will frustrate the vision of a grand South Asia concordat against the abominable Taliban.
The disappointed Americans will go back to the drawing board and attempt to develop a fresh road map to induce the two crony countries to see reason. While they keep trying, India and Pakistan will go on with their little games, either to embarrass each other or to gloat at each other’s misfortunes. The fact that one party has discovered a mole within its own precincts — and a woman at that — will cause much jubilation to the other party. Ajmal Kasab’s being sentenced to death by a court of law will evoke frenzied satisfaction in the Indian media. Proceedings of this kind will not prevent a Pakistani sports personality from picking a bride from India or a scholarly journal in India according pride of place to contributions by Pakistani social scientists. Civil liberty and women’s lib groups from the two countries will visit each other and exchange earnest notes. Musicians from Lahore will cast a spell on an audience in Lucknow; film stars from Mumbai will be mobbed in Karachi. Sensible things will keep happening on the individual plane, decisions at the national level are an altogether different matter. Americans, stymied in their attempt to implement their agenda, will lament at their failure to unravel the mystery of the India-Pakistan thesis-antithesis phenomenon which appears to approach a synthesis and yet does not.
[Unless Russian-built submarines can fire German torpedoes, then the North could not have fired the fatal shot at a sub in the middle of a circle of US/S. Korean ships practicing anti-submarine warfare. SEE: North Korea Doesn’t Have German Submarines
|Type||Class||Country of Origin||In Service|
|Diesel coastal midget submarine||Sang-O class||Democratic People’s Republic of Korea||32|
|Diesel powered submarine||Ming class (Type-031)||People’s Republic of China||22|
|Diesel-electric submarine||Whiskey class||Soviet Union||4|
Turkey, Greece and South Africa, Israel and South Korea use German submarines. Under the Diesel Electric Submarine Initiative, the US has been leasing German-built Type 209 submarines from Sweden and Peru for training purposes since 2005.]
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama has directed the U.S. military to coordinate with South Korea to “ensure readiness” and deter future aggression from North Korea, the White House said on Monday.
The United States gave strong backing to plans by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to punish North Korea for sinking one of its naval ships, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
The White House urged North Korea to apologize and change its behavior, he said.
“We endorse President Lee’s demand that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior,” Gibbs said.
“U.S. support for South Korea’s defense is unequivocal, and the president has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression,” he said.
Obama and Lee have agreed to meet at the G20 summit in Canada next month, he said.
Late last week, a team of international investigators accused North Korea of torpedoing the Cheonan corvette in March, killing 46 sailors in one of the deadliest clashes between the two since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Lee said on Monday South Korea would bring the issue before the U.N., whose past sanctions have damaged the already ruined North Korean economy.
The United States still has about 28,000 troops in South Korea to provide military support.
The two Koreas, still technically at war, have more than 1 million troops near their border.
“We will build on an already strong foundation of excellent cooperation between our militaries and explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the Peninsula as part of our ongoing dialogue,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said the United States supported Lee’s plans to bring the issue to the United Nations Security Council and would work with allies to “reduce the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability.”
Obama had also directed U.S. agencies to evaluate existing policies toward North Korea.
“This review is aimed at ensuring that we have adequate measures in place and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate,” he said.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)