Monday, July 30, 2007

ASEAN Charter to Include Human Rights Commission

This is excellent news! The emerging world culture of our present time will not arise in the Middle East (where the US has mired itself) but rather depending on whether substantial harmonization of East and West can occur in the "Pacific Rim."

Read the whole article here.

The nations of "Pacific Rim" should define the dominant center of a forward looking US foreign policy. It is a great relief, and greatly to the credit of
Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, who fought stiff and dogged opposition to bring about the establishment of a human rights commission. The charter still has to be ratified, so we should pray for this.

Singapre Foreign Minister George Yeo gestures as he assumes the chairmanship of the SEANWFZ (Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone) in Manila, 30 Jul 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

United States sinks further from its mission

America plans $20bn arms deals for allies in the Gulf

Paul Harris in New York
Sunday July 29, 2007
The Observer

Read the whole article here.

This is terrible news. The US has already greatly de-stabilized the region by failing to establish Afghanistan following the legitimate disassembling of Taliban rule following 9-11, and so leaving the Taliban in place. The US has already brought half a trillion in military spending into Iraq. And now Pakistan teeters on a fragile brink. If you care to read about just one of the time-bombs ticking in Afghanistan due to the US failure to pay attention to re-construction needs there, read
this article in the New Yorker entitled "Taliban's Opium War."

instead of being a source of upliftment, embodied compassion, and life giving investment, this administration instead itches to pump 20 billion dollars worth of high tech arms into this needy, unstable tinderbox. In our name US chooses to become gun runners in the most volatile place in human history. The Observer article notes:

The flow of arms to Saudi Arabia is of particular concern. Not only are some Saudi factions suspected of being supporters of Sunni insurgents in neighbouring Iraq, there is also a fear that the Saudi royal family could one day fall prey to an Islamist revolution.

If that happens, the new weapons could end up being used by radicals against Western interests. Israeli officials and their supporters in Washington are reportedly lobbying against the Gulf deal but they have been overruled by an administration that has made countering Iranian interests its highest priority.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Important summary of the Arab League - Israeli peace talks

Here is a quick summary of how the talks went.

The Associated Press
July 25, 2007

JERUSALEM: The Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers met Israeli leaders Wednesday to discuss an Arab League peace plan, originally presented in 2002 and recently revived. Here are the main points and Israel's responses:

_ Arab League: Israel must withdraw from all the territories it captured in 1967 war — the West Bank, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem (Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005).

Israel: Insists on border adjustments to reflect its security needs and Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank. Opposes division of Jerusalem. Peace talks with Syria broke down in 2000 though Israel offered withdrawal from the Golan to the international boundary.

_ Arab League: In return for total withdrawal, Israel would receive "full normalization" of relations with all Arab states.

Israel: Welcomes peaceful relations with Arab states but insists on formal peace treaties with its neighbors.

_ Arab League: An "agreed solution" to the Palestinian refugee issue would be negotiated, based on U.N. General Assembly Resolution 191.

Israel: Fears that the reference to the U.N. resolution is a code for the "right of return," the long-standing Palestinian demand that the 700,000 refugees from the 1948-49 war that followed Israel's creation, and their 3 million descendants, have the right to reclaim their original homes in Israel, flooding the Jewish state with Arabs. Israel believes refugees should receive compensation and be resettled where they are now or in the new Palestinian state.

_ Arab League: An independent Palestinian state should be created with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel: Accepts creation of a Palestinian state but opposes handing over any part of Jerusalem. A past government offered to cede Arab sections of the city to the new state, but talks broke down.

Arab League delegation visits Israel

More good news

By MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM - The foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan began a historic visit to Israel on Wednesday to formally present an Arab peace plan, saying they were extending "a hand of peace" on behalf of the region.

The ministers arrived as representatives of the Arab League, the first time the 22-member group has sent a delegation to the Jewish state. The Arab League peace plan envisions full recognition of Israel in return for evacuation of lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel's President Shimon Peres (C), Jordan's Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib (L) and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit meet in Jerusalem July 25, 2007, in this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO). Egyptian and Jordanian envoys opened the first talks in Israel over a landmark Arab League land-for-peace plan on Wednesday, saying they hoped to create conditions that will lead to a Palestinian state. REUTERS/Amos

This is wonderful news. The dialogue will be a very hard sell. There may be setbacks along the way, but we should all pray for the principals in this dialogue, and pray for the success of these and future talks.

Monday, July 23, 2007

U.S., Iran to meet on Iraq security

This below is very good news

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD — The United States and Iran have set a date for ambassador-level talks in Baghdad on the deteriorating security situation in Iraq — the first such meeting since late May, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Sunday.
Read this article (<-- Click)

These have to be enormously difficult talks. It is good that the players are trying to define
clearly the parameters of the talks. It is unfortunate, due to the respective sets of detainees, that the talks are likely to take on a bartering, and posturing tenor, but that aside, whenever a community arises in which "enemy" people develop personal knowledge and personal relationships, this is a vital and precious resource for progress. I pray for success and progress to come of these talks.

Visual aid

Here's the scene

U.S. soldiers question a man in Baghdad after their platoon was shot at by a mortar Sunday. Deteriorating security in Iraq is to be discussed Tuesday by U.S. and Iranian representatives.

The man might be guilty, might know something, might be innocent. Does the man need to be interrogated? Yes. Are the soldiers doing anything wrong? No. Are any members of the man's family nearby? Are there any children nearby? If you are a school child, this is what Americans look like. This is what Americans do.

In these years and months we are building a stable pro-American democracy in Iraq? We need until September or until November to get the answer to this question?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Greater breadth of focus needed

The United States in its the series of ill fated decisions during the overreaction to 9-11bogged the US down in the chaotic nest of hostilities now called Iraq. This weakens its ability to function with the necessary authority vis a vis important competitors such as Russia and China.

American voters should be calling for and looking for leaders who can bring the US to lead and engage the world with a broader grasp of the complexities and multiple fronts that define contemporary international relations.

Russia's decision here is very serious.
Russia suspends participation in key arms pact

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia suspended its participation in a key pact limiting military forces in Europe on Saturday, fulfilling a threat after months of verbal sparring with the West.

The suspension comes amid worsening relations with Europe and Washington on a range of fronts, including U.S. plans for a missile shield in eastern Europe, proposed independence for Serbia's Kosovo province and Moscow's energy policies.

"Russian threats have materialized and I don't exclude that more steps could follow," said Yevgeny Volk, the head of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation think-tank.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Longer Surge?

How can you have a "longer" surge?

Surges don't come in "lengths" that's why they're called surges.

clipped from

Iraq war report implies longer US surge

Iraq war report implies longer US surgeBy extending troop deployments in Iraq from 12 months to 15 months, the Army has made it possible for Bush to maintain the troop buildup until about April 2008. But if he wanted to go beyond that it would require some even more painful moves by the Army, at the risk of reaching a breaking point.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Let me see if I understand this

Every time an unmistakable message is sent the US president that the current Iraq policy lies somewhere between untenable and horrifying, the president responds by intensifying precisely that which all reject.

Following the mid term collapse of the president's party, the president announced (after having already begun) the "troop surge."

Now, with the collapse of Republican support for the invasion, the president has ordered up a belligerent naval presence there not seen since the dawn of the Iraq invasion.

clipped from

US boosts Gulf naval presence

The USS Enterprise
The US today increased its naval presence in the Gulf by sending a third aircraft carrier to the area because of what it said was "coercive" behaviour by some countries.

The Fifth fleet battle group will join what is already the US Navy's biggest show of force in the Gulf since the Iraq war began in 2003.

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Excellent aritcle, promising information

England remains a vital crucible in its longstanding effort to understand and contribute to the challenges of creating a genuinely interreligious society

The entire article is very much worth the read!

clipped from
Guardian Unlimited
Madeleine Bunting
Monday July 9, 2007
The Guardian

Hearts and minds of young Muslims will be won or lost in the mosques

Two days after the 7/7 bombings in London two years ago, Muslim community leaders gathered at the London Muslim Centre to consider the impact of the attacks and who might have organised them. Many present refused to accept it might have been Muslims - the common refrain was that it could have been the French, because they had just lost the bid to host the Olympics.

Wind forward two years and the story has changed.
Muslim activists and imams from across the country gathered in London to consider what could be done to tackle extremism.
Britain's Muslims have launched their most concerted attempt yet to win the hearts and minds of the public and distance themselves from the activities of violent extremists who claim to act in the name of their faith.
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Monday, July 9, 2007

Colin Powell the fourth to speak

Iraq is one of three core problems in the region. The others are Iran, and the Gaza strip.

Powell tried to talk Bush out of war

THE former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces.

Powell believes that a reduction in US forces will have to be accompanied by talks with Syria and Iran. “You have to talk to the people you dislike most in this dangerous world.”

The general and former joint chiefs of staff added: “Shi’ites will ultimately prevail because they are 60% of the population and their militias can be pretty violent. They will prevail also because they are determined not to be ruled again by the Sunnis.

“The Sunnis are struggling for power and survival and it’s going to be resolved by a test of arms. It’s going to be very ugly.”

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

One big family

Here is a website that gives the feeling of our world being somehow one big family.

I hope you find it interesting.

Harmony among Iraqis

This video produced by a friend offers a ray of hope

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Carnevale di Venezia

I received these wonderful slides from a friend. The slide show itself is compelling with stirring music to accompany these fantastic images. If you like you can download the show here.