Talking About ‘Regime Change’ in Gaza

When it comes to the constant rocket barrage targeting Israeli towns and villages close to the border with Gaza, one thing is for sure: there are no easy options to deal with the problem, and Israel has obviously not had any success so far. As Frida Ghitis describes in her WPR commentary, talking to Hamas is one of the options being debated; at the opposite end of the range is the option of launching a large-scale military operation aimed at rooting out the infrastructure of the militants. A rather telling illustration of the dilemmas involved in the decision-making is the […]

68 Cents Per Euro

That, according to Holger Steltzner writing in the Wednesday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), is the amount of a “normal earner’s” income that flows to the German state in the form of direct or indirect taxes. This helps to explain the widespread practice of tax evasion in Germany, which has recently attracted international attention through the sting operations against Deutsche Post chief Klaus Zumwinkel and other German residents accused of hiding their wealth in Lichtenstein. “Moreover,” Steltzner adds, hardly anyone understands German tax law and knows the many exceptions involved. As consequence, practically every taxpayer has they feeling […]

Was David Hicks a ‘Real’ Terrorist After All?

Remember the case of David Hicks? The Australian terror suspect was held at Guantanamo for five years without being charged, but finally appeared before a Military tribunal in March 2007. Human Rights activists and journalists from Australia and all over the world swarmed Guantanamo to witness Hicks’ trial, and in the dispatches that resulted, Hicks was inevitably portrayed as hapless figure caught in the gears of the U.S. war machine — a wanna-be jihadist perhaps, but not a “real” terrorist; a patsy in a U.S. show trial. When Hicks pleaded guilty and was returned to Australia to serve a mere […]

Foreign Policy and the Press

There’s been a lot of back and forth about David Signer’s WaPo piece this weekend taking the major media to task for ignoring foreign policy in its coverage of the presidential campaign. Ilan Goldenberg at Democracy Arsenal has got all the links and some original insights that warrant a glance. I’d add that part of the problem has to do not with a lack of interest so much as a sense even among journalists that foreign policy is better left to experts and the specialized press. Most people are comfortable discussing the political calculus of tax cuts, even if they […]

GULU, Uganda — After one-and-a-half years of rocky peace talks between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), northern Ugandans are cautiously courting freedom. Although many internally displaced people are still sleeping in the camps they’ve called home for about a decade now, they’re beginning to move furniture and farming tools back to their village homes. Meanwhile, in the northern town of Gulu, new hotels and apartment buildings are being constructed and buses are now leaving for Kampala, the southern capital, at 11 p.m. (A late-night trip was unthinkable just three years ago, when rebels could be […]

Marines to Pentagon: What Happened to our Armor?

The Marine Corps has requested an investigation into slow delivery of MRAP armored vehicles to Iraq from 2005 to 2007, which may have increased casualties related to IEDs by 50 percent or more. Though the Marines initially downplayed a report by civilian Marine official Franz J. Gayl, the Corps has now asked the Pentagon’s Inspector General to make a thorough evaluation. Gayl is a science and technology adviser to the Marines, and in his case study of the MRAP program, completed Jan. 22, he writes that “hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented” if MRAPs were purchased and […]

Building an Army That Can Build Nations

In today’s WPR top story, Richard Weitz points out that while the military’s doctrinal embrace of stability and reconstruction operations in counterinsurgency warfare is a welcome development, there’s no certainty that it will survive the Pentagon-Capitol Hill funding corridor. As Weitz points out, the Army that does the fighting is not the same Army that does the shopping, and Congress, for all its rhetoric about transformation, still has a penchant for funding the big ticket items that have little application to post-conflict reconstruction operations. There’s also the little problem of branch rivalry: speak the words “stability operations” to the Navy […]

Despite Media Reports, EU Remains Deeply Divided on Kosovo Recognition

“All but four of the 27 EU member states have backed Kosovo’s split from Serbia.” Thus spoke the AFP in a Feb. 22 report viewable here. By its own account an “independent” news service, the AFP — or Agence France Presse — is in fact for all intents and purposes an organ of the French state: having been created by law and being largely subsidized by “subscriptions” from other state agencies. Indeed, in keeping with its quasi-public status, the French prime minister, foreign minister, and minister of finance each appoint representatives to the AFP’s governing council. This might help to […]

Bad Medicine: The Missile Defense Age

Alan Dowd has got a pretty eye-opening article on the WPR frontpage about the quantum leaps in American missile defense technology that culminated in Thursday’s intercept of the failing US-193 satellite. Dowd argues that America has just ushered in the Missile Defense Age: Like the Rocket Age, which terrified Americans when Sputnik orbited the globe and then transfixed the world when Armstrong took his giant leap on the lunar surface; like the Jet Age, which turned the skies over Korea into a killing field and then opened the way to inexpensive, high-speed global travel; like the Nuclear Age, which ended […]

Spy Satellite Intercept Video

Below is the Pentagon’s video of last night’s apparently successful shoot down of a failing spy satellite: If the embedded video won’t play, click here. For more, see “Spy Satellite’s Scheduled Destruction Raises Concerns About Diplomatic Fallout“

Drug Smuggling Submarines ‘in Vogue’

The U.S. Coast Guard Feb. 18 captured a surface-skimming submarine called “Big Foot” off the coast of the Florida Keys. According to this Pentagon video report, the sub was carrying four tons of cocaine and had unidentified “new technology” that allowed it to elude drug enforcement radar and sonar. The Pentagon Channel news reader calls the sub “one-of-a-kind.” Judging by a number of recent news reports, however, the clean-cut former drug smuggler quoted in the video appears to be more on target when he says that subs are “in vogue” for the international drug smuggling crowd. Back in August 2006, […]

Skierbieszow: Poles and the German Occupation

Tomorrow, German President Horst Köhler turns 65. In the Tuesday edition (Feb. 19) of the German daily the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Thomas Urban reported on the Polish town of Skierbieszow where Köhler was born. Köhler’s parents were “ethnic Germans” from Bessarabia in the current Republic of Moldova. They moved to German-occupied Poland in late 1942 as part of the massive “resettlement” program organized by Heinrich Himmler and his Reich Commissariat for the Strengthening of the German People. As Urban reports, the entire district of Zamosc, where Skierbieszow is located, was supposed to be transformed into a “model” German settlement. Largely as […]

Castro Resigns

Castro’s resignation letter published in Granma: Message from the Commander in Chief Dear compatriots: Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is rather a message. The moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary. For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a […]

France: The ‘Banlieues’ Vote for the Right?

Municipal elections are upcoming in France in the next weeks. A front-page headline on the subject in the weekend edition (Feb. 17-18) of the daily Le Monde would undoubtedly shock many readers of traditional English-language new sources. “Municipal Elections,” it reads, “Banlieues on the Right, Downtown on the Left.” Banlieues on the Right? The very word “banlieues” became widely-known to English speakers last year not only on account of the violence with which the outskirts of France’s major urban centers are regularly afflicted, but also because of the supposed hatred of their residents for the presidential candidate of the French […]

U.S. Recognizes Independent Kosovo

From the State Department: U.S. Recognizes Kosovo as Independent StateSecretary Condoleezza RiceWashington, DCFebruary 18, 2008 The United States has today formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state. We congratulate the people of Kosovo on this historic occasion. President Bush has responded affirmatively to a request from Kosovo to establish diplomatic relations between our two countries. The establishment of these relations will reaffirm the special ties of friendship that have linked together the people of the United States and Kosovo. Nine years ago, the international community, led by NATO, acted to end brutal attacks on the Kosovar Albanian population. […]

Pakistanis: Musharraf Resignation Would Improve Stability

From the University of Maryland’s WorldPublicOpinion.org: A majority of Pakistanis (64%) say that stability and security in Pakistan would get better “if President Musharraf were to resign now,” according to a new poll conducted by GlobeScan for BBC Urdu. One in four (25%) respondents believes that security would get “worse” if he were to resign. Nearly a third (29%) of respondents regard Pervez Musharraf’s election as President last November as “valid”; while around half (49%) say it is “invalid” (22% did not provide an answer). Almost two out of three Pakistanis (63%) agree that the “National Assembly should seek to […]

An Indian-American Running Mate for McCain?

Rumors that Lousiana Gov. Piyush “Bobby” Jindal could be on Sen. John McCain’s short list for vice president have set the press in India abuzz. The Times of India reported Feb. 12 that “interested parties from India ever ready to drum up an Indian-American success story” have latched on to the idea of Jindal as Republican VP candidate. Right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh was apparently the first to float Jindal’s name, remarking on on his Feb. 8 show that Jindal could be the “next Ronald Reagan.” According to Limbaugh, Jindal would be a stellar choice for VP and could […]

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