China is Iraq’s New Buddy–Writing off Iraq’s Debt and Getting Invited to Help Rebuild (And Don’t Forget–Their Oil Companies Are There, Not Ours)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

As the U.S. tries  to pull out the last of our troops in Iraq, here’s the irony of all ironies.  From Gulf News:

China could scrap Iraq’s $8.5b debt

Baghdad seeks investments from Beijing

Baghdad : China may write off all of Iraq’s $8.5 billion (Dh31.2 billion) of debt accrued under the rule of Saddam Hussain, Iraqi finance minister Baqer Al Zubaidi said yesterday.

“The Chinese government expressed readiness to write off $8.5 billion of debts owed by Iraq,” Al Zubaidi said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website yesterday.

Iraq is keen to see China play even a bigger role in the reconstruction of the war-torn country, the country’s top envoy to Beijing told the China Daily in an interview last week.

“After 2003, China has supported us very much and reduced Iraqi debts by 80 per cent, which is greatly appreciated,” Iraqi Ambassador to China, Mohammad Sabir Esmail, told the paper, referring to a $6.8-billion debt cut announced by China last month.

Esmail also invited Chinese companies to invest and operate in the country.

“I call on all Chinese companies to come and take up projects in rebuilding Iraq,” he told China Daily.

“China has many giant companies qualified to participate in rebuilding Iraq and… our country will remain a big workshop in the next 20 years,” he said.

Some Chinese firms, mainly in the energy and retail sectors, are already operating in Iraq.

These companies include oil giants such as PetroChina, Sinochem, CNOOC and Sinopec subsidiary Addax Petroleum.

MORE

Well, how about them apples?  All that killing of civilians, torture, multiple tours of duty, brain-traumatized U.S. soldiers returning home…and the Chinese are strolling into Iraq?

This comes on the heels of U.S. companies being shut out of oil contracts in December 2009:

U.S. Companies Shut Out as Iraq Auctions Its Oil Fields

By Vivienne Walt Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009

Those who claim that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to get control of the country’s giant oil reserves will be left scratching their heads by the results of last weekend’s auction of Iraqi oil contracts: Not a single U.S. company secured a deal in the auction of contracts that will shape the Iraqi oil industry for the next couple of decades. Two of the most lucrative of the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts went to two countries which bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion — Russia and China — while even Total Oil of France, which led the charge to deny international approval for the war at the U.N. Security Council in 2003, won a bigger stake than the Americans in the most recent auction

So, it looks like Iraq has a budding friendship with China which continues to grab commodities with its masterful use of “soft diplomacy” (already doing the same thing in Africa) and now has a nice firm foothold right in the center of the action in the Middle East.

So, after seven years of mayhem and the draining of our national treasury, that’s the result.

Good work, Bush, Cheney, Rummy and Condi.

Condi is now regretting that the U.S. didn’t work more closely to rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam, but states that she’d still “liberate” the Iraqis and that George W. will be vindicated for his actions in the future.

More irony: she made her comments during a talk on “The Future of Asia” at the Chinese University of Hong Kong…

Sublime…

The Past Week: May 10-16, 2009 (The Smugness of Obama; Soros and Chinese Cars in the U.S.?; Cinie Sums It Up re: Bush/Obama; Gibson, the World’s Largest Dog, Recovers from Leg Amputation; Harold Pinter Adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Chicago Correspondent Leslie saw this on the cover of the local “free” newspaper and thought The One looked awfully smug. She captions: “I guess I really pulled one over on them.” Grail Guardian added this comment: “Hmmmm. Is there anyone left that I haven’t thrown under the bus yet?”

I guess I really pulled one over on them Obama from Leslie

***

The recent news that GM will be selling cars made in China here in the U.S. by 2011 came just before the news later in the week about the dealer closings.  But there’s an interesting twist to the story, as reported by China-Motors.Ru:

Chinese Cars – Soros help to Chery take USA market

Miliarder Georges Soros considers{examines} injection of hundreds millions dollars in Chinese Chery to throw out on the market of the USA cheap Chinese cars.

“Chery” – a copy of the South-Korean Spark sold in the USA in partnership with GM. GM has begun litigation against Chery Automobile Co. Having accused Chery in a piracy of the car, created Daewoo, and Chery should change the name of the car for the USA.

MORE

Can’t vouch for the accuracy of the story, but these days nothing would suprise me…

***

My favorite post of the week comes from Cinie’s World.  It’s titled It’s The Medical Records, Stupid. The section which grabbed me because it summarizes EXACTLY how I feel:

I have always been struck by the cozy, lovey-dovey relationship Georgie’s Ba’ Bruh has always seemed to have with “Obamacans.”  When I first heard of Republicans for Obama, I was like, “what’s up with that, huh?”  Why would a group of Republicans get together in 2006 to encourage the “most liberal Senator in the history of…liberals and Senators” to run for President after the guy had only been voting against their interests on a national basis for a couple years or so?  Sure, coulda been just another Axelrove AstroTurfing campaign, but, if it was, why weren’t real Republicans yelling their heads off about it?   Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney are not exactly shy about slamming one of their own for being too buddy-buddy with the other side.  Why did all the black Republicans endorse this “most liberal Senator, blah, blah, blah, either explicitly, or tacitly?  Why did so many registered Republicans switch party affiliation to vote for a community organizer, (a phrase they utter with all the dripping sarcasm, venom and contempt a mother uses to describe her law school-grad son, the “rap singer”’s career choice) in the primaries and caucuses, then neglect to switch back, swelling the ranks of Independents while depleting their former party’s numbers so significantly it’s now a shell of itself?  In fact, didn’t the guy Al Franken called a “big, fat, idiot,” encourage that?  Operation Chaos, anyone?  Why didn’t the sleazy Obama ploy plea for Republicans to become Democrats for a Day cause the “liberal media” and the “progressive blogospherians” who supported him with a blind fury to turn their backs on, and wash their hands of, him?  How come the Barackamedian’s biggest laugh on his Rock Star Tour campaign trail come from his oft-related response of “Thank you, why are we whispering?” to Republicans’ hushed confessions of “I voted for you”?

I think this says it all, Cinie!

***

Here’s a story about Gibson, the world’s largest dog, who stands about 7 ft. tall on his hind legs. This wonderful Great Dane was diagnosed with  cancer in one of his front legs and to save his life, the leg was amputated.  But, he’s going back to his work as a therapy dog as soon as he recovers. Let’s send all  our best thoughts to Gibson for a speedy and COMPLETE recovery! (Yes, that’s Oprah he’s greeting…)

Visit Gibson’s website at http://gibsondog.com/index.php.

Gibson

Gibson

***

Finally, I happened to find the 1990 Harold Pinter adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” last night on Indieplex, which starred Robert Duvall and a young Natasha Richardson in a role that was much different from “The Parent Trap” made about 8 years later and was aired earlier this week.  The combination of seeing the late actress who died so tragically only a couple of months ago, along with the horror of this story, was too much for me and I had to change the channel after a short time.  The “guide” called the film “sci-fi.”  Frankly, with the misogynist in chief in the White House playing fast and loose with women’s issues, and a general feeling that we’re in the “colonies”–well, it didn’t seem very “sci-fi” to me…

***

THE PAST WEEK

Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (May 16, 2009) Cactus in Bloom! Gorgeous!

“The Bailout” by Cartoonists

In Search of the American Personality: Warnings from the Nuremberg Trial Rohrschach Inkblot Tests

The Past Week May 3-9, 2009 (Chicago Suits Pressure Wells Fargo; Push for a Single-Payer Advocate at Baucus Table; David Cameron Interview Re: British Politics One Year Away from Election)

Holding Out for a Hero

~~By Kenosha Marge

The song “Holding Out For A Hero” sung by Bonnie Tyler was released back in 1984. It resonated with women who were wondering what had happen to their knight on a white horse. And it had a great beat.

Nowhere is this kind of fantasy more apparent to me than in politics. We are all looking for a hero/heroine to rescue us and make our corner of the world a better place. Heroes have to do that. I think it’s in the first chapter of the Heroes Guide To Fixing Everything and Making The World A Better Place and Favorite Recipes Handbook now on sale at Amazon.

I stopped believing in Fantasy a long time ago. Didn’t/don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy or honest politicians.

When your parents try to convince you that some fat dude in a red suit is flying all over the world delivering toys to good little girls and you know that you ain’t been good but you got stuff anyway, it plays hell with your belief system. My mistrust of things told me by others was set. My jaundiced eye was locked and loaded.

For years, as a Democrat, I was able to convince myself that my party, while not perfect, was better than that other party. I was convinced that the folks that voted for Republicans were somehow just not as smart or well informed as I was. I was a liberal and we all know that we’re smarter than those conservative people.

Time went by and I found myself beginning to doubt. Uncomfortable doubts that prodded at what I like to think of as my character. Small niggling doubts that made me uncomfortable with a belief system I had held for most of my life. The belief that Democrats were better than Republicans, that Liberals were better than Conservatives and that by voting a straight Democratic ticket year after dreary year I was doing a good thing.

Those beliefs were tattered and torn by the time the last election cycle rolled around. I had begun to suspect that what I thought was strong conviction might just be mental laziness and a determined effort to not discover that I had been bamboozling myself for most of my life.

With doubts becoming stronger and my whole belief system beginning to come apart at the seams we entered the election cycle of 2008. Reality met fantasy and the result was a newly hatched Independent that no longer believes that one Party is any damn better than the other. Individuals on both sides leave much to be desired in the character and honesty department. Some individuals on both sides are better than certain individuals on either side.

The cynic in me, the one that always knew that many/most/all politicians are liars and thieves was hatched and I knew that I had allowed myself to be duped and that I had been a sucker, a sap, a pigeon and a chump. Not a pleasant awakening but one made bearable by the sight of so many people who continue to be duped and are still suckers, saps, pigeons and chumps. I saw the light. They are still walking around in the dark. Thus I still get to feel superior to someone.

Any residual belief in the Democratic Party died a sad death on May 31st 2008 when the Democrats proved to my complete satisfaction that they are just as corrupt as the Republicans. Given the Bush/Cheney bunch that took some doing.

I knew what I wanted and expected from elected officials. I had begun my interest in politics with JFK. He was a hero in our divided household. My parents, Democrat Dad and Republican Mom both voted for JFK. That alone would have earned my respect since sniping at each other over politics was just one of many ways in which my parents liked to stick knives into each other. Except for the fact my brother and I would have never been born we both wished that they had never met.

Back to politics. Having cut my political teeth on JFK I was always a bit disappointed in LBJ. But he managed to punch through some legislation that was very important to me and thus I began my career of ignoring things that were less honest than I would like as long as the job got done. I learned pragmatism and hypocrisy at the same time.

Those of us that lived through the days and the deaths of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to, needed to find heroes to replace the truly exceptional men who had been taken from us so brutally. Perhaps that’s when many of us began to make excuses and began to live with a double standard that made hypocrites of us without us noticing it happening. Or perhaps we just didn’t want to notice.

Then we spent years wandering in the wilderness with the likes of Nixon, Ford and Carter. I believe that both Ford and Carter were good men but neither man seemed, at least to me, to have real leadership qualities.

Ford however earned my undying enmity by pardoning Nixon. I quit honestly believe that George W Bush would not have dared to overreach so far had Nixon been made to face the consequences of his actions.

George Herbert Walker Bush was never a favorite of mine but I never demonized him either. The worst thing he ever did in my mind was father George W.

Bill Clinton was and is an able politician and I believe he did far more good than harm. I voted for him twice and don’t regret either vote. He could have done more had he done less nonsense.

I still didn’t believe in fantasy yet I was convinced that sometime there would come to prominence in this country a person of the stature of the founding fathers. There would come a person of depth and breadth, a person of honesty and integrity. There would come a person who saw what was needed for the short term and could still plan for the long. There would come a person who cared first and foremost for his/her country and its people and not for a political party. There would come a person that would tell the people the truths that they needed to hear and then let them decide if they wanted honest government or empty promises.

Still waiting for that kind of person to come along. All we seem to get any more are politicians, which means all we get anymore are liars.

I’m still holding out for a hero. I might be willing to settle for a good, decent, honest patriot who wants what’s best for this country and it’s people.

Or should I continue to hold out for a hero? I expect him/her about the same time as my white knight on a fiery steed. Both horse and knight are undoubtedly over the hill by now; but then so am I. And the fire in my blood? Probably just hearturn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f_HsjpSVaI

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream
of what I need
[Chorus]
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life
Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder end rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet
[Chorus]
Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me
Through the wind end the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach
Like the fire in my blood

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holding_Out_for_a_Hero

The Other Side of the Mountain

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

This past Sunday I decided it was time to go to the other side of the mountain.

Frankly, I was just worn out the entire onslaught of political/media games. Like many others, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been living through a time of lot more hurt and insults than we’ve have had to deal with in a long, long time.

Lately, we’ve had to endure the Hillary as Secretary of State epic.  Well, it’s official as of today (Monday as I write this).  Some bloggers are ecstatic, sure this is a VICTORY for women.  Well, we’ve had Albright and Rice already.  Clinton gives up her elected seat for the honor of serving at the pleasure of the most unqualified, media-assisted, creepy Democratic “president” in my lifetime. Whatever deal floats the Clintons’ and the Democratic poohbahs’ boat, it doesn’t do much but sink things for me. The misogyny continues and will continue (the ugly pictures of Clinton were already up tonight on FOX), and may be melded into a massive Clinton circus/misogyny orgy to help pound into our brains that women in general and Clinton in particular are suspect in the highest offices.  Meanwhile, Bill Richardson wields tremendous power over at Commerce. Real power to screw around with many things with nary a thought from the media…

Then there have been the hopes for the Supreme Court Fart to address Obama’s citizenship issues and boot him out of office before he even gets there.  Sigh.  The law, when it applies to members of “the club,” is conveniently circumvented.  It didn’t start with Gore in 2000, either. It started at a lower level of the courts with Dick Cheney. Remember the flap over whether he could actually be named as VP because of domicile questions (Wyoming vs. Texas)?  Well, how did that turn out?  Judah Benjamin’s scholarly examination of the Obama question over at Texas Darlin’ has come up with the same conclusion I did a long time ago and I’m not a lawyer–The Supreme Fart will let this one slide.  Not Your Sweetie’s recent post on “the club” and the intertwined relationships help explain, in part, why.

So, with all this stuff swirling around in my brain, I decided I had reached the point where it had to stop, at least for a short time.  It was time to go to the other side of the mountain. I hadn’t done it in a very long time. I don’t know why I waited this long, but Sunday was the day. I piled the dogs into the car and took off.

First, let me tell you that every day when I go into the backyard to feed the birds and tend to the vegetable garden I see the mountain.  Actually, the Organ Mountains.  This is what they look like from my backyard…the “Rabbit Ears” are just above the golden tree at the left (in the IA masthead, they are just to the left of the full moon):

resized2008_1130backyardafternoon00031

A 10-minute drive got me through the St. Augustin pass (just hidden at the left by a roof) and the exhilarating sight of the entire Tularosa Basin spread out before me. Then, I got off the highway and began the trek up into heaven.

resized2008_1130organaquirreouting00011

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“Rabbit Ears” loomed in the distance.resized2008_1130organaquirreouting0039

An ancient volcanic core came into in view.resized2008_1130organaquirreouting0044

I drove slowly up into the foothills, navigating a series of hairpin turns. As I neared the trailheads, I looked out onto the basin (the thin line of white to the right in the shot below is part of the White Sands gypsum dunes which extends outside the White Sands National Monument area).

resized2008_1130organaquirreouting00581

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The air was crisp and a light wind blew through the silence…the absolute silence.  It was like being in a different time and a different world. Behind me were the “Rabbit Ears” that I see from my yard, but now I saw their other side, in all their craggy glory, at 8000+ feet.

resized2008_1130organaquirreouting00761

The dogs and I sat for awhile, just being quiet and drinking in the purity of the moment.  Then, I slowly made my way back down to the basin.  Just before we reached the highway I glanced up to see a large hawk, with an amazing wingspan, gliding along with me, perhaps inviting me to return.

Coming back up over the pass, I stopped the car as the plains of the Mesilla Valley opened up below me.  It gave me a sense of freedom as I continued down to where I live, in what was the bed of an ancient sea.

resized2008_1130organaquirreouting0094

What did I find on the other side of the mountain?  A sense of calm and awe.  A departure from ordinary time and a re-discovery of what’s real in the world…A chance to shed the insults of everyday life and feel new again.

I’ll be going back soon…

***

For a virtual panoramic view of the area, click here.

The Scanner-International Edition, 11/14/08 (Insight into Obama’s Background, the Luo of East Africa; The Unrecognized Foreign Policy Work by Bush that Will Help Obama; How the Occupation of Iraq May Look in the Future)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Here are a few international stories that have caught my eye over the last few days. The first one gives a detailed background on Obama’s roots, including some of the reputed personality traits of the Luo’s that are evident in Obama. If you think that Bush was in Obama’s camp before the election, the second story may give you even more things to think about. Obama will be taking credit for a lot of the groundwork laid by Bush. The final story discusses some developments that might affect the future of Iraq that the reader might be unaware of.

***

From The East African, Kenya:

An ‘irresistible, awful, marvellous people’: The Luo of East Africa

By DAVID KAIZA

Obama’s name is unavoidable anywhere, but when pronounced at Mpaaro, thereis an added urgency to its sound…

It is not altogether fanciful to say that, some 628 years ago, a time barely thought of now, the seeds of Obama’s ascendancy to the world stage were sown here.

Dates and facts are hard to pin down, details are much disputed. But it was here that a Luo man, perhaps one of Obama ancestors, changed for good the world of his time.

The scale was smaller, distances were not so great, but the assumption of power, in the year 1380, over the lands that now comprise Uganda by one Rukidi Isingoma-Mpuga Labongo, son of Olum, leader of the migrating Luo who entered Uganda from Sudan towards the last decades of the 14th century, set in motion cultural-political changes whose impact echoes in many of the conflicts still taking place in northern Uganda and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

For Andrea, as indeed for scholars and guardians of the traditions of Bunyoro-Kitara, the emergence of Obama was marked by a polish, drive and determination that had not been seen before in this part of the world.

“These were men of substance,” Andrea says of the Luo aristocracy that invaded and occupied Bunyoro. “They were very, very intelligent. They were generous. The people liked them.”

Historians speak of the “immense impact” that the Luo migration had on the societies they passed through.

Historian and Catholic priest, J.P. Crazzolara in his foundational study, The Lwoo (1950), writes hyperbolically, “They marched on and came upon people who trembled at their sudden appearance. The Lwoo were at sight the absolute arbiters of this population, who had no time left to think and try to repel such an unexpected mass of invaders.”

He describes them as an “irresistible, awful, marvellous people” that “spread (their) shadow” over the older areas of western and southern Uganda.

The displacement of former rulers and inhabitants by this “appearance” is said to be partly responsible for the ethnic pressures and traumas afflicting eastern Congo, for those who lost out in those years were never to regain their footing and continue to be landless, stateless peoples to this day.

Crazzolara’s heraldic language over-privileges Luo achievements, yet 2008, emerging as a hyperbolic year for Africans, is on a scale Obama’s Luo ancestors would never have dreamt of scaling on the plains of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

The year started on a bad, but well-publicised note. With the horribly botched Kenyan election, the word “Luo” started to circulate internationally.

Barrack Obama’s candidature would bring in the phrase “son of a Luo father.”

On a smaller scale, outside Kenya, President Yoweri Museveni, in the middle of a face-off with the kingdom of Buganda, sought to reduce the Kabaka’s standing by publicly stating that the latter was a Luo.

Much of the descriptions made of the Luo are stereotypes like those applied to any other ethnic group, but unlike other ethnic groups in the region, the Luo are spread across five countries, forming a continuous chain that runs 1,200km from Sudan to the southern shores of Lake Victoria.

Crozzolara’s contradictory label “awful and marvellous” points to a central Luo paradox: Their descendants’ occupation of Uganda’s thrones contrasts with the depths of their suffering in wars in northern Uganda, southern Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia. The pendulum of Luo history has swang dizzyingly from immense success to immense failure.

However, to traverse this 1,200km is to be overcome by the similarities in the physical, cultural and personal characteristics of the Dinka, Nuer, Anuak, Shilluk, Wau, Acholi, Lango, Alur, Padhola and Kenyan Luo.

The numerous elders along the trail keep track of their kith and kin.

It is an identity with real cohesive power that can break out in a visceral possessiveness on discovering each other.

It grips, whether felt at the entrance of a tomb in one country, or in victory jigs on the streets of Kisumu.

Spread across centuries and continents, similar descriptions are made of their leaders as “intelligent,” “socialist,” “generous,” “driven,” “aggressive…”

Indeed, putting aside for the moment the adjective-defying import of Obama’s achievement, the weird thing is that his oratorical skills, penchant for the extravagant and appeal to the crowd are right out of the standard caricature of a Luo politician.

Descriptions of Obama sound like a recycling of phrases used of men like the Odingas, Tom Mboya, Apollo Milton Obote, Kabalega and Labongo before him.

For East Africans, seeing Obama reduce crowds to tears is oddly reminiscent of Ugandan independence leader Obote, a man said to be devastating with a microphone.

Indeed, Obama, who rose to fame through his “mobilisation skills,” was himself literally the (accidental) product of the mobilisation skills of a man with whom he shares his ancestry, Tom Mboya. It was Mboya who sent Obama Sr to the US.

There are many barroom jokes in Nairobi now. The funnier one is that when McCain elected to deliver his nomination acceptance speech to a modest, indoor audience, and Obama went for a mammoth event, it was typical of the “outsized” egos of Luo politicians.

“When I see Obama, I see a typical Luo man,” says Kenyan anthropologist Othieno Aluoka.

(MORE)
***

From Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy

U.S.: Obama Foreign Policy May Not Require a Clean Break

Analysis by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (IPS) – While much of the world and many of his U.S. supporters are expecting a sharp break with his predecessor’s foreign policy after President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20, they may be surprised by the degree of continuity between the two administrations.

That continuity — which would be made more concrete if, as expected, Pentagon chief Robert Gates is asked to remain at his post — has less to do with Obama’s hesitation in following through on his more sweeping campaign promises than with the fact that President George W. Bush, has quietly — if grudgingly — moved key U.S. policies in directions that are largely compatible with Obama’s own intentions.

(SNIP)
n addition to earning Obama great goodwill overseas, all of these steps will help dramatise the contrast between his more open and inclusive approach to the world and that of his predecessor, whose unilateralism and cowboy image have brought Washington’s standing among foreign publics to an all-time low.

To be fair, however, that image — so richly earned during his first term when neo-conservatives and other hawks ruled the roost — is somewhat outdated. Chastened by the Iraq war and guided step by halting step by the foreign policy realists, notably Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gates, and his top military commanders, who have come to dominate the last two years of his presidency, Bush has essentially — if not explicitly — laid the groundwork for Obama’s “new dawn”, especially with respect to key crisis areas that are certain to figure near the top of the new president’s agenda.

Despite loud protests and repeated efforts by hawks around Vice President Dick Cheney to deep-six the process, for example, Bush has stuck by Rice and her top Asia aide, Christopher Hill, in making the necessary concessions to keep the “Six-Party Talks” to de-nuclearise North Korea alive.

Similarly, Bush broke his own diplomatic embargo on Iran — along with Pyongyang, the last surviving member of the “Axis of Evil” — by sending a senior State Department official, Undersecretary of State William Burns, to sit down with his Iranian counterpart as part of a larger meeting including other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany last summer. Significantly, Burns will serve as the State Department’s chief liaison with Obama’s transition team.

The administration also appears close to announcing that it intends to set up an Interests Section in Tehran even before Obama takes office. Such a step will no doubt make it far less controversial for the new president to open comprehensive, high-level talks with Iran without conditions when he chooses to do so (possibly after Iran’s presidential elections in June so as to avoid boosting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chances of re-election).

And after effectively ignoring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly seven years, Bush finally re-launched peace talks at Annapolis last November. While those talks have made little progress and now, with Israeli elections scheduled for February, have no hope of reaching an accord by the time Bush leaves office, he will bequeath, as Rice, the effort’s most dogged booster, noted this weekend, a process that Obama can use to fulfill his promise to make a two-state solution an urgent priority.

Even on Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush has helped lay the groundwork for Obama’s plans to accelerate the withdrawal of combat troops from the former and rapidly deploying more to the latter, which the president-elect has long argued, unlike the incumbent, constitutes the “central front in the war on terror”. By acquiescing in a still-pending accord with the Iraqi government, Bush has also accepted a 2012 deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops — not just its combat forces, which Obama has pledged to withdraw by mid-2010.

As for Russia, whose intervention in Georgia last August brought bilateral ties to their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War, Bush, like Obama, has acted with relative restraint, particularly compared to the urgings of Obama’s Republican rival, Sen. John McCain.

And while his insistence on deploying missile-defence systems in central and eastern Europe is clearly more provocative than Obama’s cautious ambiguity on the subject, Bush has also moved in recent days both to address Moscow’s concerns and lay the basis for a new accord on sharply reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, something that Obama is expected to make a high priority in the early days.

In other areas, Obama’s engagement strategy is likely to build on more positive achievements by Bush that have not received nearly as much attention as his “war-on-terror” debacles: most notably in East Asia, where, to the aggravation of the hawks, good ties with China have not only been preserved, but enhanced; India, where the new nuclear deal capped a rapidly growing strategic relationship; and much of Africa, where Bush’s five-year-old, 15-billion-dollar AIDS programme, strongly endorsed by Obama, is given credit not only for saving millions of lives, but also for making the region the most Bush-friendly by far, according to recent public opinion polls.

(MORE)
***

From Inter Press Service News Agency, Italy

IRAQ: U.S. Pushes In Their Excellencies

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

CAIRO, Nov 7 (IPS) – More than five years after the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Arab capitals are beginning to send ambassadors to Baghdad. But some Egyptian commentators question the timing of the move, which they attribute to pressure from Washington.

“Arab governments originally wanted a full withdrawal of foreign forces and a stable security environment before sending ambassadors,” Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University, told IPS. “Yet the pending U.S.-Iraq security agreement promises to turn the current military occupation of Iraq into a constitutionally sanctioned one.”

(SNIP)

“Many Iraqis see this new Arab diplomatic drive as against their national interests,” added Thabet. “They see it as little more than a U.S. attempt to legitimise the occupation and bolster Arab support for the unpopular government in Baghdad.”

Thabet (Ahmed Thabet, political science professor at Cairo University) went on to say that some Iraqis fear recent Arab diplomatic activity “could eventually lead to the replacement of foreign occupation troops with a pan-Arab peacekeeping force to police Iraq.”

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From The Folks That Gave You GWB and the War In Iraq, Here’s Obama!

~~By kenosha Marge

Long ago in a country far away, which would be the United States back in 2006, the people went to the polls in great numbers and elected their champions to end an evil war and rein in the reign of terror of the evil Emperor and Darth Cheney.

Somehow that didn’t work out very well. The evil Emperor and Darth Cheney still reign, although no one is paying any attention because Lord Obama of The New is now the brightest star in the sky. He hasn’t really done anything but he’s all bright and shiny and that’s enough. And who cares what the lame Duck and the Duck Hunter are up to anyway? They are no longer important or popular.

It looked for a short while as if Lady Sarah of the Alaska might dim Lord Obama’s stardom but our ever-vigilant media quickly put an end to that. Hurling themselves into battle-mode they light-sabered her with a thousand lies, distortions and smears. How dare this female think she had the right to dim Lord Obama of the New’s brightness. Off with her head. Oops wrong fairy tale.

It is an amazing sight to see a media that used to love them some Bush, ah, ah, don’t go there, and loved them some McCain doing the biggest flip-flop in the history of the world. Now they only proclaim their love for Lord Obama of The New. Such flip-floppery might make a few people, those with integrity and intellect ask, why are they picking favorites at all? Should not our noble media simply give us the facts and let us make up our own minds? Surely thou kideth me.

Some of us are flabbergasted at the sheer chutzpah of media folks when they call out politicians for flip-floppery. Media could give flip-floppery lessons. They could write a book on flip-floppery. They could make a documentary on flip-floppery and have a starring role. They do double back twist flip-flops with an élan that presumes we are all deaf, dumb, and stupid. Which unfortunately, describes many of us. Except for me and thee naturally.

Some people, that would also be me and thee, might wonder what the hell the media is up to. And we aren’t asking about their age or weight. What would make people whose only job in the world is to write a column or go on television and report the facts fail so miserably? Are they all just plain stupid? Yes and no. Yes many are stupid and no not all of them.

Many are conscienceless elites who feel that “their” opinion is so far superior to mundane things like facts that the peasantry is best served by hearing only their conclusions. The others are indeed just lack wits receiving an enormous salary for reading someone else’s words off a teleprompter. Nice work if you can get it and don’t mind not doing your job or have the morals of a pimp. Just call them the Lords of Pimpery.

So now with only six weeks to the presidential election of 2008 it would appear that the same folks that gave us Gee Dubya and the never-ending war in Iraq are going to give us Lord Obama the New as our leader. Lord Obama the New will be President of the United States and leader of the world and maybe the entire universe. We can only hope. Not.

Many of us are concerned and wonder if Senator Obama has some slight resemblance to Senator Palpatine. We just don’t see the wonder of Lord Obama the New. I guess the force isn’t with us. Or we haven’t been forced to get in line yet.

Once someone tried to sell me “New” Coke and I was not impressed. New politics that sound just like old politics are not impressive either. When being touted by a media that has been so wrong so often and shouldn’t be touting any particular candidate in the first place it is even less impressive.

The Jedi Knights alas will not come to our rescue. We could rescue ourselves if we but had the will. But will enough of us have that will? All that is needed is to pay attention, ignore our corrupt media, both political parties and dedicate ourselves to being patriotic citizens instead of partisan pinheads. Think that’s possible? Nah, me neither.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the media for decades knows that you can’t trust most of them all of the time and all of them most of the time. And if you only listen to the ones that say what you want to hear, congratulations, you are a partisan citizen who cares only more about a political party than your country. You are someone the media can feed BS and make you believe its Beef Steak.

And no one lives happily every after except the big bad liars who are still laughing at how easy it is to fool the stupid peasants.