Tag Archives: U.S.

Is Obama Wasting His Time In The Middle East.

So President Obama is in the Middle East trying to repair relations with countries in the region. Can he do the seemingly impossible?

The Middle East has a long and hate filled history with the U.S. and they don’t seem real keen to change in a hurry. Many terrorists seem to have the U.S. and their interests as their exclusive targets.

Sure Obama might be able to improve relations with some of the officials in this region but this is not going to change the views of the general population.

So what is it that people in the Middle East have against the U.S.?
Well largely the U.S. is seen as an empirical power trying to gain control over as much of the world as it can. They resent the U.S. using their military might to interfere in the region and acting like a bully protecting its own interests.

They also dislike the U.S. supporting Israel and giving them financial and military assistance.

There are also the obvious cultural differences between this largely Muslim area and the Christian dominated U.S.

As Obama lands in Saudi Arabia Al Quaeda has just released an audio message from Osama bin Landen denouncing Obama’s policies regarding the Middle East. The recording was released by news agency Al Jazeera shortly after Obama’s arrival in Saudi Arabia

In this recording he describes Obama as following the policy of his predecessor George Bush in “antagonising Muslims”.

“He has followed the steps of his predecessor in antagonising Muslims… and laying the foundation for long wars,” bin Laden says in the recording.

Saudi officials were quick to denounce the recording but bin Laden and Al Qaeda are quite effective at stirring up anti U.S. sentiment in the Middle East and as long as they and other groups like them can have an influence in the area it is going to be difficult to improve relationships in the region. The leaders of these countries are still politicians and they are, like politicians in other countries, interested in using the general opinion of the people to their advantage.

I hope Obama can make a peaceful difference and make the world a safer place but I fear it will take many more years of repair than there have been of damage to make a difference in Middle Eastern relations.

U.S. and Israel Don’t See Eye To Eye On Settlements.

Israel stands firm on its plans to continue building settlements in the West Bank.

The U.S. is also firm on its insistance that Israel must stop the building of its settlements in the West Bank.

Israel asserts that its plans to build settlements in the West Bank are nessecary due to ‘natural growth’. That term has been defined vaguely by Israeli officials, meaning for some that settlements should expand to accommodate only their own children.

Israel “cannot freeze life in the settlements,” Netanyahu said, describing the American call as an “unreasonable” demand.

Whatever the American demands and Israeli definitions, the reality is that no full freeze seems likely.

Mr Netanyahu is in a difficult position with factions pushing for the expansion of settlements and many opposed to the establishment of an independant Palestinian State. Support for succumbing to U.S. demands is not at all strong.

Netanyahu has set a stance to stop the spread of unofficial settlements however, that are not within the official settlement plans. Many successive governments have turned a blind eye to these unofficial settlements which largely contain rogue Israeli elements.

President Obama has played down tensions between the U.S. and Israel saying that “Part of being a good friend is being honest” in an interview with NPR News. “And I think there have been times where we are not as honest as we should be about the fact that the current direction, the current trajectory, in the region is profoundly negative, not only for Israeli interests but also U.S. interests.

“We do have to retain a constant belief in the possibilities of negotiations that will lead to peace,” he added. “I’ve said that a freeze on settlements is part of that.”

“Not only is it in the interest of the Palestinian people to have a state, it’s in the interest of the Israeli people to stabilize the situation there,” he said. “And it’s in the interest of the United States that we’ve got two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Despite Israeli objections to halt West Bank settlements President Obama is confident United States was “going to be able to get serious negotiations back on track” between Israel and the Palestinians.

In the interview with NPR News Obama also said “It’s in the interest of the United States that we’ve got two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Referring to the debate about settlements, he said: “Diplomacy is always a matter of a long hard slog. It’s never a matter of quick results.”

U.S. plans Strong Action Against North Korea

The U.S. is determined to send a strong unified message to North Korea. The U.S. has been working closely with its allies to get a resolution through the U.N Security Council that is strong and decisive.
The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has also met with official from Russia and China in preparation for debates in the U.N. Security Council for tough resolutions for North Korea.

Senior officials have indicated the bans could include restrictions on travel and visa bans on certain members of the regime and tougher trade and economic sanctions, possibly including an arms embargo to prevent North Korea from engaging in lucrative arms sales.

Deputy spokesman Robert Wood said “I think it’s very clear that we are all on the same page with regard to the need to take very strong measures against North Korea.” He went on to add, “They’re going to continue with our discussions on coming up with a strong resolution that responds to the North’s violation of its international obligations.”

Wood made no comment on reports that North Korea is moving missile equipment for another possible long-range missile test but repeated that missile launches by Pyongyang constitute a violation of existing U.N. resolutions.

Senior U.S. officials confirmed that North Korea is moving equipment around, but it is unclear whether the regime is intent on another missile launch or whether it is just trying to rattle the international community.

The U.S. wants North Korea to return to nuclear negotiations with the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, known as the six-party talks.

Although the talks have been stalled for more than a year, Wood said, “just because things haven’t worked doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying.”

Israel Will Not Stop Settlements.

The Israeli Government says it won’t bow to U.S. requests for it to stop its settlements in the West Bank.

“I want to say in a crystal clear manner that the current Israeli government will not accept in any fashion that legal settlement activity in Judea and Samaria be frozen,” Transport Minister Yisrael Katz, an official close to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said, using the Israeli term for the West Bank. “The government will defend the vital interests of the state of Israel.”

This was the first official reaction from the Israeli Government after U.S. President Obama’s request for the them to halt settlements.

Israel’s settlement of the West Bank is a key hurdle to peace talks with Palestinian authorities. While I understand Israel’s need for security the Palestinian people require the same security. How can the Israeli Government justify forcing people put of their homes so that they can build settlements on land that is in a separate State to Israel. They have effectively invaded this land.

If Israel expect to have security for themselves then they have to respect the need for others to have security. Israel says it requires its settlements on the West Bank for natural growth. What other State in the World expects to be able to legally expand its borders to establish new settlements.
It is my opinion that Israel is being unreasonable in its expectations and needs to halt these settlements now and respect the borders it shares with other sovereign states. Until it does this I cannot see how peace between Israel and other Middle Eastern states can be achieved.

Obama Calls For Israel To Halt West Bank Expansion

Israel must halt their expansion into the West Bank and Palestinians must increase West Bank security to allow the Middle East peace process to advance, said President Obama after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday.

Obama told reporters “I am confident that we can move this process forward if all the parties are willing to take on the responsibilities and meet the obligations that they’ve already committed to.” during a joint appearance with Abbas following the White House meeting.

Abbas said the Palestinian Authority was committed to fulfilling its obligations under the 2003 Middle East road map.

The two leaders called for immediate progress in the peace process in the hope of restarting peace talks directly between Palestinians and Israeli’s.

No formal Palestinian-Israeli negotiations have occurred since the latest Israeli elections brought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power.

“What is needed right now is to resume the discussions with the current Israeli government,” Abbas said.

Obama pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, last week, for a firm Israeli commitment to Palestinian statehood as part of the so-called two-state solution, a position strongly advocated on Thursday by Abbas.

Netanyahu has committed to removing illegal settlements but has also committed to continue expansion or “natural Growth” of existing settlements.
Netanyahu has also refrained from committing to a Palestinian state saying that Israel needed security and a clear Palestinian Leader to talk to.

Obama said “It is in our interest to ensure that Israel is safe and secure,” and for steps to be taken towards a Palestinian free state.

At the same time, Obama said he told President Abbas “in a frank exchange” that continuing anti-Israel sentiments and incitements were “impediments to peace.”

The Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas holds power on the West Bank, while the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas controls Gaza. Abbas is under pressure to negotiate with Hamas on creating a unified Palestinian leadership, Obama noted, and praised him for insisting that such a Palestinian leadership must agree to Israel’s right to exist and commit itself to peace.

Without both sides of this conflict doing their part and recognising each others right to security and a clearly defined boundary peace will be difficult to establish and maintain.

Clearly some large policy shifts will be required from both sides before a suitable peace can be found.

Sonia Sotomayor Nominated to US Supreme Court.

One woman has made the U.S. Hispanic population proud today. Sonia Sotomayor has been nominated as a Justice in the U.S. Supreme Court by President Obama.

Sotomayor has been often mentioned as a candidate for the Supreme Court position, replacing the retiring Justice David Souter. Sotomayor is not likely to change the ideological balance of the bench but she will add a great deal of diversity. The Supreme Court will consist of two women, with Sotomayor being only the third woman to sit on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court members will include eight whites and one african american.

Sotomayor’s journey to the Supreme Court is also certain to add to the diversity she brings to the bench. Sotomayor was the daughter of working class parents in the Bronx Her father, who didnt speak english and only had a third grade education, died when she was nine. Her mother then worked six days a week to support them. Sotomayor worked hard throughout school and on a scholarship to Princeton and the went on to Yale to study Law. She became a prosecutor in New York, then a corporate litigator, before being seated to a federal trial court by the first President Bush. Six years later, President Clinton elevated her to a New York-based appeals court. Her rise through adversity would seem to be one that rivals Obama’s on rise to power.

While Sotomayors time in the judiciary has mostly concerned routine matters it has not been without controversy. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), among other groups, called her an “activist” judge. One of her more controversial votes as a judge was one endorsing a Connecticut city’s decision to discard the results of a firefighter promotion test because blacks and Hispanics scored disproportionately lower than whites. The case is now before the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor will not be shy about countering such criticism. She said she decides cases based on the law, without an agenda in mind. “I firmly believe in the rule of law,” she said.
While Democratic members of the Senate back her nomination republican members say they will need some time to review her 17 year record.

What Was North Korea Thinking?

North Korea has again staged an underground nuclear test yesterday. This time much larger and more successful than the test held in October 2006. It has also tested short range missiles yesterday and today.
North Korea has declared an off-limits area for vessels in the Yellow Sea off Jungsan county in South Pyongan province and it is thought that more missile tests may follow.
North Korea’s official news agency reported that the test were carried out “as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way.”
So why does North Korea think it has to show the world that it can defend itself. It closest ally is China, the worlds biggest economy and a world military power in its own right closely followed by Russia, another major world power. So who do they think is crazy enough to attack them and risk drawing themselves in a conflict involving China and Russia.
North Korea has no need to show it can defend itself like this, so why has it sent the World into such a frenzy by performing these tests.
North Korea seems to have a need to make the World take notice of them. Like the naughty kid who shows off to get attention. Carrying these test helps it feel like a world power and watching the resulting flurry of panic as the World struggles to deal with the consequences of these tests just serves to give North Korea the justification they feel they deserve.
North Korea enjoys annoying people and this is exactly what they have been able to achieve.
As well as feeding the ego what else has North Korea achieved with these tests. They have, for the moment at least put China and Russia off side. China has backed North Korea often before the UN Security Council but these tests have made it hard for China to continue doing this. Russia have already announce their intention to support the U.N. against North Korea.
The U.S. already have forces in South Korea and are moving to increase their presence in the area in an effort to be seen to be supporting their close ally South Korea as well as Japan, who also see North Korea as a major regional threat.
With significant sanctions already placed against North Korea by the U.N. they face further sanctions when the U.N. decides what its reaction will be. Many countries around the World have already voiced their support for tougher sanctions.
U.S. President Obama has also promised a strong reaction and will most certainly be pushing for a strong reaction from the U.N.
North Korea is already one of the most isolated countries in the world due the sanctions already in place and any increase in these sanctions or loss of support from China would put a lot more pressure on their already strained economy.
The Worlds biggest fear is that Korea and Iran may form an alliance. Such an alliance could see two new nuclear powers with very little need to conform to the expectation of the rest of the World. Korea has uranium resources, and this combined with its test results and nuclear production technology being married up with Iran’s enrichment technology could result in an alliance to that would give the world good cause to worry.

Could Pelosi Be The Chink In Obama’s Armour?

U.S. President Barack Obama has always maintained a nice clean down to earth image. He appears to be very approachable and friendly. As far as we know hasn’t bothered any White House interns, yet, and he is the dedicated family man. How could anybody find anything wrong with him. Ok maybe people will criticise his political leanings but these are just their opinions of his ideology and not a real criticism of the person.

Then you have Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, the most powerful woman in Washington. It is Pelosi who the Republicans seem to be going after now.
With her perfectly coifed hair, perfectly tailored suits and her rich banker husband she is exactly the type of out of touch ‘Limousine Liberal’ that the Democrats have been looking for. She is also not so clean when it comes to scandal. Pelosi is one of a handful lawmakers who was briefed by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002 on “waterboarding” and other extreme interrogation tactics used against prisoners in the Bush era. She now accuses the agency of lying to her and hiding what it was doing.
Republicans have attacked Pelosi for making unsubstantiated and damaging accusations against a crucial national security agency.
The man who once had her job, former Republican speaker Newt Gingrich, says Pelosi is lying in a way that is “despicable, dishonest and vicious.”
Now that Obama has ordered that such methods be stopped Republicans are asking why other Democrats who could have stopped these tactics, did nothing.
This is where Pelosi becomes the chink in Obama’s armour. The House of Representatives is the place where taxes and spending starts. So almost every one of Obama’s plans will have to pass through Pelosi.
Obama is still remarkably popular and most of the country hopes that he’ll succeed in rebuilding the economy and ending the war in Iraq.
The President would seem to be immune from easy attacks so the opposition needs someone who isn’t. In steps Pelosi. As far as targets go she is the one. She has the out of touch image and the back door scandal to be the weak Democrat link the the Republicans are looking for.