Archive for February 2nd, 2006

The power of elections

February 2, 2006

Found this great article on the elections in South America. I don’t want to post the whole thing, and its all worth a read. But here are some tidbits:

As he stood among the admiring hordes at this shrine to pre-Incan civilization, his hat tugged down to his eyes, the old man appeared to have been drawn to this Andean summit for his last gasps on this Earth.

But one topic animated his hooded eyes, despite the 3,840-metre altitude and suddenly punishing sun.

“They have taken our resources and given them away to the evil rats,” he said. “They have stolen our riches and given them to the United States.

“These riches are here for us. We need them in Bolivia for the poor.”

Luis Atarapi Aiphana has lived through Bolivia’s military coups, corruption, the “Black February” of 2003 when 34 died in street confrontations, the ever-changing governments. And now he has made the long trek to Tiwanaku to witness a rare spectacle — a ceremony in which incoming Bolivian President Evo Morales is stressing hope, respect and, most of all, change.

Such rituals of transition are happening across South America.

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As North America has focused on wars and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the unfolding drama in the Middle East, a revolution has occurred under its nose.

This Latin American revolution has been waged with ballots, not blood, but that does not lessen the sting of its repudiation of made-in-Washington policies, including the so-called “neo-liberal” agenda of free trade and fiscal policy in the region, and the unilateralism of the Bush administration.

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One Washington-based diplomat called this year the “perfect storm” in Latin America, with no fewer than 10 presidential elections scheduled.

“This next year will shape the region as a whole over the next six years,” the diplomat said.

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Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, says Latin America is in the first 10 miles of a 1,000-mile journey but the region is beginning to talk “about the unthinkable.”

“It has broken out of the ghetto of being alone in the hemisphere … They are now global nations. It means that Washington has less of that mantle of tyranny of geography. This could conceivably mushroom into a historic transformation in the region.”

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“You see those 20-year-olds running around denouncing the Americans and you realize that it is passed on down from generation to generation.”

And anti-American rhetoric plays so well in 2006 because of the spate of elections against a backdrop of Republican neglect of the region.

For the first time, Washington could not install its choice as head of the Organization of American States — then failed in its bid to promote its second choice. But there were signs of waning influence in 2003, at the OAS general assembly in Chile, when for the first time the U.S. was not elected to the body’s human rights commission.

Go read the whole article. I find what is going on to our south fascinating. While the US media focuses on the Middle East, a revolution is happening and no one in this country seems to be paying attention. This is the real spread of democracy and it is happening without, and against, the US. No wonder Bush failed to even mention South America in the SOTU speech. He can’t claim any of this as his doing, so its not worth mentioning.

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Cartoons in the news (Update)

February 2, 2006

It seems some editorial cartoons are causing quite a storm. First, there is the one about Donald Rumsfeld:

Personally, I don’t think it is attacking the troops at all. And I have to agree with this comment from the article link:

Well, despite the fact that Toles has a valid satirical point to make about the Pentagon’s overextension of troops in the field, we have to wonder: With the insurgency gaining strength every day, and reconstruction efforts crippled by high-level incompetency, this cartoon is what’s upsetting our nation’s military leadership?

The second cartoon, or cartoons, are of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad:

While I think people are entitled to their religious persuasions, I think the Muslims are way too fucking touchy about their beloved prophet. And to be fair, since I could give a shit less about religion, if I can find cartoons of Jesus, Buddha and Krishna I will post those too. Fair is fair.

Update- I found an all encompassing cartoon. Here it is:

India And The US

February 2, 2006

I meant to post this last week, but never got around to it.

Found this very interesting interview with the former Indian Deputy National Security Adviser Satish Chandra concerning the India-US nuclear technology deal Its a three part interview.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Tidbits from the interview:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US has been hailed as a great success. Do you agree with that view?

…In a number of areas like democracy, terrorism, agriculture, energy cooperation we will work together. There are very, very wide areas. This is the continuation of policies which India has been pursuing for the last six or seven years.

However, I would like to inject a note of caution even in those areas where commonalities of interests have been found.

For example, we have said that both countries will work together in areas of democracy and terrorism. We have to ask ourselves how much the US has actually done in these areas. In our neighbourhood, we have undemocratic regimes like Pakistan. What has the US done about it?

Or on the issue of terrorism, what have they done? Quite honestly, the US is selective in its application and in handling of these areas of cooperation. …

There is more information on India’s programs in the interview, if you are interested. And here is a collection of articles on the deal and how the US is holding the Iran vote over India’s head.

Since this also involves Iran, here is an article about the Russian-Iranian enrichment agreement.

Russia and Iran have reached agreement on certain points of Russia’s proposal to form a joint venture to enrich uranium on Russian territory for Iran’s nuclear energy program, the Iranian foreign minister said Saturday.

“Russia’s plan is at a stage of serious consideration, and negotiations on it are ongoing. Agreement between Tehran and Moscow has already been reached on certain points of Russia’s proposals, in particular on increasing the number of participants in the project,” Manouchehr Mottaki said.

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Russia, which is building an $800-million power plant in Iran, has defended the country’s right to nuclear energy, but expressed its “disappointment” with Tehran’s decision earlier in January to end a two-year moratorium on nuclear research and resume activity at its nuclear facilities.

Some countries, led by the U.S., suspect Tehran of pursuing a secret weapons program and have been pushing the referral of the Iranian nuclear file to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic if it is found to have been in breach of its international commitments. Iran has consistently stated that it only wants nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

In a move seen as compromise to diffuse tensions around the situation, Moscow has offered to conduct uranium enrichment for Iran on Russian territory, a proposal which Ali Larijani, the secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, has welcomed.

And an article on India’s feelings about the Russians working with Iran:

Seeking to clear the air after the political storm stirred by United States envoy David C Mulford’s remarks on the Iran nuclear issue, India Friday said it welcomed initiatives from Russia and others to forge a consensus and avoid a confrontation.

“India welcomes all initiatives, including from Russia, which could enable a consensus to be reached on this issue and urges further intensive efforts in that direction,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said in response to a question of the Iran nuclear issue.

He said that during the past two weeks, India has been undertaking active consultations with all key members of the International Atomic Energy Association Board of Governors and with Iran in order to avoid confrontation and to promote the widest possible consensus on handling the Iran nuclear issue.

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Sarna said Iran’s right to develop “peaceful uses of nuclear energy for its development consistent with its international obligations and commitments should be respected,” he said.

One last article. Apparently Indian-Iran relations are not completely positive:

Indian diplomacy will be put to the acid test when the IAEA governing board meets on February 2. In a re-run of last year’s meeting at Vienna, New Delhi will be expected to put its hand up for the US and back its move to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council.

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If one cuts through the fuzzy logic about historic ties with Iran and the virtues of non-alignment, it is clearly in India’s interest to vote against Iran at the IAEA.

The nuclear deal and improved ties with Washington are likely to bring New Delhi far more benefits than cosying up to Tehran.

Even if that throws into doubt the proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India, which in any case has too many ifs and buts attached to it.

The recent comments by Iranian national security adviser Ali Larijani against India’s nuclear programme has shown that Tehran might only be a fair-weather friend.

There have been earlier instances where Iran has voted against India on nuclear issues. There are also ample indications that Iran’s strategic interests lie in closer ties with China rather than India.