Sunday, April 17, 2005

Rumsfeld underwhelms Iraqis, China not apologizing to Japan, U.S. selling arms to Haiti?, Ecuador, Argentina, China committing environmental suicide?

By telling Jaafari to re consider before making any changes, Rumsfeld probably thought he was being helpful and pragmatic. The US has invested heavily in training the new security forces and the loss of key personnel could undo all that good work. Instead, Rumsfeld caused offence.
Since he last visited Iraq, an election has been held and a new government elected. The umbilical cord to the US has been cut and the new order does not take kindly to being governed in the way that they were when the US administrator Paul Bremer reigned supreme in Baghdad.
If Rumsfeld wanted any evidence that things had changed he only had to look at last weekend’s demonstrations, in which tens of thousands of Shias took to the streets of Baghdad to demand the withdrawal of the US coalition garrison.
The official US view is that their forces will remain in Iraq until the insurgency has been crushed. While that is acceptable as long as the violence continues and the Iraqis fail to deal with it, the presence of 130,000 US troops has also provoked fears that the US wants to create a new Middle East power base to replace Saudi Arabia. In fact, that concern is not a million miles removed from US policy but lecturing the new Iraqi government was hardly the best way of promoting it. Not for the first time in his career, Rumsfeld has been found guilty of shooting from the lip.

That's from Trevor Royle's "Rumsfeld offers advice to Iraq … and offends its new PM." It appears in the UK Sunday Herald and, credit where it's due, BuzzFlash has a heads up to that article currently.

From Scotland's The Herald, we'll note "China stands firm on anti-Japan riots" by Audra

CHINA refused to apologise after a Japanese consulate was damaged during a fresh round of anti-Japanese protests at the weekend.
The country instead accused Tokyo of offending China with its handling of Japan's wartime history.
Japan blamed China for the damage as authorities allowed fresh protests in at least six cities over Tokyo's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat and what critics claim are efforts to conceal wartime atrocities.

Rory e-mails asking if the New York Times has touched on the following story? I'm not recalling them covering it, no. From The Independent, Andrew Buncombe's "Bush administration 'broke its own embargo to sell arms to Haiti police:'"

The Bush administration has been accused of ignoring its own arms embargo and overseeing the sale of $7m-worth (£3.7m) of weapons to the Haitian government to equip its police force.
Human rights groups say the police carry out routine executions of dissidents and weapons are often illegally funnelled to armed militia.
Robert Muggah of the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey, a non-profit group, said that last year the US effected the sale of thousands of weapons to the interim government headed by Gerard Latortue, despite a 13-year arms embargo. "They are meant to brace up a shaky security force, but the reality is they could actually undermine security by jeopardising an innovative disarmament effort just getting under way," said Mr Muggah, who has spent several months in Haiti interviewing diplomats and UN officials for a report.
The embargo was established after a coup that ousted the elected president Jean-Betrand Aristide, who was forced into exile for a second time last year. Washington, which had long under- mined his presidency, refused to help him. The weapons embargo remains in place.

Also from The Independent, we'll note Andrew Gumbel's "Ecuador in turmoil as Supreme Court is dissolved:"

Tens of thousands of Ecuadorians took to the streets over the weekend in an uprising against their President, former army colonel Luis Gutierrez, accusing him of assuming more dictatorial powers in a bid to stay in office.
In Quito, the capital, convoys of cars bearing Ecuadorian flags paraded through the streets on Saturday night with horns honking, with similar protests promised for last night. Thousands of citizens also gathered across the city, banging pots and pieces of wood and waving rolls of toilet paper, a symbol of their desire to clean up the "mess" of the Gutierrez presidency.
The crisis, which has been fomenting for months but became critical only a few days ago, has taken on the quality of a Latin American uniformed farce. President Gutierrez first imposed a state of emergency in Quito - banning street protests and large political gatherings - then retracted it when the entire panoply of Ecuadorian political parties, along with the military brass and the US government, told him he had gone too far.
At the root of the crisis is a decision, taken by the Ecuadorian Congress at the President's prompting, to replace the Supreme Court last December. The new court promptly quashed all outstanding corruption charges against two former presidents, whose support Mr Gutierrez needed to maintain a slim majority in Congress.
The two, both accused of looting the country for personal gain, returned from exile in Panama this month, provoking fury in the opposition and on the streets.

From The Financial Times, Lyle e-mails Andrew Balls and Scheherazade Daneshkhu's "Argentina rejects calls to reopen credit talks:"

Argentina has rejected a call from world financial leaders to come to an agreement with the creditors that rejected its record $100bn debt exchange offer earlier this year.
The International Monetary and Financial Committee, the IMF's governing body, issued a statement following its spring meeting at the weekend, calling on Argentina to come up with "a strategy to resolve the remaining arrears outstanding to private creditors".
This echoed the finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven leading industrialised countries, who in their statement said: "Argentina needs to address the remaining defaulted debt." Both the IMFC and the G7 also said there should be no backsliding on structural reforms needed to promote sustainable growth in the country.
Roberto Lavagna, Argentina's economy minister, immediately responded, issuing a statement that said: "Argentina does not accept discriminatory action or demands in regards to debt restructuring."

From Open Democracy, Brady e-mails Andreas Lorenz's "China’s environmental suicide: a government minister speaks:"

Andreas Lorenz: China is dazzling the world with its booming economy, which grew by 9.5%. Are you pleased with this speed of growth, and what effect is it having on the environment of China?
Pan Yue: Of course I am pleased with the success of China's economy. But at the same time I am worried. We are using too many raw materials to sustain this growth. To produce goods worth $10,000, for example, we need seven times more resources than Japan, nearly six times more than the United States and, perhaps most embarrassing, nearly three times more than India. Things can't, nor should they be allowed to, go on like that.
Andreas Lorenz: Such a viewpoint is not exactly widespread in your country.

Pan Yue: Many factors are coming together here. Our raw materials are scarce, we don't have enough land, and our population is constantly growing. Currently, there are 1.3 billion people living in China -- twice as many as fifty years ago. In 2020, there will be 1.5 billion people in China. Cities are growing but desert areas are expanding at the same time; in these fifty years, habitable and usable land has been halved.
Andreas Lorenz: Yet, in the eyes of the world, each year China strengthens its reputation as an economic wonderland.
Pan Yue: This miracle will end soon because the environment can no longer keep pace. Five of the ten most polluted cities worldwide are in China; acid rain is falling on one third of our territory; half of the water in China’s seven largest rivers is completely useless; a quarter of our citizens lack access to clean drinking water; a third of the urban population is breathing polluted air; less than a fifth of the rubbish in cities is treated and
processed in an environmentally sustainable manner.

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