Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded into Kiev to protest a flawed election, and to support the pro-western opposition candidate
UKRAINE IS BECOMING A HIGH STAKES GAMBLE FOR PUTIN AND RUSSIA
The fate of Ukraine may be decided on the streets of Kiev in coming days, but the stakes are also high for Russia, which has openly tried to reassert its influence in the former Soviet republic during the elections. The vote's outcome is seen in Moscow as a defining moment both for Russian foreign and domestic policies. For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is trying to impose its political will beyond its own borders. (Financial Times, November 23, 2004)
PUTIN HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS?
President Vladimir Putin and Byelorussian President Alexander Lukashenko had scrambled Monday to be the first to congratulate Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and proclaim him Ukraine's next president.
As of Tuesday evening (Moscow Time), they remained the only two state leaders to do so, and Putin sought to retract his congratulations as European Union members and the United States cranked up the pressure on outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, Yanukovych's patron, to order a vote recount or risk sanctions. (Moscow Times, November 23, 2004)
WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?
Stanford University's Michael McFaul puts the Ukrainian election controversy into context on PBS' NewsHour. (PBS NewsHour, November 23, 2004)
Taras Kuzio and Bruce Jackson discuss developments as the U.S. issues a strong warning on the elections (PBS NewsHour, November 24, 2004)
-Colin Powell's News Conference
NUCLEAR TRAFFICKING IN SOUTH ASIA
Since the 1980s, a far-flung trafficking network has equipped Iran, Libya and North Korea with a range of centrifuge equipment (as well as nuclear material in some cases), design data, blueprints, and know-how needed to produce enriched uranium,which can fuel nuclear weapons.7 In addition, the looting of Iraq's nuclear facilities has provided a further reminder that the equipment and material useful for making unconventional weapons can represent a worldwide trafficking threat, particularly where such items are inadequately secured. (Andrew Prosser, Center for Defense Information, November 22, 2004)
CHINA BUILDING INFLUENCE IN CENTRAL ASIA
China's interest in countries such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan is motivated to a large extent by its need for energy resources. China's economy is booming, but its domestic oil and mining industries cannot keep pace with demand. Chinese officials, as a result, have fanned out across the globe -- including Central Asia. (Eurasianet.org, November 23, 2004)
SOUTH KOREA SEES LOGIC IN NORTH KOREA'S NUCLEAR EFFORTS
When it comes to North Korea and defusing its nuclear crisis, the United States is finding that South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, who wants to be friends with North Korea, is becoming increasingly obstructionist... Roh made clear just how soft - and infuriating to the US - his policy is when he addressed the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles on his way to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Chile. Roh, never one to mince words, stunned many in the audience of foreign-policy experts with his assertion that the central argument underpinning North Korea's nuclear-weapons program - that it is a necessary defense in the face of hostility and threat - is not entirely illogical...(David Scofield, Asia Times, November 23, 2004)
CHALMERS JOHNSON ON THE MESS IN U.S. INTELLIGENCE
Tom Dispatch.com's latest comprehensive survey of Washington political maneuvers looks at the politicization of intelligence. Chalmers Johnson writes: "Two weeks after George Bush's reelection, Porter J. Goss, the newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence, wrote an internal memorandum to all employees of his agency telling them, "[Our job is to] support the administration and its policies in our work. As agency employees, we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies." Translated from bureaucrat-speak, this directive says, "You now work for the Republican Party..."
(Chalmers Johnson, Tom Dispatch.com, November 24, 2004)
THE CIA, UNDER CLINTON, HAD ALREADY MANAGED LOW LEVEL PENETRATIONS OF AL QAEDA.
The CIA was ordered by the Clinton administration to penetrate Al Qaeda, and it did manage to plant spies within the organization on several occasions, but not at a high enough level to have prevented or forewarned of 9/11. (declassified transcript of Richard Clarke's closed-door congressional testimony, June 2002 via Federation of American Scientists)
PHILIP GOUREVITCH IN THE NEW YORKER ON WINNING THE BATTLE IN FALLUJAH, BUT NOT THE WAR
Fallujah appears emblematic of the larger American venture in Iraq, where military superiority has yet to purchase political order. Much of the city was reduced to rubble, and the fighting wasn't finished when the General claimed victory: even s Iraqi corpse collectors and American reconstruction assessors went to work, marines kept killing and getting killed while trying to mop up neighborhoods that they thought they'd mopped up the day before...(Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker, November 22, 2004)
U.S. CASUALTIES IN IRAQ
Up to this point, 1,234 U.S. Servicemen have died in Iraq. 110 have died in November, and final figures are likely to add up to more than 150, with more than 1300 wounded. GlobalSecurity.Org keeps detailed monthly figures, with links to Department of Defense notifications.
OUTGOING ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT LEAVES A DISMAL RECORD BEHIND HIM, DON'T EXPECT GONZALES TO BE ANY DIFFERENT
Noah Leavitt notes in FindLaw that: "Ashcroft's legacy, as Attorney General, is clear: he weakened the rule of law and undermined civil liberties of people in the United States ...Alberto Gonzales's personality is very different than John Ashcroft's: Gonzales, reportedly, is less brash, and less touchy. Yet Gonzales's policies may be much the same as Ashcroft's. And his politics, and supporters, are much the same as Ashcroft's: Gonzales, too, enjoys Christian Coalition support -- which suggests he, too, may try to blur the church/state line."
(Noah Leavitt, FindLaw.com, November 22, 2004)
ADEN'S SECRET ISLAMIC ARMY STILL SECRET AND STILL A THREAT
Intelligence agencies believe that the Islamic Army of Aden, believed to have been responsible for bombing the U.S.S. Cole, is still plotting to drive westerners from Yemen. (CDI.org, November 23, 2004)
U.S. Marine on the lookout in Fallujah
KEVIN SITES ON FILMING A MARINE SHOOTING A PRISONER IN THE BACK
Kevin Sites, the NBC correspondent who filmed a U.S. Marine shooting an unarmed Iraqi prisoner in the back, has been disturbed by what he saw, and the reactions from the public. On his website, Sites explains:"Since the shooting in the Mosque, I've been haunted that I have not been able to tell you directly what I saw or explain the process by which the world came to see it as well. As you know, I'm not some war zone tourist with a camera who doesn't understand that ugly things happen in combat. I've spent most of the last five years covering global conflict. But I have never in my career been a 'gotcha' reporter -- hoping for people to commit wrongdoings so I can catch them at it. ....This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist....[Read More...]
(Kevin Sites' blog, Kevin Sites.net, November 22, 2004)
THE U.S. ELECTIONS AND THE PRESS' FAILURE TO INFORM
TomDisptach.com is running a preview of Michael Massing's critique, due to be published in the December 16 issue of the New York Review of books.
Despite repeated disasters in Iraq, with more than a thousand U.S. servicemen and women killed, thousands of Iraqis dead, and kidnapping and beheadings becoming a way of life, largely as a result of the failures of U.S. policy, voters seemed more concerned about gay marriage and whether someone else might someday have an abortion. A quick impression, Massey notes, is that voters are becoming more conservative, but it is also worth asking whether the public is really aware of just how bad things have gotten in Iraq. [read more...]
(Michael Massing in the December 16 issue of the New York Review of Books, advanced copy available now at Tom Engelhardt's weblog, TomDispatch.com)
ED GIRARDET ON LIFE IN KABUL
Life is taking on a kind of normalcy despite the kidnappings and bombings. For some of the westerners who have spent time there, it is easy to feel fed up with the place, but surprisingly hard to leave. (Ed Girardet, Afghan Journal, November 21, 2004)[read more...]
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