Only three days have passed since U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Middle East policy remarks at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center for Political Leadership in Kentucky. Following Secretary Powell’s tribute to a key member in the audience, Kentucky’s Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, one of the fiercest opponents of the PLO and the Oslo Peace agreements, who together with Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, published AIPAC’s (the Israeli political lobby in the U.S.) most recent initiative against the Palestinian Authority (Ha’aretz 22/11/2001), Secretary Powell boldly declared:
Afghans are accustomed to “hoping for the best and expecting the worst.” The fragility of the current situation begs for great care and concern not to repeat past failures of Western policy. Great care must be taken in any steps in formulating a post-Taliban Afghanistan that includes an acceptable government as well as provisions for development and economic stability. Most importantly, efforts must reflect the wishes of ordinary Afghans inside of Afghanistan in order to gain credibility and long-term stability. Sadly, these sentiments seem to be ignored.
The mirage of positive movement in the deadly gridlock between Israelis and Palestinians continued today, uninterrupted by reality. Following U.S. President George Bush’s footsteps, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, during a major Middle East policy address at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, finally confirmed the addition of the word “Palestine” to the U.S. political lexicon. More significantly, Secretary of State Powell explicitly acknowledged, for the first time ever, that Israel’s illegal “occupation” of Palestinian land and people “must end.”
The new Israeli “peace initiative” drafted by Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, is no more than a placebo for internal Israeli consumption and consumption by the U.S. and Europe in response to their pressuring Israel for positive movement toward ending the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
Toward the end of President Bush’s September 24 statement about freezing terrorists’ assets, one finds the overlooked but no less remarkable assertion that the U.S. is “working closely with the United Nations, the EU and through the G-7/G-8 structure to limit the ability of terrorist organizations to take advantage of the international financial systems.” Still more remarkably, he declared, “The United States has signed, but not yet ratified, two international conventions, one of which is designed to set international standards for freezing financial assets. I’ll be asking members of the U.S. Senate to approve the UN convention on suppression of terrorist financing and a related convention on terrorist bombings and to work with me on implementing the legislation.”
In summer 2001, when the rising tide of “antiglobalization” protest finally rose to claim the life of a Genoa protester in July, the world’s media knew the drill. They focused on the G8, and in particular on the poses and pronouncements of Big Power summitry besieged by Internet-organized discontent.
Ed. Note: The recent climate meeting held in Bonn resulted in an agreement by all countries attending save the U.S. to implement the Kyoto protocol, a step applauded by many. But the World Rainforest Movement, in a viewpoint below, cautions that amidst the celebration lurks a dark cloud: in the rush to gain an agreement at any cost, the livelihoods of forest dwellers may be threatened, and the goal of emissions reductions has been sacrificed by including carbon sinks in the agreement.
When President Bush unveiled the findings of the National Energy Policy Development Group last May, consumer and environmental organizations said the report’s policy recommendations favored energy corporations over the public and the environment. In the wake of Enron’s collapse, new questions are being raised about the ways that Enron and other energy firms may have shaped the report’s recommendations. The refusal of Vice President Cheney, who headed the energy task force and was himself the former director of the oil services giant Halliburton, to release a list of individuals consulted by the committee has sparked a confrontation between the administration and the General Accounting Office.
“And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong.” – Leonard Cohen
It’s hard for Americans, even progressive Americans, to imagine a future in which the U.S. is no longer the “indispensable country.” This is as true when it comes to climate politics as it is in any other area, and for much the same reason: the U.S. looms so large that it simply cannot be ignored. We emit, in particular, such a high share of world’s carbon that, in the end, any climate regime to which we do not immediately subscribe is doomed to failure.