On January 4, 2004, 502 delegates agreed on a Constitution for Afghanistan , an act many have described as a positive step toward democracy. U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad wrote: “Afghans have seized the opportunity provided by the United States and its international partners to lay the foundation for democratic institutions and provide a framework for national elections.” 1 Judging by who was allowed to participate, their manner of participation, and the document itself, the foundation set by the delegates and their foreign overseers was precisely antidemocratic.
The recent spectacle of President George W. Bush being paraded through the streets of London by Tony Blair to celebrate the “Special Relationship,” provokes the question of what is so special about it. For example, during Bush’s visit, the British prime minister did not secure from his friend American adherence to international law for British internees in Guantanamo. Blair does not get listened to over expanding the UN role in Iraq, nor even over the importance of getting the Middle East peace process seriously on track.
Why Turkey? Why now? Why twice? These are among the central questions arising from the 4 horrendous attacks on synagogues and British interests in Istanbul recently. Jewish places of worship outside of Israel have been targeted in various locations–such as Tunisia and Morocco–over the past 2 years. Britain hosted U.S. President George W. Bush on a controversial state visit the week the attacks occurred. So, within the mindset of the perpetrators, the targets in Istanbul make some sense–and the timing of the anti-British bombings had an obvious rationale.
With three little words, the United States Senate has set itself on what seems to be a collision course with Belgrade over the surrender of The Hague’s most wanted man. The fateful words–“including Ratko Mladic”–appear tucked away inside a financing bill for American aid to Serbia.
Serbia plunged itself into confrontation with The Hague–and possibly also the international community–this week, by refusing to hand over four former commanders in Kosovo whose indictments were made public on October 20. The four held the rank of colonel-general at the time of their alleged offenses in Kosovo in 1999, while one is now a senior government minister. Former Pristina corps commander Vladimir Lazarevic, the current head of the Serbian interior ministry’s public security department, Sreten Lukic, his predecessor Vlastimir Djordjevic, and former army chief of staff Nebojsa Pavkovic are charged with attacks on villages and ethnic cleansing.
A September 6th New York Times story on Iraq quoted Pentagon spokesperson Bryan G. Whitman as saying: "All known Iraqi munitions sites are being secured by coalition forces."
On May 1, 2003, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, on a visit to Kabul, triumphantly declared that “major combat activity” in Afghanistan was over and that the “the bulk of the country is now secure.” Rumsfeld scoffed at those analysts and critics who dared to challenge this optimistic assessment, derisively labeling them “armchair columnists.” Four months later, on September 7, 2003, during a return trip to Kabul, Secretary Rumsfeld delivered a very different message. He was in the Afghan capital to shore up an increasingly fragile Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA), beset by insecurity and struggling to advance a sputtering reconstruction process.
Are Pressures from the U.S., India, and Israel Too Much for Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Program to Withstand?
Pakistan’s national defense strategy centers on protecting the country’s nuclear weapons capability from a threat by one or more of three states that are currently working very closely – the United States, India and Israel. That strategy includes a nuclear first-strike policy.
On Aug. 14 and 15, the 56th anniversary of the independence of Pakistan and India from British colonial rule, it is a sad commentary on the political condition of South Asia that even though the region has been independent for over half a century, it is still not free.